Why We Believe In God(s), pg 76

Mar 21, 2016

“Several areas trigger our emotional responses. Harm and unfairness are the first; if we see violations in those domains, we respond. All people respond to certain cues automatically, though learned cultural differences determine the intensity and shadings of our responses.”

-J. Anderson Thomson, Why We Believe in God(s)


Discuss!

202 comments on “Why We Believe In God(s), pg 76

  • The last sentence makes no sense. Should “through” be “though”?

    If this is yet another typo, there are too many in these paragraphs of the week. Spelling checkers will not correct perfectly spelt mistakes.



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  • 2
    Cairsley says:

    “Several areas trigger our emotional responses. Harm and unfairness are the first; if we see violations in those domains, we respond. All people respond to certain cues automatically, though learned cultural differences determine the intensity and shadings of our responses.”

    That, I suspect, is the intended quotation. The final phrase beginning with ‘through’ is ungrammatical and makes no sense, whereas substituting ‘though’ gives us a grammatical clause that does make sense. I tried to find the passage in my copy of the book but could not in the time available. But, really, how long would it have taken the submitter of this quotation to edit it, before clicking on the post-button? Are these quotations just scraps carelessly tossed out to keep the children occupied for a while?

    My response to the quotation is that it is uncontroversial as it stands. In a particular context, however, it might be very controversial. For example, the research that Dr Thomson is here referring to indicates that basic moral responses are evolutionary adaptations that predate cultural phenomena like religious beliefs. So much for the necessity of religion for a sense of morality.



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  • The creation of God’s is just the collateral damage of our evolution. Every tribe on earth had gods, devils, spirits, djins, creation myths… on and on. There was natural selection pressure that favoured homo sapiens and our ancestors who could understand cause and effect. The piece of meat that fell in the fire was easier to eat than the raw meat. The homo sapiens that then deliberately put meat on the fire, had a sudden boost in available energy. They did better.

    Is that the wind rustling the grass or is it a leopard. Skinner’s pigeons. A homo sapiens that had a windfall, just after doing something, attributed the windfall to the cause, what ever it was doing at the time, so they did it again. As this evolutionary advantage became more finely honed, stone tools etc, it started to stray into the cause of the rainbow, or the earthquake, or why Ugg was taken by the sabre took tiger, and why all this stuff exists… and where did it come from.

    Homo Sapiens were the main cause of the effects they saw everyday around them, so the things they see in nature, must also have a cause, and since we cause most stuff, another thing, like us must cause this other stuff, only we can’t see them.

    God.

    We also learned that if we gave the strongest warrior or the tribal chief tributes, we did ok in the tribe. Let’s give god something, so he makes the trees bear fruit…

    Blah blah blah… Opps. We’ve now got a bible as a deadly consequence of a valuable evolutionary trait.

    Once you correct the Spoonerism in Genesis 26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:”

    The correct translation is:-

    And man said, Let us make God in our image, after our likeness:

    The rest is just religious genocide.



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  • 3

    If they could understand cause and effect, then why would they misattribute cause and effect? Understanding cause and effect, and having the same intellectual capacity as ourselves , they would be well aware that, say, the rain dance would not always result in rain yet they would still continue to happily perform a rain dance. Similarly a rain dance was usually not performed in the dry season but in the rainy system. The purpose of the rain dance was usually as a social ritual , it was not mistaken science.

    They fully understood cause and effect in nature, more so than the average person does now whose direct relationship to nature is mediated by technology, as their very survival was dependent upon it. It was their interpretation of cause and effect which differs from ours, not their understanding of it. That their symbolism was not our current scientific symbolism but a symbolism now alien to ourselves does not neccessarily mean that they did not understand cause and effect.

    For your narrative to be correct, that rituals and religion etc arose purely from scientific error, you are presuming that all times their thought was always intentional scientific but merely mistaken. You are mistakenly projecting your predominent mode of thought onto them and doing that can never understand them, for them their thought was not just an ” error”, it was their form of life.

    Of course there is truth in your narrative, but is far from being a full or satisfactory explanation of the complex mores of alien cultures. In fact, ironically, your narrative of religion and ritual merely being instances of unscientific thinking is itself a modern myth . The power of religion and ritual is largely independent of the efficaciousness of their actual practices and ceremonies.

    There was a tribe which use to weigh goods by just picking up a vaguely similar sized rock each time to act as the weight each time they did a weighing, which meant the weight but not the price varied each time. A missionary came along and said look here , here is a standardised weight, use this and you will always have the same weight and hence always pay the same price for the goods. The tribe looked at him in bewilderment and said, ” Don’t be stupid. Why on earth would anyone want to do that. What would be the point?”



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  • @stevet

    Of course there is truth in your narrative, but is far from being a full or satisfactory explanation of the complex mores of alien cultures.

    So sick of constantly dealing with stuff like this with other people, I dashed off a quick summary of the key points in my mind. A join the dots with stuff missing. I knew the fine detail could and would be questioned, but in summary, the key issue is this mode of thinking supplies understanding however misguided scientifically. That understanding assuaged fears. A short step to trying to influence the “Decision Maker”, = spirits = gods = shaman = religion.

    Have you every seen the Skinner’s Pigeons experiments. I think it is a good analogy for superstitious behaviour in humans. The pigeon wrong attributes a random activity to a reward. It then repeats that activity thinking this produces the reward. The video is just a short snippet, but its worth a look. Explains human superstition. The baseball player who always has a red handkerchief in his pocket, because he once hit a home run with this particular hanky. The rain dance in the rainy season works,,, quite often.

    One of Skinner’s experiments examined the formation of superstition in one of his favorite experimental animals, the pigeon. Skinner placed a series of hungry pigeons in a cage attached to an automatic mechanism that delivered food to the pigeon “at regular intervals with no reference whatsoever to the bird’s behavior”. He discovered that the pigeons associated the delivery of the food with whatever chance actions they had been performing as it was delivered, and that they subsequently continued to perform these same actions.[70]

    ***One bird was conditioned to turn counter-clockwise about the cage, making two or three turns between reinforcements. Another repeatedly thrust its head into one of the upper corners of the cage. A third developed a 'tossing' response, as if placing its head beneath an invisible bar and lifting it repeatedly. Two birds developed a pendulum motion of the head and body, in which the head was extended forward and swung from right to left with a sharp movement followed by a somewhat slower return.[71][72]***

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner



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  • Again you assume it is all down to ” errors” in thinking which itself presupposes that the ” normal” or ” correct” mode of human thinking is scientific, and leads to the consequent prescription that human life should consist of the exercise of our scientific rationality and that deviation from that norm is error,stupidity, superstition e.g in effect you dismiss the lives of billions of people both today and throughout history as just exercises in mistaken thinking. The actual evidence contradicts this view, and shows that people although not adhering to the norms of current scientific thinking led and still lead full, thoughtful, meaningful , sensible and good lives.

    The first explanation of the beginnings of religion was given in the 5th century BC by Prodicus…

    “The ancients regarded the sun and rhe moon, rivers and springs, and whatever else is helpful for life, as gods, because we are helped by them, just as the Egyptians worship the Nile”

    Which seems to me a far more cogent explanation than the explanation that it is down to the collective stupidity of the majority of humankind.



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  • Again you assume it is all down to ” errors” in thinking which itself presupposes that the ” normal” or ” correct” mode of human thinking is scientific, and leads to the consequent prescription that human life should consist of the exercise of our scientific rationality and that deviation from that norm is error,stupidity, superstition e.g in effect you dismiss the lives of billions of people both today and throughout history as just exercises in mistaken thinking.

    No actually. I don’t. You read, (aggressively) things into my mind that aren’t there. Somewhat miffed. It was a comment on the thinking of the time, which was “Normal” and “Correct” for that time, but as knowledge and evidence accumulate, from my position in 2016, I can say that thinking a rain dance will cause rain is an example of Skinner’s Pigeons thinking. Superstition. I then draw the link to religion via a few dots.

    And again.

    Which seems to me a far more cogent explanation than the explanation that it is down to the collective stupidity of the majority of humankind.

    I don’t know how you come to this conclusion. (Aggressively) Religion is not a “One Cause” phenomena. But it is common to every tribe that has every walked the earth. What’s the common link to all humans that have ever existed. I speculate that there is something in our evolutionary make up that tends to support the process that leads to the creation of Gods x 10th power. I then quickly dot pointed a few evolutionary traits that may cause the collateral damage of religion. No comment on the stupidity of our ancestors.

    Is the rustle in the grass the wind, or is it a leopard. The argument Michael Shermer, Skeptics Association used in the Intelligence Square Debate against some religious try hards to say that gods are created via evolution. If its good enough for Shermer, its good enough for me.



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  • I can imagine pigeon sects developing: the Rotators (with a deadly schism between the Clockwisers and the Anticlockwisers), and the Cornerians.

    Ask any member, why do you do it, expect an answer like: well, our Illustrious Founder (bless his tail feathers) once did this and was instantly blessed with Manna from Heaven. Less learned members might instead reply: because that’s what I was brought up to do. Or, where the sect has been taken over by bullies: because I’ll get pecked to death if I don’t.

    Makes perfect sense. In its way. Oh, alright, Dr Dawkins, it’s a pattern-recognition circuit showing a false-positive. Brains aren’t perfect, they’re just about good enough for now (with some better than others), and those prone to false-positives have survived where those prone to false-negatives have not. They didn’t notice the tiger.

    But it’s the same Perfect Sense as each and every religion, isn’t it? So, every brain with the complexity of a pigeon’s (or greater) is susceptible to superstition and religion.

    Jokes abound: it’s bad luck to be superstitious. And, for the record, I’m a Gemini. Geminis don’t believe in Astrology.



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  • 6

    Just realised that my key quote is in Red?? and disappears somewhere into the Eastern Bloc… Must have imbedded invisible code…. Shee’sh. And, I not the 10 Minute edit function has gone, which means you make mistakes like this??

    Steve. Maybe my thinking will make more sense when I point to exactly the quote I was referencing via a URL link.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner#Superstition_in_the_pigeon

    This is the Light Bulb moment where Skinner realised that we erroneously link “Cause” to “Action” and thus explains superstition. And what is god but just another superstition.



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  • I am sorry if you feel that I comes across as “aggressive” that it is not my intention, as far as I am concerned I am simply strongly expressing my views, nevertheless I apologise .

    I was born an atheist, raised an atheist and remain an atheist so I am not an apologist for religion. Although I still strongly feel that the general consensus in this forum, which is not surprising as it is Richard Dawkins website, which can be ( roughly and maybe distortedly but not aggressively) caricatured as the view that religion and ritual are primarily, but not only, the result of logical errors in thinking possibly due to evolutionary traits completely misunderstands the nature and power of religion.

    And phrases ,( which are redolent of this site and not only used by you so I am not being aggressive towards yourself personally but am just using the phrase you just used as one example), such as the ” collective damage of religion” do seem to me greatly demeaning towards the vast majority of humankind .

    The commonly used evolutionary traits argument to ” explain” religion also appears to me to be flawed and incoherent, (and again my point is not specifically against specific arguments you might have or have not raised but is a general one) Firstly the adjective ” evolution” is redundent as everything about us has evolved , our traits are just our traits, we have no traits or capacities that have not evolved, so I am not sure how any appeal to a ” evolutionary past” or being advantageous in the evolutionary past has any relevance. The notion that some of our traits or aptitudes or brain processes serve or once serve an “evolutionary purpose” or a ” evolutionary use”, with or without the corollary that these uses or purposes are now somehow outdated or counterproductive, seems particularly incoherent. “Evolution” is just a designation for the myriad historic individual and specific variations and selective events which have occurred. It is not an agent or a process so to assign intentional language such as ” evolutionary use” or ” evolutionary purpose” or even ” evolutionary explanation “etc is to me highly dubious and confusing and of course easily leads to ” just so” narratives. Evolutionary theory is just an generalised description of historic events, not a justification or ” purposeful explanation” of how things are.

    Thats me done.

    Unagressively (I hope) yours



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  • Thank you Steve. I understand your position now. I’m not swayed by your argument.

    I hold a view that the evolution that is present in every cell, every chemical reaction and every organ and trait in our bodies, built up over 3 billion years, has expression in our day to day life. Our kidneys filter a kilo and a half of salt from our blood every day, and put most of it back. Why. Salt water. Some of these traits were brilliant evolutionary strategies, such that those individuals that had that trait more strongly expressed, did better than an individual that didn’t.

    For example, our ancestral homo sapiens that worked collectively as a tribe did better than solo actors. This evolutionary trait of loyalty to a tribe, and a need to belong to a group was very successful. There was positive evolutionary selection pressure favouring this trait. It was passed on in our genes. (Selfish Gene) It is still present today. Now it is called nationalism. Patriotism. Flag on the wall. Fear of those “Others” Stand shoulder to shoulder.

    30,000 years ago tribalism was valuable, admirable and a highly respected traits. Warriors. Chiefs. But today, that evolutionary tribalism (nationalism) expresses in a bad way to the great detriment of homo sapiens and the planet. Brussels. Wars ad infinitum. But we find it extremely difficult to override this trait. It requires a disciplined act of intellectual will to override nationalism. Where’s Stardusty when I need an example. We act as isolated countries based on history and ethnic origin. Our TRIBE. And today, we do stupid things, as a result of that residual evolutionary need to belong to a tribe.

    I can see no reason why the myriad other prehistoric evolutionary traits should not also express themselves in our psyche today. Did you look at Skinner’s work. You see this superstitious behaviour in homo sapiens every day. Walk under a ladder. Touch wood. Deaths run in threes. Tarot Card readings. I am quite relaxed with the position that our evolutionary minds invented explanations for all they saw around. Cause and effect. Obviously. The Australian Aboriginal Dream Time legends abound with this practice. At the link. Wonderful religious creation stories.

    While not the sole explanations for why we invented gods, it is certainly a contributing factor.

    Enough said. Enjoyed the exchange.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamtime



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  • I get a guilty pleasure when engaging with an (Un) Intelligent Design advocate / fundamentalist happy clapper an explain to them that they would have a god to worship of evolution wasn’t true.



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  • Already knew, comprehended and fully accept the “Pigeon misattributing cause and effect” tendency in humans. My point is that it neither an adequate or sufficient argument to ” explain” religion for the reasons already given .

    Plus it is also a non- falsifiable argument. Your argument also applies to your own arguments , and that you are yourselves misattributing a false cause to religion due to an ” evolutionary trait” . From your own logic you can refute this accusation as , if it were the case, your whole reasoning would be based on a false premise which you cannot be aware of.

    There is also of course no historic evidence base for the argument. It is based purely on a perceived similarity between some religious beliefs and the ” pigeon effect”. Similarity or correlation does not prove common causality. Any narrative or example you may give to support your argument can only be a ” just so” story already predicated on the validity of your argument, circular reasoning.

    Your new examples do not address my points, nor do they further your case as they are predicated on the same logical errors. Re kidney example, there is no such thing as a ” evolutionary strategy “, the whole idea of evolutionary strategies is incoherent and indeed ironically logically equivalent to some ID arguments i.e to have a strategy one must have a idea of future alternatives which implies that evolution is teleological or has different possible goals.

    As indeed is the whole incoherent notion of ” outdated evolutionary traits” .i.e the adjective ” evolutionary” is not needed, we have no traits that have not evolved, so to add the adjective ” evolutionary” adds nothing and is meaningless in this context, we just have traits..The idea that our traits can become “outdated ” is also based on a ID like teleological premise , or less controversial it is a variant of historicism, in this instance illogically privileging the Present e.g the idea , rooted in the mistaken idea that evolution is an agent or a actual process, that the Present, as exemplified in your post by our current mode of thinking and current social structures, is the “culmination ” of some purposeful process called evolution, and that the Present is the standard by which everything should be judged One could just as easily reverse your logic and say, just as erroneously, “evolutionary traits are not outdated , it is the Present which is an anomaly”.

    @OHooligan

    Read my words . As an atheistI have said absolutely nothing in praise of religion. Pointing out perceived faults in arguments purporting to explain religion is not polishing religion. Your knee jerk reaction is a perfect example of the now (in)famous ” pigeon thinking” , thank you for being so kind in providing it for us.

    This, I was told, is a website devoted to rational thinking. If that is the case we should careful examine our own arguments against religion, and it behoves us to carefully and logically examine our own arguments to see if they contain logical incoherencies or non- verifiable assertions.

    If on the other hand you feel we are just here to sloganise against religion may I request that you make your sloganising as witty and original as possible. E.g Religion is the Donald Trump of rationality.



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  • @stevet #15

    Hi, Steve,

    I have greatly enjoyed reading your comments again, on this page and the other one, although it’s a bit humbling. I too have, over the past year or so, expressed a similar concern from time to time; I feel that there is a tendency here to revel in taking jabs, cheap shots even, at religion. There was a thread on Africa, for example, and the comments there were so devoid of nuance and an appreciation of context and the complex social dynamics (if that is the right phrase) associated with that culture; they suggested to me a real lack of understanding of the varieties of purposes, and the cultural and psychological functions and needs associated with religion in that context, as well as in a general sense. (And I too am an atheist! – most of the time.) So I felt compelled to send my friend who is a professor of History (and a late-Wittgensteinian!) the original article, which everyone was almost making fun of, and get a nice quote from him. He gave me one.

    By the way, do bear in mind that it is probably the case that many of the people who have been drawn to this site / foundation have horrific stories to tell, were brought up religious, had it forced down their throats or worse, were really oppressed by their families, their schools, etc. They are letting off steam and enjoying the camaraderie. That is salutary, has its place.

    Here’s the quote:

    “Why would this religious movement so clearly modeled on Jesus and the tradition of prophets who die etc & talk to God, be insane? Are all religious movements everywhere outbursts of insanity? What kind of explanation is that? How does it help public policy, personal relationships, is it substantiated by lived experience? All of these questions, I would say no. Context is everything. The people of this church have found a way to make what is going on around him makes sense with them and their aspirations. That involves a test of faith as to this new ‘savior.’

    “Try growing up in dire poverty in Nairobi in a Church- and mosque- going society, then imagine that there are churches were even poor people can directly experience ‘revelation’: imagine that as a vehicle for the suffering, to band together as second-to-none in God’s eyes, and feel exalted. And assist one another. And perhaps to contest powers around them and make more of a space for their own autonomy.”



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  • 17
    Pinball1970 says:

    The ability to manipulate people obviously has an evolutionary advantage.

    A feeling of belonging, tribal brotherhood confers advantage and the converse is also true, outsiders, loners are unlikely to have the same opportunities for territory mates and food.

