Idealism is true
Debate Rounds (4)
Idealism: Idealism is the group of philosophies which assert that reality is fundamentally mental, or otherwise immaterial.
First round is for acceptance only. Burden of Proof is shared.
dylancatlow forfeited this round.
I'll wait for Dylan to post his arguments.
I apologize for forfeiting. Hopefully there's still enough time to get a good discussion going.
Basically, my argument is that a “non-mental reality” is not actually a meaningful concept. I.e., to the extent that it is a meaningful concept, it is conceptual in nature. And since it’s not a meaningful concept, we can’t make an assumption about its existence one way or the other. It’s like asking “Might a circular square exist?” We can’t assume that a circular square does not exist, since it does not refer to anything coherent. Quite simply, it is beyond consideration… it’s merely words that describe nothing in particular.
Suppose that my opponent could come up with an example of something non-mental. In order to call something an "example", he must subject it to cognition, and by virtue of cognitive embedment, it would be isomorphic to cognition and therefore cognitive. It follows that no such “example” would be possible. In order to point to something and consider it, we must embed it in a space of abstractions in order to theorize about it, such that “it” perfectly conforms to (is) a description. It follows that “mental” cannot be restrictively defined; it applies to everything that can be coherently described or conceived. If the content of cognition were truly non-cognitive, then it would be non-identical to its description (to what it is), which is of course a contradiction. One cannot meaningfully distinguish description from that which is described without describing each, such that each perfectly conforms to its respective description.
“Non-mental” components of reality would lack meaningful cognitive representations, defying characterization of any kind. They would therefore be irrelevant with respect to any meaningful conception of reality, and since they would be irrelevant to it, they could not be properly included in it.
Dylan offers an argument in favor of the proposition that idealism is true. This argument concludes that mind-independent entities are conceptually meaningless and therefore have no important role in our picture of reality. However, I will counter this by arguing that conscious experience depends on the existence of physical entities for it to be meaningful. I will address Dylan’s statements after proving this.
Imagine that you are taking a walk around an urban city. As you walk, you will hear the loudness of the cars speeding past you. Being a large city, you may also hear the wailing, high-pitched frequency of an emergency vehicle. It is undeniable that your conscious experience includes the experience of hearing these sounds. What causes us to hear loudness and pitch the way that we do? What factors mold the structures of our conscious experience? According to physics, our subjective experience of loudness relates to a physical quantity called the intensity level, which depends on the intensity of the sound and the intensity of some reference level. Furthermore, our experience of pitch depends on the frequency (cycles per second) of the sound wave. A higher frequency will lead us to hear a higher pitch, and a lower frequency will lead us to hear a lower pitch. According to this picture, our conscious experience of the world around us depends on physical quantities, entities, and relationships, Therefore, the mere existence of conscious experience implies the existence of physical entities as well.
The picture that I just described relates aspects of our conscious experience to physical quantities. Now we can mention a different picture, one in which all of reality is mentally constructed and the physical does not actually exist. Unfortunately for the idealist, this picture must be incorrect. To produce a sound that is experienced as being twice as loud requires a sound wave with ten times the intensity. If idealism is true, one would expect a direct relationship between these two quantities. Namely, there is a mental concept “sounding loud” that remains constant until ten times the intensity has been reached. Everything that is true of one’s conscious experience remains the same, yet something else, the intensity of the sound wave, is changing. The mental aspect of our experience has not changed, as nobody ever walks down a street and notices that the sound they are hearing has increased in intensity by 2.5 (for example). Since there is a change, and this change has been ruled out as being a change in the mental aspect of the scenario, there must be a change to something non-mental. Therefore, the non-mental must exist.
