236 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to explore the idea of a guaranteed basic income and connecting this to different economic classes’ spending patterns: -If U give $1,000 a month to people in the lower income levels, they are probably going to go out and spend it on basic goods and services. The money turns over pretty fast and the economy is stimulated. But if U give $1,000 a month to people in the upper income bracket, they are more likely to bank or invest it, therefore stimulating the economy less. The same applies to tax breaks for the poor and tax breaks for the wealthy; I am having trouble getting my head around the ramifications of this. Please comment.

  2. Phil,

    My last comment was posted yesterday morning on the now non-existent Open Discussion thread. I haven’t been at my computer since then. All traces of the first open discussion thread have been, for all intents and purposes, obliterated.

    I wanted you to read this one. I don’t intend to discuss this issue on this new thread, but I was very pleased to find this corroborating quote, as it was written by a trained physicist, a bona fide theoretical physicist. Name: Linde

    Did you happen to see that comment and this quote? (Here’s the quote again, in case you didn’t.) It was a pretty good comment; I mentioned Wheeler’s fixation with existence towards the end of his life.

    I actually think Linde goes a bit too far here, but I admire his courage, and it goes without saying that I appreciate his thoughtfulness too on this issue.

    “The universe and the observer exist as a pair. You can say that the universe is there only when there is an observer who can say, Yes, I see the universe there. These small words — it looks like it was here— for practical purposes it may not matter much, but for me as a human being, I do not know any sense in which I could claim that the universe is here in the absence of observers. We are together, the universe and us. The moment you say that the universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of that. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness. A recording device cannot play the role of an observer, because who will read what is written on this recording device? In order for us to see that something happens, and say to one another that something happens, you need to have a universe, you need to have a recording device, and you need to have us. It’s not enough for the information to be stored somewhere, completely inaccessible to anybody. It’s necessary for somebody to look at it. You need an observer who looks at the universe. In the absence of observers, our universe is dead.”

  3. Dan

    reads to me like someone with exposure to quantum physics but not quantum field theory

    reading QFT one realises that there is no observer and observed – these are illusions – it is all one

  4. https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/07/open-discussion/

    This is a disaster…..many tens of hours of intellectual effort thrown away. All other threads remain and very usefully so. Why not this one?

    I am not inclined to throw my efforts in the waste bin if this is what the open thread is to be. The loss of the posts from the megafauna of yore was a great tragedy when the old site was shut down. Storage for words is cheap.

    Dan,

    I wrote a reply to the quote…but seemingly not worth keeping.

    I hope the bit wranglers restore the old thread, cap it with a link to this new thread and a warning that any new comments will be deleted, if they can’t remove the dialogue box for replies.

  5. Sorry, sorry, sorry, Phil and others

    This is entirely our fault but also entirely unintended.

    We wanted to simply close the original Open Thread for new comments, so as to keep all the September open discussions together in the new thread.

    However, to our horror, selecting that option in the admin system removed all the comments. We immediately deselected it and, in our system, that seemed to have done the trick and restored all the 400+ comments that had been posted there. In fact, we’ve just tried again now, and we are still seeing everything as it should be, but possibly that is a cached version.

    We’ll ask the Technical Manager if there’s anything that can be done to restore the thread in its entirety. If not, please accept our sincere apologies and rest assured we’ll know better when we set up next month’s open thread. We genuinely do appreciate all the time and effort that you all put into the comments and there is no way we would deliberately simply discard them.

    The mods

  6. Timothy,

    UBI is a great and very timely discussion point. Nixon nearly introduced one.

    I’ll comment here if I know the comment will not be thrown away at the end of September. Else I will comment on an unused other thread and point you to it.

    Mods. Just seen.

    Super thanks again. Cock ups not conspiracies 99 times out of a hundred.

    At least I look like an over-reacting fool now… 🙂

  7. MOD MESSAGE

    WE ARE RELIEVED TO SAY THAT, THANKS TO OUR TECHNICAL MANAGER, THE ORIGINAL OPEN DISCUSSION IS BACK UP AGAIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL ITS COMMENTS.

    Please post any further comments here and not there, though.

    Apologies again for the alarm caused, and we’ll take more care next month!

    The mods

  8. I have questions about the guaranteed basic income.

    At what age would it kick in? The age of legal adulthood – say 18? 21? older?

    At what income level would one be eligible?

    How would that be an improvement over the more supervised distribution of social welfare financial aid?

    Is there any country or state that presently has implemented this program that we could observe for results?

  9. Is there any country or state that presently has implemented this
    program that we could observe for results?

    Pehaps the most evident result is that people still alive?
    (the train station is clean and people don´t give up looking for a job).

  10. In the U.K., it seems to me like robbing peter to pay paul and shift the responsibility from government to employer with our current welfare system. What happens to the unemployed?

  11. Phil

    Strindberg, in addition to being one of the fathers of modern drama, was also a powerful novelist, a chemist, a botanist (I think), a fine painter, an innovative photographer, was interested in alchemy(!), the occult, and much more – and very knowledgeable about many areas of science. A multi-faceted man. d 1910

    One of the most fascinating figures of the 19th Century. He was brilliant. I’ve read most of the plays, and his essays, novels and stories, various other books, several autobiographical works (Inferno, Son of a Servant, A Madman’s Defense), and a couple of biographies.

    (He corresponded with Nietzsche right around the time that Nietzsche went insane. Fascinating correspondence. They loved each other, and yet they never met. A mutual affinity. Strindberg read his book The Antichrist and was ecstatic, wrote to him. Interesting to note that he discovered Dostoyevsky by chance, saw his book Notes from Underground on a shelf in a bookshop somewhere, was apparently struck by the title, and read it. He had never heard of Dostoyevsky before that! He was, again, ecstatic. The subject of the affinities that these extraordinary figures have for each other is worthy of a book in itself. They seem to find each other –sometimes. As for Strindberg and Ibsen, yes there was some rivalry, I suppose, but Strindberg had great respect for Ibsen. And Ibsen had a bust of Strindberg in his home. Don’t listen to the chatter.)

    Strindberg, something of a polymath, was also a telegrapher, theosophist, painter, photographer and alchemist.

    Painting and photography offered vehicles for his belief that chance played a crucial part in the creative process.

    Strindberg’s paintings were unique for their time, and went beyond those of his contemporaries for their radical lack of adherence to visual reality. The 117 paintings that are acknowledged as his were mostly painted within the span of a few years, and are now seen by some as among the most original works of 19th-century art.

    –From good old Wikipedia

    Maria, I never doubted that you were serious. I wonder if the English word “tramp” (vagabond) is connected to “trampa” (shit). Or maybe its derived from the verb “to tramp” (to walk). But many regard “bums” as “trampa”. Then there’s the sexist word tramp which basically means “slut”. That has nothing to do with walking – or does it?

  12. Universal Basic Income is a good idea. It became useful the moment it became obvious that trickle up is the actual economic mode. It becomes essential when humans can’t out-compete machines and expert systems in productivity and capitalists (like me) use them to generate all our needs more cost effectively.

    There are a huge number of things we would like to do and things we would feel better for doing that currently we can’t and don’t because… the mortgage, the fact of it and the excuse of it. We might, make furniture, visit granddad, make a carrot cake with old Mrs Miggins, who loved to bake but has arthritis now, help tidy the local park. Making our community better and happier will never be jobs displaced by technology because it is all about human interaction. I mightn’t have thought of this except my kids, between courses, over holidays seem inveterate volunteers, wanting to get involved in this and that, though curiously unable to tidy their rooms or do the washing up… I wish I could claim some of it my doing, but no, their friends are rolling their sleeves up too. I think they have discovered Voltaire’s consolation, working in the garden. Over generations I could imagine a cultural drift towards an expectation of giving back as a form of personal satisfaction. (Running free courses on this or that at the local school for all would be heaven for me. I adored teaching.)

    (I have imagined a lot of pump priming structure here with UBI basic and a scaled Social Beneficial Income for those working specifically as social workers with increasing training and formal responsibilities. But an organic evolution may carry it into much more elaborate and flexible arrangements.)

    So, Richard Nixon, nearly got it right. Rather than trust experts he trusted ideologues imagining they were experts.

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/richard-nixon-ubi-basic-income-welfare/

  13. Dan,

    Strindberg. There’s a man to have at your supper table.

    I remember loving The White Mare. I used it (among others) to illustrate my thesis that whilst art is a psychology experiment performed on ourselves, it becomes the more revealing the more we can strip out of it and the effect remain, the lone plangent word placed just so.

  14. In the U.K., it seems to me like robbing peter to pay paul and shift
    the responsibility from government to employer with our current
    welfare system. What happens to the unemployed? Olgun on comment 13

    Inequalty price is huge in economic terms and social consequences.

    shift the responsibility from government to employer

    How?

    All economies will necessarly face unemployment and that´s not necessarly a bad thing to the employer.

    What happens to the unemployed?

    That´s what economies try to tackle with RSI creation.

    Reserve army of labour

    Still, there is a difference between guaranteed basic income and RSI.

    While guaranteed basic income does not aply to labour force, RSI does, that´s why it makes all the difference if you are referring to
    guaranteed basic income or RSI, as far guaranteed basic income is not meant for labour force as RSI is. Guaranteed basic income is meant for those that cannot become labour force.

  15. Inequalty price is huge in economic terms and social consequences.

    Exactly, maria.

    Here is where I urge people to review the work of Wilkinson and Pickett and The Equality Trust. There is much to research and to download. Or buy “The Spirit Level.” I keep buying copies and giving them away. One of the megafauna that used to post here works for TET.

    Capitalists should love a wealthy enough serene and stable state, ideal for their secure investment. The state should love it equally able to refine its solutions without panicked chopping and changing. And moralists like me know that whilst recipients may not of themselves particularly deserve reward, their children always do and will grow into the deserving. Compassion breeds/affords compassion.

  16. Phil, others

    If an unobserved universe is impossible (and he only implies this)
    then the eventual (whatever that means) appearance of observers are
    impossible unless they are creatures.

    Creatures? You mean imaginary beings? Or perhaps you mean the creations of a deity.

    In any case I hope you’ll look back at this comment of yours one day and this one: an impossible universe is not what you get without an observer; that’s solipsism (bordering on lunacy), as I have said many times before. This is not what Kant taught, not what Schopenhauer taught. There is a universe that exists independently of the mind. The question is: what is it? what is it’s nature? what can we know about it? Suggestion: don’t reply to that. Just let the questions sit and incubate.

    I have told you many times that critical idealism is enormously subtle. Only a lunatic would argue that the objective universe (whatever that may be in itself) is absolutely dependent upon an observer. That is as bizarre, or as shortsighted, as asserting that it is not dependent on the mind at all and that what we observe is identical to what it is in itself. (And I told you that Linde goes too far – or not far enough.)

    “…though we cannot know these objects as things in themselves, we must yet be in a position at least to think them as things in themselves; otherwise we should be landed in the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears.” – Kant

    Capitalists should love…

    I wish we could rid this country of the pernicious and corrosive myth of a free unregulated market as something that will solve all of our problems. The people, the 99 percenters, need to get wise and recognize that that’s just an old con job. And trickle-down economics needs to be exposed once and for all as a failed economic theory, a lie. Gore Vidal put it well in 1968. “Well, he [Nixon] is going to give tax cuts to private businesses that go into the ghetto and help the Negroes. Now, in actual fact private business is set up to make private profits. There’s nothing wrong with that but it is not in the business of philanthropy. So they’ll get their tax cut and we’ll have nothing in the ghetto probably but the rising expectation of what is now revolution.”

  17. Maria #19

    Thanks for some answers Maria. I don’t know much about this except working, and observing, in the people’s houses we are talking about. I have seen industry and laziness. To look at people who are classed as lazy and not notice there surroundings, education and the trap they are in is lazy. Except for a few, the black children in my school didn’t do well. I felt the dead end they were in because I was nearly there myself. I was lucky because I had a job to go to as soon as I left school, with my brother-in-law, and in fact I started when I was fourteen on weekends and school holidays. I was already experienced by the time I was sixteen and could work on my own. I must have been eighteen when I saw two young black guys take control of a garage at a petrol station near me. I must admit to holding back a few tears. They had crossed over an impossible line, it seemed. This was in the seventies.

    I am with Phil on the basic rights and the benefits of looking after all. I still can’t get the image out of my mind watching a documentary on Brazil where across the road from a dangerous beach, there was a hundred foot wall protecting the affluent rich living in luxury apartments overlooking the sea. Walls in Israel and in Trumps mind. That is the reality. Pay for security instead of giving those less fortunate enough dignity to want to belong. With dignity comes responsibility.

  18. This is not what Kant taught, not what Schopenhauer taught.

    But its Linde’s poor writing I’m going after. A dead universe? Too right! So what? His claims are utterly unclear. Is he saying an unobserved universe is non-existent? I’m certainly not, nor am I accusing K and S of saying this. I didn’t know if Linde was religious.

    As for K and S the observation is now trivial. Phenomena need noumena and observers. There is no reverse dependency for the noumena. Clear, agreed, simple and something like the truth. What is bonkers is the quasi-mystical sophistry around sensation. The detection of energy by energy users is prosaic now we see how it is done in many of its parts. What remains is the Hard Problem, the quality of experience from a kinematic topology of brain states.

    Creatures, from a Creator.

    free unregulated market

    I never mentioned this.

    Now that idea really is bonkers. (You do this every time. I haven’t the faintest idea why.)

  19. Dan,

    Sorry. I may be reading that last comment wrong.

    Anyway, in my book states deliver happy, educated, healthy consumers, protected from malicious others and ever enterprising business has to pay for access this wonderful market.

  20. Thanks for some answers Maria. I don’t know much about this except
    working, and observing, in the people’s houses we are talking about. I
    have seen industry and laziness. Olgun on comment 22

    These were some brief explanations that my economist colleague gave me on Economics three days ago when I´ve asked her about Marx usefulness on Economics.
    You´re welcome.

    So, she explained that a group of countries apply better to a sucessful model of welfare state, among these Finland, Dinamark etc., not necessarly Great-Britain.

    She explained as an example of Marx useful concepts that is still luseful within Economics thought is “reserve army labour”. Complex enough, don´t you think so?

    She mentioned about Finland´s education system in which a theme is choosen to be debated and then follows a multidisciplinary approach to the subject.

    So, I guess,

    concerning Anthropology (which would be my disciplinary approach), I gave Dan some some clue about communism (hope it was useful).

    Communism has failed in more than one aspect, but people need to aknowledge that there is still some value on Marx´s concern with individuals as part of a social network and that the individual never exists isolated from a social network, this is aknowledge by historians and anthropologists too.
    My book of anthroplogy begun with the sentence:

    “An isolated man is an abstraction”

    Historians as Geoges Lefebrve and Marc Bloch thought it necessary for the study of History.
    Marc Bloch adverted:
    “(…) for the historian “does not think of the human in the abstract…[h]is thoughts breathe freely the air of the climate of time.”

    (anachrony is therefore not allowed)

    Sorry Dan,

    Didn´t mention this important and useful aspect of Marx´s thought, valuable to History, as if Marx was not useful in any aspect.

  21. Okay, maybe Hegel had only one theory of history. Marx’s theories
    concerning history have been debunked? All of them? Come on. Don’t be
    like that. Don’t be like me. Marx was influenced by Hegel – and there
    is a lot to be influenced by even if he was hopelessly dogmatic – and
    was also very critical of him. (Example of Hegel’s dogmatism: “Spirit
    does not toss itself about in the external play of chance occurrences;
    on the contrary, it is that which determines history absolutely, and
    it stands firm against the chance occurrences which it dominates and
    exploits for its own purpose.”) A good maxim for everyone: never
    understand anyone too quickly. From Marx’s Critique of the Hegelian
    Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole: . . .The outstanding achievement
    of Hegel’s Phänomenologie and of its final outcome, the dialectic of
    negativity as the moving and generating principle, is thus first that
    Hegel conceives the self-creation of man as a process, conceives
    objectification as loss of the object, as alienation and as
    transcendence of this alienation; that he thus grasps the essence of
    labour and comprehends objective man – true, because real man – as the
    outcome of man’s own labour. The real, active orientation of man to
    himself as a species-being, or his manifestation as a real
    species-being (i.e., as a human being), is only possible if he really
    brings out all his species-powers – something which in turn is only
    possible through the cooperative action of all of mankind, only as the
    result of history – and treats these powers as objects: and this, to
    begin with, is again only possible in the form of estrangement. We
    shall now demonstrate in detail Hegel’s one-sidedness and limitations
    as they are displayed in the final chapter of the Phänomenologie,
    “Absolute Knowledge” – a chapter which contains the condensed spirit
    of the Phänomenologie, the relationship of the Phänomenologie to
    speculative dialectic, and also Hegel’s consciousness concerning both
    and their relationship to one another. Let us provisionally say just
    this much in advance: Hegel’s standpoint is that of modern political
    economy. He grasps labour as the essence of man – as man’s essence
    which stands the test: he sees only the positive, not the negative
    side of labour. Labour is man’s coming-to-be for himself within
    alienation, or as alienated man. The only labour which Hegel knows and
    recognises is abstractly mental labour. Therefore, that which
    constitutes the essence of philosophy – the alienation of man who
    knows himself, or alienated science thinking itself – Hegel grasps as
    its essence; and in contradistinction to previous philosophy he is
    therefore able to combine its separate aspects, and to present his
    philosophy as the philosophy. What the other philosophers did – that
    they grasped separate phases of nature and of abstract
    self-consciousness, namely, of human life as phases of
    self-consciousness – is known to Hegel as the doings of philosophy.
    Hence his science is absolute. . .

    Dan (on another thread)

    Ok Dan, in my latest comment I´m giving you finally more than two credits that you desserve.

    Thanks, it diminished my “arrrogance” I think.

  22. Hegel was in fact “the air of time” of Marx´s thought, without Hegel´s thought, there would be no marterialist conception of History from Marx.
    One credit less to Dan because he doesn´t like Hegel.

  23. Phil

    I do think that Dan was referring to those over here who are hovering on the edge of poverty or are officially below the poverty line and still loudly defend the trickle down model and support our politicians who announce intentions of removing regulations on the stock exchange and big investment banks. They vote against their own interests, as we know.

  24. Maria

    I watched the video you posted. It’s really sad. There is much truth in what he was saying but some things he said are questionable. First of all I have to say that different states here have different laws and programs so I really only know for sure what my state of Massachusetts offers and other states may differ widely.

    Prisoners do get social benefits when they are released. They get food vouchers for a few months and there are programs to help them find housing and jobs. But what he said about being turned away for apartments is true. Now the owners of apartments can do an internet search and discover the financial situation of potential renters and also they can search for criminal convictions. They won’t rent to anyone who has a bad credit rating or record of convictions. I honestly don’t believe that a pedophile would be a more acceptable tenant than a released prisoner although I suppose I would need to know what the offense was specifically.

    The guy in the film may have a drug problem which he hinted at and he is apparently homeless with some possessions in a shopping cart. There are homeless shelters and these shelter do try to move homeless people into more permanent apartments that are subsidized by the government. These places aren’t the most desirable places to live but it’s better than the streets. Someone at his level of poverty does qualify for medicaid which is free medical insurance totally paid for by the government.

    You are correct about the grumbling of the population here about the social welfare system (meager though it is) here in the States. If it were up to some here, there’d be no system at all. Ironically, it’s often those grumblers who fall on hard times and find themselves or their close family members in those help lines when circumstances beyond their control land them into financial disaster. They should be careful what they wish for.

    Interesting that at the current time I have as guests, a couple from Manchester, England and we’ve been engaged in conversations about the state of the social welfare system in their country and mine here. Also the two political situations as well. I had many questions about the NHS in England (she’s a nurse) because of our obvious health care insurance disaster that is going on here.

  25. Laurie, but especially Dan.

    As I suspected I had completely misapprehended the free market quote. I thoroughly approve all that is said. In which case I probably made the same mistake last time…sincerest apologies, Dan. I get nervous when describing myself as a capitalist, and I rather get my defence in pre-emptively. Recently I was thought to be a Libertarian and again described by one of the nicer Hyper Pro Socials as a Nazi, when I thought I had done rather well.

    I’m definitely missing a few social skills, failing to read others thoughts and intentions.

  26. Laurie,

    The guy´s felony as he said was drugs possesion for consume for what he spent 12 years in prison, It seems quite harsh, perhaps he´s lying and manipulating people´s feelings? Is this the common penalty for consume possesion of drugs in US in general?
    Well, I´m kind of aware that prisioners receive re-education in US prisions, because I´ve read a book from a behavior and cognitive scientist that mentioned he worked with emprisioned people (to improve their social bahavior I guess), so I could see there´s possibly out there some philosophical concern not only to punish, but to re-educate too. (I´m proud to say I was sitting near this scientist, Marc Bekoff, in the First International Conference of Animal Welfare in Lisbon in 2008 sponsored also by Jane Goodall Institute). JG was there too and I got an authographed. book with some words for my daughter Jane Goodall made some kind of joke at the time to me, I don´t recall it now, but she was funny, I must have been looking so serious, that was probably a joke to release tension She seem to have been harsh towards someone when she mentioned about welfare conditions of primates in Lisbon Zoo and asked how could someone study animals in those conditions, for I immediately thought it could be meant to my anthropology professor, previously my colleague that bacame my prpfessor).
    Strange that some people, even delinquent kids seem to be so manipulative, once a kid -with anti-social behavior- was asking me so many “innocent” questions in the hall of the court, did he think that I was kind of a target “victim”? That was what his educators told me.
    Generally criminals lie a lot and tabloid newspapers like justice scandals, of course.

