Tuesday, September 05, 2017

A Thought in The Mind of God






A poster, 7th Stooge on the comment section of this blog says: "Maybe you could do a post on this Berkeleyan idea that everything's an idea in the mind o' God (if you haven't already). Having trouble wrapping my head around it."[1] The idea I've talked about is not  limited to Berkeley it has champions in Issac Newton [2] and Josiah Royce [3] as well. These versions are all a bit different but they are similar enough to share the same category, which is Ontological Idealism. There is also an epistemic idealism. They both hold that  "., they think of idealism as a position which is characterized by the claim that the universe (Moore) or whatever exists or whatever can be known to exist (Russell) is spiritual (Moore) or in some sense mental (Russell)."[4] Berkeley's version of that is his famous "to be is to be perceived," Newton's was the idea that the universe is "the sensorium of God." Mine is that reality is a thought in the mind of God.

Two major figures led the attack Agassi idealism general and this form of it in particular, Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) and G.E. Moore (1873–1958). They led the British attack and the American front was brought up by a squadron of New young pragmatists which included the father of history of ideas A.O. Lovejoy. We must not forget one of Royce's sparring partners William James who motivated a major attack. [5] 

Even though any kind of idealism is considered outmoded and disprove Russell and Moore nor nay of their cohorts ever assumed they had disproved it.

Although their attack was so influential that even more than 100 years later, any acknowledgment of idealistic tendencies is viewed in the English-speaking world with reservation, it is by no means obvious that they actually thought they had disproved idealism. On the contrary, neither Moore nor Russell claimed to have demonstrated that the universe or what exists or can be known to exist is not spiritual or mental. All that they take themselves to have shown is that there are no good philosophical (in contradistinction to, e.g., theological or psychological) arguments available to support such a claim. Moore especially is very explicit about this point. He devotes the first five pages of his famous piece from 1903, “The Refutation of Idealism,” to assuring the reader over and over that “I do not suppose that anything I shall say has the smallest tendency to prove that reality is not spiritual. … Reality may be spiritual, for all I know; and I devoutly hope it is. … It is, therefore, only with idealistic arguments that I am concerned; … I shall have proved that Idealists have no reason whatever for their conclusion” (Philosophical Studies, pp. 2 f.). And Russell in his The Problems of Philosophy (1912), in a similar vein, warns the reader, after emphasizing the strangeness of an idealistic position from a common sense point of view: “[I]f there were good reasons to regard them [viz. physical objects] as mental, we could not legitimately reject this opinion merely because it strikes us as strange” (p. 38). [6]
Ironically or James Jeans (11 September 1877 – 16 September 1946[2] supported such idealism even after it was sweped aside, which is probably why his work has been forgotten. I say ironic because he wasan atheiwst,ma scieitnisthewas amajortheit pitch mam the Dawkins of his day. Sir James Jeans wrote; "The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter... we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter."[7]
"What remains is in any case very different from the full-blooded matter and the forbidding materialism of the Victorian scientist. His objective and material universe is proved to consist of little more than constructs of our own minds. To this extent, then, modern physics has moved in the direction of philosophic idealism. Mind and matter, if not proved to be of similar nature, are at least found to be ingredients of one single system. There is no longer room for the kind of dualism which has haunted philosophy since the days of Descartes." [8]
Contemporary thinkers have begun to realize this anti-idealist assumption is nothing but a Western scientific prejudice. The two major arguments that Moore and Russell used were assumptions that one chose one of Berkey's central ideas." The first concerns Berkeley’s idealistic principle that being consists in being perceived, the second the converse claim, attributed to Bradley, that thought entails being." [9] But Neither Newton nor the modern  idealists really rely on Berkeley. Newton looked to the notion that God used the physical world as a theater of thought to explain action at a distance (Gravity--that's the truth behind newton;s theory of gravity).[10] While certain physicists who are going native so to speak use mind to explain the nature of quantum theory.


