I’ve now written several things about the contradictions between materialism and the existence of one’s own thoughts. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that in the future, but I don’t want to overlook the obvious for the novel.
That is to say, one of the best disproofs of materialism is the fact that it contradicts free will.
There are at least two reasons for this. The first is the fact that materialists, in claiming that our thoughts and decisions are simply electro-chemical reactions in our brains, are forced to the conclusion that every last thought is simply determined by the laws of chemistry.
This has become such a commonplace statement that many have lost sight of the reasons why it is obviously false. It is simply and deeply ad hoc to claim that our sense of free will is an illusion.
Free will is not something materialism can simply shrug off. It is one of our most basic experiences, and rejecting it is on par with claiming that our sense of the physical universe is an illusion. We’d need incredibly strong reasons to believe materialism in light of such an obvious reason to reject it.
As such, this is a major problem for materialist positions, and the apathy I’ve encountered about the issue seems completely odd.
It has also been frequently pointed out that determinism can’t be rationally affirmed. In saying “there is no free will”, one is saying “I believe in determinism because the electro-chemical reactions in my brain told me to, not because it is true”.
This clearly undermines rational thought, which, in turn, undermines science. We shouldn’t trust our ability to learn anything about the world if our thoughts really are driven by chemicals, rather than genuine reflection.
“But”, the materialist might object, “science clearly works”. But this is all the more reason to reject materialism. It is good evidence that our reason is far more trustworthy than determinism predicts. Every reason to believe in rationality is a reason to reject determinism, and the materialism that leads to it.
If there were some great proof of materialism, some very strong reason to think that failing to believe in it would result in incoherencies, then there would be reason to seriously consider that our most basic perceptions of reality could be wrong.
But, on the contrary, I’ve never encountered an argument for materialism that doesn’t beg the question. Which means that the only real question is not whether there is more than the physical, but what such a thing is.