Tuesday, June 21, 2011

336: The material Brain

In a previous lecture I said, that Materialism is the general theory that the ultimate constituents of reality are material or physical bodies, elements or processes.

It is a form of monism in that it holds that everything in existence is reducible to what is material or physical in nature.

Although this is good enough as a base to continue with developing a deeper understanding of materialism as an ontological point of view,

there is a rather obvious question : "What is matter?" The answer to this question has to be at least consistent with our basic assumptions of materialism.

Natural philosophers have studied material objects and contrasted them with such immaterial agencies as energy and fields of force.

The terms “matter” and “material” have played a humble part not only in science but also in moral philosophy and even theology.

Matter has thus been placed in opposition to life and mind, soul and spirit, and a preoccupation with worldly pleasures and bodily comforts, has been condemned as “materialistic” and unworthy of spiritual beings, as opposed to the “higher” pleasures of the mind.

When you look at it more closely, you must come to the conclusion that through the ages matter was not always the same matter: the concept of matter has been progressively refined and modified in the course of intellectual history.

Since Thales of Milete (600 B.C) a basic philosophical problem was the question: “What universal, permanent substance underlies the variety and change of the physical world?”

For Aristotle objects were composed of the four terrestrial elements—earth, air, fire, and water—and could be created and destroyed, Of all terrestrial things only the souls of rational beings were exempted from change and decay.

The alchemical philosophers in the 2nd and 3rd century, for their part, introduced an experimental element into the study of matter. they were led to contrast volatile and chemically active substances, such as alcohol and ether (spirits), with solid and passive ones, such as sand and stones.

The association of the soul and the body in living creatures was thus treated as analogous to the association of volatile and gaseous with solid and earthy substances in a chemical compound.

It could be quite possible that from those ideas come how we see the soul or a ghost: some cloud like, half transparent being. Ideas that were rejected of course by theologians like Thomas Aquinas (died 1274)

The revival of the physical sciences during the Renaissance from 1550 on started from a position in which no single doctrine about the nature of matter was clearly established and generally accepted.

When we meet Descartes (died 1650) there had emerged a new mechanical corpuscular philosophy to a proliferation of new kinds of atom

—for instance, magnetic, calorific, and frigorific corpuscles— introduced to account for the corresponding physical phenomena of magnetism, heat, cold, and so on.

Christian theology had added its own objections to any explanation of mental activity that regarded the mind as composed of atoms, no matter how light or mobile, for this, it was generally agreed, came perilously close to denying the immortality of the soul.

The new physical science of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries accordingly limited its aim. The realm of nature consisted of material bodies interacting mechanically by contact and impact and could be studied by science.

The realm of spirit—including, at least, the intellectual activities of human beings— was a distinct and separate object of speculation to which the categories of physical science were not directly relevant.

And thus you see how the concept of matter is influenced by theologians to prevent a 100% materialist ontology. Cartesian Dualism helped out.

