Monthly Archives: October 2018

When a person dies …

When a person dies their body (matter) remains and their mind extinguishes. That is observed. Under no circumstances does matter extinguish. It only changes. Conservation is observed. This consistency and predictability of matter is essential to my understanding (call it reason if you will). From nowhere else does my knowledge of the reality start except from the sensation, then perception and conception of it.

When I die, I will not continue as a mind or spirit but the matter will transform into something else that may or may not have a mind.

Does being a material monist mean I feel lonely?

No.

Monism, dualism or pluralism?

Is it 1) mind only; 2) matter only; 3) both mind and matter; 4) more than just mind and matter; or 5) neither mind nor matter?

If it is the mind then all matter needs the mind. If it is matter then all things needs matter. If it is mind and matter then all things need both mind and matter. If it it is more than mind and matter then all things need mind, matter and the unknown things. If it is neither mind nor matter then all things need some unknown thing.

The world can be explained with what we have, namely the mind and matter. But the matter seems not to need the mind to exist. Death is a prime example of the matter continuing after the mind disappears. Whether the mind and/or some other unknown exists or disappears only matter exists. The only conclusion we can draw is it is monism, and it is matter only.

Flux/Impermanent/Change

Everything is in flux. (Heraclitus, 6c BCE)

Everything, without exception, is impermanent. (The Buddha, 5c BCE)

Change is the only constant. (signature103, 2018)

I am a material monist

The world is matter and matter alone. Where is the mind situated in this world? It is a process of matter. Perception and conception are processes of matter.

Is pure space observable?

Yesterday, I talked about the Avicenna’s Flying Man experiment. It seems quite a strange thought experiment. But let’s modify it and try to come up with a better conclusion.

Imagine pure space with no objects – including no you, the observer – within it. Nothing. No matter. No energy. Nada.

Even if you, by some impossible reason, can be an observer within this space – let us call you, The Insubstantial Eye – you cannot “know” space. You have no points of reference. Even if you move “through” space you will not know whether you are moving or whether you are stationary.

In other words, space is not knowable without objects. This is what I mean by space is inferred from the relationship of objects.

Avicenna’s Flying Man experiment

Avicenna was an Arabic philosopher who lived from 980 to 1037. He followed the Greek wisdom, consciously rejecting Islamic theology. He wrote in “On The Soul” the following thought experiment:

  1. If I were blindfolded and suspended in the air, touching nothing …
  2. I would not know that I have a body.
  3. But I would know that I – my “self” or “soul” exists.
  4. So, my soul is not a body, but something different.
  5. The soul is distinct from the body.

Suppose you are in absolute empty space. There would be no light, sound, smell, taste, sense touch. Suppose there are no sensations, would you know what you areor where you are? The jump from Proposition 2 to Proposition 3 is a large one that cannot be proven.

Suppose that it is true, then one must ask, “what is the body for,” if the self or soul can survive in such a state. It also begs the question does that mean there is a place as absolute empty space, where such a soul can exist?

Of course, Avicenna did not have the benefit of knowledge that we have today of human physiology. We know the brain gives us the sense of self.

Let’s modify the experiment and take two people.

One is born with everything to be a human, except for the input of sensation. Would he or she know of his or her existence? The perceptual brain would be running but with no information of the world or self.

Another person came into the world the same way, had one day of sensation before all senses were taken away. Would he or she know of his or her existence. Now, at least this person has had some input. This input is processed by the brain, trying to make sense of the experience. From the available information the brain would try to sense of the world, perhaps seek out more information from the senses, try to turn it back on.

To know the self requires that we know the existence of the “other”, some thing of the external world.

Coma patients are a bit like the second person. They are temporarily (or until death) not aware of the “outside” world, even though they are alive and function as long the body is nourished and the brain is undamaged. This shows clearly we only have access to the outside world though the senses. While this coma patient has no more sensory input he or she still has perceptual and conceptual input. Thoughts may continue because there is “something there” to think about. Unlike the first person in the thought experiment there is no seed of information to start perception and conception.

Perception and conception can only start when some input is given. That input, it seems, is from sensation or sense data.