Quantum physics – is reality all in the mind?

February 2024 Forums General discussion Quantum physics – is reality all in the mind?

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  • #191968
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2005/2000s/no-1213-september-2005/marx-and-philosophy/. We don’t need philosophy or philosophers, what we need is a coherent theory for socialism. Marx himself abandoned philosophy, and he considered  philosophy as the German Ideology

    #191969
    Wez
    Participant

    All of Marx’s work was framed within the dialectical philosophical tradition. Don’t forget that science had its origins in natural philosophy. The truth is that without these inherited traditions he could not have transcended elements within them all. We believe socialism to be the resolution of the class struggle and so ending the need for ideology but even after the revolution we will still ponder the questions raised by this thread in terms of mind, consciousness and reality and these concepts remain firmly within the philosophical tradition.

    #191970
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    The universal law of causation applies to historical materialism and the human will, but human social concerns and the human will are so minutely insignificant and finite that to attempt to impose them on the universe is pathetic arrogance at best.
    We are star stuff, but so is your cat; and the entirety of human history and concerns will be gone in a puff of cosmic time just as surely as the maggots in a bowl of stale food.

    #191971
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    This I fully endorse:

    “All of Marx’s work was framed within the dialectical philosophical tradition. Don’t forget that science had its origins in natural philosophy. The truth is that without these inherited traditions he could not have transcended elements within them all. We believe socialism to be the resolution of the class struggle and so ending the need for ideology but even after the revolution we will still ponder the questions raised by this thread in terms of mind, consciousness and reality and these concepts remain firmly within the philosophical tradition.”

    Yes. Ideology will be gone. Philosophy will continue.

    #191972
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Philosophy will continue for as long as humans do, because we will continue to explore, think, discover and speculate on the universe and our motivations. In fact, socialism, freeing us all from the conditions we suffer under now, will see the expansion of discovery and knowledge as never before – both of reality on this planet and hopefully beyond. However, we will eventually disappear as a form of existence in no longer than a cosmic second, together with the sum total of all our history and achievements, as will the Earth and this solar system.
    Wisdom lies in philosophical acceptance of this reality and the smiling abandonment of our adolescent longing for self-perpetuity.

    #191975
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez wrote “…even after the revolution we will still ponder the questions raised by this thread in terms of mind, consciousness and reality…“.

    In an attempt to give a very brief outline of the development of these questions, and to give those without any great understanding of philosophy a chance to orientate themselves to the issues, I would reduce its stages to:

    1. consciousness creates being;
    2. being creates consciousness;
    3. consciousness creates being.

    This could also be summarised as:

    1. mind creates matter;
    2. matter creates mind;
    3. mind creates matter.

    or:

    1. subject creates object;
    2. object creates subject;
    3. subject creates object.

    or:

    1. idealism;
    2. materialism;
    3. idealism-materialism.

    The key difference between stages 1 and 3 is the concept of ‘consciousness/mind/subject’.

    For stage 1 (idealism), the subject is believed to be ‘divine’, whereas for stage 3 (Marxism), the subject is regarded as ‘humanity’.

    In stage 2 (materialism), which first placed ‘humanity’ as the subject, the subject was regarded as ‘passive’.

    The key move by Marx was to take the ‘active subject’ from Idealism (ie. god), and replace the ‘passive subject’ of Materialism with the new conception of of the ‘active subject’ being humanity. Marx unified (as he wrote himself) idealism with materialism, which was a longstanding aim of German Idealism. But Marx achieved that aim.

    So, we went from:

    1. active divine subject creating nature-for-god;
    2. active matter creating passive humans;
    3. active humanity creating nature-for-us.

    Marx’s term for this ‘human creativity’ is ‘social production’. And because our world is our product, we can change it. And this change can be democratic.

    I hope this very brief outline helps to orientate any workers interested in politics. If one remains at stage 2, the bourgeois stage, one remains under the control, as Marx wrote, of a minority, who claim that ‘humans are passive in the face of matter’, but then make themselves, the minority, the ‘active side’, whilst the majority has to remain passive. Lenin embraced Materialism for this very reason.

    #191976
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Matter is not created, and mind is a property of matter. Matter has no beginning and no end. Mind, as one of the properties of matter, is subject to the same physical laws of motion, cause and effect.

    #191977
    LBird
    Participant

    John Oswald wrote: “Matter is not created, and mind is a property of matter. Matter has no beginning and no end. Mind, as one of the properties of matter, is subject to the same physical laws of motion, cause and effect.

    Thanks, John, for a standard restatement of stage 2 ‘Materialism’.

    Those workers who are interested in building a democratic socialism (and who will already thus be aware of the need for both ‘active humanity’ and that ‘humanity’ being defined as the ‘mass’, not an ‘elite’), and wanting to know more about Marx’s stage 3 ‘social productionism’, should note that John doesn’t mention humanity, democracy nor social production (all key elements in Marx’s philosophy), but argues that our active consciousness is merely a ‘property of matter’, and ‘subject to the same physical laws’. Thus, the ‘active side’, for John, as for all stage 2 materialists, is ‘matter’.

