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

The Physical World We Experience Is Most Likely Fundamentally Mental

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/9/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,118 times Debate No: 45522
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)




This is a philosophical idea that has been around a long time. I will be defending the idea that everything we experience from rocks, planets, galaxies, and spactime itself reduce to mental properties, and exist within a mind/ minds.

First round for acceptence.


What you speak of, sounds to be akin to Metaphysics.

Which if we're going to debate in a whole, we should ensure first, we know the Etymology of the word.
Meta, being Greek for " Beyond " and "Physics"

Which is where I take a Con position to you, because nothing can be ' beyond ' physics.
hear, see, touch, smell and taste, this is our physical world. Making it highly unlikely that a Matrix styled
vision that you appear to claim exists.

Lets also remember, amongst many of the reputable sciences of physics, Metaphysics is deemed a joke,
and not taken seriously, except those of a religious base, but not necessarily pertaining to a 'god' entity persay.
Debate Round No. 1


Argument For The Mentality Of The Physical World We Experience

P1: If there is a physical world that we experience which does not reduce to the mental world, then the physical world we experience which does not reduce to the mental world interacts with the mental world and vice versa

P2: If there is a physical world that we experience which does not reduce to the mental world, then the physical world that we experience which does not reduce to the mental world cannot (and therefore, does not) interact with the mental world and vice versa

C: Therefore, if there exists a physical world that we experience which does not reduce to the mental world, a contradiction entails (therefore, there cannot be a physical world that we experience which does not reduce to mental the mental world)

The formula is "if a, then b, but if a, then not b, therefore, a is illogical". It is similar to:

P1: If there is a perfectly spherical cube, it has no edges (as it is perfectly spherical)

P2: If there is a perfectly spherical cube, it has edges (at it is a cube)

C: Therefore, if there exists a perfectly spherical cube, a contradiction entails (therefore, there cannot be a perfectly spherical cube).

Therefore, the argument I presented in favor of the resolution is completely logically valid once understood. However, the question remains regarding whether the premises are true or not.

Defense Of P1

The only reason most people believe matter exists in the first place is that it interacts with our minds so we can experience it. When we look at the moon, that is the material interacting with the mental for example. Also, the mind interacts with the matter and vice versa all the time, such as when I cause my arm to wiggle by thinking, or when I take physical drugs and it effects my mind states. So, essentially, it is necessarily true that the physical world we experience, whether it is fundamentally mental or not, interacts with minds/ subjective self, or there would be no reason to posit material properties or a physical world in the first place.

Now, this premise of mine assumes that the mind isn't physical. This is going to need some justification on my behalf. I think that is true by definition, as we can only know a physical world through a posteriori reasoning, but that depends on experience. Thus, experience cannot be contained within the set of the physical, as it seems that would be viciously circular. Regardless, simple introspection demonstrates that the mind is non-physical and immaterial. What is introspection?

"Introspection is examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings..Introspection is closely related to human self-reflection and is contrasted with external observation."[1]

The problem is that when we examine our thoughts and experiences, there is no sign of anything fundamentally physical (like material property ridden brain states), but there are signs of mental states (thus, via Leibniz' Law, they cannot be identical). As respected neuroscientist Sam Harris notes:

"There is nothing about introspection that leads you to sense that your subjectivity is at all dependent or even related to voltage changes and chemical reactions going on inside your head. You can drop acid, you can meditate for a year, you can do whatever you want to perturb your nervous system, you can feel yourself to be one with the universe, and at no point in that transformation do you get a glimpse that there is a hundred trillion neurons in your head, or synapses in your head that are doing anything." - Sam Harris (Neuroscientist) [2]

Also, David Chalmers explains using a thought experiment why the mind cannot be physical:

"Marry, the famous color blind neuroscientist, spends her entire life in a black and white room. She has never seen a color, but she learns everything there is to know about the neuroscience of color; the wave-length of light, the neurons that fire in response, the behavior that gives rise to it... She could tell you all about 'red' and 'green' and 'blue', but there is this one incredibly important thing about she just doesn't know. She doesn't know what it is like to see red, to see green.. She doesn't know about the conscious experience of red and green; all the brain science in the world isn't going to tell her that. Imagine one day she gets an operation, she leaves her room, and says 'ah, that's it, that is what it is like to see red!'... She has learned something new about consciousness." - David Chalmers (Cognitive Scientist and Philosopher of Mind)[3]

Defense Of Premise 2

In order for two fundamentally different types of properties to interact (such as mental properties, and material properties), they would need to share properties, as this is what allows them to interact. However, if they share properties, then they aren't fundamentally different types of properties. Thus, interaction between the two is actually incoherent. Either mental properties reduce to physical properties, physical properties reduce to mental properties, or they both reduce to something else, as explained by narrator of a video on the subject:

"According to substance dualism, there are two fundamental kinds of substances; matter and mind. However, this view quickly leads to problems regarding the interaction of matter and mind. The internal contradictions of interactionalism demonstrate that two fundamental types of substances cannot interact. If the did, they would interact via a shared property. However, if they share a property, then they are not separate substances at all. Either mind shares a physical property with matter, or matter shares a mental property with mind. As such substance dualism becomes incoherent on close inspection, and must be rejected"[4]

This argument applies to property dualism as well. Now, to claim the mind reduces to anything else would be nonsense. Mental properties like consciousness are not reducible. Why? Well, if you could think of what that something else is that the mind reduces to, you'd need to know it in terms of mental categories, but then it would not be non-mental; which is self-evidently absurd. Additionally, you can doubt the physical without any problems, so that can reduce to something else. However, you cannot doubt your mind, because the very notion of having a "doubt" entails mentality.