  27. Maria

    The courts generally give a penalty of probation or community service on most first offenses. But when any individual reappears time after time in front of a judge with charges of possession and anything else added on like breaking and entering, assault, theft, etc. then at some point the court will lose all patience and then if that person is arrested again for possession then the judge may decide that a stay in prison is warranted.

    So you see, I can’t know what his prior court record contains and I don’t which drug he was found in possession of and I don’t know what quantity he had either. If he was caught carrying a large amount then the judge will assume that he meant to sell it off and that’s a worse crime than having a small amount for personal use.

  28. Phil

    Just lately, I was in conversation with one of the Algerian guys who after hearing of a few very subtle opinions of mine related to the benefits of secular society, accused me of being an anarchist and said that if we take religion out of society then it will collapse into a free for all dystopia. Anarchist! What?! How did you get to anarchist from secularist?!

  29. Hi LaurieB,

    Depressing isn’t it. We are having the same sort of ridiculous debate at the moment over same sex marriage down under. If you remove god from marriage we’ll have people marrying their dogs and so on. After pointing out that biblically mandated marriage includes sex slaves, polygamy, being forced to marry your rapist, and the fact that laws have to be specified in which the donkey after being caught in the act with a human also has to be stoned to death would indicate that biblical marriage didn’t stop the bestiality thing then either doesn’t seem to settle them down any. Oh well chin up. 😉

  30. How did you get to anarchist from secularist?!

    Laurie, the answer is quite simple: you were hanging out with ignorant, angry assholes. And that’s what you’ll get. I do that too (talk to assholes; they’re hard to avoid – so many of them).

    Phil

    I really should be more clear: And thanks. I wasn’t suggesting that you were advocating an unregulated market: I know you don’t. I was just adding to the discussion of capitalism and its pitfalls and pasted a phrase up there to preface it. Sorry.

    Yes, Laurie, that’s right; people support policies that are ultimately self defeating. But I didn’t mean just the poor. The entire country, the lower middle and middle class, the working class, the upper-middle class, etc., needs to get hip to the reality that we will all eventually suffer as a result of an unfettered market. That is what caused the great depression and the financial crisis of 2008.

    I don’t think the market can regulate itself, so I don’t ‘believe’ in capitalism in that sense. I don’t think there is anything natural about it. Some libertarians (not you, Phil! you’re not a libertarian) argue that because Man is inherently greedy and self-interested we should have a free market system and shouldn’t even pretend that we are anything other than selfish. I say that because many or even most people are selfish that is all the more reason why we need regulations. (I don’t accept the premise that “we are selfish by nature” either: too simple. I think most wealthy capitalists would be happy to be forced to pay more taxes; they’d come to realize that they’re sleep better at night, after a little initial complaining and groaning – like children are apt to do when you impose a restraint on them for their own good.)

    I don’t see how failing to comprehend what an object is “in itself” suggests that the person failing to do that is more likely to be religious than not. Linde might be religious. I hope he isn’t, but while all religion is metaphysical (and wrong) not all questions that might be deemed metaphysical have to point in the direction of a metaphysical being and one that thinks! It was Schopenhauer actually that demonstrated that the object in itself (including that of our own person) cannot possess intellect, as intellect is associated with the brain exclusively, and with knowledge (which relates only to the phenomenon).

    Hi, Maria.

  31. Reckless

    Yes, yes, the tiresome donkey on human scenario, I’ve heard it all before. The worst pervs of all humanity are doing their thing in the Bible. Don’t forget about that freak Lot and his brazen hussies those daughters of his. Imagine that if you can stand it. Two daughters diddling with their own father and hoping to get pregnant by him. Don’t even tell me there weren’t any strapping brutes from the next tribe who would be pleased to do the deed. Bullshit. Compared to those crazy bitches the donkey on human story seems deadly dull, just relatively. But once upon a time we did have someone on here who claimed that if it weren’t for laws against incest then everyone would be doing their own siblings, etc. I said “No! That wouldn’t happen at all! Read up on Westermarck effect FFS!!”

    Dan

    assholes; they’re hard to avoid – so many of them

    Hard to avoid? Try impossible!

    Signed: Your friend, the reluctant anarchist. o_O

  32. Hard problem:

    Could it be that what makes it so hard is the fundamental fact that knowledge or consciousness, which is necessarily knowledge or consciousness of something, cannot know itself? We can study the brain, yes; but whatever we are studying is still an object of observation, and we are employing knowledge in the process of attempting to grasp what that knowledge is. Analogous to attempting to lift oneself up by one’s own waist. Therefore, intellect (or knowing) itself, and all of the processes and observable data associated with it, in so far as it has itself become an object of observation, is, finally, phenomenon too.

    “It was Schopenhauer actually that demonstrated that the object in itself (including that of our own person) cannot possess intellect, as intellect is associated with the brain exclusively, and with knowledge (which relates only to the phenomenon).” (#36)

    Unclear. Let me rewrite that:

    It was Schopenhauer actually that demonstrated that the thing-in-itself (as opposed to observable bodies and that includes our own bodies, as objects) cannot possess intellect, as intellect is associated with the body and brain exclusively, and with knowledge (which is designed, so to speak, to relate to other bodies). The thing-in-itself could be a god, but there is absolutely no basis for thinking that. How can something without a body possess a brain?

    Has physics established the existence of non-material entities? (Not including consciousness which is biological through and through – and that process will be demystified as time goes by.)

    Found this, from an anonymous author:

    “. . . Our senses and all the instruments and physics we can derive from them are physical. No matter how refined we make our instruments they are physical things and cannot measure or detect anything that isn’t also a physical thing. Quantum mechanics doesn’t help here. Ruth Kastner (‘The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics’) goes so far as to conclude that the solution to various quantum puzzles is to locate quantum phenomena outside of spacetime. But they remain very much physical nevertheless. As genuinely random quantum phenomena emerge into spacetime they become deterministic, fully participating in the time-bound causal web, subject to causal closure. […]

    “For my purposes, as with physics, ‘reality’ is associated with causal efficacy in the physical. Anything that is or can become a cause in the physical is real. . .”

  33. LaurieB,

    not to mention Abraham letting Pharaoh believe his wife was really his sister and tricking him in marrying her then pocketing the bribe when Pharaoh needs to redeem himself for the sin of Marrying another wife. I’ve tried to convince my wife to let me organise such a deal but for some reason she declined. Perhaps if she was a good Christian wife she would have submitted instead I get dirty looks and the silent treatment go figure eh. 😉

    Let’s not forget Noah and all the lovely incest he needed to participate in to repopulate the planet. And all that animal incest! Yipes! A bloodly miracle that they managed to reproduce at all given the tremendous load of STD’s they all had to share among themselves, “Okay I’ll take Syphilis, who’s taking Gonorrhea? Ham you can have the public lice and Chlamydia. But Dad I’ve already got herpes, can’t Shem have the pubic lice?… “. A point I’m sure I’ve made before but one that bares repeating.

  34. Anarchist, huh? Laurie. I always suspected it!

    Sorry we proper anarchists would throw you out of the club and change the handshake and password. (No its no longer Domaine Robert Chevillon, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Vaucrains 2011, nicely judged as that was….)

    Actually I have a lot to say about anarchism, possibly the least likely possible political stance for an American to have. Americans left and right trust their fellows without a badge less than other developed countries.

    Rather remarkably, anarchism, when not in the hands of nihilists, sits upon a basic trust of unfettered human nature. It can be a strategy to wrest power from the galvanising psychopath parasites….

    a free for all dystopia.

    That Denmark is a maelstrom….

    Travelling today so no more for a while….

    Dan, lots to say.

  35. Dan, lots to say.

    Looking forward. (No sarcasm intended.)

    Anarchism.

    Anarchism implies optimism and is therefore an absurdity, in my opinion.

    There may be something called human nature (although it’s hardly more than a figure of speech); but there is no human character; character varies from person to person.

  36. Dan

    So no bonobo character, no chimp character?

    We’ll do Pinker and I’ll re-assert the ten biological/neural/cultural facts of our reliable mutualism, given an environment of plenty and that mutualism is the best mechanism for achieving plenty we know so that we bootstrap ourselves into decency. I’ll accuse you of misanthropy, that you believe folk are merely a bit meh and first in need of guidance. I’ll counter with Psychopath Parasites as the essence of our problem, though concede they get things done….

    I’ll do my usual ploy of insulting (my beloved!) American Culture, in the hope, one day, to get an American to sincerely stop and think about why they are the truly exceptional way they are. The obsession with free will, autonomy and achievement, disallowing failure as an everyday narrative. The lie of the “wish hard enough to get whatever”. The denial of mind control, by zombies, commies, pastors and the 1% psychopath parasites, that until Americans stop playing the blame game of ordinary folk and original sin and “human nature” and locking everyone up because morality is personal fault and not state failure and notice the wolves shepherding and stalking, they will not see that other picture of how people are in northern Europe. Reliably mutual. Enough so? Never, but more and more productively.

    Just trying to save time… 🙂

  37. Mild anarchism is healthy, breaking weak societal bonds so they can re-evolve stronger and better formed.

    In a way, as an anti-idealist (WTF do I know?) I think it a clearer opposing mindset to fascism, than the liberal conservative division.

    For me it is an essential component of Betterism.

  38. I’m reading a chapter by Emma Goldman in my book Ideals and Ideologies, A Reader which is my go-to book for understanding the various types of ideologies and how they relate to each other. The title of Goldman’s chapter is Anarchism: What It Really Stands For

  39. Laurie,

    I’ve met anarchists “in love with the poetry of dynamite” at cosy dinner parties in Islington in London. Monstrous, arrogant people. And there are so many more, of such different sorts.

    For me, I’m

    Pro democracy

    Pro consensus

    A simple harms and fairness leftist in politico-moral aesthetics

    A capitalist wanting to unlock everyone’s problem solving ability and enterprise

    A large-state-ist unafraid of the occasional dirigisme and collective ownership of essential infrastructure

    An admirer of many politicians and the political life.

    A big national performance data aficionado to feed state expertise rendered for all, and the formation (evolution) public policy in response.

    A Betterist with policy driven by evidence and reason and refined by results.

    A modest anarchist to test solutions… are they good enough, do we love them enough?

  40. Bonobo schmonobo

    Character varies and it is a stubborn thing. As stubborn as ignorance and arrogance and ferocity themselves. Have fun attempting to reform your assailant in your vague and mild anarchic society the next time you are kicked in the face or robbed.

    Phil, that was my sole point; people aren’t all good or all equally amenable to reason. And we have different ideas about what has value. There are a lot of selfish and destructive people out there.

    As for everything between caused by the environment I won’t get into that; just try reforming your assailant and figuring out what to do with him first, then we’ll talk.

    Anarchism is an interesting and complicated subject, and cultures and societies are heterogeneous and numerous. (I suppose a little anarchic hippy-style commune could work. Everyone will grow their own vegetables, and no one’s the boss. Violent disrupters will be ejected…Oh wait, that means the intervention of authority!) just using very broad strokes.

    Jeez. Everything I say is always wrong.

  41. I saw part of a video on YouTube yesterday. I think it’s from about ten years ago. Pinker was discussing Evolution and Culture with one of my favorite people Jonathan Miller. There were two others with them. They were in front of an audience. I was pleasantly surprised that Pinker did not strike me as arrogant or pretentious at all. He seemed very knowledgeable and was well spoken. At one point Miller remarked that “not everything is biological”; he proceeded to back up his point by saying that rocks and cliffs and that sort of thing was not considered beautiful in art prior to a certain time; and then all of a sudden rocks and cliffs were regarded as the pinnacle of the sublime and beautiful in art. That, he said, can’t possibly be attributable to biology or evolution; it has to be cultural. Pinker nodded his head, smiled, and said he had no problem with that. Then Miller said something (I think) like “Man’s artistic use of color in general, our affinity with color, is clearly a product of evolution.” Pinker nodded at that too.

    Do you think Pinker may put too much emphasis on biology and evolution at the expense of other factors that have nothing at all to do with biology and evolution? Straw man?

    I won’t paste the link to the video here, as I hate the way those big YouTube squares deface the nice clean page (screen). You can find it, I’m sure.

    Phil, when you have moment tell me what consensus is and why you would advocate consensus; is the majority always right? Is the sense of justice based on consensus? In that case we could lapse into barbarism and have a consensus too.

    Bonobos and chimps? I’ll take a stab at it. They, unlike humans, have a fairly uniform species-character. I would argue that chimps exhibit no or almost no variety in terms of individual character. Like horses, some might be more wild and others more tame, etc. Some raccoons and dogs are more ferocious, some less, etc. That is not character. Character implies susceptibility to motives and the preference for one rather than another. Show me a chimp that you can reason with and persuade and I will praise its good sense and moral character. (Must we get into this again? Yes, they have feeling and even the rudiments of character, but nothing like humans in that regard. They are driven predominantly by instinct.)

  42. Then Miller said something (I think) like “Man’s artistic use of color in general, our affinity with color, is clearly a product of evolution.” (Comment 47)

    Got that wrong. Correction: Miller’s remark was this: “the fact that we are pictorially ingenious must have a purely biological explanation.” He didn’t mention color.

    I’d recommend this video: The Darwin Debate: Steven Pinker, Jonathan Miller, Steve Jones and Meredith Small – BBC

  43. Laurie, Phil,

    Just watched Dawkins interview Pinker. (Steven Pinker – The Genius of Charles Darwin: The Uncut Interviews)

    Pinker is very good.

  44. Animals do deliberate in their own way and they are capable of sacrifice, caring, exhibit fine feelings. Hell, maybe they are more moral than I think. What the hell do I know?

    I’ll never forget the video Olgun showed me of the elephant chasing down the biker and then giving the okay to its children who were waiting off to the side behind the trees. They then proceeded to follow their mom (or dad) across the road. Deeply moving – and impressive.

  45. Elephants care deeply about others. They have big brains and of all of us mammals have more relative cortex than any. They may well be capable of huge amounts of inference making. It is suspected this is particularly applied to social interactions, modeling the minds and intentions of others, maybe even modeling their own like we do.

    They have all the mammals’ emotional equipment, a highly evolved limbic system and all the usual youngling detectors, a sensitivity to eye size/spacing to face ratio detection, high pitch sound/cry cues etc. Like all mammals they find young mammals of all sorts cute/treasurable. Understanding other relationships they know grownups will think like them and about their own particularly. This is a moment of perfect education. Parents are not to be trusted but kids are not yet guilty. They know exactly how to treat a potential assailant, in front of the young. The grown up is probably set in its ways, the young not. Compassion is always a deal we strike with the young and young to be, and we do it for our own young, nephews and nieces, friends kids. Its not about us.

    Next I’ll talk about our unique (human) character, brought by an aptitude for astonishingly rich and varied cultures, in part seated upon a brain grown to make metaphor the very centre of our differentiated existences, and in part because we are indoctrinatable when young and vulnerable.

  46. Incomplete list there.

    “Compassion is always a deal we strike with the young and young to be, and we do it for our own young, nephews and nieces, friends kids and theirs. Its not about us.

  47. Consensus is got a little step at a time. It is got from understanding the “Russians love their children too”; from seeing a journey into the future; from abandoning an all or nothing idealism; from trusting to the growing potential and self demonstrating efficacy of evidence and reason; from mutual compromise; from curbing the self serving psychopath parasites; from noticing these latter, hijacking emptyish, scared minds, are the essence of our problem; from fantastic education; from good enough welfare.

  48. Phil

    Watched Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johannson last night. Have you seen it? An alien in human skin that terrifies but soon has us looking at ourselves and hating that. The first tripping on the pavement was clever I thought.

    The good thing about other animals is that they don’t have to trust just for the sake of it.

  49. Not feeling that anarchy is the right word for what you are describing Phil. Is there a better one?I have to bring the word to its softest meaning to make it nearly right. The freedom to think and challenge……is that anarchy?

  50. I adored Under The Skin. It achieved so much with such a small budget. Truly scary.

    SJ is a favourite actor. Even in the silliest of films (Lucy) she commits everything.

    It wasn’t looking under the skin that horrified (I won’t give away the visual shocks and elsewhere I’ve commended Plastination as beautiful). For me it revealed that alien-ness (on both sides) is the essence of all our fears. It echoes a Borges story about an alien (roles reversed) where alien-ness even defeats our ability to see what we are looking at.

    Anarchy?

    I want the shock of the word because it is the essence of anti-idealistic. The principle is profound and mirrors the useful randomness of mutation in evolution.

    I’m happy to calm ruffled feathers afterward, if need be. Even when we think we are breaking thinking habits these relax into familiar patterns of questioning and skepticism.

    A maxim in business that has served well. “If it ain’t broke, break it.” It often grows back nearly the same but refined in unexpected ways. Sometimes its all new…

  51. Bonobos and chimps? I’ll take a stab at it. They, unlike humans, have
    a fairly uniform species-character. I would argue that chimps exhibit
    no or almost no variety in terms of individual character. Like horses,
    some might be more wild and others more tame, etc. Some raccoons and
    dogs are more ferocious, some less, etc. That is not character.
    Character implies susceptibility to motives and the preference for one
    rather than another. Show me a chimp that you can reason with and
    persuade and I will praise its good sense and moral character. (Must
    we get into this again? Yes, they have feeling and even the rudiments
    of character, but nothing like humans in that regard. They are driven
    predominantly by instinct.) Dan

    I suppose that in first place we have to consider philogenetic behaviour (all species have it including humans) and think individuality as the combination of variety within an individual of a certain species, all species have variety among individuals of the same species.

    We have also philogenetic bahaviour, some bahaviour look EXACTLY the same as observed in chimps.
    I guess we all are driven by our individuality, in fact, sometimes culture seems rather a superfitial layer compared with the real motivation of individuals.

    Dan,
    Did you ever listen to Jane Goodall, she often say that chimps have personalities.

    By the way, I´ve attended a Conference on individuality.

    http://behavior-individuality.blogspot.pt/2007/11/conference-programme.html

    We must have a full range of crazy behaviour that repeats throughout History and it seems repetition with a small variation.

  52. Laurie,

    Yes, he’s someone I respect. How could I not respect him? A serious, highly accomplished man. (Whether I agree with him about everything is a different matter; but I am sure he wouldn’t expect people to agree with him about everything!)

    Maria, Laurie,

    I finally admitted that Pinker is very good. Today is my day for humility. Perhaps the beginning of a turn that my own personality is taking – but don’t bet on it.

    Maria, others,

    Animals clearly have less individuality than humans. But what I said was that animals have less variety than humans as far as what we call moral goodness is concerned, and they do. I never said they don’t have personalities. Salamanders have personalities too. (Personalities? What do we mean when we use that term?) I found a little salamander when I was a kid and put it in a little container with some water and lettuce. I discovered one day that it was gone. No doubt it abandoned me. Such defiance and willful disobedience! Seriously, cats definitely have their own personalities. But let’s not carried away – in either direction.

    Phil,

    Perhaps – and I said something like this (poorly) above somewhere – the reason we have such a hard time understanding consciousness is because consciousness is so hard to define. Everyone understands it in concreto, but not in abstracto. This is due to the fact that consciousness is consciousness of something; it is, strictly speaking, impossible to be conscious of consciousness. So no wonder consciousness is the hard problem. No one can know what it is that knows. No consensus regarding a clear working definition as a point of departure.

  53. I would have something very interesting to quote on this, from an interview of E. O. Wilson where he says all “personalities of humans” are as dogs: are are included in a certain group of personalities, and that´s all the variation.

  54. the study of hadling in chimps
    Animals clearly have less individuality than humans.

    Why are humans more cooperative, because they have less individuality?

    When I´ve wathched the video presentation of Handling in Chimps, of Mona Foundacion, I could see two chimps handling an object at the same time looking at other other and noticed they were handling the object in a different way, seemed not worried in hadling in the same way, I guess humans would focus more on handling in the exact same way as “copy cats”.

  55. Dan,

    I’m glad you’ve found some value at least in Pinker. He is not ruined as a thinker by having some disagreeable thoughts.

    I’m also thrilled that you are a Johnathan Miller fan. He is a superb theatre, opera and film director. (One of the best ghost films ever.) It was he (in 2004) rather than Dawkins that made me admit I should give a damn about my irreligion. It was he (indirectly) got me to contact Dennett and rekindle my interest in consciousness.

