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QualiaSoup on Substance Dualism


 

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A nice, compact trashing of dualism. This guy is good a giving the outline of arguments that one can fill in oneself.

I think it was you that once made this arguement well in a discussion.

There are a few points that could be made a little better, but He does do a great job of presenting the very simple answers to questions so many don't really think about.

It would help if most dualists knew what the word "dualism" meant. (It would also help if "dualism" wasn't such an ambiguous term that it requires being specified as "mind/body" or "substance" dualism.)

And anyways, for a vast majority of people, what we are talking about is the existence of "souls"... sigh.

frenetic hit the nail on the head- twice- in his/her short post.

matter/energy is also dualism. and if you want to say "it's all one" referring to matter and energy you're still a dualist unless you don't recognize the difference at all, in which case you're an idiot or a mystic. there are also philosophical forms of dualism which rest on much firmer ground than this virtual strawman argument, which is mostly designed, as frenetic says, to refute notions of "soul".

i'm sure we're all aware of the passion of people who believe in "souls" or "soul", but 1gm was my first experience (around 3 years ago) getting to know people who are passionate about the NONexistence of "soul". honestly, i'd never met anyone before this who didn't think people had souls and actually cared enough to argue about it. it was, and still is, kind of creepy for me. where does this passion of yours come from? why not just stick to "god" or "the supernatural" in your crusade? once you start getting specific like this, i have to ask myself: "am i dealing with people here who are fighting passionately about the existence of leprachauns"?

i remember vividly the first time i innocently brought the matter up, asking "what do atheists think about the human soul" and i got piled on and abused mercilessly by people who thought i was being disingenouos, ignorant, stupid, or even hostile. i was quite taken aback. again, where does the passion come from?

and is it a "substance"? :)

...if you want to say "it's all one" referring to matter and energy you're still a dualist unless you don't recognize the difference at all, in which case you're an idiot or a mystic...

...or a high-energy physicist.

Matter and energy both exist within our physical reality, so just like gas and liquid they aren't dualism in the way described here.

...i'd never met anyone before this who didn't think people had souls and actually cared enough to argue about it. it was, and still is, kind of creepy for me. where does this passion of yours come from?

First of all, I think that, whether you have concluded that "souls exist" or not, it is a perfectly reasonable position to argue. After all, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the contention that they do. That being said, don't you think that it is creepy that the first place you encountered anyone to actively dispute your presumption that people have souls came in a blog sometime well into your adulthood? That's what I find to be creepy: mystical bullshit as a default position. And if there is really any source for this "passion" for me and, I suspect, for many of us here, that would be it.

Reed's wording is better,

substitute

"...argue that souls don't exist. After all, there is no reliable and repeatable data that supports the existence of souls."

for

"...argue. After all, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the contention that they do."

the first place you encountered anyone to actively dispute your presumption that people have souls came in a blog sometime well into your adulthood?

maybe i wasn't clear. i'd met plenty of people who "don't believe in souls" and even plenty who were prepared to argue the point, for fun or academic points. but i had never met anyone who didn't think we have souls who was passionate about it, who thought it was important to convince the man on the street that he didn't have a soul. this was new to me and yes, i still think it's creepy. it's like, you feel deeply (in your soul) that you don't have a soul. if you're convinced of this logically well and good, but it's a funny place for "feelings" to show up, that's all.

...i had never met anyone who didn't think we have souls who was passionate about it, who thought it was important to convince the man on the street that he didn't have a soul.

But I saw nothing in the 2006 conversation to which you linked us to indicate that is what your 'tormenters' were doing. You were a guy commenting in a blog - not the 'man on the street'. I've yet to see an atheist trolling the main library on my campus the way the Mormon boys in the black slacks and white shirts do - not only outside the library but while bicycling around my neighborhood. If there had never been an Oral Roberts or a Pat Robertson or a Jerry Falwell or a Billy Graham, etc. I doubt I would be "passionate" at all. If I my country's leaders didn't suck up to religious charlatans and pocket tens of millions of votes on the basis of little more that their religiosity, religion and souls wouldn't interest me at all. As I've said before, it is boring, mind numbing stuff as far as I'm concerned. I did not, and really do not give a damn whether the man on the street thinks he has a soul. It is the influence of that irrational view on his participation in our increasingly defective democracy in which I live that bothers me.

By the way, if we really could put religion on the backburner it would help immensely in getting science properly taught in schools (though religion is far from the only obstacle to that)... but I guess that it what you meant.