Argument From Digital Physics

P1: If the physical world reduces to information, the physical world is fundamentally mental

P2: The physical world probably reduces to information

C: Therefore, the physical world is probably fundamentally mental

The argument is a clearly valid version of Modus Ponens. Why believe the premises? Well, premise 1 is true by definition, as information is mental and must exist inside a mind, and requires a mind:

"The concept of information makes no sense in the absence of something to be informed—that is, a conscious observer capable of choice, or free will." - John Horgan[5]

Horgan actually disagrees with information being the foundation of reality, but his arguments beg the question against Theism.

Premise 2 is true because digital physics states everything is actually information. Digital physics is probably true, as Brian Whitwarth listed all the things it explains better, and concluded it would have to be a huge coincidence if it was false.

"Individually, none of the above short points is convincing, but when taken together they constitute what a court might call circumstantial evidence favoring virtual reality against objective reality. When coincidences mount up, they present a plausibility argument if not a proof." - Brain Whitworth[6]


[2] Video Source 1
[3] Video Source 2
[4] Video Source 3
[6] The Physical World As A Virtual Reality, Page 13



Barschem forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent forfeited.


Barschem forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Well, it seems as if my opponent forfeited.

Anyway, We have good reasons to believe that integrated information complex is consciousness[], and at the very least a complex integrated information system at a maxima is an identifier of it. How does this support Idealistic Panentheism? Well, the Wheeler-DeWitt equation (as it describes all information of the possible states of the universe), The Holographic Principle, Digital Physics, and QIT tell us that the universe reduces to information. You have a rock, what does it reduce to... Atoms? What do they reduce to...Particles? What do they reduce to... Quantum vibrations? What do they reduce to? The answer is information. The universe is a complex of information, and this information is integrated (as an integrated system is one that is not decomposable into a collection of causally independent parts). This means the universe is actually conscious state, God, who also transcends the universe and is logically prior to it due to its contingent properties. Since consciousness is a mental, and exists in a mind, then the physical world we experience is fundamentally mental. The resolution has been established (again).

Also, if Stephen Hawking's colleague Roger Penrose is correct, then a self-collapsing wave-function is consciousness. However, since there is no physical system to collapse the universal wave-function from outside the universe (any causally interacting universe, from the multiverse, would share the same wave-function as our universe), then this means the universe's wave-function is self-collapsing (and thus self-observing), and thus phi (the wave-function of the universe) actually is God. A grand conscious, and mental state. Since it is fundamentally grounded in math, this entails ontologically timeless platonic forms (Also, God is essentially "doing" math as a quantum superposition unfolds!).

All my arguments show a clear picture.... Reality is mental. It exists as experiences, thoughts, and feelings in the mind of God. Is this the God of classical religion? I have my doubts, but it is compatible with classical religion. Anyway, see you later!


Barschem forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by CorieMike 5 years ago
Also, wouldnt this be inferring the coherency of timeless and simultaneous causation? And we havent fully understood the brain so to say that consciousness cannot be an emergent property wouldnt that be an appeal to ignorance? Even Sam Harris which you quote advocates for hard determinism but if consciousness is fundamental then wouldn't this be an argument against causality? Does this conclusion lead to consciousness being necessary? Then why cant consciousness have recollection of the past or how do we account for consciousness after death? What causes death if matter is an illusion? If you get hit by a train unconsciously, does your consciousness even die?
Posted by CorieMike 5 years ago
I still dont get how this supports Panentheism rather than Pantheism? More over I see no reason to assume other minds rather than solipsism as the default position and more parsimonious especially with Occam's razor. The uniformity of laws perceived does not necessarily entail that Solipsism is false, due to lack of control. Especially if in our dreams, our subconscious controls it.
Posted by phantom 6 years ago
Con's opening was idiotic.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 6 years ago
He sounds smarter than he looks lol
Posted by zmikecuber 6 years ago
Holy sh** I never knew Chalmers looked like that.
Posted by kaister 6 years ago
I have to say that I believe that the physical world is very much mental. Not as in a Matrix world but as far as anyone is concerned. The moment your are stripped of all your senses, there is no way...absolutely no other way that we can think of confirming that this world exist beyond the senses. Sure you can say, people interact and so on and so forth. However when we dream, that fake reality is extremely real to us till we wake up and then ponder on the numerous fallacies in the dream world. Opening your room's door and ending up in the Himalayas goes unquestioned while dreaming. Upon waking up, it's absurd. Hallucinations another fiction of the imagination. Extremely realistic, if your mind says it's there, it's there to you. No one can convince no amount talking or proof or anything is going to outweigh what you mind says is real. Heck our eyes see the world upside down and our brain takes the image breaks it apart and reconstructs it to what's "right". I believe there is a video by Vsauce that covers this. Is my red the same as your red and if it is such the case the world exist only within the mind. Can we control it, like the matrix? There are metaphysics and religious text saying such but again they don't hold enough water on them. I personally would prefer if all this was in my head. As then, it would be just a matter of getting that red pill.
Posted by savesealpups 6 years ago
Maybe, but I don't think we will never know. Great topic, but unfortunately, it's beyond me. Good luck man!
Posted by dtaylor971 6 years ago
There are many reasons why we do not exist, but the world is simply a simulation of the mind. THis should be a good debate, if someone qualified accepts this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF. Everything goes to Pro.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Ah, Unfortunately a debate with good topic ended like this.

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