    Combine that with ignorance of how the universe, fear of death and a few superstitions, pigeon style and it is easy to see how primitive tribes embraced the idea of gods.

    Part of the brain is supposed to have an effect too, RD wore some apparatus on his head in dark room to stimulate feelings of spirituality in an experiment, I cant remember the detials

    It didn’t work of course, I think he just fell asleep!

    Paul Dirac summed up it quite nicely at one of the Solvay conferences .

    “It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions.”



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  • “Several areas trigger our emotional responses” ? Poor choice of words and sadly obvious. In truth everything we perceive evokes emotional responses, not just some. “Harm and unfairness” Really, can you be anymore vague? Does harm mean physical injury? Again, obvious to the tenth degree! Surely this is just a boring setup for an epiphany. No, just more of the same. I am sorry but what does, “we all automatically respond” mean? Take action, feel bad, take matters into our own hands?? In reality not everyone “responds” automatically. History is replete with regrets of actions not taken. Culture creates nuances in our responses. OK, something I can agree with without critique. I guess you had to be there.



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  • Try growing up in dire poverty in Nairobi

    Religion is certainly a correlate with nations in dire poverty or with dire inequality. The reverse is also true.

    Religion’s virtues mostly petered out by about 600BCE, when its organising dogma was transferred to other institutions of political power and justice etc. and became more tractable, evolving in the favour of the growing franchise of free men and women.

    Religions like that of the UK Quakers grew up through the Enlightenment, and empowered individuals with moral authorship and moral responsibility, recognising that a moral dirigisme from dogma is incoherent. Primitive narratives, however well intentioned cannot be extrapolated into a reliable and comprehensive set of moral instructions.

    99% of religions, though, retain their dogmatic dirigiste poison for their own purposes. The CofE cannot act morally in favour of LGBT rights for fear of “breaking the Communion”. Self serving, self important meddlers in others lives draw nourishment from the troubled, selling hope against hope and a never tested life insurance policy.

    The problem is also geographical. Belief can be coloured in in solid blocks on the map. That children can be indoctrinated so effectively (so subtly!) is the mechanism above all others here. There is often little real choice here.

    What angers me most is that the shaman parasites actively degrade our moral life.

    Suggesting that religion is a benign thing picked up by a curious, poor passerby in need of solace is to miss the spectacular marketing claims, and to miss the better options that get drowned out by them.



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  • @pinball1970

    We on this site may have, per Dirac, no need for such solutions but evidence shows, merely by the existence today of millions of believers, that the majority of people do have need of such solutions, and it is not merely a matter of scientific education as they have all been roughly ( yes I know there is some correlation between levels of education and religious belief) educated to the same level as atheists.

    As per my other posts this need cannot be simply attributed to the firing of anachronistic ” evolutionary” traits within the brain which allegedly cause us to randomly and occasionally misattribute cause and effect, or explained by the continual Orwellian chantof religion bad, atheism good.



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  • Steve #20

    but evidence shows, merely by the existence today of millions of believers, , that the majority of people do have need of such solutions

    Where is the logic in “majority”?

    Most Americans equate being religious with being good. Their religion is their Badge of Goodness and anyway, heaven is kinder to children when granny dies, sorry, passes.



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  • 19

    The CofE cannot act morally in favour of LGBT rights

    Should read something like

    The CofE cannot act morally in favour of LGBT acceptance within the body of its own organisation…

    Hang on. It is actually getting better I’m just reading… Hurrah.

    So 96% maybe….



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  • Hi Dan,

    What I do find ironic is that many of the users on ” rational” forums exactly mimic the users on ” evangelical” websites in that they refuse to directly respond to, or to directly engage, in any debate or specific arguments raising concerns about the logical coherency of some of their arguments, but instead respond by ignoring the points raised and reply with mere assertion and ad hoc abuse, both personal or directed at atheists/ theists

    Guess those pesky pigeons have tribal and territorial evolutionary brain traits as well as causal misattribution brain traits. I appear to have an anachronistic evolutionary brain trait for supporting Arsenal football club.



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  • The will to survive is so strong in humans, they invented religion to give them everlasting life. This universe has been mapped for 200 light years in every direction, by NASA. So far, no pearly gate was found.



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  • Ted #24 Mar 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm
    The will to survive is so strong in humans, they invented religion to give them everlasting life. This universe has been mapped for 200 light years in every direction, by NASA. So far, no pearly gate was found.

    Eh? 200 light years is just our very close neighbourhood. Mapping of the universe (and not just by NASA) has so far extended to billions of light years. You never know – the pearly gates may be 10,000 million light years from here. That must be why “Christian” countries are investing in such large telescopes at the moment. That, and current ideas about the size of the pearly gates..



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  • It appears that ALL religions began with a SCAM artist, a charismatic older male with the desire to control other people. He relied in peoples fear of death and the “hereafter.” Humans have the ability to imagine the future and therefore have the ability to plan for the future and base that plan on past experiences. That is called purposeful behavior. Imagine what primitive people wondered when thinking of death and what could possibly happen to all that planning after one dies!! That unknown brings about fear of death, that all animals avoid anyway.

    So, some charismatic old men prey upon that fear to gain control of the behavior of other people by passing around fantastic tales of gods and demons. Once he has convinced a few people that he is absolutely right about HIS god, then others fall into line. He can then build a fantastic superstructure of tales (miracles) that others will accept as absolutely correct as based on FAITH. Then on it goes, on and on into elaborate ceremonies and rituals of the most ridiculous sort. Tales of SATAN, archangels, heaven, and hell are accepted without question. There it goes….RELIGION.



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  • @sean_w

    Need in a utilitarian or pragmatic sense , in that they are content with these solutions so their ” need”, which can be varied and complex and not just a simple biological ” need” , is satisfied by these
    solutions.

    Not sure where the value laden ” indoctrination” comes into it as everyone can only think within the symbolic systems they are born and live within, or are newly taught. To consider that ” indoctrination” is already an external political judgement, you have already predetermined the issue



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  • Phil #21

    There is no logic at all , it is Evidence. The need is not proved by the “logic “of there being a majority but by the evidence of the majority exhibiting that need



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  • Macropus #25
    Mar 23, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Eh? 200 light years is just our very close neighbourhood. Mapping of the universe (and not just by NASA) has so far extended to billions of light years.

    http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/features/cosmic/farthest_info.html

    What is the Farthest Known Object From Earth?

    Update 02/03/16: Here are the newest candidates (as of September and May 2015 respectively) for farthest galaxy yet detected. EGS8p7 at more than 13.2 billion light years away, and EGS-zs8-1 at 13.1 billion light years away.

    This pushing the limits, but it is simply showing potential.
    It does not imply that everything within this range has been mapped!

    Of course looking out here is merely a gapologist distraction, as far as finding those god-delusions, which are really hiding in theist brains go!
    They are hoping the neuroscientists are not going to find them if they can persuade them look into telescopes instead of microscopes!



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  • phil #21

    Where is the logic in “majority”?

    One evolutionary advance in Homo sapiens as well as in many other species is CONFORMITY. When the majority believes in an absurdity then that absurdity must be absolutely correct, never mind the evidence to the contrary.



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  • Steve #28

    You miss my point. People need and use religion for a variety of purposes. For some it may be a conduit for transcendent feelings, the pursuit of the numinous. For others it may be a social habit. I proposed that for many Americans it is a badge of their shared goodness, a quick proof of their good intentions. It may simply be the idea this is what good parents do, or to reassure the young and the old. Belief in belief is wildly common amongst the mild-tempered majority in my experience.

    None of this has to do with Dirac’s point about “primitive solutions”. The majority I suspect do not indeed need such solutions. The needs have diffused into many different things. Perhaps that primary core for religion as a just so story has gone?



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  • 28

    People need and use religion for a variety of purposes.

    I disagree. People do not “NEED” religion. That have been persuaded that they “need” such absurdity by SCAM artists.



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  • cbrown #33

    I was merely using Steve’s phrase back at him to reduce further confusion. People use religion. Whether people feel they need it is up to them. Addicts need a fix. I need a coffee. Its what we say. I am not going to argue too many points at once…(My therapist here says I need to use these more often… 🙂 )



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  • Need in a utilitarian or pragmatic sense , in that they are content with these solutions so their ” need”, which can be varied and complex and not just a simple biological ” need” , is satisfied by these
    solutions.

    Okay. I just thought I caught a glimpse of the belief that we’re wired to seek god.



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  • Its been a year since I last posted this theory.

    I’m going to presume that someone has already explained the evolutionary basis for false positive agency detection, to whit the reproducer who mistakes a stick for a snake gets to reproduce another day whilst her laid back rival who mistakes snakes for sticks, rivals and reproduces no more.

    We have been primed for mistaken hidden agency probably since the Cambrian.

    That is not my theory.

    This is my theory…

    Something quite remarkable appears to have happened with grandparents about 35 to 40 thousand years ago. They started surviving. Indeed, in the Aurignacian, old folk, suddenly blossomed in number…a 400% increase (Caspari and Lee erm 2005??). It seems they were becoming useful and rather than be allowed to die because they could no longer forage, they were fed.

    So, my theory is that this is entirely consistent with the probable advent of sophisticated language, perhaps with tenses and abstract ideas… Old folk became sources of wisdom, could remember good solutions from the past, when the last drought hit or the deer migrated by another route. They sang for their supper for the first time…an easy number given their arthritic joints. The problem is providing answers is something that is going to dry up and worse still run you into competition. You’ll soon run out of material. Having answers to questions always gets you the meal. The quality of those answers is not anywhere near so much the issue. Inventing answers is the meal ticket. I propose that just-so stories became very fruitful and that they went from strength to strength, co-opting peoples fears and desires (a snake free land of milk and honey) and turned seemlessly into tithes.

    10,000 BCE to 600BCE I contend, became the glory days of religion facilitating larger and larger tribes with more and more remote borders and safer interiors also creating divisions of labour suitable for agriculture to thrive. Tribal chiefs with such ambition co-opted the authority of the Shamans and their invisible friends, in a cross legitimising deal that allowed the tribal chief to bind conquered groups into his own, under this invisible authority. Come the axial age philosophers, the virtues of collective and systematised living could start to be extracted from the many thousands of years of confabulation, now fine tuned to the manipulable weaknesses in human cognitions, like false positive agency detection.

    Of course art and science had the same roots, but those are other stories with fascinatingly different memetic survival strategies, Chris.



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  • Phil 31

    Yes, that desire for religious “just so “stories might have dissipated with acceptance of the ” this is how it is” stories of science , of course many religious people now see no conflict between the two.

    But then again my point was that the religious “just so ” was not necessarily a primary cause etc of religion so, alas, our argument progresses little.



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  • The same person could on the same day both mistake a stick for a snake and a snake for a stick. To me both mistaking a snake for a stick and a stick for a snake are both examples of what you call false positive agency detection, and which I would call a mistaken assumption based on our pre- existing expectations etc of that particular environment, or simply a mistaken perception without any great further implication or consequence.

    It is undoubtedly true that we have a prediliction for agency detection, but whether it is wired or learnt or both, tells us little other than that we have developed incoherent theories leading to our creation of pseudo- problems like nature versus nuture.

    And to be somewhat facetious, but you know me well enough by now to realise I am compelled to ask, Where within your just so development history of just so stories does you just so story sit?



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  • Steve #43
    Mar 23, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    The same person could on the same day both mistake a stick for a snake and a snake for a stick. To me both mistaking a snake for a stick and a stick for a snake are both examples of what you call false positive agency detection, and which I would call a mistaken assumption based on our pre- existing expectations etc of that particular environment, or simply a mistaken perception without any great further implication or consequence.

    That is where you miss the point of weighting the real risks against false positives!

    Mistaking a stick for a snake may lead to an inconsequential slight waste of time being over cautious.

    Mistaking a venomous snake for a stick, and failing to take avoiding action, could well be severely disabling or fatal.

    In evolutionary terms, a person or other animal, would have to waste an enormous amount of time avoiding sticks, before that accumulated into the same level of detrimental effects as dose of snake venom!



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  • And to be somewhat facetious, but you know me well enough by now to realise I am compelled to ask, Where within your just so development history of just so stories does you just so story sit?

    I used it as the basis of a short story about an old, lonely man in a care home who tricks an academic into repeatedly visiting him whilst he slowly expounds his ideas. The only antendee at his funeral, the academic roars at the trick he at last notices, then thinks, but wait….it works.

    The jest has already been put to good use.

    It is an hypothesis about a real curiosity, the invention of grandparents.



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  • @stevet

    We’ve all had a go. Why do you think we believe in gods.

    You will have to keep it simple for me. I can’t follow when Dan and Phil go toe to toe. Not much good at the A1 philosophical level. Can you keep your treatise more to the tradesmen level of philosophy.



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  • David,

    There is no one or easy or ” correct” answer, complex phenomena have multiple and complex and even contradictory context dependent causes.

    To temporary revert to A1 Wittgensteinian thinking , one could say that the very thinking which causes us to ask the question, ” why do people believe in God” and think there is an ” answer” to this “question ” and then want to accept one answer as being correct, is logically equivalent or the same thinking which leads us to believe in God. So as you have just asked the question you already know the answer!

    The “power ” of religion is independent of the existence or non-existence of God. So in that sense you can sensibly say that religion is a social construct and the believe in God is a psychological construct within that social construct

    The most obvious way to find the answer would be just ask believers , “why do you believe in God?” The answer most religious people would give would be simply ” because I believe”. If pressed further some might give a variety of “answers” or “reasons” or ” justifications” such as “Never thought about it much, just do” or “God spoke to me” or ” Nothing makes sense or has value if God didn’t exist” and so on and so forth until you have finished asking the billions of believers and have billions of “answers”. After you have done all that please come back and tell me The answer.

    As a belief is just a attitude of mind you could also say that an attitude needs no reason or justifcation as an belief or attitude is just an exercise of our free will.

    And so on and so forth until you find an answer you find satisfactory, or give up expecting AN answer.

    (You know that personally for the reasons in the posts above I find most of the ” evolutionary cognitive agency detection mistake in the brain does it etc” answers incoherent, tautological and unsatisfactory so I have not mentioned them.)

    And of course you can Insert any other answers you think reasonable here………

    As to the origins of religion, which is a different question, I find that the first answer even given by Prodicus in #7 above psychologically satisfying. How it developed from that into organised religion etc is of course another wasp’s nest of conflicting explanations and battles of will between those owning the different explanations….



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  • 44

    Alan4 disussion

    For false positive agency detection to be ” evolutionary” then it would have to be genetically determined. What evidence is for there for this and what genes are responsible?



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  • “why do you believe in God?”

    The one thing the all have in common……” I was brought up that way”..
    No need to ask billions of people. Superstition making them hold on.



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  • Olgun,

    You are just asserting your belief that people do not have minds of their own, that they cannot think for themselves, that they are just sheep. I do not share your very low opinion of humankind.

    And to put it down to superstition does not resolve the puzzle, it just semantically adjusts the goal posts to why do they believe in superstition



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  • @phil-rimmer

    Thanks Phil for the reminder of the Grandfather Tale. I found it excellent reading first time around, and this time it’s just as good.

    Steve, the entire edifice of world religions can be adequately explained by
    – pattern recognition false positives (I think we’ve settled that they’re better for survival than false negatives, so we’re bound to have them)
    – grandfathers needing a meal ticket, giving rise to the invention of Fantastic Fiction (passed as truth) aka the Scam Artist (grandfathers did exist, and did indeed need a meal ticket).
    – the powerful in any society seeing the utility of harnessing religion for their own ends, as a means of retaining control (they still do, read the news)

    Recognising this seems to me to be something of a breakthrough. Otherwise all we have is this dissembling waffle:

    There is no one or easy or ” correct” answer, complex phenomena have multiple and complex and even contradictory context dependent causes.

    I think you’re trying to say something along the lines of “but, surely, there MUST be more to it than that”, which is a form of the Argument from Incredulity.

    I don’t think there MUST. There might be. But there’s no clear evidence that there MUST be.



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  • If anyone is interested here is a paper discussing aspects of this.

    https://www.academia.edu/1469885/The_Role_of_Agency_Detection_in_the_Invention_of_Supernatural_Beings_An_Abductive_Approach

    @ Steve #7

    I think the cultural evolution of non-neural “agents” would be long and interesting. Infering an intentional stance where there is rationally none and based purely upon a wish that there were because of a desire that they be biddable, seems to be missing some important psychology. Simply wishing the sun biddable needs more account surely?

    @ Steve #48

    The need to demonstrate the actual genes is a bit of a spurious high hurdle. Fortunately Darwin achieved sufficient confidence to publish before gene sequencing became available.



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  • @ Steve #50

    people do not have minds of their own

    Children?

    they are just sheep

    They are misinformed, hooked on religion. Inside every religion are superstitions that existed before the religions themselves. The strangest one was my mum telling me that cutting your nails at night would bring bad luck the next day.



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  • If only they could take out the part below.

    Collective Worship takes place daily, we have whole School and Class
    Collective Worship, a weekly Celebration Assembly and a Church Service
    on Thursdays



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  • I introduced a forth position about a year ago which I labelled NO POSITION. Where the first three positions are believer, non believer and agnostic. I have subsequently learned that the position already exists in the US and they call themselves the NONEs. Cool, lets go for it.

    In the UK less than one in 60 goes to church. We put Church of England on our census forms simply because that is what it said on our birth certificate. Most of us only see the inside of a church for a batch, match or dispatch. I was pleased when a Russian told me on a YouTube comment that it is exactly the same in Russia. They only go for funerals.

    The bottom line is that we should bat for the NONEs.



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  • I see the need to counter the (possibly straw-man) argument that says: “Religion because people stupid”.

    Religion requires a differential between people, smart ones do do the scamming, and less smart ones to fall for the scam.

    “The ancients regarded the sun and rhe moon, rivers and springs, and whatever else is helpful for life, as gods, because we are helped by them, just as the Egyptians worship the Nile”

    Yep, that rings true. Now, enter the scam artist who exploits this perfectly natural awe and respect for the world around us, and turns it into a profitable business (for himself, and to a lesser extent for his supporters).



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  • The need to demonstrate the actual genes is a bit of a spurious high
    hurdle

    Isn’t it found in the eye, the ear, the brain etc….a combination that made it possible and one that got better and better?



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  • @ohooligan

    Now, enter the scam artist who exploits this perfectly natural awe

    I would suggest that if tribes were all made up of 100-% leaders, it would be like a US presidential election 24/7 within the entire tribe, which would be a negative evolutionary selection pressure. A tribe that had around 10% potential leaders, and the rest sheeple, would be an ideal mix for the success of the tribe, pass on some genes, and would fit your god model of a few leaders and mostly followers.

