It’s time for your regularly scheduled departure from the usual diet and training escapades.
That’s right, my fellow chin-scratchers, it’s time to don your thinking caps because this episode is part of my non-fitnessy series with Pat Flynn in which we discuss philosophical topics.
What makes this episode particularly special, though, is we’re joined by Dr. Jim Madden in my first roundtable format podcast.
Like Pat, Jim is also into lifting heavy things (especially kettlebells), but he’s also trained in philosophy. Jim has a PhD from Purdue, and is a professor of philosophy at Benedictine College, prolific lecturer, and author, including his book, Mind, Matter, and Nature: A Thomistic Proposal for the Philosophy of Mind.
And as a refresher, Pat Flynn is a fellow podcaster and author with a deep understanding of philosophy and religion.
While I’m not an expert in philosophy, I do have an abiding interest in the area–particularly in ideas I can use to improve my life and that I can share with other people to make their lives better. Plus, I’ve gotten great feedback on these philosophical tangent podcasts and always enjoy my conversations with Pat.
In this episode, Jim, Pat, and I are talking all about consciousness and the philosophy of mind. Specifically, we discuss . . .
- Materialism and metaphysics
- Ethics and moral considerations (and how harm exists beyond the physical)
- Their thoughts on reincarnation, near-death experiences, and what the science says about them
- Rational commitment versus delusion (and what that means for faith, marriage, etc.)
- The utility of ignoring emotion and how feelings can directly affect perception
- Recommended resources for people interested more in the philosophy of mind
- And more . . .
If any of that wets your whistle, listen to this episode and let me know what you think!
5:42 – Why does consciousness matter?
12:57 – What are we and what does it mean to have a mind?
28:26 – What are your thoughts on reincarnation?
Mentioned on The Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hi there, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Muscle Life and welcome to another episode. Thank you for joining me today for one of my departures from the Usual Diet and Training escapades. This episode is for my fellow Chin Scratchers, who like to dawn their thinking caps from time to time because it’s part of the non Fitnessy series of episodes I’ve been doing with Pat Flynn from Chronicles of Strength for a couple of months now, where we discuss philosophical things, religious things, political things, you know, relatively uncontroversial.
Frivolous topics. And this time it’s actually a round table discussion because Pat and I are joined by Dr. Jim Madden, who is also into lifting heavy things incidentally, especially Kettlebells. But he is a professor of philosophy at Benedictine College. He is a prolific lecturer. He is an author of several books and has a PhD from Purdue.
And in this discussion, pat, Jim and I get into consciousness and the philosophy of mind. Specifically, we talk about materialism and metaphysics. We talk about ethics and moral considerations, and particularly how harm can exist beyond just the. Physical realm. I get some of their thoughts on reincarnation and near death experiences, and particularly on the scientific literature around these phenomena, which does exist and is probably more robust than you’d think.
And so if you’re like me in that you are not an expert in philosophy, but you do have an abiding interest in this area, and particularly in ideas that you can use to improve your life, you know, practical concepts that can immediately improve how you understand the world around you, how you interact with the world around you, how you make decisions, how you respond to different stimuli and so forth, then I think you’re gonna like this episode.
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Head over to buy legion.com/mike. That’s B U Y L E G I O n.com/mike. And just to show you how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code M F L checkout and you will save 20% on your entire first order. Jim, pat, I think this is the first time I’ve done a a Round table podcast, so I’m excited.
Hopefully I don’t hijack the conversation too much and talk over you guys a lot.
Pat: Well, it’s an honor to be here, Mike. Thanks for having us on.
Jim: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s definitely an honor.
Mike: Thanks for having us. Absolutely. I’m looking forward to it. So we’re here to talk about consciousness, the nature of consciousness, and.
The reason this podcast came about for people listening is Pat and I, we, we have this kind of ongoing series of non fitness discussions and they usually come from just private discussions that we have. And then it occurs to us this might make for an interesting podcast and I’ve continued to get good feedback on these episodes and people appreciate the change and pace.
So this one is obviously not just me and Pat. Now we have the addition of James Madden and I’ll have introed you James in the beginning. But Pat, why don’t you just quickly, because this was your idea to put this together. Why’d you wanna bring Jim into it?
Pat: Well, let me set the stage right. So Mike, we occasionally just hop on the phone and just have zany conversations that are always really enjoyable and we kind of explore everything and, and anything.
And we just started talking about consciousness one day and uh, I told you that. Kind of from my philosophical background, I’ve always really been interested in kind of metaphysics, but I peek a lot and I look a lot into what’s going on in philosophy of mine. So I’m not a specialist, but Jim is, he’s got his PhD in this.
And funny story, Jim and I actually kind of swam in similar fitness circles, like the kettlebell world for a while. Yeah. And never even knew it. In fact, he was doing kettlebells before I even knew what a kettlebell was. And then we got connected just to a couple philosopher friends, cuz I was looking for a specialist and philosophy of mine to bring on my podcast.
And a number of people said, you gotta check out Jim, not only because this is his wheelhouse, but it seems like you guys have a lot of similar interests in fitness as well. So we’ve kind of just, you know, had a number of conversations, had a blast. And then Mike, as we were on the on the phone, it just occurred to me that this seemed like a fun podcast idea.
And if you were gonna do it, we should bring in my buddy Jim, you asked before we started recording why this matters. So I thought that, yeah,
Mike: that was the last thing. And maybe it would be, I mean, it’d be a question that I would ask and just because I. Just tend to be an empirically oriented person, like I am most interested in what works.
And of course you have to unpack what that means. And, but for me working, and we’ve spoken about this, pat, that you could align that maybe in an Aristotle way saying, you know, human flourishing. I agree with that concept, but if I’m taking it from a very personal, just not what’s in it for me in, in terms of just my own self-interest, like I do care about what goes on around me.
I care about the society I live in, but I’m most interested in the results in the here and now as opposed to promised results maybe in the future that, you know, may or may not ever come to pass. And the here and now kind of sucks, but I’m sacrificing and I’m suffering through something here. And now again, I’m.
I wouldn’t say that I’m an instant gratification person. I’m probably the other way around to a fault, honestly. But my idea of truth is inexplicably kind of, it’s just tied up in
Pat: what works. You’re something of a philosophical pragmatist, right? We’ve talked about and, and I’m not a philosopher,
Mike: and again, I haven’t read nearly as much about this stuff as you guys have or even thought about it as much as you have, but I’m sure there are many people listening who also feel that would be a question like, why should I even listen to these guys talking about the nature of consciousness?
Pat: What’s in it for me? Well, you might not be listening for long. Once we get into some of the more technical stuff, let’s, we’ll see how it goes. Alright, well, let me just say a few quick things and then I’ll, I want Jim’s remarks on this. Sure. Because he’s been thinking about this in a much deeper way than I have for a much longer time.
But I’ll tell you what got me into it being alive, right? Right. That’s what made me think that it was important because we all have this sort of deep searching impulse, if you will, to know what we are, who we are, right? We kind of have these big existential questions that having kids has really made me appreciate that.
Whatever else philosophy is, it’s just going back to those questions that you asked as a kid that most adults found annoying and told you to stop asking, right? But then taking them seriously again as an adult. And we all wanna know who we are, right? And not just who we are, but what are we, where do we come from?
What is our destiny if we have one? What does it mean to live a good life, right? So he is kind of like big questions. We have origins, meaning identity, morality, destiny. These are the deepest, most searching, and I think most important questions that we can ask. And they’re questions that arise. They’re just occasioned in us, and they kind of have to be arbitrarily suppressed, I think.
And they can be arbitrarily suppressed and often are by society or parents telling you to stop asking such annoying questions because they don’t have the philosophical rigor to try and answer them for you. And kids are very good at asking difficult, philosophical questions. I’ve had to open a number of textbooks to address my five-year-old on multiple occasions.
