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Posted by Harvey on May 19, 2004 16:07:45 UTC

How's everything going?

Another way of posing the question is, "Which came first, mind or physical reality?" In other words, was mind the starting point and from there everything else was produced ("created") by that mind?... the case for a primordial mind is much simpler and provides answers to all the hard questions.

Another question which is inferred by this question, is why does there have to be anything at all. Of course, even asking *this* question seems to beg another question which is why does ultimate reality have to make logical sense such that some rule of law must exist that dictates sensibility in the first place. Rules that require a primordial mind, or rules that require something rather than nothing, or rules that require there be rules in the first place are all a priori - having no rhyme nor reason for existing, they just do.

The materialist might respond saying the a priori rules that we are referring to is the material universe itself (or its elementary constituents), while the idealist might say mind is the a priori rules, and the logicist might say that logic is the a priori rules. Since everyone is arguing that something is a priori, it is very difficult to distinguish which one is right and which is wrong. The materialist has the advantage of advocating only what we already experience directly, that is matter, whereas the logicist can advocate the manner by which the universe seems to be ordered (i.e., logically), what advantage has the idealist?

In my view, there is one advantage for idealism (or absolute idealist in the case of one central mind being all there is). That is, it happens to be closest to our own experience of the world. That is, we might experience matter and less directly logic, however these are all experiences that occur in our heads. The ultimate experience for us is mind, and so the thinking goes, mind is the most suitable a priori existence to ultimate reality.

But, this all begs the question, why should ultimate reality be something that is close to our own experience? Perhaps there's whole categories of a priori things that we have no experience and cannot even think of existing that is what we might label 'Other' (not mind, not matter, not logic, etc).

Well, before I jump into an agnostic boat, I think one compelling argument for absolute idealism that might answer the question on why our personal experience is so important is that Mind is needed to form conceptions of things. Those conceptions may not be necessary for things to exist (e.g., material things, logical things, or Other things - whatever that thing might be), but without a conception, a structure has no structure by mere fact of reductionism. That is, take an atom. If there is no valid atomic conception, then we can only say that an atom is just an approximation of more elementary things (which it is), but what of those elementary things? They are just conceptions of more invalid structures, and so on ad infinitum. Of course, one could argue that there is a base element that can be fully conceptualized, but in that case, what does that mean without mind being present? What is a conceptual base object that cannot be reduced further?

In case of a base logical object (e.g., a set), the logical object has no real structure unless the conception of a set exists. That is, the structure of a set is the conception. A set-based logicist, would have no basis to argue that 'sets exist' unless they mean that the concept of sets exist. If the concept exists, then this implies mind since a concept is associated with mind, and not mathematics.

Similarly, the materialist might argue in some a priori material-based object (e.g., a quark), but, the same problem confronts the materialist. The material-based object must have a structure in order for it to be an 'object', and that structure by definition must be a priori. In order for the structure to be a material structure, it must possess some kind of physical properties (e.g., spatial, temporal, mass, charge, etc). These properties are conceptions, which again is a property of mind.

I suppose a materialist or logicist could reply that properties can be conceptions, but it is a conception that exists without a mind (much in the way a tree falling in the woods when no one hears it still makes a sound), but here's the dilemma with that argument: if a conception can exist without a mind, then what is meant by saying it is a conception (i.e., a structuralized order) since nothing exists that can distinguish its order from non-order (whatever that might be). In the case of mind, it is the mind that imposes order of an object thus making it an object. For example, a mathematical set cannot be defined in mathematics, but the mind allows a set to be conceived so that a set can be said to exist. It doesn't have to be defined, but it has to be conceived as an object in order for operations to be conducted on the set.

Without a mind present, a set is no more valid of an object than an anti-set or parallel set. What is an anti-set? What is a parallel set? These objects do not exist since a mind has not conceived of them (that I know of), and therefore we cannot call an anti-set an object. The structure of an object has no meaning unless there is mind imposing order on the object.

Similarly, an elementary material object faces the same dilemma. What is space? What is time? What is mass? What is charge? Etc... The physical properties needed to make material objects 'real' have no meaning without mind present. Otherwise, anti-space, anti-time, etc., are just as valid of concepts as the real physical properties that make up objects. Without an underlying mind that provides meaning to the properties of an object, the objects themselves do not exist.

Again, if the objects do not exist, then how can one claim that a material object exists a priori? Or that a logical object exists a priori? There is a contradiction. This contradiction does not exist for those who hold that a priori Mind exists. The base structure of a material object is a conception within Mind, and all matter is an issue of complexity that stems from the base conception of Mind.

So, Paul, I think your idealism has some merit. I originally didn't hold this position because I thought at the time that Mind is organized by logical tenets, and so how could a Mind possibly exist 'above' logic. But, now I see that Logic cannot possibly exist without Mind. Hence, it seems to me that a certain equivalence relationship exists between Mind and Logic and possibly Matter. That is, that might very well be the famous Trinity that we've all heard so much about. Something to consider...

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