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Is awareness more basic than the material world?
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10-04-2015, 11:59 AM
Is awareness more basic than the material world?
First off, hi, its my first post here, I'm a philosophy masters student who has been introspecting for too long and needs some good feedback from some fellow rational minds.

I'll jump straight into the argument, it's quite simple;

I exist, and I am aware.

I therefore know that existence can be aware.

I know that existence can be aware, but I do not know that existence cannot be aware, as I have no experience of existence not being aware.

Therefore I can know that awareness exists, but not that non-awareness exists. If I am being sceptical and parsimonious I would admit that there are aware things, and nothing else, as to admit of non-aware things would be to admit of two things, one of which I know, aware things, the other which I don't, (but might assume) non-aware things. Obviously if we are to choose between the two we would have to choose the one which is certain; awareness would remain.


That' s pretty much it. I should make it clear that I don't want this argument to be taken as a defense of panpsychism, but believe it could point towards a few conclusions:
1) That scepticism should lead to the rejection of a material existence before it leads to the rejection of an awareness based existence.
2) That epistemologists who deny the existence of God or deities on the basis of 'how can you know' arguments such as Peter Boghossian are given the task of showing how they can know that awareness cannot exist outside our subjective viewpoint.
3) Related to this point; it seems to be placing the burden of proof on atheism (assuming that theism is the claim that some kind of awareness exists outside our bodies in the universe).

I imagine that the popular reply will be that we do experience non-awareness e.g. in dreamless sleep etc. but it is not obvious that we can call such states as non-aware; they may be awareness in a very basic, non image or thought related way.

There is also possibly a worry that the argument is self-affirming; as it is trying to defend awareness by referring to awareness. However, I am not sure whether we can consider this a problem; as when we are considering such basic truths we are bound to find a self-evident truth which defies its own explanation; 'I am aware' seems to be that most basic of truths. The reasoning from 'I am aware' to 'it is aware' seems natural and essentially logical.

I'd appreciate all comments and thoughts- thanks in advance.
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10-04-2015, 12:04 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
If you strip your concept of consciousness down until it excludes all the things that the brain obviously does, and those that go away when you're unconscious in the commonly used sense, you're not left with much interesting.

Quantum Physics: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
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10-04-2015, 12:11 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:04 PM)Alex K Wrote:  If you strip your concept of consciousness down until it excludes all the things that the brain obviously does, and those that go away when you're unconscious in the commonly used sense, you're not left with much interesting.

I definitely agree that awareness without brain content wouldn't be interesting in itself; but from a metaphysical point of view the argument implies that the existence of awareness is fundamental to existence. We might say that that conclusion is interesting?
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10-04-2015, 12:14 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
Are you trying, in a very roundabout way, to explain god is awareness?
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10-04-2015, 12:16 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:14 PM)pablo Wrote:  Are you trying, in a very roundabout way, to explain god is awareness?

Or are we just becoming too damn jaded?

I wondered about this also.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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10-04-2015, 12:20 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:16 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  
(10-04-2015 12:14 PM)pablo Wrote:  Are you trying, in a very roundabout way, to explain god is awareness?

Or are we just becoming too damn jaded?

I wondered about this also.

Jaded maybe, it just seems like a setup for an eventual 'gotcha'.
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10-04-2015, 12:21 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:20 PM)pablo Wrote:  
(10-04-2015 12:16 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  Or are we just becoming too damn jaded?

I wondered about this also.

Jaded maybe, it just seems like a setup for an eventual 'gotcha'.

Or one the op thinks might be a "gotcha".

*grabs a bowl of popcorn and settles back with Pablo to watch.*


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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10-04-2015, 12:33 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:14 PM)pablo Wrote:  Are you trying, in a very roundabout way, to explain god is awareness?

I want to discuss the concept of awareness rather than god because god is a particularly messy concept to define and discuss, although I assume that any concept of god would include that god being aware in some way.

It certainly seems like a more theistic than atheistic conclusion to say 'awareness is fundamental to existence' though right?

Honestly I am not looking for you to admit some proposition and then jump on it saying 'haha you have to believe in god now!' I'd rather hear your views about the argument, what irks you about it etc. I'm not here evangelizing with a rational argument I promise ;-) Just looking for an honest opinion
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10-04-2015, 12:34 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
It is most parsimonious to conclude that things that show no evidence of awareness are, in fact, not aware.

The evidence also shows that awareness is rare.

And further, the evidence is that awareness arises from complex material structure and process, so the answer to the title question is a resounding no.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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10-04-2015, 12:40 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
A feasible mechanism of dualism has never been explained.

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