    On consciousness, I am very clear what I mean by it and define much of it each time I refer to it. Others rope in too much and too little, and have very muddled concepts it seems to me. I’m happy to nail which mental processes I include into the set of conscious thoughts. For me this is a piece of metaphysics that stands on the cusp of an ostensive definition. The problem is that, however defined, the quality of the experience (not its informational content) is a category disjunct with its physical cause.

  56. Dan

    Thank you for allowing me my micro-moment of triumph re: Pinker. Rest assured that in my mind, anyone who displays the cognitive flexibility needed to change their mind in public is someone who I can work with on just about anything. This is indicative of integrity and confidence. You already know all of this. Now on to bigger and better things.

  57. Humans seem incredibly totalitarian to me, more like ants (perhaps E.O. WIlson doesn´t agree). Humans seem sick totalitarians, and you know, totalitarism does not allow too much individuality (of course individuality still exist).

  58. Phil

    Sorry we proper anarchists would throw you out of the club and change the handshake and password.

    Even though I haven’t finished my reading on Anarchy yet, I’ll have you know that I won’t be thrown out of the club. I won’t have it. You oppressor! ~Grabs baseball bat~

  59. ~Grabs baseball bat~

    Atta Girl!!

    Me, I’m a little less, shall we say….. confrontational. I’ll wait ’til they’re out then dare someone to knock over their trash cans. I would get invited to their house and then totally screw with the Feng Shui of their living room, but in a way they can’t tell…. Their world subliminally unhinged……

  60. Phil,

    I adore Miller. Wonderful, wonderful man. (I’ve mentioned him a couple of times here before; I guess you forgot.)

    Ever see “The Body in Question” series he had on PBS years ago?

    Hi, Laurie (#365)

    Watching show about Watergate now on MSNBC. Quite fascinating.

  61. Dan

    I guess you forgot.

    Sorry. I do that increasingly. Time to read old threads.

    The Body in Question was important TV.

    Recently I watched a documentary including the Cuban Missile Crisis. The steadiness and wisdom of Kennedy, steadying the generals, slowing things down and reading the minds of Russians, made one despair for Trump and N. Korea. Trump is like the movie Big but for real. This is really what a 13 year old boy would do.

  62. If it wasn’t for JFK there’d be no Cuba today. But the Bay of Pigs caused the whole thing in the first place. So Kennedy deserves credit, appreciation – and some blame.

  63. I think the Bay of Pigs taught JFK to push back against his security and military advisers. Walking into the middle of an already presidentially authorised program is a difficult one for a new president. He needed the trust of his advisers. He got the trust and learned the mistake.

  64. phil rimmer #70
    Sep 5, 2017 at 3:58 am

    This is really what a 13 year old boy would do.

    Yep! I think some of the numerous links posted earlier on RDFS would cover that!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/03/the-teenage-brain-explained/

    There is also this discussion:

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/12/youre-an-adult-your-brain-not-so-much/

    In the case of Trump, I think the term “second childhood” is relevant, – although he may never have matured beyond his first childhood! 🙂

  65. Dan,

    I went back to look at the video. 1998! I don’t think Pinker (a mere 44 then) was shaving.

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

    Excellent. The worthy Steve Jones knows he is outclassed as a thinker. Meredith Small is a little broader in her scope. But Pinker and Miller are a very classy and excitingly clear and articulate act. Their mutual admiration is sweet to see… the little nods, the oh good he’s talking.

    Having watched specific episode of The Body in Question (1978) and this, it is a shock to see the paucity of neural data available. Miller and Dudley Moore at the piano, Miller talked and only the spinal column was invoked when the cerebrum was the very thing needful (holding most of the cascade of motor skills) and all because the research was being done at that very moment. This 1998 discussion was also very sparse with its proffered data, so rather (excellent) metaphysical arguments were made where now there is some real substance.

    I think this is an excellent way to assess scientists. Look at their early ideas and see how pertinent their questions are and how they frame a mode of understanding. Pinker and Miller look ahead of the curve. Jones mired by a muddled metaphysics.

  66. Here’s from a NYT 2011 profile on P and commentary on Better Angels

    Reviews for the new book have been largely enthusiastic, though not unmixed. In The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert called it “confounding,” “exasperating” and “fishy.”

    “Hate and madness and cruelty haven’t disappeared,” she concluded, “and they aren’t going to.”

    Dr. Pinker’s response was equally scornful. “No honest reviewer would imply that this is the message of the book,” he wrote on his Web site.

    Though violence has indisputably declined, he says, it could rise again. But by understanding the causes of the decline, humanity can work to promote peace. He endorses the new book “Winning the War on War” (Dutton/Penguin), by the political scientist Joshua S. Goldstein, which argues that the slogan “If you want peace, fight for justice” is precisely the wrong advice.

    If you want peace, Dr. Goldstein argues, work for peace. Dr. Pinker agrees.

    This is the great lesson for Americans, punitive all (nurtured in the bosom of religion). As B.F.Skinner showed, sticks may be effective changers of behaviour. But he didn’t stop there. He showed the carrot is mightier than the stick.

  67. Good question, Laurie.

    It will still be available via this URL, so it might be an idea to make a note of it somewhere.

    Alternatively, typing “Open discussion” into the search field should also locate it.

    But each time we open a new Open Discussion thread we’ll try to remember to include the URLs of the previous ones either in the OP or the first comment. Within reason, anyway – maybe the most recent 4, something like that.

    The mods

  68. Phil

    Yes, Miller and Pinker seem like the types that welcome new ideas and discoveries, seek them out, embrace them.

    I also noticed that mutual something-or-other between Pinker and Miller. Miller also interviewed Dawkins on his series Rough History of Disbelief; and I saw them together on a panel too. Miller was almost shrill at one point as he discussed man’s “atrociousness”. The same mutual respect, however. You can sense it.

    Miller supposedly gave a five part talk about neuropsychology on the Dick Cavett show a while back. I Haven’t been able to find that. I’ve seen him on Cavett a number of times but I missed that one. Cavett can be extremely annoying. He introduces Miller as a polymath and then says: “I guess we’re all expecting to see him come out in drag.” Get it? Polly? Drag? Hahaha.

  69. Apologies. A problem with a WordPress update led to the URL for this site being wrongly redirected to openlysecular.org.

    As you can tell if you’re seeing this message, it has all been resolved now, thanks to our website manager.

    Welcome back!

    The mods

  70. Laurie

    Very worried now about the rise of fascism, and this is not just negativity on my part. I have an article on the “We ignore what doesn’t fit” thread. This is a real danger now. And this DACA business is discriminatory and immoral, part of a discriminatory animus-based anti-immigration policy designed to use immigrants as a scapegoat in order to consolidate power. Sound familiar? Sessions! Miller! These are white supremacists!! And we watch TV and see the familiar commercials and are lulled into complacency and a false sense of normalcy. (I am guilty of hiding my head in the sand too. It’s hard to bear.)

    I think I was, again, the first user to alert CFI. (I’m heroic!)

    On Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 1:09 AM, Daniel _______ wrote:
    It appears that the Dawkins/CFI site is down. I get an “openly secular” page. Is everything okay?

    Good question! We’re looking into it[.]

  71. Phil

    Part 1

    There is only certainty in negation!

    I think I agree. Maybe not.

    Precisely why an unknowable thing-in-itself may be something we can be certain of. I have said many times that the thing-in-itself is negative knowledge. Critical philosophy establishes what we cannot ever know. It is a negation of positive knowledge as it seeks to grasp the inner nature of the existence of matter or, say, motion itself.

    Any explanation of phenomena derived from observation can never explain anything entirely. But one would have to read and grasp Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic and Schopenhauer’s chief work in order to understand this.

    That everything has an empirical origin can be negated. There can be no apprehension of an object or body except in space; therefore, space is a priori. I cannot prove that space is a priori; but I can negate the idea that objects can be said to exist in some way other than as extended in space.

    Part 2

    “All bachelors are unmarried men” is a positive statement and is irrefutable but doesn’t add to our knowledge. “All bodies are extended” is the same sort of statement, but has deep implications regarding the nature of knowledge.

    “All swans are white” is simply a lame supposition. “All water is H20”, however, is a synthetic statement, and does add to our knowledge and scientific understanding (of water). Can that still be disproved? “In the world today most swans are white or whitish in color” would seem to me to be an absolutely true positive statement that can never fail the test of falsifiability and is incapable of being refuted. (Then again it could be the case that a few hundred thousand black swans are hiding somewhere.) “This appears to be my hand” (as opposed to “this is my hand”) is definitely a statement that has scientific validity and would seem to be an exception to this rule concerning certainty; it is a positive statement and constitutes a form of positive knowledge that can never be false. This is something, perhaps, that Wittgenstein and maybe Popper never understood. Have I erred? I need some help with this, Professor Rimmer. Thanks.

  72. Dan

    I’ll leave the a priori “space” thing. I still disagree for all the old stated reasons. “Space” is just a way of experientially apprehending the data streams presented. An AI being given stereo sensors to evolve its sensory organisation of the world may play a video game well enough. It is data streaming back and forth that is self coherent, experienced or not. A priori “space” is muddling the sensory quality with the informational content. This is why Dennett is keen to say Qualia don’t exist. I must say (though I use the term only as a personal experience adding no information apart from the tag “experience”) I will now retreat from using the term also. It encourages muddle.

    “All swans are white” is an illustration of a negatable hypothesis. It is lame brain to not distract with other factors. An actual scientific hypothesis might be derived from a mundane observation like (liquid) water makes surfaces slippier in shower stalls, under car tyres. So a testable negatable hypothesis might be “liquid water always makes surfaces slippier”. We are stopped in our natural tendency to think we have a universal law in this by a single example, be it the vertical walls of a sandcastle made from wet sand or the obstinate glue like immovability of a sheet of glass placed on a wet marble floor. We make universal laws at the drop of a hat. Inductive “learning” works on very little input as Skinner noted, making chickens superstitious from the merely coincidental. Formalising our semantic beliefs in this conscious, negatable way allows us to quickly test and sweep away error and reset our need to carry on looking.

    You need god to be moral is thumpingly denied by Scandiwegia and the USA weighed against each other. Ah but, they say and add caveats to their lame brain hypothesis, forever neglecting them each time they trot out the lie.

  73. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day our restored comments bar allowed say 48hrs worth of comments to be scrolled through?

    Playing catch up would be so much easier.

  74. Phil

    Swans are white is a good illustration but a lame supposition. (I wasn’t denigrating it as an illustration.) Who would say that anything is always anything? That’s unscientific.

    What was that about God? An allusion to my opposition to anarchism?

    “Space” is just a way of experientially apprehending the data streams presented? Well you’re right to put it in quotes, as it is a form – not a thing in itself. And you’ve adequately described it, I suppose; but I would leave out the word “just”. No object can be extended except in space. You regard that as insignificant, or as an unremarkable fact; I regard it as a consummate philosophical insight.

    Somewhat confused at the moment by your use of the word “deliberation” (on the other thread).

    When you get back (I guess you are back, if you’re reading this) perhaps you can clarify that a bit. I am interested in deliberation, and others might be as well.

  75. Dan

    “Space” is just a way of experientially apprehending the data streams presented? Well you’re right to put it in quotes, as it is a form – not a thing in itself

    I’m saying it has no informational content. It is not a form per se but an experience of data, like pink. It is unremarkable only in so far as like pink it required no a priori knowledge to learn to parse the associated data. Simple Hebbian learning by trial and error puts sensory data streams and muscle control into an integrated whole.

    The god reference is an example of the sneaky teflon coating of hypotheses that, say, ideologists use to try to make them non-negatable. (Small countries don’t have the same problem… Mixed populations…) Nothing to do with mild anarchy.

    I’ll give “deliberation” another go later. To be going on with, conscious thoughts have a number of different modes, but they are, I contend, all forms of deliberation. There is an evaluating character to them, even when we pretend otherwise.

  76. Dan

    The Daca thing has me very sad and angry. What will those young people do now? Go underground? That’s what I’d do and all of this after they tried to go it the honest way. What sent me into a rage yesterday was when the hopeless asshole who is our President repeated more than once how much compassion he had for the daca young people. Talk about double speak! He feels compassion and yet he’s going to send them back to places where they have no memory of ever being and no skills whatsoever to survive there. Wow! So compassionate! Only a psychopath would do that…only a psychopath.

    I feel disoriented without a comment sidebar. It should be 48 hours like Phil said and it should be on the main page. Also, Dan, I think I remember you saying you have a Macbook. How can we do a fast scroll to the bottom of the page? Is there a shortcut way? There is always the little blue square in bottom right corner for fast scroll up but how to fast scroll down?

  77. My two good friends –

    Fast scroll down? I’d like to help you with that one, Laurie. Hmm. I think it’s pretty fast when you just put your finger(s) on the trackpad and gently push up, as opposed to putting the cursor on the whatchamacallit (on the right side of the screen) and using the arrow button; but I haven’t been using my macbook; I could take a look but I have to plug it in.

    Been too disoriented myself (because of the missing comment sidebar) to do much of anything. I’ll get back to you if I can come up with a shortcut. (Pinker is so damned knowledgable; I am envious.)

    Space, Phil, is not an experience of data; we experience external objects (“data”) in space or as having an external source. This distinction we make between inner and outer is associated with the brain, and has no meaning independently of the brain (mind)! This is a revolutionary concept and very esoteric; it also has an eastern aspect. The idealists are not the ones that place man at the center; it is the stubborn realist who cannot allow himself to be removed from the “objective” universe. Think about it. Inner and outer has no meaning independently of the human or the animal or (if you insist) the artificial mind. (Again, I am talking about the space in front of our bodies, the space that is intuited when we reach out our hand to touch or look or listen using our eyes and ears. – Not the astronomical space of theoretical physicists. Hebbian learning. I must look into that.)

    Very weird and dark time we’re living in now. The Age of Trump. (“Post truth”!)

    Trump has a fish brain. Bannon calls himself a street fighter, and says that Trump is a great counter puncher. Both should be locked up. A couple of loser-thugs. They’re fighters? What cause are they interested in?

  78. Dan,

    I think we need to give this discussion (“space”) a rest unless you actually address the propositions. I don’t see any on the ideas addressed, only statements, so no progress will be made. Lets try and break it down.

    Can a non-conscious learning entity like a bot or a nematode worm, utterly empty of a priori knowledge, through an evolutionary thinking process come to parse sensory data and usefully act in space?

    Laurie,

    Obama “broke the rules” (goes the right wing narrative) in establishing a temporary reprieve from deportation. (A great political and moral act if not the Dream Act decent folk wanted. Go, rule breaking!)

    It should have brought people around and softened them up for decency and the next stage. See! these folk thrive and the country simply does better for having such hugely motivated (and grateful!) new would be citizens. So how can we now re-form the rules or legislate to take advantage? BUT, instead we have Trump, gleeful. Sorry folks its outta my tiny hands!

    One thing would be to report on the impact to the economy of such migrants. I strongly suspect it is only positive (as our own UK migrant experience showed…and it would have been better with a little dirigisme to relieve pressure on some local services.)

    More than anything I would like individual states to be able to offer mitigations of some sort. I just can’t see that is possible.

  79. Phil

    Right. The whole thing makes no sense at all and the numbers don’t add up. This is a red flag to me that there is some other force at work. In this case I strongly suspect it’s a combination of racism, fear, short sightedness and ignorance of the big financial picture. This all adds up to vulnerability to right wing propaganda.

    On interviews we hear right wingers fulminating over taxpayer dollars that the dreamers have accessed through public schooling and medical help. I suppose these rightists want to cut their losses and kick the dreamers out immediately. My answer to them is – Why not give them legal papers, get them some real jobs and start collecting taxes to pay us back? This does make them stop and think about it. They appreciate reimbursement.

    Certain facts must be faced; We cannot go back in time to an all white WASP America (Not that it ever was that to begin with). Our immigrant population ain’t going nowhere. Practical reality based solutions are the only way to move forward.

  80. Update on the Recent Comments box

    Apparently it’s proving difficult to reinstate the Recent Comments box on every page, but our Website Manager hasn’t given up so there’s hope yet.

    However, he has managed to put it on the Home page, which is probably even better, since it means no one has to first access a discussion thread in order see it.

    The 48-hours idea isn’t going to be doable, unfortunately, but the number of recent comments shown will be doubling, from 5 to 10 (it’s currently still at 5, but that will be changing soon).

    Hope that helps.

    The mods

  81. Phil,

    It’s funny; I was just about to write you a quick comment about space. I spent a half hour just now thinking about space. I tried to let go of any stubbornness or bias on my part and to be completely objective, and to imagine space as a thing-in-itself, to try to conceive of that. I couldn’t quite decide what that could be, as I couldn’t remove myself and my mind’s eye, or my mind’s outer sense (if you will), in the process. So I was left, as a result of the failure to come up with a satisfactory conclusion one way or the other, with the unsettling feeling of total confusion.

    You will have to tell me what a bot is and how something without a brain can learn. But if it is unconscious I would say that your question is like asking how a drop of rain is capable learning how to fall through space without knowledge of it. Or, perhaps I didn’t grasp the question.

    Phil, Laurie,

    I just looked it up. The supreme court has yet to rule on DACA’s unconstitutionality; so it is presumptuous to call it unconstitutional. The right-wing jack-ass pundits are of course doing what they do on the circus-like panels on CNN, and vehemently asserting that it is.

    DACA recipients do pay taxes and go to school and work and a few serve in the military and they have to pass tests and fill out forms in order to do all that. And yes, they contribute to the economy and to society in a very positive way, but it was never a guarantee of citizenship:

    “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix,” Obama said when he announced the program five years ago. “This is a temporary stopgap measure.”

    They aren’t stealing jobs and they do no harm in any way. On the contrary. I don’t think it’s unconstitutional; but the bottom line is that we know what’s behind it all: it’s all part of Trump being the Law and Order, anti-immigration president.

    Go ahead, Sessions. Keep talking about law and order (and immigration). Pretty soon we’ll have fascism. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

  82. Phil,

    How does a being without a brain “learn”? The same way that a bird (with a brain) can build a nest: something more primary than the intellect is at work. This idea is supported by the evidence of extraordinary instinctive behavior which everyone who has observed or has studied animal behavior is familiar with. Animals accomplish a great many things that they cannot possibly “know how” to do. It would take years to teach a human how to build a nest; obviously the intellects of nest-building birds are being guided by something non-intellectual. Could it be “Will”? So extend this idea and apply it to living organisms completely devoid of intellect, like bots (and Trumps). Something other than knowledge is guiding them as they set about to do and accomplish things.

    Do you really think a bird learns how to build a nest? Step by step? No. It just builds the damned nest. More evidence of Schopenhauer’s doctrine of the primacy of the will and the secondary nature of the intellect for you to grapple with.

  83. I’m tied up atm. And will be back to this because there is really interesting stuff. There is a nest building predisposition not least because the brain has bits built that find it easier to learn this way and and not that (like the Perkinje cells in the cerebellum that facilitate our motor skills acquisition) This is a comparatively new area of study, ten or so years old. It makes it a little difficult to distinguish knowledge from disposition, but increasingly we can tease it out with the right tests.

    But here’s the skinny on nest building….

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-15053754

    The case with the nematode worm and its successful navigation in space is far easier to demonstrate. just a few dozen rather simple neurons a few muscles and a few sensors.

    Of course neural systems learn. That is their whole point, at least when young. This is why animals are quickly adaptive, otherwise they’d be plants (a bit like the sea squirt transition when they become sessile.)

    I’ll come back to this all tomorrow…

  84. That’s very odd, Olgun. Could it be a caching issue? Other than Wednesday, the site’s been running normally all week.

    Anyone else still having problems?

  85. The nematode worm. I understand that it has a brain. I don’t know enough to comment on this creature, but I will make a general remark:

    It may or may not have a sense of being inside a body. But Space itself cannot give one (or it) “knowledge” of externality. (This is obviously not conceptual knowledge.) For that, understanding of causality is required. This creature is capable of feeling. If it can sense it has some rudimentary awareness of what it senses. But if it is touched or a feeling is produced by some other source of stimuli it may be incapable of “thinking” that the sensation has a source. A source, in this context, is defined as something identified (in the most rudimentary way but identified nonetheless) as originating from outside, and not from within, the organism.

    Perhaps it does. I wouldn’t know.

    Either way, it doesn’t disprove the theory of the a priori nature of space. An invertebrate does not need knowledge of space in order to move through life and even learn as it adapts to its environment. But it does need awareness of space in order to distinguish between a sensation experienced within the organism and one that originates outside of it. (In the case of many rudimentary forms of life sensations are not separable from the being itself that feels them; the sensation and the being coalesce. That is my assumption.)

    Sensation itself is not knowledge.

  86. I read what you had there about nest building. Yes they know all the math and science associated with what they are doing. They serve an apprenticeship, take lessons from the old masters. There are even different types of nests. How about that? No unconscious impulses, I am sure. I suppose spiders are taught how to spin those elaborate and beautiful webs too and how to wrap up their prey the way they do. Classes start in the Spring. A discount if you register early.

    It’s instinct, I tell you. Instinct. This behavior is guided by the will or whatever it is, not by intellect. Some cognitive aspects are involved: observation, experimentation, trial and error, perhaps. But I am not buying it, Phil.

