Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

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Bernard
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Bernard »

Yes, that's correct that knowledge can't be deduced from the second syntax any more than the first. The point is to get beyond syntax of any kind in order to relish pure perceptive experience.

In reference to the other worlds that are available to our perception, don Juan tells Carlos that these worlds are very different yet very similar:
Pressed for a linear explanation of this contradiction, don Juan Matus reiterated the standard position of sorcerers: that the answers to all those questions were in the practice, not in the intellectual inquiry He said that in order to talk about such possibilities, we would have to use the syntax of language, whatever language we spoke, and that syntax, by the force of usage, limits the possibilities of expression. The syntax of any language refers only to perceptual possibilities found in the world in which we live.
I don't suggest or believe there are other universes; I show that by observation of things that the universe, as a thing, must be one of many of like-kind things to it. You see, we can see our ordinary world without syntax with all its obligatory categories and, perhaps, with other worlds as well, or things belonging to other syntaxes.

Would I be wrong in suggesting that you confuse conceptualising with knowing?

I'm not making observations of things outside the universe. I am like a hunter who sees a track in the sand; I don't see the animal, but my observation tells me it must exist. In other words, I can observe from clues within my current field of observation, what is beyond it.


The track the poem takes is a didactic, not conclusive; it demands of the reader to question. It's unspoken, underlying question left for the reader to excavate, beyond the one in the second stanza Is the syntax that requires beginnings, developments and ends as statements of fact the only syntax that exists? , is "can we sustain coherent perception beyond the bindings of syntax of any kind". I can supply quotes from the same author supporting just this interpretation, but would have to dig around for them.
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Notvacka
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Notvacka »

Bernard wrote:The point is to get beyond syntax of any kind in order to relish pure perceptive experience.
Yes. It's perfectly possible to "relish pure perceptive experience". But without syntax of any kind, you can't communicate the experience. You can't even think about it. Thinking removes us one step from what we perceive. The problem I see with your reasoning, is that you proceed as if this step doesn't matter. What I find really strange, is that you acknowledge the step, as you repeatedly claim to keep categories and actual things separeate in your mind; you even find quotes that further explain this separation. Then you go right ahead confusing syntax with reality again, seemingly without even noticing. And when I point this out, you still don't see it.
Bernard wrote:Would I be wrong in suggesting that you confuse conceptualising with knowing?
I can't answer that without knowing what you mean by "knowing" here. (Not as easy as it may seem.)
Bernard wrote:"can we sustain coherent perception beyond the bindings of syntax of any kind?
Yes, we can. But from within that state of unadulterated perception, we can't draw any conclusions. In order to draw conclusions, we must think, and in order to think, we must use some sort of syntax, which means that we are once again that important step removed from pure perception. Do you see it now?
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Bernard
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Bernard »

You make good points, and I appreciate you sticking by. I really do. I know I am stubborn and perhaps there is some fault my stubbornness keeps me from seeing - or more likely - appreciating in your point of view, but as I say I will keep this bull down to the ground until I either subdue it or it throws me. .. its laughter either way.
Notvacka wrote:Yes. It's perfectly possible to "relish pure perceptive experience". But without syntax of any kind, you can't communicate the experience. You can't even think about it. Thinking removes us one step from what we perceive. The problem I see with your reasoning, is that you proceed as if this step doesn't matter. What I find really strange, is that you acknowledge the step, as you repeatedly claim to keep categories and actual things separeate in your mind; you even find quotes that further explain this separation. Then you go right ahead confusing syntax with reality again, seemingly without even noticing. And when I point this out, you still don't see it.

I'm an artist, and poor (thank God) because of it. I'm too poor to even ply my trade to the satisfaction I often feel I need to gain from it. But I ask myself every now and then what it is I'm doing as an artist. Why is it important? and why don't I just knock out pieces that are marketable? It would be so easy, and I've had many chances to just treat it as if I were making bread or being a house-painter - you know, country scenes and things. I have the ability, but what holds me back is the sense of responsibility I feel in expressing a thing in a way that no-one ever expected it could be expressed; it may well be in a painting of a country scene, but there would be something else to it that would stand out as having never been expressed before. So perhaps there is something ingrained and habitual in me, after all these years, that is focussed on expressing inexpressible things. I don't see this happening with this very simple argument I put forth though. I have utterly no idea where in this argument you see me as confusing reality with syntax. Is it perhaps because you see the universe as a conceptual item with no reality except as a conceptual reality? I would have thought we had past this bar though, so will dismiss that notion.

