The Futility of Reason

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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Greta
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Greta »

Reflex wrote:... Greta: reason is indeed a wonderful servant, but makes a dreadful master. It's not reason that finds delight in a beautiful flower.
Of course balance is required - reason and reverie. The ideal balance will vary between individuals, and also may vary according to one's stage of life. There is no formula, no "ideal" level of thinking v feeling or vice versa.

I see no logic in imposing a sense of competition on intellect and emotion. Why impose politics on phenomena? The attributes are complementary. As eusocial apes, emotionalism is needed by us to drive activity and to smooth involved social relations where reflex responses are too simple to suffice. Reasoning is needed to navigate the complexity generated by an intelligent eusocial society and its relationship with environment.
Reflex wrote:I think Einstein said it best when he said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift" and "We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality."
Consider the Einstein quote, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me”.

Fair enough, but the previous 99 thinking sessions paved the way for the breakthroughs. Without the prior effort he wouldn't have had those groundbreaking insights when he silenced his mind, he would have just been chilling out.
uwot
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by uwot »

He also said:
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Necromancer »

To the OP,

It strikes me that reading the Bible without reasoning seems weaker than making faith a companion to reason in reading the holy scripture (whatever it may be as long it's from the whitelist of religions).

Entering the "game" of apologetics seems then so rewarding rather than a repeated reading of (fx.) the Bible alone! This leads me to say that reason is certainly not futile, but rather makes one stronger in the belief in God and all under God.

Even to it, I think the Catholic faith is still adding scripture to their Bible today, reason being a part of it under faith under God.

Cheers! :)
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Nick_A »

Reflex wrote: I think Einstein said it best when he said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift" and "We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality."

Greta: reason is indeed a wonderful servant, but makes a dreadful master. It's not reason that finds delight in a beautiful flower.
"Truth is sought not because it is truth but because it is good." Simone Weil

The role of the intelligence - that part of us which affirms and denies and formulates opinions is merely to submit. Simone Weil
This is the problem as I understand it. Arguing partial truths is egoistically satisfying and the majority are happy with that. The "good" is appreciated as self justification. Yet there is this minority who desire the experience of the “Good” within a higher more complete quality of truth. They are willing to sacrifice self justification in order to experience it. Contemplation in the past was understood as emotional thinking. It is what I believe Einstein was referring to. Once we reach the end of what binary intelligence reveals, a higher quality of intelligence is possible which Simone alludes to providing that it is not prevented by conditioned denial.
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Reflex »

Greta wrote: Of course balance is required - reason and reverie. The ideal balance will vary between individuals, and also may vary according to one's stage of life. There is no formula, no "ideal" level of thinking v feeling or vice versa.

I see no logic in imposing a sense of competition on intellect and emotion. Why impose politics on phenomena? The attributes are complementary. As eusocial apes, emotionalism is needed by us to drive activity and to smooth involved social relations where reflex responses are too simple to suffice. Reasoning is needed to navigate the complexity generated by an intelligent eusocial society and its relationship with environment.
Yes, but that does not negate what was said about reason making a dreadful master.
Consider the Einstein quote, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me”.

Fair enough, but the previous 99 thinking sessions paved the way for the breakthroughs. Without the prior effort he wouldn't have had those groundbreaking insights when he silenced his mind, he would have just been chilling out.
What did Einstein's "thinking sessions" consist of? Working from the confines of the already known or letting his imagination roam free? “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

I've seen "free thinkers" in this forum either directly or indirectly refer to "Hume's fork" as their guide, i.e., the thesis that "all the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds. to wit, Relations of Ideas and Matters of Fact." Hume also writes:
"If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, 'Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?' No. 'Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?' No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."
The problem with that thesis is that it is neither a conceptual truth (a matter of "relations of ideas" concerning quantity or number) or empirically testable. It is as metaphysical a proposition as any Scholastic would assert. So, taking Hume's own advice, I commit it to the flames -- not because it's metaphysical, but because it's a proposition that refutes itself.
Reflex
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Reflex »

uwot wrote:He also said:
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
Absolutely! I almost used that quote myself in the context of a willingness to explore new and unexplored realms of thought.
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Nick_A »

Reflex wrote: uwot wrote referring to Einstein:
He also said:
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