"Eugene Wigner and others have suggested that it is mind acting on matter that accounts for quantum phenomena."[11] Bernard d'Espagnat, a French theoretical physicist best known for his work on the nature of reality, wrote a paper titled The Quantum Theory and Reality. According to the paper:
"The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment."[12]
a "growing body of renegade scientists ... in recent years have ventured into the domain of the spiritual in an attempt both to interpret the seemingly inexplicable findings of their experiments and to validate their intuitions about the existence of a spiritual dimension of life. "[13] One of the major figures in this group is Amit Goswami (Author of Self Aware Universe),[14] Physicist at the University of Oregon (he;s also a member of its Institute of Theoretical Science). Goswami lays out the basic theory of this ontological idealism:
The current worldview has it that everything is made of matter, and everything can be reduced to the elementary particles of matter, the basic constituents—building blocks—of matter. And cause arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief—all cause moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call "upward causation." So in this view, ...our free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon ....\Now, the opposite view is that everything starts with consciousness.That is, consciousness is the ground of all being. In this view, consciousness imposes "downward causation." In other words, our free will is real. When we act in the world we really are acting with causal power. This view does not deny that matter also has causal potency—... It is the spiritual teaching. It is not just parallel. The idea that consciousness is the ground of being is the basis of all spiritual traditions, [15]
The major argumet for this view is collapsing the wave function. There must be some universal mind to collapse the wave function for the universe. Naturally I don't expect atheists to go for this and I don't know enough about quantum theory to defend it. I am not going to argue for it or try to protein, I hold it as a theoretical answer only. I am, however, going to indicate a plausibility for the argument, After all the argument was nevrer disproved,

Two basic ideas point to plausibility. (1) lack of understanding of the alternative, (2) the necessity of mind in creation. We know atoms are not little balls on sticks, but what they actually are we really don;t know, In reality subatomic particles are not made out of little balls, nor are these ‘particles” tangible or solid. In fact we could make a strong argument that no one even knows what they are made of. Do  subatomic particles really exist? In answer to this question one physics says



The short answer is we do not know. We have theories but are they right? It also comes down to word meaning. If something behaves like a particle, is it a particle? Think about this - if it isn’t, how can it behave like one? (The point is, what you are denying is what you define it as having its behaviour. A sort of circular denial.)
Your description is consistent with quantum field theory, but it is still far from clear that is true. What is an excitation? Why does the excitation not decay?
I prefer to say, we have our models, and we shall see where they take us but ultimately, we don’t know
.[16]

Right after this one there's another answer that's even more tellimg. 

Quantum Field theory (QFT) describes ‘particles’ as not being particles existent on their own, but rather as being excitations in various fields; an up quark is just some energy in the up quark field that behaves like a particle, while an electron is just an excitation in the election field that behaves as a different particle. In QFT, these particles don’t really exist as particles, but as bits of energy in fields. This also accounts for wave-particle duality as you describe, as the ‘wave’ of a ‘particle’ is just an oscillation in the field.So yes, according to Quantum Field theory, you are completely correct[17]
This does not prove anything but it gives us a dandy hint. First, what is being described is a system where theoretical constructs are accepted due to their working and definiteness into theoretical structure regardless of their empirical demonstrability. One would think that should make mocking ideas foreign to the system a little incredulous since "that is stupid because it doesn't fit my theoretical construel is a bit terse,Secondly, we also see the employment of mind understanding the workings of the system it requires a good deal of mental agility. One cant help but think there should be some employment of mind in the construct of reality not merely in the construct theory about reality. 

There are many reasons to think so. Arguments such as find tuning and wave function can be pressed into service. I have written an argent of my own even before I had this idea that points up the necessity of mind in the working out of big bang cosmology. Years g I made an argumnet i called Argument from Temporal Bering. This argument does depend upon big bag cosmology butitis still the standard model. 



1) Time has a begining.
2) There is no causality or sequential order beyond time.
3) Therefore, no change beyond time is possible.
4) The putative state of affairs beyond time is one of timlessness.

5) Therefore, time should never have come to be.
6) We know that time did come to be, therefore, it must have been created by something capable of writing and circumventing the rules.


7) Only mind would be capable of writing and circumventing the rules of time and eternity, therefore, eternal necessary must be the author of physical reality.[18]


This idea solves a good many theological problems such a the problem of temporal beginning. Like all God arguments it will be met with mocking and ridicule but why is vacuum flux popping into existence out of nothing for no reason any more reasonable? Mind makes a good stopping place ro final cause since it can generate matter infinitely if matter is idea, In a world governed by mind God would only be constrained by his own imagination,



Sources


[1] 7th Stooge, comment section ,"The Realization of God and Meaning in the Universe," Metacrock's Blog, (Aug 29,2017) http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-realization-of-god-and-meaning-in.html
(accessed 9/5/17)

