Nothing beyond thought.

Why do we need the concept "physical material " in order to explain reality?

Why can’t the whole of reality be constructed from thought (the one thing we know for certain to exist)? After all, what makes something real is simply that I and it are made of the same substance…ie, thought…our sameness allows us to interact.Obviously this would mean that outside reality is not dependent upon my mind, the thoughts that sustain it are necessarily dependent upon another’s mind, ergo we exist in the mind of another.

I can think of unicorns. Are they real? If not, there is some difference between our thoughts and those of The Other. So we could easily refer to those thoughts of Another that we can’t influence, and which seem to follow universal laws, as “physical material”, to designate its difference from our underpowered thoughts.

It’s also possible that “reality” is contained in a part of our mind we’re not concsiously aware of; equally, it’s possible that those parts of our mind we’re not consciously aware of are actually another mind.

“Outside reality” is simply thought that is not dependent upon us, ie, it belongs to another.As far as I know there are no unicorns there.

The concept “Physical material” implies that such material is not mind dependent, whereas, imo ,there is no reason to believe that anything exists beyond thought. Physical material is not required to explain reality, we can apply Occam’s blade and remove it.

If you’re a dualist.

We can. Or we can apply it to The Other Thinker, which has all the complexity of the “physical material” model but substitutes the complexity of an infinite mind for that of a second substance.

From what I know there is no reason to suppose that an infinite mind is more complex than an apparently infinite physical universe(s) .But at least the infinite mind concept doesn’t involve the invention of an unprovable substance (physical material) ,and it also seems to help explain the “designedness” of the universe .

You restate your case without addressing my point. It doesn’t involve the invention of an unprovable substance, but it involves the invention of an unprovable thinker.

What designedness do you wish to explain?

I don’t think it involves the invention of an unprovable thinker… such a thinker simply seems to be the logical conclusion from the concept that only ideas exist and that there is an external reality (ie, one not dependent on me).

Designedness , as in the laws of nature (for instance).Nature seems to have a stability about it.

Erm, yes… so the concept involves the invention of a thinker. Just as the materialist concept involves the invention of physical matter.

It does. But if nature were undesigned, would this stability be surprising? Where do you normally see instability/disorder, if you associate the lack of it with design?

Ok, we’ll call it an invention if you want, but it seems logical (to me) to go with the invention that has a known basis (ie, thought) , rather than one that has an “unknowable” basis (ie, mind independent, therefore unknowable, physical reality).Obviously this neatly sidesteps the problem of dualism.

I think stability would be very surprising without design involved. If i threw a pack of cards in the air I would be very surprised if it formed a neat tower on landing.

Are you thinking of something distinct from solopsism? Intersolipsism? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll go solipsistic at the mere sight of a slippery slope… but I inevitably seem to wander back out of it, or walk into a wall, or whatever… :slight_smile:

What do we know about these external thoughts that we don’t know about physical material? They are, as we covered, different from what we experience as thoughts. Whatever reality these “external things” have, they are fundamentally different to our internal thoughts. They remain unknown, or at least that, ah, “physicality” or realness that separates them from our thoughts.

That’s how they fall naturally. I don’t quite follow - is nature unstable or not?

Yes.I am simply saying that it is possible to believe that there is an outside reality even if the whole of existence is constructed from thought.

The idea that my thoughts are contained within the thoughts of another is enough to explain reality. Material reality becomes defunct as an idea.

There is no need to view reality any differently insofar as it is still real even if it is constructed from thought, I still can’t fly when I flap my arms.The relationship between me and it (reality) remains the same for most day to day purposes…the only real difference is that the concept solves the problem of dualism (there is no such thing) whilst also leading to the God idea. Imo , that God idea is also really useful to humanity.Seems like a win, win to me.

Ok , the card example isn’t great, but if we knew all the forces being applied to the cards we could work out where every card was going to land…nature is (ultimately) predictable,there are laws that we can understand.The cards do not scatter randomly, the rules of nature do not allow it. The scattered cards are as amazing as a neat tower of cards insofar as their positions are just as finely balanced .

