Realism versus mind/body dichotomy

Realism versus mind/body dichotomy

Idealism is a label for the philosophical position that rejects realism. Realism is the view that the world is only matter and that objects are independent of mind and can be known as they really are. Idealism stresses the spiritual (other worldly) characteristic of mind, which is different in kind from body.

Idealism has many definitions but all focus on the assumption that consciousness is detached from its concrete socially situated subjects. Such an assumption leads to the isolation of ideas from the concrete body. Theories, beliefs, human conduct and other products can be understood and analyzed in isolation from the historical subject. A giant unbridgeable gap develops between mind and body.

Idealism holds the twin principles; nature or matter on one hand and spirit, God, ego, etc. on the other. Man and woman are creatures harboring two distinctly different realities within one structure. We are bipartite beings. Thought, especially theoretical thought is a substance of the spirit thus intellectual, moral, artistic and such are activities of the spirit.

Consciousness is the property of the spirit and because spirit transcends the world of matter then philosophers surmise consciousness is autonomous and independent, governed by non-material principles.

This tradition of an autonomous reason began long before evolutionary theory and has held strongly since then without consideration, it seems to me, of the theories of Darwin and of biological science. Cognitive science has in the last three decades developed considerable empirical evidence supporting Darwin and not supporting the traditional theories of philosophy and psychology regarding the autonomy of reason. Cognitive science has focused a great deal of empirical science toward discovering the nature of the embodied mind.

The three major findings of cognitive science are:
The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.

These findings of cognitive science are profoundly disquieting for traditional thinking in two respects. “First, they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason, a reason inextricably tied to our bodies and the peculiarities of our brains. Second, these results tell us that our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.”

Quotes from “Philosophy in the Flesh” by Lakoff and Johnson

Questions for discussion

I think that human nature is animal plus something else. The something else I will call soul but soul does not mean ‘other world’ substance. What do you think?

I think that humans have a need for concepts such as soul, which have been co-opted by religion and thereby given them an ‘other worldly’ character that makes it virtually impossible to use these concepts in a secular manner. What do you think?

I don’t think there is ‘something else’. Why make that leap? Why do you think we ‘need’ a concept such as the soul?

Because it appears that humans have always had this need to think that there is some form of immortality.

“Despite the vast number of religions, nearly everyone in the world believes in the same things: the existence of a soul, an afterlife, miracles, and the divine creation of the universe. Recently psychologists doing research on the minds of infants have discovered two related facts that may account for this phenomenon. One: human beings come into the world with a predisposition to believe in supernatural phenomena. And two: this predisposition is an incidental by-product of cognitive functioning gone awry. Which leads to the question Is God an Accident?” This is an article in the December issue of “The Atlantic”

Is God an Accident?

I am not sure but you may have to subscribe to read this on line. I will give a short review because I think it is a very good read.

“Enthusiasm is building among scientists for the view that religion emerged not to serve a purpose—not as an opiate or a social glue—but by accident. It is a by-product of biological adaptations gone awry.”

“We see the world of objects as separate from the world of minds, allowing us to envision souls and an afterlife; and our system of social understanding infers goals and desires, where none exist, making us animists and creationists.”

“Nobody is born with the idea that humanity started in the Garden of Eden, or that martyrs will be rewarded in heaven; these ideas are learned. But the universal themes of religion are not learned. They are part of human nature.”

“The theory of natural selection is an empirically supported account of our existence. But almost nobody believes it. We may intellectually grasp it, but it will never feel right. Our gut feeling is that design requires a designer.” See:

Maybe we don’t need to know where a soul might go once it is released, but whether or not it is a conduit to either a god/dess or whether it is a conduit to other souls.

The idea of a soul exists because people don’t want to die? :evilfun:

I like this quote from last of the Mohicans:

Chingachgook: “The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the Red Man of these wilderness forests in front of it until one day there will be nowhere left.
Then our race will be no more, or be not us.”

Exactly… When we die, we will be no more, or be not us.
We will be exactly what we see when someone dies… dust.