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Does Brain=Mind? How Valid Is Strict Materialism?

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posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:05 AM
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First of all, I would like to address a point that often gets raised during these sorts of discussions. The fact that many aspects of our mental realities can be definitely shown to correlate to certain chemicals and circuits in the brain. Now, I actually think that probably every mental activity we experience has a physical component. But to me that does not at all refute the notion of an immaterial mind. To me, this is an error in the materialist way of thinking. To say that we can demonstrate a definite correlation to some physical activity in the brain and some mental state of the individual, does not prove that the physical activity is CAUSING the mental state. That is purely speculative. It's beyond what can be reasonably extracted from the observable correlations. And again, I am quite sure that physical correlations can be found for literally everything mental, much more than what we currently know.

But there are other interpretations, equally valid in terms of what we actually know. The physical correspondence could reflect the mental state. That's basically the question, and again we don't actually have any proof of this one way or the other now. But, does an immaterial mind cause changes in the material brain, or does the material brain cause changes to the experience of mind? I get sad, my brain's chemical levels change in the ways that it does when you are sad. Is your mind reacting to the chemicals, or is your mental state causing a change in your brain's chemicals? If it's true that your mind causes physical changes in the brain, then there is an actual immaterial reality, or at least aspect of reality. And then we're right back to spirituality.

It's good to think about this I think. If you accept an immaterial mind, strict materialism goes right out the window, and this is quite often the overall world-view of many people who speak on scientific matters. And I don't mean that at all as a comment that is intended to dis-credit science. Obviously science is pretty much the most demonstrably effective tool of all time. But various world-views predominate at various times, and certainly the modern scientist isn't beyond that. Technically if someone stuck strictly with the scientific method, they simply wouldn't speculate beyond the evidence. But, we are human, and we form world-views. And strict materialism is just that, a world view, and in many cases is an assumption in interpreting evidence, rather than being what the evidence itself says. So my point is, to accept an immaterial mind at all will inevitably open your mind up to new possibilities, or at least to a greater sense of uncertainty, if it's actually thought about in any depth. With the acceptance of an immaterial mind, we are really right back in the realm of spirituality. Spirit, immaterial mind, at a certain point it becomes semantics and individual interpretation.

edit on 20-10-2014 by TheJourney because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:08 AM
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a reply to: TheJourney

You should watch Deepak Chopra getting interviewed by Richard Dawkins. It's basically this whole topic in 20 minutes.



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:13 AM
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Where does the materialism stop, does it stop at the brain or does it extend out further?

Is the world around you a material part of your mind or it actually separate? Does it only have the appearance of separation?



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:14 AM
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originally posted by: tavi45
a reply to: TheJourney

You should watch Deepak Chopra getting interviewed by Richard Dawkins. It's basically this whole topic in 20 minutes.


I have saw that video. I believe I do remember talking on this sort of topic, which was something I liked. But to be honest, I didn't like the video too much, in terms of Chopra. I felt like he was evading Dawkins' points, and wouldn't really honestly address what Dawkins was trying to get at. Certainly though Chopra did say a variety of good things that I would agree with.]
edit on 20-10-2014 by TheJourney because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:15 AM
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There is one solid experiment that could be performed to see if the brain=mind.
We will all find an answer to that question in due time.
My hunch tells me that the brain acts, on some level, as a transceiver for an external consciousness, but the only people who know the answer to that question are incapable of making a report in a scientifically verifiable way using our current instruments.



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:17 AM
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originally posted by: onequestion
Where does the materialism stop, does it stop at the brain or does it extend out further?

Is the world around you a material part of your mind or it actually separate? Does it only have the appearance of separation?



I would say that all of our perceptions of the world are merely reflections of our minds, in terms of its inherent capacities and our use of them. But I wouldn't really say one way or the other in terms of what the external world 'actually' is. We only perceive it according to our minds, but that doesn't really have to mean that it has no existence outside of the mind. Just that it's existence is, at the very least, beyond how we perceive it.



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:19 AM
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originally posted by: skunkape23
There is one solid experiment that could be performed to see if the brain=mind.
We will all find an answer to that question in due time.
My hunch tells me that the brain acts, on some level, as a transceiver for an external consciousness, but the only people who know the answer to that question are incapable of making a report in a scientifically verifiable way using our current instruments.


I tend to think that the brain is a transceiver of consciousness as well. But what is the experiment? And who are the people who know the answer to the question?



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:33 AM
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Suggesting that "strict" materialism is just a view like any other view is like saying not believing in Santa Claus isn't anymore valid than believing in Santa Claus. I'm sure the last time an adult told their mom they STILL believe in Santa Claus, their mom graciously accepted, as all viewpoints are equal, right?