It is the influence of that irrational view on his participation in our increasingly defective democracy in which I live that bothers me.

i understand, i think. it's not the belief in a soul that bothers you, but religion and superstition, which, in your view, depends on or is otherwise tied up in belief in a soul. but is it? i put it to you that belief in a soul (the "soul of the gaps", the determiner of human behavior seemingly unconnected to substance) is not necessarily connected to religion, at least- i don't know about the supernatural- and has no influence whatsoever on politics or sillybusses ;) or academic programs in kansas. one can believe in a soul without believing in an afterlife or some specific version of one. the fact that the reverse is not possible doesn't make the "soul" the enemy of worldwide atheism. i think you're wasting your ammunition, frankly. as your lawyer i advise you i take 350 dollars an hour. :)

it's just that certain extremist jewish texts have been telling me for years that goyim don't have souls, and i've been refusing to associate with jews who think this way. now you're telling me it's true? :)

now you're telling me it's true? :)

What's worse "bub", Is that I don't think you do either - but I don't care whether you agree with me, what with you being such a reasonable fella and all.

of course i don't. but why should you care? why would you think it's "reasonable" to assume a non-jew has a soul, if you don't believe anyone does?

i has a sneaky disingenuous entertainment-loving agenda. i knows that jewz haz solz cuz i know jewz. what about u? you wanna be the guy that claims jewz don't have solz? i offer u teh oppurtunity. :)

what if "soul" is simply a word for "whatever makes us human"? careful how you answer, white boy. this is why i'm saying atheists should maybe leave the "soul" alone and stick to god and religion and their relationship to secular law- if they want to WIN.

What if "God" is just a way of talking about my hamster jack? What then?

That isn't what soul means. If that is how you are using it, you are mistaken about its use or the structure of the English language.

If that is how you are using it, you are mistaken about its use or the structure of the English language

wrong on both counts. this is actually one of the most common definitions of "soul" among those who claim to know what it is. i do not count myself among their number, btw, but i know it when i see it. :)

Since we're redefining words willy-nilly, let's go all out: What if atheist is a word for what makes us human? What if bald is a word for what makes us handsome? What if chemist is a word for what makes us sexy?

i'll take #2 for 200, jack.

You were a guy commenting in a blog

hey, it wasn't just that one post. i'm 3 years in the business, bub.

I think I see what you're getting at.

From my perspective, some of us here might say we did believe in "souls", but only in a way similar to how Einstein believed in "God"; the word "soul", much like the word "God", can mean very different things to different people. Some people might use the word "soul" to refer to aspects of consciousness or sentience, as opposed to the more usual bullshit religious concepts. (Likewise for "God" when talking about certain aspects of the Universe.)

It's probably the religious baggage and supernatural nonsense that comes with the word "soul" that gets people around here riled up.

righto, see above.

and btw, i certainly wouldn't try to convince anyone here that they have souls. i have better things to do- like, try to help you guys be consistent, and not creepy, so you can do good things in the world, like put religion on the backburner and get science properly tought in schools.

mystical bullshit as a default position.

i don't see why this, in itself, threatens civilization as we know it. there are many more harmless forms of "mystical bullshit" than there are harmful forms. harm, at least as translated into law, which should be your main concern. i have an ongoing curiosity why you and everyone else here gets so riled up about people who believe in unicorns and faeries and the essential goodness of people and shit like that. there's tons of shit like that around, who cares? it's the bedrock religious fundamentalism of literally billions of people you should be concerned about. billions of people poisoned by a few ideas, only thousands poisoned by many ideas. the soul is one of these many ideas. let it go.

Sorry, but I think that mystical bullshit as a default position is a corrosive force in a civilized society. I happen to think that if memebers of our society valued beliefs in things for which there is good evidence we'd be a better society. Now, perhaps the kind of generalized belief in souls that you describe, divorced from a necessary connection with the rest of religious trappings, is in itself relatively inocuous, but it also doesn't hurt to identify it as mystical bullshit - even if it's fairly harmless.

I happen to think that if memebers of our society valued beliefs in things for which there is good evidence we'd be a better society.

yes. and there is plenty of evidence that our common humanity may involve something undetectable to your lab equipment. and if not, then i'd still be very, very careful implying that it doesn't in the current world atmosphere.. leads to the devaluation of human life and stuff, i'm sure i don't have to explain myself, you're a bright guy (nudge nudge wink wink).

also, as i said before, you'll lose this one, since this belief is about as close to universal as possible and you'll alienate pretty much everyone. there ain't no percentage in it, just drop it.

my two cents.

i'm speaking from a "legal" perspective, of course. on a scholarly level, by all means, put your energies into monism, why not? it's worked for mystics and charlatans for thousands of years...:) jk

here's the thread where i first encountered the "anti-soul crusaders", if anyones' interested. i make no claims to thinking the same way now as i did then. intellectual evolution and all.

http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2006/09/the_key_word_is.html

Those guys do a pretty good job.

I thought the problem with the video is that he doesn't point out is that brain damage would effect you if souls exist but if you had a supernatural self then brain damage would cause translation errors rather than changes in your core personality and memories.

