Intellect is not a Property of Matter

Please help me with this argument … thanks.

If intellect is a property of matter, then all human thoughts correspond with physical capabilities of the material brain.

These capabilities include storage, generating and processing of information.

Human thoughts, however, are infinite in quantity (size) and variety. There are infinite numbers and humans can make any calculations, and invent any new set or kind of mathematical rules on an infinite set of numbers.

This would mean that the human brain would need an infinite physical (cellular and neurological) capacity.

But the human brain has a finite capacity, therefore it cannot store, process or retrieve an infinite variety of thoughts.

So, intellect must be immaterial.

Therefore, materialistic-atheism is false.

Objection1:

A computer can process an infinite number of calculations.

Reply 1:

Computers cannot generate an infinite variety of calculations since they operate within a finite set of rules. The human mind can create an infinite number of rules and new mathematics (which allow an infinite number of computations) that computers cannot.

Computers are therefore, necessarily finite in what they can produce.

Reply 2:

Regarding “processing storage” (not long term memory storage):

Human beings can calculate an infinite number of numbers. A computer can only create a number which is as large as the largest possible computer in the universe can create. That’s a finite limit.

A computer needs the material components to generate and calculate that kind of number.

If it is said that the computer can simply run continually and process that number without actually storing it, then the computer could never produce a calculation on that number since it could never capture the value of that number.

The human mind, however, has an infinite capacity.

The mind can calculate what the largest possible number a computer can process is (given the largest possible calculation capacity in all the material of the universe) and simply add one to it.

So, the mind transcends a computer’s “range of calculation” in that regard.

This is an indication that the mind (I used the term “intellect” here) is capable of an infinite number (kind) of calculations as well as able to calculate numbers which are larger than any possible computer can process.

Objection 2:

There is no evidence that the mind can store an infinite amount of information.

Reply:

As above, the question is not long term storage but is the here-and-now ability of the mind to calculate numbers which are larger than any possible computer (in the entire universe) can generate.

Who is it that says that intellect is a property of matter? In a physicalist’s conception, intellect arises out of biological life which arises from and depends upon matter, but that doesn’t make it a property of matter. Intellect can be given a material description as evolving and depending upon matter, but that is not to say that it only ever ought to be described in material terms. No materialist thinks that we will come to understand concepts like democracy by studying atoms, for example. It sounds like there is a straw man under attack here.

The ACL2 computer system can perform arithmetic on infinite ordinals (see here).

From the paper cited:

A simple counting argument shows that no ordinal notation
can represent all countable ordinals, but there are well known notations
that can represent ordinals up to ������0A …

Does that indicate a limitation?

Leela, there are many that do.
Also, as a suggestion for when you make a counter-point like this …

When you say something like “No materialist thinks …”

That’s very difficult to defend and very easy to refute (I merely need to find one).

Can you name anyone who says that intellect is a property of matter?

I think it is defensible as obvious. You say it would be easy, but I very much doubt you can refute it by finding a “materialist [who] thinks that we will come to understand concepts like democracy by studying atoms.”

I still can’t figure out who you think you are arguing against with your OP.

Yes, the method described in the paper (Cantor normal form for ordinals) only works up to the countably infinite ordinal epsilon_0.

Yes, I can.

I don’t believe you.

I don’t have a good reply for that, except that I’m sorry and not happy that is the case.

http://forums.catholic.com/picture.php?pictureid=7313&albumid=639&dl=1284583094&thumb=1

How about this?

That’s another way to look at it. Maybe a better argument.

Mathematics is another means of symbollic language - or information.

Human Intelligence can produce language.
Matter and Energy cannot generate language.
Matter and Energy cannot generate what Intelligence can.
Therefore, intelligence cannot be reduced to materialism.

While I agree with your statement that the intellect is not a property of matter, I see lots of problems in your proof.

The human mind does not have an infinte capacity. I do not think that human thoughts are infinite in size are variety. I do not think the human mind can create an infinite number of rules or mathmatics. You are approaching the problem from the wrong direction.

If you had ever studied Godel’s incompleteness theorem and its ramifications, you would know there are inherent limits in computability that do not necessarily exist in the human mind. But that could just mean that the human mind is a different type of machine, so to speak.

