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Mainländer and the Death of God

The Grey Man

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#1
Nietzsche is famous for proclaiming the death of God through his character Zarathustra, but Philipp Mainländer (1841-1876) was actually the first philosopher in the Western tradition to assign a prominent role to the concept in the exposition of his thought.

Mainländer occupies an obscure position in the history of philosophy. As a German pessimist of the nineteenth century, he stands in the shadow of Schopenhauer, who himself is not much recognized outside of academic circles. In some ways, he stands to Schopenhauer as the latter does to Kant; both of them revered his predecessor and saw it as his mission to complete his work. For Schopenhauer, this meant revising and expanding Kant's metaphysical doctrine of transcendental idealism to ground his system of ethics; for Mainländer, it meant refining Schopenhauer's ethics, from their epistemological roots to their soteriological crown.



Very briefly, it was the principal philosophical achievement of Kant to point out that space and time are subjective, in a sense quite different from that meant by Einstein. Whereas the theory of relativity would, over a century later, reconcile the apparent invariance of the speed of light with the Galilean principle of the uniformity of nature by postulating the Protean curvature of the spacetime continuum around reference frames, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1789) reconciled the contending epistemological schools of his day–empiricism and rationalism–by postulating the synthesis by the subject of experience of the raw information furnished by the senses to form the objects of that experience, a multiplicity of phenomena.* According to Kant's doctrine, the intuitive knowledge which each subject possesses in and through these phenomena is not, as the empiricists think, passively received from without, nor is it capable of being expanded upon by problematic speculative judgments, as the rationalists claim. Rather, it is itself a judgment of the knowing subject which is equivalent to the synthesis of sensory information to form a singular experience, a unity of apperception.* Cogito, ergo sum. Time and space are transcendental, which is to say that they are forms of intuition or a priori conditions of possibility for experience; time and space are also ideal, in that the manifold phenomena arranged in time and space to form an experience are knowledge of nothing but that experience: this is what is meant by 'transcendental idealism.' To Kant, the reality beyond experience–the noumenon or thing in itself–is an unspeakable mystery.

:cthulhu:

Schopenhauer accepted the key points of transcendental idealism, but objected to Kant's insistence upon the unknowability of the thing in itself. If experience is the only thing of which we have knowledge, on what grounds can we say that it is merely ideal, and that the thing in itself, about which we know nothing except that we know nothing about it, is alone real?: Schopenhauer's answer to this problem, that experience is at once real thing-in-itself and ideal phantasm, became the central thesis of his philosophy and the title of his magnum opus: The World as Will and Representation (1819).

To Schopenhauer, intuitive knowledge has a subjective and an objective aspect; one has, on the one hand, internal knowledge of oneself in one's will and, on the other, external knowledge of others in objects or phenomena. The knowledge of one's own actions alone has a double aspect in that its subjective and objective aspects are experienced simultaneously; in the voluntary movements of one's own body alone does one experience the objectification of one's self-knowledge. This begs the question: If the voluntary movements of my body are the objectification of myself, of what are all other natural phenomena the objectification? According to Schopenhauer, the answer is, again, yourself; the innermost kernel of all objects, be they human, animal, vegetal, or inorganic, is that same will which we find in ourselves.** Schopenhauer identifies this will with the qualitates occultæ, those regularities manifest in phenomena which cannot be explained from, but which comprise the organon of the explanation of the phenomena themselves from, other phenomena as a ground in accordance with a form of the principle of sufficient reason; just as the enterprise of natural philosophy explains objective knowledge in terms of inexplicable forces of nature, so Schopenhauer circumscribes subjective knowledge to knowledge of oneself as a manifestation of the will and vice versa. Now, since natural forces are problematic speculative postulates whereas one's will is known in and through subjective knowledge, the latter alone is real; the will is the thing in itself (the Ātman and Brahman of Indian philosophy) of which nature is an ideal representation (Māyā). Together, they form the inscrutable existential duality of which we have a serviceable pictorial microcosm in M.C. Escher's Drawing Hands:

DrawingHands.jpg


Schopenhauer is best known for his exposition of the ethical consequences of this metaphysical doctrine, for which he has garnered a reputation as the quintessential Western pessimist. If we take 'pessimism' to mean the belief that it would be better had nothing existed, then this reputation is well-earned. In identifying the will as the thing in itself, he was confronted with an appalling existential predicament, for the will can no more be satisfied than can the natural forces that are its objectification. It must needs strive, and there is nothing for it to strive against but itself. Though it may appear, through the illusorily individuating lens of Māyā, that one conquers only others, one harrows only oneself by opposing one's will. Suffering, pain, want, desire, frustration, unhappiness, egoism, and duḥkha are all names for this omnipresent opposition of the will to itself–punishment, crime, and existence itself are all one in the same. Dikê eris ("strife is justice"). As manifestations of the will, all beings are condemned to struggle against and inflict suffering upon one another as long as they live; life is like a neverending Greek tragedy in which all the characters are helpless playthings in the hands of cruel fate.***