[2]Alexander Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, Baltimore, Maryland Johns Hopkins press, 1957. 159-161.
Koyré,161:
Newton's physics, or, it would be better to say, Newton's natural philosophy, stands or falls with the concepts of absolute time and absolute space, the selfsame concepts for which Henry More fought his long-drawn-out and relentless battle against Descartes. Curiously enough, the Cartesian conception of the only relative, or relational, character of these and connected notions is branded by Newton as being "vulgar" and as based upon "prejudices."
Thus in the famous scholium which follows the Definitions that are placed at the very beginning of the Principia, Newton writes:9
Hitherto I have laid down the definitions of such words as are less known, and explain the sense in which I would have them to be understood in the following discourse. I do not define time, space, place, and motion as being well known to all. Only I must observe that the vulgar conceive those quantities under no other notions but from the relations they bear to sensible objects. And thence arise certain prejudices, for the removing of which, it will be convenient to distinguish them into absolute and relative, true and apparent, mathematical and common.
 Absolute, true and mathematical time and space—for Newton these qualifications are equivalent and determine
As a covaeot to my view we aware of the counter view of Patrick J. Connolly "Newton's claim just means that space is the venue in which God carries out his divine will." Intellectual History Review, 2014, vol 24, no 2 1985,180.

[3] Guyer, Paul and Horstmann, Rolf-Peter, "Idealism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/idealism/>.
(accessed 9/5/17)

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sir James Jeans, The mysterious universe, Cambridge, New york Cambridge university press. 137.

[8] Sir James Jeans addressing the British Association in 1934. in Franklin Le Van Baumer (ed.) Main Currents of Western Thought: Readings in Western European Intellectual History. Hew Haven,London: Yale University press, 1978, 703.

https://books.google.com/books?id=QmPWQyRL8nUC&pg=PA703&lpg=PA703&dq=%22What+remains+is+in+any+case+very+different+from+the+full-blooded+matter+and+the+forbidding+materialism+of+the+Victorian+scientist.+His+objective+and+material+universe+is+proved+to+consist+of+little+more+than+constructs+of+our+own+minds.&source=bl&ots=t-tReSImoF&sig=23e4-g4RZ1eYdiaZgAtm_kTyFI8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJxZbzq43WAhXlh1QKHWiGBvYQ6AEILTAB#v=onepage&q=%22What%20remains%20is%20in%20any%20case%20very%20different%20from%20the%20full-blooded%20matter%20and%20the%20forbidding%20materialism%20of%20the%20Victorian%20scientist.%20His%20objective%20and%20material%20universe%20is%20proved%20to%20consist%20of%20little%20more%20than%20constructs%20of%20our%20own%20minds.&f=false
(accessed 9/5/17)

[9] Paul Guyer,  and Horstmann, Rolf-Peter,op cit.
sd Dscsartes anLkib eiz 

[10] G. J. Mattey,"Philosophy 22 notes Issac Newton," UC Davis Philosophy 22 Seventeenth Century Philosophy, 2001
http://hume.ucdavis.edu/mattey/phi022old/newtlec.htm
(accessed 9/5/17)

[11] Robert J. Russell, "Quantum Physics," Counter Balance, Website, no date goven
(accessed 9/5/17)

[12] Bernard d'Espagnat,, "The Quantum Theory and Reality," Scientific Amercan,1979, no month given 158-181 pdf
https://www.scientificamerican.com/media/pdf/197911_0158.pdf
(accessed 9/5/17)

[13]Craig Hamilton. "The self Aware Universe An Interview with Amit Gaswami, " TWM no date given.

14 Amit Goswami. Self Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates The Material World. New York: Peinguin Putnam inc,1993. no page indicated.

[15] Hamilton, op cit

[16]Ian Miller, "Do Sub Atomic Particles really Exist?" Quora. website (may 19 no year given)

[17] Lars Cain, Ibid.

[18] My temporal beginning argument,

16 comments:

7th Stooge said...

Joe, Interesting post. A few questions came up as I read it.

When you say that everything is a thought in the mind of God, do you mean that God is the origin and cause of everything that is and everything that happens? What would that idea do to the notion of autonomy and free will? I take it that your idea would mean that the thoughts I am currently having are really being caused by God and the sense that they're "my" thoughts is just an illusion.

Or maybe you mean that God thinks the world as a whole, that he's not thinking every individual micro-event but that the basic parameters and constants of reality are his thoughts. That makes more sense to me than that God is actively thinking everything. But even if that is true, if the basic building blocks of reality are thought-like, it wouldn't necessarily follow that everything the emerges at the macro-scale out of this basic level would also be thoughts. Those would be two different senses of "is". The alternative, that EVERYTHING is a thought of God's just seems so wildly extravagantly unnecessary to make it implausible at least to me.

When you say "everything" you can't literally mean everything, because I assume that God would not need to or be able to think his own attributes into being, since those attributes are necessary for God to think in the first place.

I tend to see creation more as the result of God's kenotic withdrawal allowing for a zone of self-creation, even if the basic substructure of this zone is a thought or thought-like.

Russell proposed the idea that mind and matter are two aspects of some greater reality that transcends and unites them both. Iguess this would be consistent with an impersonal God along the lines of Spinoza or Brahma.

