Mind and Cosmos

WStandard.v18-27.Mar25.Cover_ Back in the Dark Ages, a person with heretical theological beliefs would occasionally be burned at the stake. Nowadays, when a more scientific worldview has triumphed and everyone knows that God doesn’t exist, the tables have turned, and any slight deviation from scientific/naturalist/atheist/Darwinian doctrine will have you literally tied to a pole and set on fire. Fair is fair.

Or, at least, people will write book reviews and blog posts that disagree with you. But I think we all agree that’s just as bad, right?

The ominous image shown here was the cover of an issue of The Weekly Standard back in March, illustrating a piece by Andrew Ferguson. The poor heretic being burned is Thomas Nagel, philosopher at NYU and the author of Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. The crowd of sinister hooded pyrophiliacs includes–well, me, actually, as well as the other participants in our Moving Naturalism Forward workshop. As Ferguson points out, there is irrefutable video evidence that we accused people like poor Tom Nagel of being “neither cute nor clever.” Many might perceive an important distinction between saying someone is not clever and roasting them alive, but potayto, potahto, I guess.

It’s true that Nagel’s book has occasioned quite a bit of discussion, much of it negative. For a sampling from various viewpoints, see Elliott Sober, Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg, Michael Chorost, H. Allen Orr, Malcolm Nicholson, and Jerry Coyne. The reason for all the fuss is, of course, that the materialist Neo-Darwinist conception of nature is almost certainly true, so it’s worth pushing back against a respected philosopher who says otherwise.

(By the end of this overly long post I will suggest that Nagel, despite being generally way off track, nevertheless has a bit of a point that many people seem to be passing over. Much like the Insane Clown Posse in a different context.)

This week Nagel took to the NYT to publish a brief summary of his major arguments, for those who haven’t read the book. There are basically two points. The first is that the phenomenon of consciousness cannot be explained by the workings of inanimate matter alone; you need more than the laws of physics.

The physical sciences can describe organisms like ourselves as parts of the objective spatio-temporal order – our structure and behavior in space and time – but they cannot describe the subjective experiences of such organisms or how the world appears to their different particular points of view. There can be a purely physical description of the neurophysiological processes that give rise to an experience, and also of the physical behavior that is typically associated with it, but such a description, however complete, will leave out the subjective essence of the experience – how it is from the point of view of its subject — without which it would not be a conscious experience at all.

This is an old idea, and Nagel’s sympathy for it can be traced back to his influential paper “What Is It Like To Be a Bat?”. The claim is that there is something inherently subjective about the experience of consciousness, something that cannot be shared with other conscious beings nor described by physics. (Even if you know every physical fact about bats, you still don’t know what it’s like to be a bat.) This position has been developed in subtle ways by philosophers like David Chalmers. Nagel actually doesn’t spend too much time providing support for this stance, as he wants to take it as understood and move on.

The second and more important point is that, because of the first point, a purely physical view of the world is incomplete, and we have to add something to it, and that addition is going to end up being pretty dramatic. Nagel believes that an adequate explanatory framework must not merely be compatible with life and consciousness, but actually entail that these dramatic and central features of reality are “to be expected” — that there is a “propensity” in nature for them to arise. Since he doesn’t see such a propensity anywhere in physics, he thinks the conventional view by itself fails as an explanation.

[S]ince the long process of biological evolution is responsible for the existence of conscious organisms, and since a purely physical process cannot explain their existence, it follows that biological evolution must be more than just a physical process, and the theory of evolution, if it is to explain the existence of conscious life, must become more than just a physical theory.

In particular, he claims that the standard scientific picture must be augmented by a non-physical notion of teleology — directedness toward a purpose. And not just an emergent notion of purpose that might be compatible with physicalism. Nagel is thinking of something fundamental: “teleology requires that successor states . . . have a significantly higher probability than is entailed by the laws of physics alone.”

So Nagel rejects “scientific naturalism” or “reductionism” or “materialism” or “physicalism,” but also rejects theism. He wants to find a middle ground, which he labels “antireductionism”; this need not necessarily entail a rejection of naturalism, and indeed he at one point uses the phrase “teleological naturalism” in a sympathetic way. He doesn’t seem to think we need to look beyond the natural world, but we do need to look beyond the laws of physics.

