The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Minds and ideas are all that exist- there is no material world

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 596 times Debate No: 67621
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




There are two solutions to the question: What is the cause of the ideas we have?
1. Minds- minds can create ideas. I can say 'giraffe' and you think of a giraffe.
2. Matter- the origin of ideas are caused by seeing things, each thing being a certain combination of qualities made of matter.

I argue that matter is not the origin of ideas but that minds are, and that therefore there is no need to postulate the existence of matter.

My argument against matter. Mental idea is caused by material object. This material object is outside our experience. What do we actually know about this object, take a material chair for instance. We can say its blue. But if we say that blueness is just a sensation in your mind (not part of the object itself) which the real chair causes then the real chairs not blue. This applies also to its other qualities. One may argue some qualities are more certain than other, shape for instance. However, we only see shape as colours, the boundaries of colours. Therefore, shape is inseparable from these less certain qualities such as colour and just as much a creation of the mind.

Science explains the world with matter as its origin. However science explains one event and then the event that comes after it and so on. However there is no prrof of the causal connection, we only make the assumption A causes B because so far all we have seen is that all As cause Bs. Not causal relation but constant correlation.

Therefore matter does not have causal power. And so we should believe minds create ideas not matter.



Pro says causal connections between events cannot be proved. He concludes that matter has no causal power. First, I’d like to say that the Humean problem of causality is not escaped through idealism. Pro still posits that ideas are caused. How does he root the cause of an idea in the mind?

It’s hard to deny that (indirect) realism is much more rationally satisfiable. According to Pro, to be is to be perceived. If I leave the kitchen while making eggs & come back to the room on fire, it is most plausible to assume that something occurred while I was gone independent of any perceiving being done. By idealism, nothing exists independent of perception; that Neptune didn’t exist until September 23, 1846. Berkeley escaped the problem by invoking a God who constantly perceived & thus sustained all aspects of reality, but that theory simply relies on too many incredible premises to be plausible.

Qualities of objects

Color has two aspects: 1st, light waves, & 2nd, what we perceive by way of our mind translating data into a subjective sensation. The raw qualia of blueness that we perceive is not a property of the chair. The chair emits light waves which are cognized into a subjective sensation we call color. Something external to us stimulates our senses, providing us with sense data which our mind translates into something uniquely human, viz. subjective to the agent.

Many philosophers, such as Kant & Schopenhauer, agree that shape & space are forms of intuition. The mind imposes its concepts on reality, thus shaping reality into an intelligible experience. Pro has only made an epistemic argument that what one knows about an object only exists in the mind. This doesn’t mean that the object exists only in the mind. Knowledge consists of ideas, concepts, & propositions which have no non-mental existence, but do relate to the natural world. The world we perceive is an indirect representation of reality generated by neural processes in the brain.
Debate Round No. 1


JBphilo forfeited this round.


phantom forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Sorry i missed the deadline, lost track of time! Below is my argument.


You admit that a constant perceiver would solve the problem, but that God could not be it. I suggest that we don't need a God to solve the problem. The constant perceiver you suggest we need could be any mind perceiving and keeping it in existence. Animals, insects and even dust mites are just as capable of this perception as any of us. These other perceivers are capable of keeping things in existence when we are not perceiving them.

Qualities of objects

You say colour has two aspects. 1st, light waves- and 2nd, mind translation of it. However, the culmination of these two is in the mind (as we have the qualia of experiencing it. Without the mind the light waves would just be physical properties, (shape, motion etc- primary qualities). Colour is not the light waves, rather the translation of the waves into an experience in our mind. Therefore, actual colour is in the mind and therefore it is possible that the colour could have come about as a cause of the mind and not as a result of light waves. The factual definition of colour does not make it logically impossible for it to originate some other way. Minds can create an idea of colour, e.g. if I say pink you can imagine pink.

Therefore, I think I am still justified in saying that there is no need to postulate an external world and therefore (as by Ockhams' razor) we should accept idealism.



Pro drops his causality argument.

Pro admits that Neptune did not exist until 1846, since he invokes not God but earthly creatures as the sustainers of reality. Pro is defending este es percipi--to be is to be perceived. Many events can best be explained by other events which were not being perceived & thus wouldn’t exist under idealism. Berkeley posited God, thus concluding that the events were being perceived. Pro says animals, insects, & dust mites can be the constant perceivers instead. So, are there dust mites on the invisble part of the moon and throughout the universe? Are they able to perceive black holes & dark matter? Obviously, they do not serve the function of constant perceivers & thus do not even begin to answer the problem.

Ockham’s razor

As explained, reality makes much more sense under realism. It’s impossible to live life without constantly assuming non-perceived events & entities. Pro assumes we start with idealism & then ask whether we should postulate non-mental reality. Idealism is not only counter-intuitive, it contradicts the assumptions of science & common sense. It is certainly not the starting point.

Qualities of objects

When we imagine color, we are not thinking of light waves, since color is a translation of light waves into a subjective appearance. All Pro has argued is how our perception of reality is mentally constructed, but not that reality itself is mentally constructed. To put it simply, the mind takes the data gathered by the senses & shapes it into a subjective representation of reality. Knowledge is mental, but why reality?

Pro’s argument appears to be that it’s possible color is solely mind produced & therefore there’s no need to postulate that it isn’t. I hope the voters recognize that I’ve given a much more cogent picture of perception, which does not contradict all the assumptions of science & everyday life, & does not rely on constant perception to sustain reality.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by JBphilo 2 years ago
Sorry, only saw this after I posted. I will try to wait longer in future a86;
Posted by phantom 2 years ago
Could you wait until towards the end of the timer to post your round? I'm going to be away for a couple days.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - Tie. Both forfeited a round, thus it balances out. S&G - Tie. Both had adequate spelling and grammar throughout. Arguments - Con. Pro needed to show that there is no material world. His case for doing so relied heavily on the assumption that our mind is what creates matter rather than the common view that our minds are what perceives matter. Pro gave no compelling evidence to convince me that my mind is what 'creates' matter. I think this is what hurt Pro's case the most, the fact that there was no real justification for his view that matter only exists in the mind. Due to Pro dropping the causality line of argumentation, and Con effectively pointing out the flaws in Pro's ockham's razor and quality of objects arguments, Con wins arguments. Ultimately, Pro needed to overcome each challenge given by Con and failed to do so. Sources - Tie. Neither utilized sources in this debate.