Mike Gerow said...

I think we both see keno tic withdrawal - with its underlying sense of "falleness" perhaps? - as a bigger element in theology than Joe does, Jim.

But perhaps, he is more optimististic then about the knowability of God and of his/her intentions and nature than either of us are?

Joe Hinman said...

Mike Gerow said...
I think we both see keno tic withdrawal - with its underlying sense of "falleness" perhaps? - as a bigger element in theology than Joe does, Jim.

But perhaps, he is more optimististic then about the knowability of God and of his/her intentions and nature than either of us are?

what the hell are you talking about?

Joe Hinman said...

Joe, Interesting post. A few questions came up as I read it.

When you say that everything is a thought in the mind of God, do you mean that God is the origin and cause of everything that is and everything that happens? What would that idea do to the notion of autonomy and free will? I take it that your idea would mean that the thoughts I am currently having are really being caused by God and the sense that they're "my" thoughts is just an illusion.

I dealt with free will in the post,it's ground up causation that leads to determinism, ontological idealism as Goswami says is top down causation he specifically says it allows free will. I think your mistake is in being literal about the term "everything."so you assume God must think about swizzel sticks and mustard and grass for they can't exist

Or maybe you mean that God thinks the world as a whole, that he's not thinking every individual micro-event but that the basic parameters and constants of reality are his thoughts. That makes more sense to me than that God is actively thinking everything. But even if that is true, if the basic building blocks of reality are thought-like, it wouldn't necessarily follow that everything the emerges at the macro-scale out of this basic level would also be thoughts. Those would be two different senses of "is". The alternative, that EVERYTHING is a thought of God's just seems so wildly extravagantly unnecessary to make it implausible at least to me.

why any more so than saying everything is physical or everything is material? how does it differ from saying everything is created by God?

When you say "everything" you can't literally mean everything, because I assume that God would not need to or be able to think his own attributes into being, since those attributes are necessary for God to think in the first place.

the physical realm.you answered all of these youself

I tend to see creation more as the result of God's kenotic withdrawal allowing for a zone of self-creation, even if the basic substructure of this zone is a thought or thought-like.

that's very telling, why do you reality as as a struggle to rid itself of God? I see God's consciousnesses as a framework in which physical reality can cohere

Russell proposed the idea that mind and matter are two aspects of some greater reality that transcends and unites them both. Iguess this would be consistent with an impersonal God along the lines of Spinoza or Brahma.

good point

Mike Gerow said...

Joe, you don't know what I'm talking about? .... The "kenotic withdrawal of God" is not even a partially tragic event for you? ... Well, here's an LPP quote....

"“And we cannot be honest unless we recognise that we have to live in the world etsi deus non daretur [even if there were no God]. And this is just what we do recognise – before God! God himself compels us to recognise it. So our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God. God would have us know that we must live as men who manage our lives without him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15:34). The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually. Before God and with God we live without God. God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt. 8.17 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering”.

7th Stooge said...

"I dealt with free will in the post,it's ground up causation that leads to determinism, ontological idealism as Goswami says is top down causation he specifically says it allows free will. I think your mistake is in being literal about the term "everything."so you assume God must think about swizzel sticks and mustard and grass for they can't exist"

No, I allowed for that possibility in my post, that God thinks the basic framework but not the particulars. You did say that the world is a thought in the mind of God. But my point was that there must be aspects of the world that Gd witholds his direct control over in order to allow for free will. I was just asking for clarification about what you meant.

"why any more so than saying everything is physical or everything is material? how does it differ from saying everything is created by God?"

But I don't think that God creates lawn chairs or my cat. He creates the background conditions that allow for such things to emerge. In the same sense, he doesn't create my thoughts, or at least not all of them. I create some of them.

"that's very telling, why do you reality as as a struggle to rid itself of God? I see God's consciousnesses as a framework in which physical reality can cohere"

I dont see kenosis as a struggle of the world to rid itself of God. I see it as an act of God's love. And I don't see a fundamental disagreement between us. God's purposes are a framework in which physical reality can cohere. He sets up the framework and leaves the particulars to play out on their own for the most part.

Joe Hinman said...

Joe, you don't know what I'm talking about? .... The "kenotic withdrawal of God" is not even a partially tragic event for you? ... Well, here's an LPP quote....

"“And we cannot be honest unless we recognise that we have to live in the world etsi deus non daretur [even if there were no God]. And this is just what we do recognise – before God! God himself compels us to recognise it. So our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God.....

yea Daddy wants us to stand on our own two feet,very sophisticated rationalization for the speech my parents gave me to move out when I went to college. Well disguised anthropomorphism

Joe Hinman said...