I’m just gonna kind of punt a decart a little bit on this. And you know, I think Decart recognized that the two most important questions you can really ask about life are about God and the soul, right? Because there’s just a lot of not necessary consequences that come from establishing both of those, but at least potential consequences, right?
Like if there’s a God, then there might be some, you know, greater purpose to the universe and there might be some greater purpose beyond life here on Earth, right? And there might be some deep intelligible structure to reality. There might be some greater objective meaning to reality, a meaning that we discover, not just invents.
And then related to that, the human soul, like if there is a human soul, right? If we’re more than just and boons fundamental particles kind of whirling and whizzing through space, and that we might even persist after bodily death in some form that has, again, not, it doesn’t entail, but it has. Very significant potential considerations for what it means to be a human and what it means to live a good life if our existence is not limited to just the here and now.
So this bear is extremely on ethical considerations, even practical considerations, right? Of what is good for us, I think will often correspond to, to what is true. I don’t think, Mike, that always what is useful is what is true. So I think I break with pragmatism there cuz it might be useful for me to think that there’s monsters living under the street and that keeps me out of the street and that stops me from getting hit by a bus.
So that’s useful in a sense, but it’s not necessarily true. So I think there’s a, you know, truth as Aristotle said is if you say of what is that, it is then you speak truth. If you say, you know, what is it? It is not, you speak a falsehood. So that’s, that’s kind of the correspondence theory of truth that I hold too.
But when I read Decart, I realized that he just had the same sort of impulse and inclinations that I always had for me, specifically towards metaphysics. But many people go to philosophy of mine cuz it just seems like God and the human soul seem to have. Hugely significant consequences on, on how we answer who we are, what we’re here for, if anything, and where we might be going next.
So I can’t think of anything more important to think about, frankly, but Jim, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this. Yeah, sure.
Jim: Much to say about this. You know, first of all, in the way that Pat took the question, you know, Emmanuel Kahn pretty famously, you know, said in, in his first critique, there’s really three questions worth asking.
You know, what can I know? What ought I do, and for what can I hope? Okay. And if you think of it, basically, you know, he’s asking, you know, what can I know he means, can I know that God exists? Right. You know, can I know an ultimate cause of the universe? What ought I do? He’s asking, are we free beans that are capable of like a distance interested morality or not?
And what can I hope for? He’s asking about the immortality of the soul. Is there an ultimate hope beyond this life of humans? Okay. I think the way Pat goes is, you know, those questions are just intrinsically valuable, right? To, partly to kind of be human, is to kind of be troubled by those questions, right?
And certainly, you know, what ought I do has practical upshot, right? So I agree with Patton in everything he said there, but I want to kind of take it in a different direction too. All right. So there’s a, uh, very prominent contemporary philosopher by the name of Charles Taylor, who likes to draw on a concept that comes from sociologist Max Bayber about how really what characterizes our situation in the modern world is a kind of disenchantment, right?
Or a disconnected sense, right? A sense that, you know, we don’t really feel at home in the world, in the environment that we find ourselves thrown into in a way. And, and this is distinctive about modern people. And Taylor and a lot of other contemporary philosophers in this vein argue that part of the problem with that is, or part what led to that problem is an understanding of human mind, an understanding of human consciousness as something that is fundamentally disengaged from the world.
Okay. And a lot of people, including myself, and I know this is arm share sociology that Mike, I would have a hard time proving, right. Think that we can probably draw a line from that disengaged understanding of what a mind is or what it is to be minded to our sort of, you know, contemporary on we or nihilism wherein we find ourselves sort of lost and indifferent universe.
I don’t think philosophy of mind or philosophy of consciousness is gonna help you get ahead. Right. Okay. I don’t think you’re asking that, but I can’t say it’s gonna help you bake bread. Right. I do think though, there is this sense that we all have. That we’re missing something that our ancestors did have.
Okay. And a good hypothesis on that is that we might just be thinking of ourselves and our relationship to the world all wrong now. And that would seem to be a good impetus to kind of pick up the question of what are we, what is it to have a mind? That sort of thing.
Mike: Yeah. I, I think of a book called All Things Shining.
Jim: Oh yeah. But Dreyfus and, yeah. I had that in mind. Yeah. Sorry to
Mike: interrupt. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, that’s, that’s funny. Immediately. Oh, yeah, that write that book, what you were saying reminded me of that and I was drawn to that book, just reading about, okay, what’s the pitch on the book? And that idea resonated with me because materialism just doesn’t do it for me.
If, like you were saying, pat, if this is it, we’re just a brain and the lights go off and there’s nothing else to be said. For us, I don’t know if it would change the way that I live in terms of the day-to-day, but it certainly could in that it would change my. It would certainly change my attitudes. And, you know, I don’t talk too much about my own religious ideas or ideas about spirituality again, cause I, I focus mostly on health and fitness stuff, but I would be willing to bet a lot of money that there is some sort of existence after death that we are not just meat bodies spinning around the sun and then, and then we just, you know, go to the worms and that’s it.
So, you know, just to add my own little piece on that, I think that there is a lot of hope that, and there’s a lot of maybe inspiration that you can draw from. Coming to a position where you can believe in something like that and how you get to that. There are different ways to get there, I think, and what is ultimately true.
I agree with you, pat. I, I do think there is an ultimate truth. Whether my ideas are correct or not, I’m not too concerned about it. I continue to seek for that truth and ultimately, if I get it right, I get it right. And if I don’t, well, I guess that’s too bad for me. But what I can say is, practically speaking, just a very simple thing.
For example, my current beliefs, which it would be another podcast, but I have come to these positions through some personal experience and empirical thinking and reading and seeing what really resonates with me. But as far as what works goes, something that I benefit from is I don’t take. Anything too seriously.
And I say that in a way that, not that I’m just careless, but maybe a bit more carefree and not all the time, but I’m able to not take myself very seriously. I’m able to not worry too much about what’s going on around me, be able to focus on what I can control, and maybe in a sense have a bit of faith that regardless of what is going on around me, that if I am not just my body, well then what’s the worst short term outcome that can happen?
I can die really. Right? That’s the worst thing that can probably happen to me outside of maybe having to witness things happening in my family, or if you’re just talking about me though, and if that is kind of inconsequential in the scheme of things, it just frees up. I don’t know, life force, I guess, where I can not have to be too concerned again about, oh, this is my only, this is it.
This is all I got. I better not make mistakes and be, I’m afraid of this. I’m afraid of the virus, I’m afraid of, uh, the stock market.
Pat: You know what I mean? Yeah. Right, right, right, right, right. Yeah. So there’s a lot there, Mike, and I think a lot worth reflecting on. But at one point you said something that resonated with me is, you know, if, if it turned out that materialism were true, and just to give people a quick background, I used to be a materialist.
Right. I was a, an atheist for a lot of my life, and then through various arguments for God and for a type of dualism, which we’ll get into, I gradually moved out of that, that worldview to where I am now. So I would say like, if materialism turned out to be true, I don’t think I would change the way I live my life.
Yeah. Now, fundamentally, I might, you still eat your
Mike: vegetables, go
Pat: to bed on time. Right. So, so let me, yeah. Let me explain that, right, because, because what I’m doing now is so much better. And I am flourishing in a way that I never was as the previous degenerate that I was. But here’s the important point.
Unless I was convinced that materialism wasn’t true and experienced the life I live now, I would’ve never made that change in the first place. Right. Right. You see the asymmetry there. I wouldn’t go back to living how I was if materialism somehow turned out to be true, but I would’ve never got to where I am now unless I wasn’t first convinced that materialism is false.
Does that make sense to either of you two? Yeah.
Jim: I, I always put this to my students and it scandalizes a little bit is, you know, like I could be become convinced tomorrow, you know, that God is dead and, you know, kind of a, a narrow-minded kind of materialism is true or something like that. And that doesn’t mean I’m gonna go out and cheat on my wife that day.
