The reincarnation of a WW2 pilot?

Summary

The case of the alleged reincarnation of James Houston Junior, an American pilot being shot down in Japan during WWII, is often seen as the strongest evidence for reincarnation. In this long article, I investigated this claim. While many putative pieces of evidence can have come about through foreknowledge or leading questions, there are a number of inconvenient facts that remain. Whilst they aren’t sufficient for proving reincarnation, they certainly make this case anomalous.

Introduction

 

If any alleged case of reincarnation proved to be genuine, both Christianity and Naturalism might be gravely undermined.

In what follows, I sought to investigate one famous such incident with the mind of an open sceptic, i.e. someone who carefully investigates the evidence without having a prior belief in the plausibility or implausibility of the phenomenon.

 

A good summary of the peculiar story involving James Leininger and his parents Bruce and Andrea can be found here.

This is an interview of the parents.

I base my analysis of the facts on the book “Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot” written by Bruce and Andrea Leininger, while, of course, considering the possibility they might misremember some things or get certain facts wrong.

I’ll start by quoting the “explanation” of two naturalistic philosophers John Martin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin in their book “Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Our Visions of the Afterlife

Unlike Internet Sceptics, they are moderate and respectful and their text is a pleasant read.

,

They start by summarising the case:

 

“At the age of two, James Leininger began having frightening dreams that caused him to yell out and to kick, and claw in his sleep.
He’d dream that he crashed in an air-plane and was trying to escape. The details James shared about these dreams were astonishing. He demonstrated encyclopaedic knowledge about World War II aircraft, and he recounted facts about a particular aircraft carrier, the Natoma Bay, and its flight crew, including naming a fellow pilot, Jack Larsen.
Jame’s fascination with these aircraft and events in the war was not confined to his dreams. He drew pictures, acted out scenes, and talked frankly and in great detail about the battle of Iwo Jima. He signed his pictures “James 3” because he was, in his words, “the third James.”
As Jame’s parents began looking more deeply into their son’s behaviour and interest in the war, they noticed some astonishing coincidences. The details young James was relating matched historical facts. The Natoma Bay was an actual ship that fought in the battle of Iwo Jima. The names of people James talked about in his dreams were members of the flight crew on that ship. One of the pilot shot down had been named James. They began to suspect that their son might be the reincarnation of that pilot. With the help of Carol Bowman, a therapist known for her work on cases of reincarnation in young children, the Leiningers began to listen empathetically to their son. What they saw and heard in his words and behaviour only further supported their suspicion. They became convinced, even if reluctantly in the case of Jame’s father, that their son had lived a past life as James Huston, who was shot down in his plane over the Pacific during the battle of Iwo Jima.
This brief synopsis should be enough to give you a sense of why many have thought that the best explanation of Jame Leninger’s dreams and behaviour is that his is a case of reincarnation. This was a very young child demonstrating a fascination with certain kinds of aircraft and an apparent knowledge of particular historical people and events in ways that suggested that he was personally and deeply attached to them. It will come as no surprise, we’re sure, to learn that we are not convinced by the reincarnation hypothesis. It may be one possible explanation of things, but it is not an especially compelling explanation. This becomes clear once we take account of the full range of factors, including both details of James Leininger’s life and the overall explanatory context.

First of all, a young boy’s fascination with airplanes, even airplanes of a very particular make and model, should strike no one as remarkable in the least.
In general, and as every parent knows, young children become obsessed with people, places, and things. Often, these obsessions are often explained by exposure to the person or things…But sometimes, these obsessions should seem to come out of the blue. It would be rash, however, to claim that just because one cannot understand how a child came to be fixated on something, the explanation must be supernatural. It is better to think, instead, that one has simply missed or forgotten something relevant to explaining how the obsession began.
Jame Leininger’s obsession with WWII airplanes may strike one as an outlier, perhaps, because it is coupled with extensive knowledge of facts about both the aircraft and historical people and events. But before we jump to the conclusion that the best way to explain what is going on here is to appeal to reincarnation, we should consider whether there are any promising avenues for explaining things by more conventional means. And there does seem to be some possibilities here.

Consider the fact that the Leiningers visited a flight museum when James was eighteen months old. During their visit, James walked around the very type of planes he later claimed to have been flying in his dreams, Corsairs. His parents have even claimed that he looked like he was conducting a flight check. Noting this detail about Jame’s life seems like a promising start for provinding an explanation of his obsession with ww2 aircraft, and his fixation on Corsairs in particular. By all accounts, James was a very bright child. It is possible that a bright 18-month-old could absorb many details at the air museum, especially in conjunction with listening to his parents or tour guides or others discussing the displays. James may not have had the ability at 18 months to put these experiences into words and express them verbally, but many of the details might have registered. Later, when he developed the capacity to verbalise, James would have been able to express the information that had registered earlier. We can thus begin to make sense of why James Leininger was so obsessed with World War II aircraft and how he knew what seemed like an uncanny amount about them. And we can do so without appealing to anything supernatural.

Even if James Leininger’s detailed knowledge of WW2 aircraft were to be explained in this way, it may still seem as though the case presents a serious puzzle. How could James have known the names of the people he recounted as being there with in his dreams?

We are not at all sure how the explanation of these facts is supposed to go.
But it does seem possible to explain them without invoking reincarnation. Perhaps James heard these names somewhere. Maybe they were mentioned in a television program he saw (the Leiningers admit to conversing with James about a television program on World War II aircraft on the History Channel) or a book or museum panel someone (perhaps his parents) read to him. Perhaps his parents mentioned them in conversations at home. Children are incredibly perceptive, and their memories often outstrip those of adults. Given that he was obsessed with WWII aircraft, it’d be no surprise if James soaked up titbits of information that went in one ear and out the other for those less intent on the subject.