    This is, of course, all bog-standard 18th century ‘materialism’, which Marx rejected. For Marx, the creator of both ‘physical laws’ and ‘matter’ is humanity (as also Pannekoek agreed). Thus we can change ‘it’. For John, ‘matter’ plays the role of an eternal, universal, god – his quote even has religious overtones “Matter has no beginning and no end“, which equates it to The Absolute.

    Marx is a ‘productionist’, not a ‘physicalist’, John.

    #191978
    Wez
    Participant

    John wrote:‘We are star stuff, but so is your cat; and the entirety of human history and concerns will be gone in a puff of cosmic time just as surely as the maggots in a bowl of stale food.’ and  ‘However, we will eventually disappear as a form of existence in no longer than a cosmic second, together with the sum total of all our history and achievements, as will the Earth and this solar system.’ 

    These statements are both valid within the traditional concept of time but this conception is also, along with mind and reality, subject to possible profound revision the more we understand nature (the universe). Is it possible that the mind/reality duality can be resolved by seeing ourselves and our understanding (something that cats and maggots do not exhibit) as an attempt by the universe to become conscious of itself? As you say we are stardust and so we are nature. The delusions of ideology have prevented us from this realization and socialism will finally liberate consciousness from its dualistic egocentric prison (hopefully). This kind of speculation may well frustrate some socialists but such reasoning is preferable to passively accepting cultural norms and helps us exercise our intellect. Ideology tells us what to think and philosophy informs us how to think.

    #191979
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    L. Bird:

    Thanks for putting me in a neat little box. 🙂

    I see our historical materialism as building upon 18th century mechanical materialism, not rejecting it. And Marx too saw it thus, i’m sure. Human thought is an evolving process; society is an evolving process; the personality is an evolving process.

    Mind is not a separate thing and consciousness is subject to cause and effect and is not above it. There is nothing supernatural.

    Do not confuse natural philosophy with social philosophy. Social democracy etc., are matters of social philosophy and not to be imposed on the universe as though our species’ concerns had relevance beyond us.

    #191980
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Wez:

    Our human intelligence is human intelligence. It results from the physical combination of brain molecules, neurons etc. It is not a case of superiority or inferiority between life-forms, but of differences. The rest are merely human concepts.

    For me there is no duality, because I am a materialist, who by definition is not a dualist. A dualist believes in the non-material. I do not.

    #191981
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez wrote: “…the more we understand nature (the universe)…“.

    The philosophical problem, Wez, is ‘Is ‘nature’ to be considered prior to us, or to be our product?’

    For materialists, as we’ve seen from John’s contributions, regard ‘nature’ as prior to ‘humanity’. So, ‘matter’ precedes our ‘consciousness’.

    Marx, however, regarded any ‘nature’ that we know as our social product, so ‘nature-for-us’ comes after us. So, ‘our production’ precedes our product, ‘matter’. And we can change it.

    It’s a bog-standard ideological belief, produced by the bourgeoisie, that ‘Nature’ is sitting ‘out there’, merely waiting to be ‘Discovered’, and that that is the task of their ‘science’. It doesn’t require democratic participation, of course.

    If Marx is right, any understanding of nature that we develop, will place us at the productive heart of ‘it’, and that understanding will be necessarily socio-historical, containing an account of how and why humanity’s notions of ‘Nature’ have originated and changed.

    Materialism does not do this, but merely returns to idealist notions of The Absolute, in the new garb of ‘matter’, an unchanging, universal, ahistoric, asocial, ‘star stuff’.

    #191982
    LBird
    Participant

    John Oswald wrote: “L. Bird: Thanks for putting me in a neat little box.

    No offence meant, John. Just labelling the ‘box’, so that others can situate your ideological beliefs within the rough schema that I’ve outlined, as stage 2 materialism.

    Once again, your reduction of ‘human active consciousness’ to ‘brain’ is bog-standard materialism/physicalism. If you want to believe that, and propagate that belief as suitable for building democratic socialism, it’s open to you to do so. It’s just that Marxists will disagree with your belief, and so will challenge it. That’s what political and philosophical debate is all about.

    John Oswald wrote: “Do not confuse natural philosophy with social philosophy.

    Once again, this ‘splitting’ of the ‘natural’ from the ‘social’ was a act by the bourgeoisie, to ideologically separate off their ‘hard science’ from the democratic and revolutionary concerns of ‘soft humanity’. This is the ideological root of the current ‘academic’ division between ‘art/science’, ‘matter/mind’, ‘reality/ideology’, etc. On the contrary, Marx’s aim was to unify all human social production, and regard poetry and physics as part of the same human effort to produce our knowledge. We can’t separate ‘nature’ from ‘society’.