    Why must you and others go to such lengths to keep the metaphysical element at bay? Metaphysics is just a word for what we don’t yet understand and may never understand. Nothing to be so wary of.

  87. 101 Cont.

    Phil

    Source: Rockefeller University

    “We found that the collective state of the three neurons at the exact moment an odor arrives determines the likelihood that the worm will move toward the smell.”

    This suggests the possibility of awareness of an external stimulus; and therefore, space and some modicum of understanding would, in my view, have to be present as a precondition. (Not sure what specific type of worm is being referred to, however.) But if the worm is “totally empty of a priori knowledge” (which is what you proposed) then I cannot explain how it can move forward in response to such stimuli. If the source is external it has to be able to distinguish between itself and something outside of itself.

    (I’m not a helminthologist; I am really testing the limits of my understanding of epistemology here.)

    I cannot see how a worm can possibly be born with no “knowledge” of space and then somehow acquire an awareness of it through experience. How could it transition from one state to the other? That makes no sense! If it is born with no consciousness of space then it is born completely solipsistic. A stimulus would have to be perceived or experienced as internal. So how does it gain knowledge of space and understanding of Otherness? (And this knowledge is presupposed by the observation quoted above: stimuli understood as having an external source acts upon it; it move towards the source of the sensation – in this case an odor – when affected by that sensation.) How can the worm be born a total solipsist and gradually learn of space and other things (separate from itself) from the outside in? Think about that. (I am answering your question with a question.)

    I think Pinker rejects the idea of a blank slate. Causality is “hardwired in the brain”. (I have yet to hear any scientist discuss the issue of a priori space and time, but Miller, in that discussion, did refer to causality as “hardwired in the brain.” Pinker nodded. I may be taking this out of context.)

    Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.

  88. One final remark pending your reply: remember what I said; mere sensation alone cannot produce knowledge of externality.

    All a bit muddled, as usual. Hope you can make sense out of these latest comments.

  89. Moderator #100
    Sep 8, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    That’s very odd, Olgun. Could it be a caching issue? Other than Wednesday, the site’s been running normally all week.

    Anyone else still having problems?

    There is still no side-bar with links to the latest comments.

    I have been loading the news page in the mornings, leaving the system running, and loading a new copy again in a new tab later in the day – to look for changes and differences between the numbers of posts.
    This finds any new ones which have been added since the morning loading, but very few people are posting!

  90. You have to go to the home page for the side-bar now, Alan.

    See Moderators’ comment #95.

    No discussion that I have heard on the news about the role of global warming in relation to Irma. That is, presumably, because the media is corporate. Half the ads are natural gas and oil industry ads. “Right under your feet”.

  91. Alan

    Yes, as Dan has explained, the Recent Comments box is currently on the home page only. The website manager is still trying to reinstate it on all individual threads, but that is proving tricky.

    The version on the home page has now been expanded to show the 10 latest comments, rather than just 5, as before.

    The mods

  92. The website manager is still trying to reinstate it on all individual
    threads, but that is proving tricky.

    He/she is just doing it all wrong. You need to press Control/Alt/G, spit into an antique tea cup and, most importantly, have had part of your body removed by a guy in a clown suit. Sorted!!!!

  93. 10 comments rather than 5 is a great improvement. Thanks for it.

    Dan,

    I’ve just had a lot of work dumped on me, so still little time, just coffee breaks.

    A few quick points. We are not in the least a blank slate. There is much that is a priori, but the way it is a priori is very interesting, and rather more a barrier dropping nudge than anything. Experiments and disease have taught us about neural plasticity. Recent discoveries (optic nerves in pre-natal lab rats re-routed to aural detection regions eventually learn to see…the Chinese woman born without a cerebellum eventually learns to walk etc….) show that disorganised regions not configured for tasks can eventually parse “alien” data into useful knowledge. Hebbian learning (the coincidence detection of “cells that fire together wire together”) eventually prevails in creating useful responses to sensory data from this or that source, as it were, “sight unseen”. This is now mimicked in robot vision and is all the better for skipping the insertion of pre-detected features we may be tempted to help with.

    The nematode C.Elegans is the worm of choice with 300 neurons and astonishingly deeply studied from the whole genome up. With a dozen or so sensor types and (I think) eight longitudinal muscle pairs. 550+ billion years old it is the first bilateral body form. It eats yummy bacteria (but not non yummy). Whilst they have sensors for simple distasteful chemicals they have to learn which bacteria are good and which bad. Its hugely important in a complex environment to keep an open mind to better exploit it.

    A sense of space (whatever that could possibly mean) is not needed for the nematode to respond to mechano-sensor #1 input stimulation in this pulsing fashion from a bacterium, to eventually learn to pull on muscle C to improve its chances to have the bug fall into its mouth. This is just correlations of stimulus with action to improve reward.

    An exciting new discipline seeks to tackle this deck-clearing way of understanding how everything from gene expression, neural construction, behavioural and cultural formation builds on the substrate of what was built previously and in the context of novel, changeable and affecting environments. Neuro-constructivism.

  94. We usually have a few nests of spiders under the flap of our hot tub (for medicinal purposes) and I try not to disturb them too much. Nice and warm for them. Last year, one of these baby pin head size creatures got to some plants about eight feet away (as the crow flies) and made this perfect but tiny web about the size of my thumb. Why didn’t it attempt a full size web? Has it got a sense of space?

  95. Ollie, I’m primarily arguing that “a sense of space” isn’t needed “a priori”. As it happens, nor do I think it actually is so provided, certainly as far as humans and nematodes are concerned.

    Overlooking the River Lea on one side and the Forrest on the other. We have a lot of flying insects and huge, overweight spiders, too lazy to deal with their own fifth and sixth course. I suspect its going to be Arachnogeddan next year… Take care in the tub.

  96. phil rimmer #112
    Sep 9, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    . I suspect its going to be Arachnogeddan next year… Take care in the tub.

    I used to encourage spiders in my glasshouse where I did not want accidental cross pollination of some flowering plants, sap-sucking insects, or plant munching caterpillars.

    Spiders have a population control mechanism known as cannibalism!!!
    (Also hi-jacking a web is easier than spinning one – for the bigger or fitter spider!)

  97. Phil

    I’m probably thinking the same thing. Just haven’t got there yet.

    Watching a wildlife program the other day, we watched four fledglings leave the nest. The First just took off followed almost instantly by the second. There was a couple of seconds before the third took off but the last one was looking over the edge nervously and pacing about the nest. It spread its tiny wings flapped about until it got some lift and then took off after the others. Was the first acting on priori knowledge or just born fearless? Did the second just react to its flocking instinct and took off when the correct distance sensor kicked in? Was the third being stroppy and was the last the cleverest to check things out first? Everything seems to be on a scale of its own and makes me see each of those hundreds of spiders as individuals now.

    Hope that wasn’t too much of a roller coaster ride inside my head?

  98. “A sense of space (whatever that could possibly mean) is not needed for the nematode to respond to mechano-sensor #1 input stimulation in this pulsing fashion from a bacterium, to eventually learn to pull on muscle C to improve its chances to have the bug fall into its mouth. This is just correlations of stimulus with action to improve reward.”

    Here you got into the area I was most concerned about. Thanks. A sense of space. I think you do know what that means although it may appear like a foreign idea since it is always with us. But perhaps you were asking what it could mean to the organism you were describing. But for a creature like that to have a “sense of space” could only mean that it has a brain developed enough to do what all brains presumably do and that is to allow for a division into subject and object (which also requires understanding of cause and effect, as I said before). I don’t know how you can tell if a nematode can do that or cannot do that. Nor would I know what that sense could be like either at such a rudimentary level. It seems to me that the difference between a sensation in the form of stimuli indistinguishable between that which has arisen from and is part of its own organism or existence, and a sensation understood as having arisen from a source (outside of itself) may constitute a sort of continuum – although it can only be one or the other, can’t it?–I cannot really imagine anything in-between. It is very difficult to get into the “minds” of nematodes. And whether they have the innate sense of other things (foreign elements) is irrelevant anyway. Trees have no sense of space and yet they grow upwards in space. So what?

  99. Phil, others

    From scholarly article:

    “There is contradicting evidence on whether causal perception is innate and present at birth or whether it is a result of perception development.”

    So the verdict’s not in yet!

    The latter claim is that of the empiricists, and one that I regard as insupportable. To be honest this article was published in 67. 1867. Just kidding, 1967.

    I mention this because, again, the “sense of space” cannot exist without the understanding of causality. And space cannot be apprehended except in time. All three: space, time, and causality, are interdependent modes of apprehension of objects; this perception of objects is what constitutes the experience of what we call reality. (Empirical reality.)

    I though you might want to take a look at these famous opening lines of Kant’s Critique:

    “That all our knowledge begins with experience there can be no doubt. For how should the faculty of knowledge be called into activity, if not by objects which affect our senses and which, on the one hand, produce representations by themselves or on the other, rouse the activity of our understanding to compare, connect, or separate them and thus to convert the raw material of our sensible impressions into knowledge of objects, which we call experience? With respect to time, therefore, no knowledge within us is antecedent to experience, but all knowledge begins with it.

    But though all our knowledge begins with experience, is does not follow that it all arises from experience. For it is quite possible that even our empirical knowledge is a compound of that which we perceive through impressions, and of that which our own faculty of knowledge (incited by sense impressions) supplies from itself, a supplement which we do not distinguish from that raw material until long practice has roused our attention and rendered us capable of separating one from the other.

    It is therefore a question which deserves at least closer investigation and cannot be disposed of at first sight: Whether there is any knowledge independent of all experience and even of all impressions of the senses? Such knowledge is called ‘a priori’ and is distinguished from empirical knowledge, which has its source ‘a posteriori’, that is, in experience…”

  100. Phil

    I might have confused with my question about the tiny web? If all of it were priori knowledge then all webs would look the same and be the same size wouldn’t they?

  101. Dan

    The entirely mechanistic account of orienteering in space is complete. A bot will learn to do the same. A plant using gravitropic organelles in the cells of its roots can orienteer enough. A simulation of all the parts with space reduced to mere algebraic/geomtric equations reproducing how space affects can exist in nearly no space at all, “matrixed” into existence and similarly consumed. Orienteering can and does emerge from the ingredients of sensor data streams, an ability to act differentially that will alter the data streams, and the successful completion of a necessary process (like homeostasis…keeping sugar levels up, say) and neurons with the capacity for Hebbian (coincidence based) learning.

    300 neurons and just about all of them accounted for… No room for “qualities of experience”. Just the numbers we experimenter/observers see that fall out from the nature of things interacting. Spiders may well have some neural attribute evolved which makes webs like this rather than that. But these nudges are incredibly subtle, just like genes are not plans but constructivist recipes with huge variation possible with tiny changes in the timing of each “expression”. These recipes go hugely (sometimes usefully) awry if the construction site is even subtly different. Just as the sensor data streams don’t encode the experience of “space” so encoding thread volume to dab frequency within a genetic recipe need encode no specific geometry or topology being entirely context dependent. Moths orienteer by flying at fixed angles to the sun to reliably change location. They don’t think of locations but “will get more better reward rate if I flap my wings for this duration with bright light down this cone.” Poor thing encounters a light bulb and nearly dies.

    “Space” like pink consists of data interacting on a substrate supporting it (culturally, at the highest level), but in the case of humans (or this human), at least, there is another super-added experience… a quality as so often when trying quickly to parse the varieties of data we experience. Space is phenomenal and emergent from a soma that could manage quite nicely without it. “We” have made it our job, given this highest and most expensive capacity of all, post hoc narrative/inference generation, to build vivid tractable models (I contend) to encourage future efficient and effective, “rehearsible”, action.

    You recall the comment that Miller was metaphysicking in the absence of data that is now in. That was in 1978 and 1998. In 1969 we still hadn’t learned what explanatory levers to pull existed.

    Kant did a tremendous job and the care and profundity of his speech and terminology in the quotation makes me regret that he isn’t available today. What he mightn’t be able to achieve with this latest knowledge…. Learning the brain is not conventionally logical, yet logic emerges from culture, that neuronal coincidence can bootstrap metaphysical/phenomenal concepts like space, time and causality. This is a man who loved the very latest of science and before anybody knew how the sun and planets formed and moved as they did.

  102. Clarified…

    This is a man who loved the very latest of science, and before anybody else, knew how the sun and planets formed and moved as they did.

    I think he was a topologist a la Feynman.

    Ollie, some spidey stuff in the above that is pertinent.

  103. Olgun #117
    Sep 10, 2017 at 7:22 am
    .
    I might have confused with my question about the tiny web? If all of it were priori knowledge then all webs would look the same and be the same size wouldn’t they?

    That’s never going to work!
    A tiny spiderling is smaller than the silk gland on a large spider, so the larger spider works on a grander scale.

    They tend to spiral out once the star of structural lines is in place from the centre to anchor points, so the tiny spider would simply run out of silk if it tried to form a big web.

    http://animals.howstuffworks.com/arachnids/spider5.htm

    As it walks along the initial structural threads, it lays more frame threads between various anchor points. Then it starts laying out radius threads from the center of the web to the frames. The spider does not coat the frame and radius threads with sticky material, since it needs to walk across them to get around the web.

    After building all the radius threads, the spider lays more nonstick silk to form an auxiliary spiral, extending from the center of the web to the outer edge of the web.
    The spider then spirals in on the web, laying out sticky thread and using the auxiliary spiral as a reference. The spider eats up the auxiliary spiral as it lays out the sticky spiral, resulting in a web with non-sticky radius threads, for getting around, and a sticky spiral for catching bugs.

  104. Thank you, Phil, for that most interesting and informative comment – and for the kind (and sincere) words about my beloved Kant.

    -D

    Hi, Olgun. I hope you’re well. The site has been no different for me than usual.

  105. I had no idea that Kant knew anything about astronomy. One source* says he had no science background, and yet he came up with the idea of a multi-galaxy universe which was based on “speculation and guess-work”.

    *I don’t know why so many online science and news outlets do not give the authors’ names!

  106. Dan

    I don’t know why so many online science and news outlets do not give the authors’ names!

    Often because they stole the material and are being a bit clickbaity.

    Good sources generally identify authors or at least institutions to allow forward flexibility and multiple authorship over time.

  107. Sorry to hear that, Olgun (118).

    We’ve emailed the website manager and will let you know if he can suggest anything. It’s possible he’ll ask you to submit it as a fault via the blue circle with a white question mark at the bottom left of the screen, as that’s the formal fault-logging procedure, but we suggest you give him chance to respond to our email first.

    The mods

  108. Alan #121

    I agree. Spiders with faulty priori and too much ambition die and the others survive.

    I can’t separate “priori knowledge” from DNA now. Either that or “priori Knowledge” kicks in in steps to allow for size?

    Sorry! Silly post about the DNA.

  109. Ollie,

    The “a priori” “knowledge” is not knowledge in the sense of our semantic knowledge. It is “written” in the genes and is contextually expressed (there is variability depending on context, see gene expression and epigenetics). Because genes encode a self organising sequence of processes rather than the actual organisation, much adaptability and simple error is possible. Living things develop their individual selves from genes like a sequenced heap of self organising activities with organising principles like chemical gradients from previous processes marking directions and pathways for, say, neural/notochord growth.

    Likewise innate complex behaviours can be constructed by sequenced patterns of much simpler behaviours using simple inputs using the previous construct to inform the next. (Constructivism…same as Piaget’s!)

    Choose to build when your leg hairs vibrate this much (a slight breeze)

    Start a thread as much as you can not in the direction of the breeze

    Use a twentyieth of your immediately available thread (it feels like this much.)

    etc. etc.

    Very few instructions are needed to encode an effective web.

  110. I was trying a brief resume of my own taking into account a book from an author that dedicated his academic life to study Piaget (he mentions Piaget dedicated his entire life to understand scientific knowledge):

    That´s not knowledge itself that is a priori but it is organized into logical cathegories of the subject to become objective knowledge (Kant and Piaget), so the subject is active in the process of creating knowledge (of course the blank slate and empiricism don´t fit here).

    Those a priori structures rely on biology, but are not completely static for Piaget as they seem to be for Kant.
    Those a priori structures, not static (the logic of a child is not the same of an adult), cannot simply be subsumed by a transcendental analisis, and it becomes necessary to aknowledge the active experience of the subject in the process of creating knowledge (operative knowledge) that we can only experience taking into account the development of sciences, for instance (History of sciences).

    A Universe out of nothing reverses the previous logic that something could not come out of nothing? Is our a priori logic more important than reality itself?

  111. Well at the very least Schopenhauer got it half right; there is no way that the spider is employing anything that we can call knowledge or intellect when constructing its webs. And the same goes for nest building. It is relying upon some other mechanism; its behavior is written in the genes, you say. Schopenhauer would say that instinct is a word we use to describe behavior that is guided by the will. In either case the intellect is clearly playing a subservient role, is in the service of something more primary, something non-intellectual, something that is allowing it to perform what appears to be an elaborate and difficult task – and yet with zero conscious knowledge of what it is doing! (Unconscious knowledge is not knowledge in any ordinary or recognizable sense of the word.) It never learned and therefore it does not know how to create the web, or why it is creating it!

    Let me look up this passage that I seem to recall. Found it. (By the way, the issue of external space has not been exhausted. One might argue that the Space of the cosmos is a thing-in-itself, but Externality cannot possibly be.)

    “But that the will is also active where no knowledge guides it, we see at once in the instinct and the mechanical skill of animals. That they have ideas and knowledge is here not to the point, for the end towards which they strive as definitely as if it were a known motive, is yet entirely unknown to them. Therefore in such cases their action takes place without motive, is not guided by the idea, and shows us first and most distinctly how the will may be active entirely without knowledge. The bird of a year old has no idea of the eggs for which it builds a nest; the young spider has no idea of the prey for which it spins a web; nor has the ant-lion any idea of the ants for which he digs a trench for the first time. The larva of the stag-beetle makes the hole in the wood, in which it is to await its metamorphosis, twice as big if it is going to be a male beetle as if it is going to be a female, so that if it is a male there may be room for the horns, of which, however, it has no idea. In such actions of these creatures. . .”

  112. Maria,

    Hello.

    The a priori knowledge that Kant discussed and presented in his Transcendental Aesthetic has nothing whatsoever to do with logic. Anything else that is a priori, such as the apodictic certainty of mathematics, is dependent upon that. (Two parallel lines will never intersect, etc.) They are the pure intuitions of time (the form of the inner sense) and space ( the form of the outer sense). But yes, they are biological functions of the brain – and never vary, are indeed static, from birth to death.

  113. Thanks Phil,

    Was caught in a loop and posted before thinking. I posted an apology as an edit. I was trying to understand how size is accounted for at these different times of development and and why a bigger spider functions in a different way but forgot that even that is determined by evolution.

  114. Dan,

    I’ve said before, but I’ll repeat it, the greatest thinkers may well have more conjectural failures than mediocre thinkers. Finding error in Einstein or Newton or Kant or Schopenhauer is no disgrace at all in my view and it should always be expected.

    What I have rather disallowed is that a priori “knowledge” of operating in an environment is a necessary precondition for for such operations, but that some animals get a jump start from their genes (at a plasticity cost.) One of the great advantages of the human brain is that its normal growth is interrupted at a third adult size, after which it starts its enculturation phase, AND a phase of substantially wild overgrowth of random brain structure, a huge potential of plasticity accessed later in life.

    My general unhappiness with “the Will” is that it is muddlesome and we have better terms suited to different stances in different disciplines. Over arching is the physics of the second law of thermodynamics, but in biological situations homeostasis is the thing, the proto-purpose for all of life. Homeostasis transforms the journey to the heat death of the universe, the clock wound down, into something exactly self serving as life needs be, to best play its hurry-along part.

  115. A physicist would be able to criticise katian a priori notions of time and space better than me. Indeed Einstein did it.

    I don´t know too much about phsysics by the way, all I can rely on is my curiousity and some Google tranlated quotes as usual.
    Hope some physicist, other than Einstein could criticise kantian a priori concepts of time and space.
    Here´s one I found from Einstein (not that I really know much about physics as I mentioned before):
    “The fundamental question that moves Einstein is the way in which concepts must be related to facts, that is, as abstract scientific theories are consistent with empirical facts. And here he claims that the greatest danger that Philosophy (here Kant’s philosophy in the form of Newton’s mechanics) could represent for the progress of the sciences was the fact that by withdrawing concepts from the empirical field and transforming them into necessary concepts , there was a risk of giving them an independent existence [3]:

    This “hypostatization” of concepts is not necessarily disadvantageous
    to Science, but by forgetting their origin, the illusion is easily
    created that they must be seen as necessary and thus immutable, which
    may represent a serious danger to the progress of Science. Einstein

    http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1806-11172006000100002

    I will better aplly in making my lunch for tommorrow, (should exercesse but in fact didn´t) instead of being in such discussions.
    I´ll make my dinner, go out and buy some potatoes leaving the discussion for scientists I think, unless eating soup will make me change my mind and come back again.