Right, right. Uh, you know what I mean? It doesn’t mean I’m, it changes anything about who I love. It doesn’t mean it changes anything about what. I find is the point of flourishing in my life and that sort of thing. Right. And I might not have what I think anymore is a good account of why those things are the case, but it wouldn’t change, right.
My commitment to those things because I didn’t, and I really wonder how often this happens, right? I didn’t argue, you know, from a metaphysical thesis to my commitment to my wife, right? I didn’t argue from a meta physical thesis to my commitment to my children. Yeah. It’s, it’s really, I would put it in the opposite direction.
Is certain metaphysical thesis explain better, right. My commitment to my wife and my children or something like that, right? And so I think a lot of times we, we assume the way it works is, is we do this theoretical, this heavy theoretical reason up front. We bring that to conclusion and then we sort of choose a practical life based on that.
I think more likely what it is, is we find ourselves with certain kinds of practical commitments, right? That we think it would be insane not to have. Then we try to figure out as kind of an abducted inference, what makes best sense of those,
Mike: right? That there are cer, we’re just drawn toward certain things, uh, and it just seems to be inborn, and that’s the phenomena that we can experience and observe.
But then there’s the question as to why, what is
Pat: this? Right? Why? Right. Yeah. See, Jim, I, I think I was just so much more of a, a natural degenerate than you might have been. Right. As part of the problem. Right. Because like we’ll pick that up off the air. Yeah. Yeah. So we don’t have to get into the gory details, but, you know, there was a point in my life where it’s like I would’ve thought that something was wrong, but if I knew in fact that I was the only one who was ever gonna find that out.
I would’ve done it. Yeah. Yeah. I would’ve done it. I would not do that now and I would not go back to ever doing that. Right. Even if materialism were true, because I have experienced the other side. Right. Yeah. But I don’t know if I would’ve ever come to even want to experience the other side unless I was first convinced of the wrongness of kind of my metaphysical worldview at the time.
Does that make sense? Yeah. Oh yeah.
Jim: Totally. You know, an interesting question, and this, you know, this really would kind of become a social scientific question, right? If we wonder, okay, so here you are, you’re Pat Flynn, and you’ve had this rational conversion where you have these principles that you hold based on a kind of a theoretical reason, and they make you not want to do, you know, certain really naughty things anymore, right?
Not wanting bad, bad, bad. Yeah. They make you realize you ought not to do those things. But of course, people all the time do things they know they ought not do, right? Mm-hmm. And so we might ask ourselves like, what is it that holds you? To not doing those things. When the temptation arises, is it your commitment to the rational principles?
Or is it now this sort of existential emotional experience you’ve had to these other goods in other people? Right. Yeah.
Pat: Right. Yeah. I see, I see what you’re saying. I think for me it’s a both and, right? Because definitely I guess, you know, if you’re coming from a naturalist meta, you know, materialist standpoint, like I was like, yeah, I had this conscience, but this conscience was just something that was fobbed off through the evolutionary process.
It doesn’t really mean anything, right? So if I violated, who the hell cares if I get it wrong around with it? But then once you become, say, uh, broadly Aristotelian, and you couple that with theism, you realize, no, there’s something about human nature and there are certain things that are gonna cause me to flourish as a human, whether I want to do them or not.
Right. Right. And then you just add on the theistic layer and Yeah. No, I, I hate to say like God is watching type of stuff, but like, I would be lying if this doesn’t add some type of motivation. But my deeper motivation is the commitment to a Aristotelian essentialism, right, right. Understanding that there is a human nature.
That my conscious isn’t just some arbitrary thing that just haphazardly emerge, but it’s something that really is trying to guide me in a substantive way. So yeah, for me it would be, I know we’re kind of veering off into ethics now, but Yeah. Yeah. It is a good thing to consider Uhhuh. No, I, I think
Jim: it’s actually a really important philosophy of mine question, because you know, in the moment when you’re thinking of doing, you know, one of the naughty things, right?
Is it actually the metaphysical story that prevents you from it? Or is it your emotional involvement with other people? That keeps you from doing it. Do you see that? I do. Yeah. Because it seems like you could very well know that metaphysical story, buy it completely at a theoretical level, and it could have very little effect on your life.
Totally. Right? Yeah. You know what I mean? So
Mike: especially when it’s so easy to do things and, and then be like, well, I’m still here. Everything seems to be fine. So, uh, yeah, exactly. Yeah. Hey, and
Jim: so I, I think a lot of what we do in terms of, you know, like practical syllogism, right? Like, literally like reasoning.
You know, by way of deductive logic in practical matters, right? Is something we do retrospectively. Okay, so what made sense of what I did there? Right? Here’s this practical socialism that does that. Was that actually what was moving me at that moment? Well, maybe who can know? And I would bet more likely it is these kinds of personal existential commitments that you had independently of the practical reason.
Pat: Yeah, I think it’s a both and, but there’s definitely a strong leaning, like when would I be willing to violate that existential force, if you will? Mm-hmm. I would be willing to violate it if I didn’t think I had any metaphysical backup. Does that make sense? Even if it’s the existential force. It is the primary driver.
Yeah. Sorry, is Mike, is this getting way off tracking? No, no, no, no.
Mike: I’m listening. I’m just thinking. I’m thinking myself and through my own experiences. Again, you two are far more qualified and educated in, in this stuff than I am, so I don’t have as many smart words and witticisms to add, but I’m just thinking through because this is something that I myself have just thought about that it’s, it’s just an interesting quirk of human nature is this point, Jim, like you were saying, and, and really you two have been going back and forth on, and I would like to believe, and I was trying to think through personal examples.
I do think I could. Offer a fair case that I have improved consistently in this regard. It sounds like you have Pat as well when, you know, if I look back in my, my younger years, I don’t think I would go as far as saying that I was a degenerate and I’m a fairly harsh brusque person. I’d have no problem saying that my vice was probably porn.
I would look at porn regularly and I, it didn’t get completely outta control. But beyond that, I mean, I’ve never cheated on, I mean, I started dating my wife when I was 17. I haven’t cheated on her, never got into drinking. I’ve never done drugs. The standard kind of vices never got into gambling. I played some online poker for a bit, but that was.
Again, it wasn’t like a problem. So I’d say I, I, I probably did fairly well in that regard, but if I think of okay, porn, and there was a, I did get to a point finally where I was done with it, and it’s been years and I can say pretty confidently at this point that I will never look at it again. Not because every once in a while there’s still that little part of me that is like, oh, that’d be, it.
Just would maybe enjoy that, but the reward
Jim: centers in your brain are still working. Right. You
Mike: know? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s maybe a good way of looking at it, right? Because it is a very kind of hollow, it doesn’t rise to urge or even compulsion at this point, because I feel like it is, there is, I’ve made such a decision, it’s not gonna happen.
I don’t care. You know what I mean? So there’s, there’s maybe a faint whisper and it’s me just like, shut up. And, and that’s kind of the end of it. But how did I get there? And so I was just trying to think. Do I have something really useful to add to what you were saying? Just. Thinking through my own thoughts of like what is exactly going on there.
And I can speak to myself where there was, maybe it was a little bit of feeling bad about it because I didn’t agree with it ethically, I just didn’t agree with it. As a married man, I didn’t agree with. I think the industry is disgusting and I think it is very harmful socially. And I think that by me simply looking at porn, I was contributing to it, even if it’s just in a small way.
And for me to then try to justify that in the just saying, Hey, uh, yeah, it’s just in a small way, it doesn’t really matter. I know that’s, there’s something false about that. It just doesn’t work like that. Right. Similar to why I don’t own Facebook stock, I don’t own Apple stock, I don’t own Google stock. I did at one point, but I actually felt.
