Comments On Realism via Meta-Narrative And Two Smart Guys


Realism vis-a-vis Metanarrative is interesting and becomes unavoidable as we look for ways to examine & justify beliefs, assumptions, and perceptions. The illusion of the Irreducible Self vs. the Reality of the Irreducible Self is the focus here.

“The seventeenth century French philosopher, René Descartes, insisted that what we first know is expressed as “Cogito, ergo sum” ~ I think, therefore, I am. In so doing, he recognized that, in the act of knowing, there is reflexive consciousness of the self as an existing knower. But what Descartes missed is that in every perceptive act of knowing – the kind first experienced in sensation – what is immediately known is given as an extramental object.
The equally French contemporary Thomistic philosopher, Jacques Maritain, corrects Descartes’ omission by restating the initial proposition as “Scio aliquid esse” ~ I know something to be. In so saying, he affirms what is first and primarily known is something presented to the knower as an extramental sense object. It is solely in knowing such an object that I become conscious of my own act of knowing – and thereby, reflexively, of myself as the knower. In fact, direct experience tells us that both intramental and extramental objects are known clearly and distinctly, while they are also known as radically distinct from each other.”
 End quote ((…from https://strangenotions.com/why-reason-demands-absolute-certitudes/...))

As contingent beings with contingent minds constituted of abstractions indebted to things that are wholly “Other” we are forever converging with the retention of Logical Lucidity, the rejection of the Reductio Ad Absurdum, and the affirmation of Reciprocity||Self-Giving ((…on that last item think of our brutally repeatable moral experience and so on…)). Therein ‪Identity and Unity find that Reality has “One” Meta-Narrative, and therein Convergence, and, so, any sub-narrative which runs against the grain of that Singularity / Meta-Narrative eventually gives way to that Singularity – else the pains of Circularity & Reductio.

Many believe that such sub-narratives are in fact the One Meta-Narrative and thereby fashion this or that “Paradigm”. That error emerges as they fail to critically question what their own brutally repeatable experience with the Meta-Narrative of Logic's Lucidity, Reason, & Reciprocity inevitably unmasks as several core illusions vis-à-vis the various melodies of their own Self-Invented-Paradigm’s fateful Reductio Ad Absurdum.

It comes in many forms and, as a basic example we observe that just as Quantum Indeterminacy is not [Identical To] Intentionality ((…yes it has to be said…because the massive equivocation there *is* attempted more often than one might suppose…)) so too is it the case that that [Layers Of Quantum Indeterminism] ((…or anything else btw…)) are not [Identical To] our own Intentionality vis-à-vis the First Person Experience/Perception vis-à-vis the Intentional. From there the Non-Theist’s attempted foist of “Close Enough” actually concedes the Illusion because it rests atop the bizarre claim of “Almost Being” — but that is nothing different than Non-Being. That is to say that "Non-A" is not "Identical-To" that which is "A-Full-Stop" ((Etc.)).

In Non-Theism we find that our own epistemic experience // first-person experience vis-à-vis the perceived/experienced irreducibility of and actuality of “i-am” vis-à-vis “i-reason” vis-à-vis “i-exist” must be [Equated To Something] –— again we mean if one is over inside of Non-Theism —– and in Non-Theism there is only one final reply to that when it comes to the Fundamental Nature of X – of ANY X – and that reply is Metaphysical Naturalism’s necessary conservation of [No-Mind] vis-à-vis [No-I-AM] there at the Rock Bottom of ANY “nature” and ANY “vector” – and this Necessary Conservation holds whether we move from Top-Down or from Bottom-Up.

Think it through: To claim that “Non-Reductive-Physicalism” ((…one can name ANY Non-Theistic substratum etc…)) somehow “holds” way up inside of layers near the top of the “bubbling quantum foam” ((…or whatever…)) but then “necessarily-collapses” way down at reality’s Rock Bottom ((…or Top if one prefers the Bottom-Up instead of Top-Down etc…)) is a claim that “just is” one massive Circular-Question-Begging-Equivocation. ((…wait...for...it…)).

Avoiding Equivocation and Conflation when it comes to Identity and Unity is looked at in the following excerpt from David Bentley Hart’s “Emergence & Formation” with respect to Reductive and Non-Reductive vectors.

