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

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It's not about belittling at all.  You started out asking if some magical idea had merit and I answered, clearly, that it did not.  Since then you've tried to re-assert the idea in various ways, attempting to illustrate the 'logic' of your magical claims, and seemingly expect me to stop and say, "Whoa!, I had never considered that before.  The complete lack of evidence for this concept and philosophical contradictions it poses suddenly seem silly compared to the ingenious analogy you just crafted to illustrate it."

I'm not just an Atheist, I'm an avid anti-supernaturalist.  I immediately, and loudly, oppose all magical claims because I hate the fact that the human mind can so easily become infected with bullshit.

Apologies if I'm being retarded, or thinking about magical ideas, but I gave it some thought and decided I'd come back for another bruising.

Let's say we do create two purely synthetic consciousnesses, identical in everyway, that can say, "I am". If we introduce them to each other and ask, "Are you the same being?" they will surely answer, "No." The physical material structure of their thought apparatus/brain will be entirely identical up to that point, yet they are not occupying the same space, therefore they will state (correctly) that they are different.

Is not consciousness the gateway between the material and the abstract? The most simple abstract thought is "I am." If a material being can conceive of this thought, it can be said to be conscious. It can take an abstract i.e. immaterial notion, and ground it in the material world. "I am here. I am not there."

Higher levels of abstraction can be accessed by more complex thinking material beings. Where are ideas about mathematics, morality, love, art etc. grounded? If all conscious minds perished, would that mean that numbers would no longer exist? If so, why? If not, they exist externally to us. When a new abstract thought has been conceived of by a consciousness, let's say for example, the idea of currency, where has this new thought come from? Currency hadn't always existed but someone came up with it, and applied it in the material world. If it did exist before, where?

My question is: Is abstract thought created or discovered?

If it was created, how does the brain create abstract ideas which cannot be perceived by our sense organs in the material world? If abstract ideas exist in the material world, where? How can we measure or quantify them as we can with everything else here? How do we conceive of notions which do not materially exist? If we create the ideas in our brains, does this mean they don't exist before they are thought of? If no-one thinks it, does it no longer exist?

If it was discovered, this implies with our conscious minds we can access an abstract dimension which exists independently of this material world.

Someone said that abstract thought is the ability to model the concrete material world. Where does this model exist? If it exists here, why can we not quantify or measure it like we can with other material things?

If we can say that possibly this model does not exist in the material world, we must accept the potentiality of a dualist system, in theory at least, rather than simply rubbishing or dismissing it out of hand.


Dualism does NOT imply theism, OR an idea of immortality but is a serious philosophical question which is not necessarily "dead".

It's very much dead for those who trade in evidence/real world observation.  Dualism is simply a philosophical construct that never holds up to observation and rarely holds up even to philosophical scrutiny.

It does exist in the real world, in the various neurological patterns that form consciousness.  Rather than re-conjecturing dualism over and over again without foundation, simply stating different scenarios and asking if it could in fact exist in this or that situation, why not specify the scenario that you first studied deeply and found dualism to be the only viable explanation.

Doesn't it exist in states of the brain? If our neuroscience were advanced enough, we might be able to "measure" it by mapping the brain. I think of it like computer software. Everything saved on the computer is "inside" it in a physical way (written on the hard drive), but it only makes sense in the context of the computer. When we study the brain and try to explain consciousness, we're essentially trying to work out the software by looking at the hard drive under a microscope—needless to say, a monumental task.

Does a computer program exist physically, or is there program/hard-drive dualism? See why the question of mind/body dualism might be the similar? Nobody has a problem accepting that something as complex as the internet is nothing more than wires and electrons.

Making things more complicated, although I've used a hard drive as a brain metaphor, I strongly suspect that the brain is far more similar to RAM. In my very rudimentary grasp of computing, I understand that RAM depends on the supply of electricity and is erased when the computer is powered down. I think the brain is always "on" from birth to death, and that while common processes do change the brain structure in some ways, 90% to 100% of ourselves are immediately erased when we die because the power is turned off. That's why I don't hold out too much hope that being cryogenically frozen will preserve someone's personality and memories even if their body is revived one day.

Yeah absolutely it could exist in the states of the brain, I'm not sure. And the analogies between brains and computers are apt, with the CPU being the cognitive processes and the hard drive being memories. Perhaps dreams are a construct of our own internal graphics card. I'm just playing with dualism as an idea, haven't really thought it through, that's why I came here.

Monism hasn't answered everything though, for instance our sense of morality. Also the idea of free will, or even a self at all?

Why do we feel more indisposed towards empathy with certain things but not others? I don't feel bad for the brick when it breaks, or the bacteria when it dies, but we do feel a sense of loss when a higher order animal dies, or a human being. Seeing another consciousness in pain or distress evokes those feelings in us? Why is this? What do we share, aside from a consciousness? If they are only arrangements of atoms and chemical processes like me, why do I feel for them?

If the brain is the source of consciousness, where is free will expressed? Some random dice roll in the brain does not constitute 'will'. Is the notion of free will therefore an illusion?

The same can be applied to the self. I know I am me and not you, here and not there. If two brains had identical patterns and processes at the same time, they would still have a notion of self. Is this an illusion?

If they are illusions, is this implying that all conscious beings are all suffering from some kind of dementia?

I'm pretty convinced that morality has very plausible naturalistic explanations based in evolutionary biology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy. I don't see that as any challenge to "monism" whatsoever.

Free will is the thorniest problem in philosophy, if only because it seems to have such importance to how we see ourselves. Unfortunately, all of the evidence seems to point in one direction: free will is an illusion. That's a tough pill to swallow, but I'm not qualified to argue against the evidence. Sam Harris has a lot to say on this topic.

Perhaps, but then why do we like seeing tigers in a zoo, or are interested in preserving them? From an evolutionary standpoint that runs false surely? In an evolutionary sense we ought to be trying to make them extinct! They're fucking dangerous!

We intuit that tigers have some value, but aren't wholly able to explain why we think that (from an evolutionary defense-mechanism standpoint. They are fucking dangerous)

We can - it's called an MRI.  We do not currently have high enough resolution to get a fully detailed, quantifiable measurement, but we get a little closer with each upgrade to the technology.


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