The Hypocrisy of the Materialist

When it comes to books, it’s hard to resist a sale. It’s a sickness I know. But because of it, and a recent sale by Amazon of the very short introduction’s series, I have come into possession (among 11 others) a copy of Susan’s Blackmore’s Consciousness: a very short introduction . First of all, I must say how surprised I was at how biased it was towards the material perspective and how, for all her apparent authority on the subject, unconvinced I was –that is not much more than the materialists I have I met on these boards. It may have been because of some the peripheral tactics I’ve seen before in people trying to convince me of something I’m opposed to (such as caveats that seem thrown in to make it seem like their perspective is the balanced one); but my guess is that it’s having seen the arguments thrown at me by amateurs and having already dealt with them plus an added extra that is the main point of this. Of course, I should get to that main point. But anyone on here who knows me knows better than to think I can resist the opportunity to rock and roll (meander in ILP-speak).

First of all, the Libet experiment was brought up which timed the disparity between the moment the choice of the subject to bend their wrist registered in the brain and the moment they realized they had made the decision and the time they actually did. But more important, for our purposes, is the experiment by Walter in which electrodes hooked to subject’s brain were able to change slides before the subject felt ready to do so.

So let’s do an experiment here. Pick a number between 1 and 10….

Have you picked one yet?

Okay. I really don’t give a tinker’s fuck which number you picked. But let’s agree that there were delays between the time I made the request, the time you committed to it, and the time you arrived at a number. Now who would disagree that there were actions going on in the physiological infrastructure of the brain during this process? I made a request. You looked to your brain as it calculated the numbers between 1 and 10. Then you arrived at a decision. In other words, we don’t just pull decisions out of thin air; we work towards them. So why wouldn’t the physiological infrastructure of the brain participate in the mind’s decisions? The problem here is that the materialists seem to think those who are arguing for a participating self are still back in the days when free will was thought of as some ghostly matter that ran the wheel. It seems like the only ones stuck on the old Cartesian dualism are the materialists. But then, that is their straw man, isn’t it?

Another problem was Blackmore’s bizarre assertion that we’re only conscious of consciousness when we’re focused on the idea of having a conscious. Really? So when we’re in a traumatic situation when we’re focused on everything else but being conscious, we’re not conscious, even though we tend to remember a lot of things about the event? (And note the caveat to the continental approach in referring to Sartre’s distinction between Reflective and Non-Reflective consciousness.) This, to me, sounds like a subjective (in other words: not objective) interpretation.

And this gets to the main the point, the one revelation I did get from the book. What the materialists implore us to do is actually look at our experience as conscious beings. They tell us that if we did so, authentically, we would see that our conscious selves and free will are illusions. The problem is that at the same time, they are telling us that our SUBJECTIVE experience of consciousness and free will are little more than illusions. So what makes their experience of not being conscious and not having free will any less SUBJECTIVE, and therefore illusory?

It seems to me that when we look into ourselves, we find pretty much what we want to. Even when we find something we don’t like, it’s pretty much support for a narrative we have laid out for ourselves. Consequently, whatever it is the materialists think it is they are finding, I would argue that it is little more than a continuation of their personal narrative of themselves as being the benefactors of scientific authority.

And this brings up a bigger, more political issue for me: what is it about the scientific/analytic bend that wants to own OUR reality? Why are they the ones that are always using such terms as “rubbish” (since it sounds kind of Brit and cool -one always imagines it with a British accent) and “nonsense”?

Not all scientific things want to own our sense of reality.
There are however preachy people born, and whatever they are persuaded of, they try to spread it and preach about it.
That’s just human nature. Human nature permiates the application of scientific method.
We can’t dehumanize it, even when people think we can. Objectivity dehumanizes and renders unconscious something that was meant to be alive and conscious and humanized. But, some people really believe in objectivity. So, they might disagree with what I’m saying. That isn’t a big problem for me though. I don’t need their support. I believe that the ideologies which are full of holes are the ones that need supporters and believers. Truth alone doesn’t need any sort of support. It stands on its own two feet. Metascience has been around for a long time and it doesn’t need scientists. “Science” is just a word. People will continue learning even before the advent of the word.

I don’t know what Cartesian dualism is, and I won’t pretend that I do. But I’m guessing it’s some half baked idea that poor people baught into.

I’m proud to consider myself an occultist and I do believe in a soul, but I believe that the soul is itself a special material.
Some say that reality is like a tree, it has roots, it bears fruitage at a certain time only, etc.
Some say reality needs no basis. Most people think God is the basis/source of reality.
I’m thinking each realm has its own unique base.
When we live on earth, we are experiencing a material base, but it’s possible for consciousness in its elemental form to experience even a heavy, solid realm, which is difficult to influence but easy to touch. Our soul makes contact with objects with ease.