Begin Quote:

An emergent reality is one that, though remaining ever dependent upon the native properties of the elements composing it, nevertheless possesses new characteristics that are wholly “irreducible” to those properties. But this is certainly false. At least, as a claim made solely about physical processes, organisms, and structures — in purely material terms — it cannot possibly be true. If nothing else, it is a claim strictly precluded by most modern scientific prejudice. From a genuinely “physicalist” perspective, there are no such things as emergent properties in this sense, discontinuous from the properties of the prior causes from which they arise; anything, in principle, must be reducible, by a series of “geometrical” steps, to the physical attributes of its ingredients.

Those who think otherwise are, in most cases, merely confusing irreducibility with identity. Smith, for instance, uses the example of water, which, though composed of the two very combustible elements hydrogen and oxygen, possesses the novel property of extinguishing fire; therefore, says Smith, water “is irreducible to that of which it is composed.” But it is nothing of the sort. Yes, water’s resistance to combustion is not identical with any property resident in either hydrogen or oxygen molecules, but it is most definitely reducible to those special molecular properties that, in a particular combination, cause hydrogen and oxygen to negate one another’s combustible propensities.

A seemingly more promising example adduced by Smith is that of a computer, which (he notes) is composed of silicon, metal, plastic, electrical impulses, and so on, but which possesses functions that are not present in any of its parts and that are qualitatively different from a mere aggregation of the properties of its parts in some sort of total sum.

Here, however, Smith compounds his earlier error by failing to notice that what distinguishes a computer’s powers from those individually possessed by its various elements is not any emergent property at all, but rather the causal influence of a creative intellect acting upon those elements from without. Taken as a purely physical phenomenon, nothing that a computer does — as distinct, that is, from what an intending mind does with a computer — is anything more than the mathematically predictable result of all its physical antecedents. At the purely material level, whatever is emergent is also reducible to that from which it emerges; otherwise, “emergence” is merely the name of some kind of magical transition between intrinsically disparate realities.

In any event, I have no great quarrel with Smith. In the end, he is quite correct that a computer is not reducible without remainder to its physical components. He is even more correct in arguing — as is the purpose of his book — that human personality is not reducible to purely physical forces and events. The problem with his argument is merely a matter of the conceptual model of causation that he has adopted. For, in the end, what reductionism fails to account for, and in fact fails even to see, is not the principle of emergence, but the reality of formal causality. In the case of the computer, for instance, its functions are more than the sum of the properties inherent in its physical constituents because a further, adventitiously informing causality, itself directed by a final causality, has assumed those physical constituents into a purposive structure that in no meaningful sense can be said to have emerged from them. (The captious physicalist, of course, would want at this point to assert that the mind and actions of the computer’s designer are themselves only physical events, and so the computer is still emergent from and reducible to a larger ensemble of material causes; but that is both beside the point and, as it happens, entirely wrong.)

Why is this distinction particularly important? Principally because it seems quite clear to me that there are realities in nature that are indeed irreducible to their physical basis, and that this fact renders materialism — or physicalism, or naturalism — wholly incredible. Existence itself, for what it is worth, is the prime example of an indubitable truth about the world that is irreducible to physical causes (since any physical causes there might be must already exist). But consciousness is perhaps an example more easily grasped. And, just to refresh our memories, we should recall how many logical difficulties a materialist reduction of mind entails.

The most commonly invoked is the problem of qualia, of that qualitative sense of “what it is like” that constitutes the immediate intuitive form of subjectivity, and that poses philosophical difficulties that even the tireless and tortuous bluster of a Daniel Dennett cannot entirely obscure. There is also the difficulty of abstract concepts, which become more dazzlingly difficult to explain the more deeply one considers how entirely they determine our conscious engagement with the world. And of course, there is the problem of reason: for to reason about something is to proceed from one premise or proposition or concept to another, in order ideally to arrive at some conclusion, and in a coherent sequence whose connections are determined by the semantic content of each of the steps taken; but, if nature is mere physical mechanism, all sequences of cause and effect must be determined entirely by the impersonal laws governing the material world. One neuronal event can cause another as a result of physical necessity, but certainly not as a result of logical  necessity; and the connections among the brain’s neurons cannot generate the symbolic and conceptual connections that compose an act of consecutive logic, because the brain’s neurons are connected organically and interact physically, not conceptually.

And then there is the transcendental unity of consciousness, which makes such intentional uses of reason possible and which poses far greater difficulties for the materialist than any mere neurological “binding problem.” Then, of course, there is perhaps the greatest difficulty of all, intentionality, what the great Franz Brentano regarded as the supreme “mark of the mental,” inseparable from every act of consciousness: the mind’s directedness, its “aboutness,” its capacity for meaning, by which it thinks, desires, believes, represents, wills, imagines, or otherwise orients itself toward a specific object, purpose, or end.

