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Is awareness more basic than the material world?
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14-04-2015, 08:12 AM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 11:59 AM)Th3box Wrote:  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.

Does consciousness hold primacy? No, and this is directly observable.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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14-04-2015, 08:49 AM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
I'm curious if he has ever heard of and read works of Ken Wilbur or heard of the Integral Theory. It is along the same thought processes of viewing "awareness/consciousness" as some more fundamental element to our reality.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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15-04-2015, 06:50 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
Buckyball, sorry for offending you with the whole troll thing, I did attempt to prevent it from seeming like an accusation. Also when you say 'all of my arguments are fallacious and you admitted it', that's just incorrect. Read through my comments if you/anyone else thinks that's what I'm saying and hopefully on a close reading you'll understand it properly.

This whole Dawkins things has grown pretty out of control, it wasn't meant to become a new topic, and to be honest I don't care about making out Dawkins as either right or wrong. I was informed he was wrong by my lecturer, a published academic in the field. The reason I feel at all qualified to speak on the matter is because I learnt about it all last year in my philosophy of biology module, doing a masters degree course at a top 30 global ranking university. Pretty much the only thing we learnt about was the theory of evolution, and I wrote my paper on Dawkins, for which I received a distinction grade. I can send you the essay if you like; same goes for you Chas, who is also keen to ascertain my knowledge on the matter. Not saying I'm an expert, but I'm not unqualified either. Just to confirm one point chas, you seem to have misunderstood me at various times; most recently when you say

Quote:You are also wrong about chromosomes. They do not, in fact, remain intact.
Your knowledge of biology and understanding of evolution are very poor.

Please note that I never said that chromosomes remain intact; I was saying that Dawkins' view requires 'specific lengths of chromosome' to remain intact; that means a portion of the chromosome. The criticism in this case would be that any active germ line replicator, as Dawkins describes his immortal genes, is likely to be susceptible to meisois, and therefore breaking apart, implying they are not immortal Coupled this with the fact that any such gene is explicitly reliant on the rest of the genome for the heritable trait conferring a survival advantage to convey phenotypic properties to the host organism. Therefore to see a particular strand of the genome as of utmost importance and liable to labelling as the 'unit of selection' seems an odd thing to do. If you are interested I can send you my essay, although I am afraid it does not deal with that issue specifically, but considers that in a process essentially involving changing organisms over time it is strange to think that a small unchanging part of the genome is the most important physical entity to consider.
I never came here to discuss biology though. As for the reference thing, you are right I am lazy; I don't want to spend hours of my time trying to convince people of a relatively irrelevant biological issue.

As for the consciousness/awareness thing; mordant, I'm not so much trying to put consciousness in a special position as I am trying to put it into the least special position, implying that it is fundamental, at least to our thought processes, which in turn is the avenue through which we come to all knowledge. As for non-living consciousness, I'd definitely agree it can exist, although as to whether a machine of non-biological materials would be able to have the same kind of consciousness as we do, I might be more sceptical. If human consciousness relies on the fact that neurons have a wide possible range of eigenvalues for instance, then unless you can replicate that exactly in inorganic material then it may not be replicable. Of course, the debate springs to mind as to whether we should regard organic materials as fundamentally different to inorganic materials. Looking at organic materials through microscopes shows them to remarkably resemble machines, and we could feasibly think of them as naturally occurring complex machines.

Also please note that whilst I say I'm 'implying it is fundamental' I might personally think this holds in a metaphysical way for the universe, but the argument in question is showing it merely as inescapably fundamental to our knowledge of the universe. If you read through my comment at 11-04-2015, 12:00 PM that will hopefully explain it. True scotsman, maybe read the same comment if you are interested.

Clydelee, thanks for the comment, no I hadn't heard of Ken Wilbur although Integral theory looks interesting, although a tad new-agey (not that that means its wrong) but I have a bad image of such pursuits from the likes of Chopra. Close minded of me perhaps. Would you recommend reading Ken?
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16-04-2015, 08:41 AM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(15-04-2015 06:50 PM)Th3box Wrote:  Buckyball, sorry for offending you with the whole troll thing, I did attempt to prevent it from seeming like an accusation. Also when you say 'all of my arguments are fallacious and you admitted it', that's just incorrect. Read through my comments if you/anyone else thinks that's what I'm saying and hopefully on a close reading you'll understand it properly.

This whole Dawkins things has grown pretty out of control, it wasn't meant to become a new topic, and to be honest I don't care about making out Dawkins as either right or wrong. I was informed he was wrong by my lecturer, a published academic in the field. The reason I feel at all qualified to speak on the matter is because I learnt about it all last year in my philosophy of biology module, doing a masters degree course at a top 30 global ranking university. Pretty much the only thing we learnt about was the theory of evolution, and I wrote my paper on Dawkins, for which I received a distinction grade. I can send you the essay if you like; same goes for you Chas, who is also keen to ascertain my knowledge on the matter. Not saying I'm an expert, but I'm not unqualified either. Just to confirm one point chas, you seem to have misunderstood me at various times; most recently when you say

Quote:You are also wrong about chromosomes. They do not, in fact, remain intact.
Your knowledge of biology and understanding of evolution are very poor.

