Am I doing the right thing?

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homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Hobbes Choice,

I think it's interesting - and can be instructive to think back upon the journey from ignorance - through pseudo-scientific doctrines into valid knowledge. It's probably true of just about every scientific discipline that the relevant information was gathered to inform a previous, invalid theory - and then re-arranged in ways that make more sense. But in the past fifty years, and ever more rapidly since the advent of the computer, science has really come together. As a means of communication and for the ability to organize and process large amounts of information the computer is probably the greatest scientific instrument ever built. I don't know if you've ever entered a data set for the purposes of statistical analysis. The human element is definitely the weak link.

The problem I've identified is not ignorance aspiring to knowledge so much as it's knowledge aspiring to ignorance. Deliberate and willful ignorance in face of available truth. But that's just a part of it - for this is deliberate ignorance posing as truth, and on that basis claiming legitimacy as justification for hierarchy, the distribution of wealth, health, education, resources, the application of technology and so forth. That so, it would be like a doctor treating patients based on the theory of the four humours in deliberate ignorance of the theory of bacterial infection; proscribing mercury, leeches and an excorcism for good measure - when penecillin is available. The patient would die. And that's exactly what's going to happen to humankind if we carry on the way we are.

The willful ignorance I'm talking about here is a very human problem. It would be easy if it weren't for the people involved - with all their sticky emotions, prickly fears and pesky needs and wants. I've proved them wrong and told them the right answer. What more do I have to do?

hg.
James Markham
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by James Markham »

Homegrown, when you wrote the phrase, "top down change", and, "no need to disabuse the public", I saw it as intimating that your scientific understanding could be reserved for the upper echelons. And how that would differ from the situation now is a bit elusive, even in places as poor as India, we see the government spending millions on a mission to Mars, purely in the hope of replicating other nations previous findings. When you have a country that is struggling to sustain its population, I see this sort of scientific endeavour as pointless, and although, as I keep pointing out, I'm not religious, and have no belief in god, I would still have assigned that portion of the scientific budget to some religious aid organisation, at least they would have spent it on rice.

When I said your intentions were vague, I was referring to the fact you haven't given us much idea about what beliefs need changing. You mention many different problems, such as climate change, but don't seem to realise that this issue is already being tackled, it's not something we could solve overnight without shutting the world down. Governments are primarily responsible for maintaining the existing standards of living, so if they attempt to much at once their simply voted out in preference to other policy pedlars, and no amount of science is likely to help. It's easy to list everything that's wrong, but it's not so easy to do something about it, bemoaning the fact that individuals are free to accumulate vast sums of money, doesn't take into account the vast economic benefits they've administered to the population, if we didn't have the ability to think big as individuals, we would be even more reliant on the state, so what's the alternative? If we created some limit to what one man can achieve, it would be just as oppressing as socialism or communism. The way I see it, the world is slowly working itself out, it may not be at lightening speed, but one hundred years ago we had more than fifty million men on the field of the first world war, fighting for the life and liberty of our fathers and grandfathers, if we wait another hundred, man will still exist, unless he uses what he's learnt from science and drops the bomb, and maybe war will be a thing of the past.

So you don't like insults, well neither do I, so if you try to control yourself I will do likewise. I didn't take any personal offence from your comment, because I understood it was directed at the class of theologian, but I believe it important to respect all, regardless of our own beliefs. It should also be noted that any form of closed mindset, is at best, intellectually restrictive, and at its worst, dangerous, and so it's a bit of a red rag to those of us who doggedly maintain an open mind.

So saying, I believe science has an important role in the development of humanity, but I also see a lot of acute wisdom in certain religious texts, I don't actually believe man is a plague, I was asking you how science can show otherwise, which you can't, because science doesn't deal with the why, only the what. A scientist can tell me what the universe does, and what life does, but it can never tell me why it does what it does, in that respect it is simply barren, which is why I allow my mind the freedom to speculate as to the wisdom of all ideas, however stupid others think they are.

The reason you suffered, and maybe still do, is that your style of doomsday prophesying, is inclined to induce a form of depression, and although science may tell you from what it is you suffer, it can never tell you why it is that people sometimes bring about, and then wallow in their own intellectual demise. I on the contrary have no tendency for pessimism, I believe everything happens for reasons, which whether I recognise or not, have a deeper working behind, not a god, but my own soul, in an eternal cycle of peace, disturbance and activity. I know things work theirselves out, and I am but a traveler along for the ride. You worry about mass extinction, I see it as an opportunity for life to become, you worry about corrupt governments, I see it as a lesson being learnt, you worry about winning debates, I see it as a chance to exercise my brain, albeit mildly.