Another tack I can take is to make it clear that I am only concerned with this argument in dealing exclusively only with items of syntax 1 in the quote, which says that things have a beginning, they develop and die. This is the syntax we all use.. must use.. to get on in the daily world. I initially asked the question; why do some people think that life had a beginning? I'm asking this because there is, according to my observation no beginning to things. It is often opined in one way or another, that God began everything or that the universe was the beginning of everything. I challenged that notion by saying that the observable universe, by right of the fact that it is observedly a thing, is therefore, like all things (you know the rest)... Now, my concern is that we have not been using the items of syntax 1 properly by positing that there was somehow a beginning to the existence of things, and before that there was nothing, when all the evidence we have ever had about things within the framework of syntax 1 is that things do not come in isolation but in multiples of like kind. I'm not interested here in getting beyond syntax 1 and into syntax 2 whilst syntax 1 displays a false picture, much less am I interested in getting beyond syntax altogether here. We get syntax 1 right then we move on.



I can"t answer that without knowing what you mean by "knowing" here. (Not as easy as it may seem.)

Knowing, as distinct from conceiving, is really about perceiving directly without syntax, from there we begin to form syntactical items through conceiving, and therein lies the birth of language and communication. We do this by refining or rearranging items that have become redundant somehow within the given syntax.
Bernard wrote:"can we sustain coherent perception beyond the bindings of syntax of any kind?
Yes, we can. But from within that state of unadulterated perception, we can't draw any conclusions. In order to draw conclusions, we must think, and in order to think, we must use some sort of syntax, which means that we are once again that important step removed from pure perception. Do you see it now?

My contention, which I think you may agree with, is that knowledge is free of syntax and needs no conclusions, but we must go ahead and use syntax as if knowledge needed conclusions because our syntax demands conclusions, and because we need to attempt to communicate what can't be communicated - knowledge - if only for a point of reference.
chaz wyman
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

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Bernard wrote:You make good points, and I appreciate you sticking by. I really do. I know I am stubborn and perhaps there is some fault my stubbornness keeps me from seeing - or more likely - appreciating in your point of view, but as I say I will keep this bull down to the ground until I either subdue it or it throws me. .. its laughter either way.
Notvacka wrote:Yes. It's perfectly possible to "relish pure perceptive experience". But without syntax of any kind, you can't communicate the experience. You can't even think about it. Thinking removes us one step from what we perceive. The problem I see with your reasoning, is that you proceed as if this step doesn't matter. What I find really strange, is that you acknowledge the step, as you repeatedly claim to keep categories and actual things separeate in your mind; you even find quotes that further explain this separation. Then you go right ahead confusing syntax with reality again, seemingly without even noticing. And when I point this out, you still don't see it.

I'm an artist, and poor (thank God) because of it. I'm too poor to even ply my trade to the satisfaction I often feel I need to gain from it. .
Other arstists here have shared images of their work: myself and 'artisticsolution" . Would you care to join in?
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Bernard
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Bernard »

Thanks Chaz, not sure if I have already done so, but will soon.
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Bernard
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

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chaz wyman
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

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Bernard wrote:Thanks Chaz, not sure if I have already done so, but will soon.

You must have changed your avatar recently, cos i remember your forest scene very well.
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Notvacka
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Notvacka »

Bernard wrote:I'm an artist, and poor (thank God) because of it. I'm too poor to even ply my trade to the satisfaction I often feel I need to gain from it. But I ask myself every now and then what it is I'm doing as an artist. Why is it important? and why don't I just knock out pieces that are marketable? It would be so easy, and I've had many chances to just treat it as if I were making bread or being a house-painter - you know, country scenes and things. I have the ability, but what holds me back is the sense of responsibility I feel in expressing a thing in a way that no-one ever expected it could be expressed; it may well be in a painting of a country scene, but there would be something else to it that would stand out as having never been expressed before. So perhaps there is something ingrained and habitual in me, after all these years, that is focussed on expressing inexpressible things. I don't see this happening with this very simple argument I put forth though.
This makes perfect sense to me. Since I'm also an artist and poor (perhaps not a coincidence) I know what you mean. Through our entire exchange here, I've been thinking about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the artist René Magritte, who both explored the thing I'm talking about, the confusion that you don't see; Wittgenstein through logic and Magritte through images.

