Reflection Paper evidence for materialism

Below are the instructions and meaning of a reflection paper.

Reflection papers are meant to provide you a place to express your own thoughts and opinions on what we are covering in class. I evaluate the reflection papers more on how you support your position or pursue your inquiry than I do on the content of your thought. Suggested length of reflection papers is one typed page.

Usually the reflection paper is on a topic of your choosing related to the class. It can be over the readings or something that we have discussed in class. The reflection papers are designed to allow you to reflect on what you are learning in class. I want you to give your evaluation on what we cover and ask yourself is what I am learning true or good or beautiful (or false or wicked or ugly). Explain the reasons why you think something is true or good or beautiful.

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Mini lecture 1: What is the evidence for materialism? After reading Nagel, we saw three options emerge for viewing human beings: they were physicalism, mind body dualism and dual aspect theory. Physicalism can be used as an equivalent word for materialism. Though in Nagel we were primarily concerned with the reality connected to humans, in considering materialism we shall expand the focus to include not just human beings but reality as a whole. We will move from the ontology of humans to the metaphysics of all reality (human and non-human reality). Materialism claims that there is just one kind of reality, material reality. It claims 1that all reality is material or a material process. Materialism avoids one of the problems that Descartes’ dualism had. With Descartes we saw that he had to explain how the two different realities of mind and matter could connect. We also saw his “bad” solution in the pineal gland. Since materialists hold that there is only one reality, they don’t have the difficulty of showing how the two realities connect. However, if they dodge one problem they also inherit others; the main problem many people see with materialism is its reductionistic moves. Many, like Nagel for example, do not believe that everything can be explained solely by reference to material processes. As the lecture said, qualia can’t get explained. As we approach materialism in the class, we can already see that it has a strike against it. It may also have another strike against it as well. In my experience of teaching philosophy, it seems that most of the students I have had are dualists. This view is the cultural default position, so that even prior to studying dualism people are already inclined toward it. One of the major reasons for accepting this view is probably religious. Many people are inclined, on the basis of their religious upbringing to believe in an after-life and since it is clear that the body is no longer of any use after death—there must be a soul that continues on. So many people are dualists by default. (By the way, it is possible to be a materialist and believe in an afterlife—however, if the materialists are correct, any after-life would have to involve a bodily resurrection; some forms of Judaism and Christianity have views of a bodily resurrection, rather than just a disembodied soul.) Given this religious perspective, it seems then that materialism may have at least two strikes against it. In an effort to leveling the playing field and give materialists a fighting chance, I want to suggest several reasons for being a materialist. Materialists have been around for many years and go back to ancient times.

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