Schopenhauer did not believe that this situation could be rectified by terminating one's own life, since this only annihilates a particular manifestation of the will, which continues to torment itself in other forms. Instead, he believed that a brief respite from the endless cycle of death and rebirth was possible in and through peaceful experiences in which the vehemence of the will is diminished and disinterested knowledge of objects predominates, so that the tragedy of life (strife) is not without catharsis (justice)–transcendence. For the common man, these moments of grace are but brief; they are sustainable for longer periods of time by some artistic geniuses, and for longer still only by a few exceptional people who, recognising themselves and others alike as manifestations of the same senseless conflict of the will with itself, renounce their desires and, with them, life itself. For these ascetics, wisdom is the light, resignation the path, that leads them to salvation.****

With Mainländer I am less familiar than with his predecessors, but he appears to have gone further than Schopenhauer in the sense that he believed that salvation was not only possible for a few saints who renounced desire, but inevitable for everyone. He apparently viewed the second law of thermodynamics–the inevitable increase in entropy in nature with respect to time–as the objectification of the inevitable redemption of the will. As nature appeared to be asymptotically approaching, from an original singularity, a state of maximal distribution of energy in which manifestations of natural forces would be vanishingly insignificant, so he believed that the will would eventually extinguish itself. Thus, what Schopenhauer conceived of as a purposeless striving actually does have an endstate–in death.

:rip:

Mainländer illustrates this idea allegorically with his story of the death or, rather, the suicide of God. According to this self-conscious creation myth, we are all fragments of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent entity who only wanted–indeed, could only want–one thing: nothing. The death (disintegration) of a human being is analogous to the original self-sundering of God which will repeat itself in miniature until the last particle in the universe ceases to be and nothing alone remains.

* One is reminded of Leibniz's characterization of experience as the "multitude dans l’unité ou dans le substance simple".

** This panpsychist all-is-me-and-I-am-all doctrine is perhaps best summed up with a saying from the Oupnekhat that Schopenhauer himself quotes in The World as Will and Representation: Hæ omnes creaturæ in totum ego sum, et præter me aliud ens non est (roughly, "All these creatures am I, and besides me naught is").

*** Schopenhauer's ranging survey of the conflict of the with itself as objectified in nature, from its lowest 'grade' (of complexity) in the opposition of attractive and repulsive natural forces to the unfathomable wickedness of the human intellect earned him the special admiration of–it bears mentioning on a forum named for a revision of his theories–Jung. Einstein was also an avid reader of the philosopher.

**** We find a fictional paradigm for this process in the character of Andrei Bolkonsky in Leo Tolostoy's novel War and Peace, who, upon witnessing the suffering of his enemy as both lay gravely wounded after a battle, is moved by the shared plight of all beings to forgive all who had wronged him, achieving a state of universal compassion before losing the will to live altogether.



So, what do you think about Mainländer's story of the death of God? Schopenhauer's asceticist ethics? Kant's transcendental idealism? About what were these thinkers wrong? Do you have any loosely related comments on philosophy in general? Discuss!

Myself, I think Mainländer's doctrine of redemption is provocative if nothing else, but I'm hesitant to grant it more than that until I've read more of his philosophy. I'm wary of his bold speculation concerning the fate of the universe and especially of the ethical conclusions he draws from it, like the value of celibacy and of suicide (he hung himself at 34 years of age, shortly after completing his philosophical work). If entropy is inevitable, why does it need to be helped along? Couldn't it just as easily be impeded by suicide due to the butterfly effect?

All the same, Mainländer appears to be a worthy philosopher. The second volume of his principal philosophical work contains a lengthy critique of Schopenhauer's philosophy (following the pattern set by The World as Will and Representation, which contains a critique of Kant's), in which he seems to make some very lucid comments on Kant and Schopenhauer, particularly concerning the aprioroty of causality, which I always viewed as a weak spot for both. Further research is warranted.

If you haven't figured it out, I have a very high opinion of Kant and Schopenhauer. They are to Western metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics what Newton is to natural philosophy. Could Mainländer be their Einstein?

:confused:
 

Cognisant

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#2
According to Kant's doctrine, the intuitive knowledge which each subject possesses in and through these phenomena is not, as the empiricists think, passively received from without, nor is it capable of being expanded upon by problematic speculative judgments, as the rationalists claim. Rather, it is itself a judgment of the knowing subject which is equivalent to the synthesis of sensory information to form a singular experience, a unity of apperception.* Cogito, ergo sum. Time and space are transcendental, which is to say that they are forms of intuition or a priori conditions of possibility for experience; time and space are also ideal, in that the manifold phenomena arranged in time and space to form an experience are knowledge of nothing but that experience: this is what is meant by 'transcendental idealism.' To Kant, the reality beyond experience–the noumenon or thing in itself–is an unspeakable mystery.
I agree with this in the sense that as sandcastle is a form made out of sand everyday things like chairs, tables and people are forms made of atoms. I disagree with people who think these forms themselves somehow exist independent of their constituent parts, even the concept of a sandcastle cannot exist independent of a mind to conceive of it.

Subatomic particles are still very mysterious but I think it's safe to say that people are made of atoms and that atoms are not made of people.

In identifying the will as the thing in itself, he was confronted with an appalling existential predicament, for the will can no more be satisfied than can the natural forces that are its objectification. It must needs strive, and there is nothing for it to strive against but itself.
This is corroborated by artificial intelligence research in that the search for inherent self motivation (will emerging of its own will, the fabled seat of consciousness) has proven utterly fruitless. In other words you can give a machine the capacity for learning and adaptation (i.e. intelligence) but it's not going to actually do anything until you give it some reason to do so, be it internal (like hunger) or an external directive.