    John Oswald wrote: “…as though our species’ concerns had relevance beyond us“.

    It’d be nice for any materialist to outline any ‘non-relevant concerns’ which shouldn’t concern us. If any materialist knows the ‘Beyond Us’, they should tell us just how they themselves got ‘beyond us’, when it apparently isn’t open to the mass, from whom it is supposed to be ‘beyond’. Marx pointed out this elite trickery of the materialists, in his Theses on Feuerbach. It requires a ‘Knowing Elite’ who are separate from ‘Society’.

    #191983
    robbo203
    Participant

    Matter is not created, and mind is a property of matter. Matter has no beginning and no end. Mind, as one of the properties of matter, is subject to the same physical laws of motion, cause and effect.

     

    John, one can accept that mind is a property of matter but it does not follow that everything that goes on in the mind is reducible to matter – the brain  in this case – and “subject  to the same physical laws of motion, cause and effect.”

     

    Causation, as the philosopher David Hume said, means that “The cause must be prior to the effect.” A purely physicalist explanation of the mind would have to hold that a particular neurophysical event – the firing of a certain neurons in the brain –  must have preceded a particular thought – for example, solving a complex arithmetical problem such as dividing 238 by 13 ( namely 18.3076923).  But how?

     

    What “reductive physicalism” implies is that whatever thought we might experience would be literally inconceivable without, as it were, the prior permission of the brain to obligingly accommodate our intention to do so in the form of the appropriate neurophysical event to underpin, or cause this thought to happen.  Perhaps the solution to a relatively simply arithmetical problem, such as 2 plus 2, might conceivably have been imprinted on our brain as sensory input in the form of rote learning off a school blackboard which we remember having done as children.   But how would this be true of a more complex arithmetical problem such as the one referred to above?

     

    What neural pathway divined the solution to that? What memories are stored in the inner recesses of our brain’s wonderfully capable filing system that would yield such a solution? Presumably none – unless by some remote chance the teacher happened to have chalked it up on the blackboard and we still retain the memory of that as a vague sensory input we once experienced which we can mechanically reproduce on request. More than likely, though, the exact form of this arithmetical problem – 238 divided by 13 – will be completely novel to us and so the solution to it will depend on our cognitive ability to perform a calculation, not on the “memory” of that solution.

     

    And that is the point, isn’t  it?  To say that the brain provides us with the cognitive ability to solve the problem is not the same as saying that the brain itself, as a neuro-physical entity, literally solves that problem, this solution then just being involuntarily flagged up in our conscious minds. That would presuppose something akin to a memory of the solution stored in, and retrieved by, the brain. But that surely cannot be the case in this example. Something else must intercede which utterly depends upon, and must indeed make use of, the brain, but is not reducible to it – namely, the mind. To deny the existence of a mind, and its capacity to function on its own terms, leaves us totally unable to explain how we could have otherwise arrived at the solution to this problem in the first place.

     

    This is why I have been banging on about Emergence theory which is the only credible form of materialism we can adopt as a socialists.  Crude mechanical reductionist materialism is totally against everything we stand for.  Sociological explanations would be rendered completely useless and invalid  because social phenomena would be turned into mere “epiphenomena”,   reflecting  a lower order of reality – namely the empirical individuals who make up society which is exactly what bourgeois theorists do when they go on about “human nature”.  Society  – capitalism – is said to be a reflection of our biological nature as individuals.  It has no reality in itself, no autonomy , no social laws pertaining to itself, and  no ability to exert “downward causation” as the jargon goes.   We cannot possibly be influenced by our social environment because as Margaret Thatcher helpfully pointed out “there is no such thing as society only individuals and their families”

     

    But why stop at the empirical individual if you are going to be a thoroughgoing reductionist? The individual is made of matter so presumably eveyrhing the individual does or thinks is entirely explicable in terms of the movement of atoms or even sub-atomic particles.  Its not capitalism that is the cause of mass unemployment.   Its those pesky quarks bent on creating problems for us.  Bastards.

     

     

    #191984
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    This is what happens when, Robbo, we confuse natural with social philosophy.

    Mind is a function of matter, and the properties of mind include analytical thought, such as philosophical problems.

    I am not a genetic determinist. But I am a determinist in that every effect is preceded by its cause. Hence, social history and the evolution of ideas, none of which would make sense or happen if the mind was a separate entity.

    A thought arises in your brain. An emotion occurs. A discovery strikes you. Each of these spring from antecedents, just as surely as the breeze blows on a twig, making it move.

    The idea, the thought, the emotion, e.g. the mind, then becomes in its turn a cause, with both internal and external effects. But you cannot think, feel, or act other than you do in response to the strongest of the motives presenting themselves to your mind.

    Otherwise, you would be saying that you are motivated other than by the strongest motive, can choose other than by what you choose, which is absurd.

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