Monday, July 06, 2020

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

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 fine 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 ago I made an argumnet i called Argument from Temporal Bering. This argument does depend upon big bang cosmology but it is 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,


[1] 7th Stooge, comment section ,"The Realization of God and Meaning in the Universe," Metacrock's Blog, (Aug 29,2017)
(accessed 9/5/17)

[2]Alexander Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, Baltimore, Maryland Johns Hopkins press, 1957. 159-161.
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 = <>.
(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.
(accessed 9/5/17)

[9] Paul Guyer,  and Horstmann, Rolf-Peter,op cit.
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[10] G. J. Mattey,"Philosophy 22 notes Issac Newton," UC Davis Philosophy 22 Seventeenth Century Philosophy, 2001
(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
(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,


Unknown said...

I like how you wrap up with God's imagination --- but doesn't all this idealism run the risk o f denigrating the material for the spiritual? I heard this called the Neo-Platonist Heresy, that our bodies don't count, only our souls. And it also seems to open us to God's whims, something I guess a Calvinist would expect! but that I'm not too happy about...

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Neo-Platonist Heresy, that our bodies don't count, only our souls.

Within the thought everything is relative to the thought.So bodies are no less important, they are also part of the idea.

And it also seems to open us to God's whims,

the whole reality of this world is one thought, free will is part of that thought. God is not thinking a separate idea for every action i take,the idea is a world of free will beings seeking God.

Anonymous said...

But our own thoughts don't have the same power to create by themselves, except arguably in a computer simulation, we have to use our bodies, even to write a book or to speak.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

But our own thoughts don't have the same power to create by themselves, except arguably in a computer simulation, we have to use our bodies, even to write a book or to speak.

so what?

Anonymous said...

It seems tenable to think of the world as entirely material... that thoughts are just patterns of matter... as much as bodies (matter?) being ideas in a transcendent realm... it seems more helpful to get Spinozist here and say that thought AND extension (space, matter) are themselves just a small number of attributes of an infinite God, that we can't conceive of. I guess I am not sure what idealism is helping us think (!) about God...

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

It seems tenable to think of the world as entirely material... that thoughts are just patterns of matter... as much as bodies (matter?) being ideas in a transcendent realm... it seems more helpful to get Spinozist here and say that thought AND extension (space, matter) are themselves just a small number of attributes of an infinite God, that we can't conceive of. I guess I am not sure what idealism is helping us think (!) about God...

Secularists propaganda has conditioned us to think that materialism is a done deal. But it's. There many philosophical proles they can't answer you have not answered the problem of temporal beginning I already discussed, and More see my essay:

"Can Science really prove the basis of modern Physics?"

mossy banks said...

I am OK with the infinite attributes of God mentioned in a response in your next post. I don't agree with the temporal argument, as it seems to rule out some possible physical models as illogical when they are not (say, a multiverse creating new universes like bubbles... there is nothing illogical about it, though it might not actually happen...)