Rasputin wrote: ↑
Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:03 pm
PeteJ wrote: ↑
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:47 am
I never understand why scientific-thinkers so often believe that the idea of consciousness being primary is unscientific. On what grounds?
I think science is really a method, and that if you are going to use it to full effect you have to leave your preconceptions at the door. In principle it does not commit you to any particular view about what (if anything) fundamentally exists, and what is just a combination of more basic things. Still, the idea that entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity seems to me to be bound up with the scientific method.
If it turns out that consciousness can be explained in terms of particles and forces (or whatever the basic phenomena of physics are these days),
This is not true. The issue is not even debatable. Nobody knows that consciousness can be explained in this way and nobody has ever done it.This is the leap of faith that I cannot understand and that is not in any sense 'scientific'. It is a conjecture, and the unfalsifiability of solispsim means it will always remain one. It is not an empirically testable claim. I'd be interested to know why you believe it is true.
whereas particles and forces cannot be explained in terms of consciousness, then I think it is possible to say that the view that consciousness is primary is unscientific. If it could be a derived phenomenon, then regarding it as primary is multiplying entities beyond necessity.
I'm saying there are no entities and you won't come up with an idea more parsimonious than this. Who said particles and forces cannot be explained in terms of consciousness? Many physicists (Bohr, Eddington, Schrodinger, Weyl...) do not share your view. Indeed, it was QM that led them to their opposing view. I would say that 'entities' will never be explained in terms of matter because matter is inexplicable as more than a product of consciousness (an argument Kant makes pretty well).
I think it has been argued that consciousness is reducible to physical phenomena, but I'm not sure any scientist has considered the converse question of whether physical phenomena can be reduced to consciousness.
Many scientists do this, and it is becoming a more popular view. For instance, Ulrich Mohrhoff has written a text book for students explaining the maths of QM in which consciousness is primary. It is called The World according to Quantum Mechanics: Why the Laws of Physics make Sense after all'
. There is a book by Ken Wilber called Quantum Questions
that collects together the views of some of the quantum pioneers on this matter. and they are opposed to yours.
I suspect that it may be an unscientific hypothesis in that it is not testable.
But it is testable. It is just that it not empirically testable. It is testable by a study of consciousness.
Your last paragraph is wrong for this reason. The idea of testability is crucial to both science and mysticism but the latter does not rely on sensory empiricism. We cannot find the source of matter by studying matter, it appears to appear out of Nothing like a rabbit from a hat, but we can see the source of matter and consciousness by studying consciousness. You seem to forget that, say, pain is not an empirical phenomenon. If I say I am in pain you don't complain that this is not a scientific theory. It's not a theory but a fact, but only I can know it. Yoga is called a Divine Science because it requires us to abandon speculation and go look at the facts. This is not usually well understood by its critics.
I think you underestimate the opposition and the strength of its method and explanatory theory. The perennial philosophy is perennial for a reason, this being that it cannot be falsified. Whatever the truth there is no possibility of anyone proving that consciousness is not prior to matter and space-time. Meanwhile those who oppose this view are stuck with the 'hard' problem of consciousness and a long list of other intractable metaphysical questions.
My theory explains metaphysics and yours cannot do this, so although you are free to be sceptical there is some evidence that one theory is more plausible than the other and a lot more useful.
Our disagreement seems to be over testability. Is this right? You say we must rely on our physical senses and cannot admit any other evidence, while philosophers say that our physical senses cannot even establish the existence of space-time or matter and that we must look for more certain ways of establishing the facts. The scientific method as strict empiricists define it is not able to test the theory that there is such a thing as consciousness, so of course they will not be able to deal with it as a scientific problem. But the idea that we must rely only on our physical senses to test theories is unnecessary and rules out any scientific study of consciousness.
Pardon all the words. Don't feel obliged to match my verbosity. If I seem a bit pushy apologies, but I've been arguing this stuff for years and don't see it as a matter of opinion.