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Rosenhouse Concedes Without Realizing It

There is currently a discussion going on about Nagel’s new book, Mind and Cosmos between Ed Feser and Jason Rosenhouse. Feser takes Rosenhouse to task pretty well but there’s one thing that I think he overlooks – Rosenhouse actually winds up conceding the entire argument at the end.

At the end of his response to Feser, Rosenhouse says,

At most, philosophy can explore the consequences of certain assumptions about what matter can and cannot do. The trouble is that science is constantly changing our view of what matter is. The “material” out of which the world is made looks very different today than it did a century ago. It wasn’t that long ago that atoms were thought to be solid balls. Today they are vastly more complicated, to the point where even physicists have trouble wrapping their heads around what they do. Nowadays it is common to speak of the universe as having emerged from a quantum foam. Is quantum foam material? I don’t know.

The admission here, that Rosenhouse doesn’t seem to even realize that he’s making, is that materialism has only maintained its grip by redefining what it is at every turn – many times incorporating non-material ideas into materialism.

If “materialism” starts including ideas which were previously classified as “immaterial”, does that mean that the materialists were wrong or the immaterialists? It seems absurd to claim that materialism has been winning if it has been continually importing ideas from the immaterialists. That sounds a little backwards to me.

I wrote an article on this a while back. Newton imported non-local causation (previously in the immaterial camp). QM imported non-mechanical causation (previously in the immaterial camp).

At what point will the materialists realize that the only way that their idea of the universe still makes sense is by simply relabeling “immaterial” as “material”?

Part of this has come from a refusal by the materialists to make solid, specific claims about their position. If someone is a “materialist”, but can’t tell me what that means is true or is not true, to what extent does that position have any meaning at all?

For those are interested, at the Engineering and Metaphysics conference last year, I looked at the most workable definition of materialism by materialists and showed (a) why it was better than other definitions, (b) why under that definition we should not be materialists, and (c) how to integrate non-material causation into modeling.

Hopefully we will be coming out with a proceedings volume shortly so the material will be more polished and accessible for everyone.

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14 Responses to Rosenhouse Concedes Without Realizing It

  1. 1
    Kantian Naturalist

    Did Rosenhouse identify himself as a “materialist”? If not, I don’t see what the “concession” is. It looks to me like he’s making a perfectly sound point: that one cannot simply appeal to the best of contemporary science in order to furnish empirical (a posteriori) support for Epicurean metaphysics. In the 17th and 18th centuries, one could do that (though of course not unproblematically). These days one can be a “materialist” only if one is willing to treat bosons and fermions as mere successor-concepts to Epicurean atoms. (This is basically what Alex Rosenberg does. But that’s terribly problematic, because bosons are fields and not “things”. From what I could tell, Rosenberg thinks that little problem can be swept under the rug.)

    But if “materialism” just isn’t a serious view, then criticisms of materialism are just as misguided. The problem, then, is conveniently nutshelled: Nagel is beating a straw horse. (That is, he’s both beating a dead horse and attacking a straw man — repeatedly attacking an already discredited view that no one today actually holds.)

  2. KN,
    It will make a lot more sense once you open your eyes.

    Almost all modern philosophy and science is by definition atheist-materialist-darwinist. Because they are attempts to explain things. And we already have an explanation of things. It’s called God.

    Once you realize this, you’ll see that the different scientific and philosophical theories are just atheist-materialist-darwinists grasping at straws so they don’t have to think about the true explanation of things. Then you’ll start asking the right questions, like why would supposedly smart people, such as philosophers and scientists want to do this? And who put them up to it? And how do we defend our children from their evil intent?

  3. as to:

    At what point will the materialists realize that the only way that their idea of the universe still makes sense is by simply relabeling “immaterial” as “material”?

    Seeing as atoms have now been shown to be reducible to ‘information’ and ‘information’ is definitely NOT material (matter or energy), then it seems the ‘relabeling campaign’ by materialists/naturalists will have to go far deeper than they currently realize!

    How Teleportation Will Work -
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.
    http://science.howstuffworks.c.....ation1.htm

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://researcher.ibm.com/view_project.php?id=2862

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    How is it possible that matter and energy are able to be reduced to the weightless and mass-less quantity of ‘information’ unless it is true that matter and energy both have their ultimate origin in ‘information’?

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

    As to the conjecture of universe ‘randomly’ emerging from quantum foam:

    GRBs Expand Astronomers’ Toolbox – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: a detailed analysis of the GRB (Gamma Ray Burst) in question demonstrated that photons of all energies arrived at essentially the same time. Consequently, these results falsify any quantum gravity models requiring the simplest form of a frothy space.
    http://www.reasons.org/GRBsExp.....ersToolbox

    Quantum Foam Paper Suggests Einstein Was Right About Space-Time Being ‘Smooth’ – January 2013
    Excerpt: It appears Albert Einstein may have been right yet again.
    A team of researchers came to this conclusion after tracing the long journey three photons took through intergalactic space. The photons were blasted out by an intense explosion known as a gamma-ray burst about 7 billion light-years from Earth. They finally barreled into the detectors of NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009, arriving just a millisecond apart.
    Their dead-heat finish strongly supports the Einsteinian view of space-time, researchers said. The wavelengths of gamma-ray burst photons are so small that they should be able to interact with the even tinier “bubbles” in the quantum theorists’ proposed space-time foam.
    If this foam indeed exists, the three protons should have been knocked around a bit during their epic voyage. In such a scenario, the chances of all three reaching the Fermi telescope at virtually the same time are very low, researchers said.
    So the new study is a strike against the foam’s existence as currently imagined,
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....49734.html