Notice that this debate is about ontology. We're asking whether or not reality itself is mentally constructed. Dylan's argument, however, does not seem to be a matter of ontology. Rather, it seems to be an argument relating to discourse. Discourse, in this context, refers to the fact that when we debate such topics as realism and idealism, we do so within a conceptual, linguistic, historical, social, and temporal paradigm that determines the way we think about the issue. Dylan's argument attempts to prove that if the non-mental exists, it cannot be conceived. It also attempts to prove that if the non-mental exists, it cannot be expressed. Given these terms, it is very clearly an argument based on the conceptual and linguistic foundations of the paradigm that our thinking is taking place in. It amounts to the argument that the discourse we are participating in gives no conceptual or linguistic coherency to the existence of mind-independent entities and the non-mental. Ergo, it is not an argument relating to ontology, and therefore has no implications on the true nature of reality.
Our conscious experience is founded upon the existence of mind-independent entities that cannot possibly be mentally constructed. This in and of itself supports the conclusion of realism. However, we have also seen that there is no logically sound argument for the ontology of idealism presented in this debate. Therefore, a Con vote is the most justified.
Thank you for reading.
Physics: Principles with Applications
1. Notice that this debate is about ontology. We're asking whether or not reality itself is mentally constructed. Dylan's argument, however, does not seem to be a matter of ontology. Rather, it seems to be an argument relating to discourse. Discourse, in this context, refers to the fact that when we debate such topics as realism and idealism, we do so within a conceptual, linguistic, historical, social, and temporal paradigm that determines the way we think about the issue. Dylan's argument attempts to prove that if the non-mental exists, it cannot be conceived. It also attempts to prove that if the non-mental exists, it cannot be expressed. Given these terms, it is very clearly an argument based on the conceptual and linguistic foundations of the paradigm that our thinking is taking place in. It amounts to the argument that the discourse we are participating in gives no conceptual or linguistic coherency to the existence of mind-independent entities and the non-mental. Ergo, it is not an argument relating to ontology, and therefore has no implications on the true nature of reality.
This amounts to an a priori rejection of the premise that ontology and the medium of discourse (mind) can be properly conflated. But that just amounts to the assertion that my position is false. My argument is that when considering reality, the map is the terrain. Why do I think this? Because there's no conceivable alternative to mind. In other words, when Sargon talks about the "non-mental" as if there were an alternative, he's talking about the "non-mental" as something mental and simply ignoring the fact that what he's talking about is in fact mental! In order to consider whether or not the non-mental is even a coherent concept, we must define it, such that it perfectly conforms to our mental structures. But in that case it is in expression of cognition and therefore cognitive. There's no reason to even consider that which is by definition inconsiderable. Even arguments which do not directly address the “non-mental” and “back into it” as an implication cannot be considered valid, since their conclusion would presuppose the existence of something which is meaningless. Since "reality" is a theory (definition, description), and since theories are mental, reality is mental.
2. My opponent claims that idealism is unable to account for the persistent order of the universe around us. In other words, he claims that the order we perceive could only be kept in place by something non-mental. In order to refute this argument, I simply have to put forth a model of the universe that assumes reality is mental and accommodates the fact that the universe is structured.
The universe is a mind. The entire structure of the universe is distributed over all of its contents, such that all of its contents “participate” in its definition and organizational structure. In other words, our minds “simulate” the structure of the universe. Since the entire structure of reality is distributed over all of its contents, us defining reality amounts to reality defining itself, which means that the map and the terrain are not actually separate. Note that I’m not using this as evidence for idealism, but rather using it to “accommodate” for my main argument: that there is no meaningful alternative to “mental” when it comes to answering the question “what reality is”.
We agreed to leave this a tie.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: They agreed to tie. I agreed with myself to vote.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: They agreed to a tie.
Vote Placed by Envisage 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Tie agreed. Was rather disappointed with the debate I had read up until that point though to be honest. Dylan argued that a non-mental reality (or anything) cannot be coherently conceived, and sargon responds with the distinction between ontology and linguistics. Dylan's rebuttal was mostly just restating his position, but I do not think Sargon adequately and completely rebutted this. Given that this argument undermines Sargon's positive argument for realism, I had Dylan just ahead on my cards, although Sargon had a round in hand. I thought we are going to debate this Dylan anyway, although if this is your only argument it will probably be a waste of time.
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