Anyway, if you do wish to continue our little discourse, maybe you could make with some particulars, like what differences you'd implement, and how they wouldn't be in anyway political or ideological. Or maybe you could tell me how your system of beliefs could solve a real problem such as the South American cocaine trade, or human trafficking in Europe, or maybe you could let us know what's to be done about the murder rate in gang infested Los Angeles. I personally think these problems will be solved in time by the natural progress that dragged us from up from the dark ages to today, so have no real concern, but you seem to have a need to share your brilliance.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Hmmm...

Reading over my previous message, I accept your rebuke...I was hasty in writing and a bit sarcastic in tone, and you correctly observe that that is unnecessary. My apologies.

I'd like to give your comments a good run: unfortunately, I'm a bit limited as to time. I'll give it my best try in the time I've got at the moment.

1. Mind: I wonder if you've grasped the problem yet. It's not one of explaining historical emergence (though that is indeed a problem: for example, how do completely new properties appear suddenly out of physical ones). The real problem is the fact that *however* such entities emerged, naturalism is inept at dealing with them. Naturalism simply has no categories or mechanism for things like mind, consciousness or values. It would not help to say, "they emerged by evolution," because even if that were 100% granted, it would not do a thing to patch up that analytical deficiency. It's not that naturalistic science is simply "weak" in explaining them: it doesn't even get off the ground. Look at our progress in dealing with brain physiology, for example: we're making great strides there. In spite of this, we're still really in the dark when it comes to pinning down that elusive entity known as "mind." Yet we all seem to know we have one, even though it's not a physical entity.

The recognition that something is missing from naturalism's reductionism in the face of them is very strong, very widespread, and of growing concern in the philosophy of mind. And our common-sense intuitions tell us all the same thing. Nagel's really honest about this, and I have to admire his courage in stating an obvious truth at the pain of undermining his own worldview somewhat.

2: Evolutionism/ ID: Because a couple of people asked, I'll take a moment to say a few further things about evolutionism, though it's not the horse I care to ride at the moment. The punctuated equilibrium theory is one attempt to fill in the gaps that are in the fossil record. But it has to posit the existence of some mechanism that defines precisely the parameters of punctuated change, and no one seems to know exactly what that mechanism would be, and why it would work. If we go with the old "continuous" model, then the number of transitional forms and evolutionary "dead ends" should vastly outnumber the successful organisms. As for inter-species transitions, it does not seem to me very informative to say something like "they're too gradual to leave evidence," for gradualism would again produce innumerable false starts -- assuming, of course, nothing but chance plus known natural laws are at work.

As for irreducible complexity, it depends only on the simple recognition that an object or entity is too complicated to be produced by mere chance. If I find an ipod lying on my driveway next to a pebble, I can immediately discern that one is designed and the other is not. So can anyone. It's a terribly simple, straightforward sort of thing. In the biological world, I discern similarly complex patterns that are difficult (perhaps even impossible) to describe in gradualist terms. The information coded in DNA is a powerful problem from a "random chance" perspective -- not simply because it's complex, but more importantly, because it is *information.* It has specified complexity. Likewise complicated symbiotic relationships involving multiple species -- for it requires the simultaneous perfecting of two or three organisms at precisely the same time, and seems impossible to describe at all in evolutionary stages. How do we get multiple involved species, each dependent on the life-cycle of the other, to evolve at precisely the same time and in the necessary ways? It seems clear that some sort of guiding mechanism is needed, and so far we have no knowledge of a natural law capable of filling that role.

However, there's too much here for us to continue to tackle in the forum. For the ID / evolution controversy, there's already a bunch of streams going on apace, and I see limited merit in going over the old territory at length here, because it just goes down the same path. And as you say, there are good books. Those who want them can read them. We have other fish to fry.

The more important "fish" is this one: the advance of technology (i.e. technological evolution) is not moral evolution. Human beings don't get "better," they just get more powerful. In the most technologically advanced, scientific and secular century we have ever known, we killed more people than in all of previous human history combined, and in more horrendous wars and ways. We may be "enlightened" as to how to make and use our tools; we are not a bit "enlightened" in regards to being better people because of those tools. We are not worse either, I think; just the same, only more powerful.

3. The Galileo story is highly mythologized. Again, there are plenty of books on this (P. Sampson comes to mind; there are others). But it is one of the key stories skeptics tell themselves to reinforce the "faith" in the antipathy between religion and science. Galileo's main enemies were the secular Aristotelians, and his relations with the church were generally cordial, until he decided to push for a confrontation. His trial was a consequence of his own rash provocation of the political-religious authorities, rather than a church-insituted persecution. His most strident opposition came from his fellow scientists. His condemnation was not "anti-science," but rather an internal scientific debate over what was the authoritative source of scientific information. And we do not know he said anything at all as he left the trial. When he was arrested, he was detained in his own room with servants, as befitted his status. He later returned home with his church pension intact, continued to write and receive visitors, and then later died peacefully in his own bed. The traditional take on the story preserves only the broad outlines, and sets up clear "good guys" an "bad guys," as often happens when history is turned into a "useful" story.

