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Anti-Matter
Topic Started: Jun 2 2014, 07:35 PM (200 Views)
welkyn
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The paper I posted in the other thread (Insubstantial Non-Dualism) is quite heavy reading - it was intended for academics to peruse, and they found it intriguing and well supported, though ultimately perplexing. I shall condense the greater points here, so that the message can be expressed without the need for too much reading.

For the past three or four hundred years, an insidious ghost has encroached upon our mental space - that invisible monster called "matter". We do not know what it is; we do not know where it came from; we do not know how it does what it supposedly does, but, in less than four centuries, we have become utterly convinced of its existence, and are unshakeable in this conviction. Nowadays, to deny the existence of matter is to label oneself a fool, or a freak - however, I do just this. I can find no evidence for matter's existence, and no reason that might suggest that believing in it is necessary, beneficial, or even useful to the slightest degree. Indeed, I find much harm in it, especially as it allows such doctrines as "physicalism" or "eliminative materialism", which are the bane of human flourishing, poison to the soul, vile cancers of the intellect. I will present my reasons for doubting the existence of matter, subsequently reintroducing the earlier understanding which dominated amongst the educated before this bizarre idea entered into Indo-European thought - "idealism" or "immaterialism", the notion that all existence is non-physical (not necessarily "mental").


Reasons for doubting the existence of matter:

Have you ever come into contact with a material substance? Certainly it would seem so: you have touched objects, you have heard sounds, you have seen things, and you have smelt things. All of these things appeared to be external to you - it would make sense if they were real objects, independent of your experiencing them. But I will ask the question more carefully: have you ever come into contact with a material substance except through perception?

Of course not. We are perceiving entities - this is our lot, to perceive. What we call "life" is sequential experience, and experience consists of nothing more than perceptions. Some of our perceptions are external, or sensory - sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations. Some of our perceptions are internal, or mental - thoughts, emotions, memories, and imaginations/projections. What can be said of all that appears to us, is that it is perceived.

Nobody would maintain that a perception is a material, physical object - that there is some "real object" that is my perception, distinct from another "real object" that is your perception. No - those who believe in matter believe that matter causes our individual perceptions, though they are never able to produce a satisfactory mechanism for this*. It is clear from this most cursory of examinations that we cannot, as perceiving subjects, come into contact with material substance. Matter itself is never evidenced to us. If we are to be empirical in our investigations, we must strictly deny the notion of matter, for it is actually impossible to find evidence for its existence; only reason can infer from experience that matter exists, but this is pure rationalism (i.e. pure imagination/assumption).

It is interesting to note, at this point, that to remove the notion of matter from our conceptual framework does absolutely nothing to our understanding of the world. Everything remains completely untouched: that there is no material chair does not mean that I do not perceive a chair; that there is no material atom does not mean that I do not perceive an atom; that there is no "real energy" does not mean that I do not perceive the effects of energetic vibration. All of our science, and all of our common understanding, actually gain nothing from the idea of matter, and find no support in its suggestion. The reason for this is particularly obvious, but sorely overlooked: all that the doctrine of matter is, is the suggestion that there is some other, invisible world, distinct from the world which we experience, which serves as the basis of the world we experience. Now that we understand that there cannot be direct evidence for this material world, materialism is revealed to be the following philosophy: that, for everything that I perceive, there is an unperceived object that just happens to exist and that, somehow, imparts to me the perception that I am aware of. This is as sensible and well-founded a belief as the much maligned insistence on the part of the religious that "God did it"; it is magical thinking at its finest.

We cannot perceive matter, since matter is inherently imperceptible; we gain nothing from the assumption of matter, since our perceptions appear to us as they do whether or not matter exists; furthermore, we confuse the entire issue by stipulating not one world, but two worlds that have some as yet unknown - and quite likely unknowable - relation to one another. What possible use can this idea have other than to give us more mental clutter? It is pure confusion, born out of the desire to rationalise an experience that requires absolutely no rationalisation to be as real as it appears. Occam's razor comes into play perfectly, here: why stipulate two entities where one will suffice?

I will end this section here, and, in a subsequent post, will present the alternative view: that the world simply is as perceived, and that all that exists are perceptions and the perceiver thereof. Furthermore, the substance of perception is nothing more than the perceiver itself - this understanding answers many of the questions which materialists suggest matter provides the answers to (e.g. "how do objects persist when there is no experience of them?").


* So far, the idea is that data are collected by sense organs and communicated to the brain, which subsequently turns them into immaterial perceptions, somehow. The "somehow" is, of course, the crucial point. Nobody has ever been able to suggest exactly how these purely physical, purely mechanical processes are capable of producing experience as we experience it. In philosophy of mind, this is called the "explanatory gap" - physicalists/materialists are actually not able to explain how purely physical/material processes cause experience, which is clearly not physical/material in nature. The reason for this was known as far back as the 17th century - it is impossible that two fundamentally separate substances could have a causal influence on each other: Descartes's substance dualism, which held that there was both mind and matter, was denied on the grounds that there could be no mechanism whereby mind could influence matter. Similarly, for eliminative materialism, there is not mechanism whereby material objects could produce immaterial experience.
Edited by welkyn, Jun 2 2014, 07:39 PM.
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crow
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Matter must exist for there to be an economy. Hard to sell anyone anything if it doesn't physically exist.
I am presently building a nice gazebo, on a nice deck, and both are solid, and made of wood.
Matter is quite important. Or I would lie around and starve.
I get 'stuff' done, by using 'stuff'.
What else would I do?

