Material and Immaterial: Why Materialism is Incomplete

In the twentieth century, Jean-Paul Sartre famously said that existence precedes essence, which is the reverse order of what the Medieval philosophers believed. In this line of thinking, a thing first exists, and then due to its form of existing, it has essence bestowed upon it by observers. This is where the Existentialist idea of radical freedom came from. In the Medieval philosophy, you were your essence first, and it was God that bestowed upon you your existence. But that means your essence is immutable. In Existentialism, it is you that creates your essence to be what you want, and your essence is only determined by what you do, not by your intentions. What this idea ultimately concludes is that there is nothing special about an existing object apart from the meaning given to it by minds, or being-for-itself in Sartre’s parlance, denoting the objectness of the mind. But if the mind is an object, then what is it about the mind that makes it special, allowed to bestow meaning on the objects around it?

The following post is an excerpt from a book I’m writing that has to do with human consciousness and the human condition. In this section I discuss why materialism offers only an incomplete explanation for consciousness.

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Material and Immaterial: Why Spiritualism is Untrue

This idea of a non-physical realm that transcends the physical has been a persistent one. What this even means will usually depend on who you ask. However, it usually has something to do with ethereal spirits working within arbitrary laws that have little or nothing to do with the physical laws we are familiar with. Sometimes it is the realm ghosts inhabit – the disembodied spirits of people who’ve died. Sometimes it is described more as a divine realm where angels and souls exist, somehow able to communicate actions into the physical realm when it pleases them. What spiritualism always has in common, though, is that it has everything to do with human beings.

The following post is an excerpt from a book I’m writing that has to do with human consciousness and the human condition. In this section I discuss why spiritualism is, at best, a hypothesis that should be rejected as an explanation for consciousness.

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Meaning Without a Shared Narrative

This Cato Institute 2019 poll has some telling results about the state of people’s feelings toward a meaningful existence. What does it mean to have a meaningful existence? Religion, of course, says that a meaningful existence can only happen through religion. Without religion, people seem to seek meaning through politics. Once politics is seen for what it really is – a soul-shaped cavity overflowing with fetid swamp water where dreams go to die – people are left with nothing but hollow materialistic consumerism. When that fails to satisfy the need for purpose, the meaning-wheel comes full circle and people seek a metaphysics to explain how the world works. The most popular of which currently is identity politics.

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Is Consciousness Logically Supervenient?

I am currently reading David J. Chalmers’ 1996 book “The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory” which claims that, due to consciousness not being logically supervenient, there is no reductive explanation for consciousness. Thus Chalmers concludes that consciousness must be explained through a dualist paradigm. I have some issues with the argument.

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Categories of Understanding, Qualia, and the Operations of Intuition – Revisited, Revised, and Expanded

What follows is, as the title says, a revisit, revision, and expansion of an earlier post I made. I may continue doing this as new thoughts come to mind while I work through my thinking on the subject of Philosophy of Mind.

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Persistence of Self-Identity Through Time

Should I be responsible for things I did ten years ago? Or am I a different person now than I was then? And not just in a ‘personal growth’ way, but actually a different person.

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God Does Not Exist: Philosophical Arguments

Among the Abrahamic religions, multiple arguments have been put forward by philosophers and theologians to prove the existence of God. I’m an atheist and don’t think any of these arguments are convincing. In this post – the first in a series I will do concerning the existence of God – I will demonstrate why I personally don’t think these philosophical arguments are very convincing.

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Is the Mind Immaterial or Material?

Cartesian dualism has been a point of contention in philosophy since at least, well, Descartes. The dispute is whether the mind is a separate, immaterial entity from the physical body. Problems have plagued the dualist view since the time of Descartes, primarily how it is that the immaterial mind and material body interact.

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Knowledge, Belief, and Action

Can propositional beliefs (belief about the truth or falsehood of a that P statement) be held without it influencing behavior? It’s difficult to say whether a belief is really a belief if it doesn’t change behavior, or if beliefs, by their very nature, necessarily change behavior. I think one can argue that a belief is more justified if it changes behavior in a particular way. That is what I’ll discuss here.

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Is Human Nature Immutable?

Human nature, as I define it, is the set of cognitive and behavioral patterns that are innate in human beings, regardless of culture and specific upbringing. These are patterns passed down to us by evolution. With humans, though, we seem to be unique in our ability for metacognition – thinking about our thinking and our behaviors. Does that give us the ability to change our innate human nature?

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Journal Club: Chen et al, 2018: Neural Ordinary Differential Equations

In the 2018 NeurIPS conference, 4,845 papers were submitted. The paper I’m reviewing here by Chen et al, 2018, titled Neural Ordinary Differential Equations, won best paper award. The paper discusses using continuous Ordinary Differential Equations (ODE) for Neural Networks (NN) as opposed to the sorts of discrete layers used in the standard Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN).

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Transhumanist Virtue Ethics: Desirable Innate Preferences Determined by Reason

Natural rights don’t exist, except in the human mind. They are a way for a social species to maintain social cohesion. But, as useful as natural rights may be in deciding how to organize society, they are not fundamental; instead, they are derivative of what humans, in general, desire.

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