In the responses to his book, much has been made of the fact that a lot of Nagel’s reasoning is not very good. He repeatedly invokes “common sense,” and puts forward the Argument From Personal Incredulity in an especially unapologetic manner:

[F]or a long time I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works… This is just the opinion of a layman who reads widely in the literature that explains contemporary science to the nonspecialist.

Given that he is admittedly not an expert in the scientific fields he is willing to label as “almost certainly false,” there must be a deep-seated reason underlying Nagel’s conviction. That reason seems to be the enormous importance he places on the “intelligibility” of nature. This is something like the Principle of Sufficient Reason (which he mentions). Nagel believes that the specific laws of nature, or even the fact that there are such laws at all, and that we can understand them, are all things that require an explanation. They cannot simply be (as others among us are happy to accept). And the only way he can see that happening is if “mind” and its appearance in the universe are taken as fundamental features of reality, not simply byproducts of physical evolution.

Try as I might, I cannot quite appreciate the appeal of this program. I could imagine that, after much effort were expended experimentally and theoretically, we might ultimately come to believe that the best explanatory framework for the appearance of consciousness in the universe involves positing mind as a separate category. What I don’t understand is the a priori-sounding argument that this would necessarily be a better explanation. If Nagel can demand an explanation for why the world is intelligible, why can’t I demand an explanation for why mind is a separate category, or why the universe has teleological tendencies? I don’t see the distinction; in either case, one must take certain facts about reality as simply given. My preference would be to minimize the weight given to our intuitive ideas about what form a proper explanation should take, and keep looking for the simplest and most powerful model that fits the data.

(This issue is related to a point that gets raised when I mention that we understand the laws of physics underlying everyday life. Inevitably someone says that we don’t really understand gravity, man. They’re not claiming that general relativity fails to provide a model that successfully fits all the known data; they’re claiming that the existence of such a model doesn’t count as “understanding.” People who deny that physics can ever account for consciousness have a similar idea; even if we had a complete theory that accounted for every possible observable action of purportedly conscious creatures, they would not be satisfied that this qualified as “understanding” or “explanation.” For me, that’s just a misunderstanding of what kinds of explanations we can legitimately hope for.)

However! Let me stake out a brave contrarian position among my anti-Nagelian friends by pointing out something important that I think he gets right. Namely, point number two above (scientific materialism is incomplete and needs to be augmented by something apart from the physical) actually does follow, under plausible assumptions, from point number one (consciousness cannot be explained in purely physical terms). Nagel is correct to have appreciated that once you say “consciousness isn’t merely physical” (or indeed once you’ve accepted the kind of strong antireductionism that is relatively popular in contemporary philosophy), the ramifications for fundamental science are profound indeed.

Except, of course, I want to use this to reach the opposite conclusion: the idea that we need something like a non-material teleological principle, a “propensity” in nature for things to develop a certain way, is so dramatically at odds with what we’ve learned about the world in the time since Galileo that it gives us good reason to deny that consciousness can’t be explained in physical terms.

Imagine what it would entail to truly believe that consciousness is not accounted for by physics. It would entail, among other things, that the behavior of ordinary matter would occasionally deviate from that expected on the basis of physics alone, even in circumstances where consciousness was not involved in any obvious way. Several billion years ago there weren’t conscious creatures here on Earth. It was just atoms and particles, bumping into each other in accordance with the rules of physics and chemistry. Except, if mind is not physical, at some point they swerved away from those laws, since remaining in accordance with them would never have created consciousness. In effect, the particles understood that sticking to their physically prescribed behaviors would never accomplish the universe’s grand plan of producing conscious life. Teleology is as good a word for that as any.

So, at what point does this deviation from purely physical behavior kick in, exactly? It’s the immortal soul vs. the Dirac equation problem–if you want to claim that what happens in our brain isn’t simply following the laws of physics, you have the duty to explain in exactly what way the electrons in our atoms fail to obey their equations of motion. Is energy conserved in your universe? Is momentum? Is quantum evolution unitary, information-preserving, reversible? Can the teleological effects on quantum field observables be encapsulated in an effective Hamiltonian?

This is not a proof that consciousness must be physical (as some folks will insist on misconstruing it), just an observation of the absolutely enormous magnitude of what the alternative implies. Physics makes unambiguous (although sometimes probabilistic) statements about what will happen in the future based on what conditions are now. You can’t simply say that physics is “incomplete,” because on their own terms physical theories are not incomplete (within their domain of applicability). Either matter obeys the laws of physics, or physics is wrong. And if you want us to take seriously the possibility that it’s wrong, you better have at least some tentative ideas about what would be a better theory.