    Moreover,,

    Mathematics of Eternity Prove The Universe Must Have Had A Beginning – April 2012
    Excerpt: Cosmologists use the mathematical properties of eternity to show that although universe may last forever, it must have had a beginning.,,, They go on to show that cyclical universes and universes of eternal inflation both expand in this way. So they cannot be eternal in the past and must therefore have had a beginning. “Although inflation may be eternal in the future, it cannot be extended indefinitely to the past,” they say.
    They treat the emergent model of the universe differently, showing that although it may seem stable from a classical point of view, it is unstable from a quantum mechanical point of view. “A simple emergent universe model…cannot escape quantum collapse,” they say.
    The conclusion is inescapable. “None of these scenarios can actually be past-eternal,” say Mithani and Vilenkin.
    Since the observational evidence is that our universe is expanding, then it must also have been born in the past. A profound conclusion (albeit the same one that lead to the idea of the big bang in the first place).
    http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27793/

  4. Further notes:

    Quantum Evidence for a Theistic Universe
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1agaJIWjPWHs5vtMx5SkpaMPbantoP471k0lNBUXg0Xo/edit

    The ‘Top Down’ Theistic Structure Of The Universe and Of The Human Body
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NhA4hiQnYiyCTiqG5GelcSJjy69e1DT3OHpqlx6rACs/edit

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’

    As well, why should a ‘random process’ generate a universe with a sphere shape instead of some other shape?

    Proverbs 8:26-27
    While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

    please note the ‘centrality’ of the Earth within the 4-D sphere of the universe in the following video,,

    Centrality of Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879

    Planck satellite unveils the Universe — now and then (w/ Video showing the mapping of the ‘sphere’ of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation with the satellite) – 2010
    http://phys.org/news197534140.html#nRlv

    Music:

    Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill How Great thou Art – 720P HD – Standing Ovation!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk

  5. 5
    William J Murray

    Most of the time when you actually try and debat”materialism” or its intellectually fulfilling partner Darwinism with people, what one quickly finds out is that their mind is like a bag full of cats. They will equivocate the terms, obfuscate with never-ending semantics and sophistry, deny the blatantly obvious,abandon science and burn down logic and language in service of one single goal: to deny that there is a God, and that God is the necessary final source of existence, truth and morality.

    Nothing else matters – not science, logic, fact, evidence, words, civility … nothing. Above all else, they are anti-theists.

  6. 6
    CentralScrutinizer

    William J Murray @5,

    Above all else, they are anti-theists.

    I’ve had discussions with these types many times in person. They seem like all of the other garden variety cultists I’ve run across in my life. Your description is right on the money.

  7. 7
    Kantian Naturalist

    I read Rose house’s post ( linked to above) and it seemed pretty clear to me that he hasn’t conceded anything.

    And what is up with the fact that so many people are willing to opine on a book they haven’t read? I’ve read “Mind and Cosmos” ($13 on Kindle). Has anyone else here?

  8. OT: Cell Machinery Untangles Misfolded Proteins – April 2, 2013
    Excerpt: biologist Helen R. Saibil, provides a model diagram of this “highly dynamic” machine and descriptions of what the parts do. There are channels, toggles, linkers, mobile lids, and dockers. One of the primary parts looks like a stack of 3-tiered rings with a channel down the middle. The other part looks a little like Pac-man, biting down on a “hot spot” on the side of the rings, accompanied by other moving parts. Each of the primary parts is further composed of several protein domains. Multiple ATP “energy pellets” power the operation at three locations.
    The cell first has to identify the misfolded aggregate, find a loose end, and feed it into a slot on the side-mounted machine. The docking point acts as a regulator that can reprogram the side-mounted machine according to the stage of the operation. Once threaded into the right position, the loose end is fed into the central channel of the three-tiered machine, so that untangling can proceed. The untangled polypeptide exiting the central channel can then be refolded by other chaperone machines at the ready.
    Only dim details of this operation are understood so far. The “mechanism” by which the strand is “handed over” from one domain to the other is “unclear,” Saibil writes. It’s also not clear how the tangled mess of peptide pictured in the model diagram can avoid snags as it passes through the machinery. Yet it works. Rightly, Dr. Saibil praises “the remarkable ability of cells to reverse protein aggregation.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....70411.html

  9. Murray,

    You sound just like lastyearon. Are you guys twins?

  10. Kantian:

    No comment on Nagel, as I haven’t yet read him. :-)

    By the way, I responded to you in comment #208 at:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....al-dogmas/

    And I also responded to you in comment #65 at:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....the-day-8/

    I don’t know if you missed these, or just lack time to reply. In any case, the last-mentioned reply is more substantive in its comments.

  11. KN:

    Did Rosenhouse identify himself as a “materialist”?

    Yes, he has. And you can even send him an email and ask.

  12. Matter does not do anything.

  13. 13
    Kantian Naturalist

    Timaeus, I appreciate your restraint! :)

    And I just responded to the two posts you’d mentioned.

  14. Mung @ 12

    Matter exists. :D

    I know I know.. do is more an action verb.. just having fun with verbs.

    But does make me want to ask, if matter doesn’t do (which I will agree), then how does it be – that is the question? :D

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