Thursday, May 17, 2007

Responding to e-Hecklers

Below I will share with you an interesting discussion I'm having with an atheistic physics professor who has started e-heckling me. Below is the caption he e-mailed me from the Freethought of the Day by Katha Pollitt in an attempt to "get my hackles up",


“When you consider that God could have commanded anything he wanted--anything!--the Ten [Commandments] have got to rank as one of the great missed moral opportunities of all time. How different history would have been had he clearly and unmistakably forbidden war, tyranny, taking over other people's countries, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning, treating women--or anyone--as chattel or inferior beings.” -- Katha Pollitt (1949-), "Stacked Decalogue," The Nation, September 22, 2003

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Dear ____,

As a Christian, it is interesting to note how intelligent Pollitt must think that she is since she (like Eve) arrogates to herself the prerogative to think that she can decide better than God when it comes to moral issues.

What is even more amazing is that she (and by implication you also, since you sent this e-mail), assumes some fixed standard of morality whereby Yahweh's laws as given in historical time can be weighed and judged over and against some moral standard that Yahweh has supposedly violated.

Since both you and she would take umbrage with the validity of the existence of Yahweh and His 10 commandments as given to the ancient Israelites , and assuming that you hold to one of the three major brands of atheistic materialism, I challenge you to answer the following questions:

(1) An Epistemological Question:

What non-arbitrary epistemological basis do you have to say that is it wrong for Yahweh not to forbid war, tyranny, invasion, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning and treating women like chattel since on the assumption of naturalistic materialism, you couldn't know it was wrong in the first place given the lack of reliability of your cognitive faculties?

In other words, assuming the truthfulness of your position, God doesn't exist and we are the products of naturalistic evolutionary theory. Given that proposition, consider what Charles Darwin had to say,

"With me, the horrid doubt always arises, whether the convictions of a man's mind, which have been developed from the minds of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Why would anyone trust the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?" [Darwin, C. 1881. Letter to W. Graham. In F. Darwin, ed., The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin. New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1905.]

Also, Richard Vitzhum, who wrote a definitive work titled 'Materialism: An Affirmative History and Definition' also commented in like manner,

"A revised and modernized materialism concludes from all of this [i.e., what he was arguing for in his book], that all human thought and feeling is the product of a series of unthinking and unfeeling processes originating in the Big Bang." [pp. 218-219]

And so, given naturalism and evolution, the probability that you have reliable cognitive faculties is low or inscrutable. This means you have a defeater for your belief that your cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs (whatever "belief" is in your worldview).

On this assumption, atheistic materialist physicalist philosopher Patricia Churchland has also noted that given evolution, "truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost." And, materialist Richard Rorty has noted that the belief that your beliefs are aimed at truth is "unDarwinian." (Now, you don't want to be "unDarwinian" do you?)

Worse yet, Darwin himself noted that he has "horrid doubt[s]" when he reflects on the assumption that his mind has evolved from the mind of lower animals. He rightly says that he wouldn't trust the convictions of a monkey's mind, and so assuming evolution and naturalism, why should he trust the convictions of his own mind?

And so, to sum it up, upon what epistemological basis can you know that moral realism exists (i.e., objective, absolute, universal, moral laws) assuming the conjunction of naturalism and evolution?

And to offer a related follow-up question: If what Pollitt says is true, how can you can figure out solutions to these perceived problems since the very cognitive faculties you use to problem solve are called into question by the very process they supposedly arose from?

(2) A Metaphysical Question:

Assuming Pollitt's argument is correct for the sake of argument, it would then follow that her argument against the supposed inferior nature of the decalogue is "true". But given the assumption of the truthfulness of that statement, how do you account for immaterial, abstract concepts of "truth" assuming only the existence of concrete particulars?

Syllogism One:

1. Concepts are immaterial.
2. But some versions of materialism (like yours) hold that anything that exists is material.
3. Our concepts are not material things.
4. Therefore, concepts do not exist.
5. Our concept of "truth" is immaterial.
6. In some versions of materialism (like yours), "truth" does not exist.

Syllogism Two:

1. Material things are extended in space.

2. Our concept of "truth" is not extended in space.

3. Therefore, our concepts of "truth" are non-material.

4. Some versions of materialism (like yours) posit that no non-material entities exist.

5. Therefore, assuming some versions of materialism (like yours), concepts of "truth" do not exist.


Those questions should suffice for now. We'll see if your worldview has any money in its philosophical bank account to support the checks you are trying to write.

49 comments:

  1. Good one Dusman!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dusman,

    As a Christian, it is interesting to note how intelligent Pollitt must think that she is since she (like Eve) arrogates to herself the prerogative to think that she can decide better than God when it comes to moral issues.

    Here's a good corollary to your observation: do you suppose that you might arrogate yourself the prerogative to claim superior moral authority over Allah? I would guess that because you believe in the Christian God you would deny that Allah even exists, and therefore feel completely entitled to assign Allah any moral authority at all.

    If so, would that be similarly presumptuous on your part, or not?


    (1) An Epistemological Question:

    What non-arbitrary epistemological basis do you have to say that is it wrong for Yahweh not to forbid war, tyranny, invasion, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning and treating women like chattel since on the assumption of naturalistic materialism, you couldn't know it was wrong in the first place given the lack of reliability of your cognitive faculties?


    Heh. Common threads running through the posts here lately. I'm not an atheist, but having debated them at length many times over many years, I can give you a rendering of the argument.

    First, you will have to put some precision around the word "arbitrary" here, as everything hangs on your qualifier. We can well say that all epistemology is arbitrary if we are not prepared to grant the "bootstrapping" axioms of awareness which gives rise to subject/object relationships giving rise to logic, which in turn enable us to get on with the project of living a life.

    As I've said here on this blog a couple times previouslyu, we don't have a epistemically justifiable basis for believing the sun will come up tomorrow. So if you are looking for something that is "turtles all the way down", you can stop now.

    That said, the complaints against the Ten Commandments stem from experience, an experience that does not (consciously) recognize God and thus any moral authority that is attached to God. So, this experience (either not knowing or knowing but rejecting God) leaves a secular morality that doesn't pretend to be transcendent, or binding in some cosmic sense; it rejects slavery as a conscious choice for practical reasons: they wish to live their lives in a social context where humans are not considered "property". Perhaps its simply the empathic notion that they would not like to treated as a slave, and thus by virtue of social reciprocity resist it as they wish others would resist it if *they* had been a slave.

    In any case, the authority offered by atheist is not *cosmic*, but popular and practical -- the collective judgment of a social group that their prospects as a whole for the kinds of lives they'd like to have are better served if people are treated as (nominally) equal.

    Christians are routinely caught flat-footed by the atheist suggestion that their altruism isn't hung on any cosmic source, but is forceful and real all the same. I'm not sure why that is, but there's been a lot of conditioning in the Christian community that the alternative to Christian morality is sheer chaos, anarchy, predation and viciousness. This is an inaccurate portrayal of the options, and a slanderous one. Atheists reject God's authority, and thus the ten commandments and all manner of other canons in scripture, and do so to their detriment, both in the here-and-now and the hereafter. But it's mistake to suppose that without a cosmic authority, there's no basis for social proscriptions against slavery, etc.

    I've no idea how the recipient(s) of your email will respond, as there are a number of different bases for atheistic morality out there. Hedonists and utilitarians appeal to the ideals of happiness and pleasure (in slightly different ways) as the basis for morality. Moral pragmatists deny the existence of absolute moral imperatives. As above, they typically appeal to the pragmatic value (to the social group) of a given policy as its justification. There are also atheists that are moral realists, supposing that moral principles are something like physical laws -- things to be discovered through empirical means. Subjectivists completely deny the idea of transitivity in moral at all -- morals are just another expression of one's feelings.

    There are, obviously, problems with all of these, but for many atheists, the answer will be: "We don't accept the concept of moral realism."


    (2) A Metaphysical Question:

    Assuming Pollitt's argument is correct for the sake of argument, it would then follow that her argument against the supposed inferior nature of the decalogue is "true". But given the assumption of the truthfulness of that statement, how do you account for immaterial, abstract concepts like "truth" assuming only the existence of concrete, particulars?


    You don't have to be an atheist to see the gaping hole in this syllogism. On what grounds do you say "Concepts are not material things?" If I have a concept in my head, it has a physical manifestation -- the complex electrical configurations of parts of my brain. Destroy my brain, I no longer have that concept in my brain -- it's realized in the natural world. Now I believe all men have metaphysical mind/soul, but I don't have any physical evidence for it -- that's why it's called 'meta-physical'. But even with that overlaying the physical context, I say that you will have a very difficult time pointing to a concept that is not reified in physical matter/energy. Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain. If we encode symbols on paper or a disk drive, we are again employing physical resources as the material basis for a concept. Without a brain to decode and reify the symbols as a concept in the brain, there is no concept.

    I believe this kind of syllogism stems from the difficulty of perceiving the physical characteristics of our brain. We don't "see" concepts, as they are complex, remote physical configurations in our brains. Never the less, destroy a man's brain, and you will have destroyed his concepts. To have a functioning brain is to have a concepts as material configurations.

    Concepts exist.

    Syllogism Two fails for precisely the same reason. Show me where a "concept" exists in space apart from a human brain. We might suppose that looking at the stars makes the suggestive shape of a bear or some such. Is that a concept out in space? The stars are stars. The concept is the physical configuration of our brains that associates the star pattern in the night sky with the image of bear. The concept is physical, and brain bound.

    QED. Concepts exist. As a Christian, I also affirm the reality of metaphysical entities. But this in no way negates the physicality of human concepts themselves. A "concept" needs a functioning brain -- blood, electrical power, oxygen and other physical resources to exist and remain in existence.

    Maybe you could turn my response upside down by pointing out a concept that is not reified in someone's brain?

    Hope that helps.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dusman,

    Epsitemology aside, let me say kodus for breaking through the "styled text" barrier in your T-Blog posts. Images, italics, etc. It makes your posts so much more appealing and pleasant to read than the others. I may not agree with the arguments you offer, but I appreciate the time you take to present them this way.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here's a good corollary to your observation: do you suppose that you might arrogate yourself the prerogative to claim superior moral authority over Allah? I would guess that because you believe in the Christian God you would deny that Allah even exists, and therefore feel completely entitled to assign Allah any moral authority at all.

    If so, would that be similarly presumptuous on your part, or not?

    >>>This is more ineptitude from Touchstone. Islam counts as a Christian heresy, and the argument against it proceeds from an internal critique of Islam's own claims. The Christian claim is not that Allah does not exist, but that the claims that are made by Islam are borrowing capital from Christianity and Judaism the very religions it claims to supplant, while at the same time bearing internal notions contradictory to the claims of those religions, thereby undercutting its own claims about God.

    The issue is not presumption, which, as we all know, is just Touchstone's codespeak for "since I'm a postmodernist and can't commit myself to any objective claims about reality I will therefore characterize any who do so as 'presumptuous'", and thus little more than his own tendentious characterization, the issue is the nature of the claims made as outlined above.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think 1 is actually better if it's a metaphysical question rather than an epistemological one. Moral beliefs such as X is wrong may be basic beliefs and a person may have animal knowledge of it. What you want to do is to challenge his meta-ethical beliefs.

    Here is an interesting situation. Suppose a person was asked how R could be true given N&E. And suppose a person argues that R is low given N&E. A person may suspend judgment on whether R is reliable given N&E. Now, does it follow that he must suspend judgment on "X is wrong"? I'm not sure if it's clear and I would like to see your intuitions.

    As for 2, I think if your atheist thinks that there are no immaterial things at all, then he's just..dumb. J. Haldane has done some nice work on concepts and how it relates to functions of the brain.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Touchstone,

    Even if every concept can be related to a function, I still think the argument can still work. Here is try...

    Concepts are universals. But a function of the brain, say, module X functioning, is not a universal. In fact, no material thing is a universal. Hence, concepts are immaterial.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As for 2, I think if your atheist thinks that there are no immaterial things at all, then he's just..dumb.

    He is dumb, in spite of the fact that he's a physics professor. That's why I enjoyed putting this post up.

    ReplyDelete
  8. T-Stone,

    I'm not even going to reply to your post-long assertions against what I had to say because it was too "presumptuous". :)

    However, I'll continue to try to post some purdy lidl' pics for you and keep it nice and outlined for eyeball comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  9. triune- burger5/17/2007 9:01 PM

    Dusman gets smoked again...

    ***SIGH!!!***

    ReplyDelete
  10. T-stone,

    "If I have a concept in my head, it has a physical manifestation -- the complex electrical configurations of parts of my brain."

    Uh, you just separated the *concept* from its physical *manifestation.* Similarly, the number two may have a "physical manifestation" is the numeral "2."

    And, why supposes the *concept* is "in" your "head?" If the concept "unicorn" were "in" your "head" could the *same* concept be "in" my "head?" Are there "many concepts" of the same things?

    "Destroy my brain, I no longer have that concept in my brain -- it's realized in the natural world."

    But it doesn't follow that the concept qua concept has been destroyed. Furhtermore, I thought you were a Christian. Do you not think you will have concepts while you await your body at the resurrection? Or, a you a Christian materialist? Your soul is recreated, or something.

    "Now I believe all men have metaphysical mind/soul, but I don't have any physical evidence for it -- that's why it's called 'meta-physical'."

    And if this soul is a substance, that exists apart from the body after biological death, then eithert you will still have concepts in your mind or you'll have a mind with no concepts. The latter is absurd, and the former refutes your assumptions. And, "metaphycial" doesn't mean "non-physical."

    "But even with that overlaying the physical context, I say that you will have a very difficult time pointing to a concept that is not reified in physical matter/energy."

    How about concepts that existed in God's mind before the creation of matter and energy? And, all you're doing, again, is confusing the universal with its *instantiation.* Really, you should bone up on these rather elementary errors you're committing. Furthermore, since matter isn't infinite, and one could have concepts of more numbers that pieces of matter, there are concepts that are not reified in matter. Tell me, where is the concept of the product of

    1000000000000000000000000000

    X

    1000000000000000000000000000

    reified?

    "Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain."

    But surely God has some concept which we do not have, and therefore those concept sare not hosted in a brain. The apostle Paul has concepts that we do not have, those are not hosted in a physical brain. Angels surely have concepts that we do not have, those are not hosted in a physical brain, etcetera.

    hope that helped,

    ~PM

    ReplyDelete
  11. Gene,

    OK, if you want to be pedantic, would it work to use Ahura Mazda, or is that just a heretical conception of Yahweh? Would you (or Dusman) claim moral authority over Ahura Mazda? If so, would that be presumptuous on your part? If not, why not?

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  12. Apolonio,

    Nomimalism, conceptualism, realism, realism-with-the-Hollywood-platonism-remix...

    There's a good number of different positions on what "universality" means. But for your argument or Dusman's a nomimalist interpretation of concept theory just shrugs and says universality is nothing more than the sum collection of the instances of the concept. It's just as hard to dismiss a realist perspective, for that matter.

    But, if I read Dusman right, he's not suggesting that conceptual realism is his preferred model, but that it's a *necessary* model. I don't think one can hold that it's a necessary model, given the other models out there. And if it's not necessary, then the syllogism becomes unhinged.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dusman was out back at an elder's meeting grilling out triune burgers to the glory of God and smoking a big fattie Cumbres de Puriscal cigar while all the other philosophers were intrigued by his arguments against dumb atheists.

    And yes, that was supposed to make you laugh! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. touchstone,

    concepts, whether you are a nominalist, conceptualist, or realist, are universals. they are theories of what **universals are**. So my argument is still good.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Paul,

    Uh, you just separated the *concept* from its physical *manifestation.* Similarly, the number two may have a "physical manifestation" is the numeral "2."

    If you mean to say that writing the number "2" on a piece of paper constitutes a physical instance of the concept, I'd say that it did not. That would be symbolic representation, a trigger for the brain to connect to the concept, which exists as a configurational state of the physical brain.

    And, why supposes the *concept* is "in" your "head?" If the concept "unicorn" were "in" your "head" could the *same* concept be "in" my "head?" Are there "many concepts" of the same things?

    Well, for one thing, we can watch brain activity fire off electrical patterns in response to stimuli. See a number "2" written on a sheet of paper, neurons fire, patterns and chunks are matched, and, if our subject is highly educated in mathematics, an association is made.

    If you have access to the scholarly journal Neuroscientist, last year (spring/summer) there was an article we discussed on a mailing list I'm on about hemisphere bias during tool usage (Researcher was Lewis (Louis?), search for "Cortical" and "Tools"). It has a good amount of narrative of the observed neurological activity associated with tool usage (a conceptual function) and the parts of the brain that "light up" doing the work during these activities. (There are plenty of other articles on this out there, too. This is one we covered at some length last year.)


    As for the "same concept" being in your head and mine, that's just a semantic choice. What do you mean by "same", in other words. As for abstract particulars/tropes, Stout says "aye", Landesman says "nay", and I say, how does this attach to whether concepts have an immaterial existence or not?

    But it doesn't follow that the concept qua concept has been destroyed. Furthermore, I thought you were a Christian. Do you not think you will have concepts while you await your body at the resurrection? Or, a you a Christian materialist? Your soul is recreated, or something.