Once his parents and other adults began to ask him about these things, it would not be surprising if Jame’s interest in them increased. He may even have begun to seek out more information about these matters out of a desire to please his parents or other authority figures, such as Carol Bowman and Jim Tucker (another expert on reincarnation), who interviewed him in relation to the possibility that he was reincarnated.
The presence and interests of these people would be powerful influences on a young person at an age when the desire to please an adult authority figure is great. So there might have been a symbiosis between young Jame’s desire to please and his parents’ and certain researchers’ beliefs and prior assumptions about what was happening in his case. This could have led to Jame’s telling a story that suggested he was reincarnated, when in fact he was not.
Indeed, it would not be surprising if James Leininger came to “remember” events from a past life due to repeated, and possibly leading, questioning from his parents and other adults. It is a commonplace that the testimony of children is quite suggestible, and three- and four-year-olds have been shown to be more suggestible than even five- and six-year-olds.
Among the factors thought to explain the phenomenon of suggestibility in children are, first, that their memories are not as firmly implanted as those in older people and, second, that the mechanism for protecting and monitoring memories against suggestive intrusions are not as robust in young children as in older people. If James was repeatedly questioned about his dreams and his claims about a past life, especially by people who were themselves of the opinion that he had a past life, it would be consistent with psychologists’ understanding of how memory works in young children to suppose that he came to falsely remember and report various facts and events..

We stress that we do not take ourselves to have provided adequate explanation of the Leininger case. That is not our aim. What we hope to have done is to have shown how the approach we’ve been sketching in this book may be applied to this case.
*******************

Now, the authors themselves admit it is hard to account for the specific details given by James.

 

Systematic investigation of the case

In what follows, I shall examine different elements that have been claimed to show that James had memories of a past life.

 

 

At two-year of age, James was described as being “the centrepiece of a loving family of three living on the soft coastal plane of southern Louisiana” and Andrea’s “first and only child”.

But Bruce Leininger had four children from a previous marriage.
They didn’t live with James’ half-siblings so that the latter could hardly have contaminated their little brother’s memories.

 

Natoma’s bay

 

How likely is that little James took in the name “Natoma Bay” while visiting the Cavanaugh Flight Museum as he was 18 months-old?

USS_Natoma_Bay_(CVE-62)_at_Tulagi_on_8_April_1944_(80-G-235018)

Before 2001, there is only one obscure book “USS Natoma Bay (CVE 62), VC 63, VC 81, VC9” written by the “Natoma Bay Association” dedicated to the plane carrier.

Otherwise, the boat is only mentioned in one or two lines of books dealing with WW2 planes.

In the great scheme of things, the Natoma Bay was really insignificant.

Given the fact that the Cavanaugh Flight Museum is an aviation museum for the general public and not for WW2 aviation specialists, it seems very unlikely they would have mentioned the word “Natoma Bay” and it seems even dubious they would have known that name by heart.

It seems also very unlikely that a knowledgeable visitor would have been present at the right moment and would have said the words.

 

What is more, while little James might have been very astute, he was only 18-months of age!
It seems implausible (albeit not impossible) he would have picked up a funny name and have correctly identified it conceptually in order to retrieve it later on.

Could “Natoma Bay” have been mentioned in a TV show James listened to?

As the carrier wasn’t significant, this is  implausible. I am open to challenges if some reader can found documentaries where it is mentioned.

 

Given all of that, it appears unlikely that little James would have found the name “Natoma Bay”.

 

Jack Larsen

The next puzzle concerns “Jack Larsen”. Of course, James had no idea that there was a “Jack Larsen” on the “Natoma Bay”.

And in comparison to “John Brown” or “Bill Smith”, “Jack Larsen” wasn’t such an usual name for a 2 years-old to come up with.

So it seems again very unlikely he would find by chance the name of a “Jack Larsen”who happened to have been a comrade of James Huston Jr. on the Natoma Bay.

 

James’ GI Joes.

 

Jamees had three GI Joes with peculiar names.
“Hey, how come you named your GI Joes, Billy and Leon and Walter?”

Bruce’s parents knew no Leon and Walter.

“Because that’s who met me when I got to heaven.” James answered.

Then he turned and went back to play.

Bruce snatched a piece of paper and read it. He read it again but couldn’t bring himself to say what was on his mind.

He was holding the list of names of the men who were killed aboard Natoma Bay. He handled it to Andrea. On the list were James M. Huston Jr., Billy Peeler, Leon Conner, and Walter Devlin. Bruce gave her a flat look, then started shuffling and tossing papers around again. He had files with dates and details and could conjure up the records in a flash.
“They were all in the same squadron”, Bruce said. “VC-81.”

The three men were already dead when James Huston was killed.

Leon had blond hair exactly like James’ namesake GI Joe according to his cousin Gwen.
“He was an ideal boy: six feet tall, blond, blue-eyed, a football star who also played the violin.”

 

The final action figure [Walter] had auburn, almost red hair.

He was described as “Irish, with all that big red hair.”

The action Figure Billy himself was Brown-haired as Billy Peeler based on his photo.

 

Little James had no plausible way to find these names and these pieces information.

 

Given that, it is very unlikely he would have, by chance, found the right names of his deceased comrades (two of which aren’t that common) and able to associate them to the right hair colour.

 

James Huston Junior’s sister Annie

 

James’ place in the family

James correctly called James Huston Junior’s sister “Annie”, as only her brother called her that way.

He told Andrea that he had another sister, Ruth. Only he pronounced it “Roof”. She was four years older than Annie and Annie was four years older than James. When Andrea checked with Anne Barron, she said it was all accurate. Ruth was the oldest by four years, James the youngest by four years”.

Of course, this relies on Anne’s memory but the year of birth of one’s sibling is something almost all of us remembers very well.
It is at least remarkable he knew the name of the oldest sister and it seems unlikely he would have guessed it or sneak into his dad’s newspapers to find it.