Perhaps the paintings of Magritte can show you what I mean. "What can be shown cannot be said", as Wittgenstein put it.
Bernard wrote:I have utterly no idea where in this argument you see me as confusing reality with syntax. Is it perhaps because you see the universe as a conceptual item with no reality except as a conceptual reality? I would have thought we had past this bar though, so will dismiss that notion.
You are right in dismissing that notion.
Bernard wrote:Another tack I can take is to make it clear that I am only concerned with this argument in dealing exclusively only with items of syntax 1 in the quote, which says that things have a beginning, they develop and die. This is the syntax we all use.. must use.. to get on in the daily world. I initially asked the question; why do some people think that life had a beginning? I'm asking this because there is, according to my observation no beginning to things. It is often opined in one way or another, that God began everything or that the universe was the beginning of everything. I challenged that notion by saying that the observable universe, by right of the fact that it is observedly a thing, is therefore, like all things (you know the rest)... Now, my concern is that we have not been using the items of syntax 1 properly by positing that there was somehow a beginning to the existence of things, and before that there was nothing, when all the evidence we have ever had about things within the framework of syntax 1 is that things do not come in isolation but in multiples of like kind. I'm not interested here in getting beyond syntax 1 and into syntax 2 whilst syntax 1 displays a false picture, much less am I interested in getting beyond syntax altogether here. We get syntax 1 right then we move on.
I think that my point would be valid regardless of syntax. Any human language basically performs the same function. The problem illustrated by your first Castaneda qoute, is that a particular language is always more suited to a particular type of understanding. Furthermore, we tend to confuse familiarity with understanding. Through our language, we become so familiar with certain concepts, that we mistakenly believe that we understand them.
Bernard wrote:Knowing, as distinct from conceiving, is really about perceiving directly without syntax, from there we begin to form syntactical items through conceiving, and therein lies the birth of language and communication.
Using this definition, I think I can safely say that I don't confuse conceptualising with knowing. Im not sure I understand what you mean by the next part, though:
Bernard wrote:We do this by refining or rearranging items that have become redundant somehow within the given syntax.
Particularly I don't think I understand the notion of redundancy in this context.
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Bernard
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Bernard »

I meant our conceptions are composed of reworked items that belong to the syntax we are operating in.

Nothing of much relation, but I had a strange beginning notion for a sci-fi novel today: that there are planets that are so primed for life in their early formation that the first and most basic evolved forms are hominoids.
Ram
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Ram »

Hello.

Bernard, what you claim sounds self contradictory.

You say that since there is an Everything, there must be many Everythings. However, if A is an Everything, and B is another Everything, then A is not an Everything.
Since then A does not contain every thing (it does not contain B).

So A is both an Everything and not an Everything.
Hence a contradiction.
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Bernard
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Bernard »

Sure, but I don't think I've represented the universe as being everything. In fact I've been quite consciously avoiding it. I think the word Cosmos is more the term used for connoting the absolute everything we like to maintain amongst other latent categories. Everything is of course a term relative to the context in which we place it, but one thing is for sure; the way in which we use it is like sandcastle building. We use it with the underwrite that it is subject to revision, and as such an everything is often made redundant or revised down. We skim and abbreviate our language in order to make it more effective for use in daily life. This has its fallbacks: the difference between "everything in existence" and "everything in known existence" is an example in case. The former is more commonly used, yet when examined, is the more erroneous term, or at least more a protagonist in erroneous thinking, because it has the underlying import that the boundaries of existence are known. Unless this import is recognised as erroneous when the term is being used, then it will at times distort and redirect a whole context, for example: A comment like "Everything in existence is governed by the laws of physics" made within a scientific paper, will be no problem; but made as a public statement it will tend to be contentious unless its qualified as being a view from within a scientific working viewpoint that helps to keep things practical in the lab.

Its only a problem, as I see it, to speak of endless everythings if we harbor in any way, consciously or unconsciously, an ultimate thing that contains every everything, such as God or the universe.

In order to have order in our daily perception we need not just to distinguish things from each other, but also to acknowledge where language becomes cross threaded owing to a lack of good observation of origins of terms used within a context. For example; the term endless everythings is rather dumb and would be best reduced to endless things which, if care is not taken, could be referential to the endless amount of things within everything.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the dog chasing its tail!
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Bernard
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Bernard »

Cosmos was probably not the best example of a term that represents absolute everything, but it does associate better than universe does to a term that is a better example: existence, as in the whole of existence; so to bring it back to the question of contradiction, if the whole of existence is seen to be contained by the whole of the universe, and we see that no, the universe is observationally a physically thing and that where there is one of a thing there is bound to be more of like kind, then the designate the whole of existence is blown apart, and with that we can only then properly talk about a whole of existence, wholes of existence or a-holes of existence.
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