As for the Catholic Church, I have no interest in defending it. If others care to, they may. But in any case, it would be a gross injustice to claim that anything done by that entity somehow casts a shadow over Christianity or other world religions. We would never make science itself guilty of Auschwitz, or the environmental crisis, though science of a sort is clearly involved in both. I suggest that the opposition between religion and science, or between faith and reason is just a good-guy/bad-guy sort of children's story targeted at increasing the self-image of secularists, not a reasonable way to view our history or our current situation.
James Markham
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by James Markham »

Immanuel can, I don't agree with what you say about evolution, I personally think, save a few tricky particulars, it gives a very sensible account of biological development. There has been a lot of recent findings concerned with the embryonic stages of birds, and it can now be shown that at early stages, chicken embryos have the features of their dinosaur ancestors, such as teeth, which now develop into a beak, and claws which now fuse to become wings. There is also the fact that human embryos have gill slits, and a tail in its early stages. There are numerous examples of the human genome containing relics of our ancestors, an interesting one being the brain, and the way it's structures are constructed on and around the still purposeful, and functioning older structures. We all retain the same structure that is called the reptilian brain, in humans it's our brain stem, and is responsible for automated functions such as repository and circulatory systems, in reptiles it exists as the sum total of their brains. On top of the brain stem, and within the cortex, we have the old mammalian structures, that receive and impart values to sensory information along with many other functions. So the only structure unique to us great apes is the neocortex, which is responsible for language, thought, abstracted reasoning, conscious evaluation and imaginative traits such as art and music. And there is evidence that this latest addition is an enlarged node of the old mammalian limbic system. So if we look at the evidence for and against evolution, as described by modern interpretations, I'd say it has to be taken seriously.

I understand it isn't as simple as random mutations, but having seen the various breeds of pigeons and dogs that exist since man began selectively breeding them, and then contemplate the idea of finding the skeleton of a dog, that is exactly half way between a wolf and a pug, the task of finding transitory species is put into perspective, we have fossils from fish that use there fins like feet, we have fossils of dinosaurs that had feathers, the dugong, and manatees are somewhere between hippo and whale. There is the famous paradox, what came first, the chicken or the egg, and the answer could be the dinosaur, lizard, or even the fish, because they all precede birds on the evolutionary ladder, and they all laid eggs, even mammals produce eggs, it's just that we have developed the ability to incubate them internally within a thin membrane that can be directly supplied with nutrients, the whole process is not so different from certain forms of reproduction employed by certain sharks, which also produce live young.

So I don't have any issue with the ability of science to correctly describe life, and the universe, and how they both possess an inherent coherency, what I do see as lacking is its ability to give any kind of meaning to our consciousness within that description, so for example, I don't believe science will every contribute anything meaningful to the hard problem of consciousness, or give us any satisfactory solution to why life and the universe exist at all. These things I believe will only be solved by metaphysical reasoning, of which I believe religion is a branch of, I see spiritual considerations as the motivating force behind such mental activity, and where it falls down is becoming entrenched in the dogmatic particulars of a specific religious doctrine. I think that as long as the mind remains free to consider, without limit or parameters, all aspects of reality, then different bodies of knowledge can be seen to overlap and reinforce certain truths, and it's in identifying these facts that yields a more reliable result. As soon as we close our mind, or ignore any form of information presented to us by reality, we become slightly more blinkered.

So despite what homegrown may think, I'm simply pushing for information, I don't yet place any significance on what he says, because to me, the only real questions are of a metaphysical nature, and I'm not sure if that falls under the heading of science.
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HexHammer
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by HexHammer »

Please forgive me for saying that OP seems incoherent and illogical, also it seems to be cirular logic.

What relevance does it serve to pose these questions?
James Markham
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by James Markham »

Hex hammer, if you mean what purpose does it serve, then I would guess that, like most posts on this forum, they are intended to ignite debate, which is the best way to test your beliefs. I for one am enjoying this particular topic, and think the two main participants are interesting and intelligent.
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HexHammer
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by HexHammer »

James Markham wrote:Hex hammer, if you mean what purpose does it serve, then I would guess that, like most posts on this forum, they are intended to ignite debate, which is the best way to test your beliefs. I for one am enjoying this particular topic, and think the two main participants are interesting and intelligent.
That is quite obvious that it's to spark a debate, just like on another philosophy forum where they discussed the existance of the color red, which I would find quite baffeling and a complete waste of time, stooping down the intellectual lvl of debate.