    I don't suppose the concept is necessary destroyed with the brain. We won't make headway without some agreement to terms, but if you take the example of the concept of 'multiplication', and stipulate that other brains that maintain a like concept are maintaining the *same* concept, then destroying a brain containing the concept of 'multiplication' does not destroy the concept in a general sense, as it exists in other locations/instances.

    If, as some hold, you are to state that 'multiplication' as a concept is *never* the same across two brains (i.e. it can't be in principle), then a brain destroyed takes all its concepts with it (this raises the question of why one would apply the term 'universal' to 'concept' in this case, however).

    I'm not a materialist, at least in the sense that materialism limits or denies the metaphysical/immaterial. I don't know how conceptual theory works beyond the grave (waiting for resurrection), but I suggest I don't need to in order to understand that for the purposes of this argument (Dusman's), the view of concepts as brain-states is sufficient to make the "concepts are immaterial" premise wobble and fall.

    That is, if I believe there *is* a supernatural mind/conceptual framework, it doesn't overturn the physical brain-states idea. It sits on top of it (supernatural > natural). If that's the case, then I don't see how an atheist or materialist would have any trouble with just pointing to the natural part as a trivial way of dismissing the assertion that "concepts are immaterial". In a physicalist sense, they *aren't*.

    And if this soul is a substance, that exists apart from the body after biological death, then eithert you will still have concepts in your mind or you'll have a mind with no concepts. The latter is absurd, and the former refutes your assumptions. And, "metaphycial" doesn't mean "non-physical."

    The latter *doesn't* refute my assumptions. If I stipulate (and it is stipulation, I do not know this to be true) that soul *is* substantial, the its persistent after the death/destruction of my body does *not* in any way deny the physicality of the concepts as brain-states. If you are suggesting that its necessary that if the soul is a "conceptualizer" then there is no physical rendering of concepts as brain-states, I deny that that is a necessity. It seems perfectly plausible that a soul as conceptualizer works in concert with the brain as (physical) conceptualizer while the brain is functioning. If that's the case, then anyone looking at the claims of immateriality for concepts just shakes their head and knows that this argument is way beyond its warrants.

    How about concepts that existed in God's mind before the creation of matter and energy? And, all you're doing, again, is confusing the universal with its *instantiation.* Really, you should bone up on these rather elementary errors you're committing. Furthermore, since matter isn't infinite, and one could have concepts of more numbers that pieces of matter, there are concepts that are not reified in matter. Tell me, where is the concept of the product of

    1000000000000000000000000000

    X

    1000000000000000000000000000

    reified?


    Why, in your brain, of course! Now, as I read it, in mine as well.


    I'm not confusing universality with instantiation. I'm saying that unversality is *itself* a concept with its own instantiations. If I think of the concept of 'infinity', I don't need to instantiate anything infinite to conceptualize it. The concept is the meta-object, not the object itself. If I think "red ball" in my brain, I do not reify a red ball there, but only its conceptualization, which is ontologically a completely different entity.

    Maybe it helps to put it this way for you: I'm thinking of the set of all even numbers. Call that concept 'A'. Now I'm thinking of the number "2", which we will call concept "B". If you are telling me concept A *itself* as a concept is infinitely large, then you're getting the concept confused with its object.

    Just so we're clear: Do you suppose concept A here is *infitely large* as a *concept*?

    But surely God has some concept which we do not have, and therefore those concept sare not hosted in a brain. The apostle Paul has concepts that we do not have, those are not hosted in a physical brain. Angels surely have concepts that we do not have, those are not hosted in a physical brain, etcetera.


    Sure. Granted. No problem with that. But that only has weight if one accepts that God exists. For an atheist, this is the question being addressed. If God doesn't exist, as the atheist believes either in a positive or tentative sense, then what you say here is nonsense, fiction, and of no argumentative value at all.

    A lot of what I identify as bogus and counter-productive here as argumentation is exemplified by the above. Here's what it amounts to for an Atheist:

    God exists because concepts are universal. We know concepts are universal because God has them.

    I don't personally have a problem with this tautology, as I accept the premise (God exists), but I'd be a fool to think this did anything but make me look like Kirk Cameron holding a banana if I were to offer this as a persuasive case to anyone who didn't start from the affirmation of God's existence.

    It's a self-defeating argument, in other words, unless you are preaching to the choir.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  16. apolonio,

    Nominalism is a denial that universals acutally exist. It's a purely materialist concept[sic].

    From the American Heritage Dictionary:

    NOUN: Philosophy The doctrine holding that abstract concepts, general terms, or universals have no independent existence but exist only as names.


    This is a discussion that touches on different flavors and attributes of nominalism.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  17. Just so I'm clear T-stone, you're denying that "without physical brains you can't have a concept" is what you believe, but that an atheist might argue that way.

    In other words, if I read your first post as asserting what *you* believe then I would have refuted *you.* So, you're just arguing for the atheist by proxy, correct?

    Put differently, *you* don't really believe this hogwash about concepts themselves actually existing only in physical human brians, right? You're just playing devil's advocate, correct?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Paul,

    I'm saying that arguments that assume their conclusion are profoundly ineffective. I really don't have a problem with "God exists because God exists", but I don't recommend that as an compelling rationale to offer as our apologetic.

    If you think pointing at Kirk Cameron with a banana in hand or Peter Pike with this Pikified TAG and saying "that's counterproductive to the faith" is advocacy for the devil, so be it. You think as you will. For my part, I think such criticism are useful as counters to what is the devil's *efficacy*, the banana, the TAG, the presuppositional fingers in the ears, all of which paint Christ and the cross as arrogant hoax and delusional self-indulgence.

    Our faith deserves better.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  19. T-stone,

    It boggles my mind why you can't seem to answer a simple question.

    I asked you if you're admitting that you don't buy the hogwash that "concepts can't exist without physical brains. Destroy the human brain, destroy the concept."

    I said nothing about TAG, Peter Pike, Cameron, Comfort, apologetics, and, much to your chagrin I'm sure, I didn't mention bananas either.

    Anyway, from what I recall, your "reasons" for the faith boiled down to "believing God makes sense to me." So, those who live in glass houses....

    I mean, c'mon man, who do you think you're fooling? You said, and I quote, that your apologetic for the Christian faith can be summed up like this:

    "So, my apologetic would summed up like this:

    1. Read the Bible. All of it. Twice.

    2. Ask yourself if the Bible doesn't present the most coherent and compelling account of the story of man, and answers to Life's Big Questions(TM), viewed against any and all competing accounts.

    3. Consider the challenge of the Gospel: You are a sinner, condemned to death for your transgressions. God loves you despite those sins, so much that he sent His own Son to die in your place, a substitutionary atonement for your sins, if only you are willing to repent, believe and follow His Son.

    If you repent, believe, and follow, you shall be saved, eternally. Following Christ isn't easy -- it amounts to dying to yourself, day in and day out, for the rest of your life, so that you may serve God fully -- but this sacrifice is key to freedom from the bondage and slavery all men labor in without God's salvation.

    4. Look for the evidence of God's power in the lives of His people. Jesus said you will know His followers by their love, and see for yourself how the love of Christ transforms those who serve Him."


    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/04/open-challenge-to-touchstone.html

    LOL!

    You think that the above represents how much "better" our faith deserves? C'mon, we know you're an undercover atheist trying to make Christians look bad. For someone to say the the above 4 points represents the height of apologetic dialogue, and presenting "compelling reasons" to believe in God, he has to either be lying or three sheets to the wind!

    Anyway, I'd appreciate an answer to my above question so I can help dismember your claims for you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Paul,

    I believe there may well be concepts that *aren't* universal in the sense that they are preserved with the soul. If you've got scripture or some other revelation that tells you that *all* the concepts I have in my head are preserved when I die, then show your work, lay out here for us to see.

    If some concepts -- trivia, ennui -- are not maintained, then yes, I can say that they cease to exist along with my brain dying. So it wouldn't at all be hogwash to suppose that some concepts are terminated when their brain-states (all of them, everywhere) are destroyed.

    Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do. But that belief proceeds from my belief in the existence of God and the spiritual, and is only valuable if I first conclude there is a God who has endowed me with an eternal soul(and one that is a "conceptualiuzer"). If I say:

    Some concepts are immaterial, therefore the immaterial exists.

    Is to invoke my conclusion as a premise. For someone who doesn't see any empirical evidence for the spiritual or immaterial, this is nothing but waving one's hands in an assertive fashion.

    The following exchange ensues:

    Atheist Skeptic: So how do we know that universal concepts are immaterial?

    Christian Apologist: Because they stay with your soul when you die.

    Atheist Skeptic: What soul? How do you know you have a soul?

    Christian Apologist: God tell us in the Bible...

    Atheist Skeptic: What God? I thought the question of whether there was a God was the central question of this discussion.


    etc. It doesn't help establish your case if you are invoking arguments that depend on your conclusion to have any weight. Dunno how to make that more plain for you, that ought be enough to see the futility of pursuing that angle.

    Or, would you buy that from an atheist? If the atheist says:

    Concepts are immaterial, because there nothing real that is immaterial.

    Would you accept that? If you would not, then why would you ask someone else to accept the same from you? That makes zero sense to me. If someone continues to assert as a necessary, but unsupported assertion that "there is nothing real that is immaterial", I'd quite quickly be thinking that I'm dealing with an ignorant, arrogant, intransigent person. He'd be discrediting whatever ideology he thought he was defending.

    Just to make sure we have clear summary of my position on your questions:

    1) I believe some concepts may be transient -- coming into existence as brain-states, and going out of existence with the destruction of those brain-states.

    2) I believe there are concepts that transcend our material existence, and that some concepts have no physical context.

    3) I do not know of any mechanism to philosophically prove 2) as a necessary truth to anyone who doesn't not first accept the truth of God's existence and the immaterial.

    -Touchstone

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. So some *concept* are immaterial and some *concepts* are material? How does that work, at all. How can a *concept* be both?

    Anyway, I'm afraid you were not clear.

    In your first post in this combox you said:

    (*) "Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain."

    And in the post directly above this one you now claim that *some* concepts that exist are not hosted in brains.

    And so (*) would be false, yes?


    Next we have this claim of yours,

    (**) "I say that you will have a very difficult time pointing to a concept that is not reified in physical matter/energy."

    But (2) seems to contradict (**) since we all know that by (**) you meant, "there are no concepts not reified in matter/energy.

    As far as (3) goes, what would you say of the thousands of atheistic philosophers who would disagree with you? Since you "don't know of a way to prove" that concepts are immaterial without invoking God's existence, then are you admitting you have not been reading the standard view on the ontology of concepts from your atheist friends?

    Now, the rest of your post is way off. I'm sensing you're not even seeing what's coming. Be that as it may, I first asked you if you were arguing from the perspective of an atheist, or if you maintained what you said in your first post.

    You have now made statements which contradict what you said in your first post.

    But, rather than be honest, you're trying to wiggle into a mediating position. But you still can't have that because even your mediating position contradicts what you said at first.

    At any rate, I am at least consoled by the fact that every one can see the types of games you play.

    Furthermore, I never said anything about concepts staying with you when you die to an *atheist.* I was talking to T-stone, who claims to not be an atheist, and showing T-stone that on T-ston'es assumptions, then T-stone could agree with what hje wrote in the first post, and so T-stone was playing devil's advocate. I mean, if it boosts your ego all the more to pretend that my argument against someone who cliamed to believe in God is the same as someone who denies God's existence, then go for it. One must resort to that sort of sophistry when one doesn't have much under the hood.

    So, I think my point it clear. It's obvious you're playing games. So perhaps you could be honest for one, answer my questions, (or admit you were sloppy and lazy in your first post, and I refuted *that* post, if that was your position) and then we can proceed to helping out the padawan.

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  23. Paul,

    So some *concept* are immaterial and some *concepts* are material? How does that work, at all. How can a *concept* be both?

    I don't presume to know, except that if you accept that a concept, say the concept of 'truth', exists in my brain (material) and the mind of God (immaterial), there you have *both*. How that works, especially on the immaterial side I can't say. Exhaustive knowledge on the innerworkings of the mind of God (or the mind of man, for that matter) is *your* area of expertise.

    In your first post in this combox you said:

    (*) "Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain."


    Yes, and this was in response to Dusman's syllogism, specifically:

    3. Our concepts are not material things.

    Notice the word 'our' there, Ace? That's a reference to us, the people in the conversation, reading the apologetic. Humans. Not the mind of God, angels, etc. My claim stands, predicated on what Dusman said: Our concepts have physical locations -- brain-states. If you want to suggest that "Our concepts" really means "all the concepts, including God's thoughts", I'd say you're once again cutting yourself some special semantic deals behinds the curtains.

    But (2) seems to contradict (**) since we all know that by (**) you meant, "there are no concepts not reified in matter/energy.

    It only seems to contradict because it's contradiction you seek, doing violence to what I said. I manfestly did *not* say or meant to suggest "there are no concepts not reified in matter/energy". The concepts in question were *our* concepts, the concepts we humans entertain. Read Dusman's syllogism again, it's still there: "Our concepts".

    So, it seems you are intent on my statements about human-entertained concepts being applied to *all* concepts. Later on in my comments, I specifically addressed the possibility of concepts that are both immaterial and and material, and even concepts that are exclusively immaterial. But that's consideration across all contexts. My (*) was speaking to *our* concepts, the concepts humans entertain.

    Now, the rest of your post is way off. I'm sensing you're not even seeing what's coming. Be that as it may, I first asked you if you were arguing from the perspective of an atheist, or if you maintained what you said in your first post.

    Paul, everyone knows you know better than anyone else in the room, whatever room you're in.

    You have now made statements which contradict what you said in your first post.

    Not, demonstrated. If you disagree, then answer this:

    1. Who does 'our' refer to in point 3 of Dusman's syllogism?
    2. Do any of those in the set referred to by 'our' not have a brain?

    Later on, in response to your questions, questions that introduced God, angels, etc. as the widened scope of the discussion, I answered in terms of that widened scope, and with answers I stand by, and do not conflict with what I said. Unless you suppose 'our' includes God and the angels, you're mixing subjects (deliberately?).

    But, rather than be honest, you're trying to wiggle into a mediating position. But you still can't have that because even your mediating position contradicts what you said at first.

    At any rate, I am at least consoled by the fact that every one can see the types of games you play.


    I'm sure you are, Paul.

    Furthermore, I never said anything about concepts staying with you when you die to an *atheist.* I was talking to T-stone, who claims to not be an atheist, and showing T-stone that on T-ston'es assumptions, then T-stone could agree with what hje wrote in the first post, and so T-stone was playing devil's advocate. I mean, if it boosts your ego all the more to pretend that my argument against someone who cliamed to believe in God is the same as someone who denies God's existence, then go for it. One must resort to that sort of sophistry when one doesn't have much under the hood.

    You want me to go pull quotes from your posts and debates, Paul? You are Kirk Cameron with a banana, only with an Elijah complex to boot.

    Recognize this "banana"?:

    The Christian worldview is true by the impossibility of the contrary. We're not trying to prove just "if logic, then God" but rather the entire worldview.

    I don't know who you addressed that to, assuming those are your words, but I'd be surprised to here that *wasn't* addressed to unbelievers. Thinking unbelievers, possibly, making it all the more "banana-esque" on your part.

    You wanna simply assert that "our concepts are immaterial, therefore the immaterial exists"? Be my guest, you're free to say what you want. But it's a banana Paul, and the people you're talking to can see that you are trying to prove God by noting the convenient shape of a banana.

    I've seen plenty of your arguments you put in front of unbelievers, Paul. It's not a concern of mine whether you say something different in the Fellowship Hall of your church to your fellow congregation members at Sunday School on Sunday mornings. I'm just looking at what's being offered, and it's generally disingenuous, arrogant, pseudo-logical and fantastically presumptuous. If that's what I identify, what would I care about that being the same or different as what you say to believers?

    -Touchstone

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  24. Despite your rhetoric, and your pompous attitude, we must persist.

    You wrote,


    3. Our concepts are not material things.

    "Notice the word 'our' there, Ace? That's a reference to us, the people in the conversation, reading the apologetic. Humans. Not the mind of God, angels, etc."


    Yeah, I noticed the word. But, check out what you *also* have claimed, Ace:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do. But that belief proceeds from my belief in the existence of God and the spiritual, and is only valuable if I first conclude there is a God who has endowed me with an eternal soul(and one that is a "conceptualiuzer")."

    Notice the use of the word "our," ace. Now, when you said "our" did you mean "humans" or do you think you're a god or an angel?

    So, it appears that YOU believe that not "all" concepts that humans have are "in brains" and so, again, I must press the question in order to get an honest answer: Are you saying that what you said in your first post, if it represented your position, has been refuted?

    In other words, you're just arguing from an atheists perspective, correct?

    Anyway, I haven't even begun to critique your views. I'm just trying to get precise, and that's like pulling teeth!

    I mean, if this is any indication how the debate will go once I start arguing against your theory that concepts are physical entities inside of brains, then should I even bother?

    "You want me to go pull quotes from your posts and debates, Paul?"

    Yes, I do, and make sure you are up on the most recent stuff I've posted too so that you don't look like a monkey without a banana. Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything. I'm simply asking if you believe the hogwash in the first post, or if you now admit that if it was your position, it has been refuted. Talk about paranoid.

