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  1. #1
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    The soul does not exist

    All religions have trouble convincing others of the truth of their religion - either their morality, their deity, facts concerning their deities interactions and their after life. So it all becomes a personal choice and a personal decision as to what people decide to put their faith into, and spend their resources onto and how they want to live a moral life.

    However, nearly all religions are united in the idea of a soul; even a modern religion such as Scientology has the concept of a thetan - “having no mass, no wave-length, no energy, ...”. Hinduism has the idea of reincarnation and the Abrahamic religions have various locations where the after life is spent. Incidentally, the latter two also disagree as to whether animals have souls, which is an interesting divergence too.

    All definitions of soul point to something that is:

    1. An immaterial “essence”
    2. Immortal
    3. Provides the animating force behind a person’s actions.

    My argument is that souls do not exist because:

    1. If it is immaterial, it doesn’t exist other than as an idea (or a wish). So therefore, I contend that a “soul” is basically a way for people to cope with death, the permanent destruction of a physical mind. The idea of the soul is compelling because it means that a loved one would really be in a better place, or an enemy in a worse one. But just because it is a appealing, that doesn’t make it actual.
    2. The idea of a soul being eternal brings many problems, not least of which, where do they come from and where do they go after death and how could there possibly be enough room for everyone, forever. Of course, each religion has various ways to resolve the issue, from reincarnation to a supposedly ever expanding heaven/hell or simply being absorbed back into some deity. But none of these solve the space issue or resources or how souls will interact with each other.
    3. It’s clear that we are the sum of our brains and our bodies. Attempts to ‘measure’ the weight of the soul at the time of death have usually failed at being convincing (see the 21gram experiment - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/21_grams_experiment) and all the stories about out of the body experiences have been equally inconclusive. So there is no proof of anything other than the physical brain providing the animating force.

    So it’s hard to conclude that the idea of a soul is anything more than wishful thinking that requires an enormous amount of supporting ideas and concepts in order to make it a viable concept. That there is little evidence of the soul or for any of the supporting materials, one must conclude, based on all the facts at hand, that souls don’t really exist beyond mere speculation and mainly for religious purposes.

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  3. #2
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    All religions have trouble convincing others of the truth of their religion - either their morality, their deity, facts concerning their deities interactions and their after life. So it all becomes a personal choice and a personal decision as to what people decide to put their faith into, and spend their resources onto and how they want to live a moral life.

    However, nearly all religions are united in the idea of a soul; even a modern religion such as Scientology has the concept of a thetan - “having no mass, no wave-length, no energy, ...”. Hinduism has the idea of reincarnation and the Abrahamic religions have various locations where the after life is spent. Incidentally, the latter two also disagree as to whether animals have souls, which is an interesting divergence too.
    Agreed, religions are pretty much mutually exclusive and rely on similar evidence to forward their truth, but the "soul" does seem kinda universal. I don't disagree with your conclusion so much as I don't see it wrapped up either.

    ---------- Post added at 05:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:26 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    All definitions of soul point to something that is:

    1. An immaterial “essence”
    2. Immortal
    3. Provides the animating force behind a person’s actions.
    I would generally agree here to (though I would add, immortal sounds like an actual infinity so I don't personally see how it could be true, but religions do forward this).

    ---------- Post added at 05:40 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:29 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    My argument is that souls do not exist because:

