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

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There is no evidence for a higher power at all. There is evidence that thoughts and matter exist. My question is are they separate?

The analogy you made is what I was inferring to and amounts to just that. Does the tree not still make a sound, do abstract ideas still exist without us?

If abstract ideas are contained purely in brains then we must say abstract ideas no longer exist without us. Is this your position? Heather Spoonheim suggested that some concepts are too large for a single brain to comprehend, yet two separate brains could comprehend part of it. Where does it exist in it's entirety? If you find the solution to one half of a concept and I find the solution to the other half, we combine them and they amount to a complete whole, how would it be possible that they could compliment each other perfectly? I'm being totally serious and haven't made my mind up about anything, and I'm only willing to accept things which I can think/prove to be true.

How was it possible for the Greeks and Indian philosophers to conceive of the atomic nature of structure, with empty space in between, thousands of years before we could prove it, yet finding it to be true despite being counter-intuitive? If it were the case that we simply perceived our own material world, from inside it, how could they arrive at that conclusion?

If it was 500BC and someone had come up to you without our years of rigourous scientific endeavour, and told you to look at a solid table and told you it was made mostly of space, you would have thought him insane. It's completely counter-intuitive. But now we know they were correct.

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?

Have I not stated repeatedly that I don't believe there is a god? What is wrong with you people? Dualism does NOT equal theism.

We've seen theists come on the board and state a lot of things, most of which proved not to be the case.

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.


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