Absolutely! I almost used that quote myself in the context of a willingness to explore new and unexplored realms of thought.
Curiousity is one thing and the demands of the Great Beast are another. That poor kid who remarked that the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes learned the hard way. He was boiled in oil and never heard from again. The kid's curiosity enabled him to question why everyone was raving about what didn't exist. This was an intolerable insult to the Great Beast so he ended up in boiling oil. Curiosity may have its own reason for existing but the Great Beast also has its own reason for existing and often they are in conflict. Kids learn to suppress eros and curiosity becomes restricted to the politically correct like playing with your remote. Then there are the exceptions; these young rascals have the heart felt need, curiosity, and courage to question out of the approved boxes and witness naked emperors. They've got it tough. They have the ability to reason without bias but who helps them as the Great Beast continues to growl at them and demand their allegiance?
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Greta
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Greta »

Reflex wrote:Yes, but that does not negate what was said about reason making a dreadful master.
But it does add the part you didn't mention - that emotion is also a dreadful "master". As previously suggested, reason and emotion are partners, not protagonists.
Consider the Einstein quote, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me”.

Fair enough, but the previous 99 thinking sessions paved the way for the breakthroughs. Without the prior effort he wouldn't have had those groundbreaking insights when he silenced his mind, he would have just been chilling out.
Reflex wrote:What did Einstein's "thinking sessions" consist of? Working from the confines of the already known or letting his imagination roam free? “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Obviously I don't know his thought processes but when he thought "99 times" he would have been referring to a linear approach to the work. You appear to have confused scientific education with scientific research. Science research is not about re-iterating the "already known", as you suggested. That would be pointless. What happens is that researchers methodically build upon the body of knowledge piece by piece. Vertical thinking.

Einstein being Einstein, no doubt lateral thinking was also involved. Then, as he said, he stopped. He let all those ideas he'd been working on to organise themselves on an unconscious level, which is famously what happens during sleep and meditation. From there inspiration came, as it can at any time - including during linear thinking work. One can be working methodically and then something about the work triggers an idea without any intention of being "imaginative" at all.

Imagination unbounded by reason is fiction and it also makes a dreadful master, unless one is a designated imaginative specialist, a writer, artist, musician etc.

You may suspect me of being some rationalist who underestimates imagination. No, imagination is one of my philosophical hobby horses because I've been largely active in the creative arts for most of my life. However, it's always a matter of balance - physical, mental and emotional/spiritual. Reason is absolutely critical. Emotion is absolutely critical. Imagination is extremely helpful (and capable of being far more powerful than we realise IMO). That's the situation.
Reflex wrote:I've seen "free thinkers" in this forum either directly or indirectly refer to "Hume's fork" as their guide, i.e., the thesis that "all the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds. to wit, Relations of Ideas and Matters of Fact."
I don't worry much about old philosophers. Hume was a genius and ahead of his time but he still understood less about the world around him than a decent child scholar today. To Hume, our entry level childrens' science textbooks would be full of "wonders" he would have surely loved to have learned about in his time.
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Reflex »

Nick_A wrote:
Curiousity is one thing and the demands of the Great Beast are another. That poor kid who remarked that the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes learned the hard way. He was boiled in oil and never heard from again. The kid's curiosity enabled him to question why everyone was raving about what didn't exist. This was an intolerable insult to the Great Beast so he ended up in boiling oil. Curiosity may have its own reason for existing but the Great Beast also has its own reason for existing and often they are in conflict. Kids learn to suppress eros and curiosity becomes restricted to the politically correct like playing with your remote. Then there are the exceptions; these young rascals have the heart felt need, curiosity, and courage to question out of the approved boxes and witness naked emperors. They've got it tough. They have the ability to reason without bias but who helps them as the Great Beast continues to growl at them and demand their allegiance?
That's what I meant by a willingness to explore new and unexplored realms of thought. It takes great courage in today's world.
Greta wrote:What happens is that researchers methodically build upon the body of knowledge piece by piece. Vertical thinking.
I wish I can remember where I read it and whether it was a scientist or a philosopher of science who wrote it, but this idea of science was described as a sanitized, romanticized and photoshopped image of the way science really works.
I don't worry much about old philosophers.
Maybe you should. Those "old philosophers" as you call them are relatively recent and still have a huge and negative influence on modern society. The world is still reeling from the influence of the logical positivism that grew out of them in spite of it being thoroughly discredited.

And why do you keep bringing up "emotion"? The closest I came was using the word "feeling." It's not the same thing, any more than a bat (that flies in the night) is the same as a bat (that baseball players use).

No one here said reason isn't vital. It is, but it's a tool, not the master, of the human species. But the sad fact is people yield up their humanity to reason because assume THE TRUTH is accessible to it, that exists somewhere and has a definite form and a specific content. They assume it is unique and universal and that if we only found it, everyone will recognize it and it would solve all our problems. So they argue.