  116. Phil

    Just read your post to me properly, now my grandchildren have gone home. Still got to understand the simple instruction properly but it has added a few more parts to my mental model of it. Thanks to you guys, simple doesn’t mean simple anymore. I am using my laser metaphor for everything.

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  118. Maria

    A physicist would be able to criticise kantian a priori notions of time and space better than me. Indeed Einstein did it.

    That article of yours which I read in English does not really address the profound theorem which Kant presented in his Aesthetic. Nor do any of the quotes from Einstein that were selected. Einstein discusses concepts, which have nothing to do with anything. No one – not Einstein or anyone else – has proven that the pure intuitions of space and time are of empirical origin, as far as I know. First read the Aesthetic then you can judge if its been well critiqued. This is not really a physics question per se; it’s an epistemological question.

    Phil,

    The intellect divides the world of absolute being (whatever that is; it cannot be what it appears to be) into subject and object. Yes, subject and object. Prove to me, using plain English, that it doesn’t. And if it does, then space is not a thing-in-itself; it is an intuition based on that division. The thing-in-itself cannot possibly be space; nor can space be thing-in-itself, for we are only empirically in space and looking or feeling outwards from within our own skulls; space is outside and therefore relative to something inside. This division is not a division that.has any meaning apart from experience, and is entirely subjective: space, an essential and indispensable element of reality, is finally, in us. The pure space that you insist is real may be real, but you must tell me what its nature is or confess that you can’t.

    As for Will, S. merely said that what gives rise to animals being able to perform these extraordinary actions is not knowledge derived from motives and not technical or even conscious knowledge; it is something that guides them yet is non-intellectual; he called it Will; you call it what you like. It is written in the genes, you said. Whether it is both or one or the other, it is not knowledge.

  119. Cont.

    What I have rather disallowed is that a priori “knowledge” of operating in an environment is a necessary precondition for for such operations…

    I disallow that too, Phil. I already said that trees grow, apples and rain and meteors fall, and worlds spin around, and dust flows through the air, and with no knowledge – a priori or empirical – to guide it all. The same may apply to animals. A person born blind, deaf, and mute will still have a sense of space and of objects outside his or her own body. But a person born without sensation as well and yet with consciousness (sounds awful, I know) will be able to move about. There is no problem there. You have not challenged the notion of space as a form of a priori knowledge by disallowing what you have disallowed. The worm too needs no knowledge of space, empirically derived or not, to do what it does. Granted! Your argument is granted. (I don’t wish to get into Time now, although I have touched upon causality.)

    Maria

    …a priori concepts of time and space…
    …hypostatization…

    Space and time are not, not, not, not concepts. They are first and foremost pure, sensuous intuitions. When we talk about them, or write about them, or reflect upon them, we are using concepts; but the original, subjective forms of knowledge that are innately intuited, and may be described as functions of the the human brain and most animal brains, according to this theory, are non-conceptual.

  120. To the Mods, #136.

    Thanks for keeping us updated. I remember the headaches when a firm I worked for had major database work going on.

    At least last time we got a “Bad gateway” message and have an “Under construction” coming up, both considerably better sites than the awful openly secular site.

  121. What I have rather disallowed is that a priori “knowledge” of operating in an environment is a necessary precondition for for such operations…

    I disallow that too, Phil. I already said that trees grow, apples and rain and meteors fall, and worlds spin around, and dust flows through the air, and with no knowledge – a priori or empirical – to guide it all.

    No I’m talking about things that can have knowledge in some proper sense of the word.

    Your thought experiment proves my point. The deaf/blind person, still sensate with mechano sensors and proprio-centric sensing will learn to operate her muscles coherently. The completely insensate person may twitch and thrash like a new born but coherence will never emerge. No motor cortex conditioning is possible.

    Simpler animals seem to have some pre-configured movement clusters, (and pre-wired sensory defense responses… go still when a shadow falls quickly and un-coincident with your own muscle movement) but this precisely removes plasticity.

    I would argue quite the contrary to you that to acquire our sense of space we must substantially not have pre-wired muscle use clusters, but must explore its very properties in relation to our selves. Indeed we must learn of our own boundaries and extent, the very fact of a self. Subjectivism is cultivated through experience. It is not pre-parsed, else it would be a dead thing to you like your sense of your adrenal glands working away. Its many discoveries are woven into our daily experience and thus our semantic knowledge and language.

    Being born before we are fully made is the wonderful trick of our seemingly unique mind.

    (Pre-wired muscle cluster functions are substantially brain independent with nerve clusters of their own. Hearts and guts.)

  122. Dan

    They are first and foremost pure, sensuous intuitions.

    This remains un-demonstrated and is the contention.

    I fail to see if even worms can master their environment given sensors and muscles why we to should not learn from a wriggling thrashing infant to similarly conceptualise and master the same environment. We have the same learning type of neurons.

  123. Dan #138
    Sep 11, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Space and time are not, not, not, not concepts. They are first and foremost pure, sensuous intuitions.

    Space and time are physical features of the universe which also exist in the 99.999999999999999999999999999999% +, of the universe which is devoid of life.
    Reactions to sensations of them are the evolved “knowledge” known as “instinct”, acquired through natural selection of behaviours in previous generations.

    When we talk about them, or write about them, or reflect upon them, we are using concepts;

    Which were very limited before the advent of scientific instrumentation.

    Our mental models of them ARE concepts, but are personal concepts of individuals, depending on their opportunities to build them from available sensory inputs.

    but the original, subjective forms of knowledge that are innately intuited, and may be described as functions of the the human brain and most animal brains,

    They are not even “knowledge”! They are merely pre-programmed instinctive physical reactions to environmental stimuli, which have aided survival and reproduction in past generations, and have then been inherited. Such reactions exist in organisms which do not even have brains! (such as plants and fungi)

    according to this theory, are non-conceptual.

    What “theory”? It sounds more like whimsical speculation to me!

    We have been over the issue of the rambling thoughts and misconceptions of earlier philosophers before.
    It really IS much more productive to look at modern physics, cosmology, astronomy, psychology, ecology, and neuroscience which have done a great deal of work on sorting confirmed information from refuted junk!

    When it comes to biology, it is important to look at the wide spectrum of life throughout evolutionary time, and not just limited individuals’ perceptions of modern humans’ activities.

  124. Alan #142

    and not just limited individuals’ perceptions of modern humans’
    activities

    Makes me feel so claustrophobic.

  125. Phil

    Your bait has been bitten. Read the link and fell through a rabbit hole of additional links. Half way through the article describing St Helen cemetery analysis. Fascinating. Love this stuff…but you knew that…

    Now late for appointments thanks to you. 😉 Back later.

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  127. Hi mods.

    Better on the iPad than the iPhone. They both take so long to download fully. The pages come up pretty quickly in full but it seems to carry on downloading for just over a minute on the iPad and can be two or more on the iPhone. Even in this mode I can navigate and post on the iPad but have to wait until it’s all finished on the iPhone. With the login being in two stages, this can take a while before you can navigate or post on the iPhone. All other sites I use seem to be working as they should.

  128. Alan, Phil, anyone

    (Laurie, what do you think?)

    I would encourage you not to just state the obvious; of course our knowledge of empirical space has evolved, expanded and shifted. Why can’t you consider the possibility that the awareness of immediate space is something we are born with, and that this is by no means a proposition that can be readily dispensed with? The brain (intellect) divides into two halves: subject and object! (Forget the nematode!) That is what it must do. We look out and see, or intuit, “space” in front of us. This space is not a concept until it is presented to us in abstract rather than concrete terms. What I am arguing is true. A child doesn’t enter the world with knowledge of galaxies and planets; of course not: and that is not the kind of space that I am talking about. That’s astronomy. Just like geography is the study of the places of the word.–But when I say that the “world” is my representation I mean the world of (really existing) objects of perception, in its totality.

    Time is in itself not a concept either. Time is an inner sense that we are also born with, something inseparable from the inner experience of being an existing and living sentient entity. If you would think about what I am saying instead of just rejecting it you might discover that these arguments are not fanciful; on the contrary, they have to do with something that could not be more real or concrete. Try closing your eyes for a while and meditating on this; you will discover, if you try hard, that the sense of Time is in us, is innate. This is hard to do, but you can try. Or try reading the Aesthetic over and over again, as I have. This may not be an easy thing to grasp. The theorem of the ideality of space and time struck me as true immediately when I first read the Aesthetic and it produced a fundamental change in my thinking; but this may not happen with everyone.

    Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic is a masterpiece of the mind, and I will regard it as irrefutable until it is adequately refuted – and it never has been. Try convincing yourself that space and time are learned from the outside in. No way that can be done. Reality (a synthesis of, and interaction between, the external and internal) is based upon the already-existing presence of these formal conditions of the understanding; the immediate and intuitive perceptions of space and time are in us, in our heads. (Empirically, are heads are in space and in time.) Most people are not conscious of this. Kant’s great achievement was the discovery of this insight and he was, I believe, the first to articulate it and present it formally as a theorem: the ideality of space and time. No one has ever taken it very seriously and there are, presumably, only a few Kantian idealists left in the world. So you can take comfort in the fact that you are not by any means alone.

    They [space, time and causality] are not even “knowledge”! They are merely pre-programmed instinctive physical reactions to environmental stimuli…

    This, unfortunately, makes no sense. And stimuli cannot be perceived (known) without space and understanding of causality. The senses alone can never become knowledge. I went into this a bit in an earlier comment (101) and have discussed this a bunch of times in the past.

    I have trouble thinking about things in new and unfamiliar ways. I am guilty of that as well. That doesn’t make it right. And it doesn’t make one (always) wrong either!

  129. “The senses alone can never become knowledge.”

    Corrected and improved:

    The senses alone can never produce knowledge. Much more is needed. We are not accustomed to thinking of the senses independently of (space, time and) causality; this is quite natural; but as I have said, a sensation without a cause is not knowledge; all knowledge is knowledge of an object of knowledge. (See 101)

  130. Dan #150
    Sep 12, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    They [space, time and causality] are not even “knowledge”! They are merely pre-programmed instinctive physical reactions to environmental stimuli…

    This, unfortunately, makes no sense.

    That is because you appear to have misunderstood.

    They [instinctive reactions to space, time and causality] are not even “knowledge”! They are merely pre-programmed instinctive physical reactions to environmental stimuli…

    Why can’t you consider the possibility that the awareness of immediate space is something we are born with,

    It can be considered, but is rapidly dismissed when we recognise that a baby’s growing awareness of its surroundings, is built through the brain gradually sorting through sensory inputs and learning to manage and interpret these.

    Before these are built up and established, activities are survival based, instinctive actions.

    and that this is by no means a proposition that can be readily dispensed with?

    Why not?

    https://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-sensory-development-sight_6508.bc

    Baby sensory development: Sight

    From the day your baby’s born, her eyes will aid her physical, mental, and emotional development by allowing her to take in information – a little bit at first, and eventually much more – about the world around her.

    Unlike a baby’s hearing, which is fully mature by the end of his first month outside the womb, the sense of sight develops gradually over 6 to 8 months, at which point your baby will see the world almost as well as you do.

    While your newborn’s eyes are physically capable of seeing just fine at birth, his brain isn’t ready to process all that visual information, so things stay pretty fuzzy for a while. As his brain develops, so does his ability to see clearly, giving him the tools he needs to understand and manage his environment. Though your baby starts out life being able to see only as far as your face when you hold him, his range of clarity grows steadily, month by month.

    At first your baby can’t focus farther than 8 to 12 inches away – just far enough to make out the face of the person holding her.
    She can detect light, shapes, and movement beyond that, but it’s all pretty blurry right now. Appropriately enough, your face is the most fascinating thing to your baby at this age (followed by high-contrast patterns such as a checkerboard), so be sure to give her plenty of up-close time.

    So instinctive facial recognition and the warmth and touch of its mother, is pretty much the limit for a newborn!

    And stimuli cannot be perceived (known) without space and understanding of causality. The senses alone can never become knowledge.

    It would be difficult to acquire “knowledge” other than through the senses, but obviously interpretation and memory are also involved.

  131. First read the Aesthetic then you can judge if its been well
    critiqued. This is not really a physics question per se; it’s an
    epistemological question. Dan

    Actually I don´t intend to fully read Kant as I did when I was 17 or 21, (Kant was one of those philosophers students of Philosophy like me had to know a bit about). Right now I´m reading a chapter(s) titles and subtitles of a book about Piaget as I´ve mentioned before and it has a chapters, titles and subtitles dedicated to understand both Piaget and Kant ( as I consider myself not an easy reader, I´ve to admit the author seems good enough to me in his clear explanations, with quotes of both).
    What I´ve read from significative explanations about kantian philosophy (epistemology)it really seems idealism, and I admit very profound and poetic.

    Dan,

    You seem to be quite idealist here:

    Reality (a synthesis and interaction between the external and
    internal) is based upon the already-existing presence of these formal
    conditions of the understanding; the immediate and intuitive
    perceptions of space and time, are in us, in our heads. (Empirically,
    are heads are in space and in time.) Most people are not conscious of
    this. Kant’s great achievement was (…)

    In fact Piaget, criticised the idealist posture. Actually knowledge is rather the opposite, not a synthesis between lactant vs object, but a progressive distantiation from the lactant´s primary adualism, not to mention epistemological breaks and paradigma shifts in science that should make us think twice about this apparent harmony (synthesis).

    Kant is profoundly “poetic” in his idealism, particularly a quote from Kant reminds me Daniel Dennet´s sentence that intteligent humans are the conscience of the Universe as for Kant, in a very resumed way, Nature is our conception of it. (see the chapter of “the conditions of the possibility of experience”) or yet, if science does not explain too much, religion explains nothing.

    This was perhaps an unfortunate confession for an epistemologist?
    “I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.”
    ― Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

    What´s the context?

  132. maria melo #153
    Sep 12, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Right now I´m reading a chapter(s) titles and subtitles of a book about Piaget

    Piaget made it very clear, that it is wrong to try to apply general assumptions to all age groups. – Clearly spelling out the stages throughout a child’s mental development.

    http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Piaget%27s_Stages#Stages_of_Cognitive_Development

    Object permanence occurs at 7-9 months, demonstrating that memory is developing. Infants realize that an object exists after it can no longer be seen.

    Dan @#150 – Why can’t you consider the possibility that the awareness of immediate space is something we are born with,

    At birth, without “object permanence” and functional memory, awareness of surroundings (in space and time), is very limited!

  133. Dan #150

    I can’t take on that discussion. I’ve just finished reading about the cemetery analysis in St. Helen on the walls in England. Now deep back into Better Angels by Pinker in sections discussing Medieval violence. Questions and discrepancies will now occupy my mind for the next week.

    http://www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AY12-1-St-Helen-cemetery.pdf

    In the cemetery, where the hell are all the skulls gone to? Many skeletons are skull-less. Why?
    The 17-40 year old women that probably died in childbirth is a soberingly high number. The teeth are a gruesome display. Difficult to establish death by plague. Some evidence of infectious disease does show in bones. Tuberculosis leaves evidence in bones. Abscesses leave pits in bones. Smashed skulls, a humerus broken in two places and self-set in a zig-zag shape, osteoarthritis so bad it fused vertebrae and foot bones. Who the hell could possibly believe that life was better a thousand years ago?!

    A quote by Blaise Pascal included in beginning pages of Better Angels by Pinker:

    What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the universe.

    The report of the excavation mentions that in the case of the St Helen cemetery there was to be a housing project built there. Did it ever happen or does discovery of old bones stop the project temporarily or permanently? It seems like there’s no end of ancient graveyards in England. How will anything be built in that place without destroying archeologically vital sites? I once had a friend from Rome who said that every time a construction project was initiated there, in a matter of hours into the dig they’d inevitably reveal old ruins and everyone would throw up their arms in exasperation. My American perspective must be glaring obvious.

    Ok, back to my reading and at 8pm PBS channel is showing Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World

  134. They [space, time and causality] are not even “knowledge”! They are
    merely pre-programmed instinctive physical reactions to environmental
    stimuli… Alan in replying to Dan

    If we are primates and our intelligence might have evolved in part because of being able to calculate space (distance) between trees, I´m afraid space is not merely “stimuli”.
    Anyway, it seems scientific knowledge aims to achieve accurate knowledge of the physical world you call merely pre-programmed stimuli.

    What is intelligence then rather thana flexible adaptation to face the complexity of environment?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8086000/8086246.stm

  135. Maria

    This was perhaps an unfortunate confession for an epistemologist? “I
    had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.” ― Immanuel
    Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

    That’s from his preface to the second edition of the Critique. So maybe he was a man of faith. No one is perfect. Don’t attack the messenger. (Right, Phil?) His personal life and his apparent faith does not infect any of the many reasoned arguments that he proceeded to make. If it does I’d like to know where and how. And one does have to deny knowledge in order to make room for belief. (When he said “I’ I think he meant “one”.)

    There is nothing poetic about his idealism, although it might, for various reasons, appeal to poets. He rarely called poetry to his aid. His approach was scientific, completely undogmatic, and architectonic. (He made many errors; but there are no errors in the Aesthetic.)

    Why not read the entire preface? (You don’t have to read the Critique in its entirety. But you might want to revisit the introduction and Transcendental Aesthetic.) (First edition)

    http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/philosophers/kant/preface.html

  136. Alan,

    It would be difficult to acquire “knowledge” other than through the senses, but obviously interpretation and memory are also involved.

    Knowledge is acquired through the senses; but sensation itself is not knowledge of an object unless one is able to trace the effect (the sensation) back to a cause. That requires understanding. (I wish you had highlighted my new and improved sentence(s): “The senses alone can never produce knowledge. Much more is needed. We are not accustomed to thinking of the senses independently of (space, time and) causality; this is quite natural; but as I have said, a sensation without a cause is not knowledge; all knowledge is knowledge of an object of knowledge.”)

  137. Infant cognition:

    I am tired of this straw-man argument about infants not having the ability to cognize objects immediately upon birth. Look at it this way: if a baby were to be born blind and developed its ability to see a few hours or days or weeks after birth, that would not prove or indicate that the infant’s ability to then be able to apprehend objects and recognize them as external is not derived from an innate faculty. That is innate which is not learned from the outside in.

    And I read that infants have been observed to grasp for things almost immediately upon birth. Grasping may imply a sense of space even as early as seconds after birth. I saw a film of a new born infant being dipped in water. The infant smiled. I don’t think the infant thought the water was part of its own body. It has a sense of space and understanding very early on. I am quite sure that we are born with an a priori sense or awareness of space and sources of sensations. Yes. Quite sure.

    Let these threads survive. Someone will look at them fifty years from now and say: that fellow Dan was right and so was Kant. Or they’ll say: poor Dan, whoever he was; he just didn’t get it.

    Laurie,

    …Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World

    I’d like to recommend a book. Check your library. Maybe you can get it for free. It’s very good, a truly fascinating study.

    Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History, by Erik Eriksen, 1958

  138. Phil

    I would argue quite the contrary to you that to acquire our sense of space we must substantially not have pre-wired muscle use clusters, but must explore its very properties in relation to our selves. Indeed we must learn of our own boundaries and extent, the very fact of a self. Subjectivism is cultivated through experience.

    I don’t know; this sentence of yours is unclear. The subject, in this context, in the context of the general division of subject and object, is not the division into self and other, or self and object. Sorry. All that is required is the ability to have a sensation and be able to (dimly or clearly) apprehend that it originated outside of oneself or itself, as opposed to having a sensation that can only be felt within its enclosed existence, felt as a sensation with no object or source. (The words oneself and itself are misleading.) There are, presumably, some creatures that have no sense of space at all, but can still feel; yet they cannot know that the feeling or stimuli has a cause, and they certainly lack the awareness of an external source, which requires a sense of space and considerable understanding.

    Were you arguing that the nematode, in addition to having no a priori sense of space, never acquires a sense of space through experience either? Can you name a few other animals that never gain a sense of an outer world? (It is hard at times not to use language that clearly is imprecise.) I know they exist. But I can never give examples. Cells are the only living organisms I can think of that react to stimuli (and therefore experience stimuli) and yet have no knowledge of space, time, or (causality ) understanding.

    Subjectivism is not the I or the self. It has been well-established that a very young child perceives objects before it develops a sense of self. The sense of a self is by no means a priori, as Freud said. And I am not splitting hairs. Not at all. (Many people are confused about this aspect of Descartes’ “I” think.)

  139. “A watched kettle never boils = Human perception of time

    But you can bet your bottom dollar that this much water, in this container with this much power used, will boil the kettle at the same time each time given the same conditions.

  140. maria melo #156
    Sep 12, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Dan @#150They [space, time and causality] are not even “knowledge”! They are merely pre-programmed instinctive physical reactions to environmental stimuli… Alan in replying to Dan

    It is unfortunate that you have picked up on Dan’s misunderstanding of this comment @#150, rather than the original @#142, or my clarification in replying to Dan @#152, which were referring to the instinctive reactions of the newborn baby.

    @#142 and #152 – They [instinctive reactions to space, time and causality] are not even “knowledge”! They are merely pre-programmed instinctive physical reactions to environmental stimuli… which have aided survival and reproduction in past generations, and have then been inherited. Such reactions exist in organisms which do not even have brains! (such as plants and fungi)

    If we are primates and our intelligence might have evolved in part because of being able to calculate space (distance) between trees,

    That is certainly likely at later stages of development in mammals, but in evolution, it was undoubtedly evolved in the early mobility of marine organisms.

    I´m afraid space is not merely “stimuli”.
    Anyway, it seems scientific knowledge
    aims to achieve accurate knowledge of the physical world
    you call merely pre-programmed stimuli.

    Indeed so! But the comment on pre-programmed stimuli and reactions was referring to a new-born baby’s instinctive reactions, not the later mental models constructed from sensory inputs, or the underlying physical reality of the material universe on which models are based!

    There is further clarification @#154, with the reference to Piaget and stages of development.

    As I said earlier @#142, instinctive reactions don’t even require brains; – as is the case of TROPISM in plants.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/add_gateway_pre_2011/living/controlplantgrowthrev1.shtml

    Plants need light and water for photosynthesis. They have developed responses called tropisms to help make sure they grow towards sources of light and water.

    There are different types of tropisms:

    Tropism – growth in response to a stimulus
    Positive tropism – towards the stimulus
    Negative tropism – away from the stimulus
    Phototropism – growth in response to the direction of light
    Geotropism – growth in response to the direction of gravity

  141. Dan

    Book suggestion noted. I liked the PBS show on Luther last night. I hadn’t realized how important his writings on Jews were to bolster Nazi motivations. I wonder what there is to psychoanalyze in the man. According to the show he was pretty much all there right on the surface! Tormented over his own salvation or damnation for sure. This is what comes from frightening children to ensure good behavior. Intelligent and driven to reform and correct others and the massive institution that thwarted him. Hmm. Substantially twisted I suppose but an interesting character who changed the course of history and kicked the ass of the RCC.

    From #159

    if a baby were to be born blind and developed its ability to see a few hours or days or weeks after birth, that would not prove or indicate that the infant’s ability to then be able to apprehend objects and recognize them as external is not derived from an innate faculty. That is innate which is not learned from the outside in.

    In 2007, my book group read Crashing Through, A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared To See by Robert Kurson. The narrative is about a guy named Mike May who lost his sight at about the age of three due to a chemical burn that destroyed his corneas if memory serves me. Then as an adult he was offered the opportunity to have the damage repaired and he took it. Mike May says that it’s just lucky he didn’t do much research into the two other known cases in history that had sight given to them as adults after having none until that time. Those other two cases went badly. At least one of them killed himself. Both cases were disastrous and it’s fascinating to know why.

    Until the reading of this book I gave the eye, the biomechanical structure, way too much credit. Now I know that it’s the brain that sees, the eye functions as a data collection device. Mike May, even though he had three years with normal functioning eyes still had to completely reprogram his brain to accept and analyze the information coming in from the newly functioning eyes. In the beginning no input from his eyes made any sense at all. Light and dark made sense but everything else was blurry. It took a long time to train his brain to make correct interpretation of color and especially depth. Here is a paragraph where he describes his arduous process of trying to interpret stimuli provided by his eyes to his brain that has no experience (learning) dealing with this type of stimulus and creating a story to account for this stimulus. His brain holds no story to explain lines or bands of light and dark in various shades that pop up on the floor or street and what the immediate consequences of those bands of differing shades will mean to him!

    After Diane left, (Mike) May pulled on a jacket for a walk to Fluffy Donuts. He considered going without his Seeing Eye dog, Josh – He could do the path to Fluffy’s in his sleep – but he didn’t want to abandon this important family member just because he could see. He affixed Josh’s harness, and the longtime team set out for doughnuts. May even chose another route, this one less familiar, in order to observe some fresh scenery.

    Early in the walk, Josh hesitated for a moment to indicate a step up. May saw no curb or step in front of them, just a smooth surface, so he disregarded Josh’s signal and kept walking. A moment later his foot bashed into the curb,nearly sending him sprawling. He looked down. To his eye, the curb still appeared flat, the same color as the street.

    A few minutes later, Josh hesitated to indicate stairs. May looked in front of him and saw only a series of horizontal lines painted on the street. He slowed and then, taking baby steps, approached the painted lines. When his foot fell off the first line he knew that Josh had been right again.

    The rest of the walk was spent in a struggle between May’s vision and Josh’s vision. Often, when Josh indicated a step or a curb or stairs, May’s eye told him it could not be so, and yet Josh signaled a step down, May saw that step – that one didn’t look like a line – and he wondered if that step appeared obvious to him because it was the one step along the way he had expected to be there.

    expected to be there is the key phrase there. Anyways, that book is a great read and I learned much from it. I’ve also just finished reading Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. A great combination with the Kurson book. From the Sacks book we learn what happens when the brain, confronted with a cut off of stimuli from the eye, proceeds to fill in the missing blanks with explanations and and proposals of reality with no data coming in whatsoever! Making shit up is what the brain is doing here.

    Now after all of this understanding that comes to us straight from science, the whole religious awe that I still hear constantly over the “miracle” of the human eye seems devastatingly ignorant. Just blunt stupidity that I can hardly maintain patience with.

    Side note Dan, Hillary had a book event in NYC last night. Did you go? She’s coming to Boston on the tour. I checked the tickets for the Opera house event. $250.00 each for less than optimal seats. To get on the orchestra floor it’s at least $300.00 each. I’ll pass. How do you feel about her situation at this point? I’m beginning to feel annoyed. There is too much at stake to spend a single extra minute on her sad defeat. We need to move on aggressively.

  142. There’s nothing pending or in spam, Phil. There have been a few more technical issues today, so it’s possible that they’ve gone astray, unfortunately. Sorry.

    The mods

  143. Ollie,

    I filled my 3kW Russel Hobbs kettle to the 1.6l mark with water from my tap at 15 Celsius (I’ve got a thermometer I use for cooking.)

    I know that the specific heat of water is 4.184 J/g C. I’m 20m above sea level.

    (I also know the average heat loss from that surface area ending at 80 Celsius as it does will be less than 20W)

    So the time to boil will be 4.184x1600x85/2980 seconds (191 seconds) I calculate

    After a couple of seconds bubbling it actually turned off at 194 seconds.

    Science. It works, Bitches.

  144. Dan #150 – Why can’t you consider the possibility that the awareness of immediate space is something we are born with,

    @#152
    Unlike a baby’s hearing, which is fully mature by the end of his first month outside the womb, the sense of sight develops gradually over 6 to 8 months, at which point your baby will see the world almost as well as you do.

    While your newborn’s eyes are physically capable of seeing just fine at birth, his brain isn’t ready to process all that visual information, so things stay pretty fuzzy for a while. As his brain develops, so does his ability to see clearly, giving him the tools he needs to understand and manage his environment.

    Of course in some mammals (puppies, kittens etc.), the young are born blind and deaf and can’t see at all for several days, so are chiefly focussed on remaining in the warmth of the litter, sleeping and feeding.
    Any (even small) spacial separation, will produce cries for help, but no perception of a spacial position in relation to the earlier one!

  145. From the Transcendental Aesthetic

    1. Space is not a conception which has been derived from outward experiences. For, in order that certain sensations may relate to something without me (that is, to something which occupies a different part of space from that in which I am); in like manner, in order that I may represent them not merely as without, of, and near to each other, but also in separate places, the representation of space must already exist as a foundation. Consequently, the representation of space cannot be borrowed from the relations of external phenomena through experience; but, on the contrary, this external experience is itself only possible through the said antecedent representation.

    2. Space then is a necessary representation a priori, which serves for the foundation of all external intuitions. We never can imagine or make a representation to ourselves of the non-existence of space, though we may easily enough think that no objects are found in it. It must, therefore, be considered as the condition of the possibility of phenomena, and by no means as a determination dependent on them, and is a representation a priori, which necessarily supplies the basis for external phenomena.

    What was said about the kettle is true. The water does boil. The kettle and the water and the boiling is all real. No one is disputing reality. I had a discussion with my sister recently. She insisted that the bed upstairs in her bedroom is there regardless of us or anyone else being there to perceive it. I told that I agreed. However, we’ve already seen the bed; so it has already entered into the realm of the real and exists or can be summoned forth in the “mind’s eye” as an idea (Hume). The idea – and this is not the idea in the Schopenhauerian sense; he uses the word Idea to mean the perception or original (Humean) “impression”– of the bed and the actual perception of the bed cannot be dismissed as an illusion – unless it is an illusion in the conventional sense of the word, that is, a visual hallucination. What is illusory, however, is the notion or assumption that the bed or the boiling kettle exist in themselves (which they do) and as things-in-themselves are identical in every respect to what is perceived or experienced: what is the nature of the so-called absolute physical reality of the bed and the water and the boiling water and the flame and the kettle? That is the question? A bed is just matter, basically. It has a shape and a purpose. Purpose is completely subjective. There can be no shape (or extension) without space….

    Again, I am trying to make a point: reality is empirical. Absolute reality is not. Therein lies a problem. That there is a problem to consider is all I ask.

    Alan,

    While your newborn’s eyes are physically capable of seeing just fine at birth, his brain isn’t ready to process all that visual information, so things stay pretty fuzzy for a while.

    That supports my thesis. Thanks! “Fuzzy” is good enough for me. Can something appear fuzzy yet not in space? I don’t think so.

  146. Laurie,

    I saw an interview with Hillary at Riverside Church. She spoke candidly about how devastated she was after she lost. Yes, we should move on. But I see no problem with dwelling on her loss either.

    Missed the signing.

    Again, you should make a run! Compassionate, smart, progressive, reason-based, funny… Why not? Think about it. Laurie, we can make this happen! It’s not too late. I’d be proud to call you Madame President. ~sob~

  147. Anyone see Anderson Cooper’s interview with Hillary tonight? She was absolutely superb. I was right about her all along. She’s excellent.

    And the Hillary haters are just a bunch of ignoramuses and sexists.

    Try to see it if you missed it. Probably will be available on YouTube.

  148. Dan #169
    Sep 13, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    While your newborn’s eyes are physically capable of seeing just fine at birth, his brain isn’t ready to process all that visual information, so things stay pretty fuzzy for a while.

    That supports my thesis. Thanks!
    “Fuzzy” is good enough for me. Can something appear fuzzy yet not in space? I don’t think so.

    Nope! It refutes your claim!
    The fuzzy perception grows less fuzzy, as the brain functions develop over an extended period!
    Initially the brain cannot interpret the data from the eyes, to give any perception of an image of “space” in its proximity! – as is also so for animals born blind and deaf!

    Mental development and sensory functions are long extended processes, where gross generalisations should not be applied to all stages! (#152, #154, #162, #168)

  149. Philosophy without science is knowledge in an empty box.

    Gosh, already skipped all the book Critique of Pure Reason, even found Kant´s ideas about The Republic of Plato, the archetypical conception of Plato about “objects”, except what I was looking for.

    Dan,

    You seem to have faith that a philosopher that lived more than 200 years ago is enough to approache to spatial cognition issue without science (scientific knowledge).

    Here´s an interesting approach to the spatial discussion, and found more related to primatology studies and comparative developmental studies about spatial cognition imn primates, from Dr. Kim Bard.

    Spatial Cognition in Philosophy and Neuroscience

    Not too long ago Dan, you didn´t know we have multiple brains, now you can relate this necessary knowledge to better understand the text.

  150. Hi

    Here! Refute Kant’s remarks (below)! Good luck! Space is there before objects are perceived. I don’t know how long it takes for the “fuzziness” to go away but if an infant can see upwards into its mother’s face then space was already there at least waiting within itself for it to wake up or whatever it does. (We are born with eyes. So why not the awareness of space?) It doesn’t see space before it sees objects represented in space; the latter is contingent upon the former! And they grasp and look up at you instantly. This is, I think, some kind of bias or undue resistance on all of your parts. And whether someone lives two hundred years ago or will live two hundred years from now matters not one bit! (I didn’t know we had multiple brains, true; but even that is a weird way of talking about the brain and we can still talk about having one brain! Depends on the context.)

    I would add – and Kant did not put it quite this way, but I am sure he’d have approved of this remark – that the perception of space itself as well as the non-existence of space itself is impossible. We cannot see an empty, unfilled space itself (although we can see objects removed from space one by one); it is merely the formal condition that makes perception of external objects possible.

    1. Space is not a conception which has been derived from outward experiences. For, in order that certain sensations may relate to something without me (that is, to something which occupies a different part of space from that in which I am); in like manner, in order that I may represent them not merely as without, of, and near to each other, but also in separate places, the representation of space must already exist as a foundation. Consequently, the representation of space cannot be borrowed from the relations of external phenomena through experience; but, on the contrary, this external experience is itself only possible through the said antecedent representation.

    2. Space then is a necessary representation a priori, which serves for the foundation of all external intuitions. We never can imagine or make a representation to ourselves of the non-existence of space, though we may easily enough think that no objects are found in it. It must, therefore, be considered as the condition of the possibility of phenomena, and by no means as a determination dependent on them, and is a representation a priori, which necessarily supplies the basis for external phenomena.

    I read the article. (And why is he into Leibniz with his ridiculous monads?) Here are parts of it.

    With respect to spatial cognition, the discovery of grid cells in 2005 suggests that a euclidean space is encoded in the brain itself by neurons, and that activation and deactivation of grid cells plays a major role in representing the spatiality of the external world to the perceiver.

    […]

    Relating the philosophy and neuroscience presented in this post, it seems that both Kantian and Leibnizian conceptions of space are compatible with neuroscientific findings about spatial cognition. Kant’s theory applies to the current understanding of hippocampal, boundary influenced tasks in that both suggest a holistic conception of space – that is, space can be understood as object independent. On the other hand, Leibnizian conceptions of space and the landmark results suggest a more object-dependent framework for spatial cognition.

    Here’s my answer: ??

  151. Anyone,

    Philosophy without science is knowledge in an empty box. -Maria

    Quote by Einstein:

    “The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent upon each other. Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is – insofar as it is thinkable at all – primitive and muddled.”

    Why skim through the Transcendental Aesthetic? – that is K.’s greatest achievement. Just read that carefully and in its entirety and forget the rest of it for now if not forever. (Suggestion.)

    You might want to read his Analytic of the Sublime. (Critique of Judgment)

    My favorite passage. (And try not to grimace when you come across the word “soul”; it’s just an expression.) Here is a rousing example of a highly fruitful quality associated with what could and has been described as (a certain) anthropocentrism:

    Bold, overhanging, and as it were threatening, rocks; clouds piled up in the sky, moving with lightning flashes and thunder peals; volcanoes in all their violence of destruction; hurricanes with their track of devastation; the boundless ocean in a state of tumult; the lofty waterfall of a mighty river, and such like; these exhibit our faculty of resistance as insignificantly small in comparison with their might. But the sight of them is the more attractive, the more fearful it is, provided only that we are in security; and we readily call these objects sublime, because they raise the energies of the soul above their accustomed height, and discover in us a faculty of resistance of a quite different kind, which gives us courage to measure ourselves against the apparent almightiness of nature.

  152. Dan #176
    Sep 14, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    <em.Philosophy without science is knowledge in an empty box. -Maria

    Quote by Einstein:

    “The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind.
    They are dependent upon each other.
    Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme.

    A fantasy . . . . Devoid of a connection to reality, rationality or evidence!

    Science without epistemology is – insofar as it is thinkable at all – primitive and muddled.”

    Science without the 4 listed features of epistemology (scope of evidence, justification, rationality, skepticism – how do we know that we know? ), is not science at all! – It is primitive and muddled pseudo-science!
    That is WHY Einstein says that concept is not “thinkable at all” as science! Those features are essentials of science!

    Epistemology is about setting the limits between human mental models and the underlying physical reality! (Probability of accurate matching)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology
    Epistemology (/ɪˌpɪstɪˈmɒlədʒi/ (About this sound listen); from Greek ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning ‘knowledge’, and λόγος, logos, meaning ‘logical discourse’) is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.[1]

    Epistemology studies the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much of the debate in epistemology centers on four areas:
    (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification,[2][3]
    (2) various problems of skepticism,
    (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and
    (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification. Epistemology addresses such questions as “What makes justified beliefs justified?”,[4] what does it mean to say that one knows something?[5] and fundamentally, how do we know that we know?

    These are all issues which are included in scientific methodology, testing and Popper falsification, in evaluating the quality of test results and information. Science actively seeks to regularly check how closely its models match the underlying physical reality!

    These limits on human knowledge and individual knowledge, are set by individual levels of mental development, the efficiency of their sensory systems, and the level of enhancement achieved by using technological sensors and mechanisms to augment the basic human sensory systems, measurements and calculations.

    I, and others, have given links to the scientific studies of these limits at differing levels of mental development, educational levels, and the use of additional inputs using scientific technological tools!

    Why do you think that the mental ramblings of past philosophers who lacked these facilities, can trump this modern information with shuffling semantics?

    A blind kitten, or a newborn baby who cannot focus his eyes, and whose brain cannot yet interpret images, does not have a mental image of his surroundings! He/she has an instinctive urge to snuggle up to warmth!
    Other developments come later!

  153. Alan, others

    Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge.

    You are confused. You do not understand what is meant by a priori. (That is understandable; a most abstruse topic; needs to be studied.) You are too fixated on the issue of innate abilities and when they come into play. But consider this (a good point, although a somewhat crude analogy): one can be born with musical ability. But obviously an infant would not be able to compose or perform music. An inborn quality can exist in potentia.

    An object, whether it be a sound or a touch or any feeling at all produced one way or another – and not just a visual perception – can only be experienced in space. Space is therefore the pre-condition of all knowledge, must “already exist as a foundation”.

    But a fetus is listening well before birth. “Brain wave patterns, heart rate changes, and activity levels based on ultrasound scans reveal responses to vibroacoustic stimulation.” (Kiselevsky & Low, 1998)

    I can’t say absolutely that these sounds heard in the womb are perceived as external. (I am fuzzy on this. Bad pun intended.) As I said, sensations alone cannot produce knowledge (which is knowledge of an object of knowledge). But if they are then the space that Kant is dealing with and talking about in the above quote (175) must be present. And if they are not sounds will be heard eventually and perceived as external. The externality of space must be present in order for the sound to be experienced as a sensation coming from without. Therefore, space is antecedent to, is the foundation of all, object-representation – and therefore a priori.

    But space itself cannot be perceived.

    If you want we can table this topic. I won’t budge and neither will you. Anyone else care to weigh in?

  154. Dan #178
    Sep 14, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    You are too fixated on the issue of innate abilities and when they come into play.

    That is the key issue, and starting point, when considering what levels of perception an organism or human individual may have, and which of their abilities and models of understanding are acquired later.

    But consider this (a good point, although a somewhat crude analogy): one can be born with musical ability. But obviously an infant would not be able to compose or perform music. An inborn quality can exist in potentia.

    An infant is not born “with musical abilities” (these have to be learned). An infant may be born with genetic musical aptitudes, which ARE inherited potential innate abilities – evolved through natural selection in previous generations.

    An object, whether it be a sound or a touch or any feeling at all produced one way or another – and not just a visual perception –

    Indeed, as I explained earlier, all mental models are mental constructs, assembled via sensory inputs and assembling thought processes. These thought processes come at different levels and at different stages:-
    starting at a base level of instinctive reactions (see#162). These are not all in place at birth.

    can only be experienced in space. Space is therefore the pre-condition of all knowledge, must “already exist as a foundation”.

    The space-time continuum is what I refer to as the “physical reality” in which we all live. The fact that we live in space, makes no case for your claim that perceptions of “space” must be present in particular organisms.
    This is what the mental models try to match – but with different percentages of accuracy, different levels of knowledge, and different levels at different stages of development!

    A plant reacts to light, heat, gravity, wind-pressure, and nutrients.
    These are the aspects of space-time to which it instinctively reacts, but that does not imply it has a mental model of the universe, or a visual image of its surroundings!

  155. But a fetus is listening well before birth.

    Dan, birth is not the start of normal brain learning processes.

    What Kant posits is simply not needed for human cognitive development. It is only needed for his own philosophy.

    Outside of his philosophy you have not demonstrated how (following an unconscious practical mastery) ultimate conceptualisation of space (with its very human metaphorical attributes of scale and time and degrees of freedom) is not possible for a Hebbian learning brain.

    Kant couldn’t know that 300 learning neurons responding to coincidence from a few sensors and acting on a few muscles and homeostatic reward could master its environment quite unconsciously. That it is an environment of data only, from the neurons POV, is beside the point. The nematode nor we know how phenomenal space happens. How are its degrees of freedom (this way, this way, this way and wait) made manifest? Dimensions as substance, a model-able property allowing non-locality, projection from the 2D hologram at the edge of spacetime, the Matrix? We don’t and can’t know. He couldn’t know that indeed this near brainless nematode model, mastering its informational environment, once introspection and inferencing is started half a billion years later, becomes our metaphorical basis for conceptualisation of space, until, that is, culture helps us remodel it again with mathematical rigor (Descarte!) and again with bendable spacetime (Einstein) etc. etc.. Nothing super added is needed.

    I can imagine infinitessimals. “In the limit” is now as familiar to me and clear in its meaning as say adding numbers. I can master calculus. An element that could have no dimension no extension can have a coherent property of say direction. I can imagine no spatial dimensions because I can image a flat world and see it altered properties, an eleven dimensioned world and its properties changed again, extra dimensions not as degrees of freedom we can occupy but with only indirect phenomena. Understanding is tricky but mastery is entirely possible and those logical mathematical models create a sense of familiarity if you live with them long enough.

  156. Dan #178
    Sep 14, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    And if they are not, sounds will be heard eventually and perceived as external.

    Sound can be perceived both from external and internal bodily sources.
    We are part of the space time-continuum.

    The externality of space must be present in order for the sound to be experienced as a sensation coming from without.

    Our detection of the location of sound, has nothing to do with if it comes from an internal source (stomach rumbling, heart-beat, voice singing), or a source external to our own bodies. It has to do with our learned location of sound using two ears in stereo, in conjunction with vibrations detected by our touch sensors.

    What is internal to our bodies and what is external, is a matter of a child’s psychological development of self awareness, from birth onwards.

    http://www.psychology.emory.edu/cognition/rochat/Rochat5levels.pdf

    When do children become aware of themselves as differentiated and unique entity in the world?
    When and how do they become self-aware?
    Based on some recent empirical evidence, 5 levels of self-awareness are
    presented and discussed as they chronologically unfold from the moment of birth to approximately 4–5 years of age.
    A natural history of children Õs developing self-awareness is proposed as well as a model of adult self-awareness that is informed by the dynamic of early development. Adult self-awareness is viewed
    as the dynamic flux between basic levels of consciousness that develop chronologically early in life

    Therefore, space is antecedent to, is the foundation of all, object-representation – and therefore a priori.

    You seem to be thinking from the outside in, when our self awareness and spacial awareness, develops from the inside outward!
    This is the error of philosophers, who start with complex adult perceptions instead of tracking development though childhood.

    Space-time is the physical reality on which mental models of reality are based. It is of course, also possible to construct fantasy mental models – possibly including bits of reality!

    But space itself cannot be perceived.

    Our perceptions of space-time as adults, are, what scientists generally, cosmologists, and astronomers, call “the laws of physics”.

    We certainly can perceive a huge range of aspects of space-time!
    (Matter, energy, forces, relative positions, movement through the arrow of time, etc.)

    We have our biological sensors and a whole range of technical sensory devices, which operate outside, or to greater accuracy than, the range of human biological sensory systems, to reveal functions of space-time, from a cosmic to sub-atomic scale.

  157. Phil, Alan

    To insist that externality, which is all that is meant by space in this context (in case you haven’t figured that out), is of empirical origin is actually absurd. That is tantamount to asserting that external space exists independently of and prior to that which has a necessary relation to such externality, namely that which has an internal existence; or it is tantamount to asserting that such a relation is not necessary.

    How could the externality of space be of empirical origin, something that exists and is learned about from the outside in, as opposed to a foundation, a condition, that makes all learning and knowledge possible? It, space, is nothing in itself. All we have is that which fills space. It is logically impossible to learn about space; all we can do is learn about the presence of objects; and to do so, space, external space, is presupposed, or required as a precondition.

    Think about it, please. Forget about space-time for one second and think about what I am asking and how I am defining space! Have a good day.

  158. But Dan this is exactly where our disagreement started years ago. I disagreed then that externality was a necessary intuition.

    We simply learn that there are different classes of experience and traction to inside the envelope and outside it. Our sensate and tractive envelope is something we learn about.

    There is first the world, and we learn without the least sense that it isn’t the world learning… then we grow apart from it, because of it. The learning that happened before a sense of self, created that very self and any possible interiority. Before, there was no divine spark, just meat.

    Kant is poisoned by religious conceptualising (they/we all were then). He doesn’t understand… meat can learn.

  159. Dan #182
    Sep 15, 2017 at 6:23 am

    Think about it, please.
    Forget about space-time for one second and think about what I am asking and how I am defining space! Have a good day.

    Any definition of “space” which “forgets about space-time” is simply an error! It is like a restaurant menu which “forgets” about food and drink!

    It, space, is nothing in itself. All we have is that which fills space.

    This is an outdated and refuted misconception.

    There is nowhere in the galaxy (and as far as we know, nowhere in the universe) where “nothing” exists!
    Space-time is everywhere, as are forces such as gravity, and energy/radiation, such as light.

    It is logically impossible to learn about space; all we can do is learn about the presence of objects;

    This is an outdated and refuted misconception, which pre-dates modern cosmology, nuclear physics, and quantum physics.
    Logic only works on reality, when combined with objective evidence. “Objects” are merely configurations of energy within the space-time continuum.

    Your illogic, is to wrongly define “space” as “nothing” and then try to base deductions on this flawed definition!

    and to do so, space, external space, is presupposed, or required as a precondition.

    The separation of “internal” and “external” “space”, is purely a psychological perception of the self and the physical body, which develops during childhood, and has nothing to do with the laws of physics – which permeate the whole space-time continuum, including the physical, biological, and brain chemistry features of the individual, without recognition of any such boundaries between the self and non-self.

  160. Cognitive neuroscientists are now suggesting that spatial cognition is
    a complex interaction of multiple brain circuits in parallel that make
    use of both allocentric and egocentric processing of the external
    world. A pivotally important concept in understanding spatial
    cognition has been the investigation of representation in the brain.
    “Representation” is a term that has been used in philosophy for
    centuries, and science is now using the term to refer to the neural
    picture of the external world as observed by our brain monitoring and
    imaging technology.

    A brief comment, I don´t have time for more right now.

    Freud included landscape as part of individual´s personality and referred that first memories are often associated with landscape, that makes sense.

  161. To insist that externality, which is all that is meant by space in
    this context (in case you haven’t figured that out) Dan

    It seems to me that it is you that cannot figure it out that we are talking about two “objects” of knowledge:
    -spatial cognition;
    -physical world time and space .

    Reality is not a synthesis “object”/subject despite the all the interactions that possibly can be between the two, the active role of the subject that introduces in all sciences a degree of subjectivity, the “object” really exists, and the subject, despite all difficulties is aware of that.

  162. Phil #167

    Add the tolerance level of the bi-metallic strip or sensor and design, to make sure the water is boiling, then we are spot on aren’t we?

  163. Ollie,

    The bimetal strip doesn’t measure the water temperature and can be quite approximate in its trip level at probably somewhere around 80 celsius. It is used to detect the presence of steam, which is why I mentioned my height above sea-level. That actually defines the water temperature at cut off.

    Electric kettles still work at 10,000 feet when water boils at 90 celsius.

    The major error will be the line voltage (often a little high here and the element manufacturing tolerance, usually pretty good.

    I think we were lucky to get quite so close, though.

    The lesson… you don’t need to watch kettles, rather it makes a smashing boiled egg timer.

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  165. Maria, #191

    Very nice article. A must read. Thank you for it.

    I like that researchers eventually dropped their preconceptions to see that adolescent chimps putting large stones on their shoulders, were using them like dolls. They were playing/rehearsing being parents carrying children.

  166. To the Mods,

    Thank you for retrieving my comment (I was impatient).
    Sorry but the previous comment has language failures as far as I had no opportunity to correct them (probably it still has, but please delete the previous comment).

    Thank you.

    Here it goes again with the necessary correction I hope:

    ”Reality (a synthesis and interaction between the external and
    internal) is based upon the already-existing presence of these formal
    conditions of the understanding; the immediate and intuitive
    perceptions of space and time, are in us, in our heads. (Empirically,
    are heads are in space and in time.) Most people are not conscious of
    this. Kant’s great achievement was (…)” Dan

    “(…) Dedicating himself to the study of psychogenesis, with laboratorial experimentation, Jean Piaget aknowledges that from the origin of the self, knowledge is the result from the intimate relation between the lactant (subject) and the “object” that surrounds him/her, in a primary adualism that does not establish at the beginning a clear frontier between inner elements of the subject´s world and the the universe outside.

    «Knowledge does not preceed, in it´s origins, from a subject that is aware of itself, neither from pre-existent objects (outside the scope of the subject) that would impose upon the subject their presence. Genetic Epistemology, Piaget

    From this interaction and progressive descentration of the subject in relation to the “object” results knowledge, understood as a construction.”
    This intimate relation between the subject and the object aqcquires throughout ontogenesis a greater dinamics that enables a progressive descentration from the subject in relation to the object, mantaining however a continous interaction between the two, from which results knowledge as a construction (…)

    (I´m quoting from the book of a Professor bold is his voice, that´s my free translation)

    Dan,

    Where are you wrong?

    Formal “conditions”

    Do you mean formal logic? Formal logic
    doesn´t popup in a child but in a teen.
    (It doesn´t mean of course a newborn cannot have preensil motor reflexes in feet, although never climbed to trees, nor does it mean the person the newborn will become will climb to trees-we are not are blank slates.

  167. Maria, Alan, Phil Rimmer, others

    “Do you mean formal logic?” – Maria

    No, I don’t mean formal logic, Maria; nor am I confused about what I mean by space or by object; I know what I mean by both. I mean that space (as externality) is a form of our understanding, and I mean that perception of objects in space is dependent upon this condition of our understanding. And the production of what is called reality is dependent upon it. Not the other way around. Space is not perceived in itself, not really; that is what I meant when I said that it is nothing, Alan. Space (as externality) itself, I say, cannot be perceived. It is that in which objects appear – and is therefore antecedent knowledge of a kind, a priori knowledge. (Don’t allow words to mix you up too much. They have to be read in context. They are supposed to clarify, not make less clear.)

    And there is nothing dogmatic or outdated about that. And nothing religious either, as Phil suggested.

    Cognition results from an active interaction of a subject, knowledge does not precede the subject’s action upon a pre-existent “object”… –Maria

    Again, I said that there can be no “cognition” at all that isn’t “cognition” of an object if space is not already present.

    …the “object” really exists, and the subject, despite all difficulties is aware of that. – Maria

    Yes. the object really exists. That is real which we experience as the real; the real is not to confused with an illusion. It really does exist. So does space – as the form of the outer sense.

    But there can be no object without a subject.

    …the subject, despite all difficulties is aware of that. – Maria

    Unfortunately, subjects are all too aware of object-existence but I haven’t encountered too many subjects who are capable of recognizing that any difficulties exist; they simply start from the object, or space, and forget that they cannot be thought separately – and that an object can only exist in so far as they the subject exists. And space is not a thing-in-itself, is not perceivable, has, in this context, no meaning or existence that one can describe or identify. All one can say (if someone is listening) is: see that object? it’s in front of you, over there or over here, etc.

    Alan, I didn’t say that “Nothing” exists; I said that external space, in relation to a subject, is nothing unless something occupies that space. We do say things like: “it is quite a distance between here and there”; but we only see the two points that we are comparing, and nothing that you could call an object in-between those two points. I would argue – although I am reluctant to add more controversy, consternation, and confusion – that with the cessation of life all consciousness ceases and nothing in relation to a given formerly living entity, can be said to exist anymore as physically relating to or interacting with that no-longer-living knowing subject.

    “There is first the world, and we learn without the least sense that it isn’t the world learning… then we grow apart from it, because of it. The learning that happened before a sense of self, created that very self and any possible interiority. Before, there was no divine spark, just meat.

    Kant is poisoned by religious conceptualising (they/we all were then). He doesn’t understand… meat can learn.”
    – Rimmer

    I hardly know how to reply, but to say “there is first the world” is just a statement of common sense and adds nothing to the issue that I am discussing which concerns the very real and legitimate difficulties associated with the concept and nature of reality, which is inextricably bound up with the relationship between the world and the participants in it. It does not do justice to the problem of the antithesis between the Absolutely Real (the world in itself that was “here first”) and the Ideal.

    Kant was not poisoned by dogma or presupposition; on the contrary, that was what he was reacting against. The realist’s groundless and stubborn assumption that the world is a ready-made world that was here before and will be here after, and is waiting, as it were, to be observed, studied, or simply known, and yet is in every respect identical to the one that we come to know – or think we know – is dogmatic; that assumption implies – and this was assumed for years – that the intellect, which is in fact purely physiological and whose function, among others, is to divide the world into subject and object, can be severed from the body, from the brain itself even, can free itself from the necessary limitation of being inseparable from that body, deliver itself from its condition, its permanent fate of having to remain behind the skull or in a body or inside something. It is presumptuous to think that we as knowing subjects can succeed in knowing something as a pure object (including our own selves as bodies) and, shed our subjectivity in the process of gaining this godlike knowledge with. . .what, our souls? – Hence the use of word soul that was used interchangeably and not in a figurative sense, with the faculty of the mind that seeks wisdom and knowledge.

    It was Kant who clipped the wings of reason in this regard and put an end once and for all to that ancient traditional implicit view and approach. The position that the world existed prior to the formation of consciousness of an objective world is something he devoted his life to examining and critiquing; he took great pains to delineate the various elements associated with knowing and comprehending as he tried to separate what was subjective from what was objective – and he partially succeeded: we have his immortal Transcendental Aesthetic, where he deals chiefly with the intuitions of Space and Time.

    (I am not sick of space-time, but you can’t just use it as a rhetorical device: “space-time is all around us, always was, always will be.” You have to present it in clear, concrete, experiential terms, ones that I can understand and assimilate, and tell me how we can experience an external sensation, be affected by objects, yet not in space or time. Isn’t the former dependent upon the existence of the latter, space and of time? Moreover, I ask again how we can possibly experience time without space or space without time or – and this is no more important but is more to the point – see or hear or feel an object without being empirically both in space and in time?)

  168. “Object” of knowledge, not object-toy- as a child perceives in space.
    “Object” of a science (the knowledge that a particular science aims to achieve) is defined by formal logic, not the object that a child perceives in space.

    Two different definitions of “object”, the former too concrete, the second abstract.

  169. Dan #200
    Sep 16, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Alan, I didn’t say that “Nothing” exists; I said that external space, in relation to a subject, is nothing unless something occupies that space.

    But “external” to an individual, is just the limits of the structure of that individual. What is “external” to you, is not what is “external” to me! It is all part of the same physical galaxy and universe, and my perception of space includes the space which I currently personally occupy!
    Likewise, the internal organs and bacteria within my body, are a part of that physical universe. This “internal space ” / “external space” stuff, is just a false dichotomy of philosophical delusion.

    What we have is the underlying physical reality, and our mental models of it, which match it to varying degrees of accuracy, according to the individual.

    I said that external space, in relation to a subject, is nothing unless something occupies that space.

    This is an abstracted hypothetical geometric concept!
    Forces, and energy occupy ALL of the space time continuum, and distances are relative to the gravity and movement of objects in space. (Einstein)

    We do say things like: “it is quite a distance between here and there”; but we only see the two points that we are comparing, and nothing that you could call an object in-between those two points.

    I think what you are saying, is that we can measure distances between selected objects.

    In your mental model, you may perceive nothing between those points, but formulii calculating SAT-NAV references will have significant errors unless those velocities and forces WHICH ARE PRESENT, are taken into account. However, for sub-sonic movement on Earth, the errors are tiny and insignificant, so your mental models can be approximately correct.

    I would argue – although I am reluctant to add more controversy, consternation, and confusion – that with the cessation of life all consciousness ceases and nothing in relation to a given formerly living entity, can be said to exist anymore as physically relating to or interacting with that no-longer-living knowing subject.

    ?? – I think what you are saying, is the unsurprising observation, that in the absence of living brains, there are no conscious (or unconscious) mental images of features of the universe.

    I am not sick of space-time, but you can’t just use it as a rhetorical device: “space-time is all around us, always was, always will be.”

    If you are saying space-time and its content, has to pre-exist before it can be perceived, then that is obvious.

    You have to present it in clear, concrete, experiential terms, ones that I can understand and assimilate, and tell me how we can experience an external sensation,

    That is dependent on your understanding of some very complex neuroscience, biology, and physics. Some earlier comments and links go some way towards this.
    As far as I am aware, all your sensations, are internal to your bodily processes, but may be modelled perceptions of external or internal objects or energies.

    be affected by objects, yet not in space or time.

    There are no objects or effects which are “not in space and time”.
    The way your thinking can be affected, other than through your present sensory systems and thought processes, is in the evolved inherited pre-programmed, instinctive reactions, which I described earlier, and in your mental reprocessing of past memories.

  170. Dan,

    I wish you’d notice the details of what I say. This was a complaint about everyone’s thinking at the time. It just happens to be Kant we are discussing. Kant did as much as anybody to invent a post 1905 mode of intellectual inquiry. So enough of these scatter shot defences and deal with the specific point.

    Kant, (no-one!) then knew that brains could be so simple, could start from scratch and (unwittingly) successfully navigate their environment (as data). For the longest time after this the thinking remained constrained by the expectation that a special property was needed to do this, inherited (in the broadest sense) from ideas of souls mutating eventually into cognitive keys.

    I’m Phil

  171. Maria, you wrote this:

    “Object” of knowledge, not object-toy- as a child perceives in space.
    “Object” of a science (the knowledge that a particular science aims to achieve) is defined by formal logic, not the object that a child perceives in space.

    Two different definitions of “object”, the former too concrete, the second abstract.

    Yes, the first could be object-toys, the ones children perceive in space. That is what I mean by object in the context of this discussion, although this type of object is perceived by children, adults, the elderly, everything in-between, and to most animals too – the ones that have perception and understanding. (Why confine object-perception in space to children?)

    The object of science, Maria, is like the purpose or aim. That’s a completely different use of the word “object”.

    The former is not too concrete, and the latter is not too abstract. And the “object” in the first case can be an abstraction too. That object, if it is a perception, is (while being perceived) a concrete entity. If we then choose to talk or or write about what we observed than we have to use the concept “object” or “rock” or whatever it is. So it then becomes an abstraction (derived from the original perception of something concrete). And, the “object” of science, in the second sense, can be very concrete in so far as one is engaged in the process of pursuing “the object of science”. I don’t see how that can become too abstract, unless you like to talk about the process rather than being actively involved in the process!

    I don’t want to sound didactic – just replying, and trying to clarify what I mean.

  172. Phil,

    I wish to God I could completely grasp or form a clear idea of your objection to this old and unpopular, yet fundamental, logical and sensible assertion. But I just haven’t been able to. We don’t apprehend space first in order to see an object! All objects are perceive in space, which, in this context, is the a priori form of the external sense! “Objects are extended (in space” is an analytical proposition; we don’t say: “I think he sees the object; when will he see space?” And we don’t say: “He sees space now; I think he’s going to be reaching for that object pretty soon! Yep, there he goes. Atta boy! That’s my son!”

    I called you Rimmer for fun to make you sound like an established scientist (like Einstein as opposed to Albert), which in fact you are, right? I’ll call you Phil from now on.)

    Alan,

    Too much for me right now, but as far as “modeled perceptions of external or internal objects or energies” go there can be no externality (or objects or “energies”) without space, for that is all space is in this sense: externality. An inner sensation (a sound, for example) coming from a mosquito in the ear or a grumbling in the stomach, is still an “external” sensation, strictly speaking. Stimuli in itself is no more an object of knowledge than that which affects, say, a billiard ball, and causes cause the said billiard ball to roll. We see what happens; an insensible object, with no understanding, is affected but knows nothing. The same could be said of some living organisms, like cells, and the jelly-fish perhaps, and Phil’s worm. But these are exceptions to the general rule that all animals have understanding, and is something I remain fuzzy about.

    I think what you are saying, is the unsurprising observation, that in the absence of living brains, there are no conscious (or unconscious) mental images of features of the universe.

    Not exactly. I was saying that a thing-in-itself must remain, for everything that is must be. (Parmenides, Kant) But what can be said to be “nothing” unequivocally is the relational aspect of subject and object, which would cease to be with the cessation of living brains.

    And had I meant what you thought I meant it would lead to some surprising insights. For if you eliminate the sensible qualities one by one what can be said to remain? What will one then say about the nature of the said “object(s)”?

  173. Dan

    A quick note: I just noticed that Lawrence O’Donnell has a book out and will be in Harvard Sq. on Nov. 9 for book signing. I know you mentioned that you like his show (I do too) and I thought you might check your book stores there in case he intends to swing through NYC. Of course he will! I’d be happy to get a book signed by him and meet him.

  174. Thought I’d mention a book that I’m reading now. Title is Seeing Further, The Story of Science, Discovery, & The Genius of The Royal Society. Edited by Bill Bryson. When I borrowed this for my Kindle from my library I didn’t realize that it is a collection of chapters written by a number of people on the topic of the Royal Society and on science in general. I skipped straight to the chapter written by Richard called Darwin’s Five Bridges: The Way to Natural Selection Very interesting. Some well needed background for me about the writing of Origin and some of the people all around it -Wallace of course, but two others who I’ll admit I knew nothing about – Patrick Matthew and Edward Blyth, each of these having some claim to the ideas behind everything that went into Origin.