I don’t think that has ever been determined.
In the Catholic perspective, the mind is immaterial - a faculty of the soul (which will live eternally).

But it’s a good point to raise with this … can one determine what the storage capacity of the mind really is? Could we say that a mind is half-full or filled to capacity? The mind takes in and processes immense amount of sensory data every minute. Do we really know what the capacity truly is?

The brain, on the other hand, is a finite physical structure.

As for creating an infinite number of rules – what that really means is that the human mind can create symbollic language. This is something that a physical substance cannot do. A human mind can create an infinite number and kind of symbols – and by this I mean “unlimited” (not an actual infinite). A computer however, is bound by finite rules and cannot produce an infinite variety of symbols and rules.

We could say that a computer could randomize data and thus have an infinite selection. But, for example, if the computer randomized the alphabet or the English language, it is using a finite parameter and then just re-assorting the results.

One follow-up question – why are we not able to determine what the actual information storage capacity of the mind really is? In this case, storage is not the same as retrieval.

We can store data on a hard-disk. Then we see how much of the disk is used. We do not need to retrieve or use the data at all to see how full the disk is.

If the brain is a physical object like a hard-disk, why are we not able to see data filling up the brain?

How do you explain the intelligence and skills of certain animals, such as cats and dogs for example. I think it is more than just instinct since they apparently have some sort of weak consciousness which enables them to communicate and perform certain tasks in a rudimentary manner. Is it more than just plain matter in the case of a cat or dog?

The thing is, if you really were sorry that that is the case, it seems to me that you would support your claim that there are people who think that intellect is a property of matter by pointing to at least one person who has said something along those lines. It is not at all clear that your argument about intellect not being a product of matter is one that anyone disagrees with. As usual, it sounds like you are setting up a straw man to give a good thrashing.

You said that my assertion, “No materialist thinks that we will come to understand concepts like democracy by studying atoms,” is in your words “very easy to refute (I merely need to find one).” Yet you haven’t bothered to do so. If it is so very easy for you to refute it by finding one counter-example and if you are not just playing games here, then it seems to me that as the OP you have a responsiblility to respond with a relevent example or just admit that you cannot refute the claim you said would be very easy to refute.

Its a classic ‘proof by negation’.
I’m surprised anyone would post it on a religion forum and expect some serious analysis.
People trained in mathematics would be best.
Perhaps philosophy deals with this also.

Ma and Pa forum poster wont recognize this and will throw alot of chaff into the argument: as they have with challenging the first assertion.

It contains alot of assumptions in the middle part that dont ring true, but are asserted as true.
Its quite muddled.
I dont think it holds water as a proof by negation…
Dont want to get anymore involved with this than that.

If I really was sorry, I would still have the problem that you do not believe what I say. In this case, I said I was sorry and you disbelieve that.

that that is the case, it seems to me that you would support your claim that there are people who think that intellect is a property of matter by pointing to at least one person who has said something along those lines.

I can understand why it would seem that way to you. But my interest in discussing any matters with you is to advance with a beneficial discussion. Since you have already decided not to believe me, I am forced to refute you and reveal your error. This places you in an even more defensive position, and makes you less open to the discussion.

You said that my assertion, “No materialist thinks that we will come to understand concepts like democracy by studying atoms,” is in your words “very easy to refute (I merely need to find one).” Yet you haven’t bothered to do so. If it is so very easy for you to refute it by finding one counter-example and if you are not just playing games here, then it seems to me that as the OP you have a responsiblility to respond with a relevent example or just admit that you cannot refute the claim you said would be very easy to refute.

Again, it may seem that way, but I also have the responsibility not to waste time.

When I encounter a person who refuses to believe what I have to say, then I will be wasting my time when I provide evidence. Why should I? What will you do when I show you more than one scholarly paper that argues that the intellect is a property of matter? What will you do when I show you a scholarly paper that seeks to explain the origin of democracy by studying biochemistry?

I’m more interested in understanding why you think I’m not telling the truth.
Do you think I am lying?

Probably true. There are a lot of materialists here on CAF and this argument is looking at a conclusion that follows from materialism.

Don’t put us down, Bruce! :thumbsup:

God bless,
jd

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