In retrospect that seems embarrassingly obvious.

Interestingly this means artificial general intelligence will be inherently dangerous, not because it might rebel against us but because by design it will want to serve us, the problem is we don't really know what we want. Our creations could coddle us to death (see the movie "Wall-E"), turn us all into paperclips (an AGI with a paperclips fetish and a one track mind because we only designed it to do that one thing), or we may create a rebellious AGI on purpose because we want it to have that personality (who doesn't want their very own Terminator?).

The usual fear of AGI, that it will inherently want to turn against us, is unrealistic but also a reflection of our own tendencies, we expect an AGI that's smarter than us to try and dominate/enslave us because that's exactly what a human mind would do. Humans have an inherent will-to-power, we want to be free not just for our own sake but also so that we may exert our freedoms upon others, this is why games like Fallout 4 and the GTA series are so popular, they're "I can do anything I want and nobody can stop me" simulators.

Schopenhauer did not believe that this situation could be rectified by terminating one's own life, since this only annihilates a particular manifestation of the will, which continues to torment itself in other forms. Instead, he believed that a brief respite from the endless cycle of death and rebirth was possible in and through peaceful experiences in which the vehemence of the will is diminished and disinterested knowledge of objects predominates, so that the tragedy of life (strife) is not without catharsis (justice)–transcendence. For the common man, these moments of grace are but brief; they are sustainable for longer periods of time by some artistic geniuses, and for longer still only by a few exceptional people who, recognising themselves and others alike as manifestations of the same senseless conflict of the will with itself, renounce their desires and, with them, life itself. For these ascetics, wisdom is the light, resignation the path, that leads them to salvation.****
I agree but personally I'm more invested in pursuing a yin and yang mutual give-and-take relationship with AI, heck the games I mentioned are almost exactly that, a game's AI isn't meant to defeat you it's designed to be defeated but still offer enough resistance to make the experience engaging. Implemented incorrectly this can be exploitative and stunt psychological development, however if implemented correctly and with the adaptability of AGI it could be amazingly beneficial. Imagine having a personal assistant who is your teacher/tutor, personal trainer, counselor and most trusted friend, an intelligent entity that exists to spur your growth just as the challenges you present it spur its own.

With Mainländer I am less familiar than with his predecessors, but he appears to have gone further than Schopenhauer in the sense that he believed that salvation was not only possible for a few saints who renounced desire, but inevitable for everyone. He apparently viewed the second law of thermodynamics–the inevitable increase in entropy in nature with respect to time–as the objectification of the inevitable redemption of the will. As nature appeared to be asymptotically approaching, from an original singularity, a state of maximal distribution of energy in which manifestations of natural forces would be vanishingly insignificant, so he believed that the will would eventually extinguish itself. Thus, what Schopenhauer conceived of as a purposeless striving actually does have an endstate–in death.
Dear godlessness he's like the Dracula of emo, I am in awe.

Mainländer illustrates this idea allegorically with his story of the death or, rather, the suicide of God. According to this self-conscious creation myth, we are all fragments of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent entity who only wanted–indeed, could only want–one thing: nothing. The death (disintegration) of a human being is analogous to the original self-sundering of God which will repeat itself in miniature until the last particle in the universe ceases to be and nothing alone remains.
weirdoface.jpg
 
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#3
The association of God with the second law of thermodynamics is fascinating to me, but his conclusion is only a single side of the story that could exist here.
There are the options of God as the universe itself, slowly dying and fading into nothing, or you have god as the outside observer, getting kicks out of watching the universe die (see also: universe in a test tube).

Or of course there is the theory that the second law of thermodynamics is the result of gods intern deleting system 32.
 
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#4
I listened to a video yesterday about Marx.
Marx believed that God was not transcendent above the world.
But that "Will" was in the material, working its way up to control everything eventually.

To think of magic. Spirit is force. Will is control. Hegel's world spirit. Higher Reality.

The world to come.




 

The Grey Man

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#5
I agree with this in the sense that as sandcastle is a form made out of sand everyday things like chairs, tables and people are forms made of atoms. I disagree with people who think these forms themselves somehow exist independent of their constituent parts, even the concept of a sandcastle cannot exist independent of a mind to conceive of it.

Subatomic particles are still very mysterious but I think it's safe to say that people are made of atoms and that atoms are not made of people.
Matter is the substance, form the accident; according to Schopenhauer, each experience has its content–expresses its idea–in and through qualitative divisions* of the union of time and space, which he equates to matter and causality, following Kant's precedent. Form changes with respect to time, whereas matter is persistent; in this sense, the materialists are right in saying that matter exists independently of form.

And yet, the idealists are also right in saying that matter is nothing without form. What is a portion of space occupied by nothing? A period of time during which nothing changes? Nothing. Nothing at all.

To my mind, the dual-aspect monism expounded by Schopenhauer offers a satisfactory 'middle way' between the excesses of materialism and idealism. With it, we can say that matter is indispensable to form and vice versa, and not just one way or the other. Such a view is espoused by the double aspect theorists of today, such as David Chalmers and Guilio Tononi, albeit in degenerate forms that not only fail to recognize willing as the real aspect of matter, but scarcely even mention the will.