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Bernard wrote:Cosmos was probably not the best example of a term that represents absolute everything, but it does associate better than universe does to a term that is a better example: existence, as in the whole of existence; so to bring it back to the question of contradiction, if the whole of existence is seen to be contained by the whole of the universe, and we see that no, the universe is observationally a physically thing and that where there is one of a thing there is bound to be more of like kind, then the designate the whole of existence is blown apart, and with that we can only then properly talk about a whole of existence, wholes of existence or a-holes of existence.
I think the problem with Cosmos is that it implies order, when it is clear that the universe is anything but stable.
As we are bound to the infinitesimal (the life of humanity is nothing), we have to pretend a sort of uniformitarianism that we simply cannot support by evidence - we have to assume it.
The problems we have always had with competing cosmologies might be explained by the fact that nature is in a state of gradual flux, and whilst their appears to have been a single beginning, we can tell that 'normal laws' don't apply to it. ~Given that we know that laws change, we would as easily conclude that the Big Bang is a smoke screen for something far more complicated and enigmatic.
Chaos makes a good deal more sense given the evidence.

Theories about the Cosmos have always been about 'best fit' explanations, and not about what the universe really is whcih may well always remain obscure.

As for the Universe being "everything", that is merely a matter of definition. If we think there is more, then it is simply the fact that we can't see all the Universe. But the Universe is everything.
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by Ram »

Bernard wrote: Hope you enjoyed seeing the dog chasing its tail!
Sure did :)

If I understood, then:

1. You do not claim the existence of many Everythings ("cosmoses"), but the existence of many "universes".

2. A universe would be an observable whole; or maybe a physical whole; or maybe a space-time whole.

3. And you think argue our universe is just a very big physical thing. And that if there is one such thing, there are bound to be many such things (or just that there might be?).

This will indeed dissolve the contradiction that I talked about earlier. However, there is another problem with viewing the physical universe as a physical thing. The problem is with what constitutes a thing's identity.

A physical thing's identity is, in part, determined by its space-time location (relative to other physical things). Because there could be, in principle, two exactly similar things. Say, two exactly similar trees. They could be similar in any respect. Except, there is, in their relative space-time locations. So its relative space-time location is part of a physical thing's identity, a part of what constitutes its identity.

But the physical universe does not have a space-time location. It is not located, anywhere. So, unlike with physical things, its space-time location is not a part of the universe's identity. And this seems to constitute a strong reason for holding that the physical universe is not a physical thing. The universe seems to be of a different category. Not of the same category as of physical particulars, as of physical things.
chaz wyman
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Re: Richard Dawkins as 'Anti-Philosopher'

Post by chaz wyman »

Ram wrote:
Bernard wrote: Hope you enjoyed seeing the dog chasing its tail!
Sure did :)

If I understood, then:

1. You do not claim the existence of many Everythings ("cosmoses"), but the existence of many "universes".

The universe is, by definition, everything. The clue is in the word.


2. A universe would be an observable whole; or maybe a physical whole; or maybe a space-time whole.

3. And you think argue our universe is just a very big physical thing. And that if there is one such thing, there are bound to be many such things (or just that there might be?).

This will indeed dissolve the contradiction that I talked about earlier. However, there is another problem with viewing the physical universe as a physical thing. The problem is with what constitutes a thing's identity.

A physical thing's identity is, in part, determined by its space-time location (relative to other physical things). Because there could be, in principle, two exactly similar things. Say, two exactly similar trees. They could be similar in any respect. Except, there is, in their relative space-time locations. So its relative space-time location is part of a physical thing's identity, a part of what constitutes its identity.

But the physical universe does not have a space-time location. It is not located, anywhere.
It does not need a location to have an identity- where is 'politics'? ; where is "Englishness" - even things that have a strong physical component can identify things. But you are wrong everywhere is not nowhere and the universe is exactly what it is - everything.

So, unlike with physical things, its space-time location is not a part of the universe's identity. And this seems to constitute a strong reason for holding that the physical universe is not a physical thing. The universe seems to be of a different category. Not of the same category as of physical particulars, as of physical things.

Only your conception of the universe is non physical, but then so is the concept physical. So you are shooting yourself in the foot. The fact that we can identify the universe as physical is because that is what we MEAN by the concept of physical.
TO follow your reasoning to its conclusion - nothing is physical because physical is conceptual and so you cannot talk about physical even to say that the universe is not physical - your words are empty and meaningless.

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