On the one hand, the mind knows nothing in a merely passive way, but always has an end or meaning toward which it is purposively directed, as toward a final cause; yet, on the other, there is absolutely no intentional reciprocity between the mind and the objects of its intentions (that is, thoughts can be directed toward things, but things, at least taken as purely material events, cannot be directed toward thoughts). Intentionality is finite and concerned with its objects under specific aspects, whereas material reality is merely an infinite catenation of accidental events; and so the specific content of the mind’s intentions must be determined by consciousness alone. One could never derive the specific meaning of a given physical event from the event itself, not even a brain event, because in itself it means nothing at all; even the most minute investigation of its physical constituents and instances could never yield the particular significance that the mind represents it as having. And so on.

Not that there is room here to argue these points. Nonetheless, there are very good reasons why the most consistent materialist philosophers of mind — when, that is, they are not attempting to get around these difficulties with nonsolutions like “epiphenomenalism” or incoherently fantastic solutions like “panpsychism” — have no choice in the end but to deny that such things as qualia or intentionality or even consciousness as such truly exist at all. The heroic absurdism that, in differing registers, constitutes the blazingly incandescent core of the thought of Daniel Dennett, Alex Rosenberg, Paul and Patricia Churchland, and other impeccable materialists of the same general kind follows from the recognition — not very philosophically sophisticated as a rule, but astute nonetheless — that consciousness can exist within the world of nature only if matter is susceptible of formation by a higher causality, one traditionally called “soul.” And the soul, as such a formal cause, is precisely that which cannot simply “emerge.”

End Quote.

Initial context as we move over to a few comments from Twitter discussions is as per the "Tweet" on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/M_Christianity/status/1227929135953121280?s=20

Part Two:

Beginning content for an excerpt is at https://twitter.com/diego_claramunt/status/1222564156467023873?s=20 and then also a second excerpt's content beginning at https://twitter.com/diego_claramunt/status/1227176682689368064?s=20 are combined into the following:

Begin Excerpt:

“The 1st thing is that in the Quantum article, I was struck by how Dr. Hoffman concludes that introspective conscious experience is epistemically & ontologically basic! That is a move away from physicalism & towards idealism. Now if you want to be an idealist, then your view of the primacy of the physical realm is doomed. Furthermore, idealism fits far better on a theistic worldview than on a non-theistic one; for God just is a conscious mind in excelsis. In fact, the great puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards was an idealist, & so was Bishop Berkeley. So although it is not my view, it is one that has had defenders in the Christian tradition.

Now in the articles that you sent, I saw contradictions out the wazzo!

1st, saying that our conscious experiences are “kinds of controlled hallucinations that happen with, through & because of our living bodies”, is a self-defeating. Because the only way to know that this proposition is true is through the epistemic perceptual equipment in our bodies. So how can we know that we have bodies if our conscious experience is illusory? For if our conscious experience is illusory then this means that we have an undercutting defeater for everything that we know from conscious experience, which would include the very claim that conscious experience is illusory. So that one’s a slam dunk.

2nd , This quote is also self-defeating: “And the idea of controlled hallucination is just that, well, this applies to everything. I mean, this applies to everything that we perceive, and not just perceptions of things out there in the world, but also, it applies to our perceptions of our self, of our body, of our memories, of our sense of agency, of our sense of volition - that everything that we perceive is a construction.” If everything is a construction then this very quote is also a construction. Yet his quote is presenting the world as it is, not as a construction. SO its incoherent.

3rd saying that “it's easy to think that we open our eyes and objective reality is revealed to us through the windows of our eyes” presupposes that perception is the only source of epistemic justification. But this is false, since we also have introspection, intuition, & memory. Now Seth does say that secondary qualities are not objective features of the world because things like colors are really wavelengths. Well why, instead of thinking that secondary qualities do not exist, can’t we infer that secondary qualities like color are merely mediated by physical wavelengths of light? Both views would be empirically equivalent & Seth gives no reason except for saying that our Brains produce color. But why think that our brains produce color instead of merely mediating the color that is in the world to us? But 2nd, even if he is right, it does absolutely nothing to show that all of our perceptions are illusory.

