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, 03:00 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 01:57 PM)Th3box Wrote:  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.

It's a concept and property of the mind only, it has no reality outside of a mind.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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10-04-2015, 03:25 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 01:29 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(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.

The most fundamental thing in the universe is bound to succumb to a tautology. Fundamentally being aware, and therefore awareness being fundamental, is a tautology but that doesn't make it false or unacceptable.

Also, every bit of evidence finding that where there is awareness there is a physical substrate doesn't mean that all physical substrates are unaware except for those ones. It proves that physical stuff can be aware, but not that it can be unaware.
We can only know subjectively of the physical stuff that is aware. The fact that physical stuff doesn't seem aware from the outside is natural; neither does our own awareness, under an mri or whatever- it just looks physical. It is only when you are that awareness that you understand it is both physical and aware. The awareness that we infer to exist in other humans and animals is because we tend to equate awareness with neurological structure, and lively interactions. This doesn't mean that awareness doesn't exist in things that are unlike us; only that we do not identify with those things as having the type of awareness we are familiar with.
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10-04-2015, 03:37 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
Quote:This doesn't mean that awareness doesn't exist in things that are unlike us; only that we do not identify with those things as having the type of awareness we are familiar with.

It doesn't mean it does either.
I'm still not convinced you're not trying to bring this argument around to the possibility of a god/creator existing.
At best this argument is unfalsifiable.

* How about some more popcorn Moms? * Popcorn
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10-04-2015, 04:00 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 01:24 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  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.

In the burden of proof case, yes it is on the positive claim to make the argument, but once we have made a positive claim that existence exists and that it is aware, which assumedly would be the first claim we can make in our inquiry of reality, the claim that 'existence can be unaware' becomes the positive claim, as it is adding a stipulation to our basic theory, claiming it should go from 'existence can be aware' to 'existence can be aware and unaware'.
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10-04-2015, 04:21 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 03:25 PM)Th3box Wrote:  Fundamentally being aware, and therefore awareness being fundamental, is a tautology but that doesn't make it false or unacceptable.

No, it just makes it an unsubstantiated claim.

Quote:Also, every bit of evidence finding that where there is awareness there is a physical substrate doesn't mean that all physical substrates are unaware except for those ones. It proves that physical stuff can be aware, but not that it can be unaware.

All of this is still pretty pointless until you define what you mean by "awareness" and "interaction".

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
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10-04-2015, 04:28 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 11:59 AM)Th3box Wrote:  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.

Yes you do.
You were / are not aware of your existence before your brain had developed enough and you had learned the language to be able to verbalize those concepts. If you were severely brain injured, you would not be aware of anything. There's your answer. You need a functioning oxygenated brain to be aware of anything. Without one, you've got nothing. (Don't they make you people take Biology 101 ?)

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10-04-2015, 04:32 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 04:00 PM)Th3box Wrote:  In the burden of proof case, yes it is on the positive claim to make the argument, but once we have made a positive claim that existence exists and that it is aware,

who is making that claim? existence exists? OK. It is aware? All of it? No, that's not anything I'd claim. Some small parts under specific conditions exhibit a trait we label "awareness" but it is a huge leap to generalize that to the idea that existence is aware and and even bigger leap to the idea that awareness is somehow fundamental.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
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10-04-2015, 04:43 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
Thanks for the detailed replies.

So it seems that we run into two main problems; the first, and probably the greatest, is that we have not defined 'awareness'. Obviously this would be central to the argument, I was relying on a intuitive notion but, as happens regularly with intuitive notions in philosophy, peoples intuitions are different as to what the term means.
The second is that the argument is uber-sceptical, purely logical and relying on axioms which are undefined. Basically it can't tie up to any kind of objective reality.

The second problem I see as intrinsically part of the argument; it is supposedly concerned only with the most basic two axioms of existence- 'I am aware' and 'existence is'. Of course realistically this doesn't include any of one thing we look for in a solid theory; evidence (apart from subjective experience at the most basic level).

The problem of definition is serious. I have read Dennett's 'consciousness explained', writing my dissertation on it and David Chalmer's 'The conscious mind', and in my view Dennetts didn't seem an adequate explanation of the essence of conscious awareness, although it provides a very neat breakdown of various forms of consciousness and how they seem to fit together. It should be noted that it wasn't generally accepted by the philosophical community either (although I'll admit that very few things are ever accepted in philosophy).
To me consciousness or awareness and physical reality are feasibly the two sides of existence; the subjective and the objective. Human consciousness arises in human physical structures, dog consciousness in dogs etc. This prevents there being any necessity for dualism, or emergence of a 'special property' of awareness. We are left with two propositions; awareness is basic, matter is basic, which are describing the same reality from different perspectives: inside and outside. The argument I put forward at the start of this topic was from the subjective perspective. The advantage that matter has in explanatory power is that because it is the objective reality, we can share experiences of it in a way that we can't with awareness. The advantage that awareness has is that it is the only thing we are acquainted with first hand.
I don't really know what the point of sharing my view is, but I felt it might go some of the way to explain my view here, although it doesn't help with the definition problem.
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10-04-2015, 04:54 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 04:32 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(10-04-2015 04:00 PM)Th3box Wrote:  In the burden of proof case, yes it is on the positive claim to make the argument, but once we have made a positive claim that existence exists and that it is aware,

who is making that claim? existence exists? OK. It is aware? All of it? No, that's not anything I'd claim. Some small parts under specific conditions exhibit a trait we label "awareness" but it is a huge leap to generalize that to the idea that existence is aware and and even bigger leap to the idea that awareness is somehow fundamental.

If I accept that I am existing, then I accept that existence is aware.

The idea that all existence is aware might be something which we come to quickly think, by observing that existence is not acting in the way that we do, once we consider our awareness to be our ability to act as free agents. The point is that this is still a seperate claim: it is an extra proposition. If we were somehow born with a fully functioning brain, lived for only a second, and then die, then during that time we would be more likely to have worked out the idea 'existence is aware' than 'existence is aware and not aware'.

The argument is really really abstract from reality, I know, and it is making a claim about what we can know of reality rather than reality itself, but it seems valid nevertheless.
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10-04-2015, 05:03 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 04:28 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(10-04-2015 11:59 AM)Th3box Wrote:  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.

Yes you do.
You were / are not aware of your existence before your brain had developed enough and you had learned the language to be able to verbalize those concepts. If you were severely brain injured, you would not be aware of anything. There's your answer. You need a functioning oxygenated brain to be aware of anything. Without one, you've got nothing. (Don't they make you people take Biology 101 ?)

I'm a Brit so I actually haven't taken biology 101 Smartass

Biology hasn't confirmed or denied any theories of conscious awareness, although it has confirmed times when we can report conscious awareness as existing, and guesses at times when consciousness doesn't exist. I'm not saying that a dead brain is aware like a live brain; in fact I didn't originally intend to say anything about where awareness is or is not in reality. My argument was purely logical and epistemological, working with the most basic two statements of knowledge; 'I am' and 'existence is'. Kind of pointless, but also fascinating IMHO.
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