What Nick and I are saying (correct me if I'm wrong, Nick), is that facts are relatively stable, but life is fluid, dynamic and indefinite. Science deals with facts while religion is concerned only with values. Through philosophy, the mind endeavors to unite the meanings of both facts and values, thereby arriving at a concept of complete reality. Or at least it should. That door has been effectively closed by -- you guessed it-- reason without religion.
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Nick_A »

Reflex wrote: What Nick and I are saying (correct me if I'm wrong, Nick), is that facts are relatively stable, but life is fluid, dynamic and indefinite. Science deals with facts while religion is concerned only with values. Through philosophy, the mind endeavors to unite the meanings of both facts and values, thereby arriving at a concept of complete reality. Or at least it should. That door has been effectively closed by -- you guessed it-- reason without religion.
Yes I agree. Reason without religion, facts without values, is the problem as Einstein points out in his classic remark: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

We would all agree that objective science is possible through the scientific method but most here would say that values are man made and relative in nature. There is objective science but no objective hierarchy of values. To make matters worse, an objective hierarchy of values suggests the dreaded G word which is poison in a secular society. What if a society were built on efforts to remember what Plato described as devolutions of the Good? A person could then “feel” the value of this hierarchy rather than being conditioned by societal indoctrination of its values and hypocrisy. Conscience would be awakened rather than destroyed by conditioning. Perhaps it would lead to a society which values a human perspective rather than a conditioned one and strives to acquire it. Reflex, this is why I asked if you thought ideas like Plato’s Good could even be discussed. IMO the secular mind will not allow it and not enough would believe it worthwhile. Could our sense of values ever more closely resemble the origin of values? Maybe in the future but surely not now. Self justifying imagination is too attractive.

http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/plato_good.htm
Plato’s Form of Good

Plato believed that the Forms were interrelated, and arranged in a hierarchy. The highest Form is the Form of the Good, which is the ultimate principle.

Like the Sun in the Allegory of the Cave, the Good illuminates the other Forms. We can see that Justice, for example, is an aspect of Goodness. And again, we know that we have never seen, with our senses, any examples of perfect goodness, but we have seen plenty of particular examples which approximate goodness, and we recognise them as ‘good’ when we see them because of the way in which they correspond to our innate notion of the Form of the Good.

By Plato’s logic, real knowledge becomes, in the end, a knowledge of goodness; and this is why philosophers are in the best position to rule. The one who has philosophical knowledge of the Good is the one who is fit to rule. Plato’s belief in the fitness to rule of the philosopher is sometimes referred to as the ‘Philosopher King’ (even though Plato himself never used it).

Plato developed his Theory of Forms to the point where he divided existence into two realms. There is the world of sense experience (the ‘empirical’ world), where nothing ever stays the same but is always in the process of change. Experience of it gives rise to opinions. There is also a world which is outside space and time, which is not perceived through the senses, and in which everything is permanent and perfect or Ideal - the realm of the Forms. The empirical world shows only shadows and poor copies of these Forms, and so is less real than the world of the Forms themselves, because the Forms are eternal and immutable (unchanging), the proper objects of knowledge.
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Reflex »

Nick_A wrote: We would all agree that objective science is possible through the scientific method but most here would say that values are man made and relative in nature. There is objective science but no objective hierarchy of values. To make matters worse, an objective hierarchy of values suggests the dreaded G word which is poison in a secular society. What if a society were built on efforts to remember what Plato described as devolutions of the Good? A person could then “feel” the value of this hierarchy rather than being conditioned by societal indoctrination of its values and hypocrisy. Conscience would be awakened rather than destroyed by conditioning. Perhaps it would lead to a society which values a human perspective rather than a conditioned one and strives to acquire it. Reflex, this is why I asked if you thought ideas like Plato’s Good could even be discussed. IMO the secular mind will not allow it and not enough would believe it worthwhile. Could our sense of values ever more closely resemble the origin of values? Maybe in the future but surely not now. Self justifying imagination is too attractive.
Alfred North Whitehead wrote:
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. His personal endowments, his wide opportunities for experience at a great period of civilization, his inheritance of an intellectual tradition not yet stiffened by excessive systematization, have made his writing an inexhaustible mine of suggestion.
I don't think that's much of an exaggeration. I think that some form of Neoplatonism will eventually become the world standard for philosophy, though I don't think I or my grandchildren will live to see it.
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Curosity

Post by Reflex »

Is it just me, or do the atheists that like to stir things up tend to disappear when things are actually discussed rather than argued over?

