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The existence of conceptual things

I’m reading an article, and the author just made the following statement: (I’m paraphrasing)

Ideas exist in a human’s actions. If a person goes to church, this is a material existence of a God belief.

He also says that “ideas are endowed with a spiritual existence.” I don’t know what this means.

So my question is, how do we describe the “existence” of ideas? Ideas themselves do not exist outside the mind that creates them, but what do we call the the human actions based on our ideas and beliefs?

Posted: March 18th 2012

George Locke

As a physicalist, I believe that ideas are nothing but properties of matter. Many people may share the same idea, but this is essentially no different from many rocks being granite: a pattern may appear in many places, but the pattern itself is just one more idea which exists in your brain. Ideas are just emergent properties of neurons. This article expands on these ideas.

Once you appreciate the unity of mind and brain, the actions we base on our ideas are easy to understand: holding an idea is a physical state of the brain, and actions informed by ideas are ultimately determined by those physical states. (Yes, this means that free will is an illusion. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.)

Once you try and pin down exactly what “spiritual existence” is supposed to mean, it becomes clear that it and phrases like it are nothing more than word salad.

See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on physicalism for a thorough treatment. (I have to point out that the physicalism wikipedia article I link to up top has a section called Argument from philosophical zombies, which is awesome.)

Posted: April 6th 2012

See all questions answered by George Locke

Galen Rose www

“Ideas exist in a human’s actions. If a person goes to church, this is a material existence of a God belief.”

In a word, nonsense. Firstly, one can go to a church without believing in any gods. Perhaps a non-believer has gone there for a funeral or wedding? Secondly, a god BELIEF doesn’t mean a god exists, so of what value is this belief? Because someone believes in Bigfoot, does that mean Bigfoot exists? Obviously, the belief is totally irrelevant to the facts.

“Ideas are endowed with a spiritual existence.” I have no idea what this means, but I don’t think the author does either. This is just mumbo-jumbo to try to make a “spiritual” issue of everything. Ideas are the products of mental activity and that is all anyone can say for sure. All the rest is just posturing. This author claims things that he wants to believe, but an assertion is not a proof. There’s nothing profound here, nothing to see. Just keep moving.

Posted: April 6th 2012

See all questions answered by Galen Rose

brian thomson www

“If a person goes to church, this is a material existence of a God belief.”

I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. I’ve been to churches without that being an expression of belief. A common aspect of all Abrahamic religious services is the profession of a “creed”, an explicit statement of what the follower believes (or is expected to believe). If I go to a church, that’s an expression of my belief that the church – the physical building – exists. Conversely: religious services don’t have to take place in a dedicated church, and I think I recall the New Testament having something about that. It’s just a building.

What do we call human actions based on our ideas and beliefs? Since this encompasses everything that people do, do we need another name for that? How about Life? I don’t see the distinction. Can you think of anything you actively do that is not a product of your ideas and beliefs?

That author wants to see “spirituality” wherever he looks because that suits his personal agenda. You are under no obligation to pay any attention to him. This is how woolly thinkers end up wasting our time, by making apparently profound statements or posing “deep” questions, and expecting others to respond. We don’t have to play that game if we don’t think it’s worth the bother.

Posted: April 6th 2012

See all questions answered by brian thomson

 

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