Are all viewpoints equal? Maybe not for Santa Claus, especially if the North Pole melts. Santa Claus will have ot move somewhere else. Maybe Santa Claus lives on a invisible magical North Pole?

There's only one thing I really know about this. Without empirical evidence, belief has nothing to anchor it to our world. In a world of belief, ANYTHING goes. Belief is only limited by our imagination.

Belief won't save you if you jump off a cliff. It won't stop you from dying. Belief won't make you win the next lottery drawing. This world runs on measurable rules. It doesn't need Santa Claus or Jesus. However, if that's what someone wants to believe then they can.

Know what I believe? I believe nobody is real. Real isn't real. Everything is predetermined except a random feed. In essence, we're unpredictable predetermined states. And you know what? My belief is equal to yours or anyone elses. There's no empirical evidence necessary and I can go on believing this until I die.

All beliefs are equal if not tied to empirical evidences.
edit on 20-10-2014 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:38 AM
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a reply to: onequestion


Is the world around you a material part of your mind or it actually separate? Does it only have the appearance of separation?

Electro magnetic activity is provable enough. When someone dies the activity stops.When we sleep we aren't aware but the activity is there, regardless of OBE or not.

Someone in a coma is "not dead", but more like an idling car with a sleeping driver. Or no driver at all.



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:50 AM
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originally posted by: onequestion
Where does the materialism stop, does it stop at the brain or does it extend out further?

Is the world around you a material part of your mind or it actually separate? Does it only have the appearance of separation?



My theory:

Materialism was proven wrong from my point of view when we discovered probability waves and entanglement. You can think the probability wave as a probability field going thru space time creating peaks of entanglements between different things in space time.

In spiritual example entanglement can be noticed as synchronicity and sometimes synchronicity can be achieved thru intent->manifestation by manipulation of the probability field while pushing energy/chi/light/kundalini for instance creating low level telepathy that might not be registered in the conscious mind.

An example my mom could always when I was very young get me to come home for food by thinking it is time for you to come home and I came home for my own reasons. One of the reasons that my father when tired of trying to find me told mom to use her mind trick to get me home even when he did not believe it was possible to do it.



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 12:53 AM
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originally posted by: jonnywhite
Suggesting that "strict" materialism is just a view like any other view is like saying not believing in Santa Claus isn't anymore valid than believing in Santa Claus. I'm sure the last time an adult told their mom they STILL believe in Santa Claus, their mom graciously accepted, as all viewpoints are equal, right?

Are all viewpoints equal?

There's only one thing I really know about this. Without empirical evidence, belief has nothing to anchor it to our world. In a world of belief, ANYTHING goes. Belief is only limited by our imagination.

Belief won't save you if you jump off a cliff. It won't stop you from dying. Belief won't make you win the next lottery drawing. This world runs on rules. It doesn't need Santa Claus or Jesus. However, if that's what someone wants to believe than they can.

Know what I believe? I believe nobody is real. Real isn't real. Everything is predetermined except a random feed. In essence, we're unpredictable predetermined states. And you know what? My belief is equal to yours or anyone elses. There's no empirical evidence necessary and I can go on believing this until I die.

All beliefs are equal. I agree with that.


I said in my OP that the scientific method, which is the empirical method, is the most effective tool of all time. I also explicitly stated that I was speaking of various interpretations which extend BEYOND the evidence. I was not criticizing empirical research. Empirical research is obviously highly effective. But there are many widespread beliefs which are rooted in materialist assumptions about everything which extend BEYOND the evidence. As with the topic of OP, whether the brain PRODUCES the perceptions of mind, or if an immaterial mind produces changes in the brain. So again I am not criticizing empiricism, but taking interpretations of empirical evidence as being the actual empirical evidence. In other words, muddling up the actual facts with their interpretations.
edit on 20-10-2014 by TheJourney because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 01:40 AM
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a reply to: TheJourney
Good thinking. Mind is a difficult subject and its nice to see some thinking in its regards. But I cannot agree with your assessment.



To say that we can demonstrate a definite correlation to some physical activity in the brain and some mental state of the individual, does not prove that the physical activity is CAUSING the mental state. That is purely speculative.


However, we cannot even demonstrate, measure, define, nor observe, any correlation between non-physical activity and some mental state. At least physical activity can be demonstrated, and correlated, for instance through brain injury, narcotics, exhaustion etc. Such physical acts have been proven to cause changes in "mind". while non-physical activity, or an immaterial mind, cannot even be demonstrated, let alone be proven both logically and empirically, that it can have any affect whatsoever on anything whatsoever.