    The next chapter I’ll start now is A New Age of Flight: Joseph Banks Goes Ballooning by Richard Holmes, whose book The Age of Wonder I thoroughly enjoyed. That book won the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books.

  175. Laurie

    But will he be there if I am not there to perceive him? (Kidding.)

    Thanks, I do like O’Donnell. I’ll keep my eye out.

    I just noticed some typos in my comment above. I see this: (

    But no this: )

    That parenthesis is all alone!

    That book you mentioned is called Seeing Further, The Story of Science, Discovery, & The Genius of The Royal Society and it won the Royal Society award? Big surprise! 😉

  176. Alan,

    This “internal space ” / “external space” stuff, is just a false dichotomy of philosophical delusion.

    It’s a beautiful thing to be able to disagree vehemently and still have civil discourse with people we respect. More people should be able to do that. We’re setting a good example.

    Well….I disagree.

    Nothing could be more real to us than the distinction we make between inside and outside. It is not a delusion; the division, however, has given rise to many illusions (not de-lusions, il-lusions), and one of them is yours: you think the division into the subject (that which knows) and the object (that which is known) is not a division at all, is an illusion (“fluff”). To see it as an illusion is itself an illusion, a deception.

  177. Alan

    If you are saying space-time and its content, has to pre-exist before it can be perceived, then that is obvious.

    No, I am saying that the content (objects) that fill space and are in time cannot be perceived unless space and time pre-exist as a priori intuitions.

    Space and time themselves cannot be perceived. (Profound insight.)

    Just think about all this for a week. (I don’t mean that in a hostile or patronizing way, my erudite e-friend. I revere you, but wish you could apply your excellent mind to this and really try to dig what I am saying. (Nice anachronistic term, huh? “Dig”. Was that expression used in Great Britain in the Sixties, or is it just an American expression?)

    (Someone has to explain to this ignoramus – I mean me – the differences between Britain, Great Britain and the UK. Wait! There’s something called googling. Forgot, again.)

  178. Dan,

    Space

    Heigh ho! I’ll stop banging on about it then… if you will.

    My closing comment is that this is all about trying to notice the actual qualities of our thought and noticing that conscious experience is much more passive or post hoc than we try to tell ourselves. The a priori intuition of space is sophistry and is simply not needed to navigate. But there is a powerful spacey feeling that qualifies our informational apprehensions that we now have as a helpful overlay to help us parse what is potentially salient and memorable. Like pink or wet. (In fact there is a whole nest of qualities that connote “space” and I may still write about these one day. The “qualia” are attempts to summarise groups of sensory data. They form a sort of data compression task to aid memory and recall. Art very often is about teasing apart our utilitarian senses to reflate and restore the detail.)

  179. Laurie,

    Seeing Further…. ace collection.

    John Gribbin The Fellowship is a history of the early Royal Society. I found it wonderful. The RS invented something deeply important, Peer Review. It transformed science.

  180. Dan #209
    Sep 17, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    This “internal space ” / “external space” stuff, is just a false dichotomy of philosophical delusion.

    Well….I disagree.

    Nothing could be more real to us than the distinction we make between inside and outside. It is not a delusion; the division,

    It is a psychological construct which is developed in children to aid their survival by recognising their own bodies and their own interests.
    If you try to define this in biological terms, you will have great difficulty in what is to be included or excluded – as you did @#205 and in the end it will come down to patterns and chemistry in brain circuitry.

    @#205 – An inner sensation (a sound, for example) coming from a mosquito in the ear or a grumbling in the stomach, is still an “external” sensation, strictly speaking.

    however, has given rise to many illusions (not de-lusions, il-lusions), and one of them is yours: you think the division into the subject (that which knows) and the object (that which is known) is not a division at all, is an illusion (“fluff”).

    There are limits insofar as a a human brain is not capable of much self-analysis, but that is where the boundary stops. It is of course capable of indirect analysis by extrapolating from observations of other people’s brains, just as it is also capable of indirect observations of space and time by using their interactions with other features of the space-time continuum. All inputs via sensory systems are indirect observations using physical properties such as light, heat, sound, etc.

    To see it as an illusion is itself an illusion, a deception.

    Not really! Any mental image or model which is a mental construct in an individual, is an illusion, to the extent that it is not an inclusive 100% match to all the properties of the physical reality.

    Some perceptions merely have some features missing. Others contain false information or false interpretations collected in error.

  181. I see. Age of Wonder.

    But Dan this is exactly where our disagreement started years ago. I disagreed then that externality was a necessary intuition.

    Phil, with all due respect…er, WHAT!!?? Externality is not necessary for a tree or for your infernal worm to navigate. But in order to…. Look, just take a look at Kant’s remarks (See # 175) about the a priori aspect of space and refute it. Refute it! If you can I will never need or want to bring this space and time business up ever again.

    Look at what Alan wrote:

    Our detection of the location of sound, has nothing to do with if it comes from an internal source (stomach rumbling, heart-beat, voice singing), or a source external to our own bodies.

    I made this fine point (below) after he wrote this (above) and before I read what he said (above), as though I were anticipating the argument.

    An inner sensation (a sound, for example) coming from a mosquito in the ear or a grumbling in the stomach, is still an “external” sensation, strictly speaking.

  182. I disagreed then that externality was a necessary intuition.

    for humans becoming able to navigate.

    If 300 neurons can navigate, humans can navigate.

    For, in order that certain sensations may relate to something without me (that is, to something which occupies a different part of space from that in which I am); in like manner, in order that I may represent them not merely as without, of, and near to each other, but also in separate places, the representation of space must already exist as a foundation.

    This is said in the utter (but perfectly excusable) ignorance that sensation and its cognitive organisation grows into existence, that neurons grow to their task. How, in evolution could it be otherwise?

    Yes there are brain regions that adapted to certain data structures (like those Perjinke cells that are perfect for organising complex muscle movements and coupling them to complex stimuli) BUT, helpful as these are they are not essential. The Chinese woman with none nevertheless mastered complex tasks but slowly and with less but growing precision. Neurons can do this. They are plastic. Their form still evolves within a single head to eke out utility from the data offered. Edge detection in eyes is grown by seeing, even when the optic nerve is re-routed to the auditory area. The neurons in an individual learn to process data in the most useful way possible. Neuronal position cells become such and are organised by the experience of inbound data and become similarly organised to edge detector cells. Between the simplest animals and our hugely premature and plastic selves, many animals became more hard wired in data processing terms and are far less adaptive. They need to be up and doing in a dangerous world. Many big brained mammals with parental protection restored plasticity and allowed brain formation to happen in the presence of experience, becoming usefully, behaviourally and cognitively far more adaptive.

    As for point 2 in 175. I can imagine no space by process extention as described in response to 175.

  183. Space (and time) are pure forms of sensibility according to Kant, that seems correct to me, not elaborate concepts of historical time, of physics, neurobiology which are elaborated knowledge.
    In a way, we may have a priori forms of sensibility, structures that format our knowledge, psychological developmental stages in a certain way shows that there are indeed cognitive structures and stages of development that are almost the same for all humans, but those structures are not elaborate knowledge themselves, nor did Kant thought they were., still for Kant, experience was necessary, otherwise knowledge would be just an empty form, however Piaget perfects better the knowledge of those structures (as science itself). It seems a mistake from Kant to think that those structures would format themselves our ultimate knowledge, no matter the action of the subject acting upon time/objeect, and the laws of Nature are only the ones we can think of using those structures

    a priori

    (which must be necessarly correct and doesn´t require too much effort to aknowledge that, that´s trancendental idealism).

    That´s my effort to resume Kant comparing him to Piaget in a hurry.

  184. A piece of Tocqueville´s thought that apparently has nothing to do with the comparissom Kant/Piaget, google translated:

    “(…) As a sociologist, Tocqueville belongs to the lineage of Montesquieu. It combines the method of sociological portrait with the classification of types of regime and types of society, and tends to enunciate abstract theories from a reduced number of facts. Since it refuses to elaborate great syntheses to predict history because it does not consider that it is governed by inexorable laws or that events can be predetermined, it opposes sociologists considered classics, such as Comte or Marx. Following Montesquieu’s example, Tocqueville intends to make history intelligible instead of suppressing it, as do Comte and Marx because they consider that to know it before it is realized is to take away the human dimension of action and unpredictability.

    http://www.zemoleza.com.br/trabalho-academico/humanas/administracao/o-conceito-de-democracia-para-tocqueville/

    That what happens with Kant, those structures are not knowledge themselves, he seems to surpress History of science before it happens with his transcental idealism.

  185. Those “a priori” structures (cognitive structures) can be affected structurally, for instances in a “wolf boy”, so those structures are not static.

  186. It´s better now, I hope:

    “(…) As a sociologist, Tocqueville belongs to the lineage of Montesquieu. He combines the method of sociological portrait with the classification of types of regime and types of society, and tends to enunciate abstract theories from a reduced number of facts. Since he refuses to elaborate great syntheses to predict history because he does not consider that it is governed by inexorable laws or that events can be predetermined, he opposes sociologists considered classics, such as Comte or Marx. Following Montesquieu’s example, Tocqueville intends to make history intelligible instead of suppressing it, as do Comte and Marx because he considers that to know history before it is realized is to take away the human dimension of action and unpredictability.“

  187. Has neuroscience dismissed the idea of ‘the self’? There is no self,
    no ‘I’, only a flickering illusion. So claim many neuroscientists and
    philosophers. Alan

    I´ve seen it too, but couldn´t watch, the sound was awful, I´ll try again.
    I´m sorry to mention, but these neuroscientists look from another generation.
    When Antonio Damasio thought of studing emotions, his colleagues told him it could never become an objective study, when Jane Goodall atributted emotions to an animal, scientists of her generation were so afraid of anthropomorfizing animals that it didn´t help.
    With no “self”, there could be no conscious organization of a living being I think. why don´t I open a window and just try to fly?

    What do you think?

  188. Alan, Maria, others

    Has neuroscience dismissed the idea of ‘the self’?

    I wouldn’t be surprised – if you are trying to locate it as a biological thing that resides somewhere, rather than approach the issue from a psychological and more human perspective. The idea of a self is full of meaning, for sure. We use the word often.

    Hume denied the Self too. I have no objection per se (on intellectual grounds) to the denial or questioning of the self as a thing; but it is more precise to say that it is impossible to know the self in so far as in order to do so the subject of knowing would have to become its own object. I see I am repeating myself once again, as the same ideas, which arise from very common misunderstandings, are persistently put forward.

    Once again, that which knows (the “I” that so many have confused with its own object) is a knowing “I”. The I is not the knowable Self (assuming there is one) anymore than any object that is known is a thing-in-itself.

    I have described (Descartes”) famous “I” as that which can never be IT. That is all it is, that which is not IT. For how can that which knows be known (be “IT”), and how can that which is known (“IT”) be known by itself? Again, this relates to the fundamental division into subject and object, or Knower and Known (same thing).

    The Self is not really the subject. Therein lies the source of the pervasive and persistent confusion. That is partly the fault of language and the habits associated with its usage. I and Self are often used interchangeably. But the I is not the knowable Self; nor is it absolutely the Subject; it can only know itself as a body among other bodies; it is no more its own subject as another person’s subjectivity is our own subject. When we consider other people’s subjectivity it is not known, or capable of being known by the intellect, as a subject. In other words, we do not relate to ourselves or each other as knower and knower or subject and subject. Not really (although one is certainly free to talk that way); it is, and remains, in a strict philosophical sense, a relation of knower and known.

    Phil (216)

    What does navigating mean? I know how to define it; but what precisely do you mean by navigation?

    Last night I was walking late at night and heard a loud popping noise. I turned in fright. It was a man doing something with a door. I thought to myself: that sound was definitely perceived as separate from me. I think that that awareness is innate. No? What was all that? I can’t seem to grasp the relevance of all this stuff about neurons! I wish I could. Could you perhaps try to fuse the language of (neuro)biology with some examples so I can understand you better? What did the Chinese woman do again?

    (One more remark about the self. I know I have one. Maybe this is unfair but would you tell a little child that she has no self? When a cute little girl of three, say, points to herself and says “that’s me” would you say that she is wrong? That would be barbaric. The self has profound meaning and is a precious thing even if it’s a mystery to neuroscientists and others. )

  189. Kant aknowledges:

    the “schematism of our understanding, in relation to phenomena and its mere form, is an occult art in the depths of the human soul, whose secret of operation we can hardly ever pull out of nature and expose before our eyes” -Kant

    While Piaget made of it science.

    Logic structures of thought in action before our eyes:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6479QAJuz8

    But Dan,

    You look like Kant in a way, you make of everything an obscure mistery?

  190. Dan,

    Thanks for the questions. I’ll give them a few days thought and try and be more helpful.

    “The Self” comes with almost impossible baggage. Religious concepts again poison our thinking right up to the present day. “Souls” seem like essential selves, a core conferring an essential identity around which details are hung. The self is no core, but a cohering mantle.

    The truth is the self is more like a self narrative, an overcoat conferring a singular identity to a stack of mini-mes one atop the other, each with a different temperament and concerns, but all actors in their own right. It is, therefore an hallucination of great power and some merit when believed.

  191. Hello, Phil,

    I think I know what navigation is; here’s a better question: why is it relevant that certain beings are able to navigate without a sense of space? I don’t doubt that for a second; but it’s not the point. My point is that in order to apprehend an object (of any kind) a sense of space must already be present; and yet that space is not of empirical origin. Space itself cannot be apprehended; there is only that which fills or is perceived in space. Space is therefore real in so far as we have a sense of an outside word. But that external space is not learned from the outside in. There is nothing to learn; external space doesn’t exist except in relation to something that is internal. That something is our knowing “selves”.

    So arguing that space is not a necessary intuition is pointless. It only suggests that there are beings that do not need knowledge of space in order to navigate. As I said – and i wasn’t being facetious – trees do not need a sense of space either; they have no perception and yet they navigate in their peculiar way as they grow upwards.

    The whole point of what I am saying is that in order to apprehend an object, space must be present – and is therefore a “necessary intuition” (a priori); the purpose of my remarks about the nature of space is to establish the fact that object representation is contingent upon it. This all has to do with the nature of reality. Reality as it exists for humans does not exist for beings with no sense of space (that are still able to navigate), and the fact that various entities (organic and non-organic) can move around and function without it, is, frankly, completely irrelevant.

  192. Dan #227
    Sep 19, 2017 at 1:28 am

    So arguing that space is not a necessary intuition is pointless.

    Human perceptions of space are learned using binocular vision, stero-hearing, and physical contact, touching or bumping into things – or avoiding them.

    It only suggests that there are beings that do not need knowledge of space in order to navigate.

    Many marine organisms or wind blown spiders go with ocean currents of winds.

    As I said – and i wasn’t being facetious – trees do not need a sense of space either; they have no perception and yet they navigate in their peculiar way as they grow upwards.

    Some travel sideways by growing runners or sprouting new plants from rooted down branches.

    Trees do however defend their growing space, by evolved methods of competition for light, water, or nutrients, symbiotic relationships, and in some instances, chemical warfare against competitors.

    They also have a sense of “self” insofar as grafted stems from themselves or closely related relatives, will combine and grow into one plant, while material from distant or unrelated species, will not.

    Most travel geographically by spreading seeds on the wind, in the water, or hitched on to, or carried by, animals, birds, or insects. This is largely random, with high mortality rates.

  193. Dan

    The whole point of what I am saying is that in order to apprehend an object, space must be present – and is therefore a “necessary intuition” (a priori); the purpose of my remarks about the nature of space is to establish the fact that object representation is contingent upon it.

    And my whole contention is that this need not be an a priori intuition but a slowly derived framework, during which derivation, spatial perception improves. And that it can start from zero. The data coming in is necessarily organised by physics already. It only requires the neurons to best fit the data using Hebbian learning (the reinforcement of coincidental cell triggering) to contrive the appropriate trigonometrical functions. Slugs use four neurons and sensors to be able to know their orientation with very great precision. They learn to be a hugely accurate maths equation.

    This is what neo and neuro-constructivism is teaching us. I is revealing how phenotypes can express great subtlety and contingent variety given a lumpen, insufficiently detailed gene.

    Our subsequent perceptions are based on this.

    A child with strabismus corrected late will never see in depth. The wiring for later perception never grows because of the poverty of input. Both eyes see perfectly but those neurons, not offered coincident data cannot grow neural structures that form the stereoscopic framework.

  194. Maria 228

    Hi! How’s it going?

    This schematism of our understanding…

    This portion of Kant’s Critique is weak. The Transcendental Logic is not on the same level as the Transcendental Aesthetic. His schemata is “wanting”.

    From Schopenhauer’s Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy:

    . . . So that as the Transcendental Aesthetic establishes an a priori basis of mathematics, there must, he supposed, also be a similar basis for logic; and thus, then for the sake of symmetry, the former received a pendant in a Transcendental Logic. From this point onwards Kant was no more free, no more in the position of purely, investigating and observing what is present in consciousness; but he was guided by an assumption and pursued a purpose the purpose of finding what he assumed, in order to add to the Transcendental Aesthetic so happily discovered a Transcendental Logic analogous to it, and thus symmetrically corresponding to it, as a second storey. Now for this purpose he hit upon the table of judgments, out of which he constructed, as well as he could, the table of categories, the doctrine of twelve pure a priori conceptions, which are supposed to be the conditions of our thinking those very things the perception of which is conditioned by the two a priori forms of sensibility: thus a pure understanding now corresponded symmetrically to a pure sensibility. Then another consideration occurred to him, which offered a means of increasing the plausibility of the thing, by the assumption of the schematism of the pure conceptions of the understanding. But just through this the way in which his procedure had, unconsciously indeed, originated betrayed itself most distinctly. For because he aimed at finding something a priori analogous to every empirical function of the faculty of knowledge, he remarked that between our empirical perception and our empirical thinking, conducted in abstract non-perceptible conceptions, a connection very frequently, though not always, takes place, because every now and then we try to go back from abstract thinking to perception; but try to do so merely in order really to convince ourselves that our abstract thought has not strayed far from the safe ground of perception, and perhaps become exaggeration, or, it may be, mere empty talk; much in the same way as, when we are walking in the dark, we stretch out our hand every now and then to the guiding wall. We go back, then, to the perception only tentatively and for the moment, by calling up in imagination a perception corresponding to the conceptions which are occupying us at the time a perception which can yet never be quite adequate to the conception, but is merely a temporary representative of it.

  195. Phil

    “The Self” comes with almost impossible baggage. Religious concepts again poison our thinking right up to the present day.

    If you had read my superb comment (224) I don’t think you would have felt the need to add this superfluous comment (above) unless you disagreed with what I said – and which I will express now in the form of an aphorism: We cannot know our selves; we can only be our selves.

    Notwithstanding my mild reproval I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. “Impossible baggage” is right.

  196. Re 233

    I, out of laziness, copied and pasted using a sloppy translation that I found on the web. Numerous errors. I have my beloved, redolent copy in front of me now, with its definitive E.F.J. Payne translation. Here is at least one sentence corrected:

    Kant was no longer unprejudiced; he was no longer in a condition of pure investigation and observation of what is present in consciousness; but he was guided by an assumption and pursued a purpose, that of finding what he presupposed, in order to add to the Transcendental Aesthetic, so fortunately discovered, a Transcendental Logic analogous to it, and thus symmetrically corresponding to it, as a second storey.

    There’s so much discussion and criticism of the Transcendental Logic and Kant’s doctrine of the categories in the Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy (Appendix) that this hardly suffices. But I wanted to make it clear that Kant was by no means always right and that his most important “disciple” was also his most astute critic.

    There is no criticism of the Transcendental Aesthetic. He said this:

    The Transcendental Aesthetic is a work of such merit that it alone would be sufficient to immortalize the name of Kant.

  197. I am a strange loop, Dan.

    There isn’t anything we notice that we can’t generate meta knowledge of. But for the religious and quasi religious, when some of your primary thinking is pre-thought for you, this stepping back (to look at ourselves) is not possible.

    It is a mistake to think the self as the thinking tool when it is a mere cohering self narrative of convenience, that allows simple statements of ownership, etc.

    Logic is truly learned and is not innate. (There isn’t a single, strictly logical, in the Boolean sense, neuronal relationship in there.) We do have a good enough for everyday logic based on coincidental heuristics. Human strict logic is built on the substrate of rigorous external behaviours in the world of non-agents (its physics!) and a culturally advantageous need for rigour in our discourse and transactions. These (Boolean) and culturally derived apps that we run are the gold standard of critical thinking and are some of the few neural processes that are automatically deemed salient and fit for potential memorisation (they’re conscious!). They are not used directly for mooting notions, ideas, and concepts but rather for conscious destructive testing, its evolved replacement coming from a hectic, messy subconscious place. This is critical thinking and runs free of the self in some parts when it runs on the rigid cultural tracks of logic. We accept external thinking machines in our head and can start to disassemble, using them, the tyranny of the singular view painted by a self. (It of course slips right back when we are in comfy low effort heuristic only mode.)

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