No, I allowed for that possibility in my post, that God thinks the basic framework but not the particulars.

yes I think we are saying the same things.


You did say that the world is a thought in the mind of God. But my point was that there must be aspects of the world that Gd witholds his direct control over in order to allow for free will. I was just asking for clarification about what you meant.

I agree, that;s part of my deal the "thought" thing is a metaphor


"why any more so than saying everything is physical or everything is material? how does it differ from saying everything is created by God?"

But I don't think that God creates lawn chairs or my cat. He creates the background conditions that allow for such things to emerge. In the same sense, he doesn't create my thoughts, or at least not all of them. I create some of them.

Did I say God thinks about such specifics,did you not get my point about swizzle sticks? we are saying the same thing, you can't hang around with someone for 50 years and not think alike.



"that's very telling, why do you reality as as a struggle to rid itself of God? I see God's consciousnesses as a framework in which physical reality can cohere"

I don't see kenosis as a struggle of the world to rid itself of God. I see it as an act of God's love. And I don't see a fundamental disagreement between us.

I know, being facetious,

God's purposes are a framework in which physical reality can cohere. He sets up the framework and leaves the particulars to play out on their own for the most part.

I know we are saying the same thing. But I'm going to give you a hard time anyway,.

Mike Gerow said...

"yea Daddy wants us to stand on our own two feet,very sophisticated rationalization for the speech my parents gave me to move out when I went to college. Well disguised anthropomorphism"

Well, you may not be able to keep standing all that long!? ;-) Anyway, there has to be some image, and every image is going to be problematic. But few seem to me as problematic as anything like the NeoPlatonc "One". Well, that is, unless you're an emperor or some other bigwig somewhere out there in some Empire.

But yeah, Bonhoeffer also said elsewhere in LPP he preferred the "moody" & more-anthromorphic OT God and wanted the NT read more in the light of the OT.

He had his reasons....

7th Stooge said...

Did I say God thinks about such specifics,did you not get my point about swizzle sticks? we are saying the same thing, you can't hang around with someone for 50 years and not think alike.

Yeah, I was agreeing with you. "That's what I'm saying."

Do you agree with the part where I said that even if everything physical ultimately is analyzable at a small enough scale as something thought-like or mental, it doesn't mean that everything that emerges from that micro-scale would also be thought-like? Even if consciousness ultimately emerges from quantum phenomena doesn't mean that consciousness is quantal.

7th Stooge said...

I know we are saying the same thing. But I'm going to give you a hard time anyway,.

Quit givin' me the business, will ya?

7th Stooge said...

"But perhaps, he is more optimististic then about the knowability of God and of his/her intentions and nature than either of us are?"

Perhaps. That would be a good subject for a separate discussion. I tend to favor kenotic opacity over transparency, or maybe translucency (Through a glass darkly)altho I think it's possible that some things about God are understandable. For God to be God and be utterly opaque just seems too sadistic to me, altho I admit it's a matter of personal sensibilities ;)

Mike Gerow said...

I think the concept of the Otherness of God is important to avoid attempts at divine usurpation by earthly forces - along the lines of Barth and his arguments for a "Totally Other" God in "Nein". For me, whenever something about God becomes transparent, it's an "Event" (or a "Gift" if we'd rather follow Jean Luc Marion). But it's also paradoxical, as in the Bonhoeffer quote, such that God both is and is not "present" in every given moment.....

Joe Hinman said...

7th Stooge said...
I know we are saying the same thing. But I'm going to give you a hard time anyway,.

Quit givin' me the business, will ya?

aw Walley

Joe Hinman said...

Mike Gerow said...
I think the concept of the Otherness of God is important to avoid attempts at divine usurpation by earthly forces - along the lines of Barth and his arguments for a "Totally Other" God in "Nein". For me, whenever something about God becomes transparent, it's an "Event" (or a "Gift" if we'd rather follow Jean Luc Marion). But it's also paradoxical, as in the Bonhoeffer quote, such that God both is and is not "present" in every given moment.....

I appreciate it valid position, but there's a balancing act that is necessary, between the otherness of God and the anthropomorphism. Too much to the former and can;t relate to God Too much the latter reduce God to human idea/ My solution's is to mediate with metaphor.

Joe Hinman said...

Do you agree with the part where I said that even if everything physical ultimately is analyzable at a small enough scale as something thought-like or mental, it doesn't mean that everything that emerges from that micro-scale would also be thought-like? Even if consciousness ultimately emerges from quantum phenomena doesn't mean that consciousness is quantal.

yes that's a good point,