Evidence refuting the concept of souls I think is one of the best sources of evidence that refutes the religious theory of how the universe operates.

"we can never know." and "You can't prove god doesn't exist." are often used by those that think we should believe in God. What they ignore is there is plenty of evidence. No reliable and repeatable data supports the existence of the supernatural.

Evidence refuting the concept of souls I think is one of the best sources of evidence that refutes the religious theory of how the universe operates.

Heh, you mean alongside the evidence presented by modern archeology, geography, cosmology, physics and biology?

But yes, modern neurology answers many questions about the human mind, questions that religion is horribly wrong about!

it's so cute you have a hamster named "jack". i have one named "bub". :)

i see your dried-up old white man nastiness and raise you a james brown. :)

For what is is worth, I think that human memories can be picked up by humans that did not live through those memories (and could be considered 'past life memories'. I think Man is not alone in this, and it would be a powerful survival trait.

Why do I believe this? (and yes, I think we'll be able to measure this some day)

My own 'memories' of some boring soldierly stuff. An image in a book here, or there, some clothing in this book, a sword or spear in another, single images in large books of images. It was curious to me why I would feel so attached to these not so interesting images and not the far more interesting ones. This started when I was in 3rd grade, btw.

I get to my twenties and in a book I see several of these odd items on pages next to each other and am floored. This group of soldiers has a specific name and used all this peculiar stuff. Lots of other 'memories' flood in, of a Captain, and the powerful belief we all had in our abilities. No mention is made of the culture of these guys, just a few notes really.

I note this as interesting, and move on.

The internet comes alive with content a few years ago and I do a search for the group and low an behold there were only a few of these groups, and two of them were famous for their Captains.

Then we have my Cousin. Since he was 4, he has had loud nightmares. He shouts orders to men.. to get down, to go here, to go there. Peculiar for a 4 year old. My aunts and uncle listen and write down names and places he mentions, at the age of 6 (in the early 70') it appears he is shouting commands to US infantry deep in France near the end of WWII. He is old now, and still has those loud nightmares (according to his new wife, who had not heard of the long history of his dreams).

But think of nature and evolution. Why do certain bird species migrate over the same path year to year, and when the physical earth changes, these animals still follow the old outline of land... it this learned?

Again, I don't think is all that special, and compared to many other feats in nature, it seems kinda boring.

I do believe that there are lots of thing going on with our bodies that we can't measure yet, but someday will. I believe this because history shows us that we are constantly wrong and usually a bit self-righteous (yes, even atheist scientists).

The human brain's broadcast potential is rather limited and if we were sending out and recieving memories our modern era of Em fieldds everywhere we go would be a little like punching yourself in the face and seeing stars every five seconds every day of your life. And skin is actually a pretty good insulator against outside signals.

It is more likely that some minor abnormality in your brain allows some thoughts from one part of your brains seem novel to the rest of your brain.

Some sort of interdimensional bridge might be the only other way for such a feat to be performed. A substance dualism of sorts

Maybe Robinson was implying the slightly (slightly) more plausible idea of "genetic memory"?

Anyways, funny how these kinds of phenomena have never been recorded in a scientific setting. Always anecdotal...

Also, "memories" are not reliable. The "questioning witnesses 15 minutes after a crime" thing is a popular example. And sometimes when one learns information for the first time, one erroneously thinks it is very familiar. And then there is confirmation bias, and the human tendency to be very good at finding patterns (ie. from nightmares) in vast amounts of information (ie. history) even when there is no real correlation. Psychics prey on these tendencies in order to exploit the gullible or fool themselves into thinking they have special powers, but in laboratory conditions their "magic" disappears entirely.

Of course, I am not saying that there are not potentially philosophically ground-breaking discoveries hiding in how the human mind works. Many wondrous mysteries and strange coincidences remain to be explained, and I enjoy speculating on what those explanations may be! But I feel I should mention what is the most plausible explanation given the actual current evidence.

J.B. above:

this is actually one of the most common definitions of "soul" among those who claim to know what it is.
If they're saying that "soul" is "what makes us human" then they aren't talking about dualism. It's just another dictionary definition of "soul". If they define "what makes us human" to support some form of body/spirit dualism, then they're just bullshitters cause they're using one definition to support an argument based on another definition.

Same thing many religious people do with "God", actually. When they pray they don't pray to the "ineffable" god that they dismiss atheist arguments with, they pray to a very specific one. So specific that he may even want to grant the wishes of that particular person.

they're using one definition to support an argument based on another definition

And doesn't it suck having to try and hit a moving target?

You can't define God Andyo. He isn't of this world, or language.

You can't define God

sure you can! he's that unifying force that binds and connects all living...ah, fuck it. he's a legbreaker. just make sure you're paid up and he'll leave you alone.

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