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  25. Paul quotes touchstone,

    "3. Our concepts are not material things.

    "Notice the word 'our' there, Ace? That's a reference to us, the people in the conversation, reading the apologetic. Humans. Not the mind of God, angels, etc."


    Paul responds to touchstone

    Yeah, I noticed the word. But, check out what you *also* have claimed, Ace:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do. But that belief proceeds from my belief in the existence of God and the spiritual, and is only valuable if I first conclude there is a God who has endowed me with an eternal soul(and one that is a "conceptualiuzer")."

    Notice the use of the word "our," ace."
    >


    LOL!!! Burn. Nighty-night, touchstone. LOL!

    Tiuchstone has been proven to be either stupid or dishonest. he claims,

    "Later on, in response to your questions, questions that introduced God, angels, etc. as the widened scope of the discussion, I answered in terms of that widened scope, and with answers I stand by, and do not conflict with what I said. Unless you suppose 'our' includes God and the angels, you're mixing subjects (deliberately?)."

    But above Paul qupted touchstone as saying that he believes that "HUMANS" have immaterial concepts.

    But if he "stands by what he said" in the first post, then he certainly has contradicted himself!

    Good show, Paul.

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  26. First T-stone claimed that no human concepts exist outside a brain:

    (*) Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain.

    To make it clear let's fix it up:

    (*') Every concept that a particular human has exists in that particular human's brain.

    I then point out that humans would have concepts while awaiting their resurrected body, which entails not have a brain. Touchstone agreed:

    "If some concepts -- trivia, ennui -- are not maintained, then yes, I can say that they cease to exist along with my brain dying. So it wouldn't at all be hogwash to suppose that some concepts are terminated when their brain-states (all of them, everywhere) are destroyed."

    Since this is talking about humans, since God doesn't have a brain, nor does he "die," then the above can be traslated to:

    (**') Some concepts that a particular human has do not exist in that particular human's brain.

    Notice that there is not doubt that (**') contradicts (*').

    And so since I, being the charitable fellow I am, assumed the best of our bright professed theistic evolutionist, and did not what to believe that he flat out contradicted himself.

    Since (*') and (**') contradict, I naturally asked if what T-stone had said in the first post ((*)) did not represent his position but, rather, was he just playing devil's advocate again.

    To make this point clear, I said that T-stone, if the first post was his position, had contradicted himself. I gave him the opportunity to gracefully wither bow out of the debate or admit that he was playing devil's advocate.

    Being the proud fellow that he is, T-stone said that he did not contradict himself. He said that when he said (*) he was agreeing with Dustin. Since Dustin had said "our" then T-stone was sticking with Dustin's terminology. So, when one says "our" in this context they are talking about humans (since they are not agels or gods).

    Well, (**') still contradicts this, but we have more evidence. T-stone said,

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    So, we can call this:

    (***') T-stone believes that humans have concepts without having brains.

    Okay, and so (***') contradicts what T-stone said in his first post, cleaned up above by (*').

    This is clear. The logic is inexscapable.

    But, T-stone said,

    "I stand by, and do not conflict with what I said."

    So, what this analysis has shown is that T-stone is a self-contradicting, philosophically unsophisticated, jumble-headed evangolutionist.

    glad I could help, T-stone,

    regards,

    ~PM

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  27. Touchstone = PWNED

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  28. Darwin's Reified Monkey Brain5/18/2007 1:10 PM

    Am I the only one concerned with Touchstone's banana fetish?

    ReplyDelete
  29. hostus twinkius5/18/2007 1:18 PM

    Say, have you ever noticed that debating with some people is like widdling away at a block of wood? It takes a lot of effort to do it, and in the end all you end up with is a pile of sawdust. I'm kinda feeling like we should get the broom and the dust pan out right about now...

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  30. So, it appears that YOU believe that not "all" concepts that humans have are "in brains" and so, again, I must press the question in order to get an honest answer: Are you saying that what you said in your first post, if it represented your position, has been refuted?

    In other words, you're just arguing from an atheists perspective, correct?


    No, not at all. I just don't take my beliefs in the immateriality of those concepts as something I can *demonstrate*, or establish without assuming my conclusion as a premise. It's completely faithful to understand that there are things I belief and operate by that I can't establish empirically, or by formal epistemological productions. It doesnt' mean I abandon them or deny them if I refrain from endorsing them as valid syllogisms.

    It's just a matter of being intellectually honest. I believe God created the world, but I think the banana is a futile, counterproductive way to argue for it. When I criticize Cameron/Comfort for offering the "banana" argument, I'm not arguing from an atheist perspective, but from a Christian one that just doesn't brook stupid arguments that fancy themselves as rigorous reasoning.

    So too, with Dusman's syllogism. I can demonstrate that OUR (human) concepts have physical locations. That's a legitimate assertion to make. I cannot demonstrate that OUR (human) concepts are immaterial, at least without first demonstrating the existence of God and the immaterial. So I reject that, based on my Christian beliefs and my reasoning, as a sound argument to put forth. It's an unsupportable assertion, standing on its own (our concepts are immaterial).


    I know you're committed to the idea that anyone criticizing Christian apologists is speaking for the devil. I can't help or change that. But know that there is a difference in what you *believe* and what you can *demonstrate*. I believe you imagine the two to be same in a great many cases -- if Manata believes it, it's thereby demonstrated, and anyone denying that it's been demonstrated is blaspheming.

    All I can do is keep pointing at the gap between what you believe and what you can demonstrate by reasoning and epistemic production. If it helps, I can emphasize that just because you can't demonstrate a thing empirically doesn't mean it's not true. God is not falsified if Manata fails to establish the logical *impossibility* of all other worldviews, or whatever your current banana is. We can back off the ridiculous handwaving, and you know what? God is still God, the Gospel is still the Gospel!

    Notice the use of the word "our," ace. Now, when you said "our" did you mean "humans" or do you think you're a god or an angel?

    So, it appears that YOU believe that not "all" concepts that humans have are "in brains" and so, again, I must press the question in order to get an honest answer: Are you saying that what you said in your first post, if it represented your position, has been refuted?


    I DO believe that not all concepts humans entertain are necessarily material. But it's not something I can DEMONSTRATE. That means it's not something I would try to slip into a syllogism. Doesn't mean I don't believe it. I means it doesn't qualify as knowledge that bears load empirically for a syllogism.

    There's absolutely no conflict in holding these two assertions together:

    1. Our (human) concepts have physical locations (brain-states).
    2. I believe humans also have concepts that have an immaterial (spiritual) existence as well as a physical location (brain-state).

    Now, 1) here is something that can be demonstrated I think, empirically. 2) is not.

    If that's the case, then premises that assert 2) but cannot be demonstrated ought not be offered as pillars for a syllogism like Dusman provided.


    So, no, I stand by and re-affirm that:

    OUR (human) concepts have physical locations.

    I don't think this can be refuted -- there's simply too much scientific evidence that points to this. Is it 'hogwash' to say that's *all* there is? I believe there is more than just physicality involved, but it's not something I can demonstrate. If I can't demonstrate that idea to be "hogwash", I don't expect it to be accepted as such. I don't agree with physicalist nominalism, but I do agree that it's difficult to dismiss it.

    OK, so that provides a 28-camera super slo-mo view of my thoughts on that. What other re-statements of your question do you want to throw in here so I can re-answer?

    Anyway, I haven't even begun to critique your views. I'm just trying to get precise, and that's like pulling teeth!

    I mean, if this is any indication how the debate will go once I start arguing against your theory that concepts are physical entities inside of brains, then should I even bother?


    You are certainly welcome to try that, but I don't presume to have a reason why you *should* try. You're mistaken if you think I've been pushing you to do anything. I've read enough of your stuff to anticipate the "I believe, hence it is demonstrated" rut you settle into in discussions.

    But whatever. I'm not making the claim that "Our concepts are immaterial". Dusman is. I say that cannot be demonstrated on its own. Do you disagree? If it *can* be demonstrated on its own, then I'd like to see that demonstration.

    If you suppose that my rejection of that assertion as undemonstrable is somehow a commitment on my part to show that concepts ARE only physical, think again. Try that trick on some noob. As I've said repeatedly here now, that's not a position that I endorse.

    If you make a claim, the onus is on you to support it. Dusman's claim:

    Our concepts are immaterial.

    My claim:

    Dusman's claim is not demonstrated, and thus disbles his syllogism.

    OK, so have at it, if you want. Or not.

    Yes, I do, and make sure you are up on the most recent stuff I've posted too so that you don't look like a monkey without a banana. Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything. I'm simply asking if you believe the hogwash in the first post, or if you now admit that if it was your position, it has been refuted. Talk about paranoid.

    Hmmm. How would I know I have the most recent stuff from you? And what's wrong with your "not recent" stuff? Are you declaiming your statements prior to some point? That would be useful to know.

    -Touchstone

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  31. touchstone,

    nominalists believe universals don't exist outside of the mind. but concepts are still universal. hence, nominalism is a theory of *what a universal is*. to them, it's just names (even objects aren't "names"). but they're still universals. im not arguing for the existence of God but immaterial objects.

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  32. hostus twinkius5/18/2007 1:27 PM

    SWEEP SWEEP *cough* *cough*

    ReplyDelete
  33. Manata = PWNED!

    Its almost sad how often T-stone smokes Manata

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  34. T-stone,

    Unfortunately since you can't keep up, and are filled with such hate towards any T-blogger that you can't see logical connections through the misty haze that forms over your eyes as you begin to form tears of anger when you read our posts, I now have to waste more of my time bringing out what is inherent in the posts above. let's take the journey:

    Originally T-stone said, in response to Dustin's syllogism,:


    *****

    T-stone: "You don't have to be an atheist to see the gaping hole in this syllogism. On what grounds do you say "Concepts are not material things?" If I have a concept in my head, it has a physical manifestation -- the complex electrical configurations of parts of my brain. Destroy my brain, I no longer have that concept in my brain -- it's realized in the natural world.

    Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain. If we encode symbols on paper or a disk drive, we are again employing physical resources as the material basis for a concept. Without a brain to decode and reify the symbols as a concept in the brain, there is no concept.


    *****

    And so I gave some critiques to his claims because I know that he claims to be a Christian (it's interesting to note that I don't believe his profession of faith and think he gets in these kinds of difficulties because he is ignorant of Christian theology and so forgets some basic beliefs he would have to hold if he were a Christian), and so the above couldn't be a statement of *his* beliefs on the matter.

    He responded in a confusing way (i.e., if the first statement of his was his belief, then he said some things which contradicted it later) and so I asked:


    *****

    PM: Is the above what you believe? Put differently, *you* don't really believe this hogwash about concepts themselves actually existing only in physical human brains, right? You're just playing devil's advocate, correct?

    *****


    T-stone responded to the above by saying:

    *****

    T-stone: "I'm saying that arguments that assume their conclusion are profoundly ineffective. I really don't have a problem with "God exists because God exists", but I don't recommend that as an compelling rationale to offer as our apologetic."

    *****

    Now, this *obviously* doesn't answer my question. It shows T-stone's paranoia. He can't even answer a simple question. Anyway, let’s continue on. This is how I responded back to T-stone:

    *****

    PM: "It boggles my mind why you can't seem to answer a simple question.

    I asked you if you're admitting that you don't buy the hogwash that "concepts can't exist without physical brains. Destroy the human brain, destroy the concept."

    *****

    So, as we can see, in the first T-stone quote of this post of mine, T-stone unequivocally said that "if his brain goes, the concept goes." That's because "Without a brain ... there is NO concept." Hence it is clear that the first of my T-stone quotes is claiming that "if there is no physical human brain, there is no concept."

    I had responded that humans would still have concepts without brains, while they wait for their resurrected bodies. And so if T-stone is a Christian, and believes in the existence of a soul, then he must NOT believe that "if you destroy his brain you destroy his concepts."

    And so to this rejoinder T-stone agreed that not all human concepts are destroyed if the brain is destroyed, and we would still have some concepts even though we didn't have a brain. This contradicted what he said above. I'll now cite T-stone:


    *****

    T-stone: "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do.

    *****

    Okay, everyone got that? Are we all on the same page? T-stone said that he believes that humans will have concepts without a body - which necessarily entails the thesis that it is false that "if you destroy the brain, you destroy the concepts. It's false that "Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain." It's false that "Without a brain to decode and reify the symbols as a concept in the brain, there is no concept."

    Therefore, we can see why I asked my original question, which was: "Is the above what you believe? Put differently, *you* don't really believe this hogwash about concepts themselves actually existing only in physical human brains, right? You're just playing devil's advocate, correct?"

    And so I kept asking if the *first post* by T-stone (which is represented in quote number 1 above) was T-stone's position, and not just some atheist who might disagree with Dustin's premises. Fair question, right?

    T-stone left off by assuming that he had now made himself clear. But I couldn't deny my rational faculties and overlook the blatant errors in T-stone's post. I persisted:


    *****

    PM: Anyway, I'm afraid you were not clear.

    In your first post in this combox you said:

    (*) "Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain."

    And in the post directly above this one you now claim that *some* concepts that exist are not hosted in brains.

    And so (*) would be false, yes?

    *****

    T-stone replied to the section directly above where I quoted myself by saying:

    *****

    T-stone: "Yes, and this was in response to Dusman's syllogism, specifically:

    3. Our concepts are not material things.

    Notice the word 'our' there, Ace? That's a reference to us, the people in the conversation, reading the apologetic. Humans. Not the mind of God, angels, etc. My claim stands, predicated on what Dusman said: Our concepts have physical locations -- brain-states. If you want to suggest that "Our concepts" really means "all the concepts, including God's thoughts", I'd say you're once again cutting yourself some special semantic deals behinds the curtains.

    *****

    Notice how T-stone needs to throw in the word "ace" in his post. Apparently he not only contradicts himself about what he believes regarding human concepts only existing in brains, he contradicts all his admonitions that T-bloggers be "nice" to the opponent and not engage in name calling and belittling. But, such is my experience with T-stone, the hypocriticalutionist.

    Besides that rather petty point, T-stone's *latest out* is to say that (*) is *not false* as applied to *human beings* but *is false* if applied to a broadened scope of beings, like God and angels, etc.

    So, when he said that "Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain," he meant that "Every HUMAN concept that exists is hosted in human brain." This is because he was replying to the word "our" in Dustin's post, and "our" meant "human being" and not "God or angel or etc."

    Nevertheless, given what I've quoted above, his latest claim is STILL FALSE. Now, either he's too dense to see that or he's deliberately being dishonest. However, I still took my time and tried to make the best of the situation, allowing T-stone the opportunity to correct the obvious blunders. And so I pointed out that his response to my question was not at all appropriate, and seemed to contradict *other things* he had said. And so I pointed out in response to his rhetorical question "Notice the use of the word 'our,' Ace?," this:


    *****

    Yeah, I noticed the word. But, check out what you *also* have claimed, Ace:

    T-stone: "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do. But that belief proceeds from my belief in the existence of God and the spiritual, and is only valuable if I first conclude there is a God who has endowed me with an eternal soul(and one that is a "conceptualiuzer")."

    Notice the use of the word "our," ace? Now, when you said "our" did you mean "humans" or do you think you're a god or an angel?

    So, it appears that YOU believe that not "all" concepts that humans have are "in brains" and so, again, I must press the question in order to get an honest answer: Are you saying that what you said in your first post, if it represented your position, has been refuted?"

    *****

    Now this is embarrassing, but it's typical of my conversations with T-stone. He thinks that if he "keeps coming" after he's been thoroughly refuted that that means, somehow, that he has not been refuted. But, unfortunately for him, his beliefs don't affect reality.

    Furthermore, the above quotes show that T-stone has *obviously* contradicted himself. But, just so there can be no mistake. And, so no one will say that I'm playing word games, T-stone made his beliefs clear:


    *****

    T-stone: "I stand by, and do not conflict with what I said. Unless you suppose 'our' includes God and the angels, you're mixing subjects."

    *****

    T-stone stands by the claim that:

    1) All human concepts exist in human brains.

    and

    2) Some human concepts do not exist in human brains.

    Furthermore, we have proven that he used the word "our" in reference to humans having immaterial concepts so either:

    3) He thinks he's a god or an angel

    or

    4) He did not mean what he said when he called me "Ace." Because if 'our' meant "all humans" and if "all humans" only had "concepts if they had brains" then when he said that he believed that humans have concepts that "transcend our corporeal existence," he contradicted himself.

    Furthermore, let's recall what I asked in my first question after being baffled by T-stone's confusing position:

    PM: Is the above what you believe? Put differently, *you* don't really believe this hogwash about concepts themselves actually existing only in physical human brains, right?

    And so if T-stone did not contradict himself in (4), then he answered my question in the affirmative. So, when I asked if T-stone *did not* believe what was in his very first post in the thread he should have said, "yes." Why? Because he said it later on:

    T-stone: "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do" believe.

    But if he "does believe" that not all human concepts exist in human brains, then why did he say: "I stand by, and do not conflict with what I said."? This was in direct response to my claim that what he said in his first post does not represent his beliefs. T-stone's position is hopelessly confused. It's all cut up and bloody, and there's no Good Samaritan to take care of it and nurse it back to heath. The cerebral cortex has been removed. Though T-stone still twitches, that's just his arrogant nerves refusing to die, but they will in time.

