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Arguments for and against materialism

October 9, 2014

(posted by Bernardo Kastrup at his forum,!topic/metaphysical-speculations/nOI1QTksPEY, October 8, 2014

I am challenging materialists at JREF to come up with the best they can:

Here is the complete text of my post:

As some of you know, I think materialism is baloney. I subscribe to the much more parsimonious and skeptical notion that reality is in a trans-personal form of consciousness, of which we are localizations — like whirlpools in a stream. This ontology is often called monistic idealism. My books, videos and blog expand on all this, so I won’t elaborate here (moreover, apparently I lose rights to anything I post here). What I want to do is this: in my upcoming book, I am taking the time to dissect and expose all materialist counter-arguments against monistic idealism. So far I have selected 16 of them, which I list below. I argue in the upcoming book that all these points fail because they (a) beg the question; (b) contradict materialism itself (!); (c) totally misunderstand and misrepresent monistic idealism (i.e. straw man); (d) misunderstand or misrepresent the evidence; or (e) fail simple sound logic.

So my challenge to you is this: can you come up with other, better arguments for materialism, beyond the ones I list below? I doubt, but remain curious and open minded.

The current list:

1) Our sense perceptions provide direct evidence for a world outside consciousness.
2) Because we cannot change reality by merely wishing it to be different, it’s clear that reality is outside consciousness.
3) Because we are separate beings witnessing the same external reality, reality has to be outside consciousness.
4) It is untenable to maintain that there is no reality independent of consciousness, for there is plenty of evidence about what was going on in the Universe before consciousness evolved.
5) It is not parsimonious to say that reality is in consciousness, because that would require postulating an unfathomably complex entity to be imagining reality.
6) Reality is clearly not inside our heads, therefore monistic idealism is wrong.
7) Monistic idealism is too metaphysical.
8) There are strong correlations between brain activity and subjective experience. Clearly, thus, the brain generates consciousness.
9) Unconscious brain activity precedes the awareness of certain decisions, showing a clear arrow of causation from purely material processes to conscious experience.
10) Because psychoactive drugs and brain trauma can markedly change subjective experience, it’s clear that the brain generates consciousness.
11) During dreamless sleep, or under general anesthesia, we are clearly unconscious. Yet, we don’t cease to exist because we become temporarily unconscious. Clearly, thus, reality cannot be in consciousness.
12) The stability and consistency of the laws of physics show that reality is outside consciousness.
13) To postulate a collective and obfuscated part of consciousness as the source of consensus reality is equivalent to postulating a reality outside consciousness.
14) Why would consciousness deceive us by simulating a materialist world?
15) Monistic idealism is solipsistic and, as such, unfalsifiable.
16) One cannot prove that monistic idealism is true.

Although you have to wait for the publication of my new book to see the refutation of all these 16 arguments, I can guarantee to you that only smoldering ashes will be left of them after I am done. 

So can you come up with anything else? What’s your best argument in defense of materialism? What’s your best argument against monistic idealism? Apologies in advance for the fact that I will have to ignore trolls given my limited time. As for the rest of you, your input will be sincerely appreciated.


From → Kastrup

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