Of course, Nagel has no such theory, which he cheerfully admits. That’s for the scientists to come up with! He’s just a philosopher, he says.

Which is why, at the end, his position isn’t very interesting. (Because he doesn’t have anything like a compelling alternative theory, not because he’s a philosopher.) He advocates overthrowing things that are precisely defined, extremely robust, and impressively well-tested (the known laws of physics, natural selection) on the basis of ideas that are rather vague and much less well-supported (a conviction that consciousness can’t be explained physically, a demand for intelligibility, moral realism). If someone puts forward even a rough sketch of how a new teleological view of reality might actually work, including how it affects the known laws of physics, that might be very interesting. I don’t think the prospects are very bright.

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95 Responses to Mind and Cosmos

  1. Charlie says:

    Consciousness is very mysterious to me, in the same way that a particle is. Trying to ask what is consciousness is much like asking what is a particle. Which is to say that it isn’t a totally futile exercise. Is a particle a particle, wave or string? This sort of thing is how our ape brains model the natural world, and is part of everyday life as well as the scientific process. But will we ever really “know what a particle is”?

    Speaking from a purely “how-I-think-the-world-should-work” point of view, I’ve always had some sympathy for the conundrum that the world could work (and things look much like they do) without “subjective experience”, so why have it? That bothered me when I was 12 and still does today. However, I’m also not happy with the idea that this stuff (consciousness) is not material. If it can affect particles, then it is physics (whether known or not). If it can’t, then the “subjective experience” is just an ineffectual passenger. The latter is both pointless as a scientific proposition and very unsatisfying to my subjective experience.

  2. Brett says:

    I remember that ICP song; mainly that we couldn’t stop laughing at how bad it was.

    I think the reference of that song with that specific line, “fu**in’ magnets, how do they work”, has a good place in this topic.

    Other than that, this seems like, what I’ll call, a Brawndo point that Thomas Nagel is making. “Brawndo’s got what plants crave. But Brawndo’s got electrolytes.” Where is the evidence for these claims?? what logical ideas lead to this? There are 3 types of philosophers in this world, those who employ logic and those who don’t..get it? no?

  3. DennisN says:

    Amazingly well-written blog post.

    “[…] if you want to claim that what happens in our brain isn’t simply following the laws of physics, you have the duty to explain in exactly what way the electrons in our atoms fail to obey their equations of motion.”

    Yes, I fully agree.

    “Either matter obeys the laws of physics, or physics is wrong. And if you want us to take seriously the possibility that it’s wrong, you better have at least some tentative ideas about what would be a better theory.”

    Yes, definitely.

    I’ve got nothing to add – you’ve said it.

  4. If I was a bat and you cut me into a billion pieces, would you as a physicist find what holds me together?

  5. NR says:

    Sean, perhaps Max is referring to Epiphenomenalism? Is that a coherent idea in your opinion?

  6. Stephen says:

    “If I was a bat and you cut me into a billion pieces, would you as a physicist find what holds me together?”
    Electromagnetic and strong nuclear forces.

    Edit: At only a billion pieces, you wouldn’t reach the nuclear level. So electromagnetism alone is sufficient.

    As I said in my previous comment, there is some experimental evidence that consciousness can influence random number generators which, if confirmed, would probably disprove Sean’s thesis.

  7. kashyap vasavada says:

    There is no denial that physics has been able to explain, to an extra ordinary accuracy, a large part of nonliving natural phenomena (though not all) in the universe as perceived by our senses. But so far this excludes understanding of mind and consciousness. Even things we understand came with a very heavy price. We do not know what it means and why it works. For example, quantum mechanics (remember “most embarrassing graph in modern physics”!). Our everyday logic had to be thrown out of window. I do not agree with the argument,” will it change Dirac equation?” There could be changes like in the case of theory of relativity and quantum mechanics which did not destroy Newtonian physics. Physicists and engineers still use it routinely, not just for earth based systems but space flights also. As a related matter, I wish you guys would stop attacks against concept of God and religion. With full knowledge of quantum mechanics and relativity, why would anyone apply our everyday logic to such matters? There could be some unseen world outside our sense perceptions. Although I do not necessarily agree with Nagel, until these things are clear, it is time for cease fire between the two camps!! So cool it!