    1. If it is immaterial, it doesn’t exist other than as an idea (or a wish). So therefore, I contend that a “soul” is basically a way for people to cope with death, the permanent destruction of a physical mind. The idea of the soul is compelling because it means that a loved one would really be in a better place, or an enemy in a worse one. But just because it is a appealing, that doesn’t make it actual.
    2. The idea of a soul being eternal brings many problems, not least of which, where do they come from and where do they go after death and how could there possibly be enough room for everyone, forever. Of course, each religion has various ways to resolve the issue, from reincarnation to a supposedly ever expanding heaven/hell or simply being absorbed back into some deity. But none of these solve the space issue or resources or how souls will interact with each other.
    3. It’s clear that we are the sum of our brains and our bodies. Attempts to ‘measure’ the weight of the soul at the time of death have usually failed at being convincing (see the 21gram experiment - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/21_grams_experiment) and all the stories about out of the body experiences have been equally inconclusive. So there is no proof of anything other than the physical brain providing the animating force.
    1. I generally agree here but let me offer the thought of a friend on the subject (since no one else is playing at the moment to challenge you):
    "I don't see why something immaterial would lack causitive powers. Why is matter required? And, more importantly, what does that say about our physical models which rely on probability to be causative for a lot of what happens in this universe?"

    2. This one doesn't really work for me as a valid argument.
    God creates souls.
    They don't die so don't "go" anywhere. When the body dies the are dispatched per God's judgement.
    God can create any amount of "room" he desires, so no overcrowding issue. God created the universe from nothing, so no "resource" issue. Lack of rules for "souls interacting" does not rule out the possibility of a soul.

    3. I personally agree here, save the "weight" part of the argument (what does "essence" weigh and how would we know?). However to again quote a friend:
    " Why would a particular ordering of chemicals in any given medium (brain, test tube, comptuer, etc) have any relation at all to an objective concept?

    How could a specific set of neurons firing have any mesurable connetion to say a star or an asteroid, or gravity?

    Under materialism it can't. There is no mechanism that allows for our brains to have any connections to those objective realities. That's the point I was originally making. If materialism is true, then nothing you've said has meaning, it is just the expression of a chemical reaction, no different than an oxidation reaction. When you say "...the brain works..." that doesn't mean anything. The little characters on screen have no connection to a brain or the concept of it working in a way."

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  5. #3
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    So it’s hard to conclude that the idea of a soul is anything more than wishful thinking that requires an enormous amount of supporting ideas and concepts in order to make it a viable concept.
    What would be some examples of enormous amounts of supporting ideas, concepts, evidence that would make the soul a viable concept?

    Definition Soul: "The immaterial aspect or essence (life) of a human being."
    "The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” --"The Mental Universe” | Nature
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    What would be some examples of enormous amounts of supporting ideas, concepts, evidence that would make the soul a viable concept?
    Most religions support the idea of the soul by placing it at some place beyond death. Then they usually have some kind of deity that put the whole thing in place. I don’t buy any of it since there’s no evidence of any of those things either.

    My main trouble with even the idea of it being a “viable concept” is that viability hasn’t been demonstrated. I see it more as an idea that doesn’t explain anything, isn’t very useful and confuses matters for the living.

    Definition Soul: "The immaterial aspect or essence (life) of a human being."
    So it’s basically an emotion or a taste? It’s not really there but it’s a useful idea to help support a common human experience or to support a religion.

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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    My main trouble with even the idea of it being a “viable concept” is that viability hasn’t been demonstrated.
    Yes, I understand your position, that’s why I’m addressing your comment “that requires an enormous amount of supporting ideas and concepts in order to make it a viable concept.”

    What would be some examples of enormous amounts of supporting ideas, concepts, evidence that would make the soul a viable concept?
    "The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” --"The Mental Universe” | Nature
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  8. #6
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Yes, I understand your position, that’s why I’m addressing your comment “that requires an enormous amount of supporting ideas and concepts in order to make it a viable concept.”

    What would be some examples of enormous amounts of supporting ideas, concepts, evidence that would make the soul a viable concept?
    Gods. Heaven. Hell. Punishments after death. Bibles. Religions. War. Inquisitions. Social exclusion. Etc. Etc.

    I probably should have said “... in order to TRY TO make it a viable concept”. I certainly don’t mean to claim it actually is viable!

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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    "I don't see why something immaterial would lack causitive powers. Why is matter required?
    This kind of question floors me every time.

    If something is immaterial, in what sense does it exist?