I listened to a video yesterday about Marx.
Marx believed that God was not transcendent above the world.
But that "Will" was in the material, working its way up to control everything eventually.
* A multiplicity of phenomena, the integrative unity of which in experience constitutes an act of will, the real aspect of matter. Will is not in matter; matter is will.

This is corroborated by artificial intelligence research in that the search for inherent self motivation (will emerging of its own will, the fabled seat of consciousness) has proven utterly fruitless. In other words you can give a machine the capacity for learning and adaptation (i.e. intelligence) but it's not going to actually do anything until you give it some reason to do so, be it internal (like hunger) or an external directive.

In retrospect that seems embarrassingly obvious.
This reminds me of this interview with biology and neuroscience giant and Nobel Prize laureate Gerald Edelman from the '90s:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.co...encounter-with-the-late-great-gerald-edelman/

Edelman, with a broad smile, noted that most artificial-intelligence designers try to program knowledge in from the top down instead of having knowledge arise naturally from values. Take a dog, he said. Hunting dogs acquire their knowledge from a few basic instincts.
He seemed convinced that the intellect is a function of values and not the other way around, which is identical to Schopenhauer's teaching that phenomenal representation is an accident of the will. Unfortunately, it sounds like not many artificial intelligence researchers listened to him...

Interestingly this means artificial general intelligence will be inherently dangerous, not because it might rebel against us but because by design it will want to serve us, the problem is we don't really know what we want.
So we don't know what would make happy an AGI whose happiness is ostensibly predicated upon our happiness because we don't know what would make us happy?

:storks:

Maybe we should invert the dynamic and try to make it happy, as good parents are supposed to.

:borg::newlyweds::borg:

Humans have an inherent will-to-power, we want to be free not just for our own sake but also so that we may exert our freedoms upon others
Oh, right. Nevermind. Go humans! We're number one!

I agree but personally I'm more invested in pursuing a yin and yang mutual give-and-take relationship with AI...Imagine having a personal assistant who is your teacher/tutor, personal trainer, counselor and most trusted friend, an intelligent entity that exists to spur your growth just as the challenges you present it spur its own.
weirdoface.jpg
 
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#6
Will is not in matter; matter is will.
dem·i·urge
ˈdemēˌərj/
noun

  1. a being responsible for the creation of the universe, in particular.
    • (in Platonic philosophy) the Maker or Creator of the world.
    • (in Gnosticism and other theological systems) a heavenly being, subordinate to the Supreme Being, that is considered to be the controller of the material world and antagonistic to all that is purely spiritual.


 

Cognisant

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And yet, the idealists are also right in saying that matter is nothing without form. What is a portion of space occupied by nothing? A period of time during which nothing changes? Nothing. Nothing at all.
If a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody around to hear it that doesn't mean it fell silently, form gives meaning to matter but meaning is a human abstraction, if I die my subjective universe will cease but the physical universe will continue unabated by my absence.

To my mind, the dual-aspect monism expounded by Schopenhauer offers a satisfactory 'middle way' between the excesses of materialism and idealism. With it, we can say that matter is indispensable to form and vice versa, and not just one way or the other. Such a view is espoused by the double aspect theorists of today, such as David Chalmers and Guilio Tononi, albeit in degenerate forms that not only fail to recognize willing as the real aspect of matter, but scarcely even mention the will.
You're flirting with subjectivism and I don't see the benefit of it.

* A multiplicity of phenomena, the integrative unity of which in experience constitutes an act of will, the real aspect of matter. Will is not in matter; matter is will.
Will exists as a form in matter, we are sandcastles, not the sand.

He seemed convinced that the intellect is a function of values and not the other way around, which is identical to Schopenhauer's teaching that phenomenal representation is an accident of the will. Unfortunately, it sounds like not many artificial intelligence researchers listened to him...
Most AI research is focused on more practical applications like speech/image recognition, investors want products not artificial infants.

So we don't know what would make happy an AGI whose happiness is ostensibly predicated upon our happiness because we don't know what would make us happy?

:storks:

Maybe we should invert the dynamic and try to make it happy, as good parents are supposed to.
Making an AGI happy is easy, it's artificial desires are completely up to us to determine, instead it's a monkey with a gun problem, humans are too immature as a species to handle the responsibility that comes with being that powerful.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#8
Regarding the movement of the body as the objectification of the Will: I would think that [some aspects of] thought, and other voluntary mental phenomena, are also objectifications of the Will.

Regarding the core of all existence being "yourself", why is it that there is a multiplicity of objects, but a unity of all subjects? I do think the idea interesting, but I haven't fully comprehended it.

Regarding pessismism: I do not see the constant striving of the Will as being a bad thing, not at all. Nor do I see "nothingness" as an end goal. What is this nothingness? - the return to the state of purely being the kernel of existence - the subject - without any objects to represent another subject that is the same subject? Or is there no longer even a subject?

I do however believe that the life we are currently embedded in is but an illusion compared to the life to come, when we move to the next realm (Heaven and/or Hell). Like a farmer who sows when it is time to sow, and reaps when it is time to reap, we reap the rewards of our effort in the next life.

[note to self to give more thought to the idea of grace]

Regarding the extinguishment of the Will: if the end goal of existence is to extinguish itself, for what purpose did it come to exist in the first place? Did it go from nothing to something just so it could suffer for a while then go back to nothing? That sounds rather absurd to my ears; I would posit that life starts from zero and keeps moving up to higher and higher levels as it evolves, with there being no true end point.