 

Personal detail about the Huston’s family life

Things get a bit more ambiguous here.

We read: “Five-year-old James knew about their father’s alcoholism. He knew all the family secrets with a familiar intimacy.”

Here, we might envision that “Annie” asked leading questions to James.

“For instance, James recalled in surprising detail when his father’s alcoholism got so bad that he smashed things and had to go into rehab, he knew all about that”.

On the other hand, it also seems unlikely that Anne would herself take the initiative to mention such traumatising details to a five-year-old boy.

According to Jim Tucker, James already spoke of the alcoholism of his “father” when his real mother Andrea entered into his room with a glass of wine.

Given that, it appears likely that James did recall such details on his own, but this isn’t very evidential as this cannot be strictly shown.

James 3

James signed some of his drawing “James 3”. When he was asked why he signed them “James 3”, he said simply “Because I am the third James. I am James 3”.

If the parents recalled correctly, this would be a remarkable coincidence as the other James was James Houston Jr.

However, they might also have unconsciously put this into their son’s mouth in hindsight but that doesn’t seem likely.

According to Jim Tucker, James continued to produce the same drawing even when he was four-years-old.

Bob Greenwalt

 

Bruce brought James to a meeting of the veterans of the Natoma Bay.

 

The man looked down at James and asked in a hearty, robust voice,
“Do you know who I am?”
James looked him in the eye, thought for a second, and replied,
“You’re Bob Greenwalt.”

“How did you know that?” asked Bruce.
“I recognised his voice,” he told his father.

 

Now, if James had never heard the name “Bob Greenwalt”, this fact alone would strongly point toward a paranormal phenomenon.
But is this the case?

No.

One night, Andrea received a call from Bob Greenwalt she transferred to Bruce.
“A Bob Greenwalt want to talk with you” she said.
“I know who Bob Greenwalt was…” answered Bruce.

 

It cannot be conclusively ruled out that James heard half-consciously the name and some strong features of the voice because the mother might have activated the loud speaker.

 

Prenatal choice of his parents

 

One of the most puzzling episode concerns little James “choosing” his parents shortly before his birth.

“One day, after raking leaves together, Bruce told James how happy he was to have him as a son. James replied, “That’s why I picked you; I know you would be a good daddy.” Bruce did not understand. James continued:

When I found you and Mommy, I knew you would be good to me.”

“Where did you find us?”

“Hawaii. . . . I found you at the big pink hotel. . . . I found you on the beach. You were eating dinner at night.”

Bruce was dumbfounded. In 1977, Bruce and Andrew indeed went to Hawaii and stayed at the Royal Hawaii, a pink hotel on Waikiki beach. On the last evening, they had a moonlight dinner at the beach. Five weeks later, Andrea became pregnant with James.”

Unfortunately, we cannot entirely rule out the possibility that James saw the picture of the pink hotel and of the dinner at the beach somewhere in the house.

This doesn’t appear particularly likely because the parents would have remembered the pictures but this cannot be dismissed out of hand either.

Misidentification of the corsair

We now finally come to the only argument AGAINST the reincarnation hypothesis.

An exception was that Huston was shot down in a FM2 Wildcat, not a Corsair: veterans could recall no Corsairs on Natoma Bay. Nor could the details of James’s account of the plane being shot down be confirmed. However, a visit to Huston’s sister Anne Barron uncovered a photograph of Huston standing in front of a Corsair, confirming that at one time he flew this aircraft.

But even if James Leininger was really the reincarnation of James Huston Jr., we don’t have to expect that his memories would always be clear and precise.

What is more, Tucker contacted the Cavanaugh Flight Museum and learned that it had no Corsair on display between 1999 and 2003, the time period of James’s first two visits, so that this description cannot come from his early visit to the museum.

Under the hypothesis of reincarnation, it is not unreasonable to believe that James could confuse the plane he died in with a plane he was also familiar with.

Battle of Iwo Jima

Iwo-Jima

As the battle of Iwo Jima was very famous, it is not astounding that James Leiniger would be exposed to it or claimed he had died there.

That said, it is certainly curious that the only member of the Natoma Bay who died there was James Huston Jr.

Conclusion

The James Leininger’s putative reincarnation case is a complex one.

Many elements can be well explained through foreknowledge, suggestion and false memories.

It is, for example, conceivable that James was able to correctly identify Bob Greenwalt’s voice and describe his parents’ evening at Hawaii before his birth thanks to sensory clues and foreknowledge.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that little James would have come up with “Natoma” as that ship was rather insignificant and hardly mentioned to the general public. It is very unlikely he would, by chance, utter the uncommon name “Jack Larsen” who appears to be a member of that very ship’s crew. It is very unlikely he would have christened his three GI Joes according to the names and appearances of his real colleagues Billy, Walter and Leon while remembering having seen them in Heaven and it is really dubious he could have gleaned that information by sneaking into his father’s documents.

In light of this, other less evidential elements (such as James’s mentioning the alcoholism of his former “father” to Annie, “James 3”, his death at the battle of Iwo Jima and his seeing his parent before his birth ) reinforce the credibility of the case.

Does that mean we must believe in the reality of reincarnation?
The answer is a resounding NO.

Very unlikely combinations of events are bound to happen.

 

I do think, however, that sceptics need to recognise that this case is highly anomalous.

 

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Turning machines into angels

Okay, this isn’t gonna be a deep philosophical analysis of the problem but the very first poem I wrote in English 🙂

Lost wanderer by firepaved

Take heart, hopeless wanderer!
Before your eyes are so many wonders.

You’ve been living like a worthless worm for all these years
But you shall die like a god when everything is made clear.

The feeling of your breath through your nostrils can only be a divine gift
The atoms dancing around in your head could never bring about your bliss.

