A concise summary of the materialist understanding of the human mind

Kristor writes:

I have been reading the sites of science fiction writers Mike Flynn and John C. Wright, both Christians, both deeply interested in the same nexus of issues that have engaged VFR. I just cribbed this from Flynn:

1. The universe is matter without any intrinsic meaning.

2. The human mind is simply an attribute of matter.

3. The human mind creates meaning.

How anyone can believe all three is a puzzlement. If the mind is an attribute of a wad of gray matter packed in a bone box, then it is part of the universe. If the universe is meaningless, there is no way that a inconsequential sliver of it can create meaning.

This pretty much says it, no? I recommend these guys; very smart, good writers, very well educated.

LA replies:

This is an excellent summary and send-up of the materialist position. It also reminds me of what someone once said about liberals, that they believe that everything in the biological universe is created by Darwinian evolution and therefore is determined by the survival of the fittest and is therefore different and unequal—except for what’s inside the human skull. When it comes to what’s inside the human skull, we’re all equal.

It also reminds me of the Catholic pro-Darwinian position, that all of life evolved by random Darwinian processes, and then God added the human soul!

The common thread of the three positions, notwithstanding their mutual differences, is that they assert the existence of a material, naturalistic process that determines the entire universe, but then must make a huge exception for human consciousness and intelligence. The exception radically undermines their overall belief system about how things came into being, but they refuse to face the contradiction.

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Kristor writees:

“… they refuse to face the contradiction.” Well, not all of them. Dawkins and Dennett, for example, have the courage of their convictions: they both disbelieve in their own existence, qua conscious subjects of awareness, so that they are wholly consistent in their materialism. Oh, wait, no, that’s wrong; by their own account, since they don’t exist, they can’t do anything at all (for how can something that doesn’t exist do anything?), including believing in propositions or being consistent. So because they don’t exist, they don’t believe they don’t exist, and their materialism not only isn’t consistent, it just isn’t. This means that the dead agglomerations of dead particles we customarily call “Dennett” and “Dawkins” aren’t materialists after all!

Alan Roebuck replies:

And note that the Meaning Materialist Matter Makes is only valid for the brain that makes it. It’s purely your meaning, applying to nobody else (unless they voluntarily and arbitrarily accept your meaning.)

In other words, it’s a meaningless meaning.

Kristor replies:

But it’s far worse even than that: In a materialist’s universe, meanings never even exist to have the properties of meaningfulness or meaninglessness. When a statement is meaningless nonsense—e.g., “God is omnipotent, so He must be able to create a stone that is too heavy for Him to lift”—we say of it that it is “not even wrong.” A meaningless statement can’t have truth value. But according to consistent materialists, the category of the meaningful is utterly empty; so for them, it’s not that statements are true or false, it’s not even that statements are meaningful or nonsense, it’s that statements are not.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 26, 2009 03:13 PM | Send

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