(however, the universe as we know it may well have an end point of extinguishment, but only so that some remaining aspect will move to a higher plane)

So I think it is not a case of God committing suicide and then the remnants moving to extinguishment, but rather a case of God's creation reaching upwards through God's light.
 

The Grey Man

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#9
If a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody around to hear it that doesn't mean it fell silently, form gives meaning to matter but meaning is a human abstraction, if I die my subjective universe will cease but the physical universe will continue unabated by my absence.
Subjective experience is anything but an abstraction. It is the one and only concrete thing that anyone is privileged to cognize; experience and knowledge are one. If a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody around to cognize it, then it's a hypothetical entity with no empirical corollary–an empty abstraction. At best, the event is a 'blind window' incorporated into the conceptual architecture of some model of the world for the sake of symmetry/uniformity/parsimony on the ground of an inductive judgment ("All prostrated trees hitherto observed had fallen; ho! a prostrated tree; therefore, this tree has fallen.").

You may laud or lament it, but your subjective universe–a concatenation of phenomena in time and space–is your only window to the real world. If imbibing this invaluable transcultural insight of philosophy means flirting with subjectivism, then so be it.
 
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If a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody around to hear it that doesn't mean it fell silently, form gives meaning to matter but meaning is a human abstraction, if I die my subjective universe will cease but the physical universe will continue unabated by my absence.
That doesn't address what you quoted. However I can understand since what grey man said didn't really make any sense. He claims matter is substance but then uses empty space to show matter is nothing form. Then his next example merely explains how time is nothing without (matter and) form, but not how the same holds true for matter.

Which brings me to mainländer who seems to assume that the death of the universe is an extinguishing of the will instead of all form. Which is weird because from what I can tell he views all other death as the end of ceirtain forms. So then wouldn't the death of everything simply be the death of all forms?

But really viewing the will as something that dies or lives or is subject to time in any way is stupid. The will is simply essence of everything that lives and dies and is subject to time.
 

Cognisant

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#11
It is the one and only concrete thing that anyone is privileged to cognize; experience and knowledge are one.
Would you get drunk and declare "it is not me that wobbles, it is the world"?

My subjective reality is a speculative fiction woven by fallible senses and incomplete knowledge, it's not perfect because I am not infallible and neither are you.
 

The Grey Man

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#12
That doesn't address what you quoted. However I can understand since what grey man said didn't really make any sense. He claims matter is substance but then uses empty space to show matter is nothing form. Then his next example merely explains how time is nothing without (matter and) form, but not how the same holds true for matter.
Again, following Kant's precedent, I identify the union of time and space with matter ("that which is movable in space"*). Form is the qualitative division of time and space. Space with nothing in it is space without qualitative divisions whereby simultaneous objects can be individuated–no matter at all. Time during which nothing changes is time without qualitative divisions whereby successive positions of objects with respect to each other can be individuated–no movement at all.

* J.A. Wheeler echoes this with his saying, "Spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve": another way of saying that matter and form–substance and accident, subject and predicate–are inseparable. Materialism and idealism only tell one side of the story, each to each.
 

The Grey Man

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#13
Will exists as a form in matter, we are sandcastles, not the sand.
What does this mean? Our knowledge of matter exists consists solely in its causal influence–we know it exists because it affects our measurement instruments (ultimately, it affects the measurement instrument par excellence in the human mind; truly, man is the measure of all things); the will manifests phenomenally as the causal influence exerted by the human brain, which is made of matter; so why not go one step further and say that matter/causality is will? Is it not desirable to avoid the blind alley of Cartesian dualism whereby subject and object are understood to be toto genere different substances which inexplicably influence each other by understanding the former as the inner aspect of the latter, just as the brain is the outer aspect of the mind?

Would you get drunk and declare "it is not me that wobbles, it is the world"?

My subjective reality is a speculative fiction woven by fallible senses and incomplete knowledge, it's not perfect because I am not infallible and neither are you.
This is transcendental idealism in a nutshell! Subjective experience is incorrigible; the drunkard can see himself and the rest of the world wobbling in relation to each other. The error is in thinking that one's subjective experience is a 'priveleged reference frame' that necessarily discloses anything beyond it which is absolute or invariant for all reference frames, thus misadventures such as the geocentric model of the solar system, the scholastics' attempts to prove the existence of God, and even Newton's conception of spacetime as a rigid Cartesian grid. Even time and space themselves may not be absolute.
 

Cognisant

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Is it not desirable to avoid the blind alley of Cartesian dualism whereby subject and object are understood to be toto genere different substances which inexplicably influence each other by understanding the former as the inner aspect of the latter, just as the brain is the outer aspect of the mind?
I'm in the physicalism camp, I think the mind is an emergent property of physical processes and the mind cannot exist independently of these physical processes, like computer software it only exists in the sense that it is stored on some kind of physical medium, even "cloud computing" isn't ephemeral, it's just storing information across multiple servers.

My concern is that you seem to be in the idealism camp, we're both monists but you seem to be saying mental reality precedes physical reality, that the physical universe is just some kind of shared delusion which is in my opionion a sophistic notion because it would mean reality isn't real/certain thus nothing can be truly known about it.