Please note that I never said that chromosomes remain intact; I was saying that Dawkins' view requires 'specific lengths of chromosome' to remain intact; that means a portion of the chromosome. The criticism in this case would be that any active germ line replicator, as Dawkins describes his immortal genes, is likely to be susceptible to meisois, and therefore breaking apart, implying they are not immortal Coupled this with the fact that any such gene is explicitly reliant on the rest of the genome for the heritable trait conferring a survival advantage to convey phenotypic properties to the host organism. Therefore to see a particular strand of the genome as of utmost importance and liable to labelling as the 'unit of selection' seems an odd thing to do. If you are interested I can send you my essay, although I am afraid it does not deal with that issue specifically, but considers that in a process essentially involving changing organisms over time it is strange to think that a small unchanging part of the genome is the most important physical entity to consider.
I never came here to discuss biology though. As for the reference thing, you are right I am lazy; I don't want to spend hours of my time trying to convince people of a relatively irrelevant biological issue.

As for the consciousness/awareness thing; mordant, I'm not so much trying to put consciousness in a special position as I am trying to put it into the least special position, implying that it is fundamental, at least to our thought processes, which in turn is the avenue through which we come to all knowledge. As for non-living consciousness, I'd definitely agree it can exist, although as to whether a machine of non-biological materials would be able to have the same kind of consciousness as we do, I might be more sceptical. If human consciousness relies on the fact that neurons have a wide possible range of eigenvalues for instance, then unless you can replicate that exactly in inorganic material then it may not be replicable. Of course, the debate springs to mind as to whether we should regard organic materials as fundamentally different to inorganic materials. Looking at organic materials through microscopes shows them to remarkably resemble machines, and we could feasibly think of them as naturally occurring complex machines.

Also please note that whilst I say I'm 'implying it is fundamental' I might personally think this holds in a metaphysical way for the universe, but the argument in question is showing it merely as inescapably fundamental to our knowledge of the universe. If you read through my comment at 11-04-2015, 12:00 PM that will hopefully explain it. True scotsman, maybe read the same comment if you are interested.

Clydelee, thanks for the comment, no I hadn't heard of Ken Wilbur although Integral theory looks interesting, although a tad new-agey (not that that means its wrong) but I have a bad image of such pursuits from the likes of Chopra. Close minded of me perhaps. Would you recommend reading Ken?

Well yes awareness is inescapably fundamental to knowledge. It is an axiomatic concept. Awareness is an irreducible primary but it is not the most fundamental concept. It presupposes the question: Awareness of what? Existence is the most fundamental concept. No other concept can come before it for what would it reference except something that exists?

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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16-04-2015, 11:32 AM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(15-04-2015 06:50 PM)Th3box Wrote:  This whole Dawkins things has grown pretty out of control, it wasn't meant to become a new topic, and to be honest I don't care about making out Dawkins as either right or wrong. I was informed he was wrong by my lecturer, a published academic in the field.

Don't believe everything you hear. Drinking Beverage

Quote:The reason I feel at all qualified to speak on the matter is because I learnt about it all last year in my philosophy of biology module, doing a masters degree course at a top 30 global ranking university. Pretty much the only thing we learnt about was the theory of evolution, and I wrote my paper on Dawkins, for which I received a distinction grade. I can send you the essay if you like; same goes for you Chas, who is also keen to ascertain my knowledge on the matter. Not saying I'm an expert, but I'm not unqualified either. Just to confirm one point chas, you seem to have misunderstood me at various times; most recently when you say

I would be very interested to read your paper.

Quote:
Quote:You are also wrong about chromosomes. They do not, in fact, remain intact.
Your knowledge of biology and understanding of evolution are very poor.

Please note that I never said that chromosomes remain intact; I was saying that Dawkins' view requires 'specific lengths of chromosome' to remain intact; that means a portion of the chromosome.

You are correct, I misread that.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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17-04-2015, 01:31 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(10-04-2015 11:59 AM)Th3box Wrote:  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).

Unless you can demonstrate that one or more gods are necessary for awareness or are somehow linked to awareness, the two topics are not related. Just because we might not have an answer for why we experience awareness doesn't mean that it must be the result of a god.

It's like asking if pizza is a problem for atheism. It might be a problem for some atheists, but it's not like we're discussing linked concepts or anything.
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17-04-2015, 03:32 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
I still can't tell what OP thinks they're arguing for.

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17-04-2015, 04:05 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(17-04-2015 03:32 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I still can't tell what OP thinks they're arguing for.

That awareness precedes matter? Consider

Or some such deepity. Drinking Beverage

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17-04-2015, 06:07 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(14-04-2015 08:12 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  Does consciousness hold primacy? No, and this is directly observable.

Hah. I see what you did there. Thumbsup

#sigh
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19-04-2015, 06:46 AM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
The argument wasn't so much to prove any point in particular. I was just wondering what the responses would be like to a rational argument indicating awareness or consciousness as the thing which a skeptic has to fall back upon. I wanted a critical eye to be cast; and it has, so thanks.

I have attached my essay criticising Dawkins' immortal gene, for your amusement. I trust you will approach it with an entirely unbiased mindset Thumbsup It's not my best work but its ok, and the start has a relatively broad introduction to the unit of selection debate, which you may not be familiar with specifically, so which should help.

Although I might have been implying the primacy of awareness, the argument wasn't supposed to show that. This one is, however:

Either:

Matter creates thought
or
Thought creates matter

Thought has volition, planning capabilities, action potential, perceptive qualities.
Matter is bound by laws, without perception, planning or self-volition.

The conclusion here should be obvious...

It's a kind of first cause/fine tuning argument rolled into one I guess. Also the kind of argument which made me reconsider my decade or so of atheism. As well as some research into quantum physics, and realising that all my thoughts are reliant on lots of moving (quantum weirdness) electrons; the thought which occurred to me then was 'do you really think humans are the only energy which can think?'.

Let the battle commence Cool


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