And just in case you're interested, Return to the One: Plotinus's Guide to God-Realization by Brian Hines is a pretty good read, good enough for me to go back over it.
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Greta
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Greta »

Greta wrote:What happens is that researchers methodically build upon the body of knowledge piece by piece. Vertical thinking.
Reflex wrote:I wish I can remember where I read it and whether it was a scientist or a philosopher of science who wrote it, but this idea of science was described as a sanitized, romanticized and photoshopped image of the way science really works.
Of course there's politics, ideologies and whatnot. I obviously provided a simply sketchy overview. If you want to "colour in the sketch", be my guest. Nonetheless, sans inspiration - which, by definition is relatively rare - all one can do is build on one's knowledge in a methodical way. There's no choice - you can't put on a roof until the walls on which it's to be placed are built.
I don't worry much about old philosophers.
Reflex wrote:Maybe you should. Those "old philosophers" as you call them are relatively recent and still have a huge and negative influence on modern society. The world is still reeling from the influence of the logical positivism that grew out of them in spite of it being thoroughly discredited.
I suggest you spend more time reading up on biology, geology, chemistry, physics and cosmology and less mythology.

Logical positivism is an excellent example of why I don't much bother with philosophers from earlier eras. The lesson was learned - that bottom-up analysis is extremely powerful. We don't need the pointless extra baggage of ontology claims that reductionism explains all, as though emergent synergistic systems didn't exist.

Yes, in historical terms they are quite recent, but not in terms of historical learning due to the exponential growth of human knowledge in recent decades. So much that we fairly held to be true has been proven wrong, time and time again. It's quite a job for an older person to keep up with all the old beliefs we had that have been shown to wrong.
Reflex wrote:No one here said reason isn't vital.
Thread title = Futility of Reason. I refute that reason is futile. Simple.
Reflex wrote:What Nick and I are saying (correct me if I'm wrong, Nick), is that facts are relatively stable, but life is fluid, dynamic and indefinite. Science deals with facts while religion is concerned only with values. Through philosophy, the mind endeavors to unite the meanings of both facts and values, thereby arriving at a concept of complete reality. Or at least it should. That door has been effectively closed by -- you guessed it-- reason without religion.
Again, you need to study science before criticising because you reveal a basic misunderstanding of what science is. The idea that science "deals with facts", "facts are stable" and "life is dynamic, fluid and indefinite" has a problem - "facts" are far from stable. Science studies reality - and reality includes "dynamic, fluid and indefinite" life, and the body of knowledge is constantly corrected and updated. The very point of science is to study those dynamic and fluid qualities. Definitions and labels are devised, not to cruelly imprison free-living noumena in tight memetic boxes, but just so peers can readily communicate.

Science is not a tribe lined up against tribal religion, as theist tend to make out. Science is just the human enterprise of learning more about how reality works. It's not there to tell us what reality is. There appears to be frequent confusion between the job of science commentary and research work. Educators sometimes line up against religion when the latter goes too far but research work is just concerned with the subject matter (and, typically, tight budgets and timeframes).

Yes, educators must present "static" facts in any given lesson but, by next lesson, there may be a new discovery, so a new "static" lesson is prepared. Science is far from static, and the daily additions to our learning are too much to keep up with.
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Nick_A »

Reflex wrote:
I don't think that's much of an exaggeration. I think that some form of Neoplatonism will eventually become the world standard for philosophy, though I don't think I or my grandchildren will live to see it.
I agree that we are in the infancy of this possibility. The good thing is that there are highly intelligent and spiritually sensitive people like Einstein who are already working together and sharing their talents in the cause of higher understanding of which binary reason is only a part. Take C I R E T for example. Only a relative few would be open to its moral project. You can click on it to read it. It is progress IMO. You can see its Platonic and Neoplatonic influence. It gives me a good feeling to know that this awareness even in its societal infancy, is still active in the world.

http://ciret-transdisciplinarity.org/index_en.php
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Re: The Futility of Reason

Post by Reflex »

Greta: I did not say "facts are stable." You omitted one critical word. And insofar reason is thought to have exclusive access to an assuned TRUTH, it is futile.

Nick: Greta's post is an an example why I have little hope that meaningful discourse in this day and age can take place. It represents a superficiality that kills the spirit and blinds people to the possibility od higher truths, higher realities, than what we currently enjoy.
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