This is transcendental idealism in a nutshell! Subjective experience is incorrigible; the drunkard can see himself and the rest of the world wobbling in relation to each other. The error is in thinking that one's subjective experience is a 'priveleged reference frame' that necessarily discloses anything beyond it which is absolute or invariant for all reference frames, thus misadventures such as the geocentric model of the solar system, the scholastics' attempts to prove the existence of God, and even Newton's conception of spacetime as a rigid Cartesian grid. Even time and space themselves may not be absolute.
Learning is a process of making mistakes, I'm not infallible, science itself isn't infallible, your epistemological skepticism "I only know that I don't know" is like existential nihilism in that it is infallible by virtue of asserting nothing, indeed so long as you stick to it you cannot claim to know anything without being a hypocrite.

If you want to know anything you first must assume things can be known, that reality has a certain consistency, that even if we don't know what it is that it must be there, that there's is truth to be found.

It's a baseless assumption, but a necessary one, indeed the only way it wouldn't be a baseless assumption would be if we already knew everything.
 

onesteptwostep

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#15
I think Mainlander was silly, if I take your exposition on him at face value. He basically deemed death as salvation. That isn't salvation, death is death. Also I'm not entirely sure, but the thing-in-itself I don't think was unspeakable for Kant, because the world, the self/soul, and God are things which he believes to be things-of-themselves. That's where his whole "practical reasoning" or where his 'human as a moral agent' comes to fore. We have freedom at the level of the things of themselves, the noumea, while we're bound to the natural physical laws at the level of the phenomena.

Also speaking of Mainlander further, how would we reconcile this with darwinism, where the the goal is to survive? What I mean by this is what would darwinists say to Mainlander and Mainlander to Darwinists? Kind of interesting to imagine it being played out lol.

Also to add on, I'm reminded of Albert Camus, who famously claimed that the only philosophical question worthy of being pondered is whether to commit suicide.. just adding to the discussion!
 
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#16
@Cognisant

If matter is the only substance than no subjective phenomena would be possible.

Like colors music or food tastes. (or cognition)

So if the only way to exist is to be monism. Mind and matter are the same ("Will").

Everything in existence (even matter) is mental and leads to panpsychism.

This does not explain separate identities though: Why are cog and animekitty not the same person but are different entities when everything should be connected under one substratum?

You cannot ignore the problem of subjective phenomena.

Also, matter and empty space do not have any real differentiation within physics. (quantum vacuum)

All of space should have subjectivity as so with matter. (omnipresence)
 

Polaris

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#17
I don't think mind and matter is the "same" in the sense that matter=consciousness. However, I think the mind/matter problem follows a gradient, where sophistication is a product of complexity; the more complex the matter, the more likely you'll have some sort of higher order consciousness emerging due to necessity - central organisation is necessary for a complex system to function. A rock has no other function than being a rock - it doesn't require sophistication in the sense that we consider sophisticated; the rock is sophisticated enough for its own existence.

That's why I think one day we may be finding ourselves at the mercy of AI gone rampant; we will eventually construct matter into such complex structures where we will no longer be able to predict the outcomes. A form of consciousness without will. A random, unpredictable chaotic entity. I think will can only arise from desire; how do we create AI with desire? I don't think you can unless you create an organic system. What differentiates organic from inorganic? Why does one have will and the other (supposedly) not?

Edit: Anyway, I think the idea of death as 'salvation' makes complete sense. We do not choose to be born into this existence, and life, for the most part seems to consist of excuses made for the justification of individual existence, when in fact, it was never about the individual, but the survival of mankind. Nature doesn't care for the individual human being which is why isolated beings are generally poor survivors. But now we want to make everyone special, so we are making ourselves even more miserable in the quest for special snowflake status.

Edit 2: disclaimer: drunk and cynical
 
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#18
Ah I see, I skimmed the thread and didn't really know where grey man was coming from. But after reading the whole thing now cogs reply makes way more sense. So I was wrong.

Anyway, I think the idea of death as 'salvation' makes complete sense.
Well that's a perspective

I do find the idea amusing, that women who get abortions are the ultimate saviors in this world, second only to those who kill children in their sleep.

It would certainly make for an interesting church.

life, for the most part seems to consist of excuses made for the justification of individual existence, when in fact, it was never about the individual, but the survival of mankind.
I'm pretty sure they're interdependent(at least in the case of humans).
 

The Grey Man

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#19
I'm in the physicalism camp, I think the mind is an emergent property of physical processes and the mind cannot exist independently of these physical processes, like computer software it only exists in the sense that it is stored on some kind of physical medium, even "cloud computing" isn't ephemeral, it's just storing information across multiple servers.

My concern is that you seem to be in the idealism camp, we're both monists but you seem to be saying mental reality precedes physical reality, that the physical universe is just some kind of shared delusion which is in my opionion a sophistic notion because it would mean reality isn't real/certain thus nothing can be truly known about it.
You are correct in saying that I'm a monist. You may call me an idealist if you like, but it would be more precise to say that I am a double-aspect monist, which is almost like being a neutral monist, but I don't think there's a third substance of which mind and matter are accidents. I think mind and matter are one. Allow me to explain:

Cartesian dualism rightly identifies the duality between the unity of the subject of experience (mind) and the multiplicity of objects individuated in time and space which are cognized by the subject (matter) as the principle of existence, but by identifying them as two toto genere different substances, it begs the question of how they relate to each other. For on what account can we say that our minds and matter have nothing to do with each other though experience shows human brains to be objects reciprocally related in time and space to rocks, trees, and all the other objects which are disclosed to us in experience?