I would like to see mankind progress, instead of degress to irrelevant navel gazing.
James Markham
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by James Markham »

When you say the existence of redness, do you mean conceptually, or actually?
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HexHammer
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by HexHammer »

James Markham wrote:When you say the existence of redness, do you mean conceptually, or actually?
http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtopi ... 70f1e70f8a

This tragicly goes on and on, page up, page down!
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Hobbes Choice,

I think it's interesting - and can be instructive to think back upon the journey from ignorance - through pseudo-scientific doctrines into valid knowledge. It's probably true of just about every scientific discipline that the relevent information was gathered to inform a previous, invalid theory - and then re-arranged in ways that make more sense. But in the past fifty years, and ever more rapidly since the advent of the computer, science has really come together. As a means of communication and for the ability to organize and process large amounts of information the computer is probably the greatest scientific instrument ever built. I don't know if you've ever entered a data set for the puroses of statistical analysis. The human element is definitely the weak link.

The problem I've identified is not ignorance aspiring to knowledge so much as it's knowledge aspiring to ignorance. Deliberate and willful ignorance in face of available truth. But that's just a part of it - for this is deliberate ignorance posing as truth, and on that basis claiming legitimacy as justification for hierarchy, the distribution of wealth, health, education, resources, the application of technology and so forth. That so, it would be like a doctor treating patients based on the theory of the four humours in deliberate ignorance of the theory of bacterial infection; proscribing mercury, leeches and an excorcism for good measure - when penecillin is available. The patient would die. And that's exactly what's going to happen to humankind if we carry on the way we are.

The willful ignorance I'm talking about here is a very human problem. It would be easy if it weren't for the people involved - with all their sticky emotions, prickly fears and pesky needs and wants. I've proved them wrong and told them the right answer. What more do I have to do?

hg.



Remembrance Sunday.

Lest we forget the intensive ideological indoctrination and psychological manipulation that is military training subjects adolescent human beings to a regimen designed to induce a mental state that encourages and enables them to commit murder with intent, without the hesitation or guilt that are the natural psychological reactions to causing pain and harm, and depriving another human being of life. In terms of pride and heroism - God, Queen and nation-state are worshipped and lionized by a hierarchy with absolute power within an enclosed environment; and systematically the stick of painful, humiliating, life threatening punishment, and the carrot of approval, comradeship and reward are applied or withheld to convert psychologically healthy adolescent human beings into purposeful, cold blooded murderers - by governments, using tax-payers money, in anticipation of political failure.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

gentlemen, great to see you talking civilly among yourselves while I've been away. sorry i'm not able to reply more frequently.

Hex Hammer,

The implications of the initial points have been explained by the subsequent 3 pages of discussion. You can read them if you like.

hg.

immanuel, james, soon. promise. hg.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

James Markham,

Your arguments above are based on common sense observations of the world as it currently is, and that's fine if one accepts the ideological assumptions that make the world the way it currently is. I do not accept those ideological assumptions. So, for example - where you argue:

'...in places as poor as India, we see the government spending millions on a mission to Mars, purely in the hope of replicating other nations previous findings. When you have a country that is struggling to sustain its population, I see this sort of scientific endeavour as pointless, and although, as I keep pointing out, I'm not religious, and have no belief in god, I would still have assigned that portion of the scientific budget to some religious aid organisation, at least they would have spent it on rice.'

...what you see as being wrong with this is not what I see. Because you accept those ideological assumptions, you accept the world as it is - and thus, your alternate policy strategy is to leave everything exactly as it is, but give the money spent on space to charity instead - whereas I'm arguing for systematic reform at the philosophical level.

The difficulty with what I'm proposing lies with the difference between the ideal - and what's practically possible without doing more harm than good. The ideal is lost to us now, for it could only have happened had the Church of Rome embraced science as the means to establish valid knowledge of Creation back in the 1630's. Recognized as spiritually worthy - scientifically valid knowledge would have been pursued and incorporated on every level - from philosophy to politics to poetry, to economics, theology and theatre, to art, law, our identities and purposes, the distribution of resources and application of technology and so on, would all have been constructed and conducted in relation to the emerging scientific truth over hundreds of years.