Bad about it, cuz I really disagree with a lot of what these companies do. And so then I had to ask myself, why do I own their stock then? Well, you know, it’s in, in the scheme of things, what is my little bit of money? It doesn’t matter. But that to me was like, eh, that’s just rationalizing. So eventually I sold the stock and I felt much better.
And so I’ve gone through that process enough where I’ve experienced the reward of acting in line with what I feel is truly right and not just in my own self-interest. Again, trying to take a bit, a bigger maybe, uh, sphere of responsibility maybe is the word, or trying to think with again, the effects.
Does Facebook or Apple or Amazon, Google, do they do anything to harm me directly? Personally? No. But are they doing things to. Harm the world I live in and the society I live in. And that of course, can affect me, but I don’t like to see other people not do well. You know what I mean? So, yeah. Yeah.
Pat: I mean, you, there’s so much there.
Just a few things that struck me is sometimes people, I think try to reduce ethics to something that I, I don’t think works. Whether it’s just like physical harm or the idea of consent, right? Because people who wanna say it, it’s only wrong if it harms someone often ignore or beg the question against there being many different types of harm.
Yes. Right. Beyond physical harms. I’ve
Mike: gone in these circles with libertarians where it actually just frustrates me.
Pat: Right? Yeah. Or, or spiritual harm, right? So like, this brings us back to philosophy of mind, right? If there’s something else about us that is fundamentally irreducible to, again, the, the fundamental particles.
And we can act in a way that sort of tilts us away or frustrates us from reaching a final end. That would be a type of harm that seems relevant to consideration. Right. So it opens, it just really opens all the things that you could and should be considering. Or the idea of consent, right? If something is ethical.
If, if you’re consenting to it. But I don’t think that works because consent sort of floats a top deeper moral considerations. Like for example, Mike, I can’t consent for you to go drive my neighbor’s car. Like I can’t grant that moral permission. Right. You see what I’m saying? Right. Like whatever else consent is, if you’re gonna say that it, it’s definitely not a magic wand that can just make any action moral like I consent, whoosh.
Now it’s okay. No. Yeah. Or
Mike: I consent for you that you can take something I own and go beat my neighbor with it. That’s not how it works. Oh, what is my property? I mean, I’m okay to me, I can give it to him
Pat: if I consent to cut off my own arm. Is that a good action? Right. I’ve consented it. I think that most people would say no.
Like you shouldn’t do that. Right? So consent doesn’t seem to have force in that situation.
Mike: And let’s tell you, you know, if you were a doctor, you’re a surgeon and somebody says, Hey, I consent to you removing my arm, should you just be okay with it? Right.
Pat: Well, if there’s things like principle of totality in in ethics, the idea like if I need to remove my arm to save myself as a whole, then it might be morally permissible.
But just say I’m just sitting in my basement, I’m totally healthy, and I’m just like, nah, I just want to like Saul movie style, just start something in
Mike: me says just, you know, my arms gotta go. Yeah.
Pat: I just, no, people should hopefully restrain me like from doing that. Right. So again, I know we’re kind of veering off into ethics here, but that’s the fun thing about philosophy is like you can’t stay isolated for long, right?
You think about one area in philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, it’s going to bleed over epistemology and spill into other areas pretty quick.
Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world. Let me ask your thoughts, both of your thoughts on research into reincarnation.
I’m sure you’re familiar with, was it Stevenson and now it’s Tucker uva. And then I recently learned about somebody else, and in the case of Tucker and Stevenson’s work.
Pat: Right. And Raymond Moody.
Mike: Right, right. Yep. And just for the listener’s not familiar, I’ll just give it a quick, so if you look at Stevenson, I believe it was Steven Ian, right.
And he was a psychiatrist. And then now Jim Tucker has carried on his work. They have several thousand cases from all around the world, usually with young children talking about past lives, past existences, giving very specific details. And then the last I had seen, they have over probably close to 2000 solved cases.
So you’ll have some kid in Bangladesh, four years old who will say, oh yeah, my last life I was Mary Sue and I was living in Illinois and I had a husband, a pd, and I had kids. And, and then they, then they go verify and you go, Well, okay. What’s going on here? And, and again, I believe it was near almost 2000 cases.
What are your thoughts on what’s going on there?
Pat: Yeah, this is gonna open up a can of worms, but let’s do it. So this will also tie into near death experiences, which Jim and I discussed a a little bit on the first time I had ’em on my podcast. And I don’t know if we disagreed or agreed on that, Jim. Um, but, but it was fun.
Yeah. So yeah, a few thoughts on this. Let me say one thing about science, right? The attitude of the scientist should always be to serve and accommodate the data, right? Whatever the data is, right? But that isn’t often the attitude of the scientist. Often the scientist brings in their philosophical presuppositions and tries to force the data into it, right?
Mike: the, uh, the little quip? It progresses one funeral at a
Pat: time. Science. Yeah, it does typically, right? Yeah. One generation of funerals after another, right? That’s how progress is made because
Mike: the ideologies finally just die off with the people who refuse to consider anything
Pat: else. Right? And my general view, and I’ve have spent a lot of time, especially when I was working through all this philosophy of mine stuff.
Reading the research into literature on these phenomena, reincarnation, uh, near death experiences. And I don’t mean going to, uh, Barnes and Noble and grabbing some new age book outta the clearance bin. I mean like peer reviewed studies and journals like The Lancet and stuff like that. Right. And my view is that, yeah, some of these.
Whether we’re talking near death experiences or reinforcing out of body stuff. Yeah, out body. I think some of these definitely can be given a sort of natural explanation, but I think some of them definitely can’t be, and I’m more familiar off the top of my head because as revisiting it somewhat recently of the near-death experiences where, you know, you have somebody who flat, e e g fix and dilated pupils, cardiac arrests, they have this experience right, where there’s little to no brain activity and they’re able to report sensorial knowledge for vertical data.
And vertical data means data in the outside world that is then later confirmed by independent researchers, right? So there’s two things to mark there. One, it’s pretty remarkable that people have any type of rich experience when they’re being declared clinically dead. That itself is interesting, but it’s really hard.
But you know, maybe you might wanna get around that and say it’s the just kind of the last Hoff and puff of a dying brain and they’re just hallucinating. Well then you have a problem when you’re getting verical data reported, right? Because hallucinations don’t give you vertical data. It’s a. Totally private subjective experience.
So if we have people reporting things like stuff on the roof of the hospital that they would no way be able to see,
Mike: yeah, that’s different than the
Pat: DMT elves, right? Yeah. The DMT elves or the giant worms or whatever, or conversations that were going on in other rooms or the type of surgical equipment that another doctor in another room was using simultaneously with the operation they were under.
Like stuff that like, okay, this is, and like, look, there’s ways that maybe you can explain one or two instances if you think like some big con is going on. But I think when you look at the overall swath of the data, you run out of naturalistic options pretty quickly. Right. May I make a
Jim: point about the vertical nature of some of the information that you’re finding in near death experiences?
Yeah, please. This literally happened to me this morning.
Mike: Okay. She had a near death experience. No, yeah,
Pat: yeah. During your workout. Yeah, I did. That’s how you know you had a good workout, right? That’s right.
Jim: Yeah. So this morning my wife tapped me on the back to get me to turn off the alarm. Right. Okay. And I experienced that as waking from a dream, right.
Of someone tapping me on the back. Right. Do you see that? And in my memory though right, the tapping was antecedent to the, the letter. Yeah. It’s like the effect
Mike: preceded the cause almost. Yeah.
Jim: Yeah. And so like, you know, and so I, and it wasn’t my wife in the dream, okay. But I very easily could have like post HOK interpreted it while asleep.
Right. Had an experience of Jen tapping me on the back that was vertical. Mm-hmm. Do you see what I mean? Very easy for that cuz like memory is not a photographic record of things. Memory. That’s right. Our interpretation of things that have happened. Right? Mm-hmm. Okay. There’s an interesting literature on that, right?