The Discussion

[13:19] herman Bergson: Thank you...:-)
[13:20] herman Bergson: If you like...the floor is yours..
[13:20] Doodus Moose: it's distressing to think of spiritual awareness as chemical transactions
[13:20] Mick Nerido: sort of like seperation of church and state...
[13:20] herman Bergson: why is that Doodus?
[13:21] Doodus Moose: hnmmmm, you'd have to experience a spiritual situation firsthand to understand it
[13:21] herman Bergson: That is an argument of authority….invalid
[13:22] Doodus Moose: i know - that's why i'm going to be quiet on this one
[13:22] Doodus Moose: :-)
[13:22] herman Bergson smiles
[13:22] herman Bergson: a pitty...
[13:22] herman Bergson: For it interests me very much why it is distressing...
[13:22] herman Bergson: what is the distress?
[13:23] Doodus Moose: that would be the start of an all-night discussion
[13:23] Mick Nerido: I have had spiritual or mystical experiences that could be matter based.
[13:23] Doodus Moose: distressing because everything seems reduced to cause-and-effect
[13:23] herman Bergson: Give it a try, for I think this is a quintessential point for many people
[13:23] herman Bergson: Not necessarily Dodus....
[13:24] herman Bergson: Doodus
[13:24] herman Bergson: Quantum Mechanics already has demonstrated that mater not absolutely causal is..
[13:25] herman Bergson: Matter in a modern sense is not just the simple biliard ball causality like Hume thought
[13:25] herman Bergson: Besides that....
[13:26] herman Bergson: Like liquidity is caused by H2O molecules
[13:26] herman Bergson: Consciousness can be causes by our brain....
[13:27] herman Bergson: But that doesn't mean that we know what consciousness is...
[13:27] herman Bergson: We'll spend a number of lectures on that concept...
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): I sorry..
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i am I'm Sorry! i have to leave early
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): see you next week
[13:28] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:28] Doodus Moose: bye. Gemma
[13:28] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Bye ! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): let us know about summer break Herman
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: ok cu gemma
[13:28] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Bye Gemma
[13:28] herman Bergson: Be well Gemma :-)
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Mhh *Kiss* Bye bye!
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: hugs
[13:28] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Gemma
[13:28] herman Bergson: Today the question is...what is matter...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: that im good at if anyone
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:29] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): can i ask a question in dutch please?
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: but well matter is everything you can touch basically
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: that have substance
[13:30] herman Bergson: Most important point till 1700 is that it was defined in such a way that mental phenomena would not be mental to safe the mind and the soul
[13:31] herman Bergson: I almost would ask you all: What is the matter?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Quiet today :-)
[13:31] Doodus Moose: (hi, hi)
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well that suits me, for I have guests in RL :-)
[13:32] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): matter is waar de..het..of een..voorkan staan...is een gat ook matter?..een niets met iets er omheen?...in het universum zijn ' gaten' is dat ook matter?
[13:32] herman Bergson: and they make a lot of noise disrupting my concentration :-)
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: well matter is interesting topic for sure and what differs that from nomn material stuff
[13:33] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): sorry had to write that in dutch
[13:33] herman Bergson: I suggest we continue our discussion on matter next class....
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: and is the higgs boson the cause for matter having substance, are the Higgs the difference between matter and energy, thats a question i would want to know kind of soon
[13:33] Qwark Allen: Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume.
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:34] Qwark Allen: from wikipedia
[13:34] Mick Nerido: matter can be changed into energy..
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark...I saw that...... not really a satisfactory definition...
[13:34] herman Bergson: A good thing to look into next lecture...
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ant the opposite around
[13:35] Qwark Allen: good :-)
[13:35] herman Bergson: Allow me to thank you for today and dismiss class.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: RL environment is to disrupting now for me :-)
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehe ok
[13:36] Qwark Allen: you welcome herman
[13:36] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Thank you herman.
[13:36] Qwark Allen: interesting as allways
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: well have to deal with that sometimes too
[13:36] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman:-)
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: interesting again
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:36] Qwark Allen: i like this thematic
[13:36] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: as always
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides: thank you, .. and sorry for being late, byee
[13:36] Bejiita Imako ♪♥♪APPLAUDS!!!♪♥♪
[13:36] Doodus Moose: Good Show Professor, let your guests know you are appreciated!
[13:36] herman Bergson: SO thank you all..hope tosee you on a quiet Thursday again...
[13:36] 방랑자 (tauto): thank you herman
[13:36] herman Bergson: I will Doodus
[13:36] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman...fijne avond nog
[13:37] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye CLASS :-)
[13:37] 방랑자 (tauto): bye all
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: bye
[13:37] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): I'll do some reading up by next week :-))
[13:37] Mick Nerido: thanks bye
[13:38] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Bye for now.
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: good byee
[13:39] herman Bergson: Hi Lizzy
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