    Since we're all caught up, let's look at T-stone's latest jig:


    *****

    T-stone: "No, not at all. I just don't take my beliefs in the immateriality of those concepts as something I can *demonstrate*, or establish without assuming my conclusion as a premise."

    *****

    Oh, now I got it. So, T-stone admits that he *does believe* that not all human concepts exist in human brains, he just can't "demonstrate it."

    But, did I ever ask him to do so? And, furthermore, if he *does believe* that not all concepts exist in human brains why did he say that he "stands by what he said" in his previous posts claiming that all human concepts *do exist* only in human brains?

    Moreover, I'd like to know what he thinks about all those atheists that think they have proven, or have good arguments or reasons for supposing that concepts are immaterial yet they don't "assume T-stone's conclusion?" Hasn't he ever studied up on this issue? He acts as if he's totally ignorant of this metaphysical debate.

    Anywho, I asked T-stone if he *believes* that all concepts exist in human brains and he said "he stands by that" belief that they do and they don't. So, what he really meant was:

    5) I believe that concepts can exist without human brains.

    and

    6) I don't believe that I can *demonstrate* (5) without first proving god or the material.

    Okay, never mind that this distinction was not made until I showed the explicit contradictions in his claim, but T-stone doesn’t believe that he can *prove* God or the immaterial, so he doesn't believe that he *can* demonstrate that humans have immaterial concepts. Furthermore, I never asked (6), just (5). And so at best, T-stone is as thick headed as a brick.

    But, let's move on, T-stone ALSO can't know that concepts only exist in human brains!

    Why, well for one, (5) shows that he thinks the claim false, and one can't know what is false. Second, T-stone says that he can't know something unless he can point to a deductive syllogism necessitating the conclusion. He writes,

    T-stone: "Espistemically, we *don't* know that God got it right this time. I'm not one to point to a deductive production that establishes that."

    Therefore, our analysis drives us to the conclusion that T-stone "demonstrates" what he believes is false and what he can't establish by a deductive syllogism - which is the only way to know something, per T-stone.

    Furthermore, T-stone contradicts himself again. He writes:


    *****

    T-stone: "All I can do is keep pointing at the gap between what you believe and what you can demonstrate by reasoning and epistemic production."

    *****

    But then he should say that he can "demonstrate" that concepts exist in brains. I mean, he puts forth the pathetic argument that:

    1) Scientists notice brain activity occurring when people think about concepts:

    __________

    2) Therefore, concepts are in the brain.

    This no more proves that the *concept* is in the brain that this argument:

    1) When people think about God scientists notice brain activity occurring when people think about concepts

    ____________

    2) Therefore, God is in the brain.

    Furthermore, how do our metasubjective concepts exist in the brain? Can the first person be studied by the third person observer?

    Or, take T-stone's claim that his idea that concepts are in the brain can be "demonstrated empirically." Oh-yeah, how about the concept of a "self that endures through time?" How is that justified on "experience?" Hasn’t he read his Hume? or, how did he form his concept of "immaterial?" Or "God?" By "observation?

    And, why doesn't he spell all this out? What, are concepts bundles of neurons? Why can't we open the head and see something purple if I have a concept of purple?

    Also, let's take the concept "white." Notice I said "the." That's because there is *one* concept. But, if concepts were physical entities then there would be many concepts of white. There is not many. Therefore concepts are not physical entities. Now, T-stone may say that *the* concept is *instantiated* in his brain as some sort of neural structure, but that doesn't mean that *the concept* is in his brain. Moreover, since when T-stone dies the concept of white does not die, *the* concept can't be in his brain. In response, T-stone says:


    *****

    As for the "same concept" being in your head and mine, that's just a semantic choice. What do you mean by "same", in other words. As for abstract particulars/tropes, Stout says "aye", Landesman says "nay", and I say, how does this attach to whether concepts have an immaterial existence or not?

    *****

    Notice the non-answer. Anyway, I mean by "the same" being one or identical. That is, if both you and I have the concept 'white' we have the identical concept. If you think of 'blue' when I say 'white,' then we don't have the same concept. If not, then my concept is identical with yours.

    Now, my concept may extend further, or be more robust, but it at least has what you have. As the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy states,


    "A given concept is expressible using distinct verbal expressions. This can occur in several different ways. My uttering “Snow is white” and your uttering “Snow is white” are distinct utterances, and their predicates are distinct expressions of the same concept [white]. My uttering “Snow is white” and your uttering “Schnee ist Weiss” are distinct sentences with their respective predicates expressing the same concept ([white], again). Even within the same language, my uttering “Grisham is the author of The Firm” and your uttering “Grisham is The Firm’s author” are distinct sentences with distinct predicates, yet their respective predicates express the same concept (the concept [the author of The Firm], in this case)."

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/c/concepts.htm#SH2b

    And so when your brain is destroyed, the concept "White" is not thereby destroyed, therefore *the* concept white is not inside your brain.

    Moving on, T-stone makes the same blunder he has repeatedly. He claims,


    *****

    Dusman's claim is not demonstrated, and thus disbles his syllogism.

    *****

    And now we see his internalism come out:

    If a claim in a syllogism is not demonstrated, the argument is disabled."

    Okay, so where is his syllogism for the view that he can demonstrate that human concepts are in brains? Let’s say he offers:

    P1. X

    P2. Y

    P3. XY

    I will then ask him to demonstrate X and Y. So he does by:

    P1'. X '

    P2'. Y '

    I will then ask for X ' and Y ' to be demonstrated. Say he offers:

    P1''. X ''

    P2''. Y ''

    I will then ask for X '' and Y '' to be demonstrated. He cannot demonstrate infinitely, and so his "syllogism" is disabled since it can't get started.

    Let's end with more T-stone absurdities. In his lat post he states:


    *****

    T-stone: "So, no, I stand by and re-affirm that:

    OUR (human) concepts have physical locations."

    *****

    And so he "stands by" and "re-affirms" what he "believes" is false!

    It's like saying that you affirm the non-existence of Santa Clause, but you really believe he exists!

    T-stone is a clown of monumental proportions.

    If he were consistent he'd drop both claims - that concepts are inside human heads, and that they are immaterial. I've proven that he can't know the former since one can't know what he believes is false, and so he's just trying to refute Dustin and myself with an OPINION. So, if mere opinions are prized so highly by T-stone, here's my counter:

    1. It's my opinion that our concepts are immaterial.

    2. It's my opinion that they exist.

    3. Therefore, it's my opinion that some versions of materialism are false.

    And, then I'll just say that I can "*demonstrate*" the above by arguments which are based on my opinion, and don't deductively lead to the conclusion, and which I ultimately think are false.

    Have a nice day.

    ~PM

    ReplyDelete
  35. Can I conclude that his(T-stone) concepts are immaterial?

    ReplyDelete
  36. That was a serious dismanteling. I was actually blushing for Touchstone as I was reading it. Major PWNAGE!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Paul,

    1) All human concepts exist in human brains.

    and

    2) Some human concepts do not exist in human brains.


    The way you have it, 1)
    can be read the wrong way -- it's vague, and of course, you're reading it the wrong way. This is a better representation of my position.

    1. All concepts that humans possess have a location in the brain (a brain-state).

    As for 2), I did omit a qualifier that I can see leading to your statement of 2). Above I have this:

    I DO believe that not all concepts humans entertain are necessarily material.

    That should have an "exclusively" inserted:

    I DO believe that not all concepts humans entertain are necessarily EXCLUSIVELY material.

    Just a couple sentences after that you will see this from me:

    2. I believe humans also have concepts that have an immaterial (spiritual) existence as well as a physical location (brain-state).

    (emphasis added)

    I also allowed for the existence of concepts that are wholly immaterial -- not human-based (my 11:47pm comment).


    2) I believe there are concepts that transcend our material existence, and that some concepts have no physical context.


    So there are three possible existential states here that I identify for a concept:

    1. Wholly material.
    2. Material + immaterial
    3. Wholly immaterial.

    I believe one can show that humans locate their concepts in the brains as brain-states. We can look at neurological and physilogical evidence that establishes the connection between cognitive conceptual processing (e.g. speaking) and electrical/chemical activities in the brain.

    So, 1) above can be shown. 2) and 3) can't be, so far as I'm aware.

    In any case, I do not think, and have not thought, that there are *human* concepts that do not have a physical location. They may *also* have an immaterial existence, but that does not negate or eliminate the physical location.

    So 2) as you have it above - "2) Some human concepts do not exist in human brains." is not correct. One way to correct it would be to say:

    2) Some concepts do not exist in human brains.

    If it's a "human concept" than it exists in a human brain, definitionally. That's what makes it a "human concept" -- having it in one's brain.

    The next section in your comments ("3) He thinks he's a god... let's look at T-Stone's latest jig.") are all predicated on the mistaken impression that I caused with the omission of "exclusively", as addressed above. I think if you run that through your grinder in light of that correction, you will find there's no "gotcha" here.

    Anywho, I asked T-stone if he *believes* that all concepts exist in human brains and he said "he stands by that" belief that they do and they don't. So, what he really meant was:

    That's a clear representation of what I said. Given the "our" comments ("Ace"), it's hard to believe that you missed the distinction. Concepts that humans possess have physical locations. The qualifier there is important.

    Okay, never mind that this distinction was not made until I showed the explicit contradictions in his claim, but T-stone doesn’t believe that he can *prove* God or the immaterial, so he doesn't believe that he *can* demonstrate that humans have immaterial concepts. Furthermore, I never asked (6), just (5). And so at best, T-stone is as thick headed as a brick.

    Let me get this straight. I'm as "thick headed as a brick" because I offered observations you didn't ask for??? And that's the best case? Wouldn't that be a problem if I were to use that criterion on you?

    But, let's move on, T-stone ALSO can't know that concepts only exist in human brains!

    That's correct. I don't know that.

    Why, well for one, (5) shows that he thinks the claim false, and one can't know what is false. Second, T-stone says that he can't know something unless he can point to a deductive syllogism necessitating the conclusion. He writes,

    (5) Would be referring to concepts that are *not* possessed by humans, Paul. It's my allowance that some concepts can exist in the Mind of God, or angels. As above, if a human has the concept, she has it in her brain. There may be "non-human" concepts, however, concepts which humans do not, or cannot entertain.

    Therefore, our analysis drives us to the conclusion that T-stone "demonstrates" what he believes is false and what he can't establish by a deductive syllogism - which is the only way to know something, per T-stone.

    No, I was pointing out that I'm not the one offering such syllogisms. I don't suppose that is the only route to knowledge. By saying "I'm not the one..." I meant to suggest that others *are* inclined to point to such syllogisms as conclusive demonstrations. That's an error, and one I try to avoid. But there's plenty of other tools in the epistemological toolbox to work with besides deductive syllogisms.


    But then he should say that he can "demonstrate" that concepts exist in brains. I mean, he puts forth the pathetic argument that:

    1) Scientists notice brain activity occurring when people think about concepts:

    __________

    2) Therefore, concepts are in the brain.


    First, I don't suppose that's the *sum* of the demonstration at all. I was just pointing to the body of scientific evidence available that supports the idea that brains run on electro-chemical processes. If you think that the brain is the seat of cognition and conceptual processing, then this should be completely non-controversial.

    And, given the, um, self-indulgent way you're given to reading things here, let me add a qualification that's probably necessary to avoid another rabbit trail: any such demonstration of the physical processes involved in cognition and conceptual processing in humans does *not* of necessity deny any immaterial existence of anything. It doesn't affirm it, either. It doesn't speak to that issue either way.

    If you want to go look at the related science, I'm game to go dig into that. All I ask is an understanding up front that scientific evidence *is* relevant in demonstrating the physicality of human conceptual processing. If you are going to pull a Steve Hays on the scientific witness here, let's just not waste any more time on that idea.

    This no more proves that the *concept* is in the brain that this argument:

    1) When people think about God scientists notice brain activity occurring when people think about concepts

    ____________

    2) Therefore, God is in the brain.


    I don't know where you came up with that production, but that's nonsense. The concept is not the thing. The concept of "white" is not white. The concept of God is not God. The understanding in the science/medical field is that the brain has electro-chemical processes that enable brain activity. Electrical impulses carry signals from nerves to the brain (e.g. sight), and subsequent electro-chemical processes process the stimuli, often at multiple levels of abstraction.

    This activity is not thought to represent the *referent* but its human cognitive representation. If you do a little looking before we press on that (if we are to press on that), you'll note that there's a lot more to consider here than my casual observation about brain activity.

    Furthermore, how do our metasubjective concepts exist in the brain? Can the first person be studied by the third person observer?

    No idea, Paul. What would you expect here for an answer? An electrical diagram? I suppose there are experts that could speak to the physiological differences (if any) between different classes of concepts, but that wouldn't be expertise I have, or expertise that seems relevant here. Or do you suppose that metasubjective concepts introduce some kind of unusual physiological demand in our brains?

    Or, take T-stone's claim that his idea that concepts are in the brain can be "demonstrated empirically." Oh-yeah, how about the concept of a "self that endures through time?" How is that justified on "experience?" Hasn’t he read his Hume? or, how did he form his concept of "immaterial?" Or "God?" By "observation?

    Heh heh. You're feeling clever now, that you can think up a concept that doesn't have a study attached to in PubMed... that's funny.

    Scientifically, the understanding is more general; the brain is the seat of all cognitive activity. Turn off the brain, all cognitive capabilities disappear. Brain lesions and in vivo neuro-imaging tests done via PET and fMRI register the correlated (and spatially differentiated) blood flows and electrical chantes that correspond to conceptual processing (language, image recognition, addition, etc.)

    We have an evidential basis for placing cognitive functions in the brain, and dependent on the brain's continued functionality to operate. If you thing that conceptualization is a cognitive function (hardly a controversial idea, I'd have thought), then human conceptual processing is a physical process by virtue of it being a subset of cognition (or perhaps synonomous with cognition in the view of some).

    And so when your brain is destroyed, the concept "White" is not thereby destroyed, therefore *the* concept white is not inside your brain.

    Now you're making me repeat myself. I said this above in my earlier comments:


    I don't suppose the concept is necessary destroyed with the brain. We won't make headway without some agreement to terms, but if you take the example of the concept of 'multiplication', and stipulate that other brains that maintain a like concept are maintaining the *same* concept, then destroying a brain containing the concept of 'multiplication' does not destroy the concept in a general sense, as it exists in other locations/instances.

    OK, so you have your answer upthread from me on that. A concept can exist across multiple brains. That doesn't make it immaterial, just distributed.

    I will then ask for X '' and Y '' to be demonstrated. He cannot demonstrate infinitely, and so his "syllogism" is disabled since it can't get started.

    I'm not supposing it has to be demonstrated inline, and there's no thing that would force an infinite chain of demonstrations. For example:

    a) All US Presidents before 2000ad were male.
    b) Abraham Lincoln was a US president before 2000ad.
    ergo) Abraham Lincoln was a male.

    Now, let's see how your novel idea holds up here. You ask me to demonstrate a) and b). I furnish you with a stack of documents that list the Presidents up until 2000ad, various pictures, news articles, and whatever other evidences you'd like to satisfy yourself.

    And now, you what? Demonstrate a)'??? You're letting the symbolic notation confuse you, I think. If I document that Abraham Lincoln was a US president in the 19th century, then we're done. That claim is demonstrated. No infinite regress needed, or applicable.

    Given that, maybe you can show me how I "can't get started" with such a syllogism. Now if I said:

    a) All US Presidents before 2000ad were male.
    b) George Gershwin was a US president before 2000ad.
    ergo) George Gershwin was a male.

    If you're on your game, you would object, saying that b) cannot be demonstrated. And indeed, it cannot, and the syllogism is thus disabled. The logical form is *identical* in both of those cases, and completely valid as a matter of logical form. But such a syllogism derives its truth from the logical coherence and the validity of the constituent claims. Dusman offered us something like b) here in his syllogism... b) here being more problematic as it's demonstrable *false*, rather than Dusman's *not demonstrably true*.

    And so he "stands by" and "re-affirms" what he "believes" is false!

    It's like saying that you affirm the non-existence of Santa Clause, but you really believe he exists!


    No, that would mean, to apply your analogy, that "I affirm that concepts are *only* physical, but really believe they may be physical and immaterial." I affirm that concepts held by humans are *at least* physical, but may also be more than that (immaterial as well).

    If he were consistent he'd drop both claims - that concepts are inside human heads, and that they are immaterial. I've proven that he can't know the former since one can't know what he believes is false, and so he's just trying to refute Dustin and myself with an OPINION. So, if mere opinions are prized so highly by T-stone, here's my counter:

    1. It's my opinion that our concepts are immaterial.

    2. It's my opinion that they exist.

    3. Therefore, it's my opinion that some versions of materialism are false.


    Wonderful. A moment of lucidity. I may not agree with those opinions, but as expressed, they are reasonable, and honest.

    And, then I'll just say that I can "*demonstrate*" the above by arguments which are based on my opinion, and don't deductively lead to the conclusion, and which I ultimately think are false.