But that didn't happen. Instead, science was philosophically surpressed - denied any spiritual worth, and the construction and conduct of society continued in relation to religious ideation - beginning with the 'divine rights of Kings' accepted at the Treaty of Westphalia (1650) as philosophoical and legal justification of the soveriegn nation state. Initially an absolute monarchy - only after science was used as a tool by industry to generate wealth, monarchy was forced to compromise - and allow at least a pretence of democratic government. Consistant with the religious doctrine of the immortal soul, and the philosophy of cartesian dualism, law entrenched principles of private property and indvidual responsibility - and in this context Adam Smith and others constructed the libertarian philosophy underlying capitalism. This whole religious, political and economic ideological architecture, constructed in an epistemic void - regardless of truth, provided the motive for the East India Company to subjugate the territory and people of India to the economic interests of the British Empire, and consequently, '...in places as poor as India, we see the government spending millions on a mission to Mars...[while] struggling to sustain its population.' ...is the consequence of acting in the course of ideological falsity. I would correct that falsity. Do you understand?

However, we have to get there from here. Thus, where I said: "top down change", and, "no need to disabuse the public" I was talking - not in terms of the ideal, but what may be possible to achieve without turning the world upside down. Rather than 'reserved to the upper echelons' - I argue that the validity of scientific knowledge should, initially at least, only be regarded as politically legitimate grounds for particular policy measures aimed at addressing threats to humankind as a whole, that are the consequence of, and cannot be addressed in terms of the ideological concepts that cause them. The energy crisis is the most immediate and serious threat to the whole of humankind, and furthermore, energy is the key log that will enable future generations to address a series of other threats. i.e. climate change, over-population, poverty, deforestation, overfishing, pollution, and so, in turn.

What I think you fail to appreciate in your argument above - is that the problems you identify: poverty in India and climate change, are among many problems that are all the consequence of acting in the course of ideological falsity. Acting upon ideological falsity is rather like laying a carpet that doesn't fit the floor. You can get it to fit in one corner, but it's necessarily wrong in two of the other three corners. Turn around and put those corners right, and the others go wrong. So, you can give three pounds to charity for poverty or climate change but ultimately that three pounds is the profit from ten pounds worth of problem causing ideological action. It's a losing battle.

But I'm absolutely not arguing for socialism, or communisim, anymore than I'm arguing for more capitalism. I argue we must raise Truth as a political virtue over Liberty and/or Equality, but that's not to say I would tear down the banks, the borders and the churches first thing Monday morning. The world would be plunged into chaos - doing more harm than good, and so it would be illegitimate. Also, it's not for me to tell future generations what's true or the implications they should draw from truth. My legitimate obligation is to accept as best I know what's true today, and on that basis act to afford future generations the opportunity of existence, and so, scientific truth has legitmate superiority over ideological falsity in matters bearing on the survival of humankind, but thereafter, it would be best to allow future generations to develop their own organic relationships to scientifcally valid knowledge over hundreds of years to come.

Another thing I don't agree with is your suggestion that all my reasons must be inherent to a scientific understanding of reality simply because I recognize science as the means to establish truth, and recognize the importance of truth over falsity. In theory, I'd argue that both truth and survival bridge any percieved gap between facts and values, but that's another debate. An important reason, if not the ultimate reason for human action is the pain/pleasure reflex. The pain/pleasure reflex is the reason many people indulge themslves in comforting fictions - rather than face the truth, believe things such as: 'everything happens for a reason.' If you meant cause and effect - I'd agree, but yours is a lazy brained idea peddled by the 'predestination industry' i.e. religion and government, in who's interests it is people believe everything is inevitable, fated, destined to happen, and cannot be otherwise or changed. The poor believe it because it helps them accept things that are painful or difficult - and the rich believe it because it's a salve to a guilty conscience, but it becomes problematic when it excludes truth, for it can allow situations to continue that might otherwise be resolved.

You say: '...maybe you could tell me how your system of beliefs could solve a real problem such as the South American cocaine trade, or human trafficking in Europe, or maybe you could let us know what's to be done about the murder rate in gang infested Los Angeles.' You don't seem to have any awareness that these problems are the consequences of the ideological dynamics of societies. Perhaps you think - as our legal system seems to, that they're entirely the consequence of the poor moral choices of the people involved. Ideally, I would have chosen truth over falsity when the ability to establish truth first became available to humankind. Carry on the way we are, and these problems are the tip of an iceberg that will loom ever larger until we crash into it and sink. Un-ideally, accepting the truth - but without turning the world upside down, we first need to address the energy crisis as an imminent threat to humankind, and from there - there are a series of scientifically consistent policy measures that would ultimately serve alleviate the political and economic conditions that motivate these crimes.

hg.



Hmmmmanuel,

I gratefully accept your apology. That's big of you.