    Just another possible, I repeat possible evolutionary traits that may lend some explanation as to what we see around us, not just religion but in every day life. To most people, the success of their football team, who sins on X Factor and whether you’ve got a bigger SUV than your neighbour is far more important than rational evidence based thinking about the big picture.

    Bertrand Russell summed it up.

    “Most people would rather die than think. And most people do.”



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  • @phil-rimmer, Steve, Olgun, David et al

    I am not an evolutionary biologist, so it would be unreasonable of me to suggest that the examination of certain aspects of our evolutionary-biological history vis-à-vis the origin of religions, cannot produce some useful results; but I suspect (intuitively) that the most interesting and most useful answers will come from that ancient and outdated, superseded mode of inquiry, to wit: the psychoanalytic mode of inquiry.

    I am also not a neuroscientist, and it would also be unreasonable of me to suggest that neuroscience has nothing to contribute to the problem of religion (Christianity, in particular) – and it is a problem.

    But the best answers must come from psychoanalytic investigation (a legitimate branch of science), assuming that the psychoanalytic mode of research (along with its father) is not finally cast into a pit of disrepute, and lost forever.

    From The Future of an Illusion (Freud):

    “We must ask where the inner force of those doctrines lies and to what it is that they owe their efficacy, independent, as it is of recognition by reason.

    “I think we have prepared the way sufficiently for an answer to both these questions. It will be found if we turn our attention to the psychical origin of religious ideas. These, which are given out as teachings, are not precipitates of experiences or end-results of thinking: they are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. The secret of their strength lies in the strength of these wishes. As we already know, the terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection—for protection through love—which was provided by the father; and the recognition that this helplessness lasts throughout life made it necessary to cling to the existence of a father, but this time a more powerful one. Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fears of the dangers of life; the establishment of a moral world-order ensures the fulfillment of the demands of justice, which have so often remained unfulfilled in human civilization; and the prolongation of earthly existence in a future life provides the local and temporal framework in which the wish-fulfillments shall take place. Answers to the riddles that tempt the curiosity of man, such as how the universe began or what the relation is between body and mind, are developed in conformity with the underlying assumptions of this system. It is an enormous relief to the individual psyche if the conflicts of its childhood arising from the father-complex—conflicts which it has never wholly overcome—are removed from it and brought to a solution which is universally accepted.”



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  • 60
    Pinball1970 says:

    @Stevet “I have an evolutionary trait for supporting Arsenal”
    That is a good analogy Steve
    You do you support Arsenal? Because they are best club? Because you like the kit?
    You admit they are crap but at least you are not a Spurs fan yes?
    Your dad a huge Arsenal supporter had trials for Watford and Fulham so pushed when you were a kid.
    Your mum does not like football but her dad went to all the Arsenal home matches and the Wembly final in the 1970-71 season double year so it’s in the family so to speak.
    Your brother still plays for the local pub team and one of your nephews shows promise.
    The reality for you is the game just bores you now, the players are just kids with more money than brains.
    The game is corrupt right up to international level the FA FIFA none of them can be trusted
    Season tickets are over £1000 for the cheapest and are the most expensive in the premiere, home and away kits every season cost a few hundred quid.
    Clearly someone is doing well out of it.
    Despite all that you know that when your kid is born they will be an Arsenal fan, what else could they be?
    Now my granddad went to the 1948 Man U FA cup final and my uncle played for Manchester boys in the 50s with Duncan Edwards….



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  • 51 Ohooligan

    I can fully recognise and except that your 3 answers can adequately be used as an explanation, although not as a breakthrough as they all have been raised and accepted many times previously. I do not dispute the truth or veracity of your explanations. However I can also recognise other explanations are also adequate. That just these three explanations satisfy you is a true statement about your belief that these are ” complete” explanations, which as a statement of your belief is not disputable. However the fact that you , more or less, believe they are full and adequate explanations does not MAKE them full and adequate explanations, to think so is itself an example of magical or religious thinking

    “”I think you’re trying to say something along the lines of “but, surely, there MUST be more to it than that”, which is a form of the Argument from Incredulity.””

    A thousand times no, if anything I am trying to say the exact OPPOSITE of that, there is less to it..

    We might indeed, as I say, be able to come up with many more adequate explanations but this ” more to it” refers only to the multiplicity of explanations not the phenomena itself being explained , which is a Fact with has no “more or less to it” but simply is, with nothing ” hidden” behind it.

    To end with more dissembling waffle, we might be able to come up with criteria for deciding if any specific argument is valid or not, but for this type of generalised complex type of inquiry we cannot come up with criteria for deciding if the explanations we have given are ” complete” i.e although we can come up with specific explanations we cannot come up with “The answer” .

    What we are all doing here is not answering a question but conducting an inquiry or investigation.( and as I said before any of us who ” need” to find The Answer or ” believe” they have found The Answer just have to examine the nature of that need or belief to understand a couple of aspects of why people believe in God.)

    Phil #52

    Yes, we can give more account of ” wishing the sun biddable” but the wish is still there and can stand on its own as a wish.

    Darwin would have used genetics if they were available, and his theory has now been scientifically proved by genetics. Science advances and the bar is not being set high, the bar is scientific and demands evidence of genetic determination before something can be considered ” evolutionary”, until then it is yet another ” evolutionary” just so story.



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  • @ pinball1970

    Alas I did not mean it as an analogy in support of the idea of a evolutionary trait for belief in God ( which if I understand you correctly is what you think) but as an ironic nonsense to illustrate the incoherence of the idea.

    Of course if I am misintepreting your interpretation and am not understanding you correctly that is due to my evolutionary misinterpretation trait.



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  • Is not the believe that ” scam artists” are behind religion an example of the same agency fallacy that leads to the believe that God dun everything?

    ( and I invoke ” agent fallacy” not as a “evolutionary” trait but merely as a way of thinking)



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  • Is not the believe that ” scam artists” are behind religion an example
    of the same agency fallacy that leads to the believe that God dun
    everything?

    If, once detected, you do not investigate for yourself (do not have the right traits) you then rely on the person who raised the alarm in the first place. His mistake makes the whole group vulnerable.

    When Lions attack, herds usually take flight and a stampede occurs. African buffalo, sometime in their evolution, turned and presented their own threat to the lions as a group. It must have taken some time to work out how the lion would respond and grow that confidence in the group for it to act together. We can see how scam artists helped perpetuate the idea (through their own ignorance (belief) or by scamming) because we went and investigated for ourselves.



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  • @olgun

    “Evolution” is just a designation for all the myriad historic and unique and specific real acts or facts of genetic variation, reproductive success and genetic inheritance that have led to the World being as it is.

    “Evolution theory” is a generalised description of all these unique historic events into generalised categories of variation, selection and continued inheritance ( there is of course lots more to both evolution and evolutionary theory but this is just a paragraph!)

    For something , a “trait” is the example in this thread, to be accounted for as ” evolutionary”, and in the definite pile, it must simply be shown scientifically to be genetically determined.

    Unless the trait has been shown to be genetically determined the idea that it is ” evolutionary” is either a unverified hypothesis or else, as many things put forward as evolutionary are so “abstract” that it is impossible to devise a scientific method or criteria to decide if in fact they are genetically determined, they are merely (im)plausable just so stories.

    There is a general tendancy to think that by adding the adjective ” evolutionary” to a proposition that this makes it somehow more true , this is an example of magical thinking.

    As everything has evolved , there is not anything which has not evolved, then the addition of the term evolutionary is redundent and meaningless unless, as above, it can be scientifically shown to be genetically determined. ( and adding the redundent adjective ” evolutionary” to a element in statement does not neccessarily make the rest of the statement untrue either)



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  • Steve #66
    Mar 24, 2016 at 8:35 am

    For something , a “trait” is the example in this thread, to be accounted for as ” evolutionary”, and in the definite pile, it must simply be shown scientifically to be genetically determined.

    I think your notions of “genetically determined” are too focused on the individual and too inflexible. A lot of genetic traits are enabling flexibility, rather than fixed instincts and involve the gene-pools of populations.

    Unless the trait has been shown to be genetically determined the idea that it is ” evolutionary” is either a unverified hypothesis or else, as many things put forward as evolutionary are so “abstract” that it is impossible to devise a scientific method or criteria to decide if in fact they are genetically determined, they are merely (im)plausable just so stories.

    This is simply not so ! Many habits can be observed and statistically analysed to make predictions of consistent behaviour patterns, without direct reference to detailed genetics.

    As has been pointed out in earlier comments, your assertion that behavioural observations cannot lead to scientific conclusions, is simply an argument from personal incredulity, resulting from a lack of understanding of evolved behaviours. – Behaviours which can be initially memetic, but which will become genetically linked once they become established in a population and are selected for or against.



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  • David #55
    Mar 23, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    I was pleased when a Russian told me on a YouTube comment that it is exactly the same in Russia. They only go for funerals.

    There is an increasing trend, to use Humanist Celebrants to officiate at weddings and funerals – to celebrate the partnership of a couple, or the life and achievements of the deceased, rather than having a woo-fest for gods!



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  • For something , a “trait” is the example in this thread, to be
    accounted for as ” evolutionary”, and in the definite pile, it must
    simply be shown scientifically to be genetically determined.

    Everything physical in our body has evolved, why is it wrong to imagine all associated feelings and traits evolved with them not having a gene of its own but a consequence of all other genes? Cause and effect.

    so “abstract” that it is impossible to devise a scientific method or
    criteria to decide

    Sorry but I see this as just a get-out clause. We learn.

    As everything has evolved , there is not anything which has not
    evolved, then the addition of the term evolutionary is redundent and
    meaningless unless, as above, it can be scientifically shown to be
    genetically determined.

    I’m not getting this. It seems to fold in on itself with the inclusion of the “unless” and there after.?



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  • Alan4 discussion #67

    “I think your notions of “genetically determined” are too focused on the individual and too inflexible. A lot of genetic traits are enabling flexibility, rather than fixed instincts and involve the gene-pools of populations”.

    True, but just because that flexibility has evolved does not make it scientifically meaningful or useful to ( correctly in a general sense) say that it is genetically determined , as absolutely EVERY behaviour, trait, flexibility etc has also evolved and can also be said in this general sense to be genetically determined. For a scientific usage of ” genetically determined” strict and measurable criteria must be stipulated ( and not by me!) actually involving genes , and yes that does mean strictly delimiting and focussing the meaning,

    This is simply not so ! Many habits can be observed and statistically analysed to make predictions of consistent behaviour patterns, without direct reference to detailed genetics.”

    Again it correct to say “many habits….” And I did not deny that, but if they make no direct reference to detailed genetics they are simply a valid and correct ( hopefully) statistical and predictive analysis of habits. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it is not genetics!

    “As has been pointed out in earlier comments, your assertion that behavioural observations cannot lead to scientific conclusions, is simply an argument from personal incredulity, resulting from a lack of understanding of evolved behaviours.

    When did I assert that behavioural observations cannot lead to SCIENTIFIC conclusions, I have said absolutely no such incredibly stupid thing. ( it is entirely possible that I have not expressed myself clearly, so please quote anything which has led you to that specific opinion and I will attempt to clarify)

    What I have asserted, as above ad infinitum, is to say that behavioural observations cannot be (scientifically ) said to lead to EVOLUTIONARY (or genetically determined ) type conclusions unless a strict scientific criteria , involving the variation and inheritance of genes ( not behaviours), for the usage of ” genetically determined” is adhered to and proven. Which is totally different from saying such statistical studies are not scientific.

    “Behaviours which can be initially memetic, but which will become genetically linked once they become established in a population and are selected for or against.”

    Not sure exactly what you mean by that, as your quick and brief statement sounds somewhat Lamarckian, which I am sure is not your intent. Although behaviour is one of the parameters or determinants involved in the process of selection it is actually genes not behaviours which are selected and inherited, although of course this leads to a repetition of the “successful” behaviour in the next generation and so on and on. Again, to make my same old same point but this time about a different term, we need to be careful to distinguish between a general use of terms like selection and a correct scientific genetic use.



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  • Olgun #69

    Everything physical in our body has evolved, why is it wrong to imagine all associated feelings and traits evolved with them not having a gene of its own but a consequence of all other genes? Cause and effect.

    It is not wrong in a general sense as everything, feelings etc, have by definition evolved and can be said in a general sense and context to be genetically determined or evolutionary

    But within a scientific or explanatory context it is meaningless to use terms in such a general way that they apply to absolutely everything, as no scientific or explanatory distinction is being pointed out, nothing scientific or explanatory is being stated e.g it is similar to us calling every colour “colour” , which is not exactly incorrect but hardly useful or meaningful. For a valid scientific or explanatory usage of terms like “genetically dertermined” or “evolutionary determinant” a precise scientific usage of the terms must be stipulated, involving the variation and inheritance of genes combined with a scientific proof of a link between the inherited gene and any behaviours, feelings etc being ascribed to that gene, or cooperation of genes.
    ..



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  • Steve #70
    Mar 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Although behaviour is one of the parameters or determinants involved in the process of selection** it is actually genes not behaviours which are selected and inherited**, although of course this leads to a repetition of the “successful” behaviour in the next generation and so on and on.

    The important connection, is that it IS behaviours which are selected, and it is the genes behind or generating those behaviours, which are propagated (or not) in the offspring of survivors (or those benefiting).

    Genes are selected for or against, by the way they are expressed in individuals or populations, but it their expression in phenotypes which determines which individuals are actually selected.

    In wild dogs successful hunting behaviours are propagated.
    Inferior ones lead to extinction or repression, of associated genes.

    One could argue that in human populations where apostates and heretics are killed, particular types of delusional brain and herd conformity, are being selected for!



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  • “the fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is not the species, nor the group, nor even strictly the individual. It is the gene, the unit of heredity.”

    Dawkins The selfish gene

    So you disagee with Dawkins that the fundamental unit of selection is the gene? ( only teasing!)

    It is also true that he makes your point that it is the expression of the gene in phenotypes that causes the individual ( behaviours). to be selected , which is not in conflict or contradiction with my formulation, that behaviours ( gene expressions) are determinants ( in that they are what are sorted by the selection process, ) in the PROCESS of selection but it is genes that are inherited and hence, as per Dawkins , the fundamentally unit of selection.

    Of course there is no real differences here just semantic and grammatical quibbles about the formulations, as Gould said

    “Dawkins claims to prefer genes and to find greater insight in this formulation. But he allows that you or I might prefer organisms—and it really doesn’t matter.”
    — Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, pp. 640-641



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  • I look at the species of homo sapiens, over time. I ponder. A frequent occurrence. Separated. Living in different regions and challenges all over the world. They all developed religion and created god. Why. WHY I ask what is it about the species homo sapiens that all these separate tribes created god. Not only did they create god, but all these isolated and disparate tribes created gods with many of the same properties. Creation story. Life after death. Disciplinary codes. Explanation for the world around them, with each of these worlds being totally different. Amazon Indians and Inuits have almost parallel religious cultures.

    Why. Why. Why.

    My hypothesis. There is a common trait in the make up of the species homo sapiens that facilitates this god creation process. I don’t whether you like the world evolution attached to this trait, but a trait it is. So what is common to all tribes of homo sapiens that they all come up with the same solution to the “Just So” problem. My conclusion is that a process in evolution has led to a species that has this propensity. Everything about how our body works is the result of evolution. Behaviour in animals is show to be the product of evolution. Why Steve, do you exempt this process in homo sapiens. Are we “Special”.

    Lots of factors go together to create god. But one, that is common to every tribe that has every lived, is evolution. Despite the tautologies of defining and differentiating definitions, if it quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck. It’s an evolved duck.



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  • @steve #61 and #74 among others

    The more you write the less I understand what you’re trying to say. But then, I never did get what SJG was trying to say either, so maybe you’ll consider that an unintended compliment.



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  • @David, #75

    Do the “isolated and disparate tribes” have in common the 3 factors I outlined as sufficient to explain religion?

    (Pattern matching false-positives generating “superstition”, grandfathers, and scam artistry).

    Or, as Steve seems to hint at, is there a simpler common underlying mechanism that is part of the evolutionary baggage all humans have inherited?



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  • On scams, I re-watched a nature documentary showing some beetles posing as female wasps to give a male wasp a nasty STD that leads to the beetles hijacking the next female wasps eggs for their own reproduction. Flowers at least do Fair Trading, mostly.

    Just one example of a species dependent on deception of others, in this case a different species. We do something similar when we go fishing with lures. So deception is a long standing aspect of life, all the way down to todays televangelists, getting something worthwhile for a much cheaper false promise. In brief, a scam.

    I’m honing this explanation down to a simple set of bullet points: Superstition, Grandfathers, Scams.

    Teaching “the birds and the bees” as the essential facts of life no longer seems so quaint.



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  • @ohooligan

    I don’t know if you have spotted this, but every now and again, down about where I am typing, a LIKE button pops up. I clicked it once for Stafford Gordon. If it was here now, I would have clicked for your summary response. Agree.



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  • Site admin doesn’t seem to be paying the subscription for the “like” button, according to the info I see when I hover over the LikeBtn.com link.

    Mods, this would be off topic if it wasn’t right here on this page already. Please notify the website team. Personally I doubt it’s worthwhile.

    David, it’s the thought that counts. Thanks.



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  • Ohooligan. #77

    The underlying mechanism Steve is hinting at is simply being human, and living the form of life of a human.

    From our form of life we can indeed extract mechanisms , like the three you give and the many others put forward here and elsewhere, and offer them as an ” explanation” of religion. ( and I accept the validity of the mechanisms given e.g pattern matching etc).

    But none of these are actually ” explaining” the amorphous lump that is religion, all they are doing is giving perfectly valid “descriptions” of factors or components which are involved in various aspects of religion e.g genetically determined pattern recognition to describe the religious misattribution of causes, social scam artistry to describe the rise of priesthoods etc ( As all these factors, pattern recognition etc, are common to all humans so they cannot be used to “explain” humans or human activity, but can only be used to describe humans and human activity .i.e they are the FACTS of being human, not an explanation of being human. They are also of course all components of our thinking here.)

    In all these you are not “expaining” religion but are giving valid “descriptions” of the some of components involved in religion.

    In this particular context the pertinent distinction between an “explanation” and a “description” is psychological, if we consider something a description we react fairly neutrally as in, oh yes that is right, but if we consider it an explanation then we react differently, we are jubilant and satisfied, we have the ANSWER!

    The need for a ” explanation” of religion rather than a description of its components, the need for an “”answer” is itself of course, as I have wittered on about before, one of the main aspects of religion, all religious people think they have found The “Answer”, and here everyone, but me it seems, is seeking the same. (I just want adequate descriptions of all the multiple factors which make up religion and the development of region)

    So perhaps it would be more cogent to try and explain why we “demand or need the ANSWER” , of which the religious quest is but a subset.