  8. yoda says:

    “For me, that’s just a misunderstanding of what kinds of explanations we can legitimately hope for.”

    And that, is why you fail.

  9. Dave Greene says:

    At first I was mystified how the once widely acclaimed Thomas Nagel could come up with such an incredible piece of quackery. Then I read Andrew Ferguson’s article in The Weekly Standard and I understood. Nagel’s writing of Mind and Cosmos was “determined by a preexisting cause, which was itself determined by another cause, and so on back to the Big Bang.” So let’s lighten up, he could not help himself 🙂

  10. steven johnson says:

    Jim Cross: “Why is that subjective mental experience necessary in our universe?”

    Let’s narrow that to why a human being might find subjective mental experience necessary. There is a phenomenon called “blindsight” in which a brain dysfunction leaves a person incapable of subjectively experiencing vision, even though they are not blind. These people are handicapped. Subjective experience is concretely adaptive to function.

    In general, the reports from the sense are combined into a general subjective experience called the sensorium, the last time I looked. This consciousness is a point of view. (In fact, I find it is often illuminating to reframe questions about consciousness as questions about point of view.) It is the equivalent of a cockpit display, a reporting convenience indistinguishable from a practical necessity. Consciousness, subjective experience, is a simplification, an unconscious modeling.

    There is more to consciousness than the sensorium of course. Imagination is the ability to predict the trajectory of a projectile, for one thing. The practical necessity for such a skill seems entirely natural to me, not a bit inexplicable. The notion that subjective experience is even a something, seems to me to be more inexplicable than is commonly allowed.

    Phantom limb syndrome seems to me to show very strongly that brain function is absolutely vital in generating the subjective experience of the presence of a limb that has been amputated. Yet it is clearly not an inborn, much less nonphysical phenomenon. No one born without a limb has ever reported its eerie seeming presence!

    Even for so-called higher level functions, the voices commonly heard by schizophrenics are I believe thoughts of the brain. But the schizophrenic’s brain cannot integrate these various thoughts into a single subjective experience, a single point of view, a single, simple consciousness. The resulting dysfunctionality displays the need for a subjective experience I think.

  11. Ramesam says:

    You ma have seen the essay by Meinard Kuhlmann in the recent Sci Amer. He says:
    “Physicists speak of the world as being made of particles and force fields, but it is not at all clear what particles and force fields actually are in the quantum realm. The world may instead consist of bundles of properties, such as color and shape.” This argument is being supported by at least some physicists.

    Neuroscince has clearly established the disconnect between reality and what we take it to be the reality based on our perception. What we infer to be present and the meaning we attribute to it is nothing more than our “imagination.”

    The above two facts (i. The world consists of intangible properties; and ii. the reality of “what is” is never perceived by us) do mellow us down unlike the stand taken by Sean, I believe.

    Further, “Consciousness” has to exist prior to the possibility of any perception. If you are already not there in a room, you will not be able to say if anyone has entered the room or not. So primary thing is the ability to “Know” which is Consciousness.

  12. CB says:

    po-tay-to, po-tah-AH-AH-AH-AH-ITBURNS-AHH-to.

  13. Nonphysical consciousness would not necessarily mean that “the electrons in our atoms fail to obey their equations of motion”. It could be that the electrons do what the electrons do, and the universe hallucinates a story to explain why.

  14. I think the idea of a deeper purpose to the universe (something real, not just a useful concept) is worth pursuing, and we need not ground our hopes for such a purpose in deviation from the laws of physics. Why should strict obedience to those laws imply the absence of purpose? While there may not appear to be any inherent purpose or guidedness to the laws of physics, we can’t confidently say that there isn’t one. As for consciousness, if indeed it is an emergent property of matter when arranged in the right way, that shows that there is something very profound about matter. Somehow the potential for consciousness is an inherent feature of the laws of physics – and that is breathtaking. (When we learn about emergent phenomena like consciousness we are in some sense learning about the fundamental laws – because those laws are such that they give rise to the discovered emergent phenomena.)

  15. vmarko says:

    @ Elliot Nelson:

    “As for consciousness, if indeed it is an emergent property of matter when arranged in the right way, that shows that there is something very profound about matter. Somehow the potential for consciousness is an inherent feature of the laws of physics – and that is breathtaking.”