    Now, now. You were doing so well there just a moment ago. Demonstrations here implies some evidence. That's the kicker. Sheer opinion doesn't pass muster as "demonstration". Your opinion may be demonstrable, but it's your ability to demonstrate it that matters here, not its sanction by you.

    Stripping it down, you can even flatter yourself and reject whatever scientific evidence is presented for human cognition as a biological process. It would not rescue Dusman even then. For in deciding for yourself that I haven't demonstrated the physicality of human concepts, you've not made a single step toward demonstrating that "Our concepts are immaterial".

    It stands, yet, unsupported, undemonstrated by Dusman, or you. If Dusman is willing to say that in his opinion, our concepts are immaterial, I think I still would have disagreed, but with an opinion. As it is, it's presented as *knowledge*, as a truth. If it is, than it should be possible to demonstrate that "our concepts our immaterial".

    You can go on all you want about "enduring concept of self", and I'm willing to discuss and defend my statements at length. But don't kid yourself in thinking that the "best defense is a good offense" approach gets Dusman off the hook (or you, insofar as you join in his claims). I'll answer your questions, but will not forget in the process the jumping off point here: Dusman's claim is not demonstrated, and I believe it cannot be.

    There's a recurring pattern here at T-Blog that goes like this:

    1. T-Blogger makes claim A.
    2. Critic says "A isn't shown to be true."
    3. T-Blogger demands that critic prove the negation of A.

    It's T-Blog's own game of Three Card Monty. The "trick" here is the expectation that the critic or those reading will somehow forget that the critic doesn't take on any burden for "not-A" when he asserts that A is not demonstrable.

    This comment thread is a good example:

    Dusman: 3) Our concepts are immaterial.
    Touchstone: 3) isn't demonstrable
    Manata: Touchstone must prove concepts are not immaterial!

    Or Peter Pike's line (available in dozens of spots)

    Pike: Even if he doesn't want to persuade someone, an atheist still must come up with a reason as to how the world exists the way it does without God.

    Or:

    Pike: The world can only exist as it is because God exists.

    Critic: That isn't demonstrable.

    Pike: Critic must prove the world can exist as it is without God!

    (see here

    I'm happy to indulge a lot of diversions, and defend my own statements and claims, even if that defense is being demanded as a way to change the focus from my original complaint.

    But my original complaint hasn't gone away. Dusman's 3) remains to be shown.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  38. Geoffery J. Ehret5/19/2007 11:03 AM

    "I DO believe that not all concepts humans entertain are necessarily EXCLUSIVELY material."

    LOL. What ad hocery. Touchstone, you look like a fool, admit it.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Touchstone must be a Christian! Look at how he's "resolving" the blatently contradictory claims he's made. Just like Christains do with "the bible." I would aprreciate it if the Triabloguers would stop referring to him as an atheist. He's your mess, not ours.

    ReplyDelete
  40. T-stone's been nuked, now we're just mopping up the debris.

    T-stone writes,

    *****

    Paul,

    1) All human concepts exist in human brains.

    and

    2) Some human concepts do not exist in human brains.

    The way you have it, 1)
    can be read the wrong way -- it's vague, and of course, you're reading it the wrong way. This is a better representation of my position.

    1. All concepts that humans possess have a location in the brain (a brain-state).


    *****

    First, how is his reformulation of (1) relevantly different than what i wrote as (1)?

    Second, T-stone doesn't believe even his reformulation of (1). Because, if there is a concept that a human has, and it is not located in a brain, then (1) is false. T-stone admits one is false when he says, "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do." Since "transcending corporeal existence" means, at least, not "having a brain," and since T-stone believes that humans will have concepts without brains, then it is false that *ALL* human concepts have location in the brain (a brain-state).

    So, he doesn't believe (1). That is, he thinks it's false. But, he thinks he can "demonstrate" (1). So, T-stone can demonstrate what he believes is false. Much like lawyers can get clients off who they believe are guilty. T-stone's a modern day sophist. A lawyer.

    Let's now look at his reformulation of (2):

    *****

    "As for 2), I did omit a qualifier that I can see leading to your statement of 2). Above I have this:

    I DO believe that not all concepts humans entertain are necessarily material.

    That should have an "exclusively" inserted:

    I DO believe that not all concepts humans entertain are necessarily EXCLUSIVELY material."


    *****

    So, some concepts humans have are material, some are material and immaterial, and some are immaterial. He says so himself,

    "So there are three possible existential states here that I identify for a concept:

    a. Wholly material.
    b. Material + immaterial
    c. Wholly immaterial."

    So, he now covers his basis. He holds almost every possible position and so cannot contradict himself.

    But, can these three states be squared with what he originally stated? Let's look at T-stone's *original comment* on the matter:

    *****

    "You don't have to be an atheist to see the gaping hole in this syllogism. On what grounds do you say "Concepts are not material things?" If I have a concept in my head, it has a physical manifestation -- the complex electrical configurations of parts of my brain. Destroy my brain, I no longer have that concept in my brain -- it's realized in the natural world [...] Every concept that exists is "hosted" in a brain. If we encode symbols on paper or a disk drive, we are again employing physical resources as the material basis for a concept. Without a brain [...] there is no concept.

    I believe this kind of syllogism stems from the difficulty of perceiving the physical characteristics of our brain. We don't "see" concepts, as they are [...] physical configurations in our brains. Never the less, destroy a man's brain, and you will have destroyed his concepts.

    *****

    Notice his believe in (c) above contradicts almost everything I bolded above. Notice that (b) does so as well. Furthermore, notice above that he says that "if the brain is destroyed, the concept is destroyed." But, he elsewhere says,

    "I don't suppose the concept is necessary destroyed with the brain."

    But above he said, "destroy the brain, destroy the concept."

    Let's move one:

    *****

    "In any case, I do not think, and have not thought, that there are *human* concepts that do not have a physical location. They may *also* have an immaterial existence, but that does not negate or eliminate the physical location."

    *****

    i) Why doesn't the "man of science" employ Occam's razor here? If the concept can be had with the brain itself, why add that the concept is also had immaterially?

    ii) But unfortunately, I pointed out that he believes that humans CAN have concepts without brains; thus making them wholly immaterial:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    So he's wrong when he says,

    "I do not think, and have not thought, that there are *human* concepts that do not have a physical location."

    Since this incorporeal humans do not have brains, but they do have concepts, then these concepts that these humans have "do not have a physical location," and that's because nothing incorporeal has a "physical location."

    Continuing:

    *****

    The next section in your comments ("3) He thinks he's a god... let's look at T-Stone's latest jig.") are all predicated on the mistaken impression that I caused with the omission of "exclusively", as addressed above. I think if you run that through your grinder in light of that correction, you will find there's no "gotcha" here."

    *****

    But there is a "gotcha." T-stone said that "'our' means "humans and not God, unless Paul Manata wants to include God and angels with 'our." But I showed that T-stone himself said that there are concepts that humans have while not having brains, and he even said 'our." Note well:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    Notice the word "our" there? That means, "humans." Unless, of course, T-stone thinks he's a god or an angel.

    Moving on...

    *****

    "That's a clear representation of what I said. Given the "our" comments ("Ace"), it's hard to believe that you missed the distinction. Concepts that humans possess have physical locations. The qualifier there is important."

    *****

    Unfortunately T-stone keeps forgetting that he's pretending to be a Christian and therefore believes that the saints in heaven are human, have concepts, but do not have bodies. So, the concepts those humans posses do not have locations!

    Furthermore, he believes in the soul. He said so himself. So what does he think the soul is, actually? Most people that say that they hold to the soul, and are Christians, believe that we have a mind that is immaterial and a body that is material. But, if concepts are in physical brains, why need the mind? Indeed, since concepts are constituents of thoughts, then thoughts must be material as well! And so there's no need for a soul. if T-stone believes in a soul, its utterly superfluous. He has no reason to believe in it.

    Advancing forward....

    *****

    "Let me get this straight. I'm as "thick headed as a brick" because I offered observations you didn't ask for??? And that's the best case? Wouldn't that be a problem if I were to use that criterion on you?"

    *****

    This is in response to his ad hoc save of his position. When I showed he contradicted himself he said, "No, I meant that I believe that humans have immaterial concepts, but I can *demonstrate* this." But, I never asked him about what he thought he could demonstrate, but, rather, what he *believed.* He can't even keep the discussion straight in his mind, maybe his neurons are misfiring?

    Continuing....

    ****

    PM: "But, let's move on, T-stone ALSO can't know that concepts only exist in human brains!"

    T-stone: "That's correct. I don't know that."


    *****

    Notice above that he says that he "demonstrated" that concepts only exist in human brains, and here says that he doesn't "know it," though.

    Moving on....

    *****

    "(5) Would be referring to concepts that are *not* possessed by humans, Paul. It's my allowance that some concepts can exist in the Mind of God, or angels. As above, if a human has the concept, she has it in her brain. There may be "non-human" concepts, however, concepts which humans do not, or cannot entertain."

    *****

    Poor T-stone, can't even see that his throat is cut and he's bleeding like a stuck pig. Recall that T-stone said,

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    See! he says that "we" have "concepts" without having a "corporeal" existence.
    Translated:

    "Humans have concepts without having brains."

    T-stone is dead. Finished. He, nor anyone, can deny the logic above. It's inescapable.

    Continuing, T-stone tries to put a spin on what he's said elsewhere:

    *****

    "T-stone: "Espistemically, we *don't* know that God got it right this time. I'm not one to point to a deductive production that establishes that."

    *****

    His fancy footwork:

    *****

    "No, I was pointing out that I'm not the one offering such syllogisms. I don't suppose that is the only route to knowledge. By saying "I'm not the one..." I meant to suggest that others *are* inclined to point to such syllogisms as conclusive demonstrations. That's an error, and one I try to avoid. But there's plenty of other tools in the epistemological toolbox to work with besides deductive syllogisms."

    *****

    That's clearly not what he said. In the post HE was asked how HE knows if God "got it right." And, he said that HE did not know. Why? Because HE was not going to point to a deductive syllogism demonstrating that.

    The context is here for all to read:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/11/incredible-smallness-of-jesus.html#c116456400101560118

    So, HE was asked a question and he said "WE," which was him speaking for all us Christians - I'd appreciate it if he didn't speak for me in the future, thank you - as well as himself "did not know" the answer to the question. This only makes sense on his deductive, infallibilist constraint, otherwise surely he *could* say that "we" know that God got it right! Anyway, T-stone's been proven to be a liar. Look at the extremes he goes to in order to escape his absurd statements.

    Moving forward we see his response to my claim that his argument from "science" is bogus. He argues that concepts are in brains because scientists note electro-chemical reaction in the head while people think about concepts.

    The argument is this:

    1) Scientists notice brain activity occurring when people think about concepts:

    __________

    2) Therefore, concepts are in the brain.


    His reply is this:

    *****

    "First, I don't suppose that's the *sum* of the demonstration at all. I was just pointing to the body of scientific evidence available that supports the idea that brains run on electro-chemical processes. If you think that the brain is the seat of cognition and conceptual processing, then this should be completely non-controversial.

    And, given the, um, self-indulgent way you're given to reading things here, let me add a qualification that's probably necessary to avoid another rabbit trail: any such demonstration of the physical processes involved in cognition and conceptual processing in humans does *not* of necessity deny any immaterial existence of anything. It doesn't affirm it, either. It doesn't speak to that issue either way.

    If you want to go look at the related science, I'm game to go dig into that. All I ask is an understanding up front that scientific evidence *is* relevant in demonstrating the physicality of human conceptual processing. If you are going to pull a Steve Hays on the scientific witness here, let's just not waste any more time on that idea."


    *****

    First, that's all he's presented, and that is how the arguments go.

    Two. Not only that, it also does not prove things like concepts, thoughts, consciousness, et all are physical. Just that there are *also* corresponding physical states happening. Philosopher William Vallicella notes,

    "So for the dualist, the mind can exist without being embodied. But my mind, with which I am rather well acquainted, is an embodied mind. It is embodied as a matter of contingent fact, though not as a matter of metaphysical necessity. So it is not surprising that what goes on in my mind affects and is affected by what goes on in my brain and central nervous system. It is not surprising that the states of an embodied mind will be affected by alcohol in the bloodstream. In general, it is not surprising that (some) changes in the brain will bring about changes in the mind.

    Since the facts that Malcolm adduces can be explained both materialistically and dualistically,, his adducing of said facts does not support materialism over dualism. Since the facts are consistent with both schemes, they do not entail either scheme."

    Three, this is a *philosophical* dispute. But, if you think you have anything that *refutes* my position, that is, an undefeated-defeater, be my guest. Likewise, you must also note that *philosophical evidence* is likewise relevant. Note, pointing out that there are effects happening in the brain is *fully consistent* with my position. So, I find it hard toi see how you can refute me; unless you're attacking a straw-man.

    T-stone plays dense in responding to my parody of his argument from "science:"

    *****

    "I don't know where you came up with that production, but that's nonsense. The concept is not the thing. The concept of "white" is not white. The concept of God is not God. The understanding in the science/medical field is that the brain has electro-chemical processes that enable brain activity. Electrical impulses carry signals from nerves to the brain (e.g. sight), and subsequent electro-chemical processes process the stimuli, often at multiple levels of abstraction."

    *****

    Unfortunately T-stone is not paying attention to the "scientific" evidence pointing out that "god" is just a product of the brain. "Religion" is just a product of the brain. The are *the same* arguments for the idea that concepts are matter and located in brains:

    SEE HERE

    AND HERE

    HERE TOO

    AS WELL AS HERE

    One review states,

    "Scott Atran, a cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, presents in this volume a rich, nuanced cognitive-evolutionary account of religion...From this vantage, religion is not doctrine, or institutions, or even faith. Religion ensues from the ordinary workings of the human mind as it deals with emotionally compelling problems of human existence, such as birth, aging, death, unforeseen calamities, and love...I have little but praise for this marvelous book...It does not take long to realize that one is dealing with a formidable mind; Atran is not only a fine writer, his breadth of knowledge and intellectual depth are nothing short of inspiring. This book is one to read slowly and savor. Keep a post-it pad handy, to mark the pages: the scope of this book is so wide-ranging that whatever your research interest in evolutionary psychology, it is bound to be touched upon at some point in these 400 pages of informative analysis."--Human Nature Review"

    And another states,


    "It's all in the mind!, June 16, 2005

    By Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews

    A surge of interest in the evolutionary basis for religion has resulted in some fine works. Few, however, approach the careful analysis and depth of insight offered by Atran's excellent book. Asking the question, "Why do humans put so many resources into a counterintuitive supernatural world?", he responds that the answers fall easily into an evolutionary framework. He goes on to explain, in ten easy steps[!] how this circumstance has come about. The core of the presentation is what practices we follow are derived from normal, everyday behaviour traits. These traits are human cognitive ones, which makes their biological roots distant but traceable. The human mind, derived from the sudden expansion of cognitive abilities about fifty thousand years ago, put us in a unique position in the animal kingdom. Religion is the price we pay for being "special"."

    And so here is what the "science" T-stone worships has "proven." Cognitive studies show certain electro-chemical reactions going on in the mind when people think about God and religion, therefore those things are in the brain!

    Same argument he uses on me. If one is valid, why isn't the other?

    I then ask how "metasubjective" concepts can exist in the brain. T-stone replies,

    *****

    " No idea, Paul. What would you expect here for an answer? An electrical diagram? I suppose there are experts that could speak to the physiological differences (if any) between different classes of concepts, but that wouldn't be expertise I have, or expertise that seems relevant here. Or do you suppose that metasubjective concepts introduce some kind of unusual physiological demand in our brains?"

    *****

    Never missing an opportunity to show how dense he is, I see. The point is, if the concept was *physical* is would be open to *third-party* inspection. But, these concepts are not. This has been called the "hard problem" in consciousness. No one has figured this out.

    Furthermore, above T-stone brings up intentionality. He writes, quite correctly, "The concept of "white" is not white. The concept of God is not God." First, the concept of a concept is a concept! Anyway, how can a physical thing be *ABOUT* something? How does it have that characteristic? piece of matter is "about" another piece of matter. Or, "of" another piece of matter. Can T-stone put that into scientific terms for us? What is it for one bit of matter to be "of" or "about" another bit of matter?

    Moving on....

    T-stone said concepts in the brain are demonstrated empirically. I asked him how to empirically demonstrate the concept of God, the self, and immaterial. And, how do these form given his empiricism and materialism. He responded:

    *****

    "Heh heh. You're feeling clever now, that you can think up a concept that doesn't have a study attached to in PubMed... that's funny.

    Scientifically, the understanding is more general; the brain is the seat of all cognitive activity. Turn off the brain, all cognitive capabilities disappear. Brain lesions and in vivo neuro-imaging tests done via PET and fMRI register the correlated (and spatially differentiated) blood flows and electrical chantes that correspond to conceptual processing (language, image recognition, addition, etc.)

    We have an evidential basis for placing cognitive functions in the brain, and dependent on the brain's continued functionality to operate. If you thing that conceptualization is a cognitive function (hardly a controversial idea, I'd have thought), then human conceptual processing is a physical process by virtue of it being a subset of cognition (or perhaps synonomous with cognition in the view of some)."