And so, you know, like say the near death thing, there’s always ambiguity now is when I wake up from say a dream, I always wonder, did the dream actually unfold over the temporal sequence that I experience it? Or do I just wake up with a memory of a temporal sequence? Right. And mm-hmm. Right. And so,
Mike: and whereas I just say, well, that was a weird dream.
It was a weird dream. Yeah. Yeah. This, as, as they almost always are. Yeah,
Jim: exactly. This, this is the hellish world. I’m locked in the microphone. Okay, so you see what I’m getting at here is that turned out to be kind of a vertical, right? And we could have said, whoa, Jim had this sort of like external awareness, like he was unconscious, but still conscious.
And there was something really weird going on here. No. What happened was, is I got information after the fact that I back interpreted into this dream, right? And now once again, I’m not saying there’s probably very good sciences studying the near death thing, but that all would have to be teased out for me.
I’m, I really don’t know how you could do that.
Mike: Right. Maybe I’m just being dense, but I still see what Pat was saying and that maybe I’m just missing the connection here of something that’s subjective. A dream nobody can say that you did or didn’t have the dream, versus, oh, this is what they were talking about
Pat: in the other room.
And that’s why I like my theory to be about it. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Is is I think that there are, first off, I agree with everything Jim just said. Right. Clearly that phenomenon goes on, and I think that does, and very plausibly could explain a number of these claimed experiences. I don’t believe
Mike: subjective, very subjective things, Don.
Pat: don’t believe all of them. Right. And I don’t think anybody should. I think you should just be a,
Mike: and those ones were never very convincing or
Pat: appealing. Yeah, you should. You should be. You should be a healthy skeptic, but not a cynic. Right. Where if the data keeps piling up and piling up. So I think based on, again, my prior commitments that I think I have very strong, independent reasons to affirm, like Jim was talking about, right?
Which we all have those prior commitments, I think. Given the existence of God, but also given the way that I think of the human body and the soul and given the, we would probably expect more near death experiences if it was not in harmony with Jim’s phenomena. Yeah. But I think the occasional ones is sort of a quote unquote miracle, if you will.
Yeah. That kind of makes sense to me. So that’s why I lean to that. And then the reincarnation, since I’m, I’m not inclined to that. Angels and demons, people are gonna be like roll in their eyes at this point. But again, it all goes into deeper considerations if they exist. And presumably they would be aware of many different things throughout the history of the world and able to influence us in various ways.
To the point of maybe even convincing somebody, right? That they lived a past life. So that’s how I try to accommodate the data without denying or ignoring the data. I don’t know if that’s true, but to me it, it does seem like a plausible way to make sense of the data, if that makes Yeah.
Jim: I mean, yeah, by all means.
I mean, you have to go with what the background theory is here, right? Mm-hmm. Unless it’s just so been massively disconfirmed, right? Mm-hmm. Okay. And yeah, so I think a lotti has to do with what you’ve got in your back pocket, right? My point would be though, is if someone doesn’t have that in their back pocket, it seems to me we’re not close enough to saying, uh, looks like we’re gonna have to go supernatural here.
Mike: Right? I see. Yeah.
Jim: And in, yeah, that’s interesting. And I’ll tell you like there’s that case I read about once in a near death experience where. It was the kid was aware of a pair of shoes on the roof of the building. Right. Okay. That, I mean, that, that’s a tough one. Right. Okay. Right. Uh, cause it presumably the kid never been on the roof of the, uh, hospital.
Pat: I think I remember that one. And he like described the shoelace color and like, everything. Right. Yeah. Uhhuh. Yeah.
Jim: then again, you know, okay, so also then now if you want to get into, you know, like there could be natural telekinesis and all this stuff. Right? Okay. But then it seems like you’re, like, you’re stretching natural to the point that.
The natural world is so freaking cool. I don’t care about the natural supernatural distinction. Yeah.
Mike: become indistinguishable. It’s almost like a continuum. Like, oh, cool. So we just keep going and now we are Jedi. Fine. Whatever. I don’t care. That just sounds
Pat: fun. Yeah. I, I like that a lot. The other thing I just wanted to highlight about this conversation, I know we’ve been going for a while here, is a few things that struck out to me is there’s value in figuring out what something isn’t, even if you don’t quite know what it is that is valuable and, and can and should have consequences on how you live your life and how you think about other things.
And I think we’ve spent a lot of time on that. And also how much prior philosophical considerations bear in on how somebody is going to mm-hmm. Interpret. Or attempt to accommodate the data. Right. And like, I mean, I’ll just give you even the example of Christianity is like, I think you can give a strong historical case, right?
For the, the historical kind of signing off signature of the resurrection, right? But I don’t know if I would’ve ever really accepted that if I didn’t already convince myself of classical theism philosophically first. You see what I’m saying, Jim? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And like same way, like if I was still a committed naturalist, probably I would’ve just gone for any ad hoc stories I could have, right?
And the truth is I just never even considered his historically until I already became a theist. Right? Because it’s like, what’s the point? Right? And same thing, but these near-death experiences and reincarnation is like, I have other commitments that I think are. Tight, independently motivated and that like it would take a lot to dislodge them, right?
Yeah. That okay. Even if there’s some anomalies here and there, do I still have the resources to accommodate those anomalies? And I think I do, even if I don’t quite know exactly how it works in every instance, if that makes sense.
Mike: And you know something I can appreciate, I’ve asked this question to you and I think it’s an interesting question to ask people who are very politically identified, motivated, and, and then also religiously what would have to happen for you to.
Make a, a market change in your position to Mike? That’s an important question.
Pat: That’s a, that’s a great question. Yeah, go ahead Jim. Why don’t you go first? No, no, no. Finish your
Mike: question, Mike. I’m sorry. Yeah, that was basically, it’s just an, I find that question interesting to ask people to think about myself and my positions on a lot of this stuff.
Like, cuz if there isn’t an answer, then that to me is a red flag. If I’m talking with somebody, especially, I mean, these days with the political climate, it’s, it’s a bit wild whether they’re hard left or hard, right? I’ve been doing this now more and it’s interesting that I’ve yet to have. Like when I asked you, I was asking about Catholicism.
Pat was in a private conversation and you had a very quick answer. And I respect that. And I just find that in the discussions that I’ve had with people since then, and I’ve been using that a little bit, it’s not common where someone can say, here’s how I would disprove this to myself and I’d have to go looking
Jim: for something else.
Okay. So you know I’m a Roman Catholic too, right? But if someone could demonstrate to me that in fact, like St. Peter really was like part of an infant sacrifice cult, and he pulled this off as this great trick, if you could show that to me be true. I. I would not be a Catholic anymore, I hope. Right. Do you see what I mean?
I’ve said this to people and they’re like, well, you could never know that. I’m like, that’s not the point. If I knew that, if I, you know what I mean? Like there’s, I think for a belief to be a meaningful belief to me, there’s gotta be a falsifiable condition. I I’m with you a hundred percent. Otherwise, otherwise it is just an irrational commitment or it’s an empty, trivial
Right, right. So I mean, here’s the great thing about Catholicism is it makes itself eminently falsifiable. Cause all we need is a Vatican three to come out and formally teach that we no longer believe in the trinity. There we go. The church is not ineffect. I would give it up. Like if that happened, I would give up Catholicism 100%.
There’d be a
Pat: problem there too. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. And one thing that struck me about Catholicism, when you seriously investigate the claim of ineffect ability in the essential teaching of the church, you notice a a striking consistency, even if there’s a development that you kind of wouldn’t expect if the Catholic church wasn’t what it claimed to be.
Anyway, that struck me. But even in theism, in general, God’s existence, people say, well, you can’t disprove God. Yeah, you can. You just show that the idea of God, the notion of God as subsistence being itself is contradictory. In a sense, it entails some type of logical contradiction and people often push the problem of evil as one such thing, right?