Now that you braught up free will and self, I’d like to also say that all freedom is finite and limited, and that we are only free as far as we know how to act and are able to act and think. This is obvious. I don’t say there’s no free will, I say choice is limited by allot of factors and influenced by allot of factors. It’s not a monad.

I’ll wait for your reply.

First of all, Dan, allow me to say that having only read the first 2 sentences of your post:

I agree.

I have no fundamental disagreement with science or the analytic for that matter.

And anything I can use that they have to offer can only make my argument all the better.

I only take issue with arrogance.

Libet’s and Walter’s research is impressive. And it certainly doesn’t point away from the materialistic perspective.

It only becomes a problem when those who don’t see the implications are idiots.

What we pursue as the intellectually and creatively curious allows us experiences that are beyond what most people get to experience. We are blessed. But that doesn’t make us prophets. It doesn’t give us license to tell others what their reality is.

That said: I apologize for cutting you off. I look forward to reading the rest.

Ah you’re online.

I don’t have allot to do tonight.
I just moved into this new apartment. It’s a supported independant living program. Rent is only 350$ a month with all utilities etc.

I’m trying to pass some time by forcing myself to respond to people at ILP.
Some of the threads I don’t find very appealing. But that doesn’t mean they are bad threads, it’s just a matter of taste.
I hope to see what your response is to my whole reply.

I tend to go with Terry Eagleton’s possiblism. It starts with the assumption that anything is possible. Beyond that, it is a matter of testing it against reality. However, I tend to go a little beyond Eagleton in that he allows for the shutting off of a belief once it is disproved by the scientific method. I, on the other hand, say it really doesn’t matter what seems certain to me: anything is possible. It really doesn’t matter to what extent science has dis proven any supernatural phenomenon; that science is still subject to the inductive limit: that any truth we might find through induction is only true pending any proof against it.

For instance, for me to work with the people I do on here, I have to assume that evolution is THE explanation of how things came to be. But at the same time, how do I know there wasn’t some guy with horns and cloven hooves going around and planting all this evidence to throw me off. I, of course, can’t work from that possibility. But, nevertheless, I have to accept that it exists. I have to admit: it’s possible.

then say: but…

Even when you try to believe in many possibilities, the majority of possibility will remain unknown to you, and to me aswel.
Psychological limitations were implimented, I believe, to concentrate what we do have.
Concentration reduces us to specific most possible realities, then bets at that game as best it can.
When something is free from cocentration, it spreads into the void.
I believe this partially happens when we die. We get allot weaker but mentally allot larger. It’s just a thought.

Anyway: got some alcohol and a couple of Marley taps left:

and infinite music:

if u have any questions about your rationality:

allow me to give you an answer… [size=50].[/size].[size=50]…[/size].[size=50]…[/size].[size=50]…[/size].

Allow me to apologize for my behavior beforehand.

what music and drinks are those? Be more specific.

This is one of those times I wish wasn’t quite the partier I am.

I really wish I could respond to this properly.

But I would rather not respond than respond wrong.

Anyway:

Dan…

love jamming with u

I like finding what works and sticking with it:

it’s a kind of Einstein’s wardrobe for me:

Beer (miller or coors lite -both work for me) and shots of jager.

Music consists of whatever I happen to like.

When I walk into my only bar,

the waitresses know exactly what I want.

No time wasted on ordering

(just reading.

(I worry that people there think I’m doing it just to impress upon them that I am an intellectual.

but the point is to be around people I like being around and doing what I love.

i need them to anchor me

while i fly away.

The ultimate failure of the materialist

would be that I
as a perceiving thing

have seen u

r head works

i may be a an object occupying space

(but there’s still something looking out of me:

I read her book The Meme Machine some years ago, which mixed a fair summary of scientific studies together and turned out in the end to be a pro-Zen Buddhist tract. I certainly agree that she’s arguing against Cartesian dualism, as many materialist authors do, without any seeming awareness of alternatives. It’s a bit like arguing that one should be a hindu by demolishing Roman Catholic dogma. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yup, religious impulse all the way through.

Perhaps your political issue is the assumption that someone writing in English is American - Dr. Blackmore’s British, you filthy cultural imperialist :wink:

Glad to see someone else sees this.

First of all, a pleasure hearing from ya, Hume. And since you have taken the effort to respond, I feel obligated to return the favor and take pleasure in it. But know this doesn’t take much effort on my part.

(I was at the bar today when a beautiful blonde had been placed in the chair next to mine. Out of a sense of obligation, I put down my book and started talking to her and found out she was going to college for business administration. I, of course, zeroed right in on the fact that she was pursuing knowledge. At the same time, she was the cliché of a blonde in that she had that squealy voice and played at being dumb. I engaged her in a conversation not that different than those I have on here. Not long after, she told me she had to go to her friend’s to retrieve her laptop. Then she would be back. I waited long enough to drink a couple of beers then left to get back here. It didn’t bother me that she didn’t come back, even though I wish she had. What it did impress upon me though is how much I love what I’m doing here. To put this above a hot blonde…. Well that is something, isn’t it?)