    *****

    This misses the boat. The concept of an enduring self is not developed via empirical means. How could this concept be *physical?* If the concept were physical wouldn't it of had to have been caused by physical processes? Well, how was this concept caused?

    And, since beliefs are positive cognitive attitudes towards propositions, having *propositional content,* how is this *physical?* Since beliefs are constituted by *concepts,* then they would have to be physical. But, since the *same belief* can be had by two different people, how can it be physical? And, if it is, does it cause behavior in virtue of it being *true?* Like an opera singer shattering a glass by hitting a high C, the glass shatters *even if* she sings "2 + 2 = 5"! Indeed, it looks as if the *content* of a belief is not physical, and so how are all its parts physical? If the constituents, being concepts, are not physical, then concepts are not. If they are, it seems hard to see how they could effect behavior in virtue of their being true. Are neurons or brain states "true?" A neuron matching up to a false belief would seem to be the same, ontologically, as a neuron for a true belief.

    T-stone claims,

    *****

    "OK, so you have your answer upthread from me on that. A concept can exist across multiple brains. That doesn't make it immaterial, just distributed."

    *****

    How does this work, again? If the *same* concept is distributed, then destroying the brain doesn't destroy *the concept* just a distribution *of* it. An *instantiation.* And, furthermore, we've noted that it's suspect to say that concepts are destroyed if the brain is; noting that T-stone himself doesn't believe this.

    Continuing:

    *****

    PM: "I will then ask for X '' and Y '' to be demonstrated. He cannot demonstrate infinitely, and so his "syllogism" is disabled since it can't get started.

    T-stone: I'm not supposing it has to be demonstrated inline, and there's no thing that would force an infinite chain of demonstrations. For example:

    a) All US Presidents before 2000ad were male.
    b) Abraham Lincoln was a US president before 2000ad.
    ergo) Abraham Lincoln was a male.

    Now, let's see how your novel idea holds up here. You ask me to demonstrate a) and b). I furnish you with a stack of documents that list the Presidents up until 2000ad, various pictures, news articles, and whatever other evidences you'd like to satisfy yourself.

    And now, you what? Demonstrate a)'??? You're letting the symbolic notation confuse you, I think. If I document that Abraham Lincoln was a US president in the 19th century, then we're done. That claim is demonstrated. No infinite regress needed, or applicable."


    *****

    That's right, T-stone. If I wanted to, I could ask you to demonstrate all your evidence.

    More gibberish

    *****

    "No, that would mean, to apply your analogy, that "I affirm that concepts are *only* physical, but really believe they may be physical and immaterial." I affirm that concepts held by humans are *at least* physical, but may also be more than that (immaterial as well). "

    *****

    I've already disproved this since he says that humans have concepts that transcend having brains, so *for them* it's not "at least" physical. Furthermore, if the concept can be had with a body, then why does he need to add the immaterial? If he really believes (a), then there's no use in holding to (b); except, that is(!), to avoid the blatant contradictions I've pointed out. T-stone is a hack. This is so dishonest, I have to believe he's an atheist in disguise. Is he this proud? He was refuted, and instead of agreeing he says, "Oh, you can't catch me, because I believe that concepts are BOTH immaterial and material." Give me a break.

    He stuffs his foot in his mouth again:

    *****

    "It stands, yet, unsupported, undemonstrated by Dusman, or you. If Dusman is willing to say that in his opinion, our concepts are immaterial, I think I still would have disagreed, but with an opinion. As it is, it's presented as *knowledge*, as a truth. If it is, than it should be possible to demonstrate that "our concepts our immaterial"."

    *****

    Notice here he says that if you demonstrate something then you "know" it. But, above, he said (a) he can demonstrate that concepts are material and existing in brains, but (b) he doesn't know that they are!

    Furthermore, he thinks that if something is "knowledge" then it "can be demonstrated."

    Okay, what about *that* claim? Does T-stone "know" it? the "demonstrate it." if he does, then does he "know" that he "demonstrated" it? If so, demonstrate again. Ad infinitum! Perhaps he doesn't know that if if one "knows" something then one must be able to "demonstrate" it. if so, then who cares about his OPINION!

    Continuing....

    *****

    "You can go on all you want about "enduring concept of self", and I'm willing to discuss and defend my statements at length. But don't kid yourself in thinking that the "best defense is a good offense" approach gets Dusman off the hook (or you, insofar as you join in his claims). I'll answer your questions, but will not forget in the process the jumping off point here: Dusman's claim is not demonstrated, and I believe it cannot be. "

    *****

    Here he just means "I don't agree with your demonstrations." Is T-stone a sloppy thinker, or what? I think I *have* demonstrated my thesis above. SO WHAT that T-stone doesn't "think" it can be done. I mean, does he think that he must agree with my demonstration in order for it to be demonstrated? Well, that would fit well with his egotistical and pompous attitude.

    Moving forward...

    *****

    "There's a recurring pattern here at T-Blog that goes like this:

    1. T-Blogger makes claim A.
    2. Critic says "A isn't shown to be true."
    3. T-Blogger demands that critic prove the negation of A.

    It's T-Blog's own game of Three Card Monty. The "trick" here is the expectation that the critic or those reading will somehow forget that the critic doesn't take on any burden for "not-A" when he asserts that A is not demonstrable."


    *****

    Of course this is just a bunch of B.S., as we'll see directly below:

    *****

    "This comment thread is a good example:

    Dusman: 3) Our concepts are immaterial.
    Touchstone: 3) isn't demonstrable
    Manata: Touchstone must prove concepts are not immaterial!"


    *****

    But this is revisionist history! Lying T-stone is at it again, embarrassing himself.

    Anyone who cares to look can see that my first response in this thread gave *arguments* for concepts being immaterial. I have continued to do so throughout the thread. Furthermore, T-stone made assertions as well:

    "If I have a concept in my head, it has a physical manifestation -- the complex electrical configurations of parts of my brain. Destroy my brain, I no longer have that concept in my brain -- it's realized in the natural world."

    And you bet your bippy, I asked him to prove it. So, it looks like this:

    a) T-stone makes claim.

    b) Manata asks him to prove it.

    c) T-stone says that Manata is asking T-stone to prove an assertion Manata made.

    d) Manata politely points out, "No, you ninny, YOU made the claims as well."

    e) T-stone closes eyes and says "nee ner nee ner nee ner, you don't have a weener."

    So, T-STONE made the CLAIM that "all concepts exist in human brains" and Manata asked him to prove it. T-STONE then replies, "demonstrate that they do not."

    What a maroon! Hoisted by his own petard!

    Lastly,

    *****

    "But my original complaint hasn't gone away. Dusman's 3) remains to be shown."

    *****

    Dusman's (3) has been shown, T-stone just disagrees.

    See, T-stone has a god-complex. No one dare disagree with him! No one can say anything is "shown" unless HE THINKS it has been shown.

    Sorry, T-stone. You see, all along you've just been projecting your psychological flaws on to us. You have a problem with us presupposing that God is right, and if God disagrees then that settles it. But, all along, you have started with the presupposition that T-stone is right, and if he disagrees then that settles it!

    Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, Ace.

    ~PM

    ReplyDelete
  41. Johnny Rotton5/19/2007 10:59 PM

    If I were Touchstone I would crawl in a hole want to die. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Paul,

    You said:

    First, how is his reformulation of (1) relevantly different than what i wrote as (1)?

    Second, T-stone doesn't believe even his reformulation of (1). Because, if there is a concept that a human has, and it is not located in a brain, then (1) is false. T-stone admits one is false when he says, "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do." Since "transcending corporeal existence" means, at least, not "having a brain," and since T-stone believes that humans will have concepts without brains, then it is false that *ALL* human concepts have location in the brain (a brain-state).

    So, he doesn't believe (1). That is, he thinks it's false. But, he thinks he can "demonstrate" (1). So, T-stone can demonstrate what he believes is false. Much like lawyers can get clients off who they believe are guilty. T-stone's a modern day sophist. A lawyer.


    OK, you're having trouble with the word "transcend":

    (Webster's)

    TRANSCEND 1 a : to rise above or go beyond the limits of b : to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of : OVERCOME c : to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence)
    2 : to outstrip or outdo in some attribute, quality, or power
    intransitive verb : to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits


    Exceed, go beyond, rise above. If have concepts that transcend their physical instantions, that doesn't mean they STOP BEING PHYSICAL, Paul. If I say that *my* existence transcends the physical, that doesn't mean I can't have or don't have a physical existence AS WELL AS whatever supernatural existence I have.

    All of what you're complaining about hangs out this mistaken idea that a concept that transcends physical existence negates its physical existence. It does not. Read the definition again, check some usage in your books.

    You'll note that I specifically listed this case in my earlier comments:


    So there are three possible existential states here that I identify for a concept:

    1. Wholly material.
    2. Material + immaterial
    3. Wholly immaterial.


    Item 2) here would be the state that describes human concepts that transcend the physical -- they go beyond just being physical. But that doesn't cause them to STOP BEING PHYSICAL ALL THE WHILE. That's what the '+' means there in 2), Paul; addition... it goes further, beyond, above just being physical. But the physical isn't negated.

    Your frustrations here stem from your misunderstanding, Paul.

    Later on:

    i) Why doesn't the "man of science" employ Occam's razor here? If the concept can be had with the brain itself, why add that the concept is also had immaterially?

    That's precisely what 1) provides for here:


    So there are three possible existential states here that I identify for a concept:

    1. Wholly material.
    2. Material + immaterial
    3. Wholly immaterial.


    If there's no requirement for the concept to have an immaterial existence, I've no problem with the concept having a "wholly material" existence. This isn't hard to understand, Paul. Am I being somehow vague when I say "wholly material"?

    I don't know where you got the idea I was resisting parsimony here, but it doesn't matter. I haven't been. Where it's parsimonious to relegate concepts to the physical only, go with it!

    ii) But unfortunately, I pointed out that he believes that humans CAN have concepts without brains; thus making them wholly immaterial:

    Not. See above -- the 'transcend'-does-not-negate-the-physical-thing. You've misunderstood 'transcend' here, repeating your earlier mistake.

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    So he's wrong when he says,

    "I do not think, and have not thought, that there are *human* concepts that do not have a physical location."


    Sigh. Spin the meter. "Transcend <> negate". "Physical + immaterial" implies a physical existence. That's what the word "Physical" in "Physical + immaterial" signifies.

    Since this incorporeal humans do not have brains, but they do have concepts, then these concepts that these humans have "do not have a physical location," and that's because nothing incorporeal has a "physical location."

    What incorporeal humans??? It's bad enough that your doing violence to the meaning of "transcend", but now you are confusing your referents.

    Here's the quote you keep stumbling on:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    What has transcendent existence in this sentence, Paul. *Concepts*. It's *concepts* that have existence that transcends the merely physical. This statement of mine says nothing about the existential attributes of our bodies.

    I don't know if you're trying to mangle this just as a means to convenient and cheap polemics, or if you are really having trouble with the parsing here. Whatever the case, please understand that this quote, which you've obviously spent some time looking at, given the number of times you've referred to it, isn't even addressing the subject you have it addressing here -- the transcendent existential properties of our bodies. I haven't mentioned "incorporeal humans" anywhere.

    But there is a "gotcha." T-stone said that "'our' means "humans and not God, unless Paul Manata wants to include God and angels with 'our." But I showed that T-stone himself said that there are concepts that humans have while not having brains, and he even said 'our." Note well:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    Notice the word "our" there? That means, "humans." Unless, of course, T-stone thinks he's a god or an angel.

    Moving on...


    I confess, I had no idea what you were talking about when you said this initially, above. But, as immediately above, it's the CONCEPTS that TRANSCEND, Paul, not our bodies in this sentence. And (spin the meter) "transcend" here affirms the physical "home" of the concept -- our brains -- but states that the concept goes *beyond* our physical existence. "Physical + immaterial". The concepts transcend our physical existence.

    How you read this as "It no longer has a physical instantiaton because it has an immaterial existence" is beyond me.

    If I sound like a lawyer, you have yourself to blame, Paul. This is quite a bit of mangling and misreading. It demands the tedium of lawyerly restatement, clarification, and pre-emptive denials, given your "reading" of what I've said. This isn't hard to grok, if you simply *want* to grok it, Paul.

    Unfortunately T-stone keeps forgetting that he's pretending to be a Christian and therefore believes that the saints in heaven are human, have concepts, but do not have bodies. So, the concepts those humans posses do not have locations!

    Humans in heaven now??? That's a novel idea, Paul.

    From Webster:

    HUMAN : a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens) : MAN; broadly : HOMINID
    - hu·man·like


    I have no trouble with calling the saints "persons", but "humans", that doesn't fit with Webster, or (matching Webster) what I consider "human". Maybe "post-human" would pass muster, but even then, your point doesn't work.

    You are apparently confusing our person, our *identities*, with our earthly bodies? 2 Cor 5 describes our bodies as "tents" that will be set aside. Our bodies in heaven will be like Jesus' glorious body (Phil 3, Rom 8, 1 Cor 15, inter alia).

    Different bodies, Paul. You think you will be a *mammal* in heaven, Paul. Are you sure you will have a gender, as humans do?

    I know this is one of your rabbit trails, but it's worth pointing out that one of the reasons I allow for "Wholly immaterial" concepts is precisely because of the prospects of a concept in heaven held by one of its constituents. 1 Cor 15 says "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." That has me thinking it's good to allow for concepts that are "wholly immaterial" existentially.

    Whatever the case, I don't suppose there are, or will be any "humans" in heaven. There will be persons who had a physical, mortal, human, mammalian body, but "human" connotes and denotes parts of us that manifestly won't make it to heaven.


    Furthermore, he believes in the soul. He said so himself. So what does he think the soul is, actually? Most people that say that they hold to the soul, and are Christians, believe that we have a mind that is immaterial and a body that is material. But, if concepts are in physical brains, why need the mind? Indeed, since concepts are constituents of thoughts, then thoughts must be material as well! And so there's no need for a soul. if T-stone believes in a soul, its utterly superfluous. He has no reason to believe in it.


    I have a reason to believe in the mind, based on references to it in scripture. How it relates to the brain in terms of mechanisms or processes, I do not know.

    I know I need to account for brains, as we have the anatomical and physiological evidence in view for the brain as "thinking machine" -- the physical mechanism for establishing and sustaining consciousness and cognition.

    I also know scripture has many references to "mind", (and "heart" and "soul", all in the same verse sometimes), which must be accounted for. Are 'mind' and 'brain' distinct? Do the overlap at all? How do they relate? I'm sure you can shotgun a whole array of related questions against the wall on this, and I would say, beyond what we can establish from scripture and our physiology, you're asking the wrong guy.

    And, as is consistently necessary here, I offer the reminder that I don't suppose *all* "concepts are in physical brains". You're having trouble with the qualifications. Here's a helpful set of "buckets" I offered that you can use:


    1. Wholly material.
    2. Material + immaterial
    3. Wholly immaterial.


    Saying "concepts are in physical brains" without qualification is misrepresentation, Paul. Please don't do that.

    See! he says that "we" have "concepts" without having a "corporeal" existence.
    Translated:

    "Humans have concepts without having brains."

    T-stone is dead. Finished. He, nor anyone, can deny the logic above. It's inescapable.


    I do not say, and have not said "Humans have concepts without having brains". There's several layers of mangling to reverse engineer to see where you're coming from here, but primarily, it's a product of:

    1. Confusion over the meaning of "transcend" (see my comments above).
    2. The novel idea that we will be "humans" in heaven.

    Just so it's clear: I know of know instances or circumstances where a human exists without a mortal body. As person, a I transcend my physical existence. My existence goes beyond just being a human, a mammal, a hominid. But I don't suppose I'm a human when I have a spiritual body, and my human "tent" has been put aside.

    And (spin the meter) once again, another "instance" of a mistaken concept:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    See! he says that "we" have "concepts" without having a "corporeal" existence.


    Your "translation" completely misses what was being said.

    Never missing an opportunity to show how dense he is, I see. The point is, if the concept was *physical* is would be open to *third-party* inspection. But, these concepts are not. This has been called the "hard problem" in consciousness. No one has figured this out.

    Are you arguing from ignorance here, Paul? What does "No one has figured this out" mean if not that you are hoping to sell us some ignorance here tagged as knowledge? You make a point to emphasize this ("The point is.."), and give us a definitive claim ("These concepts are not [open to isnpection]"). For quite a long time, mankind had no clue at all about neurons and synapses and the processes that we've identified as the physiological basis for thought. It's still a very complex set of problems, but that's no basis for declaring that it's *not* physically rendered, and not open to physical inspection, even in principle.


    Furthermore, above T-stone brings up intentionality. He writes, quite correctly, "The concept of "white" is not white. The concept of God is not God." First, the concept of a concept is a concept! Anyway, how can a physical thing be *ABOUT* something?

    I suggest it would be useful, just as a start, to read up on the case of an artist whose brain was damaged in a car accident, resulting in his loss of the ability to see in color, discussed in the book An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales. As a result of this physical damage to his brain, all he could see was black and white (and shades of grey in between).

    So, without supposing I can outline all the relevant neurophysiology here even if I had the time and training in the field to explain "concepts as physical", I would just suggest that this account should get you over any incredulity that a concept like "red" would have a physical location. For this artist, his physical brain was damaged, and as a result, his concept of "red", and all other colors except for black-to-white was DESTROYED.