You cannot know if the world you’ve been so assiduously studying is real.
But there can be no such doubt about the pain of your heart you constantly feel.

So are you an obsolete machine that will trail off into nothingness?
Or are you an amnesiac angel that shall at last experience fullness?

 

Copyright Lotharson 2017.

 

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing from toxic group thinking

I recently stumbled across an article written by Establishment Liberals.

images

************************

Everyday Feminism presents:

Healing from Toxic Whiteness 

~ an online training program for white people commited to racial justice ~

If there was ever a time in recent history for white people to take action to end racism, this is it.  

Trump’s presidency has shaken white people’s understanding of racism to its core. It’s revealed what many people of color have known and been naming for generations – that the US has deeply normalized white supremacy and is built on a foundation of systemic oppression.

As a white person dedicated to social justice, you knew how racist Trump’s campaign was – but perhaps you didn’t know how capable so many white people, perhaps including your own family and friends, were of electing him.

You may be finding yourself coming to terms with just how prevalent and harmful white supremacy is – and how your white privilege has kept you ignorant and in denial of this reality in the first place.  

So with Trump’s policies starting to roll out, you know you want to be fighting alongside people of color. But you also know that you may feel frozen in place by the feelings of shock, confusion, denial, and guilt that many white people have been dealing with since the election.

It’s understandable for white people to have those feelings as they begin to notice we don’t live in a post-racial society as we’ve been taught and how pervasive systemic racism actually is. 

You just don’t want those feelings to stop you from taking action. 

This starts with not running away from the racism that exists both within yourself and your communities. Instead, it means acknowledging it – and that is a painful process. 

With our unique Compassionate Activism approach, you can learn how to hold that pain of racism in a way that’s healing and comes from a place of love and justice. 

That way, you become increasingly free to take action against white supremacy – from a sense of wholeness and shared humanity.

Once you notice just how insidious and ingrained racism really is – and how often you find yourself unintentionally upholding it – it can feel like your whole worldview is being shaken.  

As you think about what you personally can do to address racism, you may find yourself wrestling with questions like:  

  • How can I make sure I don’t accidentally say something that’s racist and hurts people I care about? 
  • I know I need to speak up against racism more, but when does speaking up cross the line into speaking over people of color? 
  • What do I do when I discover I’ve been subconsciously stereotyping and judging people of color?
  • I feel so guilty about having white privilege, but am I really willing to give up that privilege? Do I even know what that means? 
  • How can I figure out what I should be doing to fight racism without burdening people of color by constantly asking them what I should do? 
  • How do I deal with the fact that I’m scared to talk to other white people about racism when they often get really angry at me?

 

Once you notice just how insidious and ingrained racism really is – and how often you find yourself unintentionally upholding it – it can feel like your whole worldview is being shaken.  

As you think about what you personally can do to address racism, you may find yourself wrestling with questions like:  

  • How can I make sure I don’t accidentally say something that’s racist and hurts people I care about? 
  • I know I need to speak up against racism more, but when does speaking up cross the line into speaking over people of color? 
  • What do I do when I discover I’ve been subconsciously stereotyping and judging people of color?
  • I feel so guilty about having white privilege, but am I really willing to give up that privilege? Do I even know what that means? 
  • How can I figure out what I should be doing to fight racism without burdening people of color by constantly asking them what I should do? 
  • How do I deal with the fact that I’m scared to talk to other white people about racism when they often get really angry at me?

 

or white people to truly engage in anti-racism work, they must first engage with their unconscious conditioning to think and act in racist ways.

This is often the first obstacle in approaching this work – and because it is so normalized and insidious, it can feel insurmountable. 

While white people are not inherently or inevitably racist, they are all raised in societies built on systemic racism and have been bombarded since birth with conflicting messages that teach them to: 

  • Think and act in racist ways that personally benefit them at the expense of communities of color 
  • View these racist behaviors as either racially neutral or even actively anti-racist (like being “colorblind”) 
  • Believe that since they don’t personally benefit or intentionally engage in racism, they have no personal responsibility to do anything to end it 
  • Not notice how our society is structured so that white people are seen as full human beings and treated as “normal,” while people of color are seen as stereotypes and treated as less then
  • Believe that being racist is one of the worst things you can be, in order to scare them from acknowleding the racism inside of them

This means the question needs to shift from “Am I a racist?” to “How will I work towards undoing the racism I was raised with and have internalized?” 

Because while we’d all love it if we could jump from being raised in a deeply racist society to becoming completely anti-racist, it doesn’t work like that.  

The desire to not be racist is not enough, by itself, to stop someone from being racist. 

By becoming conscious of your own conditioning, you will be able to choose whether or not to continue to do as you’ve been taught, or to act in accordance with your values of justice and humanity.  

This can be a painful and disruptive process – but the only way out is through.

***************************************

I hardly know where to begin with.

1) How do you DEFINE “white supremacism”?

Is it the will to uphold a privileged place for white people?

If so, many (and probably most) electors of Trump aren’t white supremacists as they have nothing against blacks sharing their worldview (such as Ben Carson) being in a position of power. Actually, most of Ben Carson’s electors voted for Trump.

2) That sounds like preaching to the convert to me. To an outsider like myself, this rings as weird as the proclamation of a fundamentalist preacher. Basically, Establishment Liberalism has all the hallmarks of a dogmatic religion.

3) All the racist attitudes she describes can also stem from blacks and latinos. You cannot fight white racism while tolerating or promoting a racist mindset among other ethnic groups. We should all refrain from depriving other people of their individuality because of their ethnicity.

4) It is true that we all have unholy prejudices against other people, even if we don’t want to.
But there is no evidence that it is systematically directed towards black and brown people.
In France, many people who passionately hate Muslims would have no problem hiring a black Christian or secular woman.

