Materialism, idealism, and the problem of skepticism.

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Anti-stupidity, Oct 13, 2017.


What ontology do you hold?

  1. Materialism

    1 vote(s)
  2. Idealism

    0 vote(s)
  3. Dualism of a sort

    2 vote(s)
  4. Neutral Monism

    1 vote(s)
  5. Form of Pluralism

    1 vote(s)
  6. Other

    0 vote(s)
  7. I Do Not Hold Any Ontology

    1 vote(s)
  1. Anti-stupidity Registered Member

    Hello, again, Anti-Stupidity here, I have not posted too much on this forum and i'm not accustomed to posting on threads but it did occur to me that I have knowledgeable (Hopefully knowledgeable) people at my disposal to give thought or critiques to my own thoughts. So here goes nothing.

    Lately I've found myself in a rut when it comes to knowledgeable and grounded positions upon which to quickly dismiss or philosophically attack (I'm a extreme layman in terms of philosophical knowledge) religious arguments or positions. At least while still keeping my own presumptions in tact after using the same said tools to assess my own beliefs.

    Specifically it is answering the problem of skepticism by not coming to the conclusion that absolute knowledge is attainable or it isn't but rather rejecting the problem itself. Take a look. This paper was throughly convincing and such a different perspective to any other answer to it that it brings about new questions which generally shake my belief in any philosophical ontology that i hold currently or would wish to hold.

    On what basis can I affirm something like materialism, idealism, dualism, or any form of pluralism that is different from asserting the universe was created five minutes ago. We have no reason to except a reality beyond our senses nor the supremacy of said senses or even the conclusion of any ontologist on how many substances their are (Pluralist, Dualist, or Monist). Can I still hold an ontology with the conclusions of the paper in hand or are their other problems with his conclusion?

    Or am I just confused and ignorant?
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps you should start by exploring why you want to dismiss or philosophically attack religious arguments or positions.

    What kind of things are you already presuming? Why is it important to protect those beliefs?

    I haven't read the paper yet (it looks like a good one) but I'll say that I don't know what the phrase "absolute knowledge" means. I don't recall professional philosophers using it when I was in graduate school. (Though laypeople often use it.)

    Apparently it means necessary truth or total immunity from error. I don't think that human beings ever achieve that (it's more of a cognitive ideal). I favor fallibilism.

    The idea that the universe might have originated five minutes ago, complete with "evidence" of a history that never really happened, is a way of addressing global skepticism, about how we could know anything if all of our evidence is unreliable. (The 'brain-in-a-vat' thought-experiment is another variant on that same theme.)

    The questions of materialism, idealism, dualism, or any form of pluralism, concerns how many kinds of being seem to exist in the reality that we are acquainted with.

    I think that physical objects, the subatomic particles out of which they are presumably composed, mathematical entities like numbers and formal relationships, logic, ideas and word meanings, information, the 'laws of physics', fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes, counterfactual possibilities that might have happened but didn't or might happen but don't, the past, present and the future... all appear to me to have rather different kinds of reality. (I think that materialism is far too simplistic.)

    Any comprehensive metaphysics will have to be able to account for all of that. (I expect that some can probably be reduced to others.) So my reply in your poll was "pluralism".

    My own approach to that is to start with the evidence of my own life. I walk through doors and not through walls. I can't jump over the Moon. If I'm hungry I look in the fridge. That's the most basic level of evidence as far as I'm concerned. Any part of it might indeed by wrong. All of it might conceivably be wrong, as all the 'brain-in-vat' arguments and 'I might be dreaming' arguments tell us, but nevertheless it's my basis. It's what I find myself living my life in accordance with. But sure, all of my judgments about it are obviously going to be fallible.

    So as far as philosophical positions go, I find myself tentatively a metaphysical pluralist and epistemologically a mitigated skeptic. I don't deny the possibility of any knowledge whatsoever, but I do deny the possibility of any any absolutely necessary knowledge that's completely immune from the possibility of error. I think that I know things, I think that I have good reasons for holding those beliefs, but I acknowledge that I might be wrong about any of it.