Is it then strictly “thought” which separates thinkers from each other? Is the “thoughts of another which contains my thoughts” not simply the idea that such is so? Why then the need to maintain any “outside” reality? Wouldn’t it all be simply various aspects of a self-internalizing system? :slight_smile:

Well, my point is that it doesn’t solve dualism, because physical matter/external ideas are different to internal ones; they have completely different properties. It’s exactly the same solution as to say “well, thoughts are just physical objects” - there’s no meaningful similarity that allows them to be compared. Think of a housebrick; you can turn it into a horse, then a car, and back into a housebrick again. Now think of throwing it to me, while I throw a real, external housebrick back at you, and we’ll compare!

Secondly, even if we accept it as true, it doesn’t tell us anything about God except that (s)he thinks; absolutely no more than that, the rest can be determined using the physical laws. But it gives people who want to push their idea of God a starting point to sow all sorts of confusion into matters and reinforces their preconceived falsehoods. And if you want to push useful fictions as a truth for the masses, you’d be better off in politics than philosophy.

Spinoza came up with Substance, of which matter and thought are aspects. There’s one substance, it’s universal and eternal, and it is God. Everything that is and was and will be is God, including us. But God is simply substance; what is, is his will, and he can’t will things any differently, as then he wouldn’t be God. Therefore, there’s no evil, only our imperfect understanding of God’s perfection. How does that sound?

Paul Tillich supposed that “God” was that which underpinned being (things that are/exist have being after all). And in that sense, Spinoza was only utilizing “God” as a metaphor. But to your earlier point, what is the difference between being in love and thinking you’re in love, of being hurt and thinking you’re hurt? Is there some necessary phenomenon that distinguishes the experience of the empirical man and his experience, from the linguistic man and his experience?

I’m not sure who you’re addressing…

I don’t think Spinoza was using God/substance as metaphor so much as synecdoche. There’s certainly no evidence in his works that he considers it a useful fiction… but yes, he uses it almost interchangeably with “substance”. And most definitely in the sense of sub-stance, that which stands beneath. In this sense, you can think all is mass/thought/whatever you like, if you correlate your chosen term with substance.

Regarding language, I’m with Wittgenstein. You don’t say “I think I’m in pain… but I’m not really” - it’s meaningless. You usually say “I think… (sensation/state)” to qualify your confidence in it.

I don’t own or possess the stuff that is going on around me,after all I only have a limited ability to change such things .That is enough for me to accept that there is an external world to me…even if that is simply a refection of the fact that I am not in total control of events.The events are not mine , they are not internal only to me, the laws of nature are not mine.

Also if the external world is actually me deluding myself, then none of my judgements can be trusted.

I don’t think external ideas and internal ones are different (they are the same substance), other than some ideas have more power than others.The external ideas (the world in which we live) has far more power than many of our internal ideas . The only time our internal ideas have as much power as the external ones (ie,God’s) is when they correspond.

God thinks and when our thoughts correspond to His we prosper,so I agree with you…except laws are not restricted to what appears to be the physical (in a universe of ideas that is obviously the case), ethics and aesthetics are also governed by laws. :sunglasses:

I think Spinoza makes a basic mistake in thinking God is not self restricting. True greatness is utterly dependent upon self control, God necessarily restricts Himself to that which best suits His purposes.

I’ll just point out , I’m not a bible basher (never read it), I’m just fascinated by the God concept.

Doesn’t the same thing hold for much of what goes on “inside” oneself? Do I “own” the structure underlying my thought processes? Do I not have only a limited ability to change the things going on in my head (even, for instance, with great meditative experience)? Where is the line to be drawn in terms of what one owns/controls? (I truely don’t know either way, myself, or even if a line is ultimately to be drawn.)

Well, perhaps they can be trusted, simply because they have to be trusted, as a simple pragmatic issue. The grander empirical fact of the matter may or may not ultimately support that trust, but as far as we’re able to comprehend things so far, that’s somewhat moot, no? This again retreats into the ultimacy of solipsism’s conceptual stranglehold … I’m just interested in whether and how the mentalist thesis doesn’t fall into it quicker than does the materialist one.