Finally, thinking that QM proves that there is no objective reality outside our consciousness is absurd. 1st the existence of consciousness presupposes the existence of a conscious subject that has it. So we know that there is an objective reality that is ontologically prior to our conscious experiences: us existing as conscious minds that have experiences. 2nd, this seems to presuppose the Copenhagen interpretation of QM, which hardly any physicist defends anymore (Both Sean Carroll & Lawrence Krauss think it is absurd). But even if this is correct, then it simply proves that God exists, because we know that reality was here when we found it (i.e. that solipsism is false), so if the universe requires a conscious observer to collapse the wavefunction, then it requires an observer of the entire universe, which is what God is.” ((end first excerpt))

Begin second excerpt:

“In summary you said nothing about: the problem of the unity of consciousness, nothing about the epistemic incoherence of physicalism, & nothing about the fact that mental properties & physical properties are simply not the same things. Remember, that our evidence for the unity of consciousness & the difference between mental & physical properties is epistemically infallible, therefore it is impossible for them to be refuted from the epistemically fallible evidence that comes from science. Since I really do not see how you can escape these objections it seems to me that your ontology is simply doomed. Others here have had similar epistemic objection against your view, namely, that any view which undermines the existence of the self/ego is epistemically incoherent because the existence of the self/ego is known via infallible evidence while any argument against it is based on premises that are far from infallible.” 

((end second excerpt)) That then segues with https://twitter.com/M_Christianity/status/1227208084038307840?s=20 and so on.

Part Three:

Our Non-Theist friends ask for sound evidence for “God” but, upon being introduced to the premises surrounding Absolute Consciousness, they sort of “react” with something like, “But Mind & Consciousness & Eliminativism have nothing to do with God!” It’s difficult to be sympathetic to such a claim as it leaves them with a God made up of trees or superheroes or celestial tea pots and worst of all a “God” void of Consciousness/Knowledge/Etc. Getting them to take ownership for those sorts of cartoons void of Absolute Mind is tedious.  

Think it through: 

It is the Non-Theist who is assuring us that the Mind vis-a-vis Absolute Consciousness is NOT the explanatory terminus of reality ((Etc.)) and, so, it is the Non-Theist who ((therefore)) claims that any meta-ontology “thereof” must fall off the proverbial cliff and be eliminated — and in fact such must surely be eliminated by the powers of observation, perception, science, and reason.  

Now add this: all the affairs of “Absolute Consciousness” and the arguments surrounding that paradigm ((Etc.)) are brought to our Non-Theist friends upon THEIR request for “Reasons To Believe”.  Notice: they have the Christian Metaphysic being presented ((Etc.)) yet at that point they begin to persistently avoid interacting with that very offering which is being made upon their request. Instead of interaction it is a posture of evasion as they avoid the arguments surrounding that whole paradigm. 

The reason they fail to connect the dots is because they are not grasping what “Mind // Eliminativism” actually forces if “God-Is” and if “No-God”.  

*IF* one DOES insist that the Divine Mind must surely be Eliminated by the powers of observation, perception, science, and reason and one ALSO avoids/evades what is forced upon us vis-a-vis Mind/Eliminativism wrt [God-Is] vs. [No-God] *THEN* they’re curiously inconsistent. 

To be fair, we can say that, yes, the Non-Theist's bizarre “dissection” of the Contingent Mind from Absolute Consciousness is actually irrational *if* they are being genuine when they ask for reliable arguments BUT it is also true that they MAY/CAN be justified ((...in that bizarre dissection"...)) IF all they have or know is a Cartoon-Picture of “God Void Of Consciousness/Knowledge/Etc.”  ((...on charity...)).

Perhaps we must conclude that such a Cartoon in fact *is* the concept of "god" in the one who insists that we can somehow “dissect” the Contingent and Absolute with respect to Being and Mind and so they are actually failing to grasp what “Mind/Eliminativism” actually forces if “God-Is” and if “No-God” ((...on charity...)). And that's fine. We all watched Cartoons when we were children. But there comes a time when it's OK, even necessary, to put away childish things. 

Part Four:

The discussion between Two Smart Guys ((Diego & JSW)) is helpful. But, first, briefly:

The discussion between Two Smart Guys ((Diego & JSW)) is helpful. The following are in "Twitter" and link to "threads" which consist of several comments which run in series. If one is familiar or comfortable with that format then the following series are offered as it has multiple overlapping areas with the content here: 

Initial Discussions: 

And Then:

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