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"Thoughts" on Naturalism

SovereignDream
Posts: 1,119
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5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Scientific naturalists hold that immaterial concepts like "thought," or "mind," or "love," etc either do not exist at all (therefore such words refer to nothing), are metaphors for essentially biological processes (the immateriality of their existence is an illusion), or they in some as-yet-unexplained way "emerge" from biological processes (and so are dependent on them). Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality? What would our ability be to place confidence in any belief about these processes?
Rational_Thinker9119
Posts: 9,054
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5/8/2012 7:12:20 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
Scientific naturalists hold that immaterial concepts like "thought," or "mind," or "love," etc either do not exist at all (therefore such words refer to nothing), are metaphors for essentially biological processes (the immateriality of their existence is an illusion), or they in some as-yet-unexplained way "emerge" from biological processes (and so are dependent on them). Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality? What would our ability be to place confidence in any belief about these processes?

Well if it's true, and we couldn't trust our beliefs, then I guess we couldn't trust your comment about not being able to trust our beliefs , because it came from biological processes. Honestly, it's not hard to see the error in your reasoning.

These processes definitely produced many useful predictions about the truth of our reality. Whether the processes are strictly immaterial, or produced physically by brain functions, the end result is still the same.
Skyhook
Posts: 77
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5/17/2012 1:49:10 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 7:12:20 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote
Well if it's true, and we couldn't trust our beliefs, then I guess we couldn't trust your comment about not being able to trust our beliefs , because it came from biological processes. Honestly, it's not hard to see the error in your reasoning.

Exactly, but wouldn't this mind set essentially lead us to some extreme form skepticism? Alvin Plantinga was the guy who put forward EAAN although it wasn't his idea, and his conclusion was essentially that given evolution is true, then we have a defeater for all of our beliefs if they are solely adaptive. For instance, determinists could see free will as a useful illusion that evolution has selected for even though in reality it is false (at least if determinism is true). But how do we distringuish between adaptive false beliefs, adaptive true beliefs, and just true beliefs (if we even have them or they even exist) under naturalism? I think that's what the OP was probably getting at. Do we just settle for antecedent skepticism or is there a way out for the naturalist?

These processes definitely produced many useful predictions about the truth of our reality. Whether the processes are strictly immaterial, or produced physically by brain functions, the end result is still the same.

If the end result is the same (useful predictions about the truth of our reality) that still doesn't really solve the issue of skepticism. For one, you're presupposing that our cognitive faculties are reliable and adaptive to our survival and that our beliefs based on these cognitive faculities also reliably reflect reality. But, that's the point of EAAN. Can we separate true and adaptive beliefs even if we have reliable cognitive faculties? Can certain beliefs be true but so maladaptive that evolution weeds them out(or at least the proponents or propensities of such beliefs)? I'm sure more questions can be thought of. (I can see why Hume had so much fun playing the skeptic!)

I'll admit, I haven't read too much about EAAN and the probabilities involved, but I don't think it's a cake walk to solve for the naturalist.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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5/17/2012 1:52:19 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
Scientific naturalists hold that immaterial concepts like "thought," or "mind," or "love," etc either do not exist at all (therefore such words refer to nothing), are metaphors for essentially biological processes (the immateriality of their existence is an illusion), or they in some as-yet-unexplained way "emerge" from biological processes (and so are dependent on them). Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality? What would our ability be to place confidence in any belief about these processes?

Well, given the sheer number of cognitive biases that plague us everyday, I'm pretty sure we concede that our thoughts don't correspond to reality.
Rational_Thinker9119
Posts: 9,054
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5/17/2012 4:04:24 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/17/2012 1:49:10 PM, Skyhook wrote:
At 5/8/2012 7:12:20 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote
Well if it's true, and we couldn't trust our beliefs, then I guess we couldn't trust your comment about not being able to trust our beliefs , because it came from biological processes. Honestly, it's not hard to see the error in your reasoning.

Exactly, but wouldn't this mind set essentially lead us to some extreme form skepticism? Alvin Plantinga was the guy who put forward EAAN although it wasn't his idea, and his conclusion was essentially that given evolution is true, then we have a defeater for all of our beliefs if they are solely adaptive. For instance, determinists could see free will as a useful illusion that evolution has selected for even though in reality it is false (at least if determinism is true). But how do we distringuish between adaptive false beliefs, adaptive true beliefs, and just true beliefs (if we even have them or they even exist) under naturalism? I think that's what the OP was probably getting at. Do we just settle for antecedent skepticism or is there a way out for the naturalist?

These processes definitely produced many useful predictions about the truth of our reality. Whether the processes are strictly immaterial, or produced physically by brain functions, the end result is still the same.

If the end result is the same (useful predictions about the truth of our reality) that still doesn't really solve the issue of skepticism. For one, you're presupposing that our cognitive faculties are reliable and adaptive to our survival and that our beliefs based on these cognitive faculities also reliably reflect reality. But, that's the point of EAAN. Can we separate true and adaptive beliefs even if we have reliable cognitive faculties? Can certain beliefs be true but so maladaptive that evolution weeds them out(or at least the proponents or propensities of such beliefs)? I'm sure more questions can be thought of. (I can see why Hume had so much fun playing the skeptic!)

I'll admit, I haven't read too much about EAAN and the probabilities involved, but I don't think it's a cake walk to solve for the naturalist.

I'm open to Sam Harris's interpretation, or Dan Dennet's interpretation of Free Will (I still haven't decided who I agree with yet, maybe I'll end up agreeing with none of them). Regardless, it doesn't matter anyway, and here is why:

If it's true that our thoughts are caused by prior neural activity which took place (which is most likely, true), it still doesn't follow from that, that we couldn't trust them as much as we could if our thoughts were supernatural and not dependent on the brain.