    It seems to me that people that actually struggle with this question usually fail to push the immaterial thing back to its material cause.

    For example, people love to point out that ideas, in the dopiest, most myopic sense, are technically immaterial. But if idea is immaterial, in some dumb, short-sighted sense of the word, where is the immaterial source from which the idea emerged? Moreover, in what sense does the actual idea exist without a material mind to process it? Even the idea of ideas means nothing in the absence of a material mind to ponder it.

    This is way less profound than people often imagine it to be.

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  11. #8
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    Agreed, religions are pretty much mutually exclusive and rely on similar evidence to forward their truth, but the "soul" does seem kinda universal. I don't disagree with your conclusion so much as I don't see it wrapped up either.
    I'm a big rusty with religious debates but I try to interpret the world with modern eyes - souls just don't even make sense.

    I would generally agree here to (though I would add, immortal sounds like an actual infinity so I don't personally see how it could be true, but religions do forward this).
    I think nearly all religions rely on an eternal God and for souls to make sense, they too have to be immortal - otherwise, you'd have to die twice: I guess there's a limit as to how much one can stretch a person's credulity on these matters.

    1. I generally agree here but let me offer the thought of a friend on the subject (since no one else is playing at the moment to challenge you):
    "I don't see why something immaterial would lack causitive powers. Why is matter required? And, more importantly, what does that say about our physical models which rely on probability to be causative for a lot of what happens in this universe?"
    The short answer is that it doesn't. There are plenty of 'immaterial' things that have immensely powerful causative powers: memes - in the form of viral ideas such as political ideologies, patriotism, supporting a team, even religions themselves are systems of immaterial ideas that somehow can gain followers, adherents, and proselytizers. And if all people are saying is that souls are an 'idea' then I'd have to no argument; but religious folk are insistent these are 'real' things and that they truly exist and manifest themselves in a physical way, even beyond death.

    2. This one doesn't really work for me as a valid argument.
    God creates souls.
    They don't die so don't "go" anywhere. When the body dies the are dispatched per God's judgement.
    God can create any amount of "room" he desires, so no overcrowding issue. God created the universe from nothing, so no "resource" issue. Lack of rules for "souls interacting" does not rule out the possibility of a soul.
    Then we have the issue of some kind of infinite space issue - where is all this volume coming from? And then how is everyone going to get fed, or interact, or anything. Will there be transport? Do those souls have other kinds of bodies and what's needed to feed them? There are just too many unanswered questions about our post-death existence that can only be answered by more speculation.

    3. I personally agree here, save the "weight" part of the argument (what does "essence" weigh and how would we know?). However to again quote a friend:
    " Why would a particular ordering of chemicals in any given medium (brain, test tube, comptuer, etc) have any relation at all to an objective concept?

    How could a specific set of neurons firing have any mesurable connetion to say a star or an asteroid, or gravity?

    Under materialism it can't. There is no mechanism that allows for our brains to have any connections to those objective realities. That's the point I was originally making. If materialism is true, then nothing you've said has meaning, it is just the expression of a chemical reaction, no different than an oxidation reaction. When you say "...the brain works..." that doesn't mean anything. The little characters on screen have no connection to a brain or the concept of it working in a way."
    I don't see the difficulty with materialism: we literally know all the mechanisms that point to our brains being a very complex machine of neural networks, all operating simultaneously, with an emergent physical actions as a result of whatever goes on within. We have psychology to examine how people can be motivated or manipulated in very consistent ways; and we have all sorts of ways to understand people en-masse.

    We don't need to invoke anything magical nor is it valid to dismiss it as 'just the expression of a chemical reaction' as if it were a simple thing: our entire existence depends on millions of 'chemical reactions' operating in concert, in chains of reactions, physically moving nutrients throughout our body to keep it alive. I don't see how our mind *needs* to be necessarily different or why we need anything beyond materialism to explain things.

