TA106 (Müller)


Commentary 60



by Paul Roberts

30 September 2009, posted 3 October 2009


I enjoy reading the recent exchanges on the KJ Forum and I admire the  philosophical erudition of  Dr.s Muller, Lothane and Adams.  Yet there is an undercurrent of hostility to  the common sense belief in mind-independent reality, to a physical world that is independent of "mind".  It flares up whenever the name or ideas of that apostle of common sense,  Richard Dawkins, are mentioned or discussed.  Considering that there is no evidence at all  (especially since Darwin accounted evolutionarily for organic "design") for the existence of a transcendental mind or god or gods, what is wrong with criticizing people who insist that such Beings exist and must be attended to--or, in much of the world, must be <obeyed>?   Think of the crusades and jihads (and consequent slaughters) that would  likely have been prevented if  "The God Delusion" had been written and seriously attended to centuries earlier.   Even today  few really consider Dawkins's cogent argumants--or attempt to refute them. 


If Dawkins had been in a  philosophical mood  rather than concerned primarily with issues of truth and  the disgraceful worldwide suppression of Darwinism in schools, he might have called his book, "The Mind Delusion."  It is easy to assume mind is spiritual  if one is unaware of or discounts the physical  evidence accumulated since the time of La Mettrie.   In the eighteenth century,  he  pointed out  in his book, "Man a Mechanism"  that alcohol, drugs, fever derange "mind"  and that Cartesian spiritual dualism must be wrong.  Now we find that genes, if mutated, degrade mind--hence that genes, collectively, must  encode the neuronal substrate of mind:    Brain imaging (fMRI) currently explores the (physical) workings of some ten billion neurons and their numerous modules that give rise to thought.  If one ignores all this machinery of mind, it is easy enough to project  <our>  mind onto the cosmos--and assume  that a like mind -- spiritual,  cosmic -- somehow  antedates matter.  Do any of you believe that the widely touted  Cosmic Mind is anything more than a projection outward of our "mind"?  If so, why?


This brings me to Dr Muller's favorite conundrum (which seems to refer solely to a human mind): "If reality is in fact mind-independent how can anyone write and think about it?   Either you know about it and then it is in your mind and not mind-independent or you dont know about it and then you cannot think about it ... therefore mind-independent reality is impossible."     I do not think the conclusion follows.   Surely one can make a detailed  <model> of  mind-independent reality in a human brain (or "mind")  without making  most of the vast realm of physical (or mentphysical) reality  in any way mental (if that is what is implied by the conundrum).  In other words, MIR is not only possible but <likely> considering  the evolutionary, physiological and genetic evidence: evolution by natural selection (not conscious design), the vast stretches of space devoid of life; the  aeons of time before the evolution of humans.  




Paul Roberts

     e-mail <Robertsp (at)science.oregonstate.edu>