Poll: Does this argument make you question atheism?
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Is awareness more basic than the material world?
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10-04-2015, 12:42 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
I don't see how this is related to atheism. For the millionth time (if you're new to the internets) atheism does not claim to know whether there is a god or not. There's no "burden of proof" issue here.

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10-04-2015, 12:49 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
So does this presumable draw out ideas that some being of awareness must of created all that is since existing awareness can't perceive itself as being not-aware?

Others may deem these statements of I exist and I am aware as certain but I don't think we always ought to accept that we do indeed have a great qualifier of these ideas.

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10-04-2015, 12:52 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:40 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  A feasible mechanism of dualism has never been explained.

The argument doesn't imply dualism exists- rather it implies a monism, with 'awareness' being the basic building block of existence.
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10-04-2015, 01:04 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:42 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I don't see how this is related to atheism. For the millionth time (if you're new to the internets) atheism does not claim to know whether there is a god or not. There's no "burden of proof" issue here.

I understand atheism in its very basic form to be the lack of a belief relating to god.

The burden of proof issue is one which is frequently cited by atheists, which is why I mention it. The argument usually goes something like 'I do not need to disprove god, you need to prove god' which is fair enough.
The argument I put forward seems to imply something like the opposite though; so the awareness defender might say 'I don't need to prove awareness, you need to disprove awareness'.

It's related to atheism because it implies something kind of god like in existence, and I thought it would be more interesting and fruitful to ask atheists rather than spiritualists what they thought of it.
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10-04-2015, 01:16 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:49 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  So does this presumable draw out ideas that some being of awareness must of created all that is since existing awareness can't perceive itself as being not-aware?

Others may deem these statements of I exist and I am aware as certain but I don't think we always ought to accept that we do indeed have a great qualifier of these ideas.

It implies something like awareness being basic, or fundamental, or essential, or whatever term you want to use for the lowest common denominator of existence; as for whether that means it created everything that exists in a god like way, that seems like an extra step, but perhaps a natural one.

'I am thinking' and in general 'I am' have been considered the most fundamental truths for a long time, and it seems difficult to argue against them. As to whether we have a qualifier for them...... they seem like one of the few axioms which are essential and basically impossible to disprove, along with 'there is' etc.
Of course what it means to be able to apply 'I am' is a tricky business- the argument would imply that it applies to anything that exists, or could ever exist.
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10-04-2015, 01:24 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 01:16 PM)Th3box Wrote:  
(10-04-2015 12:49 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  So does this presumable draw out ideas that some being of awareness must of created all that is since existing awareness can't perceive itself as being not-aware?

Others may deem these statements of I exist and I am aware as certain but I don't think we always ought to accept that we do indeed have a great qualifier of these ideas.

It implies something like awareness being basic, or fundamental, or essential, or whatever term you want to use for the lowest common denominator of existence; as for whether that means it created everything that exists in a god like way, that seems like an extra step, but perhaps a natural one.

'I am thinking' and in general 'I am' have been considered the most fundamental truths for a long time, and it seems difficult to argue against them. As to whether we have a qualifier for them...... they seem like one of the few axioms which are essential and basically impossible to disprove, along with 'there is' etc.
Of course what it means to be able to apply 'I am' is a tricky business- the argument would imply that it applies to anything that exists, or could ever exist.

They may indeed be impossible to disprove, but for a strong skeptical approach it is not justified reasoning to firmly hold those positions as something true. They ring true enough to live our lives by them, but to base ideas upon them being certain, isn't quite the same level of trust.

And in burden of proof arguments, it is on the positive claim regardless of what we think seems default to us. that's why it's set up to be that way to fit a blank slate better. A blank slate would have no position on awareness, then there is no need to disprove for that position but there is one for trying to state something is so.

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10-04-2015, 01:29 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 01:16 PM)Th3box Wrote:  It implies something like awareness being basic, or fundamental, or essential, or whatever term you want to use for the lowest common denominator of existence;

No, it is only the lowest common denominator for the awareness of existence which is just a tautology.

Every bit of evidence we have points to awareness requiring a physical substrate which makes it dependent on something already existing that is not itself aware.

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10-04-2015, 01:57 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 12:34 PM)Chas Wrote:  1.It is most parsimonious to conclude that things that show no evidence of awareness are, in fact, not aware.

2.The evidence also shows that awareness is rare.

3.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.

Firstly, from an extremely sceptical point of view then all we can conclude is that we are aware, and should make no judgement about anything perceptual as it may all be an illusion. The argument indicates that at this point of extreme scepticism then awareness is the starting point, anything else is additional, and uncertain. Concluding that things that show no evidence of awareness are not aware is in fact assuming a lot about reality which a sceptic must question- that it is real, that we can discern seperate objects, that we can infer awareness in some areas and not in others etc. etc.
(Even in real life concluding that things have no awareness because they seem unaware has been found to be mistaken; coma patients have seemed entirely oblivious to an observer whilst being aware of sound, and having a stream of thoughts relating to those surroundings.)
Therefore from a sceptical point of view it is more parsimonious to conclude that awareness is the only sure truth. Not that I personally want to defend a sceptical point of view, but this seems like a solid enough defense of the argument.

In general you are equating the use of 'awareness' in the argument with something more like 'consciousness' or 'thought', which is an inference that is natural, but which leads us to considering it as a different sort of claim. The argument is not defending anything like the systems or thoughts which you describe in 2 & 3, although those are obviously the systems in which we are acquainted with awareness from a first person perspective.

Defining awareness is a very difficult thing, which we would naturally expect, as we are trying to define the thing which we find ubiquitous to all thoughts and experiences. In the context of the argument awareness is made out to be the only thing that we can know exists. I don't want to try and define it properly here, partly because I feel it might be an impossible job.