QUOTE: '...mechanism for things like mind, consciousness or values. It would not help to say, "they emerged by evolution," because even if that were 100% granted, it would not do a thing to patch up that analytical deficiency.'

Is that so? I thought the scientific discipline of evolutionary psychology is dealing very ably with these questions - including the brain mind distinction. In addition to an explanation of the evolutionary development of the brain, its structure and functioning - there are discoveries such as the innate tendency to learn language, the innate tendency to mimicary of authority figures in childhood - against the development of judgement, genetically inherited character traits and behaviours such as depression, risk, addiction and so on. It all builds a picture. Further, I believe I mentioned above that moral behaviours proved an evolutionary advantage in a social context. Furthermore, as part of my own argument, I explain the origin of the concept of God in human evolution by suggesting that the artefact/artificer relationship was necessarily understood on an instinctual level by pre-human animals, who in order to survive would need to behave correctly relative to the sounds, smells or footprints of animals representing food or danger from predators. This then is an animal behaviour intellectualized and employed in the development of knowledge, giving us first, the Grand Artificer in the Sky, i.e. God the Creator - but also multi-tribal society, art, spoken and written language, money...

'If human evolution were an epic, the upper paleolithic would be the chapter where the hero comes of age. Suddenly, after millenia of progress so slow it hardly seems like progress at all, human cluture seems to take off in what the writer John Phiffer has called a 'creative explosion.' At a German site called Vogelherd, someone picked up a piece of ivory 32,000 years ago and carved an exquisite horse in miniture - mouth, flared nostrils and swollen belly all breathlessley realistic. Before Vogelherd, there were no representational horses...' (James Shreeve. 'The Neanderthal Enigma.')

Consequently, I'm dismissing your argument that science is reductionsist as itself reductionist.

2. Your arguments about punctuated equilibrium as opposed to the continuous model are incorrect in some respects, overly-simplistic in others, and from this falsely simple view - incorrect implications are drawn. Saying that either is an 'attempt to fill in the gaps in the fossil record' is crass and wrong. If you're going to disregard the explanation I gave of the tiny likelyhood of the fossilization of even one member of a species, divided by the tiny likelyhood of that fossil being discovered by man - as opposed to what you assume should be available, which is a complete record of all animals that have ever existed, in order - all lined up in a neat little row, perhaps you should say why. Is the reason you ignore this because otherwise you could not continue to express the same opinion?

QUOTE: '....then the number of transitional forms and evolutionary "dead ends" should vastly outnumber the successful organisms'

Firstly, 99.75% of all the species that have ever existed are now extinct. Secondly, as you again ignored what I said previously I shall put this in capital letters so that you cannot miss it: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TRANSITIONAL FORM BECAUSE ALL FORMS ARE TRANSITIONAL! Please read Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennett.

Irreducable Complexity is not the same as the Watchmaker Argument you allude to where you say: 'I find an ipod lying on my driveway next to a pebble, I can immediately discern that one is designed and the other is not.' This is the Watchmaker Argument, from 'Natural Theology' by William Paley. Cambrdige University Press. 1803. Irreducable Complexity is another argument entirely - couched in terms of mathematical probability, about the formation of DNA. They are not entirely unrelated, but they are two distinctly different arguments. The former is a conjecture about the appearance of design - whereas the latter depends upon accepting that mathematical probability is a reasonable basis of anaylsis of a biochemical structure. The reason it's not is because it relies on the failure of mathematical probability to explain a phenomenon to proceed to a preconcieved conclusion. It's inherently untrustworthy. You then say that there are other fish to fry, but you raised these ideas as objections to a neo-Darwinian synthesis, universally accepted by scientists, from which the implications of my argument are drawn. The principle implication is that religious texts occurred in the course of the evolutionary development of humankind.

3. Perhaps I shouldn't be suprised that you can't seem to get to grips with what I'm saying when you don't know what you yourself are saying half the time.

QUOTE (you): 'We would never make science itself guilty of Auschwitz, or the environmental crisis, though science of a sort is clearly involved in both...'

but earlier;

QUOTE (You): "It was tried in the Enlightenment. You can try again if you wish. Good luck. Try not to kill so many people this time."

I'm explaining an evolutionary conception of knowledge where religion is cast as the invalid theories of primitive peoples - and science as the right answers to better questions arrived at much later on. Further I'm saying that science, as those right answers to better questions - has political implications excluded by institutional structures and arrangements based on pre-scientific ideation that remian unto this day.

QUOTE: 'I suggest that the opposition between religion and science, or between faith and reason is just a good-guy/bad-guy sort of children's story targeted at increasing the self-image of secularists, not a reasonable way to view our history or our current situation.'

