You stole my concept! Give it back!
I've heard read a few assertions lately insisting that concepts are not material. I’ve also read arguments stating that "the *same* material entity cannot be instantiated in more that one spatio-temporal location at the same time." (Quoted from Paul Manata in the comments section of Press The Antithesis).
I agree fully with Paul. Clearly, the *same* material entity cannot be in more than one location at the same time. But I think his statement exposes the confusion he and other theists have with this "material concept" argument of mine.
If I am to have a concept in my head, the concept is material in that it is a particular arrangement of electronic signals inside the neurons in my brain. When I think about the concept, my neurons fire off in specific sequences, and these electronic impulses can be measured and even understood by computers and machines (For details on this, see my blog Kill The Afterlife). Thus, the concept in my head is clearly material, just like the software installed on my computer's hard drive.
So why do I think Paul is missing the point when he says that the same entity cannot occupy more than one location at the same moment? Because he is omitting a very important factor in my "material concept" assertion: Concepts are not "moved" to other humans, but "copied" between humans via a "translation".
Here is an example: I am thinking about a 2001 Mustang. I have this concept in my head, and it exists materially in the form of electric signals in my brain. I wish for Paul to also have this concept. So do I "remove" the Mustang concept from my head and "give" it to Paul? No! I copy it, translate it, then Paul receives it, re-translates it, and then ends up with a "copy" of the Mustang concept I have. For a more specific breakdown:
1. I hold the Mustang concept in my head.
2. I translate this concept from electrical signals to sound waves via my vocal chords. The "concept" is now duplicated thanks to my voice and is transmitted to Paul through the atmosphere via sound waves.
3. Paul receives the duplicated concept via sound waves hitting his eardrum. His brain translates these sound waves into electrical signals that his mind can understand.
4. The end result is a duplicate of my original Mustang concept. The original material concept still resides in my brain, and I used a duplication and translation method to materially copy the concept and give that copy to Paul.
So, in the end, I am correct about a concept being material. Paul is also correct that one entity can only be in one place at one time. But Paul missed the point of duplication and translation. So I hope that this entry will help theists and immaterialists understand my "material concept" argument better.