    Incomprehensibly yours



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  • @stevet #61

    Yes, we can give more account of ” wishing the sun biddable” but the wish is still there and can stand on its own as a wish.

    What? But those are the facts we are trying to explain. The problem is giving an account of why? The problem is why should anyone think the sun biddable. Personal wish thinking (I wish I could fly) doesn’t become powerful dirigiste culture.

    There are many thousands of attributes it may be interesting to tie to (inevitably a multiplicity of) genes. I think your call for genetic proof now is a little abrupt. Besides the epidemiologist in Darwin produces a sufficient basis of likelihood to justify such searches. How the search (for a genetic basis of false positive agency detection) may proceed still needs to be conceived.

    These speculations are entirely valid here. Trying to form better, more scientific, (negatable!) hypotheses is what we are trying to get to, of course. But an end to end account must be the goal. We have to imagine how an end to end account might look. Trying to curtail speculation because the science isn’t complete is rather perverse…

    (The end to end account may well be a hairy and manifold with multiple roots and multiple terminations, fuzzy at every scale, but what of the human mind isn’t?)



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  • 75 David

    Everything about how our body works is the result of evolution. Behaviour in animals is show to be the product of evolution. Why Steve, do you exempt this process in homo sapiens. Are we “Special”.

    No we are not special, and I agee that everything human and animal is the result of evolution, that in fact is my point, and I am most definitely not exempting anything human from this.

    What I am exempting is the general habit of, say, adding the redundent adverb or adjective ” evolutionary” or ” genetically determined” to statements and thinking that by merely doing that we have given a scientific explanation, or indeed any kind of explanation at all. In most of these cases we are just giving a description of the fact that everything has evolved and we are not giving a specific scientific or causal explanation, we are merely restating the fact, not explanation, that everything has evolved.

    For example to simply assert that “flexibility” or ” religion” or “support for Arsenal” are evolutionary or genetically determined is not to give a scientific explanation but is to offer a descriptive truism because, as you rightly say, everything is a product of evolution.

    For such statements to have any scientific or explanatory value you must be able to scientifically prove that specific gene(s) , (not a combination of all genes which is what you are saying when you just say evolutionary) cause that, and no other, behaviour and that no other causal factors, social or cultural factors, are causally involved in that behaviour. And that is logically impossible to do with complex and abstact things such as “flexibility” or ” religion” or “support for Arsenal” ( and if you break them down into underlying mechanisms you still have to meet the same strict criteria)



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  • 83 Phil

    He is saying , and Dawkins says exactly the same, that it is perfectly valid ,and no logical or factual contradiction is involved, to say both “genes are selected” and also “organisms are selected”.

    The apparent contradiction is purely formal and grammatical , in that in one instance we looking at and expressing and formulating the question at the genetic level using the terminology , language and concepts of genetics , whilst in the second we are formulating etc at the level of the organism. .e.g we are just explaining using different and non- contradictory conceptual levels.



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  • 82 Phil

    What? But those are the facts we are trying to explain. The problem is giving an account of why? The problem is why should anyone think the sun biddable. Personal wish thinking (I wish I could fly) doesn’t become powerful dirigiste culture.

    To slightly clarify, as I said you can correctly give more account of why anyone would think the sun biddable. By saying wish stands on its own as a wish I mean you also separately need to account for ” wish” itself and wishing is a psychological type of phenomena which cannot be explained in terms of pattern recognition etc.

    How the search (for a genetic basis of false positive agency detection) may proceed still needs to be conceived.

    Darwin’s theory was just that until scientifically proved by genetics, Einstein’s until Eddington etc . If it cannot yet even be conceived then it cannot yet even be considered scientific. My stronger point, which may be disproved, is that it is logically impossible to do such a thing

    These speculations are entirely valid here. Trying to form better, more scientific, (negatable!) hypotheses is what we are trying to get to, of course. But an end to end account must be the goal. We have to imagine how an end to end account might look. Trying to curtail speculation because the science isn’t complete is rather perverse…

    I am not trying to curtail speculation at all, or saying speculation is not valid or vital, I am however trying to point our some specific speculations or lines of speculation given here and elsewhere are incoherent and are on the wrong lines and can never logically be proved as scientific.

    Although it indeed might be useful to imagine how an end to end account might look it is also dangerous as you then seek confirmation of your imagination. My mundane approach is to simply assemble all the facts or information we can possibly gain and then correctly describe them as they ” fit” together, no idea of a ” goal” to be reached or The “answer” to be found.

    I do not consider science as a metaphysic which provides The ” answers” but as a methodology which can give us a variety of sensible descriptive explanations.



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  • Steve #74
    Mar 24, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    “the fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is not the species, nor the group, nor even strictly the individual. It is the gene, the unit of heredity.”

    Dawkins The selfish gene

    So you disagee with Dawkins that the fundamental unit of selection is the gene? ( only teasing!)

    It is also true that he makes your point that it is the expression of the gene in phenotypes that causes the individual ( behaviours). to be selected , which is not in conflict or contradiction with my formulation, that behaviours ( gene expressions) are determinants ( in that they are what are sorted by the selection process, ) in the PROCESS of selection but it is genes that are inherited and hence, as per Dawkins , the fundamentally unit of selection.

    Your approach is too gene centred, and cannot see the wood for the trees! Selection works for or against whole organisms and whole populations, with many genes affected if they are in the same body or on the same chromosome as the ones activating selection!

    Just as it is not convenient to talk about quanta and fundamental particles, when we discuss the workings of a car, so it is often tedious and unnecessary to keep dragging genes in when we discuss behaviour of survival machines. In practice it is usually convenient, as an approximation, to regard the individual body as an agent ‘trying’ to increase the numbers of all its genes in future generations.

    Richard Dawkins; The Selfish Gene page 47



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  • My mundane approach is to simply assemble all the facts or information
    we can possibly gain and then correctly describe them as they ” fit”
    together, no idea of a ” goal” to be reached or The “answer” to be
    found.

    God doesn’t play dice!!!!!!

    A random number generator still works to rules and the number it will eventually churned out is unknown but does not need philosophy or mystic to explane.



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  • 87 Alan4discussion

    Your approach is too gene centred, and cannot see the wood for the trees! Selection works for or against whole organisms and whole populations, with many genes affected if they are in the same body or on the same chromosome as the ones activating selection!

    Have never denied any of that, it is Exactly what I said in #85 and passim about selection. ( Wood and Trees are just different conceptual ways of designating the same thing, they are not contradictory or in competition)

    You, me, Dawkins and Gould seem to agree on this, although also note that Dawkins goes further than me (!) and takes care to add the important rider that it is ” CONVENIENT ” and “APPROXIMATE” . My point being in that some examples being touted here it is so “approximate” as to be incoherent, and as an antidote offer my inconvenient precise scientific usage.



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  • Olgun #88

    Assembling all the information about something complex and then giving a descriptive explanation utilising that information is neither philosophical or mystical, neither is it analogous to a random number generator, it is a scientific methodology and within it will contain NUMEROUS and often interlocking and overlapping CASUAL links ( in technical jargon this is termed “overdetermination” ) between the different and copious pieces of information.

    What it will not give for complex phenomena, examples in this thread being religion or flexibilty or support for Arsenal , is THE ANSWER

    Your quest for The Answer or a complete answer is itself a religious quest.



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  • Craig Domin and I are on the same page. Paragraph of the Day might have been lifted from an English Composition textbook, followed by the instruction: re-write this paragraph so that its message is clear and every word tells. Start by deleting words like “areas”, “domains”, “unfairness”, “first”, “violations.”



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  • Sorry Steve but your response flits from the answer to the question and back again….very confusing!

    I was beginning to think that you were just being pedantic about the use of the word evolution with religion but am not sure now. By your words above, scientific methodology is fine now, which is how religion got going and deserves the combination of words. the you flit to why and individuals which is the random answer that we see the result of.???



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  • I’ve always understood what you were saying, as far as the use of the word evolution goes anyway, but don’t agree. The reason I don’t agree is because;

    Your quest for The Answer or a complete answer is itself a religious
    quest.

    😉



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  • Seriously though Steve. This is where your argument takes us. It saps all the energy out of positiveness. You said that you did not have such a low opinion of humans but your argument says the opposite. I have the high opinion that we can find a way through those questions but accept there will be more questions than answers. Your argument says ‘why bother’.

    By your own words, using the words evolution and religion together has many connotations so cannot be said to be wrong or right so we have just spent a few days wasting our time.

    How many philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?

    Thats it! We can go no further!!!!

    🙂



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  • @steve 74

    “the fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is
    not the species, nor the group, nor even strictly the individual. It
    is the gene, the unit of heredity.”

    Dawkins The selfish gene

    I don’t agree with Dawkins. In personal conversation with G.L. Stebbins, I asked what he thought was the “unit” of selection, the individual or the population. He said that it was both the individual and the population. More recently after reading Ernst Mayr, I am convinced so far that selection acts on the phenotype (individual) but that selection has its effect on the gene pool as well as the species.

    A bird eats moths that it sees but does not eat moths because of its genes. What the bird sees is the phenotype not the genotype. In the attempt to pin down exactly what the “unit” of selection is, there os danger of dualistic thinking. Again it is the phenotype (individual) that encounters the environment (biotic and abiotic), so it is the expression of the genome that survives and reproduces, not the gene itself directly.



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  • I am surprised by your response, it is you saying you cannot be bothered to think about what I am endlessly wittering on about,, which is fair enough, but it is not fair to say I am saying we should not be bothered..

    I am saying the opposite of why bother, I am saying if we are going to be bothered in answering these questions then we should exacting in what we say, we should be ” bothered” that what we say is exact and precise and not incoherent, and I give a description of the valid scientific methodology we should use to coherently explain these things.

    To point out some kinds of explanations are incoherent and have no real explanatory value is not to dismiss the whole enterprise !!! My low opinion is not about humans or the enterprise as a whole but about the coherency and value of certain types of explanations, I have explained this ad infinitum so would have hoped people would have grasped it.

    As I said in a previous post there is a strong tendancy on sites like this that if someone points out perceived incoherencies in specific lines of argument people then pile in declaring that this is denying the whole of science, reason etc and attribute all kinds of dastardly motivations and intent to those trying to point specific incoherencies out.

    To say I am being overly pedantic or strict might be valid, but to say that I am saying we should not be bothered is just a cheap jibe I would not expect from you. I am saying not only that we should be bothered but that we should be even more bothered that what we say is coherent and meaningful.

    How many philosophers does it take to change a light-bulb?
    Infinitely many. The first starts to discuss what it means for a light-bulb to exist, the second is wondering about the nature of light, the third argues that light is something taking place in your head, etc. etc.

    How many philosophers does it take to change a light-bulb?

    Three; one to change the light-bulb and two to debate whether they ought to, and if so, whether it follows that they can.

    How many ancient philosophers does it take to change a light-bulb?

    Four; one to change the light-bulb and three to say “Yes, Socrates,” “Well done, Socrates,” “Good job, Socrates.”

    How many medieval philosophers does it take to change a light-bulb?

    Two; one to change the light-bulb and one to check what Aristotle said about changing light-bulbs.

    How many Analytic Philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?
    None-its a pseudo-problem…light bulbs give off light (hence the name)…if the bulb was broken and wasn’t giving off light, it wouldn’t be a ‘light bulb’ now would it? (oh, where has rigor gone?!)

    How many Daniel Dennett’s does it take to change a light bulb?
    Depends on how many versions of the light bulb there are, matched up with the number of versions of Dennett…

    How many David Chalmers does it take to change a light bulb?
    Whoa! Now THAT’s a hard problem!

    How many leaders of the Jesus Seminar does it take to change a light bulb?
    Well, at first we thought maybe they could do it, but when they looked at the bulb they decided somehow that it really wasn’t the bulb in question and put it down, and for quite some time now, they have been in the kitchen trying to ‘unscrew’ an onion–and there’s not much of it left either…(hmmm…I just noticed something…when you look at an onion from the side, with its stem still attached, it looks like a letter from the alphabet…odd)

    How many David Chalmers does it take to change a light bulb (version 2)?
    I am not sure we can even APPROACH the light bulb with the existing tools…we will need to develop different sorts of human limbs for that probably…

    How many Roger Penrose’s does it take to change a light bulb?
    I don’t know the exact number, but I am sure it must be some rather elegant prime

    How many quantum physicists does it take to change a light bulb?
    Only one, actually, but it takes two DISTINCT steps. First, she must look in the general direction of the bulb (to collapse the wave function-you can’t very well change a bulb scattered all over the room, now can you?!) and then replace it before she blinks.

    How many evolutionists does it take to change a light bulb?
    Only one (to aim the x-ray machine) but the bulb changes very, very slowly

    How many Creation Scientists does it take to change a light bulb?
    Two: one to change it quickly, and one to point out that no transitional forms occurred at all.



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  • Off out now Steve but just wanted to say I did not mean to make it sound as a jibe but was just trying to express how your argument made me feel. I keep getting nowhere. A dead end. Sorry if I offended.



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  • @steve #81 and elsewhere

    Dimly, comprehension dawns: explanation vs description, you’re saying a description is not an explanation.

    Correct, as for example Newton described inertia and gravity without explaining either, but in sufficient detail that we can use the mathematical formulae of his description to work with gravity to achieve spectacular goals. I meant NASA, but you can think Arsenal if that’s more your cup of tea.

    A good description is as concise as possible, without sacrificing accuracy. And where it’s an approximation, it says so. When you get one of these, for practical uses the work is done. QED is a fine example of this.

    Science is then all descriptive, not explanatory. We tend to use, informally, the term “explanation” when we mean a darn good description, something that describes, accurately enough, HOW something is, or can be, as in “ah, THAT explains it”. An explanation has predictive power, but so does a suitably accurate and concise description.

    Philosophers will still find a lingering unsatisfied “Why” no matter how good the description.
    But really, what does an Explanation have that a good concise Description does not?



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  • Yup, one of my points rested on the distinction between a explanation and description, but only to point out that adding redundent buzzwords like “evolutionary” or “genetically determined” to a description or a “just so” narrative does not turn them into either a explanation or something scientific.

    Was not saying however that science is just descriptive, science is both descriptive and explanatory . A normal scientific methodology to study phenomena or facts is first to a define a very precise and unambiguous description of the phenomena ( often called a model), and then after establishing that precise definition then construct a scientific explanation which can be roughly and briefly (whole books have been written on this topic!) defined as “a set of propositions constructed to establish and clarify the logically necessary causes, connections , and consequences of those phenomena , this explanation may establish rules or laws etc “. ( of course to make it all the more confusing an explanation itself can and usually does contain descriptive elements)

    So to roughly answer you question a scientific explanation clarifies and establishes logically neccessary connections between facts whilst a description is just an account of the facts, but as you rightly say a good description can also the have predictive power and the ” ha, that explains it” of an explanation.



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  • Following on , another point was that things like “flexibility” or ” religion” or “support for Arsenal” cannot be precisely described or defined so cannot be as a whole scientifically explained, although of course individual aspects of them might be able to be precisely defined and scientifically explained, and they can be of course be explained in other ways.



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  • Other discourses can OFFER explanations which are not (strictly) scientific e.g the soft sciences such as sociology, poltitical science, economics etc or in the terms of other theoretical explanatory constructs such as Marxism, Utilitarianism, Pragmatism etc, including of course religion itself.

    These do not offer logically necessary explanations but theoretically necessary, and that purely and tautologically by the standards and conventions of the particular theory itself, explanations..



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  • Hi, Steve (and OHooligan),
    Let me just throw something out.
    I am not so sure that your beloved Wittgenstein’s famous insistence upon offering descriptions rather than explanations didn’t do a disservice to thought. I agree with him up to a point in so far as nothing can be defined absolutely.—And there is certainly a difference between the two: not all descriptions are explanations; most aren’t; however, this separation that W promulgated, if taken too far, leads to the erroneous conclusion that a description can never contain within it an explanation. Many explanations are descriptive. B says to A: “let me explain to you how this machine works.” Then B describes how the machine works, step by step.
    Every step, every cog in the wheel of the processes and connections described by B, is a cause, which is itself an effect of a cause. No explanation of the cause behind the cause (which leads to metaphysics) is necessary in order for an adequate explanation to be established in this way. “Can you explain how the machine works now?” asks B. A says: “Yes, this does that and that in turn does this and that is how it works.”
    On the other hand (and I haven’t been following this thread very closely), I don’t think that the biological sciences can ever adequately explain religion or its origin (and as I said, not all descriptions are explanations); they can only describe observable manifestations (symptoms, if you will) of what was brought about by factors that are environmental and first and foremost psychological.
    I presented an excellent explanation by Freud above (#59), (although it doesn’t apply to all religions, but certainly to many).
    I cannot decide if that is an explanation or a description. I suspect that my confusion is due to the erroneous nature of this distinction as it relates to this analysis.
    I may be wrong; it is quite possible that the subject of the distinction I am addressing is not one that I fully grasp.
    And if that is the case, I would welcome an explanation as to why and how. A detailed description of my thought processes, with points along the way will suffice.



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  • These do not offer logically necessary explanations but theoretically necessary, and that purely and tautologically by the standards and conventions of the particular theory itself, explanations..

    Do all Arsenal fans talk like that? Or do you use a BS generator? Really, lost me at the first 5 syllable word.



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  • The general distinction between explanations and descriptions can be semantically and grammatically fuzzy as each can contain the other, and their grammatical applications can differ in different contexts, and people are not formally precise in using them, so we can end up just quibbling about semantics which is not very useful.

    However the distinctions between a scientific explanation and a non-scientific explanation ( scientific explanations show logically neccesary connections whilst non-scientific explanation show ( internal) theoretical connections) and a scientific explanation of the facts and a mere descriptive account of the facts are vital to observe and maintain, otherwise we cannot maintain the integrity of science and we open up the can of worms that is pseudo- scientific explanations.

    ( And W’s injunction to describe and not explain was only applicable to the role of philosophy itself and definetely not applicable to science .i.e he was saying only science can give us valid explanations of facts whilst philosophy, if it attempts to explain facts turns into metaphysics and religion etc and merely offers pseudo-scientific explanations as per the logically/ theoretically necessary distinctions above)



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  • 108

    Why bother to insult? ( The BS jibe, not the Arsenal as they do not talk like that, well a few I know do) . You just prove my point that there is general tendency on this ” rationalistic” website merely to want to confirm one’s own assertions and dismiss any reservations as anti-science or BS or whatever. Or if it is just exasperation at my bad Enlish (sic) then apologies, and that is understandable.