However, there might be something appealing in the idea that all material objects are in some way aware of each other when they interact; it's strange to think of a coin as being aware of you when you pick it up, but isn't it also strange to think of the coin as not being aware of you when you pick it up? In the first case it's strange because if it is aware then it is nothing like the kind of awareness we are used to; in the second it is strange because if it wasn't aware why would it not simply stay in its place.
On this line of thought we are equating awareness with a sort of capability for interaction, which we might think of as a reasonable idea of what the awareness in our brains is doing: but the interaction is with a massively more complicated system, which produces the conscious thought we are used to.
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10-04-2015, 02:35 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 01:57 PM)Th3box Wrote:  
(10-04-2015 12:34 PM)Chas Wrote:  1.It is most parsimonious to conclude that things that show no evidence of awareness are, in fact, not aware.

2.The evidence also shows that awareness is rare.

3.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.

Firstly, from an extremely sceptical point of view then all we can conclude is that we are aware, and should make no judgement about anything perceptual as it may all be an illusion.

The maximum of solipsism and the minimum of utility are compressed into your one sentence. I dismiss it.
Quote:The argument indicates that at this point of extreme scepticism then awareness is the starting point, anything else is additional, and uncertain.

That does not make it the starting point of reality, only of inquiry.

Quote:Concluding that things that show no evidence of awareness are not aware is in fact assuming a lot about reality which a sceptic must question- that it is real, that we can discern seperate objects, that we can infer awareness in some areas and not in others etc. etc.

It is more sure than assuming they are aware since there is no evidence for that.

Quote:(Even in real life concluding that things have no awareness because they seem unaware has been found to be mistaken; coma patients have seemed entirely oblivious to an observer whilst being aware of sound, and having a stream of thoughts relating to those surroundings.)

Coma patients are not things about which we have no evidence. That is a very poor example.

Quote:Therefore from a sceptical point of view it is more parsimonious to conclude that awareness is the only sure truth. Not that I personally want to defend a sceptical point of view, but this seems like a solid enough defense of the argument.

Unless that is also an illusion.
That awareness may be the only thing you can be sure of does not imply that it is basic to reality - that is a non sequitur.

Quote:In general you are equating the use of 'awareness' in the argument with something more like 'consciousness' or 'thought', which is an inference that is natural, but which leads us to considering it as a different sort of claim. The argument is not defending anything like the systems or thoughts which you describe in 2 & 3, although those are obviously the systems in which we are acquainted with awareness from a first person perspective.

We don't have any examples of awareness except evolved biological organisms of sufficient complexity.

Quote:Defining awareness is a very difficult thing, which we would naturally expect, as we are trying to define the thing which we find ubiquitous to all thoughts and experiences. In the context of the argument awareness is made out to be the only thing that we can know exists. I don't want to try and define it properly here, partly because I feel it might be an impossible job.

I suggest you read Dennett's Consciousness Explained for a more realistic viewpoint.

Quote:However, there might be something appealing in the idea that all material objects are in some way aware of each other when they interact;

There might be, but that doesn't make it any more likely.

Quote:it's strange to think of a coin as being aware of you when you pick it up, but isn't it also strange to think of the coin as not being aware of you when you pick it up?

No, not at all.

Quote:In the first case it's strange because if it is aware then it is nothing like the kind of awareness we are used to; in the second it is strange because if it wasn't aware why would it not simply stay in its place.

You just went off the rails.

Quote:On this line of thought we are equating awareness with a sort of capability for interaction, which we might think of as a reasonable idea of what the awareness in our brains is doing: but the interaction is with a massively more complicated system, which produces the conscious thought we are used to.

That is a bizarre and pointless definition of awareness.

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10-04-2015, 02:46 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 01:57 PM)Th3box Wrote:  Firstly, from an extremely sceptical point of view then all we can conclude is that we are aware, and should make no judgement about anything perceptual as it may all be an illusion.

Once you go there it is pointless to continue further. Unless we agree that there is an objective reality then we have no basis for discussion.

Quote:(Even in real life concluding that things have no awareness because they seem unaware has been found to be mistaken; coma patients have seemed entirely oblivious to an observer whilst being aware of sound, and having a stream of thoughts relating to those surroundings.)

Coma patients still have at least partially functioning brains. The idea that they can have some degree of awareness is easily explained. A rock exhibits no signs of awareness and no mechanism to support any degree of awareness.

Quote:In general you are equating the use of 'awareness' in the argument with something more like 'consciousness' or 'thought', which is an inference that is natural, but which leads us to considering it as a different sort of claim.

Then you need to define what you are talking about.

Quote:I don't want to try and define it properly here, partly because I feel it might be an impossible job.

Then, again, there is no point to discussing it.

Quote:However, there might be something appealing in the idea that all material objects are in some way aware of each other when they interact;

Whether an idea is appealing or not has no bearing on whether it is true or not.

Quote:it's strange to think of a coin as being aware of you when you pick it up, but isn't it also strange to think of the coin as not being aware of you when you pick it up?

No. The coin has no properties that would lead me to expect it to have any awareness of anything.

Quote: in the second it is strange because if it wasn't aware why would it not simply stay in its place.

Because even something that is aware can be moved against its will. Why would anything have to be aware that it was being moved by an external force in order to move? The only thing I find strange is your question.

Quote:On this line of thought we are equating awareness with a sort of capability for interaction,

Things can interact without awareness.

Quote: which we might think of as a reasonable idea of what the awareness in our brains is doing:

We might. We'd most likely be wrong. Awareness can be involved in interactions but I see no evidence that it is required.

Quote: but the interaction is with a massively more complicated system, which produces the conscious thought we are used to.

At best I think you are equivocating on the definition of awareness and of interact but since you have refused to define what you mean it is hard to tell.

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