    Think about that for a minute if that doesn't make you go "Hmmmm" after wondering who a physical thing (the brain, or a set of states of the brain) can be *ABOUT* something. This artist had the parts of his brain that are ABOUT "red" destroyed, and no longer had the concept of *red* as a visual concept. Even when he closed his eyes and imagined a face or a scene that previously evoked the concept of "red", all he saw in his imagination was monochromatic.

    Now, if you're supposing "red" *must* be immaterial because it's a concept, then this story is a problem for you. If "red" isn't bound to a part of the brain, then there's no reason to expect that damaging the part of the brain the artist damaged would interfere with the concept of "red", even when the artist had his eyes closed and was imagining a red ball!

    This story does *not* represent an explanation of how that part of neurophysiology -- conceptualization of color -- works. But it should represent a reason to abandon one's understanding that a concept cannot be a physical entity.


    How does it have that characteristic? piece of matter is "about" another piece of matter. Or, "of" another piece of matter. Can T-stone put that into scientific terms for us? What is it for one bit of matter to be "of" or "about" another bit of matter?


    Paul, the brain is a neural network, a *huge* neural network, and as such, has a very large number of addressable nodes (neurons, more than 100 billion in an average brain, not counting glial cells). For a human to see a red ball and connect it with the concept of "red" would be an exercise in pattern matching. The current visual stimuli are matched with previously stored stimuli, or compressed representations of stimuli that correspond to light with a wavelength around 700nm coming into the eye. The red ball is "about" "red" by virtue of the pattern matching performed by the brain.

    Or, I might say, the brain's *function* is to take external stimuli and make it be "about" something. It matches stimuli with patterns accumulated by experience, creating "about" relationships between them. Just by way of example, here's a sample abstract from a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Experimental Neuropsychology that should give an idea of the kinds of physical associations ("aboutness") being observed and studied in the scientific community right now:

    Spatiotemporal maps of brain activity were obtained from nine normal volunteers engaged in a pseudoword rhyme-matching task using Magnetic Source Imaging. Following bilateral occipital activity there was a clear temporal progression of activity in the left hemisphere beginning with basal temporal areas followed closely by activity in the angular gyrus and inferior frontal lobe. Medial temporal and posterior superior temporal lobe became active last. There was a strong interhemispheric asymmetry in activity favoring the left hemisphere in all areas. A control, pattern-matching task, with no verbal demands, exhibited a different spatiotemporal pattern of activity. These results agree anatomically with previous studies in other imaging modalities. In addition, the relative timing of activity in basal temporal areas of the left hemisphere supports hypotheses regarding a role for this area in early processing of visually presented verbal material.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10550806&dopt=Abstract

    That's just to give you a sense of the phenomenal nature of the kind of pattern matching I'm talking about being observed and studied in the lab.

    This misses the boat. The concept of an enduring self is not developed via empirical means. How could this concept be *physical?* If the concept were physical wouldn't it of had to have been caused by physical processes? Well, how was this concept caused?

    Why would you say this, Paul? What's to prevent a reasoning human from witnessing the deaths of fellow humans and, if for no other reason than from fear and anxiety at the prospect of his own end, supposes there might be scenarios that somehow avoid the apparent finality of death?

    The "beyond death" hypothesis doesn't need to be developed empirically -- it's just a hypothesis, a bit of imagination. Imagination that may be driven by strong desires -- the desired to live. The desire to live, and the fact of death both present them as empirical facts to an observant human. It's not hard at all to imagine that a man would postulate scenarios where some part of him endures beyond death, in some sense. It would be nothing more than the expression of hope, hope as reaction to a real and possibly imminent circumstance for the thinker -- his own death.

    As for the physicality of the concept, I don't see why this concept would be a physiological challenge any more than "red" is. The physical causes that gave rise to the concept in the example above would be a) the awareness of one's desire to live, and b) the witnessing of the death of one's peers (and other living things). These physical phenomena provide the reasoned basis for a man to desire a concept that provided persistence of his consciousness and identity beyond the grave.

    As a disclaimer, in view of some of the "mangling" above, I will say that these scenarios strike me as eminently plausible, but are not being offered as assertions as the actual history of the "enduring self" concept (or the "red" concept, for that matter). Rather, these observations are offered to suggest that there is a reasonable basis to suppose that a) concepts may be physical entities and b) man's natural circumstances and experience provides ample cause for the search for a concept that preserves the self beyond death.

    And, since beliefs are positive cognitive attitudes towards propositions, having *propositional content,* how is this *physical?*

    Logic proceeds from nature, Paul. Propositions arise from the ordered behavior of the physical world. A rock in my hand is propositionally "in my hand" as opposed to "not in my hand". Without the physical world you (as a human-mammal-mortal-human!) would not have any propositions. Moreover, you (as a human-mammal-mortal-human! Gotta cover so many bases to accommodate your parser...) wouldn't have any *basis* for a proposition. The concept of "proposition" would be a non-starter. Moreover, "concept" a non-starer without a physical context.

    When someone asks me: "Is this a red ball?" I look at the object in their hand, and if my concepts of "red" and "ball" match the visual stimuli presented by the object, I answer, propositionally: "Yes".

    And it doesn't have to be a proposition about the physical properties of a physical object. If that same person asked me: "Do you love me?", I would have a different set of concepts to rely on and experiences and their residual patterns to match, leading to a physical answer: I say "Yes".


    Since beliefs are constituted by *concepts,* then they would have to be physical. But, since the *same belief* can be had by two different people, how can it be physical?

    Classes and instances, Paul. Basic ontology. If a belief is a physical entity (a brain-state), then multiple instances of that belief (multiple brains with semantically equivalent brain-states) would be... multiple instances of a class.

    This is no different than it would be if you'd asked about concepts rather than beliefs. If concepts/beliefs are physical entities, then multiple brains having that same concept/belief entails multiple instances of that class of concept/belief.

    And if you follow-up is "then the *class* is immaterial! I'd say why? In this model, it's just another concept, a concept about the number of instances of some concept. If concepts/beliefs are physical phenomena, then any recombinations and aggregations would be similarly phenomenal.

    I'm setting aside the question of what constitutes the "same belief" between any two parties here, as we're beset by plenty enough other problems. A lack of a working defintion ("A and B say 'yes'"? The neural configurations must spatially map between brains? what?) is problematic for making further headway here.

    And, if it is, does it cause behavior in virtue of it being *true?* Like an opera singer shattering a glass by hitting a high C, the glass shatters *even if* she sings "2 + 2 = 5"! Indeed, it looks as if the *content* of a belief is not physical, and so how are all its parts physical?

    Why would the *contents* of a belief not be (or even appear to be) physical? If the belief is expressed as "2+2=5", that would be a conceptual entity in its own right, and just as physical as any other concept. "True" is a concept, and as such would be subject to the same physical constraints, if we are proceeding from the assumption that concepts are physical phenomenon.

    If the constituents, being concepts, are not physical, then concepts are not. If they are, it seems hard to see how they could effect behavior in virtue of their being true. Are neurons or brain states "true?"

    I think I answered this immediately above for the most part. As for neurons or brain-states being "true", the *neurons* and *states* themselves aren't alethic; they aren't true or false as neurons. If I have a belief in my head ("I am holding a rock in my hand"), that belief as a matter of physics is just a bunch of neurons and blood vessels and chemicals. It's a badly formed question to ask if it's "true" or "false", like asking what the color nine smells like. It's just physical *stuff*.

    But this same belief -- a physical phenomenon for purposes of our discussion here -- would be associated with a concept in my head of "true": corresponding to reality. I have, then a "meta-concept" (another physical phenomenon) that associates "I'm holding a rock" with "true", a requirement for maintaining a belief. But here both the belief and the concept of "true" would be physically stored, physically maintained.

    Which is not to say that those concepts could not simultaneously have existence immaterially, beyond their physical locations ('transcend', "Physical + immaterial'). The bottom line is that I can't see grounds for saying concepts and beliefs *must* be immaterial. Every bit more we learn about the brain points to a better picture of the brain as cognitive machine, from the autonomic functions to the most abstract philosophical constructs.

    Turn off the brain, and all evidence of cognition disappears, right? That should suggest something. Damage a particular part of the brain, and our capacity for some kinds of concepts disappears.

    Hmmmm......

    A neuron matching up to a false belief would seem to be the same, ontologically, as a neuron for a true belief.

    Yes, it certainly would. A neuron, as a neuron, is just a neuron.

    A bit on a memory chip matching up to a "false belief" is just a bit as well. The semantics and value assignments are assigned at higher orders of abstraction. At the lowest level, it's just bits.

    -Touchstone

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  43. I love watching PM play the part of his own peanut gallery. Paul, do you really think we don't know you are the anonymous poster who cheers and jeers every time a lame post issues from your neural misfirings. Pathetic. Perhaps the sooner you recognize you suffer from borderline personality disorder, if not outright sociopathy, the better off you'll be. Get some help, please!

    ReplyDelete
  44. I’d like to thank T-stone for his continued assistance in making his position look utterly ridiculous. I’d also like to take a moment and deny all the suggestions I’ve received claiming that T-stone is a orthodox Christian plant intended to make atheists posing as theistic evolutionists look like utter and complete buffoons.

    Okay, so if you’ve followed above you’ll note that I have caught T-stone in quite a few explicit contradictions. I set him up in my first post, he took the bait, and ever since has been struggling to keep his internet identity as a “Christian” in tact. It’s so hard pretending to be a Christian because you have to keep all this detailed doctrine in the forefront of your mind, otherwise you will slip in almost every way.

    So, what happened was that T-stone said that:

    (1) “All concepts that humans possess have a location in the brain (a brain-state).”

    And I showed that this was inconsistent with other statements he had made, specifically drawn out by me due to my knowledge of what *else* T-stone says he believes. And so to cover his tracks he also claimed:

    (2) “Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    It looks like (1) and (2) contradict. So, T-stone pulls a lawyer trick, and tries to show us how he can reconcile the two. He claims:

    *****

    “OK, you're having trouble with the word "transcend": Exceed, go beyond, rise above. If have concepts that transcend their physical instantions, that doesn't mean they STOP BEING PHYSICAL, Paul. If I say that *my* existence transcends the physical, that doesn't mean I can't have or don't have a physical existence AS WELL AS whatever supernatural existence I have. This statement of mine says nothing about the existential attributes of our bodies.”

    *****

    So he says that “transcend” in (2) is talking about something like supervenience. And so we can make the quoted paragraph read:

    (3) I believe that the concepts that ‘transcend’ our corporeal existence “rise above” our brains in the sense that these concepts ‘supervene’ on the material.

    Still, this is problematic. Because (1) doesn’t say that SOME concepts that humans have DO NOT have a location in the brain. (1) is about ALL concepts. So, even granting his defense of (2) in (3), we still have concepts that DO NOT possess location in the brain.

    Besides that, T-stone is a bald face liar. Let’s look at the CONTEXT out of which I took his (2).

    I had previously said:

    “Furthermore, I thought you were a Christian. Do you not think you will have concepts while you await your body at the resurrection? Or, a you a Christian materialist? Your soul is recreated, or something.

    You said that you believe in a soul; and if this soul is a substance, that exists apart from the body after biological death, then either you will still have concepts in your mind or you'll have a mind with no concepts. The latter is absurd, and the former refutes your assumptions.”

    And T-stone replied in a paranoid and off-topic way,

    *****

    “Paul,

    I'm saying that arguments that assume their conclusion are profoundly ineffective. I really don't have a problem with "God exists because God exists", but I don't recommend that as an compelling rationale to offer as our apologetic.

    If you think pointing at Kirk Cameron with a banana in hand or Peter Pike with this Pikified TAG and saying "that's counterproductive to the faith" is advocacy for the devil, so be it. You think as you will. For my part, I think such criticism are useful as counters to what is the devil's *efficacy*, the banana, the TAG, the presuppositional fingers in the ears, all of which paint Christ and the cross as arrogant hoax and delusional self-indulgence.”


    *****

    And so I responded back in a confused way:

    “T-stone,

    It boggles my mind why you can't seem to answer a simple question.

    I asked you if you're admitting that you don't buy the hogwash that "concepts can't exist without physical brains. Destroy the human brain, destroy the concept."

    I said nothing about TAG, Peter Pike, Cameron, Comfort, apologetics, and, much to your chagrin I'm sure, I didn't mention bananas either.”

    And so T-stone then answered my original question. He says:

    *****

    “Paul,

    I believe there may well be concepts that *aren't* universal in the sense that they are preserved with the soul. If you've got scripture or some other revelation that tells you that *all* the concepts I have in my head are preserved when I die, then show your work, lay out here for us to see.

    If some concepts -- trivia, ennui -- are not maintained, then yes, I can say that they cease to exist along with my brain dying. So it wouldn't at all be hogwash to suppose that some concepts are terminated when their brain-states (all of them, everywhere) are destroyed.

    Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do.


    *****

    Now, let’s notice some things:

    (a) There are concepts that are *preserved* with the soul.

    (b) Not all concepts are preserved in the soul when T-stone *dies.*

    (c) Some concepts do not continue to exist when my brain *dies.*

    (d) Some concepts “transcend” our corporeal existence, these are the ones that *continue to exist* when my brain dies.

    Any honest reader will note that, ACCORDING TO THE CONTEXT, T-stone’s “transcend” comment SPECIFICALLY had to do with the BRAIN DYING!

    And so what I wrote regarding (1) above has not been refuted by T-stone’s lawyering. I had said:

    “First, how is his reformulation of (1) relevantly different than what I wrote as (1)?

    Second, T-stone doesn't believe even his reformulation of (1). Because, if there is a concept that a human has, and it is not located in a brain, then (1) is false. T-stone admits one is false when he says, "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do." Since "transcending corporeal existence" means, at least, not "having a brain," and since T-stone believes that humans will have concepts without brains, then it is false that *ALL* human concepts have location in the brain (a brain-state).

    So, he doesn't believe (1). That is, he thinks it's false. But, he thinks he can "demonstrate" (1). So, T-stone can demonstrate what he believes is false. Much like lawyers can get clients off who they believe are guilty. T-stone's a modern day sophist. A lawyer.”

    And this looks about right. T-stone has contradicted himself, and further contradicted himself in his attempts to squirm out of his original contradictions! I have no desire to dialog with a man who feels the need to lie just to “beat” T-bloggers. This thread contains undeniable proof of T-stone’s deceitful ways. Now, if he’s not lying then he’s just plain stupid. But, T-stone says he’s not stupid. Therefore….

    As we continue we will see that I brought up the point that T-stone’s shuffling was pointless. If “all” concepts have a location in a brain state, and therefore are material in nature, then why even say you believe in immaterial concepts? That is, if you can have the concept in the one why do you need the other. I asked T-stone to employ his Occam’s razor to shave off unnecessary immaterial entities. He responded:

    *****

    PM: i) Why doesn't the "man of science" employ Occam's razor here? If the concept can be had with the brain itself, why add that the concept is also had immaterially?

    T-stone: That's precisely what 1) provides for here:


    So there are three possible existential states here that I identify for a concept:

    1. Wholly material.
    2. Material + immaterial
    3. Wholly immaterial.


    If there's no requirement for the concept to have an immaterial existence, I've no problem with the concept having a "wholly material" existence. This isn't hard to understand, Paul. Am I being somehow vague when I say "wholly material"?


    *****

    How dense can someone be? Above in (1) he said that ALL HUMAN CONCEPTS ARE MATERIAL, located in brains. And so since “ALL” concepts are material, why do ANY OF THEM…. ALSO… need to be immaterial, i.e., “transcending the physical?” If the concept can be had materially then how is there are “requirement” for it to be had ALSO immaterially? And, if he has “no problem” with a concept having a “wholly material existence” then why did he say that “WE DO” have concepts that are immaterial (see (2))? He just doesn’t see how he’s cut his own throat but pretends the blood is another’s.

    Continuing on with Occam’s razor:

    *****

    I don't know where you got the idea I was resisting parsimony here, but it doesn't matter. I haven't been. Where it's parsimonious to relegate concepts to the physical only, go with it!

    *****

    i) He already relegated ALL CONCEPTS to the material in (1).

    ii) Which concepts does he think are necessary to be *both* material and immaterial?

    iii) Why do *some* concepts need to be *both* “material + immaterial?”

    iv) If *some* concepts are immaterial, as he admitted, then what’s the problem with Dustin’s syllogism since the materialist he was attacking did not grant that ANY thing could be immaterial. So, you AGREED with Dustin’s syllogism that: “C: SOME version of materialism are false.”

    Now, let’s look at how he continues to employ his underhanded escape from my clear and inescapable logic as applied to his own words in his dialog with me below:

    *****

    PM: “ii) But unfortunately, I pointed out that he believes that humans CAN have concepts without brains; thus making them wholly immaterial:

    T-stone: Not. See above -- the 'transcend'-does-not-negate-the-physical-thing. You've misunderstood 'transcend' here, repeating your earlier mistake.

    PM: "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    So he's wrong when he says,

    "I do not think, and have not thought, that there are *human* concepts that do not have a physical location."

