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Ian Wardell
I've been interested in the ultimate questions of life ever since a child.
I've been interested in the ultimate questions of life ever since a child.

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Ian Wardell commented on a post on Blogger.
"I've only seen one real attempt to raise a coherent argument against Cox".

First of all it doesn't matter what scientific laws suggest.  The LHC, Newton's laws, the laws of thermodynamics, Einstein's energy-matter equivalence etc, cannot provide evidence for that which is CONCEPTUALLY INCOHERENT.

Consciousness is necessarily causally efficacious.  Otherwise thinking something through, and reaching an understanding, would be illusory since any conclusion at the end of a chain of reasoning would not be caused by the chain of reasoning itself, but rather by the neural correlates of the chain of reasoning.  If this is so then we can have no more reason to think that our reasoning processes will lead to true conclusions, than false conclusions.  See a blog entry by me for a more comprehensive defence of this point:

Materialists often agree with this but assert that materialism does not have this consequence.  It does not have this consequence because, so they claim, conscious experiences, such as our reasoning processes, are literally identical to physical processes in the brain. If a train of thought is literally identical to some physical processes, and these physical processes have causal powers, then it necessarily follows that the train of thought itself has causal powers too.  So we have no problem here.

I beg to differ.

Let's suppose that in the brain we have a physical causal chain:

1. A → B → C → D → E

And we have a mental chain representing a chain of reasoning:

2. a → b → c → d → e

Now, of course, the materialist claims that “A” is identical to “a”, “B” is identical to “B” etc.

But nevertheless, we have 2 different accounts of how A/a progresses to E/e.  In "1" we have the interactions of molecules as mathematically described by the laws of physics.  In "2" we have a train of reasoning which, when we attain an understanding of something, will have involved rational connections between thoughts.

Now, if materialism/physicalism is true, then everything has the ability to be explained in terms of the physical as exemplified in "1". Account "2" is simply not required, since physical laws, which describe physical processes, make no reference to reasoning, nor indeed do they make any reference to intentions, desires, plans, or any other aspect of consciousness.  Indeed, reasoning only comes into the picture for a vanishingly small part of the world; namely brain processes, and a minority of brain processes at that.  And it is held by materialists that physical laws provide a sufficient explanation for these minority of brain processes just as much as they provide a sufficient explanation for the rest of the Universe.

But it then follows that reasoning something through is causally irrelevant. Hence identifying reasoning, and the rest of our mental life, with physical processes, doesn't allow us to escape an epiphenomenalist position.  I regard this as a reductio ad absurdum of materialism.

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The advantages and disadvantages of online grocery shopping
I live in England and I buy virtually all my groceries online now from either Tesco or Asda, and on the odd occasion, Sainsbury's.  I thought I'd list the advantages and disadvantages of online grocery shopping as I perceive them. The Advantages    1. There...

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Is suffering incompatible with a higher purpose?
it's considered that suffering is incompatible with some higher purpose
to our existence, then what would the world have to be like so that it is compatible with some higher purpose? Perhaps
if no one ever experienced any pain; not just physical but m...

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Feel the rapture of being alive!
Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth said: “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t
think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking
is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the ...

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Dry January
I've just about completed "dry January", that is to not consume any alcohol in the month of January.  I've
been reading peoples' comments today regarding dry January. People
saying they regret having drunk so much the next day and looking back in

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