"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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welkyn
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I will make a brief aside here on scepticism. Philosophical scepticism ("radical scepticism", "cartesian scepticism" or "rustic pyrrhonism") is the assertion either that we cannot know whether or not we know anything, or that we cannot know whether or not we can know whether or not we can know whether or not we can know... etc.

To wit: if there is a material world that informs our experience, it is impossible to know whether or not our experience actually conforms to this material world. Descartes put it this way: imagine that, actually, one's experience has been totally falsified - one is the victim of the evil schemes of a powerful demon, who has fed one the experience that one has had, and is actually in control of all that we perceive (perhaps even our own thoughts and feelings, our own sense of self). In modern times, this has been refined into the "brain-in-a-vat hypothesis": the idea that, actually, we are nothing more than a brain suspended in a vat of nutrients, having sense-data pumped into us by a mad scientist. There is nothing within the experience which could dictate whether or not these "sceptical hypothese" are false or not - for all we know, we actually are the victims of such trickery!

Clearly, this kind of scepticism is crippling: if I cannot even know that what I am experiencing right now is true, then I cannot know whether anything I have experienced is true; I am simply incapable of anything other than self-knowledge, the knowledge that "I" exist in some way (though certainly not as what I might take myself to be).

But note that this scepticism can only come about if one first believes that there is a material world to which our experience is held to conform. I can only doubt that my experience is true if my experience is supposed to reflect an objective reality distinct from my experience of it. If we remove this hypothetical objective world, then it is very clear that my experience is true: experience is all that there is, and the world is as it is experienced. Scepticism cannot rear its ugly head unless we posit something about which we can be sceptical: without materialism, we cannot have this kind of radical scepticism. This is yet another way in which the doctrine of matter can be damaging (though, assuredly, few have suffered to any great degree from these kinds of doubts).
Solidity is perceived; wood is perceived; gazebo is perceived.

Stuff is perceived; the doing of stuff is perceived.

Where's the matter? ;)
Edited by welkyn, Jun 2 2014, 07:58 PM.
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crow
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I have a circular saw, that is heavy. It labours when it encounters wood. It, too, encounters matter, and it has no perceptions.
I wonder that you find interest in this topic. How does it matter?
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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welkyn
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I find it difficult to answer you, here. This topic has no importance in any ultimate sense, but I would never claim this: this is why I have left these topics in the "philosophy" section, away from the primary (and more generally useful) content of the forum.

In Yoga Vashistha, the great sage Vashistha identifies two kinds of ignorance, one "inferior", the other "superior": the "inferior" is the ignorance that takes things to be the way they appear, dully, without critical engagement; the "superior" is the ignorance that knows that there is something more to appearance, that deeper (spiritual) enquiry will yield deeper (spiritual) truth. When we have fallen under the spell of inferior ignorance, superior ignorance is employed to remove all ignorance.

Looking at it in another way: we might balance one set of concepts with a conflicting set of concepts, such that both sets are mutually annihilated - the result is peace of mind. Take what I have written here to be this kind of "superior ignorance" - it is not intended as anything more, certainly not as some ultimate truth. Truly, I cannot say whether or not there is anything that we might call "matter" or a "material world". What I can say, is that we have no reason to believe in such a thing, and that we gain nothing but mental clutter from such a belief. Experience is experience - we would do well to leave it at that, rather than inventing some extra, non-experiential existence.

As a disclaimer, I have no desire to instill ideas in people's minds; if anything, I would show them that any idea is only an idea, nothing more. Materialism, as an idea, is the fortress of atheism: if it is shown that this fortress has neither walls nor foundation, then atheism is defenseless, unsupported. As atheism is the salt that ruins the fertile ground of spirituality, so philosophy of this sort is the rain that will wash out such impurity. Once the rain has passed, the soil can be put to use again. This is all that is intended.
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crow
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I should stay well away from the philosophy section :)
It makes me think, which gives me a headache, and nothing useful gets done.
I find thinking a serious imposition, these days.
Click...


"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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welkyn
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Curiously, it is frequently thought that serves as the remedy for thinking - this is true in my own case, and in the cases of many I have known. The disentangling of a rope requires the reversal of the processes that led to its entanglement! One ought not attempt to disentangle a disentangled rope, though - that seems liable to cause entanglement :)
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Veronique
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I call it mystery
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crow
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This whole thread is completely nuts. A route to madness. The stuff of leftists, who believe that nothing would exist if they were not individually in the frame, to somehow cause it to exist.
I currently have a body. It has mass. It unbalances itself to sit on a physical chair. This unbalance is counterbalanced by the existence of the chair. My body does not plummet to the physical ground, because there is a physical chair in the way.

Matter exists, whether or not we are able to perceive it, and whether of not we are present.
Other things exist, too, many of which are unseen and often undetectable through our perceptions.
But for sure, matter exists.

Deal with it.

Edited by crow, Dec 4 2017, 07:23 PM.
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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Oscar
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I never read this kind of post. I sort of want to but I can't bring myself to do more than to eye them over. In order to try and understand them I have to stop to think about what is being said and I don't do that if there's a whole lot to stop to think about. Why complicate?

Complicated.thoughts.stops.most.readers.from.reading.any.further.
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