Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eliminative Immaterialism

As an appendix to our crowd-pleasing refutation of (or at least polemic against) cognitive eliminative materialism, and in rank contradiction to our own earlier coffee-cup-related demonstration, we offer here, as an olive branch to the nihilists, this Bonus Gedankenexperiment:

Eliminative (Im)materialists
prove the non-existence of coffee-cups

Thm.  Certain credulous people (“Objectual Realists”) posit things they call “physical objects”:  most notoriously, coffee-cups, emblematic of their simple faith.  They fancy that these posits are perfectly solid, and retain their shape over time, and in sooth (but the image is fantastic) can actually confine a hot steaming swirling admittedly hydrodynamically chaotic fluid (the “coffee”)  lastingly within its walls.
They are deluded.

Pf.  [Subjoin all the perfectly valid truths of physics, whereby said “objects” actually resolve to an impossibly porous congeries of quarks, being otherwise mostly empty space.]
How could this ever lead to an objectual phenomenology such as these believers claim?  QED.

Of course, the mere descriptive apparatus of the Proof part  goes on for many pages, and requires several Ph.D.’s to understand;  so by the time we reach the scoffing at the notion that lasting solidity could possibly emerge out of such a mess, we are too brainfagged to object.  And indeed, the Fnorkoids, highly intelligent though disembodied beings from the fifty-ninth dimension, never having experienced anything remotely analogous to a physical “object”, will find the demonstration plausible, if not quite binding.

Nor do we, embodied though we be, stand in better case:  for indeed our physics -- with rare exceptions -- does not in fact derive the macroscopic properties (even physical properties, let alone cognitive or spiritual) of objects (oceans, animals, mugs) save in a very few favorable cases.   Scientists themselves maintain no otherwise:  as Martin Rees modestly concedes, “A star is simpler than an insect.” (Modest, since Rees is an astronomer  not an entomologist.)
Nor is the shortfall likely to be just an artefact of current computational limitations, since, provably, analytic solutions must already give up at the extremely simple level of a classical dynamical system of conservative central forces involving so few as three bodies.  (As the joke goes, quantum theory is already defeated by the zero-body problem -- the spontaneous Heisenberg-born infinities of the quantum foam.)  Why the coffee does not simply quantum-tunnel through the walls of the mug, or climb over its sides like liquid helium, or just fall straight through the bottom as the porosity picture would suggest, is a very hard problem. 

We do have certain knowledge of coffee-cups -- as certain as anything may be, at any rate (short of our Free Will, which is the most certain of all) -- but it is not of analytic or deductive origin.  It depends rather on the sort of… why, let us call it Revelation, that comes with Incarnation.   For it hath so pleased our Maker, not simply to think of us in posse, but actually to shape us concretely out of clay, with His manly hands;  and to place us in His garden,  for the greater glory of all that is, or was, or is to come.   -- Delightedly observing which, and experiencing which, at this very instant, we must note that,  should you desire a witness to His being and His goodness, you need look no further than the bracing mugful of java in your very hands.

No comments:

Post a Comment