    Be careful — if the laws of physics predict consciousness as emergent, the very same laws might predict a “god” — an all-encompassing all-knowing consciousness in the universe, by the same mechanism of emergence.

    So the materialists/naturalists/atheists are somewhat afraid to go down the route of “real consciousness emergent from physical laws”. They would rather prefer to treat consciousness as an unreal, delusional effect of our neural activity, rather than something “real”. In a sense, people are just delusionally imagining that they have something called “consciousness”, whereas in reality such a thing doesn’t actually exist. It is called an “epiphenomenon” — like an illusion that the needle of a compass is “driving” the boat that is randomly moving around on the sea.

    If you are a proper atheist, you must never accept that any consciousness (even your own) can really exist. And indeed atheists do exactly that — they claim that the existence of consciousness cannot be objectively measured in an experiment, nor can such a concept even be defined in terms of physics.

    So if you thought that you are self-conscious, it’s just a self-delusion of your consciousless brain. 😉

    Otherwise, the laws of physics, by allowing consciousness to exist as an emergent phenomenon, might open the door for god to exist as well, by the same mechanism applied on a larger scale. Everyone who is a faithful believer in atheism will firmly reject such an obscene idea with ultimate disgust… Consciousness emerging from physics? Phew, no way… 😉

    HTH, 🙂

  16. JustOneKalpa says:

    Actually we do know that consciousness effects physical entities. When a subject concentrates on a thing (say something seen) other parts of the brain are less active (like hearing). This is demonstratable using purely physical methods (fMRI for instance) and can be well described using purely physical concepts. So this “metaphysical” consciousness is part of physics and not outside it.

  17. mks says:

    lots of stuff here :3

    1. it is the role of ‘the media’ to create controversy — more controversy, more status & sales

    2. neo-darwinism is just one scientific theory out of at least 8

    3. science goes where science goes — notes like ‘physicalist’, ‘naturalist’, ‘immaterialist’ are mainly, i find, to be tribal designations

    4. ‘what causes something’ always involves a choice by us in deciding where to start by examining the process

    5. ‘material’/’immaterial’: try not to take these terms too literally. things like energy, the wave function, and ideas can be thought of as immaterial (whatever that means) and can, thus, affect the ‘material’…

  18. Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong says:

    This is a very old issue. The content of this post could be reduced into one question.

    Can physics explain consciousness?

    Obviously, this is a question without a settled answer in the mainstream academia thus far. In my view, the major problem of this simple question is neither about physics nor about philosophy but is about the linguistics.

    First, *explanation* is a term of sociology, totally subjective. And, Sean Carroll has said very nicely, “People who deny that physics can ever account for consciousness have a similar idea; even if we had a complete theory that accounted for every possible observable action of purportedly conscious creatures, they would not be satisfied that this qualified as “understanding” or “explanation.” For me, that’s just a misunderstanding of what kinds of explanations we can legitimately hope for.”

    Thus, we should define the two with a *fundamental /emergent* relationship instead of explanation. Carroll said again, “Except, if mind is not physical, at some point they swerved away from those laws, since remaining in accordance with them would never have created consciousness. So, at what point does this deviation from purely physical behavior kick in, exactly? It’s the immortal soul vs. the Dirac equation problem–if you want to claim that what happens in our brain isn’t simply following the laws of physics, you have the duty to explain in exactly what way the electrons in our atoms fail to obey their equations of motion.”

    Is the *football-game* a part of Nature? If we human are part of Nature, all our activities cannot go beyond the Nature. Of course, there is no *physical-action* in the game can swerve away from the laws of physics. Yet, the *rules* of the game can be completely unrelated to the laws of physics, whatever that physics laws are or will be. That is, something *in* Nature can be completely not related to the laws of physics. One example is enough for existential introduction. Again, this is another linguistics issue. The rules of football game is not *spontaneous* emergent from the laws of physics.

    Second, is consciousness a spontaneous emergent of the laws of physics? Thus far, consciousness is defined as the **quality or state** of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. With this definition, we today obviously have not found any fundamental/emergent relation between it and the physics laws. If we can change this definition very slightly to “consciousness is the *ability* of distinguish a *self* from the others” (that is, by a system of individuality), then there is a *four-color theorem* available for our use. This four-color theorem guarantees that unlimited (perhaps infinite) number of mutually distinguishable balls can be produced. Thus, every four-color system can guarantee the manifestation of a system of *individuality*. As far as we know, *life* is a four-color system, with (A, G, T, C) as genetic-colors. If a four-color system is also embedded in physics laws, then a spontaneous emergent relation between consciousness and physics laws could be established.