The opposition between faith and reason! As if both were valid approaches to knowledge. They're not. Sticking to false beliefs to the exclusion of contrary truths is the esscence of a mental illness called psychosis. With most people the psychosis is not really evident - because they're essentially sane people who happen to be ignorant of what's true, but not you. The fact that you denied the implication from evolution that religious texts occured in the course of evolutionary development of humankind by citing I.D. and complexity - and then abandoned the topic as unimportant two pages later, speaks to me of religious psychosis. You're trying to find a way around it that you can keep your opinions intact - because you prefer to be all deluded and comfortable. Well, so does a crack addict, but it's not good for him either. Let me ask you - do you know you're doing this?

You seek to reinterpret everything, but it's a fact that Galileo was arrested, tried, found greviously suspect of heresy and faced excommunication and death simply for proving that the earth orbits the sun. It's a fact that the Church already had a well used mechanism in place for conducting the trial: the Papal Court of the Inquisition. Yes, he couched his work in the form of a dialogue between a Bishop and an accademic, and the accademic ridiculed the Bishop's view - on merit! The Bishop's view was wrong. That so, the charge against Galileo wasn't ridiculing the clergy. It was disagreeing with the doctrine of the Church. Proving the Bible wrong, and the epistemology of faith wrong - that was his crime.

And what you're doing here - ignoring facts that don't fit in order to keep your invalid ideas intact is exactly what the Church did, and that's because the origin of psychosis is faith! False belief to the exclusion of reality! You claim you don't believe in religious ideas anymore, but you went to extraordinary lengths to cut a wide circle around a simple truth you can't accept because it shows that religious texts are the false philosophies of primitive peoples in the ongoing development of knowledge. You'd be more deserving of respect if you'd done so in defence of religious beliefs in which you were raised, but it's not even that - for in your arrogance would claim the right to pick and choose from a smoorgasbord of beliefs - whatever makes you happy! Relativism in face of truth is the last resort of the scoundrel. If you've got a scrap of philosophical integrity left - you'll at least acknowledge that government without responsibility to truth is inherently bad government. You can probably live out your days suffering whatever delusion you chance upon without doing too much harm - but for humankind as a whole, it's fatal.

hg.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by Immanuel Can »

The evolution argument does not interest me. It goes nowhere. If it's true, then all philosophical ideas are trivial, all arguments are moot, and we are all just so much cosmic dust. On the other hand, arguing against it has its merits, but I have no interest in pursuing that myself. It has a forum on which it is being pursued by others. I wish them well, and defer to their greater energies in dealing with it. That is my reason for dropping it, as I said above. Curious that you ignored that.

The faith vs. reason argument has been dealt with admirably by others as well. Michael Polanyi (master physicist and chemist) has exposited it far more ably than I can here. I know Daniel Dennett, and find him preposterous for many reasons, but especially for his completely wrong-headed views on ethics, about which I know a great deal.

Can you isolate a single point from your lengthy rant and impugning of my character that you wish me to address? Or perhaps two? I will address it in a brief message, thus reducing the length of our exchange to a more conversational format, which is the way things should go on these posts.

You and I are putting much too much in a single message. It's not just that my time is limited (it is), but also that it becomes tedious for others to follow.
homegrown
Posts: 100
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:37 pm

Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Immanuel Can,

If it has been discussed by someone else then there's no point in discussing it? Whatever. Sorry to have wasted your precious time. Rest assured I shan't be wasting any more of it.

hg.
homegrown
Posts: 100
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:37 pm

Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

James Markham,

Some of the things people say near break my heart.

QUOTE: 'I see spiritual considerations as the motivating force behind such mental activity, and where it falls down is becoming entrenched in the dogmatic particulars of a specific religious doctrine. I think that as long as the mind remains free to consider, without limit or parameters, all aspects of reality, then different bodies of knowledge can be seen to overlap and reinforce certain truths, and it's in identifying these facts that yields a more reliable result. As soon as we close our mind, or ignore any form of information presented to us by reality, we become slightly more blinkered.'

When you wrote that, I imagine you believed it, but earlier, didn't you say:

QUOTE: 'You worry about mass extinction, I see it as an opportunity for life to become, you worry about corrupt governments, I see it as a lesson being learnt, you worry about winning debates, I see it as a chance to exercise my brain, albeit mildly.'

