The Argument Against Materialism

In case anyone who is interested has not understood the basic argument against materialism, let me give it in a syllogism.

My argument is that anything which cannot even theoretically under any conditions whatsoever in this universe or any other be described in literal material terms, using words that only refer to material properties, is not material.

The mind (or, for that matter, words as opposed to ink marks in the book) cannot even theoretically under any conditions whatsoever in this universe or any other be described in literal material terms, using words that only refer to material properties.

Therefore the mind is not material.

(And even if it were, since we cannot refer to it (therefore not think about it) in words except those which tacitly treat the mind as immaterial (words like “form” or “pattern” or “intent” or “meaning” or “embed” or “refer to” or “involved with” or “logic gate” or “either-or”) we would still have to talk and think about mental thinks using the categories and terms of final cause and formal cause, that is, as if it were non-material.)

That is my argument. It is in modes ponens. So far, no one has actually made an argument against it.To make an argument against it, it is not enough to state an opinion that the conclusion is false; one must challenge, that is, give evidence that the major or the minor premise is false, or, at least, not sufficiently clear as to compel belief.

All they have done is made the assertion that thoughts are material, and this is done, always and without exception, by describing thoughts in material metaphors, saying that thoughts are little balls or sparks of energy pushed by other balls or sparks of energy — and then, always, always, always, adding some word that refers to non-physical reality, like ‘symbol’ or ‘refers to’ or ’embed’ or ‘pattern’ or refers to non-physical abstractions such as logical or mathematical objects.

I’ve been arguing this for years, decades, and I have yet to hear an argument which does not rest on a subtly or transparently ambiguous definition conflating mental and physical properties, such as using the word “brain” to refer both to the mind and the brain, or using the word “word” to refer both to the ink marks on the page (the physical aspect of the word) and to the meaning of the word (the mental aspect).

 

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