Question was inspired by this user from Yahoo, thought I'd get some opinions on this on Think Atheist.

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RE: "Where did that idea come from?" - goddidit!

"If our brains and consciousnesses were simply the accumulation of sense perception, how did they arrive at that conclusion? Where did that idea come from?"

I don't think that's counter-intuitive at all. I see it as a foregone conclusion. Who we are is in part determined by our experiences. Our experiences are a chain of each moment's awareness. Our awareness of each moment is given to us by our senses. What would we be without any senses? We couldn't tell whether it was day or night. We couldn't feel hunger or pain. We couldn't know the warmth of heat or the touch of another person. There would be no sounds and no vibrations. There would be no images of things we take for granted like beds, toilets, and a roof. I doubt an existence like that would have emotions because there isn't anything to stimulate emotions!

If a person can receive no stimulus, is there anyway to tell if that person is conscious? What kind of thoughts could a person with no experience of the world have?

But back to reality, when all brain activity ceases, consciousness ceases. I've seen people that, due to traumatic injuries are in various states of consciousness. We aren't talking metaphysics here. We are talking straight biology. There is nothing that is you that exists without your brain. There is no special place that is somewhere other than the physical world that you go when your brain no longer functions. Likewise, there can be no "downloading" of your consciousness into a computer in some sci-fi future. We are quite stuck to our fleshy bits of grey matter. If you really think otherwise, then I suggest you meet some people who have had a lobotomy. It becomes fairly evident.

The point I was trying to make was that the Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers reached a counter-intuitive conclusion (the atomistic nature of matter) using only their sense perception. How is this possible?

I'm not talking about me anymore, or you, or existing after death. I have repeatedly stated that our consciousness dies with our brain.


Well, my bad then. I haven't read through all nine pages yet.

Possibly, it could be that they saw iron forged from metal ores, ships made from wood, tar, and resin, pottery from clay, and soil from old vegetation and manure. Eventually, someone thought that if all these things are made from the pieces of other things, then maybe all things are made from smaller pieces. Thus one has the beginnings of atomic theory.

I do think your idea about whether abstract ideas exist apart from our ability to comprehend it is interesting. I was tempted to say no, but then I considered the number 0 and other numbers and then math and began to wonder if there was just something about abstract logical ideas that are special or do abstract ideas as a whole exist even if we don't think of them. Maybe start a new thread in the philosophy section about it?

I mean yes, that's right in the sense of a logical progression of smaller and smaller things composing a whole, makes sense, but where does the idea of large amounts of space in solid objects come from?

I only started thinking about dualism the other day that's why I came here. Start a new thread in philosophy? I've already been tarred and feathered here for asking a few questions...

If, for example, we take the idea that there is a material/physical world and an abstract realm of ideas, with consciousness as a bridge between the two, would this not resolve the issues of 'free will' and 'self' which seem problematic from a purely monist stance?

Pure monism seems to have a problem with explaining whether or not free will exists. If we act based purely on processes in our brain, where in the brain can we find a 'free will'?

If we say that there is a dualism between thought/matter, and consciousness is the union between these two, can we not site the self, and free will there? When the material site of consciousness perishes, there is no more link between the two, and no self or will. No immortality (except for the two worlds of thought and matter, which would still exist, and be conserved).

The first section you talked about was actually a point I was trying to make earlier, was that there are probably several states of consciousness. There is no way to tell if that person was conscious, but could it say to itself, "I am."?

If it were the case that we simply perceived our own material world, from inside it, how could they arrive at that conclusion?

This is a classic example of selection bias. You're counting one concept the ancients got (barely) right about nature but ignoring (perhaps millions) of other ancient concepts about nature that they got wrong.

You're essentially proposing that arriving at a correct conclusion without the backing of empirical science is a test for the concept of dualism as you propose it. By the same test, this time counting both the misses and the hits, dualism fails miserably.

If our brains and consciousnesses were simply the accumulation of sense perception, how did they arrive at that conclusion? Where did that idea come from?

They used the natural philosophy of classical antiquity: a process of reason that produces abstract concepts. One such concept was that matter can be split into two until it reaches a point where it can no longer be divided. They were right in that the chemical element oxygen is divisible down to a single oxygen molecule (O2) but wrong in that it can still be divided further into atomic oxygen (O1) and further still into electrons, protons, and neutrons, and further still into quarks.

If there's a cosmic encyclopedia of knowledge-- which our human brains tap into by mental telepathy-- then it's shockingly wrong, misleading, and incomplete.

That, or the cosmic encyclopedia concept is ridiculous drivel; consciousness is how we experience the brain's neurological process of stimuli, memory, association, and response, and reason is simply the product of that process.

I'm not suggesting that there is some kind of "cosmic encyclopedia".

I'm suggesting that there is a fourth dimension (at least) of thought. Perhaps more. Music? Pathos? Time? I don't think the world can sufficiently be explained by just the three dimensions of space, and string theory suggests there may possibly be ten such dimensions...


I'm not suggesting that there is some kind of "cosmic encyclopedia".

Of course you are. You're just calling it "a fourth dimension of thought" rather than a "cosmic encyclopedia". Your basic concept is that thought or knowledge exists independently and the brain only accesses it. (How? Telepathy? Radio waves? Morse Code?)

I'm suggesting that there is a fourth dimension (at least) of thought.

Without a single shred of empirical evidence, you might as well be suggesting we play a game of choo-choo train.

Well, you certainly can't prove any of what you speak of to be true, you can only deduce the probabilities of it's likelihood, and even then, I fail to see how you could ever prove your deductions were correct. But if you enjoy pissing into the wind, far be it from me to stop you.

Of course a tree makes a sound when it falls in the forest - the same sonic mechanics that act to create the sound a human hears, don't suddenly cease to operate in his/her absence. As far as this planet is concerned, Man is entirely superfluous.

RE: "Heather Spoonheim suggested that some concepts are too large for a single brain to comprehend" - yes, well that was Heather's fault for offering you something you could sink a hook into, and I suspect she's regretting volunteering same.

I am not actually speaking of anything and have never even stated a position since I have none. Every post I have made has been framed as an honest question. You guys seem to be on some kind of blind theist-hunt. I came here because it said "Fellow Atheists, what is your take on Dualism?" I didn't expect to walk into some kind of monist Inquisition.


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