    T-stone: Sigh. Spin the meter. "Transcend negate". "Physical + immaterial" implies a physical existence. That's what the word "Physical" in "Physical + immaterial" signifies.”


    *****

    i) But note that “transcend” DOES “negate” the physical brain, see (a) and (d) above.

    ii) If there are not “*human* concepts that do not have a physical location,” then why do these concepts need to ALSO BE immaterial? If he has them in the physical, parsimony would seem to tell us that you can just chop off the latter half of this: physical + immaterial.

    iii) If “physical + immaterial implies a physical existence” then why would T-stone say that he believes that, “there may well be concepts that *aren't* universal in the sense that they are preserved with the soul […] when I die”? Does he think that he is “physical” after his body dies? I mean, here, let me help you pull both your feet out of your mouth!

    It starts to get really strage:

    *****

    PM: “Since this incorporeal humans do not have brains, but they do have concepts, then these concepts that these humans have "do not have a physical location," and that's because nothing incorporeal has a "physical location."

    T-stone: What incorporeal humans??? It's bad enough that your doing violence to the meaning of "transcend", but now you are confusing your referents.”


    *****

    Now this is odd! He said that “we” have concepts that transcend “our” corporeal existence. And so I said that he’s admitting that there are incorporeal humans (“we”) who have concepts that do not have physical location. He then says, “what incorporeal humans? Now you are confusing referents.” Thus, T-stone believes that the T-stone on earth is a DIFFERENT REFERENT that the T-stone in heaven!

    T-stone agrees with Dustin’s argument by saying,

    *****

    Here's the quote you keep stumbling on:

    "Do I believe that we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence? Yes, I do."

    What has transcendent existence in this sentence, Paul. *Concepts*. It's *concepts* that have existence that transcends the merely physical. This statement of mine says nothing about the existential attributes of our bodies.”


    *****

    So, there are “incorporeal concepts.” Therefore, the materialist in the syllogism wouldn’t agree with T-stone. T-stone disagreed with a conclusion that he agrees with! And, T-stone disagrees with his claim that “all concepts” have a physical location…. Oh yeah, he got out of that one by saying, “Oh, but they have an immaterial existence too!” That’s like saying “All ships are material….. But there are ghost ships too! And they “ride on tip” of physical ships, therefore they are physical + immaterial.”

    Moving on….

    *****

    “I don't know if you're trying to mangle this just as a means to convenient and cheap polemics, or if you are really having trouble with the parsing here. Whatever the case, please understand that this quote, which you've obviously spent some time looking at, given the number of times you've referred to it, isn't even addressing the subject you have it addressing here -- the transcendent existential properties of our bodies. I haven't mentioned "incorporeal humans" anywhere.”

    *****

    There, feel stupid now. I tried to give you a multitude of chances. Now you look utterly ridiculous talking to me this way when it is OBVIOUS that you are the one who polemically and conveniently had trouble understanding THE CONTEXT of YOUR OWN parsing!

    Okay, now things get Twilight Zone. I had given the irrefutable argument, based on T-stone’s professed Christianity, that:

    “Unfortunately T-stone keeps forgetting that he's pretending to be a Christian and therefore believes that the saints in heaven are human, have concepts, but do not have bodies. So, the concepts those humans posses do not have locations!”

    T-stone replied:

    *****

    “Humans in heaven now??? That's a novel idea, Paul.

    From Webster:

    HUMAN : a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens) : MAN; broadly : HOMINID
    - hu·man·like

    I have no trouble with calling the saints "persons", but "humans", that doesn't fit with Webster, or (matching Webster) what I consider "human". Maybe "post-human" would pass muster, but even then, your point doesn't work.


    *****

    i) First, I’d like for T-stone to show us just how many theologians down through the centuries have DENIED that we will be human in heaven. If he can’t then his use of “novel” is nothing but pure sophistry.

    ii) He gets his definition of “human” from “Webster’s.” LOL. Let’s look at it and see if it is necessary and sufficient for defining the “us” and the “we” and the “our” that we have been referring to throught the thread:

    a) Bipedal Primate: “About 3.5 million years ago in Africa, the first hominids appeared—bipedal primates who walked erect. Those early hominids were the ancestors of recent humans.” http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/apestoman/

    b) Or, take “Man.” Does T-stone not believe that there will be “MAN” in heaven? A man is, according to the Bible, someone created in the image of God. That’s where I get my definition, not “Webster’s.” Furthermore, the theory of the priestly office of Christ (cf. Hebrews) is that Jesus is FOREVER God AND Man! He intercedes for us. Since he was ALWAYS the God-man, and since we know that he was in paradise while awaiting his BODY, then we know that MEN can be in heaven (or paradise) WITHOUT bodies.

    Speaking about people who have died and are now in the church triumphant, the author of Hebrews states,

    12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just MEN made perfect,

    iii) Now, when we were speaking about the concepts “we” had, or the premise in Dustin’s syllogism which read: “OUR concepts are immaterial,” I didn’t think that T-stone was including Australopithecus and Homo neandertalensis in the mix! Moreover, if T-stone gets rid of MAN in heaven, then he gets rid of the God-MAN, Jesus Christ. Can’t get much more heretical than that! As I said, it’s hard to keep up the pretense of being a Christian.

    iv) Notice that T-stone says that we will be “persons” in heaven. Okay, and so is God and the angels. What DISTINGUISHES US, by NATURE, from THOSE PERSONS??? We will be HUMAN rather than DIVINE persons! I’m sure Mr. Webster will forgive me.

    v) It IS persons who have CONCEPTS. T-stone, THE PERSON, has the concepts he has. If T-stone, THE PERSON, dies and goes to heaven, then the SAME PERSON will have concepts yet without a body. This whole debate has been predicated upon the assumption that T-STONE believes that T-STONE will have concepts without a brain.

    vii) Since T-stone claims to be a Christian, let’s see him interact with some biblical exegesis for “what is man:”

    http://www.gracevalley.org/sermon_trans/Special_Speakers/Mankind_Image_of_God.html

    http://www.cbmw.org/resources/articles/images_of_god.pdf

    http://rec.gospelcom.net/TF-Mar93-cooper.html

    http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Anthropology/

    Moving on…

    *****

    “You are apparently confusing our person, our *identities*, with our earthly bodies? 2 Cor 5 describes our bodies as "tents" that will be set aside. Our bodies in heaven will be like Jesus' glorious body (Phil 3, Rom 8, 1 Cor 15, inter alia).”

    *****

    No, I’m not. I’m assuming that when you say “we” don’t have concepts that are not located in a brain” you mean “WE” don’t have concepts that are not located in a brain. T-stone has been equivocating this whole time! I am assuming identity. I am assuming that if someone say that “we” don’t have concepts that are not located in brains, he means what he says. But, apparently, T-stone believes that “we” DO have concepts that are not located in brains!

    Moreover, note that his definition of “man” did not include any immaterial aspect and so he does not believe that HUMANS have concepts that are “material + immaterial.”!! Humans only have material concepts, but then he’d have to square that with his claim that “Yes, I do believe we have concepts that transcend our corporeal existence.”

    Lastly, we will have bodies like Jesus. Human bodies. The disciples inspected it. The saw that it was the Jesus they walked and talked with.

    T-stone is a gnostic. He denigrates the body. God mane the body and called it good.

    Continuing….

    *****

    “I know this is one of your rabbit trails, but it's worth pointing out that one of the reasons I allow for "Wholly immaterial" concepts is precisely because of the prospects of a concept in heaven held by one of its constituents. 1 Cor 15 says "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." That has me thinking it's good to allow for concepts that are "wholly immaterial" existentially.”

    *****

    Okay and so “we” will have concepts without brains. T-stone refutes himself.

    And, “raised a spiritual body” means “empowered by the Holy Spirit.” It’s not talking about a contradictory incorporeal *body*!

    And, I don’t understand why if “we” can have concepts that are wholly immaterial, we can’t/don’t have it NOW. It is the SAME substantival self who *has* the concepts. If my immaterial person can have them in heaven, can’t he have them on earth????

    Continuing….

    *****

    “I do not say, and have not said "Humans have concepts without having brains". There's several layers of mangling to reverse engineer to see where you're coming from here, but primarily, it's a product of:”

    *****

    Of course T-stone is just playing games. He has said that “we” do not have concept that are not located. Now, he wants to say that “we” will have concepts that are not located, but “humans” won’t! he thinks he’s different than himself as a human.

    Moving on….

    *****

    “Just so it's clear: I know of know instances or circumstances where a human exists without a mortal body. As person, a I transcend my physical existence. My existence goes beyond just being a human, a mammal, a hominid. But I don't suppose I'm a human when I have a spiritual body, and my human "tent" has been put aside.”

    *****

    And of course this is because he’s arguing by petito principii. He DEFINES ‘human’ has a ‘biped’ and then, BY DEFINITION, there is no such think as a human without a body. But, since Jesus was always the God-man, and he existed for three days without a body, then we have a “man” without a “body.” He was a member of the genus “human.” Furthermore, the Bible tells us that there are “just men made perfect” who are waiting in heaven for the resurrection. It’s not essential to mankind to have a body. So, humans can be bodiless. There are three types of persons that we know of: Divine, Angelic, and Human. T-stone’s finished.

    Now I point out the problem of metasubjective concepts by saying:

    “Never missing an opportunity to show how dense he is, I see. The point is, if the concept was *physical* is would be open to *third-party* inspection. But, these concepts are not. This has been called the "hard problem" in consciousness. No one has figured this out.”

    And T-stone replies:

    *****

    “Are you arguing from ignorance here, Paul? What does "No one has figured this out" mean if not that you are hoping to sell us some ignorance here tagged as knowledge? You make a point to emphasize this ("The point is.."), and give us a definitive claim ("These concepts are not [open to isnpection]"). For quite a long time, mankind had no clue at all about neurons and synapses and the processes that we've identified as the physiological basis for thought. It's still a very complex set of problems, but that's no basis for declaring that it's *not* physically rendered, and not open to physical inspection, even in principle.”

    *****

    Well, not all arguments from ignorance are fallacious, as any intro to logic book will tell you. In this context T-stone had said that he could “demonstrate” his (1) (which was, remember, “all concepts have location as brain states). And so I ask him to “demonstrate” this, pointing out that no one else has, and he says I’m arguing by ignorance. It looks like old hat:

    T-stone: I can demonstrate X.

    T-blogger: Demonstrate it.

    T-stone: Argumentum ad ignorantium!

    So, he calimed that his reasons for assertion (1) was that he could “demonstrate” (1). Now that he admits he can’t, he still holds on to (1). Well, if we can do that, what was all that business about Dustin having to “demonstrate his assertions?” Hoisted by your own petard, again!

    Next, I brought up the problem of intentionality. T-stone replied:

    *****

    “I suggest it would be useful, just as a start, to read up on the case of an artist whose brain was damaged in a car accident, resulting in his loss of the ability to see in color, discussed in the book An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales. As a result of this physical damage to his brain, all he could see was black and white (and shades of grey in between).”

    *****

    But that’s not addressing INTENTIONALITY! So, as long as we’re on “fallacies….” T-stone argues ignoratio elenchi! Furthermore, we can add dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter if he thinks that this example proves the materiality of intentionality.

    Moreover, dualists have never denied any of the above. Dr. William Vallicella has stated,

    “There are certain data that no one will dispute, whether materialist, dualist, or idealist. Among these data are the various correlations to which Malcolm is referring: stimulate this portion of the visual cortex in such and such a way and the subject experiences phenomenal blue, etc. Intelligent dualists have always been aware of such basic facts as that drinking alcohol alters the quality of one's qualia, that a blow to the head can cause unconsciousness, and the like. It is important to realize that dualists are not in the business of denying obvious facts. The questions are not about the gross facts, but about their interpretation, about what they mean and what they entail. Hence dualists cannot be refuted by citing any obvious facts. Indeed, if dualism could be refuted by citing empirical facts, it would not be a philosophical thesis at all.

    I stress this, because many don't understand it. They think that substance dualists deny facts that are well-known or scientifically established. One commenter, for example, compared substance dualists to flat-earthers — which of course shows total misunderstanding.

    "Why is this the case, if our minds aren't simply something the brain is doing?" Because it could be the case even if our minds are not simply something the brain is doing. If substance dualism is true, then the mind is a substance.”

    http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1130361909.shtml

    None of this shows that “the concept was destroyed.” I ask T-stone to actually demonstrate it. It very well could be the case that his ability to “dial up” the concept was impaired. If my phone was destroyed and so I could not make contact with my Grandmother in Chicago, should she say that *I* have been destroyed, or just my ability to communicate in *that way?* Or, break my dear sweet saintly mother’s glasses, then here seeing is affected, it stands to reason, though, that the glasses do not do the “seeing.” Likewise, you’ve failed to “demonstrate” that the “brain” does the “conceptualizing.” Perhaps you should read the book where a man damaged his T.V. cable and then couldn’t receive the signal!

    Continuing….

    *****

    “Think about that for a minute if that doesn't make you go "Hmmmm" after wondering who a physical thing (the brain, or a set of states of the brain) can be *ABOUT* something. This artist had the parts of his brain that are ABOUT "red" destroyed, and no longer had the concept of *red* as a visual concept. Even when he closed his eyes and imagined a face or a scene that previously evoked the concept of "red", all he saw in his imagination was monochromatic.”

    *****

    After T-stone totally fails to prove that intentionality is physical, he then goes on to make an argument from incredulity. I have still seen no “demonstration” of how a physical thing can be “about” or “of” or “for” another physical thing. Try a T-stone argument: “Think about it. Doesn’t it make you say Hmmmmm, when you say, “That rock can’t have thoughts *about* an ocean.” As I said above, if I still paid for my cable, then I would *have* the signal. But, without my cable, I can’t “recall” the signal. It won’t play on my T.V. But, the *signal* isn’t destroyed.

    Continuing

    *****

    “Now, if you're supposing "red" *must* be immaterial because it's a concept, then this story is a problem for you. If "red" isn't bound to a part of the brain, then there's no reason to expect that damaging the part of the brain the artist damaged would interfere with the concept of "red", even when the artist had his eyes closed and was imagining a red ball!”

    *****

    No, red is immaterial because it’s a universal, and no material thing is universal. Anyway, there’s reason to imagine that the damaged brain would interfere with his calling forth the concept red if there was a interaction between the two like the above illustrations.

    T-stone then goes on to quote some stuff he thinks applies to intentionality; he only serves to show that he’s totally failed to do his homework in this area. I can do him a favor and start him off here:

    http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1116461828.shtml

    At any rate, we can have intentionality about objects that do not even exist!

    I asked,

    And, since beliefs are positive cognitive attitudes towards propositions, having *propositional content,* how is this *physical?*

    T-stone responded, quite laughably:

    *****

    “Logic proceeds from nature, Paul. Propositions arise from the ordered behavior of the physical world. A rock in my hand is propositionally "in my hand" as opposed to "not in my hand". Without the physical world you (as a human-mammal-mortal-human!) would not have any propositions. Moreover, you (as a human-mammal-mortal-human! Gotta cover so many bases to accommodate your parser...) wouldn't have any *basis* for a proposition. The concept of "proposition" would be a non-starter. Moreover, "concept" a non-starer without a physical context.”

    *****

    Notice that all these are assertions, He always complains about T-bloggers making assertions, but then he rudly barges in with ambiguous claims like “logic proceeds from nature.” Indeed, almost everything in the sentence is a bunch of unsupported assertions.

    Propositions are primary bearers of truth-value, the objects of belief and other “propositional attitudes” (i.e., what is believed, doubted, etc.), the referents of that-clauses, and the meanings of sentences. Since multiple sentences can have THE SAME meaning, propositions are not material.

    Furthermore, note he tries to escape a problem. He talks about me, as a human (we’ve already covered this). But, there are necessary propositions. They have always existed. Even when there was no “nature” or “matter.”

    Lastly, note that NOWHERE does he prove, even granting all his premises, that propositions qua propositions are immaterial.

    Continuing….

    *****

    “Why would the *contents* of a belief not be (or even appear to be) physical? If the belief is expressed as "2+2=5", that would be a conceptual entity in its own right, and just as physical as any other concept.”

    *****

    Uhhhh, pretty much everyone in the word disagrees with you here, T-stone. For example, read some stuff from *physicalist* Jaegwon Kim.


    Anyway, I think we’ve done enough damage. T-stone missed about 1/3 of my arguments and so I’ll take it that he grants me all those points.

    I mean, he says a neuron is just a neuron whether it's true or false. So, how again is the *propositional content* of a belief material???

    ~PM

    ReplyDelete
  45. Anonymous, so when an anonymous commenter "cheers and jeers" for me, it's me, but one one does so for T-stone it's not him?

    I don't get the reasoning process?

    ReplyDelete
  46. hostus twinkius5/21/2007 10:10 AM

    Paul,

    There is no "reasoning process". That would imply rationality. This is about guys in their late twenties who still go to high school keg parties and who have Internet connections--a devastating combination.

    --the twinkie

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hostus,

    Actually, there is a reasoning process. According to Touchstone it's the snap, crackle, and pop of your neurons. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  48. hostus twinkius5/21/2007 2:17 PM

    Yeah but, that's only if you pour milk on them. Wait a second, I think I'm getting the analogies mixed up...

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete