Wednesday, June 29, 2011

338: The materialist Brain 4

After our sidetrack on the question "What is matter?", let's return to our main road, that of investigating materialism itself.

If fact, for a materialist, it hardly matters, what matter is made of. Atoms, molecules, whatever, maybe with the exception that matter complies to laws of nature.

When you look at the history of materialism, you look at the basic philosophical question "What exists?" And it is astonishing to see how the human mind has answered that question.

Materialism, and thence monism, has been a theme in European speculative thought from the earliest periods for which there is any record. In the previous lecture I already mentioned Leucippus and his pupil Democritus, who lived in the 5th center BCE!

Their basic idea was that the fundamental stuff was of just one kind (matter) and that the fundamental entities were material atoms. These atoms are in constant motion in a void that surrounds them.

Then when you look at a few theses that can be deduced from their "atom theory" and when you ask yourself the question "How can a human mind come to such insights",

if you take into account that those Greeks had no technology whatsoever, that could have suggested these conclusions, it is amazing.

Theses about what is formulated more than 2500 years ago!

(1) Nothing exists but atoms and empty space.

(2) Nothing happens by chance (for no reason at all);everything occurs for a reason and of necessity.This necessity is natural and mechanical; it excludes teleological necessitation.

(3) Nothing can arise out of nothing; nothing that is can be destroyed. All novelties are merely new combinations or separations of atoms.

The conclusions you can come to drawn from these theses are far reaching.
The world is purely mechanical, an idea that became the basis of of the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

Teleological necessitation is excluded. This means that matter, or we could say, the world, just is as it is, changing because of mechanical, that is causal processes. But there is now direction in that process, not a necessary goal it is steering at.

"Nothing can arise out of nothing" is an interesting thesis because of its implications. It leads to a number of metaphysical riddles. One is: there never was a creation. Do we have to conclude that there was never a beginning?

How do we have to understand the Big Bang from this perspective? Is our mind in any way able to understand the concept of Beginning?

When you look at the history of materialism you see, that this kind of thinking was suppressed for almost 1500 years.

Religious thinking, in this case christianity, was so dominant and powerful, that materialism was just a heresy and good for the stake.

From the close of the classical period until the Renaissance the church and Aristotle so dominated European speculation that materialist theories virtually lapsed.

Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655), who in the last part of his life taught astronomy at the Royal College in Paris, was the first one who brought materialism back in the spotlights.

But he still needed a trick. To bring his materialist ideas into closer conformity with Christian doctrine, he claimed that the atoms are not eternal but created.

They are finite, not infinite, in number and are organized in our particular world by a providential determination of initial conditions.

In England Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) was much more consistent and uncompromising. Hobbes hoped to use the new non-Aristotelian physics of the seventeenth century as the basis for a final, complete account of reality.

No part of the universe is not a body, said Hobbes, and no part of the universe contains no body.Hobbes was a plenist, holding all space to be filled by an intangible material ether if nothing else.

And then Descartes stepped in. The influence of Gassendi and Hobbes was diminished by the prestige of their brilliant contemporary, Rene
Descartes (1596–1650),

who accepted a materialist and mechanical account of the inanimate world and the brute creation but insisted that men had immaterial, immortal spirits whose essential nature lay in conscious thought undetermined by causal processes.

According to Descartes, there are in the world two quite different sortsnof things, extended (material) substances and thinking (spiritual) substances, which are mysteriously united in the case of humankind.

So, after the Middle Ages, which was a dark period for materialism, we now got stuck for another 300 years with the dominance of Dualism, which was politically much more correct than monism.

The Discussion

[2011/06/23 13:25] herman Bergson: to be continued ....thank you :-))
[2011/06/23 13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[2011/06/23 13:26] Mick Nerido: Care to speculate how the Greeks came up with Monism with no tech to hepl them discover it?
[2011/06/23 13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): all conflicting as usual
[2011/06/23 13:27] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): how could Leucippus and Democritus know that there were things like atoms?
[2011/06/23 13:27] herman Bergson: That is what I find so fascinating Mick
[2011/06/23 13:27] herman Bergson: I have no idea how they could develop such a model of reality...
[2011/06/23 13:27] Mick Nerido: The GREEKS HAD MANY GODS
[2011/06/23 13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): those philosophers knew more than we give them credit for
[2011/06/23 13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): as far as the physical world goes
[2011/06/23 13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma.....but the idea of atoms....
[2011/06/23 13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i know :-)
[2011/06/23 13:28] herman Bergson: First they thought all was composed of earth , air , water and fire
[2011/06/23 13:28] Bejiita Imako: aa yes
[2011/06/23 13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but maybe their idea of atom is different from the microscopic atom
[2011/06/23 13:28] Mick Nerido: Yes there philosophers were like scientists
[2011/06/23 13:29] Bejiita Imako: the elements yes
[2011/06/23 13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[2011/06/23 13:29] Bejiita Imako: the word atom mean unsplitable
[2011/06/23 13:29] Bejiita Imako: but later we found out thats not the case either
[2011/06/23 13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and then guess what!!
[2011/06/23 13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[2011/06/23 13:30] herman Bergson: Well...just the belief that all things were composed of small particles and just become what they are by configuration of the particles...
[2011/06/23 13:30] herman Bergson: and not by properties of the particles themselves
[2011/06/23 13:31] Mick Nerido: Very strange that they came to this theory with no tech...
[2011/06/23 13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[2011/06/23 13:31] herman Bergson: I have no idea why their reasoning went in such a monist direction
[2011/06/23 13:31] herman Bergson: Yes Mick the more you think about it the more fascinating it becomes
[2011/06/23 13:31] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[2011/06/23 13:32] herman Bergson: But it is the work of the human mind.....
[2011/06/23 13:32] herman Bergson: There is however a consequence......
[2011/06/23 13:32] herman Bergson: more than 2500 years ago there was amodel of reality implanted in our thinking....
[2011/06/23 13:33] herman Bergson: we still use that model.....
[2011/06/23 13:33] herman Bergson: I would say basically for pragmatic reasons...
[2011/06/23 13:33] herman Bergson: But when it comes to the mind.....
[2011/06/23 13:33] herman Bergson: the model isnt complete....
[2011/06/23 13:34] Tauto Resident: I'm not sure I understand it correctly, but
[2011/06/23 13:34] Tauto Resident: Guess what is called the prototype of the model do?
[2011/06/23 13:35] Mick Nerido: The Greeks were great theorists inventing Geomerty etc...
[2011/06/23 13:35] herman Bergson: Yes.....quite different from what they now are ^_^
[2011/06/23 13:35] Bejiita Imako: y
[2011/06/23 13:35] Bejiita Imako: the saying
[2011/06/23 13:35] Bejiita Imako: already the old greeks
[2011/06/23 13:35] herman Bergson: Well Tauto....
[2011/06/23 13:36] Mick Nerido: Mathematics had a lot do do with their thinking
[2011/06/23 13:36] herman Bergson: the basic model of reality is that it is constructed out of small particles
[2011/06/23 13:36] (tauto): i just can't follow as fast as and as acurate all.
[2011/06/23 13:36] Bejiita Imako: yes
[2011/06/23 13:36] herman Bergson: The interaction between brain and environment has created that idea...
[2011/06/23 13:37] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): is this old idea true?
[2011/06/23 13:37] herman Bergson: That is the point Beertje....You CAN ask that question.....
[2011/06/23 13:38] Mick Nerido: perhaps we instinctivly reflect the true material world in our brains
[2011/06/23 13:38] herman Bergson: and when it comes to the mind....seen from a materialist point of view you have a problem...
[2011/06/23 13:38] herman Bergson: all that exists is matter....ok
[2011/06/23 13:38] herman Bergson: this matter.....our brain chemistry is than said, produses the mind....
[2011/06/23 13:39] herman Bergson: is the mind material too?
[2011/06/23 13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hmmm
[2011/06/23 13:39] herman Bergson: If not what isit then?
[2011/06/23 13:39] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): and if it's true..can we re arrange it?
[2011/06/23 13:39] herman Bergson: Is it a feature of the brain chemistry
[2011/06/23 13:40] Tauto Resident: Many psychologists are still other kinds of brain and mind can believe that.
[2011/06/23 13:40] herman Bergson: like liquidity is a feature of H2O molecules?
[2011/06/23 13:40] herman Bergson: We still have a long way to go to get these questions answered
[2011/06/23 13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[2011/06/23 13:40] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): maybe another 2500 years...
[2011/06/23 13:41] Bejiita Imako: is an interesting question indeed whaqt makes up the mind
[2011/06/23 13:41] herman Bergson: Oh we will have a lot of fun with that question Bejiita :-)
[2011/06/23 13:41] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): LOL
[2011/06/23 13:41] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): over and over
[2011/06/23 13:42] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma ......
[2011/06/23 13:42] Tauto Resident: I have to wonder. For example, brain damage or remove any part make them human morality says about whether to have.
[2011/06/23 13:42] Mick Nerido: lucky the greek ideas were not lost...
[2011/06/23 13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): how many classes are we up to now
[2011/06/23 13:42] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): strange thing..that some protein can influence the Alzheimer
[2011/06/23 13:42] herman Bergson: But I yet believe that by the end of this project you really have a better understanding of the situation we are in
[2011/06/23 13:43] herman Bergson: yes Beertje..and what you say Tauto.....
[2011/06/23 13:44] herman Bergson: We only can say then that the Brain is the Mind
[2011/06/23 13:44] (tauto): i wish i have exactly accurate translator.
[2011/06/23 13:44] herman Bergson: such a thing doesn't exist Tauto....unfortunately
[2011/06/23 13:44] 방랑자 (tauto): oh..
[2011/06/23 13:44] herman Bergson: One of the big differences between the mind and acomputer....
[2011/06/23 13:45] herman Bergson: A computer isn't able to give MEANING to words...
[2011/06/23 13:45] herman Bergson: especially within a context...
[2011/06/23 13:45] (tauto): i see.
[2011/06/23 13:45] (taut): i try to write a exact word in english then.
[2011/06/23 13:46] herman Bergson: The plane banks to the bank of the river to avoid crashing into the bank in mainstreet
[2011/06/23 13:46] Mick Nerido: Greek word "nous" not translatable into English
[2011/06/23 13:46] herman Bergson: could translate it as mind
[2011/06/23 13:47] (tauto): ^^
[2011/06/23 13:47] Mick Nerido: But not exact translated my point
[2011/06/23 13:47] herman Bergson: But it included also the soul
[2011/06/23 13:47] herman Bergson: no...I agree
[2011/06/23 13:48] Mick Nerido: A great class, I must go thanks all for a stimulating discussion
[2011/06/23 13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye „ã°
[2011/06/23 13:48] 방랑자 (tauto): bye Mick
[2011/06/23 13:48] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Mick
[2011/06/23 13:48] herman Bergson: Bye mick...thank you too
[2011/06/23 13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): LOL
[2011/06/23 13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i wont see you til september
[2011/06/23 13:48] Bejiita Imako: ok cu mick
[2011/06/23 13:48] Bejiita Imako: very interesting for sure
[2011/06/23 13:49] herman Bergson: Well....when Mick leaves....I cant hold you here any longer ^_^
[2011/06/23 13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): LOL
[2011/06/23 13:49] herman Bergson: So...thank you all for your participation...
[2011/06/23 13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[2011/06/23 13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): for class
[2011/06/23 13:49] Bejiita Imako: nice once again
[2011/06/23 13:49] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-))
[2011/06/23 13:49] (tauto): thank you herman and all.
[2011/06/23 13:49] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu
[2011/06/23 13:50] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank You Herman..i have a lot to think about again:)
[2011/06/23 13:50] herman Bergson: ok Beertje ^_^
[2011/06/23 13:50] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye everybody...

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