5) “Not notice how our society is structured so that white people are seen as full human beings and treated as “normal,” while people of color are seen as stereotypes and treated as less then

This was entirely true at the time of Dr. Martin Luther King. But nowadays, I think that many upper-class and middle-class black people are treated like their white counterparts.

6) Many white people are “defensive” because we have the feeling that we are unfairly SINGLED OUT as the worst type of human beings and that we can never be the victims of oppression.
What about the holocaust where 6 millions of white people were butchered by other white people?
It is extremely frustrating that these Establishment Feminists ignore the Arab slave trade against black Africans and white Europeans which was very soon associated with systematic racism.

arab-slave-trade
What about the genocide of the Indo-European Arminians by the Turks?

I totally support an anti-racism which fights both the prejudices of whites and non-whites.

7) What about other causes of oppression such as poverty and mental health problems which affect whites and non-whites alike? Why is it that Establishment Liberals almost never say anything against that?

One likely explanation is that they are the USEFUL IDIOTS of corrupt oligarchs who want to uphold their economic privileges.

8) I’d be truly delighted if social justice warriors reading that were to call me a “white supremacist” or even “neo-nazi”.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Can we define the truth of materialism?

In a previous post, I explained why I believe that materialism (the belief that matter is the only reality) cannot make sense of the truth of materialism.

The Red Spider Nebula: Surfing in Sagittarius - not for the faint-hearted!

My reasoning was hard to follow and this prompted me to try to reformulate my argument.

Platonism and Nominalism

According to Platonism, abstract objects not existing in space and time (such as numbers, mathematical operations, concepts such as “everything“, “nothing” etc.) are real and  necessary to talk about the world.

For instance, while considering the sentence

All roses in my garden are red

rosengarten-seppenrade

a Platonist will consider the words “all” and “red” as examples of abstract objects (or universals) which determine its truth or falsehood.

A Nominalist rejects the existence of abstract objects which are considered to be useful human conventions.

According to them, the above sentence can be rephrased as

“Rose number 1, 2, 3…. and N have roughly the same colour as tomatoes”

thereby seemingly doing away with the indispensability of abstract concepts.

It is important to realise that the plausibility of Nominalism stands and falls with its ability to reformulate such statements without the use of any abstract objects.

If abstract objects can be shown to be indispensable to give a meaning to a true sentence describing the real world, Nominalism is false.

What is the truth of materialism?

Materialists MUST be Nominalists as they reject the existence of anything not located in space and time.

At face value, the truth of materialism can be expressed in different equivalent ways:
Everything is material
There is nothing immaterial
If (any object)* A exists, A is material

If (any object)* A is real, A is material“.
…………..
But is there a way to formulate this proposition without (explicitly and implicitly) appealing to any abstract entities?

It seems to me that in that specific context, all words I have underlined are abstract entities or require the meaning of abstract entities such as existence.

The sentences “there exists no such thing as the concept of existence” or “the concept of reality is not real” appear self-contradictory to me.

Note that I am not saying that the underlined words cannot be interpreted nominallistically in other situations.

But here it seems impossible to me to express the truth of materialism while only appealing to material entities.

If I’m right about that, whenever we assert the truth of materialism, we must resort to non-material concepts. In other words, if the truth of materialism is meaningful, non-material concepts must be meaningful as well.

Conversely, if non-material concepts are meaningless, so is the truth of materialism.

Another way of looking at this is to consider the  truth-value of  materialism, that is to say the state of affairs of the world that would make it true.

Suppose that 2 billions years later, our highly advanced descendants feel confident that they know everything that exists.

Would the state of affairs corresponding to materialism simply be: “Object 1 is material, object 2 is material…object N is material“?

No, for it must also include “And objects 1 to N are everything that exists” or ‘”there is nothing else than objects 1 to N”.

It thus appears that as an ensemble, objects 1 to N must have a non-material property (namely that of exhaustiveness) that is not localised in time and space and cannot be identified with any set of interacting primary particles.

Therefore, the impossibility of defining materialism without relying on immaterial concepts goes hand in hand with the impossibility of it being true.

The Cosmos of materialists
The cosmos in a nutshell. Materialism implies BOTH that the entities in the oval are material and that the oval is all there is. This property of the oval is non-physical in that it cannot be localised in time and space.

I’d be interested to learn if you think I’m wrong and that you know such formulations which do not merely shift the problem. Of course, one solution of the issue might be to use more modest definitions of materialism that do not try to convey the idea of “nothing else”.

Footnotes

*Some might object that the sentence

If (any object) A is real, A is material

can simply be formulated as

If A is real, A is material.

This clearly raises questions about the implicit meaning of A.

The sentences

If love exists, love is material

If telepathy exists, telepathy is material

can obviously  not serve as the definition of materialism, although they naturally follow from its truth.

Nor can this role be played by the sentence

If Lyurmur exists, it is material

which concerns a specific entity called “Lyurmur“.

It is because of mathematical conventions and our use to them that we automatically assume that “A” in the original sentence means “any object having that property“.

It thus follows that we cannot do away with that concept in such a manner.

Objections

A creation of human brains

Someone answered that this isn’t a problem as “everything” can be viewed as an abstraction created by human brains.