If you say that God is a supreme foundation and he’s all good, then why is there evil in the world and they claim is that that’s incompatible right now. I don’t think that’s true. I think we can, there’s a number of moves to show that that isn’t incompatible. Good moves, as I’ve talked about on my podcast many times.
But if somebody could show something like that, and this actually goes into a, an area that I have specialized in, which is coherence of theism, right? That there’s something incoherent about the notion of classical theism, and you could demonstrate that to me with some type of air type argument. That would be a defeater, right?
I would give it up. Now, I’ve spent a long time in that. I don’t think that there is an argument like that, and classical theism still stands, you know, centuries and centuries after people trying to take it down that I think it’s like, I feel very confident. In it, but I’m willing to say, yeah, you could take it down, right?
Mike: Mm-hmm. And and just to quickly interject there, whereas that may sound fuzzy to people who aren’t as well versed in this stuff as you are Pac, cuz when we say, well, yeah, there you guys are throwing around a lot of words though, and there are many branches to all of this thought, and you could probably figure out some way to just not accept that there’s a logical contradiction.
I’m not saying you would do that, but your first answer was something that is very objectively. Verifiable. It either happens or it doesn’t happen, and you may think there’s no chance that it happens and I, I’m just complimenting you.
Pat: Yeah, no, no. It’s a ladder that would actually be more clear cut, right.
Mike: No, I know, I know. I’m just saying for people who, they haven’t read a single book on any of this, I think that there’s just an immediate appreciation of something like, okay, I’ve Vatican three, and I’m sure you could name off different things where like, very specifically, here are the positions that I would say are non-negotiable for all of this to work.
And if any of that changes, so take
Pat: something like, for Christians, take something like the Trinity, right? That’s a dogma of the Catholic church. And people always talk about being dogmatic, like it’s a bad thing. Well, it depends where the dogma comes from, right? If it’s from God, then we have good reason to believe it, right?
But yeah, the church says that that’s a, that’s a dogma, right? We’re committed to it. And the idea of the ineffect ability of the church is that, you know, God guides his church often through very fallible people and protects his church from formally binding its members to any error. Any falsity in the essential matters of faith and morals.
Right. Well, if we’ve believed in the tradition that God is a trinity, right. Complex topic. We can talk about it some other time, I think was interested, all we would need, right, is that the church, you know, convenes of Vatican three and it teaches with full authority that. And it changes that teaching. It says, Nope, you know, we’re actually just, you know, we’re Unitarians now or something.
Like, I, I’d be out, I’d be like, okay, I was wrong. Right. I really thought I was right. It seemed like we had some good momentum there, but maybe I’ll just go be a broad neoplatonist or something at that point. Right. I don’t know. I don’t know exactly where I would go, but I’d be, I that would do it for me.
Right. Uhhuh Jim, I don’t know if you agree with that
Mike: or not. Right. The reason why I brought that up is, Jim, your original example to me would sound like, well that’s just kind of in inventing. I know you weren’t doing this, but I could see someone saying, yeah, you’re just inventing some absurd thing that could never happen.
How you ever gonna prove that St. Peter was raping babies and killing babies? Okay. Where as if you’re not arguing in good faith, you know? Right. Yeah.
Jim: No, I just wanted to say
Mike: the most scandalous thing possible. I’m, uh, I, I, I understand that that’s, uh, that’s where I like to
Jim: go with things too. And I do think though, what that line is, is gotta be this thing that’s like, In this like important place in the heart.
Right. Okay. But yeah, I approach a lot of this stuff very differently than I think Pat does. Right. Even if we come out in much the same place. Right. And first of all, I wanna go back to your original point, Mike, the idea that if you don’t have a bottom line at some point, or at least you admit there could be a bottom line without my knowing right now what it is, I wonder what to what degree your position is just unhinged entirely from any pushback from reality.
Mm-hmm. We have to test what we’re claiming against something outside of ourselves. That’s the very distinction between, you know, being delusional and, and living in a real world. Right. So even if I couldn’t say to you right now, I know what would get me to, like even I have to say there’s something that would.
Caused me to walk outta my marriage, even though that’s the most important commitment I can make. And I can’t envision what my life would look like now without her. But unless it’s just I’m a member of a personality cult for my wife, there’s gotta be some condition that I would say we can’t have that.
I’m gone. Do you see that? Yeah. Right. And I don’t know what that is. It would have to be really damn bad. Right. Okay. But, If I’m not just a robot program by my wife, there has to be such a condition. Right. Wienstein, you know, it’s one of his famous throwout lines is, you know, if you can’t ever be wrong about something, there’s an important sense in which you’re never really right about it either.
It’s not a rational commitment now. Right. And some of this might not like sit terribly well with things I said earlier. Cause I, you know, I say, look, we’re kind of just thrown into these commitments into a world, into emotional attachments and practical skills that, you know, we didn’t choose, but we were kind of foisted on us.
Right. And it seems like we can never like fully. Separate ourselves from that, right? Those are like, what let a world come to be for us? I think in a very important literal sense, I don’t know how I would make sense of even very simple things if I lost Jen, right? Or not just lost her, like she’s gonna die somebody, but lost her.
Like it turned out it was all a sham, right? Mm-hmm. Okay. But that being said, right, even though I don’t know how I would make sense of things, right? I don’t know what that possible world is like where Jen turns out to be a sham, right? And sweet. I’m, I’m not suggesting this one, even if I don’t know what that possible world looks like.
Okay? The fact I think that I can entertain it, right? That there is such a possible world, right? Is sort of like kind of what separates me from being a machine. Okay? So things like my commitment to my wife, things like my commitment to the church, things like my commitment to my friends and stuff like that are things that I am willing to.
To say could be complete failures, unlikely, I think, but could be complete failures. And I have to be willing at some point maybe to put that stuff into some kind of critical scrutiny and questioning wherein I might have to throw out my whole operating system. You know what I mean? Like those are kind of my hardware.
Those are like what let a world come to be for me at all? And if I lost those, it’d be as if I’m just, you know, spinning water right with no contact reality anymore. And I think the fact that I can put my whole operating system in question is in a very important fact about human beings. That we are capable of a kind of just really cruel.
Self scrutiny about our commitments and things like that, that other things are not, and
Mike: that can be a very practical thing as well, just being able to stress test your ideas. I think that in my experience, I’m thinking now maybe more a bit preneur just in my business and work and having worked with many people and, and then just socially interacting with many people where sometimes I, I get a little bit confused how.
People behave in the actions they take and like, did you not think about like, okay, you had this, what I would say was a very naive conception of how things were gonna go and it was very much not rooted in reality. Did you ever think a little bit about it? Maybe do a pre-mortem, I guess so to speak, of how might, okay, this is what I want, how might this go wrong?
And then compare that to the ideas that you had starting out. And so the ability though, to do what you’re saying, if you’re willing to do it, I think has very useful. Implications for just living a better life. Yeah. And I, I don’t
Jim: think if, if think if you never do it, you’re walking through your life like a robot.
Pat: Right. And you kind of gotta know when to quit at some point. Right. And, you know, but at the same time, I almost kind of admire people who don’t have it, but know they don’t have it and admit they don’t have it. Right. Right. Yeah. So like, there was a, I didn’t think that’s a way of having it actually. Right.
Yeah. You know, it kind of is. Right. So there’s a guy I actually like, he’s a hardcore atheist, materialist, his name’s Peter Atkins. You know what I’m talking about, Jim? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Right. Like he’s hilariously dismissive of religion. He’s got this very charming British accent and he’s, he engages a lot of debates and, and conversations and he believes some really bizarre stuff.