    However if you do not understand , because I am using technical jargon or express myself badly, why not simply ask me to clarify?

    To attempt to do so

    A scientific explanation of the Earth’s orbit round the sun is derived from actual observations, and shows that the relationships between mass, space, time and movement are interlinked in a definite way which can be precisely and exactly given by logical mathematically formulations ( logically neccessary as being independent of any theory) and that logically these relationships cannot be any other way , these formulations are true irrespective of any theory which might be used to interpret or formulate ( in this case Einstein’s) them.

    On the other hand , to use a extreme example, a Pythagorean explanation of the Earth’s orbit in terms of ideal celestial spheres is correct only within the explanatory context of Pythagorian theory itself ( theoretically necessary and tautological) and cannot be logically mathematically formalised independently of the theory to describe the actual facts .

    Clear as mud?

    Of couse you can say why bother with all this theory about theory babble, and think it is just how many angels can dance on the head of a pin twaddle.

    However I am bothered as if we are not precise and exacting about these things we allow any pseudo- scientific babble credibility e.g ID can simply dismissed by these arcane distinctions without even having to go into endless futile debates about Cambrian fossils, fly’s eyes etc



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  • Steve, apologies, I was a bit blunt. I’ll settle for “clear as mud”.

    Your writing, I’m sorry to say, reminds me of the pseudo-post-modernist garbage that was deliberately generated and injected into some unsuspecting journal to show what nonsense they were willing to publish. I don’t have the reference, maybe one of the better informed posters here can cite one?

    In other words, clear as mud and I’ve no idea what you’re going on about, and the more I ask the less I understand of your responses. So, let’s not bother. Moving on.



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  • OHooligan #112
    Mar 26, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I’m sorry to say, reminds me of the pseudo-post-modernist garbage that was deliberately generated and injected into some unsuspecting journal to show what nonsense they were willing to publish. I don’t have the reference, maybe one of the better informed posters here can cite one?

    http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/
    The Postmodernism Generator was written by Andrew C. Bulhak using the Dada Engine, a system for generating random text from recursive grammars, and modified very slightly by Josh Larios (this version, anyway. There are others out there).



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  • Olgun #111
    Mar 26, 2016 at 9:29 am

    To me, modern day ‘philosophy+’ can be seen to be done by theoretical physicists who can then prove or disprove their theory. Maybe the whole problem here is that traditional philosophy simply does not [be]long in modern science as science is not interested in a play of words, one which philosophy is king at.

    Modern science took over the meaningful parts of the philosophy of nature, and left the verbosity and theology to the rump-end of pseudo-philosophy taught in theology colleges!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy#Origin_and_evolution_of_the_term
    The term natural philosophy preceded our current natural science (i.e. empirical science). Empirical science historically developed out of philosophy or, more specifically, natural philosophy. . . . . . . . . . In general, chairs of Natural Philosophy established long ago at the oldest universities, are nowadays occupied mainly by physics professors.



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  • As I said hardly anybody on this site really whats to THINK , they just want confirmation of what they already believe. polysyllabic words! Get out of here ! Thinking about the meaning of what we are saying? Waste of time, we know what we are saying!
    Don’t understand what is being said? No problem, if we don’t understand it must be nonsense so lets take the piss instead! Modern thought? Only if it is in a popular science journal, otherwise it must be post modern dada gaga! Other ways of thinking of value aside from science? Heretical ! Impossible! Religious people and ancients not stupid or not having misfiring brain traits? No no no they are all stupid sheeple sheeple sheeple with evolutionary genetically determined cognitive dissonance ! Not all muslims bug eyed killers? No no no muslim societies evil evil all evil , post thousand links to websites detailing every bad thing ever done by any muslim anywhere, apparently they are so evil they stand on the left side of escalators!!!! What is the cause of all suffering in the World? Religion Religion Religion!! How do we Trump like make the World great again? Science Science Science!!! Two legs good, four legs bad!! Two legs good, four legs bad……🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏

    Bye Dan, good luck

    Belated Happy Birthday, Richard and hope your recovery goes well



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  • Steve #115
    Mar 26, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    As I said hardly anybody on this site really whats to THINK , they just want confirmation of what they already believe. polysyllabic words! Get out of here ! Thinking about the meaning of what we are saying? Waste of time, we know what we are saying!

    The difference between science and pseudo-philosophy, is that in science there is substantial evidence reason and meaning, underlying the specialist terminology.

    In pseudo-philosophy there is just layer after layer of obfuscations, meaningless use of words, imponderable questions, and vague mental ramblings, unconnected to the real physical world.
    Word-fumbling is not the same as rational “thinking”!

    For examples of where there is nothing there to understand, have a look at the link @#113.



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  • Not fair Steve!!!

    You need to hang around a bit more to see who fights against ‘islamaphobia’ and who doesn’t. We have discussed many aspects and why’s. We try to put it all together (most more competent than me). There is nothing Trump like in the overall feel of this site but a more considered approach on the whole. You have had discussions with a few people and, I am afraid, have made your mind up with little evidence.

    And, why just goodbye Dan?….;-)



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  • Sorry, Bye Olgun and good luck and health to you and yours.

    Last light bulb joke for you…Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it is a genetically determined evolutionary trait.

    🙈🙉🙊



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  • Thanks Steve.

    Because it is a genetically determined evolutionary trait.

    Only when read back. Ahead are many keys and many locks. Good ‘luck’ chicken!



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  • @stevet

    Steve, please reconsider. I know how you feel. I have faced considerable opposition and derision (rightly and wrongly) and have been turned off to by the religion thing at times, as much as I myself hate religion now. – I have to admit that I really do. —But that resistance, as it were, strengthens one. And there are some great people here –like Olgun and Phil, for example, and others who show up here and there.

    It’s like this everywhere – but you will find like-minded people. Trust me. You have to stick around long enough to see this, however. Up to you, but it would be a great loss if you left us so soon.

    As for my comment, I wasn’t being very precise. Okay, scientific explanations differ than other explanations and must pass a certain logical test, or else may lead to pseudo-science. But there is no reason (Olgun) why someone calling himself a philosopher (and he may even be a scientist) cannot explain something, or establish something truthful – about the world or about some aspect of human affairs, about what may constitute a morally good act, or what constitutes beauty, or even the nature of knowledge itself (epistemology). The same standards of logic apply to him as well. Philosophy is just a word, for Christ’s sake. So he doesn’t work in a frigging lab. So what?

    I reject W’s criticism of philosophical questions, and hopefully we can discuss that at some future time.



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  • @alan4discussion

    “Other ways of thinking of value aside from science? Heretical ! Impossible!”

    Well said, Steve.

    Science is an investigation of the real word, you say. The so-called reality of the world has to be explained. It is not just there for us to examine. Philosophers have to pass the test of logic. There is no essential difference between a philosopher and a scientist, necessarily. (Psychological investigations must also conform to the test of logic as well.) Both philosophy and psychology are potentially as legitimate or as illegitimate as science. The philosopher questions the scientist’s assumed reality, asks what we can know, what constitutes knowing, what knowing means – and then may proceed from there to the objects of science, to all objects. And what is reality without objects? One must divine the painter in order to understand the painting.



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  • Steve.

    I think I understand your argument, but if I had to write an essay on it, I’d only get a C-. I just don’t agree with it. Or… the things you think are important to this argument, are not important to me. Definitions etc.

    Dog’s piss on lamp posts due to an evolutionary trait. European mountain sheep butt heads as a result of an evolutionary trait. Moths spiral into candle flames as a result of an evolutionary trait. Great White Sharks bite anything they find to see if they can eat it.

    Young men kills themselves doing risk taking activities because of an evolutionary trait. The parts of their brains to advise them on consequences and risk aversion don’t mature until around 25 years old. In a tribal setting, this meant that all the young men would take chance fending off the sabre toothed tiger or fighting that “Other” tribe from over the hill. It’s evolutionary advantage to the young male was that success in this type of activity gave them more chances to pass on their genes. They were the stars of the tribe, when this sort of thing was the standout performance. Today, young me jump off almost anything. They drive fast. They take risks. They fight. All an evolutionary trait, that while a brilliant trait 30,000 years ago, it’s now a pain in the backside and can be positively lethal. Have a look at the decoration of young man puts into his first car, so he stands out from the crowd. It is exactly the same as a young Masai warrior decorating his shield, and standing in groups of men, jumping as high as they can in front of the local girls. An evolutionary trait, that increases the chance of passing on the their genes.

    This article proposes a framework for theory and research on risk-taking that is informed by developmental neuroscience. Two fundamental questions motivate this review. First, why does risk-taking increase between childhood and adolescence? Second, why does risk-taking decline between adolescence and adulthood? Risk-taking increases between childhood and adolescence as a result of changes around the time of puberty in the brain’s socio-emotional system leading to increased reward-seeking, especially in the presence of peers, fueled mainly by a dramatic remodeling of the brain’s dopaminergic system. Risk-taking declines between adolescence and adulthood because of changes in the brain’s cognitive control system – changes which improve individuals’ capacity for self-regulation. These changes occur across adolescence and young adulthood and are seen in structural and functional changes within the prefrontal cortex and its connections to other brain regions. The differing timetables of these changes make mid-adolescence a time of heightened vulnerability to risky and reckless behavior.

    Don’t go. There will be other topics where your contribution will assist in advancing understanding, but on this one, I’m with the empiricists.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AidkPPF49xc



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  • @alan4discussion #113

    I take it this generator now has more PhDs in Postmodernist Stuff than any actual human on the planet. It just keeps knocking them out. Or should it have a Meta-PhD, one that lets it issue itself its own PhDs without needing to bother with publication, peer review etc.

    In the sci-fi realm, I can imagine the next Terminator movie, in which someone uploads this generator code into Skynet as a virus, and Arnie gets bogged down in extreme word-fumbling with an Austrian accent, til he contradicts himself and his left arm decides to terminate his right….

    Or perhaps its more like Vogon poetry.



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  • Dan #122
    Mar 26, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    @alan4discussion

    “Other ways of thinking of value aside from science? Heretical ! Impossible!”

    Well said, Steve.

    There are other ways of thinking, but on test, they produce arbitrary, inconsistent, or wrong answers!

    Science is an investigation of the real word, (world?) you say. The so-called reality of the world has to be explained. It is not just there for us to examine.

    It is there for us to examine, but it frequently takes scientists to explain it – of even objectively investigate and examine it!

    Philosophers have to pass the test of logic. There is no essential difference between a philosopher and a scientist, necessarily.

    The difference in the modern world, is that while both scientists (previously known as “Natural Philosophers”), have to pass the test of logic, the essential difference between a scientists and a pure philosopher, is that the scientist understands the investigative technology, the scientific laws and theories, the scientific methodology in general, and specific to the specialist subject area, and the general philosopher, usually does not!
    The general philosopher is therefore frequently at a loss to understand the technical and mathematical complexities of modern science and is unable to link the specialist terminology with an understanding of the years of work on the underlying studies and evidence for which those terms are only labels!

    (For example – if I mention;-

    A radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG, RITEG) is an electrical generator that uses an array of thermocouples to convert the heat released by the decay of a suitable radioactive material into electricity by the Seebeck effect. This generator has no moving parts.

    Anyone who does not understand the terms in bold, will have no idea what is being discussed, or how this machine works without moving parts.



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  • Dan Phil Olgun et Al

    To clarify. It is not the mindless religious scientism of some sheeple ( sic) who have merely replaced the God previously in their lives with a new one , which is nothing more than vaguely annoying, but it is the ugly Islamophobia etc and in instances the implicative racial hatred which is consistently posted on this site. Both as a ethnic minority in western society, (but a ethnic majority in the world as a whole, watch out Trump, we are coming to buy you out and give you a job as a waiter LOL, ) with plenty of personal experience of bigotry and also as a rational human being, I do not want to remain associated with a site where such views seem to have been more or less normalised. ( And Olgun you cannot reason with such bigots, so no point in remaining)

    On the topic on this thread will leave you with a repeat quote, which I am sure the Scientismistics will ,with their usual unthinking and unnuanced attitude , mistakenly take as an attack on science, as they do not understand the quaint postmodern gaga notion that different words carry different meanings ,and that in this quote ” questions” means something totally different from ” problems”

    “We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched. Of course there are then no questions left, and this itself is the answer.”

    Wittgenstein



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  • Steve #126
    Mar 27, 2016 at 5:47 am

    On the topic on this thread will leave you with a repeat quote, which I am sure the Scientismistics will ,with their usual unthinking and unnuanced attitude , mistakenly take as an attack on science, as they do not understand the quaint postmodern gaga notion that different words carry different meanings ,and that in this quote ” questions” means something totally different from ” problems”

    I am sorry to find that you have been infected with postmodernist “alternative” thinking, but that would explain the strange reactions to scientific reasoning and historical evidence, together with a certain amount of psychological projection.

    Earlier, I put a post to Dan, (now awaiting moderation), which explains the difference between scientific philosophers, and would be non-scientific philosophers, seeking understanding in the modern world.



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  • Steve #118
    Mar 26, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Last light bulb joke for you…Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it is a genetically determined evolutionary trait.

    Why did the rabbit and the hedgehog cross the road?

    Answer: – ” To see their flat mates”!
    (Who were flat, because the evolutionary trait to freeze on the spot to escape detection when threatened, did not save them from on-coming vehicles!)



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  • Steve #126
    Mar 27, 2016 at 5:47 am

    “We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched.

    . . . but only in the minds of those who have no concept of the potential, the scope, or the progress to date, of the applications of science to the problems of life!
    These are the sorts of wrong answers which are produce by thinking with “feelings” rather than investigative evidence and logic!

    Of course there are then no questions left, and this itself is the answer.” – Wittgenstein

    Scientific answers, invariably produce new questions at a deeper level, which the superficiality of pseudo-philosophy, is unable to recognise due to ignorance of existing answers.



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  • Final last word, promise.

    Hah, you finally agree my point that merely adding ” evolutionary trait” as per the chicken example and is done in numerous ” just so explanations” is not scientifc, whilst your example of “freezing” , which is a trait capable of exact definition and intent and which consequently has been formally proven by neuroscience and genetics , is scientific.

    Thank you for Illustrating my point far more succinctly than I have been able to.

    Still, alas goodbye and leave you to further expose the dangers of Islamic chickens



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  • Steve and Dan

    My journey through this discussion has been a massive learning curve. Not knowing much about the deep philosophical questions being asked, I ask questions of my own, to both of you, and have not had any answers that have swayed me to your way of thinking. Whose failure that is I don’t know but have been accused of not understanding because “I don’t want to”. You both seem to be happiest when discussing this with Phil as he has the knowledge to actually confront the purely philosophical questions with quotes of his own and I am sure it makes for a very interesting conversation but only within a tiny bubble of philosophy. You have to use a more practical approach with the rest of us and you have not done that to any effect. Try harder 😉

    I can understand how Steve and yourself Dan, would get upset about how we see philosophers but it was not a personal attack of any sorts. If discussing the subject then philosophers themselves come under scrutiny as well. I mean, how many of us could have been upset about Steves’ description of our ‘closed minds’ and this site. We discuss, argue and put our side of the argument as best we can. I have tried to be honest about where I am with philosophy with no intent at a personal attack on any philosopher but felt the need to have a little joke with Steve to which he responded well and gave as good as he got.

    Steve #126 Mar 27, 2016 at 5:47 am “We feel that even when all
    possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life
    remain completely untouched.

    I need a particular problem to discuss here Steve because I disagree in a statement that says we have not progressed and never will.



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  • Still, alas goodbye and leave you to further expose the dangers of
    Islamic chickens

    Still unfair Steve!! Alan has always been clear in his attacks on religion as a whole and being specific about violent groups. Of course religion gets the full force, as it should, but again, you have not seen enough to make such an accusation.

    I get the feeling this thread was started just to observe us and must show some interesting results as;

    OP: “Several areas trigger our emotional responses. Harm and unfairness are the first;



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  • @stevet

    Steve, I understand your feelings about Islamophobia, and bigotry. But rather than disassociating yourself from the site, why not see this as an opportunity to engage, to voice your own ideas (as you already have done, and with great skill and vigor) and to perhaps influence a few people? And you never know how many people there are out there who are in agreement with you. The ideas of the most vocal amongst us are not necessarily representative of the whole.

    The site is a microcosm, a big umbrella. I hope you’ll reconsider.

    (I hope you had an opportunity to read my comments 21 and 22. You are, of course, not obligated to read them.)

    Alan, yes, that was meant to be “world.” Not “word.” Thank you.

    “It [the world] is there for us to examine, but it frequently takes scientists to explain it – of even objectively investigate and examine it!” -Alan

    Isn’t reality or realness a problem too? If you agree that it is then what difference does it make whether this problem is addressed by a philosopher or a scientist? I do admit that philosophy has very little meaning today, has been superseded by science. But whether you call it science or philosophy it is still a philosophical problem!

    How about this? I will read more science, and you can read some great (“ancient”) philosophers. We might both be surprised.



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  • Forgot to responde to Steves line about not being able to change a bigots mind. We can certainly destroy his line of argument though!! False statements die fast here but, I am of the school that likes to plant seeds rather than attempt to chop down the whole forest. Memes need counter memes!!!



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  • 135
    stevetreborn says:

    Olgun # 131

    “I need a particular problem to discuss here Steve because I disagree in a statement that says we have not progressed and never will

    Just to clarify, a previous point.

    W. Is not denying the progress of science at all, he is even implying that science can even eventually resolve all scientific questions. ( And he explicitly stated elsewhere that one major difference between science and religion,magic and philosophy is that science can learn and progress whilst the others , including his own philosophy ,cannot, and probably not for the reason you think))

    His point is not anti-science at all but only pointing out that when all scientific questions are resolved we will still be left with the ” problems of life” e.g how will I pay the mortgage, what shall I have for dinner, does she still love me, is my cat plotting to kill me etc etc

    BTW,

    Posting this under a new account as my previous account has been blocked as a spammer, whether this is a software glitch or me being banished as a heretic I don’t know



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  • Posting this under a new account as my previous account has been blocked as a spammer, whether this is a software glitch or me being banished as a heretic I don’t know

    Neither, Steve. You’re welcome to stay and make your points if you wish, but insults towards other users are not permitted under the Terms of Use. Make the positive argument for your views by all means, but multiple posts that amount to little more than how much you dislike your fellow commenters are not welcome.
    On the other hand, if you are serious about not staying, please just go. “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall insult other users till it be morrow” is not a constructive contribution to the discussion.

    The mods.