    Maybe I'm not entirely understanding you, but the brain literally just works - we know this because if portions are removed or damaged then they have an actual effect on a person's capabilities. If there truly were a 'soul' then surely, we would not see this effect: why would a 'soul' have such a specific location within the brain in order to fully work?

  12. #9
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    I probably should have said “... in order to TRY TO make it a viable concept”. I certainly don’t mean to claim it actually is viable!
    Ok, so basically your OP is “The Soul doesn’t’ exist and there is no amount of supporting ideas, concepts, evidence that would make the soul a viable concept.

    Please discuss.”

    Thanks for clarifying, I’ll bow out for now.
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Ok, so basically your OP is “The Soul doesn’t’ exist and there is no amount of supporting ideas, concepts, evidence that would make the soul a viable concept.

    Please discuss.”

    Thanks for clarifying, I’ll bow out for now.
    That's a little more than what I was implying - it's absolutely possible that if such a thing existed that there would be some kind of evidence to demonstrate that. It's just that such evidence currently doesn't exist: the soul is not a new idea and the arguments are already out there, so my comment is really a review of where the evidence currently stands. There may be some new ideas in showing souls are viable but one would think that everyone would know those ideas by now.

    Also, the soul as a 'concept', as I've already stated, is not a problem: I don't mind playing pretend. I don't even mind pretending that the pretense is real (which frankly, I think is what most religious belief basically boils down to). However, if we drop all the pretense, and really try and figure out what the soul really is, I see very little that is even plausible, never mind being viable.

    Anyway, thanks for the chat!

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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    it's absolutely possible that if such a thing existed that there would be some kind of evidence to demonstrate that.
    What do you think the criteria for that evidence would be if such a thing existed? What kind of evidence would make it viable and how are you defining what is not real?
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    This kind of question floors me every time.

    If something is immaterial, in what sense does it exist?

    It seems to me that people that actually struggle with this question usually fail to push the immaterial thing back to its material cause.

    For example, people love to point out that ideas, in the dopiest, most myopic sense, are technically immaterial. But if idea is immaterial, in some dumb, short-sighted sense of the word, where is the immaterial source from which the idea emerged? Moreover, in what sense does the actual idea exist without a material mind to process it? Even the idea of ideas means nothing in the absence of a material mind to ponder it.

    This is way less profound than people often imagine it to be.
    Just a point to make sure you saw I was forwarding another persons idea, not necessarily my own.

    I personally generally agree with you and was just trying to submit a rebuttal to forward the discussion in the absence of anyone else commenting.

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    The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    What do you think the criteria for that evidence would be if such a thing existed? What kind of evidence would make it viable and how are you defining what is not real?
    I suppose, evidence that is objective, not really open to interpretation and experimentally verifiable would be a good start. Or maybe, even before then, a description of a soul that’s plausible would help.


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    ---------- Post added at 11:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:47 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    This kind of question floors me every time.

    If something is immaterial, in what sense does it exist?
    Math is immaterial and it clearly exists. Our physical models exist because they comport to reality, and are in every sense real, manipulable things.

    These things exist because our minds exist to hold the ideas. And those ideas can generate physical reactions. So they exist in the sense that they are neuronal configurations that are copiable to other humans.

    It seems to me that people that actually struggle with this question usually fail to push the immaterial thing back to its material cause.
    The material *cause* is that they are physically existing in our neuronal maps that form our brain. Language exists in our brain as patterns of words on top of our built-in affinity to learn grammar. Stroke victims or people with split brains report that effects which show that the brain is absolutely where ideas exist so it’s not rocket science to draw the conclusion that this is the material basis for all our ideas.

    For example, people love to point out that ideas, in the dopiest, most myopic sense, are technically immaterial. But if idea is immaterial, in some dumb, short-sighted sense of the word, where is the immaterial source from which the idea emerged?
    Ideas obviously exist without a mind: you’re literally staring at it: the computerized representation of what is in our neurons exactly shows that ideas can totally exist without a mind. We had books before that and literally ideas were written in stone, before that. Indeed, God himself gave us his 10 commandments via stone-media.

