Physicalism, Ideas

Consider the problem of the nature of reality—this problem asks what is to constitute as real. Is wood the same entity as timber?—only timber has something added to it (it is a wood building material). Still, couldn’t the entity timber exist without ever understanding the entity wood? Compare timber to toothpick. Since a toothpick can be made from wood or plastic one could be tempted to say that wood is more real than a toothpick? But why?—is the answer because a toothpick is only that by virtue of its ‘cultural context’? But this reveals a bias—one which might have another say only that which is material is real; or worse, only that which exists outside cultural context and objective is real.

Now, I can imagine the difficulty in my encounter with one who understands the priority of physical entities, or worse, the priority of the material constitution of an entity. (Even in the translation of Friedrich Nietzsche I read of physiological priority. (See, for example, R.J. Hollingdale’s translation of Nietzsche’s Daybreak, section 119, page 75.)

I can imagine, in an extreme case, one might attempt to reduce all other understanding to irrelevancy—since “in the end we all return to the earth.” The purpose of this appeal is clear, it is a reaction to intolerance (heard among many ‘minority’ groups).

Surely if another gives the physical an objective priority that removes the possibility of prioritizing anything ‘subjective’. And this is the power of its appeal. But I could never adopt this ontological hierarchy. I mean, am I supposed to accept a lifestyle by eliminating the significance of all, including my own?—what self-degradation?!