    No, no, no! You are doing very well. You are thinking philosophically, which is hard for most people (even many scientists who are hopeless at it). You are asking the right questions, which is what progress looks like in philosophy.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
    Sarkus likes this.
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  5. Anti-stupidity Registered Member

    Thank you extensively for your reply to my post and I will be replying back myself, preferably through a video format possibly but that may take a bit as I want to collect my thoughts to not just react to what you said but pose my own opinions as well as new questions to keep the conversation rolling.
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  7. birch Valued Senior Member

    The set laws of nature which are particular to a specific universe is self-evident why lifeforms and society evolve the way they do. On one level, physical laws can't be violated so therefore, must be adhered to for certain tangible results. on another level, the lack or base level of laws, results in lower standards as a baseline for lifeforms, which is one of the reasons why you have technological and physical expertise while qualitative and ethical values are merely a choice, not up to best or ideal standards, resulting in lower standards of lifeforms overall because it's not required for proliferation, survival and even often success. as a matter of fact, the very use of destructive means can often end in short-term reward and sometimes even long-term. this is why you have dualistic natures of inferior traits (subversive, deviant etc) along with constructive or positive traits, resulting in subpar or mediocre society overall, despite physical improvement or development, which means very few people actually make it or become successful by pure and straight methods, because society manipulates to get results in one direction, while creating problems in another direction. lifeforms are flawed, impure and are the actual problem.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  8. Anti-stupidity Registered Member

    First, I would love it if you could define what you mean by the set of natural laws or by physical laws. Particularly I know that their are at least two exhaustible positions on the ontological status of certain laws of nature, those being: Necessitarianism and The Regularity approach. You can read it up HERE and also equivalently HERE, check out both links.

    How would you define Universe?


    What is your definition of the physical? Here is how the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy explains it, HERE.


    On one level, physical laws can't be violated so therefore, must be adhered to for certain tangible results.

    What do mean by physical laws cannot be violated, I guess that depends on your definition of what a law of nature is. Why must they be adhered to for tangible results? Are you talking about tangible in terms of practicality or do you think that anything that violates natural law is considered supernatural and thus intangible? Violating a necessary law is not possible but shaking up a long recorded regularity with some irregularities in nature seemingly avoiding such oscillatory patterns is imaginable but not necessarily non-tangible.

    I'm not sure how to respond to the rest of it, I did not expect to get this kind of reply. Thank you for presenting your own perspective.

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  9. Anti-stupidity Registered Member

    To some extent, I stretch disagreement and distrust towards certain theological positions on the grounds that they accept particular philosophical or scientific positions merely for the sake of their conventional biased doctrinal situations. While i would quickly dismiss this as merely stereotyping, I'm free to accept those who may truly be willing to rationally consider possibilities of support to the position they hold without double standards, many seem to lean towards what ever possible point of philosophical interest may support their position rather than considering a range of positions upon which assess the world without dogmatically leaping on one because of their favoritism with the religion they now hold.

    They would rather consider obscure positions or jump on the bandwagon of one rather than consider a greater wider view with tentative references with reality.

    I hope you get what I mean.

    I may be presuming an external world or that any of the philosophical positions formulated now are of any greater success in the grand scheme of things. That we have successfully understood the world or that this reality that is so obscure to us can some how be crunched down into a few neat categories. To me it feels to easy or too presumptuous of us to consider.

    For example, it's comparable to how Lawrence Krauss or William Lane Craig could present neat tided up answers to questions that we do not have any a prior knowledge of with how we should even address them or even what could be considered an answer.

    Why is there something rather than nothing, comes to mind. Where one asserts a quantum vacuum and the other asserts god. Where are the "I don't know" group of people coming out to claim bullshit on these two as well as many more.

    What about tautologies or the fact that their is something in existence. Instead of Cogito Ergo Sum it is Cogito Ergo Non Est Aliquid (I think therefore there is something). These seem to be truths that are immune from error or are even possibly necessary.

    Wonderfully intriguing.

    How do I distinguish between one being and another? What makes something a distinguished being in the first place? Could we achieve a greater awareness of our reality or open up new avenues by viewing many of these positions as tentative, as sun glasses that we can view the world through but never fully burden oneself with a strict worldview with them?

    What you put forward is strikingly unique and I agree that their are some facts of life that no matter how much we view them skeptically, they still present themselves as brute truths.

    Thank you for being open to civil communication, I hope to continue our talks.
  10. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Can we stretch the definition of dualism to mean both spiritual and material? I find myself firmly planted in both; my life experiences (now) are both of a spiritual nature and a materialist one. Why not give yourself options. lol

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