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  • @ Dan

    Hi Dan, and Happy Easter! I’m hoping Jesus emerges from his tomb today and doesn’t see his shadow: early Spring!

    I’m reading W. Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” and came across this magnificent passage about a Persian rug given to the protagonist as a mystic explanation of the meaning of life:

    “For the same uprush of fancy which had shown him with all the force of mathematical demonstration that life had no meaning, brought with it another idea; and that was why Cronshaw, he imagined, had given him the Persian rug. As the weaver elaborated his pattern for no end but the pleasure of his aesthetic sense, so might a man live life, or if one was forced to believe that his actions were outside his choosing, so might a man look at his life, that it made a pattern.

    “Out of the manifold events of his life, his deeds, his feelings, his thoughts, he might make a design, regular, elaborate, complicated, or beautiful; and though it might be no more than an illusion that he had the power of selection, though it might be no more than a fantastic legerdemain in which appearances were interwoven with moonbeams, that did not matter: it seemed, and so to him it was.

    “His life had seemed horrible when it was measured by its happiness, but now he seemed to gather strength as he realized that it might be measured by something else. Happiness mattered as little as pain. They came in, both of them, as all the other details of his life came in, to the elaboration of the design.”



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  • Steve and others

    Wittgenstein in showing that metaphysics per se could not deliver certain knowledge because its signs are ever contentious, closed the door on theology (if we assume Gods do not exist or alternatively understand that supernatural is an incoherent concept however it is defined.)

    The problems of life remaining after science is all done (not ever possible according to Popper) are metaphysical and he was thinking of fuzzy ideas like “What do we do now?” Finding “oughts” to free us from free will.

    He attacked Popper with a poker in one of the most brutal philosophical bust ups, because Popper felt metaphysics had not been anywhere near so contained as W proposed. Popper (he who argued science could never be done with until all possible disproofs of Theories had failed… and how could you reliably know of all proofs…) Metaphysics lies at the heart of the process of science for him and folk like Quine and, well, most scientists and scientific folk. With hypotheses we conjur imagined interior parts. Quarks (quite successfully) and Strings (still tantalising), neural connections made/strengthened, cognition based on expectation (quite successfully), the Rimmer 5 Element self-model of self consciousness (tantalising to only 3 people). As cognisable elements get revealed the signs attached to them become refined into a robust description. Explanations are part of the metaphysics we can handle with our metaphorical brains, happy to direct our but-why’s more towards the metaphysics without a previous metaphorical home. Explanations are often just our heuristic quickly defining the better path to explore.

    It is entirely false to muddle super complex problems with the inexplicable. Explanation, this metaphysics-wrangling set of heuristics, is entirely available but needs the development of assisted thinking tools from mathematics and computing. One of the things we learn from studying complexity is how human-significant characteristics can emerge from boggling complexity. As described earlier no singular explanatory path will suffice these days but like a hypertext novel (and then some) causal roots will branch and branch looking back and consequence will branch and branch looking forward from any one viewing point.

    For pragmatic-science-us this doesn’t stop us forming a negatable hypothesis (from some mooted explanation) about evolution and agency detection that say agency detection bred out of one line of hedgehogs and into another line will perform differentially returned to the wild. It doesn’t stop us (were we monsters in implementing such) forming negatable hypotheses about childhood over-imitation as a strong mechanism in producing stable cultures, that supernatural concepts are depleted from cultures when low agency detection populations are introduced, that supernatural concepts increase over generations when progressively resource stressed, that populations are more easily parasitised by its more psychopathic members when supernatural (less pragmatic populations) exist, etc. etc.,

    For me, Steve, you have talked about the nature of knowledge, rather than the nature of science and how it is done. I think you have failed to acknowledge that outside of mathematics and logic there is only a growing confidence in descriptions and that the way we progress those indistinct metaphysical hypotheses that lead us sometimes to new describable entities is by our metaphorical heuristcs of explanation. We are Homo Memorator, Man the Narrator.

    W couldn’t shut us up with his poker.

    The invocation of “Evolution” as a counter to “God” is more often reasonable than I think you would have it so. In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” Dennett cogently argues that the concept in one form or another may underly most things. Understanding the wild complexity of RNA word with its low grade copying and ill-defined entities we see how cultures may come about, how thoughts even may come to evolve into salience. It is the reasonable way of defining something (anything) that appears to have structure and at a first pass appears to defy thermodynamics, as being if it did not have a Creator. Evolution invoked in a conversation that may otherwise allow some of the metaphysics to appear supernaturally existent, is a perfectly good way of asserting that you think it not so. There are some here that really don’t want to say goodbye to entities, behaviours, qualities that will yet “fall” to a scientific description.

    W fails in his door closing quote. He doesn’t clarify that he cannot know that “problems of life” will remain, that they will be problems, that they will not be the problems of an altogether different entity, that may see such problems as empty of meaning. Our intellectual adventuring will change us . With insight into ourselves we may turn our apparent problems into the very rewards we need, building cortex upon cortex under which we shelter.



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  • Dan #133
    Mar 27, 2016 at 7:55 am

    “It [the world] is there for us to examine, but it frequently takes scientists to explain it – of even objectively investigate and examine it!” -Alan

    Isn’t reality or realness a problem too? If you agree that it is then what difference does it make whether this problem is addressed by a philosopher or a scientist?

    The difference is that the non-scientist philosopher does not know how to use scientific tools, and may well not understand how to interpret the results others have produced. They may not even understand the terminology (science cannot be learned from dictionaries), and will therefore be unable to “address the problem”. (See my link @#125)

    I do admit that philosophy has very little meaning today, has been superseded by science.

    That is the key issue.
    Many ancient questions have been answered by modern science, but non-scientists may not be aware of this progress.

    But whether you call it science or philosophy it is still a philosophical problem!

    Most of the useful features of philosophy have been incorporated into science.

    How about this? I will read more science, and you can read some great (“ancient”) philosophers. We might both be surprised.

    As we have discussed before, many notions and hypotheses of ancient philosophers have since been answered by scientific investigations, or refuted by scientific methodology.

    While the history is interesting, refuted claims are no use in the modern world, apart from trying to correct any attempts to misapply them by those unaware of the progress which has moved on from those positions. In science, failed, refuted, hypotheses, are binned forever!



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  • Vicki, thank you so much for the quote!

    Alan, you wrote this (below) about Wittgenstein (who said this): “Of course there are then no questions left, and this itself is the answer.”

    “Scientific answers, invariably produce new questions at a deeper level, which the superficiality of pseudo-philosophy, is unable to recognise due to ignorance of existing answers”. –Alan

    I call your attention to the phrase “pseudo-philosophy.” I am no great W understander, am struggling with his most famous work at the moment and feel mostly repelled by it. But I think (and I say this with compassion) that you (who have an excellent mind) and other science-oriented thinkers, do yourselves a disservice. W. was the Twentieth Century’s foremost philosopher and completely unique. I am able to recognize that he had brilliant insights about language. — They have far reaching implications and provide much food for thought.

    Herbert Spencer defined ignorance (and I can be ignorant at times) as contempt prior to investigation. You owe it to yourself to first read W. and then say that he was a pseudo or false philosopher. Otherwise it comes across as a prejudice. I won’t reiterate my very specific point about realness being both a scientific and a philosophical problem, as I am not certain where the former begins and the latter ends. I need to think about more. I do know that reading philosophy can be enormously enriching and one can learn a great many things, period.

    Olgun, I do get frustrated at times, but who doesn’t? But I like to be challenged, and contradicted, and I myself certainly don’t mind the jokes. I do wish that people in general (and I just said this to Alan) would read more philosophy, and try to engage the specific points that they encounter rather than dismissing those points right off the bat as rubbish. But we all have our prejudices and misapprehensions.—I myself am not beyond reproach on that score.

    Alan, when Plato offers a definition of, say, courage in his Republic he is not trying to explain courage from an evolutionary perspective (which would have been impossible) or from a scientific perspective; he is just presenting what he thinks courage is in our lives, or in this case, what it implies: the ability to distinguish between what one should fear and what one shouldn’t fear.



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  • @stevet #126

    the ugly Islamophobia etc and in instances the implicative racial hatred which is consistently posted on this site.

    Now I’m offended. More for the community that makes up the posters on this site than for myself, this kind of slander doesn’t warrant tolerance.

    On two grounds:

    1 Islamophobia is a made-up word, made up by extremist moslems so that they could have a word to use against those who oppose their attempt to apply their harsh misogynist world-view on the rest of us. It was made up because they saw how effective the term “anti-semitic” was in shutting down any vocal opposition to the behaviour of zionist groups, in particular the right wing governments of Israel.

    2 Even if the term had any validity, Islam is not singled out here. ALL religion is opposed, especially the kind that has followers who want to chop off our heads for daring to criticise.

    This site as I see it does not, should not, must not tolerate intolerance.



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  • Phil,

    I just read your comment #138 to Steve re Wittgenstein (and other related matters). With all due respect (and as you know, I have great respect for you) it sounds like you are addressing me, rather than him. Your comment read like many of the comments I received from you in the past re Schopenhauer.—And yet, S and W are diametrically opposed (although I remain convinced that some agreement can be found).

    Are you able to distinguish between these two most heterogeneous thinkers?

    “Wittgenstein in showing that metaphysics per se could not deliver certain knowledge because its signs are ever contentious, closed the door on theology (if we assume Gods do not exist or alternatively understand that supernatural is an incoherent concept however it is defined.)” -Phil

    “Metaphysics” again! Science per se cannot deliver certain knowledge about the beginning of time or the end of space because the knowledge of both space and time must always be present wherever there is knowledge of something. To know that there was something before time or that there is a point where space ends seems to me quite impossible. This, of course, raises the question as to what constitutes knowing, and what knowing can and cannot be. And this is intimately related to the question: what constitutes reality? – which is the question I asked Allan.



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  • @danielr-2

    Way out of my depth on philosophy, but it seemed to me that Steve was trying assert the dominance of philosophy over empirical science. His persistence on “evolutionary trait” was incomprehensible. Evolutionary trait is a legitimate description of observable empirical scientific data. Thousands of examples. Philosophy historically sat as the preeminent mode of thought across all issues, but with the advances empirical science, and within that realm of science, philosophy has been replaced by science, which has the last word. Philosophy still has its place but it speaks to use more on the morality / ethics / human condition / civilization area, not science. But I do get the impression that students of philosophy are not happy about this situation, and push back, vigorously in Steve’s case, to assert philosophy over science.

    It was sad he went out on a rant about Islam. I have oft said that terrorism doesn’t have a brand or a label, it is an act that has persisted within the human condition since recorded time. Anders Breivik, the terrorist who happens to be christian. ISIS the terrorist who happens to be Islamic. Irgun is a terrorist organization, that happens to be Jewish. Why I have heard some anti Islamic rants by some posters, on the whole this group gives a fair and balanced serve to most terrorists of any colour, so I think Steve may have read only a few posts, and hasn’t followed this issue over time in this group.

    How many Steves does it take the change a light bulb. It never happens. Until you can agree on what a light bulb is, it can’t be changed.



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  • Phil (cont.)

    “Your comment read like many of the comments I received from you in the past re Schopenhauer.” – Me

    This comment (above) was unclear. Sorry. I was alluding to remarks such as these:

    “It is entirely false to muddle super complex problems with the inexplicable.”

    “For me, Steve, you have talked about the nature of knowledge, rather than the nature of science and how it is done.”



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  • @vicki # 137

    Allow me to return the favor.—What is expressed here bears on the subject of religious feeling, which is not necessarily harmful. On the contrary, it can, in some instances, be life-enhancing.

    Windows (a prose poem)
    by Charles Baudelaire

    A man looking out of an open window never sees as much as the same man looking directly at a closed window. There is no object more deeply mysterious, no object more pregnant with suggestion, more insidiously sinister, in short more truly dazzling than a window lit up from within by even a single candle. What we can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what we can perceive taking place behind a pane of windowglass. In that pit, in that blackness or brightness, life is being lived, life is suffering, life is dreaming….
    Above the wave-crests of the rooftops across the way I can see a middle-aged woman, face already wrinkled–a poor woman forever bending over something, who never seems to leave her room. From just her face and her dress, from practically nothing at all, I’ve re-created this woman’s story, or rather her legend; and sometimes I weep while reciting it to myself.
    Some poor old man would have sufficed just as well; I could with equal ease have invented a legend for him, too.
    And so I go to bed with a certain pride, having lived and suffered for others than myself.
    Of course, you may confront me with: “But are you sure your story is really the true and right one?” But what does it really matter what the reality outside myself is, as long as it has helped me to live, to feel that I am alive, to feel the very nature of the creature that I am.



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  • Dan

    it sounds like you are addressing me

    Nope. Not this time.

    My concern was that Steve was discussing knowledge and what we can know with absolute certainty, whereas science wrangles with probabilities. (I should have made this latter point.) He was dismissing perfectly valid wrangling of ideas and the value of explanations as the ladders we climb.(…that we later cast down…when we arrive in perfectly knowledgable heaven!) His charges of scientism of any regular here I thought unwarranted and rather offensive, like the thrown-out charge of “Islamophobia”.

    I am not talking about Schopenauer here. I want Steve to notice very specifically how philosophers after W (Specifically P and Q) dealt with W’s ideas.

    I rather generally, (and this does include you) wanted folk to notice what metaphysics is. Steve’s quote about unseen interior parts, that must be imagined, is exactly what they are. These are exactly the stuff of innovative science. It is as valid to moot Quarks, as souls, or stuff having the quality of consciousness built in, or that there may be a pattern of neural states that may have some correlation with “intention”, etc. etc.

    Some folks are keen not to have the hoy polloy play with science because, Dunning Kruger, they will think causal relationships simple, and say, law driven. The problem is solved not by the warning off, but by urging them closer to see that science is seething with alternative and meshing hypotheses. Discourage an over enthusiastic cleaving to a simple account by pointing to others. BUT, note, even in very complex reality some singular interactions may indeed predominate.



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  • Hi Dan

    A moving poem–it reminds me of “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock.” The same gnawing feeling of hopelessness with a brave face. I’m glad I didn’t live at the dawn of the industrial revolution.



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  • Phil,

    Sorry.—My reply to your comment to Steve was not one of my better replies, although I remain somewhat critical and weary of your eternal opposition to “the inexplicable” and to “metaphysics.” I have tried repeatedly to present a very singular, specific and precise conception of “metaphysics” based on criticism vis-à-vis the human mind.
    Are you sure you have Steve pegged right? He knows his shit. He is a Wittgensteinian, has actually taught Wittgenstein! Not likely that he has a skewed notion of science or of metaphysics. But I must confess: I am not sure I understand your criticism of Steve’s ideas with regards to science (as opposed to scientism).
    “Unseen interior parts.” Where is that quote from Steve? W was a radical empiricist, questioned the existence of “inner” intentions and even understanding, etc.
    Sorry if I appear a bit muddled. I am. (It’s good to be muddled. Part of a process.)



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  • Steve #126
    Mar 27, 2016 at 5:47 am

    To clarify. It is not the mindless religious scientism of some sheeple (sic) who have merely replaced the God previously in their lives with a new one , which is nothing more than vaguely annoying,

    This is a rather heavy handed example of psychological projection of “Islamic blinker-denial of reality”, coupled with denial of the reliability of objective scientific/historical evidence”!

    but it is the ugly Islamophobia etc and in instances the implicative racial hatred which is consistently posted on this site.

    I’ll just post another example of dead and injured “Islamophobic” victims, of one of the major Islamic cults imposing their views on others using bombs! Those damned Christian families were enjoying themselves celebrating Easter!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-35908512

    At least 69 people have been killed and scores injured in an explosion at a public park in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, officials say.

    The park was crowded with families, some celebrating Easter. Many victims are said to be women and children.

    Police told the BBC it appeared to be a suicide bomb. A Pakistan Taliban faction said it carried out the attack.

    One eyewitness said there was chaos, with a stampede starting and children separated from their parents in the rush to escape.

    Another man told Pakistan’s Geo TV station he was heading towards a fairground ride with his wife and two children when he heard a huge bang and all four of them were thrown to the floor.

    Hasan Imran, 30, a local resident who had gone to the park for a walk told Reuters: “When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air.”

    The agency also reported that the army was called in to control crowds outside the park.

    According to Lahore’s deputy commissioner, Mohammad Usman, the number of injured was 193.

    Those fundamentalist Sharia god-delusions just keep on asserting their authority and right to enforce it, on the populations of the world!

    the implicative racial hatred which is consistently posted

    While their apologists conflate religious hatred with racial hatred, project it on to critics, and have no understanding of the term “PHOBIA”!

    Phobia, an extreme, irrational fear of a specific object or situation. A phobia is classified as a type of anxiety disorder, since anxiety is the chief symptom experienced by the sufferer. Alternative title: anxiety hysteria – Written by: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

    I don’t think there was anything “irrational” about the fear these Pakistani Christians have, and no racial difference between the perpetrators and the victims!



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  • David

    But I do get the impression that students of philosophy are not happy about this situation, and push back

    Nah. Very many are fine. There are a wealth of philosophers keen to embrace the seemingly probabalistic, uncertain universe and help map out rock from quicksand. The nervous nellies, these days, I suspect, are the fewer.

    87% of philosophers are scientific realists…

    http://philpapers.org/archive/BOUWDP

    Steve is a Scientific Realist and he will reasonably assert Wittgenstein is one. How individuals accommodate that modicum of doubt that must come as a package with Scientific Realism is though quite varied.

    What is unfair is the claim that faith and anti-faith positions may often be identical modes of cognition, both contingent upon faith, in fact. This assertion even now is unevidenced. Any misidentification by the antifaithist of what science can reliably claim is not an indicator of a lack of a desire for evidence rather than faith, rather it only indicates a lack of skill in cognising evidence. The result is ironic but not a proof of faith thinking.

    Has Steve left us? Damn, if so. We need him here.



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  • Dan

    weary of your eternal opposition to “the inexplicable” and to “metaphysics.”

    I so don’t understand this…I am selling metaphysics like crazy here.

    What do you mean by the inexplicable? Do you mean the concepts you set around with “Science, keep off” signs? They’ve always been like a magnet to me to go find out.

    I have tried repeatedly to present a very singular, specific and precise conception of “metaphysics” based on criticism vis-à-vis the human mind.

    And, thanks to Steve’s earlier comment about unseen interior parts I offer an illustrated definition of what I consider metaphysics to be and most particularly what I believe Popper etc. takes metaphysics to be.



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  • Fear!

    I find nothing metaphysical about it. Should I?