Because that sure seems to me like you're dismissing lightly what I've spent twenty years of my life thinking about - on the basis of the first exclusionary opinion that sprung to mind. There's a lot that you're just not seeing here. Don't worry about it - you can't have the kind of wide open mind you allude to in your post above. You have to discriminate - and you do, but truth is the discriminatory principle par excellance. And the thing about truth is, you don't have to go to the ends of the earth to find it. No, it was Hobbes who brought up bacteria - tiny little things and they're everywhere. The theory of bacterial infection displaced primitive theories that cited possession by demonic forces as an explanation of disease. Think about the implied differences between the two conceptions of reality - given this single truth. Truth is everywhere and has vast implications. What you say in this next quote though - that's what I don't understand. For me, a scientifically valid understanding of reality has metaphysical implications - just not those we were led to expect:

QUOTE: 'So I don't have any issue with the ability of science to correctly describe life, and the universe, and how they both possess an inherent coherency, what I do see as lacking is its ability to give any kind of meaning to our consciousness within that description, so for example, I don't believe science will ever contribute anything meaningful to the hard problem of consciousness, or give us any satisfactory solution to why life and the universe exist at all. These things I believe will only be solved by metaphysical reasoning, of which I believe religion is a branch...'

It wasn't a loss to me when accepting a scientific understanding of reality, I realized that religious ideation had raised certain questions and inculcated emotional expectations scientific understanding doesn't answer or fulfill. I just recognized them as ignorant questions, deliberately barbed with emotional implications to make me needy, bowed and fearful. Now however, if people ask me if there's a God I say: 'I know I don't know, and nor does anyone else' - and I honestly do not feel pressed to form an opinion on the subject without sufficient evidence. I value the sanity of sound reason far more highly than what the indoctrination industry has led me to expect I should yearn for, which is a belief in God, (theism) or contrarily a disbelief in God, (atheism) but a faith nonetheless, a groundless opinion. I know what I am, and am not able to know, and so not answering that question is not a loss - but a gain, for the idea does not exist as a crossed circuit in the wiring of my mind, spreading dysfunction to other related ideas.

It's perhaps more difficult to have no opinion on the question of ones own mortality - but here again, I acknowledge I don't know, but suspect we simply cease to be. This may seem like a horrifying propsect to someone raised to believe in the immortal soul, but doesn't seem unfair to me. In fact knowing I will die, and assuming that is the end for me adds significance to each day of my one life, to the necessity of valid understanding - and to the continued existence of humankind. I'm not waiting for my real life to begin in Heaven - sat at the feet of He who will answer all my questions. I mean, that's a lovely idea...but 'what makes me happy' is not a good discriminatory principle.

The implications of scientific understanding - what's consistent with evolution, is niether too good to be true, nor nihilistic - but reasonable and purposeful. Our bodies and minds are amazing gifts - evolved through cycles of life, sex and death over countless generations. In reciept of that gift, it's my legitmate obligation to employ that vast inheritence wisely to secure the best for future generations - thereby projecting meaning backwards and forwards through time. My significance lies with the fact I'm the present link in the chain of life - recieving the gifts of previous generations struggle to survive, to breed, to know, making me a good strong link myself, and passing my genetic and intellectual legacy on in turn. Ultimately, where to? I know I don't know - but the direction of travel is clear, and it's clearly not, as this bunch would have us believe, backward...as if we were devolving from the perfection of Creation.

The direction is forward, so let us face forward by knowing what's true and doing what's right for the betterment of the human species - rather than continue ass first into the future - as if leaving the Royal prescence, unaware which bowed and backward step will not meet solid ground. Such ass first blind and stumbling progress would be laughable if it weren't doomed to end so tragically: the energy crisis, didn't see that coming, nuclear proliferation - probably a bad idea in hindsight, now that, after it's happened - we can see it. Climate change, over-population, deforestation, overfishing, resource abuse, pollution...'Oh dear, what an awful mess we seem to have made! Good job we weren't looking because then we'd be responsible for it! Don't worry, God'll tidy everything up.' (???) TURN AROUND! Look reality in the eye. There's nothing to fear but ignorance. Our ancestors were genuinely ignorant, but with us it's wilfull, deliberate ignornace in possession of valid knowledge. They didn't know. They made things up because they were afriad - and they were lovely ideas, huge and superlative. They wove a vast tapestry from every absolute notion they could concieve of: omniscience, omniprescence, eternal life, absolute good and evil, and thus upstaged a rather more deliberative, moderate reality. We don't betray our ancestors by correcting them with valid knowledge - and it is no loss to put childish notions aisde, for the development of knowledge gives meaning to the whole chain of life, past, present and future. We betray them, if in possession of valid knowledge, we continue in the same fanciful ignorance from which they suffered.

QUOTE: 'So despite what homegrown may think, I'm simply pushing for information, I don't yet place any significance on what he says, because to me, the only real questions are of a metaphysical nature, and I'm not sure if that falls under the heading of science.'

I'm a philosopher.

hg.
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