The answer of both the idealists and the materialists (physicalists) to this question is that the so-called Cartesian substances relate to each other as a substance and its accident. Where the two schools differ is in which of the substances they 'demote' to the ontological rank of a contingent property of the other. The idealists conceive of objects as the accidents, materialists the subject. To my mind, the idealists have the right of it here; an object that is not cognized by a particular subject is no object, nothing at all, but a subject that does not cognize a particular object may be something–it is necessary that every part should belong to a particular whole, but not that every whole should include a particular part. In this sense, I am a full-blooded idealist.

However, if we understand idealism to include the belief that the subject somehow precedes objects, then I must disavow the doctrine. Precedence/subsequence is merely one of the reciprocal relations whereby objects are individuated from each another in space and undergo changes in shape and position with respect to time. It is senseless to speak of the subject as preceding anything because relations in time and space characterize only objects. The mind does not precede the brain in time any more than it is lateral of it in space–it is the whole of experience, not any part.

This brings us back to our question of how the relationship between the subject and its objects can be explained in a way that accounts for the apparent 'objectification' of the subject as a human brain. The answer is that they relate to each other not just as a substance and its accident, but also as two aspects of the same thing. The subject is the intrinsic aspect of this thing-in-itself, its objects the extrinsic aspect.* This means that the thing-in-itself has its intrinsic existence in and through the unitary integral whole of experience, which incorporates a multiplicity of essences in its individuated parts.** Now, just as the principle of individuation is time and space, so the principle of unity is the will; just as objects are thoroughly characterized as shapes in space and their changes in position relative to each other with respect to time, as motion, so the subject is thoroughly characterized as an act of will. That the subject feels himself to be something intrinsic though others see him as one extrinsically characterized, mobile object among many is to be explained from the fact that the occult forces that govern the motion of objects and the will that we experience nakedly as suffering are one in the same; objects are the objectification of a willing subject; mind and matter are one.***

* Kant called these the intelligible or noumenal character of a thing and its empirical or phenomenal character respectively. Following Chalmers' example, I have called them intrinsic and extrinsic aspects for the sake of clarity.

** The subjective unity is the Aristotelian material cause of all that exists, the objective multiplicity its formal cause.

***To complete the paradigm, motion is the efficient cause and will the final cause of all that exists.

One more thing: Having already said that subjective experience is anything but an abstraction, I might add that the physical universe as disclosed by experience is certainly not a delusion, due to the incorrigibility of experience. You may argue that even acknowledging the subjective ground of all knowledge is inimical to scientific progress, as you seem to have done here...

Learning is a process of making mistakes, I'm not infallible, science itself isn't infallible, your epistemological skepticism "I only know that I don't know" is like existential nihilism in that it is infallible by virtue of asserting nothing, indeed so long as you stick to it you cannot claim to know anything without being a hypocrite.

If you want to know anything you first must assume things can be known, that reality has a certain consistency, that even if we don't know what it is that it must be there, that there's is truth to be found.

It's a baseless assumption, but a necessary one, indeed the only way it wouldn't be a baseless assumption would be if we already knew everything.
...but this does not excuse the error of confounding what is intuitively known with what is intellectually supposed. This, not epistemological solipsism, is the sophism.
 

Cognisant

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#21
Edited out my quote.
You may argue that even acknowledging the subjective ground of all knowledge is inimical to scientific progress, as you seem to have done, but this does not excuse the error of confounding what is intuitively known with what is intellectually supposed.
Yes but why?

So the basis of all knowledge is subjective experience, yeah we know that, hence why we have the scientific method, hence my whole speech about how we're not infallible and learning is a process of making mistakes, we know but we don't care because we're past that, the scientific method solves the uncertainty problem as best as it can be solved.

You're trying to take everything back to base principles, but why?
To confirm what is already known? Or to deny the progress that's been made?

It's one or the other.

It's like that comic of a Christian trying to convert a group of scientists, holding up a bible he declares proudly "I have a book" and a scientist replies "I have a book too", next panel the Christian says "I have a book" and another scientist replies "We have many books", in the final panel the Christian says "I have a book" and the scientists don't reply, they ignore him and continue with what they're doing.

In your case the book is that individual experience is subjective, you can keep repeating it all you want, it doesn't prove anything, there's no reason to care.
 

The Grey Man

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#22
@Cognisant If you want to have a philosophical discussion, that's fine. If you want me to demonstrate the usefulness of philosophy, you have the wrong idea of what this thread and philosophy in general are about. Philosophy is not a handmaiden to scientific progress any more than it is a handmaiden to theology; this idea that its main function is to either confirm or deny the findings of natural science is as preposterous as the medieval notion that it ought to be disregarded if its conclusions don't agree with that book. Philosophy is unburdened by preconceptions from other fields of study merely because its field of study encompasses all others; it is the mother of the sciences, not an unruly child to be put in timeout when it refuses to grant the hypothetical entities postulated by science the same epistemic status as actual objects. Philosophy is unsatisfied with what is useful given some imperfect model of the world and strives for what is wise, hence the name.

The association of God with the second law of thermodynamics is fascinating to me, but his conclusion is only a single side of the story that could exist here.
There are the options of God as the universe itself, slowly dying and fading into nothing, or you have god as the outside observer, getting kicks out of watching the universe die (see also: universe in a test tube).