If that is the case, without conscious lives in the cosmos, materialism couldn’t be true! Materialism would be a fact of the external world that would not be true if there were no consciousness. That’s certainly a very odd position to hold. Many would say it is plainly absurd as one of the main claims of materialism is the denial that consciousness is anything fundamental.
Moreover, if the concept of “everything” is only a useful convention to simplify our daily talks and theory building, then what does it mean in such a situation where it cannot be reduced to anything else?
I think that the following argument can be developed:
***********************************************************************************************
1) If the sentence M “everything is material” is true, then the concept of “everything” must exist either as such or as something reducible to other concepts or objects and not *merely* as a creation of the brain.
2) In that specific context, “everything” cannot be reduced to more fundamental objects.
3) Hence, if M (materialism) is true, “everything” exists as a fundamental object.
***********************************************************************************************
I have argued for 2) above and believe it is very implausible that anyone could reduce “everything” to something more fundamental and do away with abstract objects.
I shall thus take it for granted.
Denying 1) would mean that “A is…” can be true even though A does not carry any external meaning and is only correlated to a bunch of neurons. That too seems very implausible as the proposition “The fountain of youth is material” and “The fountain of youth is immaterial” are both false if the fountain of youth does not refer to a putative object.
Consequently, it is very hard to see how a materialist can consider that “everything” is nothing more than neural currents without meaning while believing that the sentence “everything is material” is true.
Not a noun?
Another person asserted that “everything is material” is perfectly fine for a materialist as “everything” is a pronoun and not a noun. I don’t think this is the case.

For an abstract object not existing in time and space does not have to be a noun in a specific language.
Consider for example the sentences:
0 roses are red
3 roses are red
7 roses are red
9 roses are red
NO rose is red.
ALL roses are red
EVERY roses are red.

“No”,”All” and “every” are as much abstract objects as “3”, “7” and “9” are.
If “0”, “3”, “7”, “9” have no meaning, neither do the four first sentences.
If “no”, “all” and “every” have no meaning, neither do the three last sentences.

“all” and “every” depend on the concepts of everything in the same way as “something” depends on the concept of something.

The sentence “Fijhfhdfgx is blue” is meaningless without a concept of “Fijhfhdfgx“.

What is more, everything in that context can only mean “every OBJECT” as opposed to “every pineapple or “every wild bears”.

So, I still don’t see how “everything” (every thing) can have a meaning here without the concept of everything and the concept of object.

Replacing “every” by an enumeration
Someone suggested I could just replace “every” by an enumeration of all elements making up reality.

I also first thought of “everything” as a summation (U).
If all the materialist was claiming were that the objects KNOWN TO US are material, an enumeration such as
– This laptop is material
– This rose is material
– Donald Trump’s brain is material
….
would indeed be perfectly correct.
The problem is that most materialists also include all potentially unknown object.And as such, the summation (U) will also have to explicitly mention
and all potential objects we know nothing about are material

so that the problem does remain the same.

This seems to be inevitable. Our descendants in 200 000 000 million years would also face the same problem as they too could not rule out the existence of unknown objects in, say, parallel universes.

So I remain convinced that phrases such as “and nothing else exists” cannot be replaced by any combinations of concrete objects.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

 Actually, in order to avoid a tautology (such as ‘all material things are material’), it appears to me that you must allow for the possibility that the object A could be non-material. And as such, A cannot be considered a physical thing of our universe from the outset without begging the question.

Have sexism and racism lost any meaning?

Robert Cunningham, a good Australian friend of mine, asked the following questions:

When everything is sexism , nothing is ?
When everything is racism , nothing is ?
When everything is mental illness , nothing is ?

sexism

My answer follows.

Sexism means that ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, you treat a person differently because of his or her gender.
Racism means that ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, you treat a person differently because of his or her ethnicity.
Mental illness means you suffer from a condition which makes your life significantly harder than those of members of the general population.

The definitions of words stem from the intuitive understanding of ordinary folks and not from the wishes of ideologists.
I think that what I wrote corresponds very well to how the man (or woman) in the street understands these terms.

This has important consequences.

50


Let us consider that in the field of mechanical engineering, there are 20% of women and 80% of men. According to most feminists, there should be 50% of women having good jobs, otherwise sexism is at play. This is bullshit. The right proportion of hired females under those circumstances should be 20%.
By trying to force 50% (as they do in Germany and Austria), they unfairly give a female candidate much more chances to get employed just because she’s got two X-Chromosomes.

If feminists want 50% of women having jobs in that field, they should encourage more girls to orientate their studies accordingly instead of discriminating qualified men.

To the dismay of my liberal friends, I also believe that Arabs calling an innocent child in French suburbs “Jewish bastard” or “white bastard” are racists.

A lot of innocent Arabs suffer from discriminations in France but there are also Arabs who attack innocent white people out of racial hatred.

I’m an egalitarian. If I had a white-skinned son and an adopted black-skinned Lesbian daughter who had the same qualifications, I would like them to have EXACTLY THE SAME CHANCES.

This is why I think that any positive discrimination should be based upon the wealth and well-being of a person rather than on skin colour or gender.

It is a shame that the irrational notion “statistical disparities -> discrimination” has become a sacred dogma of the Liberal Establishment.

Racism against minorities is undeniably real but by using flawed reasoning and ignoring the economical oppression of poor whites, Liberal Elites gave over the White House to Trump.

As a contrast, Dr. Martin Luther King reached out to poor whites and sincerely wanted to alleviate their suffering.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

How so-called “leftists” react to heresies

Do you want to be bullied, ridiculed and dehumanised by a LIBERAL culture warrior?

 

Classical liberalism "I disapprove of what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it". "Progressivism" I disapprove of what you say, and I will publicly shame you, lobby to have you censored and demand you be fired from your job.
Pseudo-progressivism in action.

 

Say to him or her any of the following things.

 

1) Systematic racism against afro-americans is alive and well in America in 2016. This shouldn’t be tolerated. But there are also innocent white kids who get bullied and battered just because of their skin colour. This should be called racial hatred and equally combated.

**********

2) Nowadays, there is still an intolerable level of homophobia and misogyny in the Western World. We must not deny this but eagerly fight it. However,in 2016 the oppression of gays and females is MUCH worse in Muslim countries. They (and liberal Muslims who defend them) are much more in need of our support than Western females and homosexuals.