    I don’t like heights. I have never really known whether I just don’t like heights or I have Vertigo as I get dizzy passing at the top of my stairs. I once froze on a ladder when I was five feet in the air. I gathered my thoughts once the laughing stopped and someone held the ladder while I got down on unsteady legs. I only had three feet to go and I would have been at the top. My thoughts at the time and even before starting to climb; shiny floor. No one to foot the ladder. Ladder too vertical because of lack of space. The ledge I had to climb onto was only a foot wide with no hand rails and I would have had to make my way around two corners to get to the door to the loft which I would have to unlock and not be able to hang onto anything while doing it. The loft doors themselves were two iron doors with the opening being about 8 ft square. If I fell, they would be the only things to grab onto and if any part of me would get trapped in between, I would lose that part or my fingers as the ladder slipped and caught them underneath. I remembered the children playground in which it took me months to pluck up the courage to slide down a slide after climbing back down past other queuing children who could not understand what I was doing. I actually had to go back to that area and “exorcise” that fear a couple of years ago. The slide was just a little taller than I am now. Beams of light from all over my brain focused at a single point giving the illusion of ‘unseen internal organs”.

    I genuinely don’t see where the metaphysical part is and if I should take it as a serious contender. Answers, as David requested, in layman terms please!!! 🙂



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  • Dan #150
    Mar 28, 2016 at 6:06 am

    ideas with regards to science (as opposed to scientism).

    Scientism is a slippery term with two diametrically opposite meanings!

    It is therefore a favourite of science deniers and theological obfuscators, who wish to conflate the proper use of scientific methodology, with exaggerated unsupported claims!

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scientism

    1: methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist

    2: an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)

    In many instances claims of scientism are made simply because the science goes far beyond the understanding of the claimant, so they have no concept of its validity!

    Dan @140 – Herbert Spencer defined ignorance (and I can be ignorant at times) as contempt prior to investigation.

    I would say that was the definition of “wilful ignorance”.
    Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge.

    You owe it to yourself to first read W. and then say that he was a pseudo or false philosopher. Otherwise it comes across as a prejudice.

    Not really!
    It is not necessary to look at a whole philosophy in order to refute a specific claim or brand it unjustified “pseudo-philosophy”.
    Scientists have no problem with refuting mistaken claims, regardless of whose claims they me be, and really are not into “arguments from authority”, unless they are backed by evidence.



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  • Olgun.

    Fear!

    I find nothing metaphysical about it. Should I?

    It depends if you think it may be an entity that exists, that needs a marker to connote this thing pending its clear apprehension and descripion…whether all those things that invoke a fearful response in you have some common essence that could reasonably be said to constitute a thing. Evil is thought by the religious often to be an entity, and looking at my angry speech sometimes, it may appear I think it a thing in itself. But, outside of a poetic and metaphoric usage, I don’t believe that anything so singular and essential exists.

    Metaphysics is used by everyone and doesn’t mean flaky physics, it means unproven physics. All physics started out as unproven but in the mix of unproven ideas (the un-apprehended internal parts of a person or a universe) some would. It is entirely reasonable that hypotheses that contain some as yet unapprehended part necessarily thereby contain metaphysics. I suggest that all hypotheses are in fact metaphysics because some part or process will be as yet unapprehended.

    Metaphysical concepts get to turn into physics or remain unapprehended, uncaptured by rigorous unambiguous description. This doesn’t mean they are without all merit in facilitating useful thoughts on occasions. Social and cultural inventions may coopt certain classes of these mooted entities, Justice, Money and achieve a contingent and parochial substance.

    In exploring the what-if world of metaphysics we may use other metaphysical terms as part of our exploratory narrative to test out these terms for inter-operability. “If fear existed then it”, may well be expressed simply as “fear” in intelligent musing. “Fear appears to have causal and non causal origins” we might propose, for instance, starting a process that may eventually disprove fear as a thing.

    Metaphysics- Abstract theory with no basis (yet!) in reality (and maybe never).



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  • Thanks Phil. Maybe a little spark of realisation on my part?

    If we have, say, four, or more, lasers focused at one point the ‘point’ ‘ has to have a name and we call it the ‘hot spot/fear/love’ etc….but it only really exists when the lazers are on. When off, it is claimed for metaphysics whether proved or not? I can see that as a working model but am confused why Dan mixed the universe and planets, that exist whether we think about them or not, with emotion? I can also see Alan’s point that without the knowledge to predict accurately, theoretical science is a safer bet. The same ‘what if’s’ but with predictable results maybe with a few surprises. Dan, by his own admission, has not got the scientific knowledge to cross reference. Steve? Don’t know his scientific knowledge. You, on the other hand, are much better placed (Phil).



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  • BTW!

    I don’t know how others feel about the new email service offered by this site which gives notice to the person being replied to by email, if used, but I am a little worried about the right etiquette and have not used it very much. I imagine people getting annoyed with (what seem like trivial matters when working etc) too many emails. I appogise to anyone who might have not had a reply from me in some thread or another but it is hard to keep track so the email thingy is a good idea I think but can see the downside too. I however invite all to use the service if they require an answer or just want me to read/see something. Thanks!



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  • @phil-rimmer and others

    I thought you resisted the notion of a thing-in-itself. All I ever meant by that was something non-physical or meta-physical, if you will. I have already presented my arguments at length, and don’t wish to do so again.

    If you say that you are a proponent of metaphysics then how could you be opposed to a thing-in-itself? In countless comments to me you have resisted the notion of something other than matter and energy as a the inner nature of phenomena.

    One cannot be a realist and a “seller of metaphysics” at one and the same time. Tell me precisely what you mean by metaphysics.

    Scientific realism, by the way, is to me absurd. They start and end with “the real” without acknowledging that we as beings with brain, as it were, create reality. Reality has no meaning, no existence, no form or manner of being without brains! I am not surprised to hear that it is prevalent today among philosophers.

    I agree that philosophy cannot solve the problems of science. Philosophy starts at one end of the tunnel. Science starts at the other. They should meet somewhere in the middle. Philosophy also presents laws of the human mind and can serve as a watchdog of sorts, a guardian: scientific realism needs to be reigned in, as it is nothing but crass materialism (a form of dogmatism enjoyed by ancient philosophers); it defiantly, stupidly and irresponsibly starts with the objects being investigated and forgets that it is being investigated by something, and that something has an intellect, and that intellect divides this scientifically “real” world, universe, into subject and object.

    If a wise philosopher (and this could be just some man on the street or perhaps a novelist) were to offer his opinion about, say, courage, he would not be obliged to explain courage from an evolutionary perspective or from a scientific perspective; he would just be presenting what he thinks courage is in our lives, or in this case, what courage implies: the ability to distinguish between what one should fear and what one shouldn’t fear. (Plato, Republic)

    I agree with you about Steve. A damned shame.



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  • Alan 155

    I just want to clarify this:

    …ideas with regards to science (as opposed to scientism).

    This quote above. I myself have never accused anyone of scientism. I don’t even know what the word means. This was from a reply to Phil’s objection to Steve’s use of the word. I was referring to Steve’s attitude toward science and wanted to distinguish that from scientism (Steve’s word, not mine.)

    As for Wittgenstein, I have to admit that I myself can’t stand the guy, and I have read less than half of what is available.



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  • Dan #161
    Mar 28, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    …ideas with regards to science (as opposed to scientism).

    This quote above.

    If you read the quote using scientism definition 1, it is meaningless nonsense as both words have the same meaning!

    If you read it using scientism definition 2, it is asserting the science is over-blown!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/03/why-we-believe-in-gods-pg-76/#li-comment-200717
    In many instances claims of scientism [2] are made simply because the science goes far beyond the understanding of the claimant, so they have no concept of its validity!

    I myself have never accused anyone of scientism.

    Sorry if you got the impression I was suggesting you did accuse anyone.

    I don’t even know what the word means.

    My intension, as you were quoting it, was to make you (and other readers), aware of how it is sometimes used in discussions on science. – Particularly when its lack of clear definition, is used to muddy, rather than clarify issues!
    I am sure you are aware that ambiguous definitions are unhelpful in debates.



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  • Phil,

    Just read my own comment. One needs to be clear.

    “…scientific realism needs to be reigned in, as it is nothing but crass materialism (a form of dogmatism enjoyed by ancient philosophers); it defiantly, stupidly and…”

    I wasn’t labeling you a scientific realist or calling you stupid; however, I simply don’t see what the opposite of a metaphysician would be other than a realist of some kind or another.

    Sorry if I inadvertently offended you.



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  • @dan #147

    “But are you sure your story is really the true and right one?”

    Yes!!! Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    (No, not ironic. I love stories. Especially the ones that carry truth even when they’re totally fabricated.)

    “It’s a True Story. I know, because I’m the one that made it up.”



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  • @phil-rimmer

    Nah. Very many are fine.

    Thank Phil for the explanation. It’s all Mandarin to me. I …. think …. I understand now.

    And Steve. If you are still reading, don’t give up on us. You’ll never hang out with such a fine bunch of opinionated individuals. You even get to learn stuff from Phil, Dan and Alan et al.



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  • @phil-rimmer
    @ollie

    “Metaphysics- Abstract theory with no basis (yet!) in reality (and maybe never).”

    Not much of a “salesman,” are you?

    How’s this? Reality – A variety of abstract theories with no basis (yet!) in metaphysics (and maybe never).

    Btw, I apologize for saying that scientific realism is “stupid.” There might be a few scientific realists on this site, and I might become one myself. It isn’t stupid; I just have some issue with it. Are you one (of those)?

    “I can see that as a working model but am confused why Dan mixed the universe and planets, that exist whether we think about them or not, with emotion?” – Olgun

    I’d like to reply to this. I must seem like a fruitcake. This is it in a nutshell. I’ll be brief. If you had been born right before the invention of eyeglasses and had very poor vision you would go through life seeing things a certain way. That would be your reality. You look up at the moon and see an indistinct, fuzzy object with blurred edges. There is no one who can describe anything else to you because everyone (in this imaginary scenario) has the same vision as you. Then all of a sudden someone invents eyeglasses and hands them out to the entire population. Lo and behold, you all see the moon as it is. But what is seeing what something is? You can only see it as it appears to you. What if our vision as a species continues to sharpen over time? Will the objects change or are we changing? We are all still wearing eyeglasses; we see the planets and the universe through a lens. You say that the planets exist and the universe exists without us. Obviously that which is represented is something (as opposed to nothing) but what I said about what we see applies to virtually everything that we can possibly know about any object. Shape, position, extension, co-existence, heat, size, motion,—What are these qualities without perception? Yes, we can measure things now, but what is left of your existing planet after all of these qualities that we mistakenly assume are inseparable from its existence, after the subject is removed? A mile is a mile is a mile. I believe you said something to that effect recently. That is a strong argument (and it does give me pause), but what is a mile? We cannot conceive of a mile not being a mile.—But neither can I conceive of any object – whether it be a planet, my own body, or a blade of grass – existing without qualities, and these qualities are subjectively conditioned, conditioned by our mental faculties. No thought or perception is possible without them.

    I have not said that the planets don’t exist or that the universe does not exist, without the mind; but if I have expressed myself adequately, I have, once again, raised a legitimate question: if you consider this existence as mind-independent existence, what is left to think, to know, to say about it? Quite a lot, I am sure. I have learned that much since I joined this site. But you do see the problem, don’t you?

    “I don’t know how others feel about the new email service offered by this site.”

    I use it sparingly – about fifty times a week. Seriously, I thought this one warranted a notification.
    “Emotion” Indeed! (Kidding. Not mad.)



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  • @ Dan (You don’t seem to have an email address though?)

    Not much of a “salesman,” are you?

    That should read, (You are not much of a teacher, are you?) but as you are not a teacher (?) then thats not exactly an insult!!!! 😉 It’s helping me wade through it though so it has a positive side…..to my perspective at least!!

    Its All In The Mind!

    I now realise that you are just talking about perspective and the observer! A relative of yours already worked that out with ‘Relativity”. Each perspective of an observer can and is different but a greater knowledge of the observed if information is shared. With respect to the ‘mile’, It is no different than using the metric system or the imperial. If you know both then you can use them to find the relative distance to you. The real length of the distance does not change whatever measure you use. ‘Twelve bus lengths’ does not give you the exact length of the bus so which bus do we use, American or British? We find a Univers(e)al length. None of this changes the physical world, only our perception. All your scenarios suggest we are fundamental to existence of everything when we are only tiny observers with little or no influence on the universe.

    We cannot conceive of a mile not being a mile.

    We seem to not be able to conceive any distance at a conscious level. Below the surface these calculations are being done all the time in order for you to be able to pick up a cup of coffee without several tries or knocking the thing over. We then learned how do do it consciously but still have to be told in bus lengths and football pitch lengths as if that makes any difference.

    From Phils link (That I have to read over a few more times!)

    systematic skepticism about counterfactual belief is in fact a
    distinctive trait of a scientific state of rationality, which is
    rather uncommon among average human beings.

    Finding out about why you think what you think is important for that perspective. If you read the paper, it seems to be a struggle with the ‘basement’ and the ‘upper floors'(parts of the brain). Philosophy, ironically, is at the ‘hotspot’ (as my laser analogy above) and only exists because of the two conflicting parts (a bit of my own philosophy 🙂 ) It seems my brain locked the door of the basement long ago and is happy to live on the upper floors. A closed mind? “I refute it thus”!!!!!

    BTW! No disrespect in any of my posts Dan. Getting a crash course in philosophy and science by people who really know their thing is the stuff of dreams for me. Come back Steve!!



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  • Dan

    “Metaphysics- Abstract theory with no basis (yet!) in reality (and maybe never).”

    Not much of a “salesman,” are you?

    What?!

    Here I am selling Popper’s vision of metaphysics being what scientists do when forming disruptive hypotheses.

    You seem to always see what I say in bits, that in isolation niggle you.

    By this, metaphysics remains moot until it becomes physics or is proved wrong or it evolves into a differently defined metaphysic, which remains until…etc, etc..

    The hypothesis of a soul doesn’t make the soul real, like quarks became real. But once Quarks were just mooted things, same as a soul. Now Popper has it that hypotheses lose any metaphysical status when a test becomes available for them. I would be perfectly happy to keep this description (of metaphysical) until a disruptive hypothesis reaches acceptance by the science community, after all any test that remains unconvincing is not a test. We can conceive of any number of tests for souls…



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  • Dan, Olgun

    But you do see the problem, don’t you?

    Scientists saw the problem at least by 1905 and more comprehensively over the following decades. Dan, seems to have no idea about how comfortable scientists are about the truth of this.

    Observation depends of the observer. Space-time is infinitely elastic. Things have only probable properties. Probabilities of how external realities present depends on how their wave functions collapse for a (quantum) observer. Time possibly reverses in some photon electron interactions. There may be only one electron in the entire universe, nipping back and forth through time. Reality is non-local. This latter suggests the vastness of space is a meaningless concept for some interactions. The only scientific way of describing much of reality is with mathematics. Scientists already live this spooky reality of fields and probabilities of entanglements that are further and further divorced from the (merely) apparent nature of things here in the middle scale of the Universe.

    Dan’s warning is well heeded but given now is 111 years too late.



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  • Thanks for helping me wade through this Phil. I am sure there is a lot more to learn.

    I don’t know if anyone caught the series “Tribes-Predators and me (Lions)” on the other night. I only caught half the program with Gordon Buchanan. Worth a watch if only for a few snippets of the rituals before a hunt of ‘throwing bones” and then the ritual after when the hunt was unsuccessful and, before setting off, the objection of the women to a stranger going on the hunt and bringing bad luck.

    The program is about the bushmen of the Kalahari.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b075lwdg/tribes-predators-me-2-lion-people-of-the-kalahari



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  • @ollie
    Phil

    Sorry that I took your quote, Phil, out of context.

    I do also admit that my (mostly self) education thus far has been quite one-sided. I need to wake up and see the world – and learn more about the world of science. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but by no means impossible.

    Have I renounced all of my old ideas in their entirety? Not yet. But I am aware of how stuck I’ve been, and want to thank you for that. (Nothing worse than a closed mind, as Strindberg said.) Thank God (no irony intended, part of our language) my philosophy is not my religion. —But it almost is, so I certainly can relate to those poor unfortunates who simple can’t give up old ideas.

    It is not exactly “all in the mind” (and I am glad that you see now that it isn’t sheer lunacy); the objective world is really external and really does exist – as phenomenon. The part that isn’t in the mind is simply not capable of being perceived in any way. Moreover, matter cannot be thought away. The philosopher who is most famous for all this was forced to conclude, finally, that his understanding had come to a standstill. He then added that no philosophy can explain everything or any one thing entirely. He considered that its strength. Whether it be strength or weakness it does have the virtue of being honest.

    (I do have an email notification address. It’s now danielr-2. I have been unable to use this feature. I think it’s been disabled.)



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  • @ Olgun and Phil

    “BTW! No disrespect in any of my posts Dan.”

    No disrespect to either of you in any of mine either. I can assure you of that.

    But Phil, how can you be a “seller off metaphysics” and at the same time say that all metaphysics must eventually be revealed as physics? (Have I misquoted you again?)

    Phil, do you still have the link to the paper that Olgun took this quote from?

    “Systematic skepticism about counterfactual belief is in fact a
    distinctive trait of a scientific state of rationality, which is
    rather uncommon among average human beings.”

    I think this applies to me: I am highly and perpetually skeptical about my own beliefs as well as some of the scientific beliefs of others (in spite of my vast, self-proclaimed ignorance). But I do not regard all the beliefs that I question as necessarily counterfactual in nature; if I did, there would be no need for skepticism, as opposed to outright disavowal.

    Olgun, you asked me why this whole issue of perception is so important to me. I will get back to you on that when I can.—Perhaps on a different thread.I need to prepare a reply worthy of the question, and that will take time.

    Phil, I rarely use the word metaphysics, although I don’t eschew it; I prefer transcendental. Hopefully, over time, I will be able to make clear precisely what I mean by that. I will leave you with this (outdated statement?) for now. My metaphysics, by the way, is not an opening for God! On the contrary, since God is a knowing God, it can’t possibly exist. All knowing is intellectual, i.e. physical; the intellect is bound up, permanently, with the brain. You can thank Kant for clipping the wings of Reason. He unwittingly paved the way for atheism’s ascendancy. (Sorry if this unclear. I can only comfortably write so much here.)

    “Transcendental is the philosophy that makes us aware of the fact that the first and essential laws of this world that are presented to us are rooted in our brain and are therefore known a priori. It is called transcendental because it goes beyond the whole given phantasmagoria to the origin thereof. Therefore, as I have said, only the “Critique of Pure Reason” and generally the critical [my emphasis] (that is to say, Kantian) philosophy are transcendental.” -Guess who?