So I think he’s definitely wrong, but I enjoy him. I like listening to him. And there was a conversation, it’s on YouTube somewhere where he, somebody asked him, he’s like, what would you need to do? Like to change your mind? It’s like, there anything that would change your mind to get you to reconsider your kind of physicalist reductionist worldview?
And he just says, no, there’s nothing that could do. There’s nothing that could do it. And I’m like, I was like, Bravo, dude. Like yeah. At least you like. Aren’t putting on any pretense that you don’t have. And I just really, Thomas Nagle had that
Jim: moment too.
Pat: Yeah. Did, yeah. Yeah. With Theism, right? What was his quote again?
So he said, he said, famous philosopher,
Jim: right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Nael, I mean, in his book, the Last Word, you know, like, he, he comes out, he’s defending objectivity, morality, he’s defending, you know, you know, all these like, uh, a non reductive just view of the mind, really almost do list all these things. And towards the end of the book, he’s like, you know, you might wonder in what sense?
I’m a naturalist. And he says, well, I am. But why? Well, because he says, I literally have a fear of religion, right? He says, I just don’t wanna live in a universe that’s run by a God. Right? Yeah.
Pat: He’s like, I just don’t want God to
Mike: exist. Right? And that’s close to, I like, at least the self-awareness. I like it.
And some people might feel the same way, so they’re like, that’s my guy. No,
Pat: exactly. It’s the honesty that I so appreciate. Right. I remember telling
Jim: a buddy right after I read that book, like, there it is. Thomas Nagle, the Last Honest Man in American Academia. Right.
Pat: The truth to that. Yeah. He’s a brilliant guy.
He’s definitely, especially in the philosophy of mine stuff, right? He’s got a lot of really important work uhhuh and in the
Mike: day-to-day living. I mean, there is some similarity to that. I mean, again, I’ve had discussions with people and gotten down to why did you make that decision? Like how did that work?
And in many cases it did come down to a fear of something or just a desire that they, even if they analytically or rationally just couldn’t really explain it or work it out, they took the action because of that and they’re dealing with the consequences and that is what it is. But it’s interesting and it’s, it makes me think of something that, I don’t know, I, it’s not my idea.
I picked it up somewhere, but it has just stuck with me and it has been useful for me is maybe I’ve honestly gone. In the other direction a little bit too much. Like my personality now is maybe a bit unemotional, quote unquote, to a fault. But I have gotten to a place where maybe I came through the skeptical of emotions and I just, I place very little value on feelings that I can’t explain.
I feel like I can’t make a good argument for, based on something that is empirical or something that is rational. And it’s been useful in my life. It’s been useful in my work. It has driven me to work a lot more than maybe, I mean, people, I’ve been asked many times, why do you still work as much as you do?
And why don’t you quote unquote, enjoy your life more? And so anyways, those are just some rambling thoughts that come to my mind related to this point. Specifically
Jim: kind of going in a direction with that, Mike, you know, there’s this notion of a mood that comes up in a lot of 20th century phenomenology and existentialism, right?
And the idea is, is, you know, if, let’s say I’m afraid. I’m walking home, it’s around Halloween on October night, and I’m, I’m having a, a sense of fear. I’m gonna notice all sorts of entities that are really there that I would not have noticed if it were not for that mood. Like you notice that Russell in the leaves, you know, you notice that, you know the sketchy guy in the clown costume or not, okay?
Like, all these things that you probably notice no matter what, but, but you notice things. Or like the fact that, you know, I’m so enamored with my wife makes me notice all sorts of things about her that are really there, but no one else would notice. You know, when you’re in the mood, right? You see that little curl in the hair you might’ve missed or something like that.
You see what I mean? And so there is this precognition emotional background. That really does play a very important role in narrowing what we can perceive in any given situation. In any given situation, there’s infinitely many things we could perceive and cogn and make claims about. Part of what narrows that is these kinds of like emotional backdrops, and I think you know this, this very speculative, a lot, a lot of people will make these kinds of cases is.
It’s these non-cognitive emotional commitments or cultural commitments. Right. Worlds that we occupy that make a cognition, a cognizable world, become available to us in the first place. And without those commitments, it, it wouldn’t come to be. Right. It it, it’d be crazy. Right. It’d be crazy. Yeah. Okay. And so this is kind of like my relationship to Catholicism is I didn’t make some big, like, rational choice to do it.
Right. I mean, like Pat’s experience is different from mine. I was raised Catholic and then like fell away, you know, in my twenties. And then when I got done partying came back to the church. Right. Which is just to say I’m Irish. Right. So, all right. You know, like the babies can like, ah, we gotta raise the kids somehow.
Right. Okay. Mm-hmm. And I’m not saying I don’t think it’s true or something like that. Right. But it wasn’t an inference. Right. Okay. That brought me to it. It’s part of what has made a. A cognizable world available to me, and it’s because of my commitment to that, which I can’t necessarily defend in any cognizable way that there’s a lot of entities that are really there that come available to me.
But of course, I have to admit I got thrown into that. I didn’t really pick this right. Okay. I’m just stuck in it. And that means at some point I do have to like have like a critical relationship to it, but it’s not a critical relationship that brought me to it. And the fact that it does make a very meaningful world available to me, that is really, there is something in his favor
I like that. Right. The sort of the restrictiveness, uh, yeah. That’s necessary, if you will. And yeah, and I think to say
Jim: that you’re gonna live without emotional commitment is to say you’re going to live. In a complete chaos. In chaos. Mm-hmm. In any situation there are in, so in any situation there are infinitely many true propositions you could affirm.
There’s ma infinitely many true statements you could make in that situation. Right. A minuscule subset of them are relevant. What sorts the relevance? Well, practicality is what we’re doing sorts it. Our mood sorts it, our moral commitment sorts it. Our other kinds of religious commitments sort it for us, right?
Mm-hmm. And I think we do need something to sort the world. Precognition so we can have a cognizable world at all. Right.
Mike: I take your point and to follow up with what I was trying to put together is, I suppose, and this is me again, I haven’t really thought about this. Yeah. I’m just thinking about it right now and just letting words come out.
But I suppose where I agree and I think that minimally, if I experience. Emotions that I feel are not suitable to, let’s just say it’s a proposition of doing something right or experiencing some situation. And if I feel like my emotional response to that is it doesn’t make sense to me or it’s going to be unproductive, I’m quick to reject it almost and see it, see it as a threat to my wellbeing, essentially.
But if it’s an emotion that seems suitable to the circumstances, even if it’s not a pleasant emotion, then you know, I’m willing to embrace it, I guess. And that to me has worked. I’ve just noticed that. That has seemed to work out fairly well for me.
Jim: Yeah. No, no. E executive function, man. Right. That’s it. The
Pat: one other thing I wanted to ask Jim about that I appreciate about what he said is that there is that moment, and this is philosophy, right, is where you do become critically reflective, right?
Right. And I think that that is to be a philosopher, right? It’s a critically reflective, systematic investigation of just our own experience, but then how do we set it in relation to the whole, that’s philosophy, right?
Jim: It’s ultimately good science too. I mean, at some point, The newtonians had to put the whole damn thing into question in order to get relativity.
Right. Do you know there had to be an openness that the whole thing might be deeply
Pat: Right? Right. But there is also, you know, cuz sometimes people will use that as an objection and typically against religion. Well Jim, the only reason you’re Catholic cuz you were born into it, right? Uh, yeah. And you know what, that might be true.
That might be the only reason, but it doesn’t show that what you believe is false.
Jim: The only reason I heard the leaves rustle on my walk home is cuz I was scared. Right. That doesn’t mean they weren’t
Pat: really wrestling. Right. So it, you could just have like, just because I’m born in a time where, you know, certain authorities tell me that the earth goes around the sun and, and that might be the only reason I believe that the earth goes around the sun.
Doesn’t mean that it’s false, right? So it just means that, you know, we can be born into certain contingent circumstances that for most people are gonna contain a mix of probably a great degree of beliefs that are closer to truth than others. But we need that to focus our interaction with the world, if you will, right?