  19. Aleksandar Mikovic says:

    There is a simple plausibility argument which shows why materialism is a bad metaphysics for science: Let us assume that there is only space, time, matter and a finite set of natural laws governing the motion of matter. The standard materialist belief is that this can explain in principle any phenomena in the universe (including consciousness and intelligent beings). Also, let us assume that these natural laws can be expressed with a finite set of symbols. Then by Goedel’s theorems, we know that such a formal system is incomplete, i.e. there will be statements (phenomena) which can not be derived (explained) from the basic postulates (natural laws). Such phenomena can be added to our finite list of natural laws, and there are infinitely many of these. A materialist can than say, OK, I cannot have a Theory of Everything, but still the universe is materialistic. However, having an infinitely many elements (natural laws) which are not matter, means that one is introducing new objects in his metaphysics, and since these objects are mathematical in nature, one arrives at a Platonic world of ideas. A die hard materialist can that say, OK, throw away the laws, i.e. consider them as some random regularities in the chaotic motion of particles, but then one has to accept that such a regularity is lasting 15 billion years, and that tomorrow, everything can fall apart. Although a logical possibility, it is a very implausible one. This would also mean that a fundamental explanation for any phenomena is that it simply occurs by chance. From the philosophical point of view, such a belief is the same as solipsism.

  20. Pingback: Nagel’s bat doesn’t demonstrate incompleteness in materialist science | coelsblog

  21. steven johnson says:

    ^^^I should think that truths that cannot be derived a priori from a sufficiently rich mathematical system are the ones that are subsequently discovered empirically. The math’s inability to prove all possible consequences of its axioms seems to me a proof that any form of mathematical Platonism fails. (And by extension, any version of ontological structural reality.)

    Doesn’t this argument rely on an extreme predictivist view of science? Popperism ashamed to confess itself?

  22. bstr says:

    Sean, i think Jim Cross makes a useful observation here: “Clearly there is something left over beyond the sensual and neural mechanism that underlie my perception, something beyond chemicals, neurons, and electrical activity. That something is my experience of the gray bark, the sunlit side of the tree, and the blue sky. Even if reductionism could explain in detail everything at the physical level that makes perception happen, it cannot explain the why of my subjective experience” and i’m wondering if you are familiar with Jesse Bering’s The Belief Instinct, and his considerations of Theory of Mind as an adaptive trait which has come to such extensive sophistication that it is responsible for our inner conversations? And Cross seems to be about such inner conversations.

  23. Aleksandar Mikovic says:

    Although Goedel’s theorems in the context of a platonic metaphysics imply that mathematics (science) cannot explain everything, one also has to take into account that there are ideas (truths, phenomena) that are non-mathematical, i.e. cannot be completely described by a finite set of symbols and rules. Still, the human mind is able to see such ideas.

  24. Matthew says:

    I feel like the fundamental stance of people like Nagel is that “understanding” is something that can only happen through experiential evidence. At that point, no matter what your theory is, we’ll never have something complete.
    Suppose we create a way for people to experience what it’s like to be someone or something else. For the purposes of this argument it doesn’t matter whether this process is developed purely using physics or not. There are far too many things to experience to possibly be able to say that we understand them all in the way that Nagel and others are hoping for.
    I find that it’s best not to develop your theories because some implication of current theories makes you uncomfortable. That’s a sure-fire way to incorporate poor reasoning somewhere in your argument.

    Great article Sean

  25. Higguns says:


    I present the same challenge to you: give me an example of something that science can’t completely describe but the human mind is still able to see.

    Jim Cross’s example is: “it cannot explain the why of my subjective experience”. This is a clever statement in that it has no meaning and therefore can’t be answered. What do you mean by “the why of my subjective experience”? The only thing you could mean is why do we exist? Just as there are eternal numbers, this is an eternal question that seemingly never has an answer. Every time you gain an answer, then you also gain another question: “why is that the answer?”. You’re entire argument can be boiled down to an indeterminate question that has no real meaning. “Why?”. Why what? Why who? There is no answer because it doesn’t actually ask a question.