Is your mind reacting to the chemicals, or is your mental state causing a change in your brain's chemicals?


This question assumes that there is an immaterial mind interacting with chemical changes in the body, yet refuses to question how this assumption can be made. The premises "there is an immaterial mind" and "the immaterial mind causes changes to material chemicals" is an assumption more likely held together by strings of bubble gum, than by reason or evidence.



So my point is, to accept an immaterial mind at all will inevitably open your mind up to new possibilities, or at least to a greater sense of uncertainty, if it's actually thought about in any depth.


Except the concept of mind is a closed system of understanding, insofar as it signifies itself, rather than actual phenomena. It is circular reason that assumes itself as the cause of its own effect, before it has even been demonstrated that it can and does affect anything. In this case, it closes our minds to any other possibility but itself, rather than opens it.



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 01:43 AM
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Hiya Op,

Interesting topic.

originally posted by: TheJourney
Technically if someone stuck strictly with the scientific method, they simply wouldn't speculate beyond the evidence. But, we are human, and we form world-views. And strict materialism is just that, a world view, and in many cases is an assumption in interpreting evidence, rather than being what the evidence itself says.

Disagree with this.

1. Not speculating beyond the evidence

Think you need to reevaluate your feelings on this. Einstein speculated furiously beyond evidence. He needed to. Lawrence Krauss talks about this now and then also when it's brought up, because it's a common misconception that imagination and speculation has no place in science. The major aspect of science a process is discarding ideas when they become less probable.

2. Strict materialism is 'just' a world view

Again, it being a world view doesn't make it any more or less likely to be true. What does make it potentially true is the evidence. Scientific evidence by its very nature will be primarily materialist or physical. To quote Laplace when asked where God was in one of his ideas the person said, "I had no need of that hypothesis." Laplace wasn't an atheist, just God's intervention wasn't need to hang the planets up. So far, there is very little evidence that would call for the need of an undetectable immaterial consciousness.

The evidence for a material mind includes information such as genetics. None of us is an individual. We are all made up of behaviors that come from our parents who provided our genetic material. We can all be denied are consciousness or behaviors by having bits of brain removed. It is possible that something conduits through the mind, and I personally am open to that but I don't see it as likely.

Science can't disprove the idea, but I think we've yet to come up to situation that (with high probability) absolutely requires it. The very idea of an immaterial mind would potentially turn science upside down, because it would require something other than science to find it since science is the studying of material for the most part. Science is yet to really demonstrate the existence of a complete 'non-thing' I believe?

Feel free to link me reading material if I' way off.



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 02:06 AM
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a reply to: TheJourney

If the mind is a software, then it can exist without the hardware (brain) however, it is meant to be used to control the brain, like a user (you) uses the software (mind) to control the brain (hardware).



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 02:25 AM
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originally posted by: Aphorism
a reply to: TheJourney
However, we cannot even demonstrate, measure, define, nor observe, any correlation between non-physical activity and some mental state. At least physical activity can be demonstrated, and correlated, for instance through brain injury, narcotics, exhaustion etc. Such physical acts have been proven to cause changes in "mind". while non-physical activity, or an immaterial mind, cannot even be demonstrated, let alone be proven both logically and empirically, that it can have any affect whatsoever on anything whatsoever.


Of course, the mind can only be experienced. The experience of mind anyways is the most obvious thing to every individual. I really don't think I can get with the idea that all experience of mind are literally physical reactions. I do understand that it is possible the perception of mind is just a sort of illusory phenomena generated by physical processes, but at the same time I find arguments that there is literally nothing other than physical processes to be sort of a way of getting stuck in a logical argument where you just totally ignore the obvious reality of your actual experience of life. But back to the original point, it is of course true that by its nature an immaterial mind would be non-empirical. Mind is only experienced, so the only observations you can make about the mind has to be through observation of your own mind.



This question assumes that there is an immaterial mind interacting with chemical changes in the body, yet refuses to question how this assumption can be made. The premises "there is an immaterial mind" and "the immaterial mind causes changes to material chemicals" is an assumption more likely held together by strings of bubble gum, than by reason or evidence.



I am not intending to make an assertion that there is definitely an immaterial mind. Rather, I am pointing out that its opposite, that it is merely a product of physical reactions, while perhaps sometimes see as obvious science, is actually an assumption, rather than something that has been proven.




Except the concept of mind is a closed system of understanding, insofar as it signifies itself, rather than actual phenomena. It is circular reason that assumes itself as the cause of its own effect, before it has even been demonstrated that it can and does affect anything. In this case, it closes our minds to any other possibility but itself, rather than opens it.


