Keshav's Extreme Idealism

Keshav suggests a world view where "the things outside the mind are describable purely by numbers, and through some magical process, certain sets of numbers trigger certain experiences in the mind." 

Notice, first of all, the things "describable purely by numbers" must be numbers. Anything that is not simply a number would need a number plus a statement of whatever it is beyond a number to describe it. So in this view, somehow the numbers outside our brain interact with the numbers that make up our brain and make us see, hear, feel, etc. a world full of sights, sounds, textures, and so on.

But numbers themselves are, after all, ideas, and so are the mathematical formulas with which physicists make systems of these numbers. So this view claims that a world of mathematical ideas causes us to hallucinate a world of "physical objects" that really have very little to do with reality. Now this view, to me, really is guilty of all the things Berkeley's view was charged with. Is it impossible? No, just as I suppose it is not impossible that we are all really just being dreamed by the Red King. But it certainly sounds implausible.

4 comments:

  1. It multiplies entities needlessly.

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  2. Gene, what I was proposing (for the sake of argument) wasn't that interaction between the brain and other physical objects is magical, but rather that the interaction between the mind and the brain is magical: there is some magical process by which (numerical) signals in the brain are translated into experiences in the mind.

    By the way, I disagree with your claim that if all the properties of X are describable by numbers, then X must ontologically BE those numbers, but that's a minor point. The more significant point is your contention that numbers are ideas. Well, that's certainly what some people believe, but I'm assuming a more Platonic view, where numbers and other mathematical objects are not just ideas.

    By the way, in all of this I'm just trying to spell out the sort of view that Berkeley and Collingwood are trying to refute. If Berkeley had simply said that he found it "implausible" that the external world was composed of atoms with purely numerical properties which translate into experiences in the mind, I daresay that Russell and Stove wouldn't have spent so much time trying to refute him. They were under the impression that Berkeley had claimed to refute (Lockean) dualism, not merely that he found Lockean dualism to be implausible.

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    1. "By the way, I disagree with your claim that if all the properties of X are describable by numbers, then X must ontologically BE those numbers..."

      Now, no fair waffling here: before you said "purely describable" which I took to mean 100%. It is plainly a matter of simple logic that if numbers are a complete description of X, then X simply IS those numbers. Otherwise, there MUST be something else about X that is NOT those numbers and therefore they are not describing. I don't see how you could deny that.

      "The more significant point is your contention that numbers are ideas. Well, that's certainly what some people believe, but I'm assuming a more Platonic view, where numbers and other mathematical objects are not just ideas."

      Are we still at this point?!!!! "Just ideas"?! Hasn't my whole argument that ideas can be objectively real things?!

      "I daresay that Russell and Stove wouldn't have spent so much time trying to refute him..."

      I have clearly shown that both Russell and Stove attacked a strawman: neither had a clue what Berkeley was on about. So a very good explanation of why they spent time "refuting" him is: they were very confused.

      And, by the way, Russell himself understood the world of physics as an abstraction!

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  3. Got it Keshav: You agree with me that the world of physics is arrived at by a process of abstraction from the world of our experience, right? But something arrived at by a process of abstraction MUST BE less real, include less of reality, be more incomplete, than what it was abstracted from.

    QED.

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