Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yet Another Boring Attack on Materialism

Here.

Kastrup's observation is trite and unoriginal.

Darwin himself remarked, "The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"

And, of course, we know from extensive research that our perceptions are often wrong, and wrong in predictable ways.

But none of this provides the "profound contradiction" Kastrup thinks he has discovered. Yes, there are problems in perception and cognition, but the map between the real world and our mental model can't be wildly wrong. If it were, organisms with a better model would have outcompeted us. And the scientific method itself provides self-checking through replicability and peer review.

The bottom line: our own perceptions, and those of the instruments we devise, are all we have. So we use them, and in doing so, we try to be on our guard for mistakes in reason and perception caused by our own biology.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't this yet another argument against evolution which works at least as well as an argument against reproduction and development?

If our bodies as individuals are the result of material processes, how can we as individuals have reliable knowledge?

BTW, I call a sighting of the Salem Hypothesis. He claims to be a scientist because of a doctorate in computer engineering.

TomS

thefloatinglantern said...

...Seriously? This is like Philosophy 101.

"All of our science is based on sense perceptions, but what if those perceptions are WRONG?! We can't be sure about anything!"

"Yeah but what are the odds that our unreliable perceptions are so wrong that the ordered world around us, conforming as it does to innumerable natural laws and complex yet systematic phenomena, is just an illusion?

And, if the whole discovered universe is an illusion, there's not much we can do about it, now is there? Might as well get on with our lives."

Incidentally, this is a good issue to bring up with religious people who think they have subjective experience of God. Our subjective experiences are wrong all the time - but converging evidence removes all reasonable doubt that I am actually typing on a keyboard right now. But supernatural claims do not fare well at all; they rest entirely on extremely biased subjective perceptions, with no external evidence to corroborate.

-Tim Martin

AL said...

Yeah, this is just another rendition of the "Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism," popularized by Plantinga. Our minds are so flawed we can't possibly have reliably knowledge. Therefore we can reliably conclude there must be a god.

Eamon Knight said...

OK, science is unreliable because it is based on unreliable sensory and cognitive apparatus. And we should replace it with...what, exactly? Either the alternative is based on some sort of evidence (but it can't be, since we already decided that evidence is unavoidably filtered through unreliable sensory and cognitive apparatus), or it's based on making shit up with no justification whatever.

So take yer epistemic pick: pragmatic realism, or nihilism.

Cro-Magnon said...

"Yes, there are problems in perception and cognition, but the map between the real world and our mental model can't be wildly wrong. If it were, organisms with a better model would have outcompeted us. "

Definitely would have, or merely likely would have?

Kinemerde said...

"Kastrup's observation is trite and unoriginal."

Actually, I haven't thought about his observation in a number of years, so it was nice to be reminded of it, so I can't call it trite. True, it's unoriginal, but is your answer any more original?

RBH said...

Jeff wrote

Yes, there are problems in perception and cognition, but the map between the real world and our mental model can't be wildly wrong. If it were, organisms with a better model would have outcompeted us.

Or as I've put it several times, critters whose perceptual/cognitive systems give them more distorted representations of reality tend to end up as lunch for critters whose systems give them less distorted representations.

Kinemerde said...

Is there a paper you can point to, RBH, or are you just theorizing.

Eamon Knight said...

@RBH: 8-) and I also like Quine's version:
“Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind”.