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

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If you want to call the fact that you don't get what people are trying to tell you, "semantics," by all means, call it that, or whatever else you like.

RE: "Matter presumably exists in a pure form somewhere, perhaps physics will discover it."

I think they already have - they call it energy.

So you understand what the definition of pure is. How can we apply this to a thought or idea?

"WE?"

Good night, Anon --

If consciousness then dies, the pure form now no longer exists anywhere, but it's effect would still act in the material world.

Concepts don't have an "effect" on the world (except through how they make conscious creatures behave); you've got it exactly backwards. A concept is a description of the world in a conscious mind, it is not a rule that the world follows. E=MC2 is a description of how the universe behaves. Einstein did not have to work out the equation before it went into effect, and the "pure" concept does not have to exist in some Platonic metaphysical plane for the universe to refer to every time matter and energy interact. The claim of most of us here is that concepts do not exist except in minds, and your Socratic questioning is not having much success changing that. To sum up, I think that you're conflating the word "concept" with the thing it describes and thus giving it too much weight.

The physical world obviously follows these rules. If I drop a pen, it falls. The rules exist in some sense. Where do they exist?

If they only exist in our minds as models, fine. But, why are they allowed to exist infinitely in time, like matter, but not in space, like matter. Are they special in some way?

If we take this argument, for example, and then consider how much special stuff there is, (infinity for example), then that would seem to be suggesting there is potentially more special stuff than real stuff. Monism starts to collapse here.

Not really.  Let's say your name is Kevin.  And there are several other Kevins.  Does that mean the name Kevin exists separately to those people who have been named Kevin in the past and possibly the future?  Is there an external "Kevin" that exists in space as a name?

The universe operates on a cause and effect basis.  There is matter, and it moves.  Everything else from there on in is simply conceptual ways to determine what causes and effects are in operation at any one time.

Well obviously it exists, it's a word, isn't it? Where does the word Kevin exist in space, and if it doesn't have to, why not?

How long is a piece of string?  How many rice grains make a heap?

I expect that there could be some word, 'Kevin', that is associated with just a list of other words, some of which are also associated to objects(real or imagined), abstract catagories, or operations. These 'words' could be encoded into different symbol sets as in a language, or expressed as just sounds, wave forms(modulated energy/wave), or digital packets with some set of definitions, and their associations.

The choise of the symbol string 'KEVIN', might be less important than what are the  shared social expectations or referrents associated with the symbol string.

If one looks at the combinations or characters within the rather large list of english words we us, I expect that the combinations are not fully random, but some finite list of rules for construction.

The string of characters 'KEVIN', is more that some external thing that exists in space, but is dependent on the evolution of culture, thought, and meaning.

Yah, my two bites worth...        

feel like I'm mostly in control, like some unique "consciousness" in charge of my body, so I don't care if it's just an illusion. Just knowing I can contemplate this, and this post, myself, others, is all I need. The question about why we feel this way is what's most interesting.

I have another question that someone's probably asked before. What's so special about humans compared to (say) dogs, cats, rats, and so on? Sure, we can contemplate everything at a much higher level, but is sophisticated contemplation a prerequisite for "free will", however anyone defines it? I'll bet most animals, even though they can't think abstractly or in words, have the same feeling that they're separate entities, able to focus on what they're doing, whatever they're doing. Isn't that's all that's needed for a feeling of free will?

So perhaps just our abilities to conceive of and discuss free will (or spirituality and dualism and so on) are really the only differences between humans and other animals?

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