It's a non-sequitur. Thus, it's not even a problem for the naturalist.

I would even argue, that we should trust our thoughts less if they were supernatural, because they wouldn't be wired naturally to interpret reality better for survival.
WriterDave
Posts: 934
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5/17/2012 7:25:50 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
Scientific naturalists hold that immaterial concepts like "thought," or "mind," or "love," etc either do not exist at all (therefore such words refer to nothing), are metaphors for essentially biological processes (the immateriality of their existence is an illusion), or they in some as-yet-unexplained way "emerge" from biological processes (and so are dependent on them). Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality? What would our ability be to place confidence in any belief about these processes?

Many if not most naturalists believe that thought, mind, love, etc. are reducible to either natural entities or emergent properties of natural entities. We can be confident in these processes because (a) they work, and (b) they are selected for; someone who looks at a nearby tiger and thinks "tiger" is more likely to survive than someone who looks at a nearby tiger and thinks "can opener."
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jedipengiun
Posts: 169
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5/22/2012 5:14:05 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality?

My first post on this website!! :D

I think this is where the problem lies. That statement there can be true or false, and thus we can apply an objective method to determine this (that objective method is the scientific method), and the outcome of this method is how we ground our confidence in the proposition.
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: Also, as an Englishman I'm obligated to be prejudiced against gingers and the French.

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: Every self-respecting philosopher needs to smoke a pipe.
The_Fool_on_the_hill
Posts: 6,071
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5/22/2012 4:39:57 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
Scientific naturalists hold that immaterial concepts like "thought," or "mind," or "love," etc either do not exist at all (therefore such words refer to nothing), are metaphors for essentially biological processes (the immateriality of their existence is an illusion), or they in some as-yet-unexplained way "emerge" from biological processes (and so are dependent on them). Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality? What would our ability be to place confidence in any belief about these processes?

The Fool: non-existent is a problematic term for philosophical progress(and I meanly that very broadly to refer to the progress of knowledge in itself. For technechally non-existence doesn't itself exist. We should never speak of non-existence but rather the forms in which things do exist. For even to speak of unicorns is to speak of the idea of a unicorn. The problem of the proof of an external world and the thing in itself was never solved. but rather just hidden under the rug.The physicalism of today is just as fundementalist as a notion as any. For all sense data is percieved within a framework of mind. Even worse knowledge itself is in the form of ideas, so in terms of naturalism knoweldge itself doesnt exist. But I myself would argue for substance monism, in that biology and ideas are of the same interacting substance, but that a complete science must account for both. So I would say that I am a substance realist but a epistemological idealist.
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
Websterremembered
Posts: 95
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6/26/2012 11:05:40 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
Scientific naturalists hold that immaterial concepts like "thought," or "mind," or "love," etc either do not exist at all (therefore such words refer to nothing), are metaphors for essentially biological processes (the immateriality of their existence is an illusion), or they in some as-yet-unexplained way "emerge" from biological processes (and so are dependent on them). Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality? What would our ability be to place confidence in any belief about these processes?

what context would you use to describe reality, from a Scientific naturalists point of view?
The_Fool_on_the_hill
Posts: 6,071
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6/27/2012 3:22:18 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/8/2012 3:33:29 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
Scientific naturalists hold that immaterial concepts like "thought," or "mind," or "love," etc either do not exist at all (therefore such words refer to nothing), are metaphors for essentially biological processes (the immateriality of their existence is an illusion), or they in some as-yet-unexplained way "emerge" from biological processes (and so are dependent on them). Yet if our thoughts are a product of biological processes, then the thought "all thought is the product of biological processes" is itself a product of those processes. How can we place any confidence, then, in its correspondence to reality? What would our ability be to place confidence in any belief about these processes?

The Fool: That is POSITIVISM>
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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7/3/2012 6:00:36 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/3/2012 5:59:47 PM, Nome wrote:
There thoughts only are.

Someone's been reading Deepak Chopra.
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
Nome
Posts: 40
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7/3/2012 6:05:12 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/3/2012 6:00:36 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 5:59:47 PM, Nome wrote:
There thoughts only are.

Someone's been reading Deepak Chopra.

Yes.
Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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7/3/2012 6:06:11 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/3/2012 6:05:12 PM, Nome wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:00:36 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 5:59:47 PM, Nome wrote:
There thoughts only are.

Someone's been reading Deepak Chopra.

Yes.

lol
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
Nome
Posts: 40
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7/3/2012 6:08:22 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/3/2012 6:06:11 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:05:12 PM, Nome wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:00:36 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 5:59:47 PM, Nome wrote:
There thoughts only are.

Someone's been reading Deepak Chopra.

Yes.

lol

What?
Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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7/3/2012 6:16:14 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/3/2012 6:08:22 PM, Nome wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:06:11 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:05:12 PM, Nome wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:00:36 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 5:59:47 PM, Nome wrote:
There thoughts only are.

Someone's been reading Deepak Chopra.

Yes.

lol

Yo Dawg, I heard you like Philosophy!
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
Ren
Posts: 7,102
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7/3/2012 9:04:48 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/3/2012 6:16:14 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:08:22 PM, Nome wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:06:11 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:05:12 PM, Nome wrote:
At 7/3/2012 6:00:36 PM, Oryus wrote:
At 7/3/2012 5:59:47 PM, Nome wrote:
There thoughts only are.

Someone's been reading Deepak Chopra.

Yes.

lol

Yo Dawg, I heard you like Philosophy!

lol