No Trade with Saudi, killers of gays
A true progressive protest

 

3) Arabs/Muslims in France (especially after the terrorist attacks in Paris) suffer from a very strong discrimination and exclusion. This is awful and despicable and must be combated by all means.
However, young Arabs in French suburbs beating innocent white children to avenge themselves are guilty of racial hatred and should be condemned accordingly.

**********

4) A man whose life has been destroyed by a false rape accusation is as much in need of our help and compassion as a woman whose life has been destroyed by a true rape.

Despaired man.
False rape accusation. Truly, pain, sadness and depression know no gender. And no: statistical numbers comparing men and women do not feel anything at all. Only individuals do.

5) While assessing the existence of real discriminations in the here and now in a given society (say America), you shouldn’t directly compare the whole groups of non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, blacks and Asians  because these populations can be extremely different in terms of poverty, culture and many other factors.

Instead, while investigating academic success, unjustified police arrests, discriminations etc.,  you should compare homogeneous groups such as:

a) wealthy whites and wealthy blacks coming from wealthy neighbourhoods

b) poor whites and poor blacks coming from poor neighbourhoods

c) qualified men and qualified women applying for academic positions in philosophy or mechanical engineering.

**********
6) Anti-black racism isn’t only a Western phenomenon. There are awful cases of persecutions of black Africans in Arabic countries as well. This is something progressive Arabs clearly expose and fight. Curiously, this is something progressive Westerners choose to completely ignore because it destroys their most fundamental beliefs.

**********
7) Race-based affirmative action is unjust and inevitably upholds artificial divisions of humankind.
Instead, it should be replaced by a set of three measures

i) wealth-based affirmative action
ii) any enterprise must have the same amount of employees belonging to the ethnic minority as the amount of that ethnic minority among qualified candidates.
iii) public education in poor neighbourhoods must be extremely strengthened and improved through the intervention of the State. Much more money needs to be spent in these areas.

**********

8) Discriminating a person because he or she is obese, unattractive or behaves oddly due to a mental health condition isn’t any less immoral than discriminating him or her based on race, gender or sexual orientation.

*********
9) Stealing the wallet of a person swinging it around in the street is as immoral as stealing it from his or her closed pockets.
But given the bad mentality of a large number of people, it might not be wise to hold it in one’s hands while walking down certain streets.

 

Raping a sexily dressed and attractive woman is as wrong, egregious and wicked as raping a “modestly” dressed woman.
But given the bad mentality of a large number of men, it might not be wise to dress oneself provocatively under certain circumstances.

Slut walk: naked or clothed, respect is what I am owed.
The phenomenon of “slut-walks“: young women protesting for their right to dress attractively without getting harassed. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with the slogan this girl is wearing. Respect OUGHT to remain the same. But living in a world full of wicked men, it might be extremely UNWISE to walk at night dressed like that. I just fail to see how pointing this out makes you an evil sexist.

 

*************************************************

Liberalism, rationality and morality

 

I want to make it perfectly clear that what I wrote does NOT concern all liberals, but only the true “culture warriors” among them.

These people view themselves as the champions of truth, reason, decency and intelligence.
Actually, my numerous interactions with them have shown me they aren’t any different from nasty religious fundamentalists aggressively defending their cherished dogmas, without evidence and often even in the face of evidence.

I consider myself a progressive Christian because I believe that the Bible contains contradictions and errors and that we need to use our God-given conscience in order to figure out what is right and what is wrong in a complex world and to make moral progress.

I passionately oppose wild capitalism, the oppression of the poor, the exploitation of the third world, homophobia and anything I sincerely find unjust.

And this all too often leads me to think outside the box, as the content of this post proves.

Frankly, I am ready to give up any of the nine “heretical” beliefs I laid out if you give me compelling rational arguments against them.

Insulting and dehumanising me would be definitely most entertaining (to me) 🙂

Alas, it is unlikely to change my mind in the least.

It is particularly embarrassing that many of these self-righteous “leftists” are self-professed Christians.
By bullying their respectful opponents and treating them like the scum of the world, they are dishonouring Christ who taught us to even love our enemy.

Jesus: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Jewish woman: certainly he doesn't mean the Romans? Jewish man: I hope not.
Jesus preaching love towards our enemies. Has there been any progress during the last two thousand years in that respect?

 

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

The cave where death never was

Die Höhle, wo der Tod nie war.

La grotte, où la mort n’a jamais été.

English

Deutsch

Français

The Scream.jpg

Then I said to myself, “The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise? I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.”
For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!”
Kohelet.
Da sprach ich in meinem Herzen: “Wenn mir doch das gleiche Geschick widerfährt wie dem Toren, warum bin ich denn so überaus weise geworden? Und ich sprach in meinem Herzen: “Auch das ist nichtig!” Denn dem Weisen wird ebensowenig wie dem Toren ein ewiges Andenken zuteil, weil in den künftigen Tagen längst alles vergessen sein wird. Und wie stirbt doch der Weise samt dem Toren dahin!
Kohelet.
Et j’ai dit en mon coeur: J’aurai le même sort que l’insensé; pourquoi donc ai-je été plus sage? Et j’ai dit en mon coeur que c’est encore là une vanité.
Car la mémoire du sage n’est pas plus éternelle que celle de l’insensé, puisque déjà les jours qui suivent, tout est oublié. Eh quoi! le sage meurt aussi bien que l’insensé!
Kohelet.

http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/~/media/NPWS/Images/Parks/Borenore-Karst-Conservation-Reserve/park/sandstone-cave-02.ashx

Raymond saw that the whole cave of Saint Barbe, by the village of Falck in Lorraine, was shaken.
Raimund sah, dass die ganze Höhle der Heiligen Barbe beim Dorf Falck in Lothringen erschüttert wurde.
Raymond vit que toute la grotte de Sainte-Barbe, près du village de Falck en Lorraine, où il se trouvait avait été ébranlée.