    Moreover, in what sense does the actual idea exist without a material mind to process it? Even the idea of ideas means nothing in the absence of a material mind to ponder it.
    We don’t even need minds to process ideas because we also have computers to do that also; we gather statistics and make interpretations all the time with computers - so processing data is not a big deal at all.

    Sure, I agree that ultimately, a mind would be needed in order for the ideas to have a material affect on the world in a way that benefits us, but it’s not *necessary*.

    I would argue that mathematical theories already exist and all we’re doing is *discovering* what is already there within the rules we set up. So in that sense, we don’t even need any minds at all: math exists regardless of whether there are humans at all.

    Just because there’s no human around it doesn’t mean an idea can’t still exist. After all, does a falling tree still make a sound if there is no human to hear it: yes indeed it does!

    This is way less profound than people often imagine it to be.
    In this modern age, I would say these ideas are obvious. We’ve had computers for decades, so automatically manipulating *ideas* is not a big deal at all. What *is* a big deal though, is that we are building systems that can simulate the mind: for example IBM built a system that beat all human Go players and they did it by constructing a program that knew how to *learn*.

    So there is absolutely no reason why a human mind is needed at all in any of this (other than playing God by writing the applications of course).





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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    Math is immaterial and it clearly exists.
    Math is an abstract developed by physical minds that maps on to physical characteristics of the physical world. The physical world is simply information. An idea is simply processed information. Without anything physical there is literally no "thing" to do the processing, nor is there any information to process. As you point out, now we have other physical means of processing ideas such as computers and so on, but ideas themselves are literally nothing without a physical component. In fact, it's nonsensical to say that an immaterial thing IS anything. Immaterial things are non-things. The point is that ideas aren't truly free-floating abstracts untethered in every way from any and all physical things (including their origins). They depend on the physical world for their emergence, and for their continued existence. Without anything to process the idea, it's literally nothing.

    Get a time machine and drop Isaac Newton's Principia off in prehistoric times around a bunch of velociraptors, and it's just a pile of materials. Sure, under the right information-processing-capable regime the book might be rightly said to contain ideas, but then so does that rock on the ground; so does that leaf; so does that pile of dinosaur droppings. Under such a regime, in what sense is Isaac Newton's Principia a set of actually-existing ideas? In what sense is it even a book?

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  19. #15
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Math is an abstract developed by physical minds that maps on to physical characteristics of the physical world. The physical world is simply information. An idea is simply processed information. Without anything physical there is literally no "thing" to do the processing, nor is there any information to process. As you point out, now we have other physical means of processing ideas such as computers and so on, but ideas themselves are literally nothing without a physical component. In fact, it's nonsensical to say that an immaterial thing IS anything. Immaterial things are non-things. The point is that ideas aren't truly free-floating abstracts untethered in every way from any and all physical things (including their origins). They depend on the physical world for their emergence, and for their continued existence. Without anything to process the idea, it's literally nothing.
    Question.. Then if suppose God did exist, and he is immaterial.
    Would it thus be impossible for him to have access to ideas? (I get that your saying non-physical equals non real, but there is a second component, namely that ideas are inherently physical entity dependent.)

    Second question
    Isn't there an inherent problem with saying that something like logic is just a mental construct. Because it would rob us of any power to object to something on logical grounds.
    In that, sure logic may be a handy thing to use so far, but there would be no reason for reality to not overthrow our mental construct.
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Question.. Then if suppose God did exist, and he is immaterial.
    I can't answer that question because I can't make such a supposition because it doesn't make sense. When you say "suppose something IS immaterial", I have no idea what you mean, unless you're using "immaterial" in the abstract sense where it is comparable to "things" like words and ideas - "things" that require physical components to be rightly said to exist at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Isn't there an inherent problem with saying that something like logic is just a mental construct.
    I never said it was just - as in exclusively - a mental construct. Like math, logic is an abstract developed by physical minds that maps on to physical characteristics of the physical world.