Our own experience is all any of us ever know. So isn't it strange that we completely want to exclude it from our exploration of reality? This is why science is only half complete. Well, more than half now with the emergence and increasing relevance of psychology. But, we haven't yet truly opened up to explorations of the inner subjectivity, in part because of this assumption, which I find extremely odd, that we ought to eliminate the individual from investigations about reality, despite the fact that individual subjective experience is universally present with us all.
edit on 20-10-2014 by TheJourney because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 02:36 AM
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originally posted by: Pinke
Hiya Op,

1. Not speculating beyond the evidence

Think you need to reevaluate your feelings on this. Einstein speculated furiously beyond evidence. He needed to. Lawrence Krauss talks about this now and then also when it's brought up, because it's a common misconception that imagination and speculation has no place in science. The major aspect of science a process is discarding ideas when they become less probable.


I wasn't intending to imply that we shouldn't speculate, really. Moreso that, speculation has nothing to do with the scientific method. Speculation is essentially a universal, and one could argue that the understanding of reality can be a bit bland without any allowance for speculation. Speculation breeds creativity and insight. What gets me is people who pretend as if everything they say is based on absolute proven fact, and are totally unconscious of and unwilling to admit their assumptions and speculations.


2. Strict materialism is 'just' a world view

Again, it being a world view doesn't make it any more or less likely to be true. What does make it potentially true is the evidence. Scientific evidence by its very nature will be primarily materialist or physical. To quote Laplace when asked where God was in one of his ideas the person said, "I had no need of that hypothesis." Laplace wasn't an atheist, just God's intervention wasn't need to hang the planets up. So far, there is very little evidence that would call for the need of an undetectable immaterial consciousness.

The evidence for a material mind includes information such as genetics. None of us is an individual. We are all made up of behaviors that come from our parents who provided our genetic material. We can all be denied are consciousness or behaviors by having bits of brain removed. It is possible that something conduits through the mind, and I personally am open to that but I don't see it as likely.


Although I didn't specifically mention it in the OP, I certainly believe genetics plays a fact. What I'm saying is, I believe every subjective and mental experience has a physical component or correlation. Really, everything about everyone probably has a physical correlation. But you can't say that the physical is the only actuality. And that being something we can't actually say with proof is significant.



Science can't disprove the idea, but I think we've yet to come up to situation that (with high probability) absolutely requires it. The very idea of an immaterial mind would potentially turn science upside down, because it would require something other than science to find it since science is the studying of material for the most part. Science is yet to really demonstrate the existence of a complete 'non-thing' I believe?


Well, that highlights a big point with this whole idea. I think I was going to mention it in my previous post, but forgot. lol. But here's good as well. Taking empiricism to be the sole truth pre-defines what is capable of investigation. You say, 'that can't be physically measured, therefore it is irrelevant,' because you are pre-defining it as irrelevant. It's a pre-defined thought loop, where you're structuring your thinking on the premise that only one type of information is relevant, and then when confronted with any other information, you say it is irrelevant, only because you're pre-defined it as irrelevant. So, anything not empirical, while it could be true, can never be empirically verified. Therefore, even if anything other than empirical reality were true, it could never be acknowledged and pursued.
edit on 20-10-2014 by TheJourney because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 02:47 AM
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I am far from being capable of affirming a valid argument in this topic- I am not educated enough to try.

But my brain brings up a memory in association-
The disclosure of my mother on the subject of physiology and psychology (she was a psychologist and psychotherapist).

In speaking about state like depression, she said they find correlations with certain chemicals in the body and brain, that are imbalanced in someone who is depressed.

What is not clear, is whether the mental state of depression is caused by the chemical imbalance,
Or whether the chemical imbalance is caused by the mental state of depression.

She said
We simplify this to the general public by affirming that it is the chemicals as cause of the mental experience, because that way, we can respond to it, treat it, with medicine.

Even if it turns out we are wrong (it is the mind which causes the chemical imbalance) then the placebo effect, in most cases, still steps in effectively. Because they believe their mental state is caused by the physiology, changing the physiology causes them to change their mind.



This was many many years ago. My mother is dead now, and I have a stepmother who is also a shrink. She is of a more current generation of mental health professionals that have completely embraced the concept of mental states as products of physiological states, so all you need is the correct medication and dosage.

But when talking to her, I still keep remembering that earlier admission from my mom, and wonder if the placebo effect is in fact working on a large scale now. The shrinks are no longer aware that they are fibbing a bit and pretending to know more than they do- now they believe their fib 100%.

In a capitalistic society, it is probably unavoidable that the prominent beliefs will center around affirmation of strict materialism, so that goods can be valued as essential....