    — Parerga and Paralipomena, Volume I, “Fragments for the History of Philosophy,” § 13



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  • “Dan’s warning is well heeded but given now is 111 years too late.” -Rimmer

    I am open-minded but also believe in sticking to one’s guns. I just found a book on my shelf called Substance and Function by Ernst Cassirer, which someone gave me many years ago.

    It contains an essay about my late cousin’s theory of relativity from an epistemological standpoint. I have yet to read it, and look forward to encountering some corroboration. 1921 is not 1905. Maybe I am truly on to something!

    “In Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (1921) he defended the claim that modern physics supports a
    neo-[?]Kantian conception of knowledge.”



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  • Dan

    But Phil, how can you be a “seller off metaphysics” and at the same time say that all metaphysics must eventually be revealed as physics? (Have I misquoted you again?)

    Yup, but even I “misquoted” myself by omitting the second “moot”

    metaphysics remains moot until it becomes physics or is proved wrong or it evolves into a differently defined metaphysic, which remains [moot] until…etc, etc..

    Metaphysics = might be’s, mooted but unapprehended, hypotheses,

    The greatest most disruptive, counterintuitive physics starts out as metaphysics. The goal of the scientist is to apprehend it and describe it. (I like the term apprehend with its implication of grasping as understanding.) As W notes, you can have no certain knowledge that you have even the proper “signs” for the thing to allow philosophically rigorous discussion of it, if you have not actually apprehended the thing.
    Define transcendental and I can comment on it.

    The important decades of change began in that annus mirabilis of 1905. It takes a little while for that dropped acid tab to have its effect on Victorian minds….

    That essay/paper sounds fascinating. It would be good to read…



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  • Dan,

    Is this the paper you are looking for?

    http://philpapers.org/archive/BOUWDP

    Beware! A co-author of it is that arch scientist and metaphysician David Chalmers…

    Metaphysical thinking.

    Everyone does it, everyone…..and with certain knowledge just occasionally being an end product when combined with other thinking tools and practices. But it is those happy to be described as scientific that recognise metaphysics’ other definition-

    wish thinking.

    At least 50% of my thinking is wish thinking…



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  • Phil, I don’t know if that’s the one, but I’ll check it out. Thanks! Olgun presented a quote and said it was from your link. It has to do with upper and lower floors (parts of the brain). I don’t know anything more than that.

    I also look forward to reading Cassirer’s essay Theory of Relativity. Have you read Substance and Function? Heard of it?

    “That essay/paper sounds fascinating. It would be good to read…” -Phil

    Which one, mine or yours?

    “Define transcendental and I can comment on it.” -Phil

    “Transcendental is the philosophy that makes us aware of the fact that the first and essential laws of this world that are presented to us are rooted in our brain [and rooted in perceived space, time, and causality] and are therefore known a priori. It is called transcendental because it goes beyond the whole given phantasmagoria [the empirically real world, universe] to the origin thereof.”



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  • (I do have an email notification address. It’s now danielr-2. I have been unable to use this feature. I think it’s been disabled.)

    Hi Dan and others

    The email notifications have been disabled for now. The problem was that, for them to work properly, it is essential that they be used in conjunction with the addressee’s USER name, which is frequently not the same as their display name. Using @ with the display name was causing too many email notifications to be fired off to non-intended users whose user name happened to be the same as someone else’s display name, which was obviously causing considerable annoyance.

    They may be reinstated later if a solution to this problem can be found.

    The mods



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  • @olli

    Well researched Olgun. What I was trying so poorly to assert. From the Abstract.

    Hence, the very invention of supernatural agents seems to be the result of a particular series of abductive processes that served some other purposes before (i.e. the detection of predators and preys) and whose output was coherent with that of other abductive patterns. Eventually, they would be externalized and recapitulated in the well-known figures of deities, spirits, and so on: thoughts concerning supernatural beings, at first rather vague, were embodied in material culture with the result of fixing them in more stable and sharable representations that could be manipulated and acquired back in the mind in the definitive form.



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  • phil rimmer #177
    Mar 30, 2016 at 3:50 am

    But it is those happy to be described as scientific that recognise metaphysics’ other definition-

    “wish thinking”.

    Ah! but that is where those using scientific methodology differ from supernaturalists – as is illustrated on threads where we deal with the frontiers of astronomy and cosmology!

    It’s not in the speculative or lateral thinking generating ideas!
    It’s in the methodical pruning out of ideas when they fail on test or come into conflict with new data!



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  • Hi Phil and others,

    Compare and contrast these two quotes. You will see (if I am not mistaken) that a renowned, modern physicists agrees with me (although he does not express it in these terms) that energy is not (yet) a knowable thing-in-itself!

    “Transcendental is the philosophy that makes us aware of the fact that the first and essential laws of this world that are presented to us are rooted in our brain and are therefore known a priori. It is called transcendental because it goes beyond the whole given phantasmagoria to the origin thereof. Therefore, as I have said, only the “Critique of Pure Reason” and generally the critical [my emphasis] (that is to say, Kantian) philosophy are transcendental.” -Dan’s quote

    (…) It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy ‘is’. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount. It is not that way. It is an abstract thing in that it does not tell us the mechanism or the reason for the various formulas.” -Dick Feynman



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  • Dan,
    Schopennhauer doesn’t do it for me on Transcendence. Its a definiion I can’t find any merit in. I love S as a most astute and witty (in a profound sense) observer of and commentator upon the world, but when he rolls up his philosopher’s sleeves something goes awry.

    It is perhaps that the terminology used hasn’t been sufficiently re-imagined. Though atheist the idea of “first laws” takes them as a non theist version of “God’s Laws”…. laws that govern. Hopeless. Universal laws are entirely synthetic and cultural and are predictively descriptive accounts of things apprehended.

    How does a child have a priori knowledge? Brains wire to their task. There are only a priori behaviours embedded from the cellular level. Coincidence is to be noticed. Only act to return to the median state. etc.

    I simply can’t get a handle on what is being said here. Maybe I should read what precedes this quote? I know I’m getting this wrong.

    I like W’s simpler idea for which he reserves at the end of the Tractatus the image of a ladder climbed and then discarded. This later use of transcendence in philosophy, simply has a “next level” concept of making a further and useful set of inferences upon an earlier set of inferences. Just as our cortex draws inferences from the behaviours it observes caused by our more primitive brain, so with our cultural tools of logic and philosophy we may infer additionally upon the product of our cortex. We have thinking tools, machines of mathematics and logic, (Apps!) we can run to take a step back from our own brains.

    Inferences about our own primitive mid and hind brains make us successful, multiplying choices and our freedom to choose the better ones.. There is every reason to believe that a repeated process of steps back (were it possible) to be able to make inferences upon our inferences would benefit us again and again. This is my understanding of transcendence…myself in a larger context, with a larger perspective and more choice of action and thought.



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  • I think Feynman’s quote makes EXACTLY my point about physicists recognising that they start their discovery in the thickets of metaphysics. Quarks the “particles” that make sub-atomic particles and formulated by Murray Gell-Mann in the office next to Feynman are not the last word on the matter of what matter is (so what are quarks made of?) any more than understanding that energy is some other kind of stuff. Quarks are better understood as the mathematical fields that represent them, but what the heck are fields?

    This is why I always used to talk about the difference between understanding and mastery. We may indeed become masters of the Universe able to predict any outcome because we have a perfect insight into the universe by means of a perfect and complete mathematical model. But this doesn’t mean we will feel we understand it. Feynman was the first to admit that he couldn’t give people an understanding of the physics of the Universe, but he could give them an impression that they understood. Understanding is just some impression of familiarity of parts or process. Metaphor is our primary tool to achieve a new familiarity. But here’s the funny thing, familiarity comes also from the simple fact of living with new parts and processes. Our sense of understanding simply grows with familiarity, at least until the next round of “but why’s” suddenly bubbles up.

    Its turtles all the way down…



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  • You are, in my opinion, wrong, Phil! You are wrong and I am right. The knowledge of space, time, and causality are forms of a priori knowledge! It is not learned from the outside in! I think you know as much about what Schopenhauer taught as I do about physics! Yes, a child has a priori knowledge! If it didn’t it would not be able to trace an effect (that first slap in the butt, for example) back to a cause (an external source). Beings without brains (such as cells) cannot distinguish between what comes from without (stimuli) and what is felt within. Everything is experienced as within. No knowledge of causality, no understanding. Again, beings with brains (or most of them) are able to trace effects back to external causes. This knowledge is innate, and a function of the brain, and a product of evolution, I might add.
    I don’t think you realize how subtle this all is. How could you? You haven’t studied S. That is my assumption.
    (I am expressing considerable vexation. I feel I know you well enough now to be able to express myself in this way without offending you.)



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  • Phil,

    In the comment above I was responding to your rejection of a priori knowledge. (#184) I should have indicated that. Allow me to just say a few more things about the knowledge of causality.

    “How does a child have a priori knowledge? There are only a priori behaviours…”

    I’m sorry, but this is either confusion or the impetuous evasion of a radical empiricist. It is simply (or not so simply) not true. (Radical empiricists such as Mill sound like drowning men. 3+2 does not equal 5. Indeed! ) Now listen, Protagoras, we are born with something that we can call the knowledge of causality. How could we experience anything unless the knowledge of causality was already present? The idea of demonstrating causality as knowledge is absurd. No demonstration would be possible if the knowledge of cause and effect (a pure intuition) were not already present, as one of the conditions of all possible experience – including any and all demonstrations themselves.

    Do you really think you acquired your knowledge of causality? In a way you did. Back when we were inorganic nature, before life appeared on this planet, there was no knowledge of causality. So it was acquired. But you’ve had it since birth.

    Causality is an innate intuition. It is not “behavior.” I understand your confusion, but when an animal – a raccoon, for example – looks up in fright at the face of a predator, this gesture implies the existence of a form of knowledge or awareness. It is not merely behaving; it knows that the predator is not IT (the raccoon). The intellect (brain) divides the world into subject and object. The knowledge of causality (which is not abstract knowledge!!) is the awareness that something that isn’t oneself (or itself) is acting upon it in some way. In the example I gave of the infant this awareness is so dim, it is almost possible to imagine that it would experience its first sensations as coming from within, regardless of the actual source. Be that as it may, the awareness of an external world and of being acted upon from without, is not of empirical origin.

    Experiencing reality IS possible BECAUSE we experience (perceive, have knowledge of) time and space and causality. They are the formal conditions which gives us the empirically real world. Without the knowledge of space, time, and cause and effect we would be like living organisms without brains (invertebrates).

    I almost forgot: I wish everyone would stop conflating or confusing a very abstruse and subtly apprehended doctrine (transcendental idealism) with religion and superstition. This has nothing to do with either.



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  • a raccoon, for example – looks up in fright at the face of a
    predator, this gesture implies the existence of a form of knowledge or
    awareness. It is not merely behaving; it knows that the predator is
    not IT (the raccoon).

    You’re losing me again a bit Dan but what the raccoon above is noticing is that the predator is not one that looks like his mother or his siblings. In zoo’s, they are careful that the first thing the new born sees is its mother as some birds seem to hook on to what ever animal they see first.

    On your baby example….Does a baby know its hungry?



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  • Olgun,

    Hunger can never by itself produce knowledge of something external to oneself. That is a good example of a sensation that, for a baby, would give it a kind of knowledge of its own existence (and Knowledge itself is a very complicated issue, and one that I am not attempting to explain or define.—Too many kinds of knowledge). Knowledge (of a feeling) is not necessarily knowledge of a cause. As I said above, this “knowledge” (of a cause, which in simply intuiting, or sensing, that there is something other than, or outside of, the body of the baby or whatever other creature – possessed with some rudimentary understanding– that we may be using as an example), is what my own faculty of reason tells me is an innate intuition. It is not a reflection, not abstract knowledge. So no, I don’t think the baby would know that it was hungry; it would just be hungry. That is my hunch. But (and this is where causality as an innate intuition comes in) if you hold up a spoon to a baby’s mouth and it grabs the spoon with its hands and eats the food on the spoon, I am prepared to say that this is illustrative of an awareness on the part of the baby, of its possession of the faculty of understanding – however rudimentary – and an awareness (however indistinct) of something outside of itself. It is able to distinguish between itself, between its own inner self, and a world (dimly perceived) outside of itself (which might even include its own body, i.e, hands, etc.) – and this ability presupposes the “knowledge” of cause and effect.—The baby obviously cannot think “cause and effect”; that is a very sophisticated concept: but it knows that the hand and the food, etc., are not part of its own body. It has an immediate and intuitive knowledge of their being external to itself (himself or herself).

    Well that’s what I think.

    Why the debate between the proponents of a priori knowledge and empiricists (who believe that everything is learned from the outside in), is important is another question altogether.



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  • Experiencing reality IS possible BECAUSE we experience (perceive, have knowledge of) time and space and causality.

    Experiencing our surroundings is possible in our hugely premature human brain because-

    Hebbian Learning
    The proto purpose of homeostasis.
    The late mammal invention of mirror neurons invoking muscle copying.
    etc.

    Human infants are devasted in their ability to cognise anything if they do not have the rich experiences to learn to cognise, most particularly so if deprived of cultural inputs. Cochlear and retinal implants are worse than useless to those deaf and blind because of cochlear and retinal non function from birth if those implants are made as adults. 3D vision is never achieved for the adult operated on for a bad strabismus.

    Less neotenous animals have stronger grounding behaviours when born. If you wish to call this Knowledge, I don’t mind, but, for me, it will seriously undermine the use of that word in the more usual discussions about it.

    Knowledge is conscious. A reflexive behaviour never needs to be and mostly never is.



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  • Dan,

    I appreciate your appreciation.

    I think there is a lot still to discuss. We are most definitely not a blank sheet of paper yet recent insights make this blanker than we previously thought. A Chinese women ccould function without a cerebellum, a civil servant could function without three quarters of his brain (though he was French), optic nerves re-routed to a new-born mammal’s “auditory” section still provides vision. Plasticity is increasingly astonishing.

    The “knowledge” we are born with are those capacities we have needed to better survive and reproduce.



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  • 194
    Olgun says:

    @phil & Dan

    My weekly fix of goodness is the program DIY SOS on the BBC. Last night was about a young lad named Noah who has survived with only two percent of his brain. Doctors are amazed that he can still see, hear and talk and is functioning even though he is paralysed from the shoulders down and with such a small amount of brain. A terrific little boy that made me tear up with the final shots of him in his tiny wheelchair being independent and mobile for the first time.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04g6z1g



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  • Phil, Olgun, Alan,

    I confess: I don’t know too much about how infants develop the various forms of cognition. I do know that the “I” is not something they are born with (as Freud said). Yet the I must accompany all of our representations of perception.

    “Hebbian Learning. The proto purpose of homeostasis.The late mammal invention of mirror neurons invoking muscle copying, etc. Human infants are devasted [sic] in their ability to cognise anything if they do not have the rich experiences to learn to cognise…”

    You are saying true things. But whether this wish on my part arises from the stubbornness of the fool, or from the determined spirit and intellectual loyalty (if you will) of a man who refuses to admit what his intellectual conscience will not yet allow him to regard as admissible, I would, very much, like to answer your last comment with yet another question: All knowledge begins with experience, but all knowledge is not derived from experience. We inherit instincts, and as that non-scientific scientist, Mr. Jack London said (Before Adam, 1905-6), “an instinct is merely a habit that is stamped into the stuff of our heredity, that is all.” Why is it so easy to acknowledge facts such as these and at he same time recoil with horror at anything even remotely suggestive of a priori knowledge? Space (the form of the external sense) cannot possibly be of empirical origin. Neither is time. Neither is the ability to trace an effect (any form of stimuli) back to a cause (its origin outside of one’s self). These three forms all work together, are nothing by themselves) and produce that highly illusory thing that we call reality. It is not an illusion per se; it is an illusion only when we confuse it (and its accompanying forms): space, time, and causality. This is actually perceived space and time, not the theoretical space-time that my deluded (kidding) cousin is famous for. In other words, if a theoretical physicist were to travel a gazillion miles in space he or she would still see space in front of himself or herself.

    I still maintain that we cannot distinguish these three forms from ourselves, and that they cannot be said to have an absolute, self-sufficient reality.

    Is no agreement between us possible as far as this matter is concerned? You would no doubt say: “of course it is possible; but there is not sufficient evidence to support your claim at the present time (if ever).”



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  • Olgun, Phil,

    That sounds like a great program. Thank you. My fix this week is a novel I am reading that you must read, as I know you are deeply interested in evolution. It is a novel, not really science, But I assure you: you will love it.
    Before Adam (1905), by one of America’s most remarkable writers. It is about a boy who is tormented by dream-memories of his Mid-Pleistocene ancestor. It is beautiful, haunting, highly stimulating, and highly original. For a non-scientist he describes the life of his ancestor extremely well. (The power of the literary imagination!)



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  • Dan, you pretty much nail it in saying possible but unproven, for me. The further point for me having spent a long time on the neuroscience and in particular looking at Chomskey’s claim for an a priori capacity (to be neutral here) for languge, is to feel that causality, f’rinstance, is entirely learnable as a new mode of cognition, through Hebbian coincidence detection and Bayesian probability weighting. This is what underlies training and behavioural reinforcement and is more than sufficient to be refined with language and culture into the gleaming inhuman machine of logic. These are processes of which brain cells are capable. They haven’t the rigour of that cultural refinement, but they are sufficient to start a philosophical process for the first time.

    Simply there is no deficit in process for me to want a priori knowledge. (There certainly was an explanatory deficit for S.)

    Then, I also avoid the nightmare of having to account for such a unique phenomenon’s occurrence.



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  • Corrected sentence from #195:

    It [reality] is not an illusion per se; it is an illusion only when we confuse it (and its accompanying forms): space, time, and causality, with absolute or self-sufficient reality.



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  • Hi Dan,
    I’m enjoying this conversation but as I’ve explained with gratuitous sarcasm in the past, I have no valuable contribution. So be it. I’m happy if I glean any amount of new knowledge from it at all.
    But since you mentioned the book Before Adam just above, I wanted to tell you that I just read it a few days ago! I think you must have mentioned it lately because I discovered that I could zap it onto my Kindle from my library for free and that’s just what I did.

    The topic reminded me right away of a trilogy SF series written by Robert Sawyer called Neanderthal Parallax, Hominids-Humans-Hybrids. I’m always sure to pick up anything about the Pleistocene. But anyways, I did like the Before Adam novel very much and I’m thinking about that quote from the book that you included in above comment. Thanks for the recommendation.



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