A compelling refutation of the pernicious doctrine of materialism

March 10, 2007 at 10:10 am (general philosophy)

1. The mind is either the brain or is not the brain.
2. If the mind is the brain, then the mind doesn?t exist.
3. But the mind exists, since I need a mind to write this text.
4. The mind is not the brain. Q.E.D.

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14 Comments

  1. Darcho said,

    I think that you may need more support for premise two, otherwise I am not very compelled.

  2. Death Monkey said,

    Well, given that premise 2 contradicts itself, I must say that I do not find this refutation to be the slightest bit compelling.

    DM

  3. StaunchNaturalist said,

    Let be M the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P. Let be B
    the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P’. We denote a mind as M and a brain as B. Then, if ‘mind’ doesn’t exist, there is no such thing that satisfies P and what we call as a mind is instead B, a brain, which satisfies P’. Finally, if M=B then P is not satisfied and P’ is a brain, then the mind doesn’t exist. QED

  4. Andrew Saunders said,

    StaunchNaturalist wrote:
    Let be M the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P. Let be B
    the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P’. We denote a mind as M and a brain as B. Then, if ‘mind’ doesn’t exist, there is no such thing that satisfies P and what we call as a mind is instead B, a brain, which satisfies P’. Finally, if M=B then P is not satisfied and P’ is a brain, then the mind doesn’t exist. QED

    umm dude sorry but most physicalists would not say the mind doesn’t exist. They would equate the mind with the brain (identity theorists), or with functional properties of the brain (functionalists), or with biological components of the brain (Biological naturalism -though Searle might object to being grouped with physicalists)

  5. StaunchNaturalist said,

    Really. And what about Churchland, Rorty, Feyerabend, the early Stich. Yours is not an argument. The Churchlands don’t hold an identity theory I’m afraid to say.

  6. Darcho said,

    You have it as follows:

    M = {P1, …, Pn}
    B = {P’1, …, P’n}

    If M = B, then wouldn’t {P1, …, Pn} = {P’1, …, P’n}; wouldn’t P = P’?

    If M = B, and ~M, then wouldn’t it also be ~B?

  7. Andrew Saunders said,

    StaunchNaturalist wrote:
    Let be M the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P. Let be B
    the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P’. We denote a mind as M and a brain as B. Then, if ‘mind’ doesn’t exist, there is no such thing that satisfies P and what we call as a mind is instead B, a brain, which satisfies P’. Finally, if M=B then P is not satisfied and P’ is a brain, then the mind doesn’t exist. QED

    ok let me run with your conclusion and one of your premises.

    So, 1) M=B, but as you have demonstrated 2) ~M.
    simplification of 1: 3) M
    conjunction with 3: 4) M OR ‘flying pink elephants exist’
    disjunctive syllogism with 4 and 2: 5) ‘flying pink elephants exist’

    Sweet! flying pink elephants exist!
    or maybe there was an error in my premises…

    like the contradiction…?

  8. Darcho said,

    I am sure this may seem trivial, but to get premise 4, it would be addition not conjunction.

  9. Andrew Saunders said,

    Darcho wrote:
    I am sure this may seem trivial, but to get premise 4, it would be addition not conjunction.

    my bad.
    I assumed the conjunction of premises was called conjunction! whoops.

  10. Andrew Saunders said,

    point taken though, I should be careful of terminology.

  11. Death Monkey said,

    StaunchNaturalist,
    Let be M the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P. Let be B
    the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P’. We denote a mind as M and a brain as B. Then, if ‘mind’ doesn’t exist, there is no such thing that satisfies P and what we call as a mind is instead B, a brain, which satisfies P’. Finally, if M=B then P is not satisfied and P’ is a brain, then the mind doesn’t exist. QED

    You just made the argument that if the mind doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t exist, and managed to contradict yourself in the process by first saying that what we call mind is the entity which satisfies P, and the saying that we call the brain “mind”, even though it does not satisfy P. Congratulations.

    Now, using your notation, I can say the following:

    Let be M the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P. Let be B the entity which satisfies the finite set of properties P’. We denote a mind as M and a brain as B. If set P’ includes all of the properties of set P, then the mind is just a part of the brain. In this case, both the mind and the brain exist. This is what a materialist would claim, not the circular nonsense you have above.

  12. darren said,

    Isn’t this just the mind body problem? Another angle you could take is that concepts are not material substances, yet particulars demonstrate universals, ie all animals under the genus dog posses a concept of doggieness which allows us to define from this concept what a dog is and recognize it in particular material beings. So if concepts are non-material, but exist in the material world then our mind is that non-material entity that understands the non-material being of material beings. Or as parmedius said all that exists is knowable therefore being is the universal of all things and is only known though the mind not the senses; science can not prove being (esse), its presupposed and a necessary metaphysical reality only understood by that faculty which can know non-material being namely the mind.

  13. smith said,

    I think the very fact that this debate continues and perhaps will continue on indefinetely proves that the grey stuff we can put in a can and kick about is something different from Mind.

  14. anarchia said,

    The argument wasn’t well presented, but I think the idea is correct: if mind is brain, we don’t need two words for one and the same thing, now do we?

    It argues against identity theory, which implicitly denies the existence of subjective experience.

    I think the op argument can be massaged into a valid argument against identity theory, but not against materialism – which is a bit more resilient and harder to defeat. It is the thought experiments with transporter/copy machines which compell me to conclude that materialism can’t be correct.

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