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 02:58 AM
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originally posted by: Bluesma
I am far from being capable of affirming a valid argument in this topic- I am not educated enough to try.

But my brain brings up a memory in association-
The disclosure of my mother on the subject of physiology and psychology (she was a psychologist and psychotherapist).

In speaking about state like depression, she said they find correlations with certain chemicals in the body and brain, that are imbalanced in someone who is depressed.

What is not clear, is whether the mental state of depression is caused by the chemical imbalance,
Or whether the chemical imbalance is caused by the mental state of depression.

She said
We simplify this to the general public by affirming that it is the chemicals as cause of the mental experience, because that way, we can respond to it, treat it, with medicine.

Even if it turns out we are wrong (it is the mind which causes the chemical imbalance) then the placebo effect, in most cases, still steps in effectively. Because they believe their mental state is caused by the physiology, changing the physiology causes them to change their mind.



This was many many years ago. My mother is dead now, and I have a stepmother who is also a shrink. She is of a more current generation of mental health professionals that have completely embraced the concept of mental states as products of physiological states, so all you need is the correct medication and dosage.

But when talking to her, I still keep remembering that earlier admission from my mom, and wonder if the placebo effect is in fact working on a large scale now. The shrinks are no longer aware that they are fibbing a bit and pretending to know more than they do- now they believe their fib 100%.

In a capitalistic society, it is probably unavoidable that the prominent beliefs will center around affirmation of strict materialism, so that goods can be valued as essential....


That is a very interesting conversation with your mother. Basically a restatement of the premise, you can't show one way or another whether the chemical fluctuations are caused by the emotions, or the emotions by the chemicals. Interesting how she described it as simplifying it for the public. That sounds about right. But then, as you say, it does seem to have become the basic assumption. At the same time, I would not say that mental health medications are just having widespread placebo effects. Which does bring to light an interesting point. The drugs regulate the chemicals in your brain. But I think we should be very careful about doing that, because I do believe that the brain takes impulses from the mind, and that dictates at least certain chemical fluctuations and the like. This is what it's supposed to do. When you artificially limit the potential range of your brain's chemical levels, the mind and brain don't really interface the way that they're supposed to, and I think bad things can happen. I think this is the reason behind things like anti-depressants setting off sucides.
edit on 20-10-2014 by TheJourney because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 03:25 AM
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The brain plays a huge part in what we would call the mind.
It is the organ of thought, mediated by electricity and chemistry.
There can be forms of non local consciousness, but mostly these are entirely alien to our normal thought processes.

I believe that as any system reaches a certain complexity , it will tune into a field of singular, egoless consciousness.
So, cities, planets, solar systems and stars, are all sentient, in their way.
These are interpretations of pantheistic notions.

I would say that the material universe is the mechanism of the universal mind, which we are tuned in to.
We should not really regard our thoughts as our own, instead they are received via our brain which it a tuning mechanism.

We should not expect individual thought after death.
edit on 20-10-2014 by rom12345 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 20 2014 @ 03:41 AM
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Thanks for reply Journey.

I don't have time for a massive reply, but I'll posit one concept.


originally posted by: TheJourney
You say, 'that can't be physically measured, therefore it is irrelevant,' because you are pre-defining it as irrelevant. It's a pre-defined thought loop, where you're structuring your thinking on the premise that only one type of information is relevant, and then when confronted with any other information, you say it is irrelevant, only because you're pre-defined it as irrelevant. So, anything not empirical, while it could be true, can never be empirically verified. Therefore, even if anything other than empirical reality were true, it could never be acknowledged and pursued.

Just because there is truth in a Greek tragedy that cannot be measured by science doesn't therefore mean that in science there will suddenly be super nature.

It's not that the information is relevant or irrelevant, it's that the very concept that is being discussed cannot be measured, described, or have its properties recognized by science. There are non-empirical truths, most people will agree on this. There are self evident truths, most people will agree on this. So surely then immaterial consciousness makes sense?

The contradiction here is a non-empirical immaterial truth which exists and directly interacts with reality in an empirical way which can be measured but science won't acknowledge. It's potentially a contradiction in terms no? It's like lamenting why Shakespeare won't acknowledge Newtonian Physics or writing a letter to a physicist asking them to acknowledge the beauty of a painting.

I suspect sometimes what is seen as materialism or scientism is actually just people being incredulous about an unproven topic. I don't doubt there are many different types of truth. I'll even go as far to say that it is possible to have an immaterial timeless realm that Pinke doesn't know about. I think it's unlikely that science can investigate such a realm unless some new type of science is invented.



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