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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    I can't answer that question because I can't make such a supposition because it doesn't make sense. When you say "suppose something IS immaterial", I have no idea what you mean, unless you're using "immaterial" in the abstract sense where it is comparable to "things" like words and ideas - "things" that require physical components to be rightly said to exist at all.

    I never said it was just - as in exclusively - a mental construct. Like math, logic is an abstract developed by physical minds that maps on to physical characteristics of the physical world.
    I don't think those two answers are consistent.
    I mean, I get what your saying in the first, and I can agree with that.
    However, in the second, you seem to be using the same language... only you call it "abstract". Is the abstract itself a mental construct? If not.. then how is it still physical?
    You really seem to be saying that something that originates in the mind, has some immaterial aspect to it.

    I get the "maps onto the physical..." because it is supposed to reflect the outside world, but that also means that it isn't "necessarily" true, it is just a mental construct that we create.. so it COULD possibly be wrong in any given account. This inherently undermines logic.


    But back to the first answer.
    The point is a kind of impossible hypothetical. It isn't intended to establish that an immaterial being exists, but that if such a being existed, then it would be barred from ideas, because ideas themselves you say has an inherent physical nature.
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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Is the abstract itself a mental construct? If not.. then how is it still physical?
    No, it is not itself a mental construct (and even if it were, it would still be a physical component in a physical brain). The abstract depends the physical world providing observable information and a physical mechanism capable of processing the information.

    Consider these questions: In what sense do the all the undiscovered ideas on undiscovered, uninhabited planets actually exist? How would we distinguish an existing idea from a non-existing idea?

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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    No, it is not itself a mental construct (and even if it were, it would still be a physical component in a physical brain). The abstract depends on both the observation of the physical world and the brain capable of processing it.
    edit.. first first... If it isn't a mental construct.. then how does it exist in the brain?
    first, you keep saying "abstract" like that is a real thing.
    Abstracts are not material things, so they don't exist.

    https://www.dictionary.com/browse/abstract
    thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances:
    So your use of this word is confusing, because you are referring to something that you say is not real, and saying it is real.

    Second, what you are calling "abstract" is just another word for mental construct. Sure, it is based on the physical brain, and sure it is an attempt to mirror the physical world. However, at the end of the day, logic is something your brain made up to understand the world. Which means, it isn't necessarily correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus
    Consider these questions: In what sense do the all the undiscovered ideas on undiscovered, uninhabited planets actually exist? How would we distinguish an existing idea from a non-existing idea?
    I think that is for you to answer, so you can explain how it makes sense. For now, I'm asking for the resolution of what I am pointing out as an apparent conflict.
    Specifically, you use of language which reference the immaterial (Ie abstract), in an explanation of how the immaterial doesn't exist, and how logic isn't just a mental construct.

    You seem to be attempting to say, that because our idea is attempting to reflect external physical realities, then it isn't just a mental construct. That doesn't seem to be consistent.
    It is one thing to say we observe a lion, and thus our idea of a lion comes from the actual physical lion.
    But logic doesn't have any such observation. Can we observe a married bachelor, maybe, because it may exist on some undiscovered planet, as an undiscovered idea.
    Would it be inconsistent with our past observations? Maybe, but the logic we apply is just our ATTEMPT to reflect external reality, you can't mistake it for the external reality itself. (which seems like what you are doing).
    To serve man.

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    Re: The soul does not exist

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    edit.. first first... If it isn't a mental construct..
    I'm not saying it's not a mental construct. I said it's not ITSELF - as in EXCLUSIVELY - a mental construct. I've described the co-dependency many times now. Also, I'm not using "abstract" as an adjective. I'm using it as a noun: "something that concentrates in itself the essential qualities of anything more extensive or more general, or of several things; essence."

 

 
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