Anyway:

Yes, exactly! She acted as if getting the materialist perspective was a matter of looking at your own mental experiences to the extent that you would accept that consciousness was an illusion. And note the cheap shot of associating the recognization of the materialist perspective as some kind of mystical revelation –as if it was some kind of esoteric knowledge that most people couldn’t get. And once again, we come up against the hypocrisy of it in downgrading our subjective experience when it comes to our experience of consciousness and free will while basing the materialist experience on a subjective experience.

And yes, she does seem to neglect the alternative explanations. Once again: Cartesian Dualism is their straw man. She tends to neglect that we’re no longer even talking about free will (a ghostly substance that runs the wheel), but rather a participating self: an emergent property that engages in a non-linear feedback loop with its physiological infra-structure and its environment.

We all have our own religion, don’t we?

I don’t know how we escape it.

Hey! Proud to be American with Irish, Scot, and Welsh roots.

And, actually, I did take a shower today.

That said, I love listening to the Philosophy Now podcast. That British guy that runs it is always cool to listen to.

That’s funny… I do it the other way around.

probably why I’m a materialist… or rather naturalist.

It’s easy to accuse someone of hypocrisy when you straw man all their arguments. Which makes the fact that you accuse materialists of using straw man’s themselves that much more ironic.

Regarding Libbet’s experiment, you don’t seem to understand what happened. It’s not just that there are processes going on in in the “physiological infrastructure” of the brain as you put it. Anyone could have guessed that. The interesting result was the fact that It was demonstrated ( and has been demonstrated in several other experiments) that the decision was already made when it emerged in consciousness.

Regarding Blackmore’s assertion, she’s right.

Look what you have said: So when we’re in a traumatic situation when we’re focused on everything else but being conscious, we’re not conscious, even though we tend to remember a lot of things about the event?

How can you make such a glaring mistake ? She didn’t say you weren’t conscious when you were not conscious of consciousness . She said you are only aware of consciousness when you think about your own consciousness. When you don’t think about your consciousness, you are still conscious of many things. If you are in a traumatic situation, like say a car accident, you may be aware of many things; the state of your car, the smoke outside, the blood in your face, the pain in your bones and so forth, but you are not aware of your consciousness. I feel like I’m pointing out the obvious but there are different levels of thought you know ?

Talk about glaring mistakes, Vol. I mean how convoluted could a statement be?

I mean all you are basically doing here is agreeing with me and acting as if it somehow makes the materialist point. To quote her book:

Now, as I and Hume discussed, this sounds to me like some mystical interpretation based on a process of self reflection that started out with a priori expectation of what would result. It would be like me saying to you:

If you authentically follow through with the mental exercises I subscribe, you will discover that a participating self does exist.

The only difference would be that Blackmore (and you) have this kind of operationalism of science working behind in that it forces the assumption that what can be objectively observed (the physiological responses of the brain) must be given privilege over what can’t (the nature of consciousness: the actual experience of it).

In fact, Blackmore contradicts herself here in that she gives as an initial definition of consciousness as that which it is like to be…… Yet, by the end of the book, she is arguing that we no longer fit that description when we’re caught in situations in which we lack the luxury of thinking about being conscious. In other words, in a car wreck, we have somehow lost a connection with that which it is like to be in a car wreck.

Lastly, if you read the book, you will note how she presents her decision as a kind of concession:

Since we cannot establish anything as to the nature of consciousness, we just as well concede to the scientific understanding.

It’s little more than a variation of Ockam’s Razor: these questions are clearly beyond our capacity to answer, therefore, let’s just accept my simpler and more easily observed answer. Science can easily observe physiological responses. What it can’t actually deal with is the experience of self and free will.

(Which, by the way, is why I think the analytic tradition should just consider itself a science and leave philosophy to do what it does best. I have no doubt as to whether people like Derrida or Foucault were doing philosophy. What I do question is whether symbolic logic, such as that of Russell’s early years, can actually be thought of philosophy as much as a variant of mathematics.)

And clearly, you are so stuck in your intoxication with science that you completely neglect the actual experience of making a decision. We don’t just pull decisions out of thin air. We work our way towards them. All those experiments registered was the point that the decision created a physical reaction. Furthermore, as I said before, it seems that the materialists are the only ones stuck on the straw man of Cartesian Dualism. You seem stuck on the old model of some ghostly substance that sits behind the wheel while those who are arguing for a participating self are fully aware that the physiological infrastructure does play a part in everything we do –in fact, sometimes even takes over. But then we didn’t need science to rediscover impulse.