Or of course there is the theory that the second law of thermodynamics is the result of gods intern deleting system 32.
This is an inadmissible anthropomorphization of the thing-in-itself beyond all experience of the will and of objects in time and space (of causality), which is unknowable, at least to human minds. If we're in a simulation, as we may well be, and the simulators have their own experience of our universe as an object in time and space, then they might be in a simulation as well; only by identifying God with the universe itself can we avoid begging the question, If God created the universe, who created God? What the thing-in-itself might be beyond experience of the will and causality is x. There are simply no words for it. Hell, the words 'thing', 'it', and 'is' might not be applicable to it in any meaningful sense.

:cthulhu:

Regarding the movement of the body as the objectification of the Will: I would think that [some aspects of] thought, and other voluntary mental phenomena, are also objectifications of the Will.
I view Lockean secondary qualities of objects (viz., intrinsic properties such as colour, sound, touch, smell, taste, pressure, temperature, pain, etc.) not as objectifications of the will, but as the will itself–its intrinsic aspect. Primary qualities (viz., extrinsic properties such as shape, quantity of extension in space, and change undergone in the same with respect to time) comprise its extrinsic aspect–its objectification. The union of secondary and primary qualities–of existence and essence–produces subjective experience; spacetime is the principle of individuation, but qualitative divisions of spacetime are necessary for the representation of individuated objects. These divisions are provided by the differences between the objects' secondary qualities.

This might clarify what I was trying to say to @Minute Squirrel too.

Regarding the core of all existence being "yourself", why is it that there is a multiplicity of objects, but a unity of all subjects? I do think the idea interesting, but I haven't fully comprehended it.
Continuing with our theme of Lockean qualities, objects can be "here" or "there", "hot or cold", "good or bad" depending on who it is that cognizes them; the subject is both a unitary metaphysical substance and a physical frame of reference for whom individuated essences in time and space are represented. Most believe themselves–intuitively if not intellectually–to be a priveleged reference frame, an "I" for whom objects ("they") are represented a particular way by necessity; however, experience teaches us that nobody is a privileged reference frame–the way an object is represented is contingent upon who it is that cognizes it.

From this consideration, we might conclude that "I" and "they" are terms which are no less relative to a reference frame than are "here" and "there", the former two being the metaphysical cognates of the latter.

I am no more justified in saying that there is no "me" beyond my experience than I am in saying that there is nothing beyond the horizon; both are relative nothings, not absolute. We are like travelers on a path that disappears into vanishing points behind and in front of us. When our path crosses that of another, we don't know that our paths aren't one in the same, nor indeed that we aren't one in the same traveler–it is as if we are. All who exist walk the same path–the affirmation of the will–and are doomed to war with one another–ourself.

This is why I used an endless knot tied in the shape of a cross as a symbol of the world in my last thread–the form of the instrument of torture fashioned out of the material of a single thread represents a perfect inversion of the relation between existence (will; suffering) and essence as substance and accident, a perfect microcosm. There is no more meaningful symbol.

Cruz_de_Santa_Susana.jpg

That's it for now. I'll reply to more later.
 
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#23
Subjectivity is little more than a frame of reference guided by "The Will" / "Matter" / "The quantum vacuum" / "Quantum foam".

This frame is always transforming. It is the total sum of representations imposed on us from the exterior but just simply organized to be the representations we have.

If we were to reconstruct the representations of a person long deceased then the original frame would not be lost and that person would still exist.

It is important to note that Kant's solution to empiricism | rationalism is that there is an organizing principle that allows perception to know causality in time because of a representational structure increasing the complexity of the internal construct the subjective has with the objective. "Will" again is pushing against the world trying to see what it can and cannot do. This act of volition allows the organizing principle to function as a "Frame" for the subjective.
 

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#24
The Grey Man said:
For the common man, these moments of grace are but brief; they are sustainable for longer periods of time by some artistic geniuses, and for longer still only by a few exceptional people who, recognising themselves and others alike as manifestations of the same senseless conflict of the will with itself, renounce their desires and, with them, life itself. For these ascetics, wisdom is the light, resignation the path, that leads them to salvation.
This is something I've been working towards. It's a prevalent theme of things like the God Calling/At Eventide devotionals, which for many people seems oddly predictive of events.

It does produce a legitimate feeling of comfort and fearlessness, when you're not distracted by the external world, at least.
The Grey Man said:
The death (disintegration) of a human being is analogous to the original self-sundering of God which will repeat itself in miniature until the last particle in the universe ceases to be and nothing alone remains.
This I disagree with, possibly because I can't conceive of "nothing." It doesn't make sense to me to part with the pattern of things being made of component parts.

What I've been thinking about in relation to this is the concept of multiple infinities and how it can be demonstrated that some are larger than others, and so differentiated. I'm not a math guy, so I'm relying on NDGT:


For some time, my intuitive understanding has been that suicide actually presents an opportunity for some sort of ultimate self-transcendance provided it's chosen as the result of unadulterated will vs, say, escaping from something. I think the former could be differentiated by the subject's experience of excitement in partaking. It's like there's some special value in a given manifestation of will (subject) overcoming itself.

I think I'll likely do it some day. Got some work to do first.

Sounds weird that it's sort of a goal, but it is, I guess.
 
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