• Welcome to droqen's forum-shaped notebook. Please log in.

Idealism, Process and Mind-At-Large RE: The Idea of the World

Started by droqen, December 31, 2022, 01:58:09 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


Quote from: KastrupFact 1: there is subjective experience. This is the primary and incontrovertible datum of existence.
Quote from: Meacham. . . it can be argued that the primary datum of existence is not that there is experience but that there is a world. Only after some reflection do we realize that it is we who experience the world.

I would disagree with Meacham here; he is conflating experience with experiencer. . . one does not need to realize they are experiencing in order for there to be experience. That is, experience does not need to be labelled as such in order to be what it is. Likewise I am sure Meacham would agree that the world does not need to be labelled as such in order to exist.

I noticed just now that Meacham is quoting from a different text than The Idea of the World. Oops. What to do now?


That's fine. I'll borrow his observation about this next part which for me was the last nail in the coffin, at least with regard to Kastrup's argument as given.

QuoteKastrup says he makes no assumptions about the nature of that which experiences (TWE).

But in Inference 1 he does make an assumption about TWE. He says it is something excitable. It can be in motion. It is a sort of medium that contains or is composed of patterns of excitation.


Kastrup writes "I am not, at least for now . . . making any assumption about the nature or boundaries of TWE. . . . I am simply asserting that it inevitably exists. . . ." (The Idea of the World, 62) beneath Fact 5, whose full text is "Irrespective of the ontological status of what we call 'a person', there is that which experiences (TWE)." (Ibid.)


Kastrup in this book then does make the same inference contested by Meacham, almost word for word.

"Inference 1: The most parsimonious and least problematic ontological underpinning for Fact 5 is that TWE and experience are of the same essential nature. More specifically, experience is a pattern of excitation of TWE." (Ibid. 63)

He proceeds to justify it in a way similar to what is quoted by Meacham.

"This avoids the needs to postulate two different ontological classes for TWE and experience, respectively. It also circumvents problems regarding the mechanisms of interaction between TWE and experience, which would arise if they were assumed to be of different essential natures."

To return to Meacham's counter:

Quote[Kastrup makes] an assumption about TWE. He says it is something excitable. . . . It is a sort of medium that contains or is composed of patterns of excitation.

This indicates a rather large assumption about the nature of TWE on Kastrup's part. Kastrup does not particularly justify it: he says, if this is true, then this is what it solves. But what does it even mean for TWE to be true in this way? What form does the excitation take? Why an excitation? Kastrup says "Here I use the qualifier 'parsimonious' in the sense of Occam's Razor: the most parsimonious ontology is that which requires the smallest number of postulates whilst maintaining sufficient explanatory power to account for all facts" (Ibid., 63) and yet postulates the existence of "an excitation" as some intermediary verb between TWE and experience.

Is there any justification given for claiming that "experience is a pattern of excitation of TWE" rather than "TWE experiences"? It's in its very name.


This may merely be semantics. Ultimately I agree that there exists some TWE, although there is still nothing given about its form.


Meacham quotes a quite different "Inference 2" than the one I have in my book, but it appears to be at least in part the same claim.

Quote from: Kastrup, via MeachamInference 2: . . . [various arguments, statements] . . . From all this we must conclude that TWE is uncaused, irreducible. It simply is. Technically, we say that TWE is an ontological primitive.
Quote from: MeachamHe concludes that since TWE is unexplained both under monistic materialism and under dualism, it must be an uncaused, irreducible ontological primitive.

Here it is in my book:

"Inference 2: TWE is an ontological primitive, uncaused and irreducible."

In comparing the two texts, the line of reasoning has been moved around and edited, but it is making fundamentally the same points, which Meacham counters.

Quote from: MeachamHe then adds an additional premise, one not stated in his list of facts, that it is impossible to conceive how arrangements of physical stuff could result in sentience. But he gives no evidence for the assertion except citing an authority or two. As a matter of fact, it is quite controversial, and there is a large body of literature devoted to arguments pro and con.

In particular "gives no evidence . . . except citing an authority or two" is a way I've been feeling about this book.

Meacham says something similar to what I said myself earlier in the other thread: Kastrup criticizes approach A for relying on unexplainable smaller parts while proposing a solution that relies on unexplainable larger parts. (the other thread)

Quote from: Meacham, underline addedHe alludes to dualist explanations of the mind-body problem and claims that they might explain how physical stuff could modulate experience but also claims that TWE would be unexplained.


QuoteHe concludes that since TWE is unexplained both under monistic materialism and under dualism, it must be an uncaused, irreducible ontological primitive.

Is Kastrup's argument for TWE as ontological primitive really so simple? "It can't be explained, so it just exists and nothing can explain it"? Wow, it actually is. Even in the book I am reading.

Quote from: The Idea of the World, Kastrup, 64. . . this still leaves 'that which experiences' entirely unexplained, . . . we can conclude that:

Inference 2: TWE is an ontological primitive, uncaused and irreducible.


I'm about at this point myself, Meacham says what's on my mind but with more confidence--I don't know at what point I can begin to dismiss someone's arguments out of hand or out of sheer impatience.

QuoteOK, that's enough. There are many more nonsequiturs, unexamined premises and the like. Poking holes in this guy's argument is like shooting fish in a barrel. The conclusion to be drawn, however, is not necessarily that Kastrup's metaphysics is wrong. It may be simply that logical derivation is a poor way to ground or justify metaphysics.

Kastrup is trying to get at something important. Even if his derivation is flawed there may be something worthwhile in his conclusion, so let's start there and see if it makes sense.


Oh no, lol. Bernardo left a comment. Oh, god. The internet. Why, internet, why. There is a somewhat fruitful conversation between Meacham and several other individuals here, however only after Kastrup makes a fuss. Once the other individuals start actually engaging with Meacham in a non-hostile manner, Kastrup stops responding completely.