He looked at the apparition which was glaring at him in a way no mortal mind could have ever interpreted.
Er schaute auf die Erscheinung, die auf ihn auf eine Weise blickte, die kein sterblicher Geist hätte je deuten können.
Il observa l’apparition qui lui lançait un regard qu’aucun esprit mortel n’aurait jamais été en mesure d’interpréter.

“If you truly seek salvation, you won’t fail to heed my words and lay down the weapons you’ve deceptively acquired”, the otherworldly creature said.
“Wenn du wirklich das Heil suchst, wirst du ganz bestimmt meine Wörter beachten und die Waffen fallen lassen, die du dir auf eine betrügerische Weise angeeignet hast”, sagte die Kreatur aus einer anderen Welt.
“Si tu cherches vraiment le Salut, tu ne manqueras pas de prêter attention à mes paroles et tu laisseras tomber les armes que tu as acquises à travers ta tromperie”, dit la créature d’un autre monde.

“What are you talking about?”, he answered in a defying tone while swinging his sword.
“Wovon redest Du denn?” antwortete er mit herausfordernder Stimme, während er sein Schwert schwang.
“Mais de quoi parles tu ?”, repondit-il avec une voix de défi tout en brandissant son épée.

A sound vaguely resembling a laughter resounded in the cave.
Ein Geräusch, das etwa an ein Gelächter erinnerte schallte in der Höhle wider.
Un son ressemblant vaguement à un rire résonna dans la cave.

“I know you aren’t quite satisfied with the fate which awaits every creature of your kind.”
„Ich weiss, dass Du nicht ganz mit dem Schicksal zufrieden bist, das jedes Geschöpf deiner Art erwartet.
« Je sais que tu n’es pas tout à fait satisfait du destin qui attend toute les créatures de ton espèce. »

You know, the thing you call…Ah, what’s the word? Death?
Ich meine…das Ding, das ihr so nennt…Ach, was ist das Wort? Tod?
Je veux dire…cette chose que vous appelez…Ah, quel est le mot? Mort ?”

All your feelings, desires, dreams, longings and noblest achievements will inexorably trail off into space one day, am I correct?”, the unknown being replied.
All Deine Gefühle, Wünsche, Träume, Sehnsüchte und edelsten Errungenschaften werden sich eines Tages unausweichlich in die Luft auflösen, nicht wahr?”, erwiderte das unbekannte Wesen.
Tous tes sentiments, désirs, rêves, soupirs et tes accomplissements les plus nobles disparaîtront un jour inexorablement, n’est-ce pas?” répliqua l’être inconnu.

He sighed.
Er seuftzte.
Il soupira.

fading-flower

“Yes.”
“Ja”.
Oui.”

“I am aware you would do anything you could to quench your thirst for immortality”, the thing added.
“Ich bin mir bewusst, dass du alles mögliches tun würdest, um deinen Durst nach Unsterblichkeit zu stillen” fügte das Ding hinzu.
“Je suis conscient que tu ferais tout ce que tu pourrais pour combler ta soif d’immortalité”, ajouta la chose.

“Indeed. How could I not? My own life is what matters most to me”, he answered while whispering, fearful of being heard by other sons of man.
“In der Tat. Wie könnte es anders sein? Mein eigenes Leben ist das, was mir am Wichtigsten ist”, antwortete er mit einer flüsternden Stimme, da er befürchtete, von anderen Menschensöhnen gehört zu werden.
“En effet. Comment pourrait-il en être autrement? Ma propre vie est ce qu’il y a de plus important pour moi”, répondit-il en chuchotant, craignant d’être entendu par d’autres fils de l’homme.

This time he unmistakably heard the creature laugh in a shrill voice.
Dieses Mal nahm er das schrille Lachen der Kreatur auf eine unverkennbare Weise wahr.
Cette fois-ci, il perçut nettement le rire strident de la créature.

“My master wasn’t wrong about you.
Mein Meister hat sich nicht über dich geirrt.
Mon maître ne s’est pas trompé sur ton compte.

If you show us unconditional obedience, we shall grant you the deepest wish of your fragile heart.
Wenn du uns bedingungslos gehorchst, werden wir den tiefsten Wunsch deines zerbrechlichen Herzes erfüllen.
Si tu te soumets à nous sans conditions, nous exaucerons le souhait le plus profond de ton coeur fragile.

If you slaughter all our enemies in the tainted city of Gehenna, we shall save your soul from the eternal unconscious slumber in the colourless valley of Sheol it is currently heading to.”
Wenn du all unsere Feinde in der befleckten Stadt Gehenna schlachtest, werden wir ganz bestimmt deine Seele vor dem ewigen bewusstlosen Schlaf im farbenlosen Tal von Scheol retten, wonach sie sich gerade  richtet.”
Si tu massacres tous nos ennemis dans la ville souillée de Géhenne, nous sauverons ton âme de l’éternel sommeil inconscient dans la vallée de Shéol, depourvue de couleurs, vers laquelle elle se dirige.”

https://i0.wp.com/www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Overlapping-skeletons-room-5.jpg

He wanted to ask for more details, but the being disappeared instantaneously in a blur of reddish mist.
Er wollte ihn nach mehr Einzelheiten fragen, aber dann verschwand das Wesen augenblicklich in einem Wirbel rötlichen Nebels.
Il voulut lui demander plus de détails, mais l’être disparut instantanément dans un tourbillon de brouillard rougeâtre.

It didn’t take long before he decided to completely surrender his own heart to darkness.
Es dauerte nicht lange, bevor er sich entschloss, sein eigenes Herz der Dunkelheit völlig zu übergeben.
Cela ne dura pas longtemps jusqu’à ce qu’il décidât de soumettre complètement son propre coeur aux ténèbres.

Woods of dark despair... by wolfcreek50

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)