December 31, 2020 at 01:30 #4130e_bootKeymaster@e_boot
If one asserts that all Experience can be exhaustively explained as an “activity” of Matter, then he is committed to the idea that all Experience is an “activity” of a “something” in Space and Time. Let’s examine this view, and find out whether or not it is tenable. On a side note, it is important to point out this view depends upon the belief that Matter exists and exists independently of Experience. The belief that Matter exists can only be justified by inferences from sensations within Experience itself—sensations clearly not being Material—to a Material cause that exists independently of Experience. This Material cause is neither something to be found within Experience itself, nor is it something that is remotely conceivable. But this is beside the point.
What, then, are we to say of Matter? Matter is neither “given” as “something” independent of Experience, nor is non-Experiential Matter even conceivable—non-Experiential Matter is not even possible—in principle—to empirically investigate (it would be a contradiction in terms). More importantly, Matter is only known as “content” of concrete and actual Experiences. So much for Matter. Let’s move on to Space and Time.
Now, what are we to say of Space and Time? As was in the case with Matter, neither Space nor Time are “given” as “something” independent of Experience; likewise, neither a non-Experiential Space, nor a non-Experiential Time are even conceivable—a non-Experiential Space and a non-Experiential Time are not even possible—in principle—to empirically investigate (it would be a contradiction in terms). And—just like Matter—Space and Time are only known as “content” of concrete and actual Experiences. So much for Space and Time.
Let’s return to the initial assertion. It is being maintained that all Experience can be exhaustively explained as an “activity” of Matter. Very well, but in order to exhaustively explain all Experience as an “activity” of Matter, one must exhaustively explain a concrete and actual Experience(a) as an “activity” of Matter(a). But this Matter(a)—which Experience(a) is said to be an “activity” of —is itself only known as “content” of a concrete and actual Experience(b). However, this concrete and actual Experience(b)—in which Experience(a) and Matter(a) are “contents”—is just the very thing needing to be exhaustively explained. After all, we are trying to exhaustively explain all Experience as an “activity” of Matter. So, one must now exhaustively explain this concrete and actual Experience(b) as an “activity” of Matter(b). But this Matter(b)—which Experience(b), Matter(a), and Experience(a) is said to be an “activity” of—is itself only known as “content” of a concrete and actual Experience(c). This vicious regress becomes obvious and is inescapable. All Experience would thus never be explicable—let alone exhaustively explicable—until a final term in an infinite regress has been reached. One is attempting to exhaustively explain all Experience as an “activity” of a “something” which presupposes the existence of an Experience for said “something” to be the “content” of. Therefore, it is impossible—in principle—to exhaustively explain all Experience as an “activity” of Matter.
The key is that our Experiences are given, concrete, and actual fact. We only find our sense organs and bodies as being determinate contents of said Experiences—they are never given as anything else but that. We do not need to understand our sense organs or nervous systems in order to understand experience because experience is that which is given—not our sense organs, not “matter,” not our brains, etc.
My body (e.g. my sense organs) would serve as the mediating “instrument” or “tool” through which I would apprehend any part of the “External world.” Furthermore, the “testimonies” of my body’s sense organs would only be known to me through states and affections of my nervous system; so, I would only be able to know parts of the “External world” through these “instruments” and “tools,” and through states and affections of my nervous system.
Now, clearly a physicalist would have to agree with the view that it is our sense organs which are the “instruments” or “tools” that we depend upon in order to navigate the world around us and make sense of any part of the “External word.” After all, they would say that it is the “testimonies” of our sense organs that exhaust the material we have to work with in our efforts at piecing together an understanding of any part of it.
However, they would also hold to the position that these sense organs are themselves parts of the “External world.” The question now becomes how one come to understand the actual information delivered to my brain by my sense organs if I do not already understand the very medium through which said information is apprehended and delivered.
The unique structure of each of my sense organs determines the particular phenomena they detect, apprehend, and deliver to my brain. Neither of my eyes are structured to apprehend particular odors, sounds, tastes, or tactile phenomena; my tongue is not structured to detect particular odors, sounds, or sights; my nose is not structured to inform me of particular sights or sounds; and my ears are not structured to alert me of particular smells, tastes, or sights. Each organ excludes one another and refuses to assist with the respective tasks of other organs. Each organ keeps to its own sphere and does its special job in solitude. Now, I could not understand any one of the many “testimonies” of my sense organs unless I first understood the unique structure, purpose, and function of these organs. For example, I do not hold a rock up to my ear in order to “smell” it; nor do I touch a rock with my finger in order to “taste” it; nor do I place the rock on my tongue in order to “see” it. In fact, we can illustrate this even more clearly by pointing out some analogous “instruments” and “tools” which run into the same issues. Take, for instance, a Geiger counter. I would need to understand how a Geiger counter works in order to understand what the movement of the dial means. Therefore, my understanding of the motions of the dial depends upon my understanding of the structure, purpose, and function of the Geiger counter. Other examples include smoke detectors, thermometers, clocks, computer monitors, weathervanes, speedometers, odometers, and gas gauges.
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