We need sets of restrictions, which Jim is talking about, but then there becomes a point of maturity, I think, of being a philosopher. We then turn back, reflect back upon these assumptions, these commitments, this precognition context, and we start probing it and we ask, is it true? And we might find that some of what we were just born into is true.
Some of it. Isn’t. We give it up. Others is, it’s an approximation, but we need to refine it. Yeah. That to me is just, that’s being a philosopher. Right? That’s being a human. So
Jim: my pet chameleon Bob, who am I think you’ve heard about before Pat, right? Big fan of Bob. Yeah, my, yeah, my, actually, I gotta get you a picture of Bob.
He sent you a text it over. I will. He’s magnificent man. Anyway, so I didn’t know
Mike: he was real.
Jim: That’s hilarious. Oh, he is real. He’s real man. And I have an inordinate attachment to Bob, so that’s great. It was supposedly a gift to my son, but I’ve just co-opted it. Anyway, so Bob, the chameleon, you know, lives in a world, right?
And I think there are reasons in that world, but I think like there’s a reason why Bob Hunts the way he does, right? There’s a reason why Bob drinks the way he does. Right? And any given activity does. We can look at that and say it makes sense what Bob is doing. He has reasons, but what makes those reasons available to Bob is entirely just his non-rational involvement in the chameleon world.
He can never make the reasons explicit. He can never do something because that’s the right thing to do, even though he’s constantly doing the right chameleon thing. We’re different. We mostly operate by the implicit reasons provided by our biological, cultural, emotional, religious, political, whatever background that we just pick up, right?
But we can also make the reasons explicit. We can sit back and ask, okay, but what really conceptually make sense of this? And once you’ve done that, now you’ve got a problem. Cause now you gotta ask, is that how it really is? And I think that movement from the implicit to the explicit, from the merely practical to theoretical, although I think it’s all tied back.
Is the distinctive human moment,
Pat: right? Yeah. That’s great. And I don’t know, maybe that’s where we’ve tied this one up, but, uh, oh, and by the way,
Jim: that explicit implicit thing, that’s Robert Brand, not me. I don’t want to take credit
Pat: for that. Yeah. But for anyone who’s interested, Mike, if you don’t mind, uh, Jim and I had a, a really great pretty long discussion, more on this topic philosophy of mine on my podcast.
If anyone wants to maybe get a little more clarity on some of the stuff we’re talking about, I could also, Mike, just send maybe you a list of just articles and resources for anybody who might be interested in. Reading more into these debates.
Mike: Yeah. That was actually gonna be the question I was gonna, I was gonna throw out to you guys is for people who are still listening and who want to God bless you.
Yeah, yeah. And who are intrigued. Maybe you guys have top three or five resources and I would say that I would assume it’s someone like me who maybe can follow along, doesn’t know too much about this stuff, maybe can ask some questions here and there. What would you recommend? It could be books, it could be articles, it could be podcasts.
You interviews like yourself, Jim. Okay. Um, and, and yes, if it’s your own stuff, please. My, I have a
Jim: book called Mind Matter in Nature that came out, was it 2013. And in that book, I’m sticking out a kind of a position a lot closer to Pat’s position than my position currently. Right. But it’ll give you a good start on basic philosophy of mind, and especially in the kind of context that we’ve been talking about it today.
Right. And I have a, a lot of lectures. That are on SoundCloud for something called the Istic Institute, and I could get you links for those too. Cool. Yeah. Um, where I, I kind of, I give you a lot of the stuff I’ve been talking about much more slower and in detail, but they’re lectures for popular audiences.
Pat: would, uh, definitely recommend those in terms of like beginner stuff. You know what, ed Fraser’s got a good book that’s just called Philosophy of Mind. I’d recommend that. I think that’s a pretty accessible introduction. He kind of scans the different schools of thought there in terms of Yeah. Articles and argumentation.
You know, my friend Josh Rasmussen’s been publishing, he, you know, if you wanna hear something kind of different, but in addition to what we’ve talked about, Rasmussen’s got a very interesting argument. It’s called Against Non Reductive Physicalism. He calls it the counting Argument. And what he does is he shows that there’s a greater quantity of mental categories than physical categories and uses cantor’s theorem.
So it’s, it’s pretty technical, but it’s a pretty sweet argument. If you want something a little more advanced that I think is, yeah, is a good argument. So there’d be a beginner and a more advanced recommendation. Let me try and throw maybe one more out there. I read one recently. Are you friends with Thomas Buggars?
Jim? Mm-hmm. He’s got an article just called Undefeated Dualism. It was published. It’s not totally new, but I think it’s kind of a, I think it’s a good article. Anyway, I’ll send you to links, Mike, if you wanna just put ’em in there for anybody who’s interested. Mm-hmm. Great.
Mike: And then otherwise people can find you Pat [email protected].
Right. And then you mentioned you have a podcast, but what’s the name so they can find it?
Pat: Yeah, so the podcast, which we’re gonna be getting Jim on again here again next week. Right. So if you want, oh, once again, I’m, I’m co-opting if you want more of these kinds of a friend of the show. If you want more of these kinds of parties.
It’s called the Pat Flynn Show. I talk, you know, good amount about fitness, but we also do a weekly segment on philosophy and theology, occasionally talk writing and, and music and stuff like that. So it’s a generalist podcast. And yeah, the Humbly and originally named
Mike: Pat Flynn show. I like it. And then Jim, what about you?
Where can people find, because you have. Books on the stuff we’ve been discussing here. You have a fitness book, which I’d actually like to follow up in another interview. Oh yeah. I would love to talk about it. Yeah. And talk about how to get more jacked. That’s right. There we go. But where can people find you in your work?
Jim: I have a mostly dormant Facebook account. That’s what Cool, cool.
Mike: You’re busy. You’re busy. I understand. Yeah. It,
Jim: it’s not so, no, you could very easily overestimate how busy a college professor is. Actually don’t believe the hype. Right. I’m actually at work right now in some sense. Right. So, yeah, pat and I have talked a lot, a bit about how deep I want to get into the social media, and especially on the, so on the, uh, fitness side of it.
But, and I’m happy to talk to people about philosophy and stuff so they can find me on Facebook under James D. Madden, and I’m happy to, you know, please feel free to message me there. Cool. My, I have an email through Benedictine College where I teach. Right. They can feel free to hit me there. And I do have.
An almost untouched Twitter account under the title being real. They, they could probably find me there too.
Pat: Yeah. Jim’s gonna have some awesome fitness content flowing out here. Yeah. Pretty soon. So yeah. I’m pushing ’em to enter to the dirty, grungy world of online marketing. That’s right. So we’ll get ’em there.
Mike: Just, yeah. I just got Make the fian bargain. Just accept it. Yeah, just
Jim: rock. Yeah, I know. No, and I have really, what it is, is Pat and I talked about quite a bit, and there was a vision there, and then there’s this. Last book about what I’m talking about a lot with us today, that it’s almost done. It’s like just one more run through it and I’ll be good.
So Nice. That’s
Mike: exciting. I know how that feels. Yeah, yeah. You know, right. Yeah. Well, awesome guys. Hey, I really appreciate both you taking the time, and it’s been very interesting. Again, I’ve had fun listening and thinking about my own experiences and trying to find things that resonate with me, or, you know, I’ve tried, I’ve tried to contribute to the conversation as much as I can, but no, you have, you have, again, thank you for lending your expertise and you know, I look forward to Jim again.
We should put together another interview. We, let’s talk about some fitness stuff and then yeah, I’d love to do it, and then Pat will figure out something to talk about in the next installment of this eclectic series of
Pat: interviews that you know, you know. I love it, Mike. I’m always down.
Mike: All right. Well, until then, thanks again, guys.
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