OPEN DISCUSSION – OCTOBER 2017

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OPEN DISCUSSION

OPEN DISCUSSION – SEPTEMBER 2017

227 COMMENTS

  1. Evaporating water. How would they harness that energy?

    My avatar’s back. Yay!

    Immortal Poem:

    Phil

    Phil is nice
    nice and very kind
    he knows so many things
    about physics and the mind
    he doesn’t like schopenhauer (that much)
    but is interested in
    things like generating power
    from evaporated wasser

    Dan (age 5)

  2. Yes, avatars are back, and ‘Recent comments’ should be displaying properly now, too, even if you’re not logged in.

    We don’t think there’s anything we can do about about this thread not having a fixed place on the front page at the moment, but it will be easy to get to if it’s been commented on recently (via the Recent comments list) and failing that, doing a search on “Open Discussion” (via the magnifying glass icon in the top right hand corner of the home page) will locate it very quickly.

    The mods

  3. Its not just bad/ill. A very very significant axis is “manipulated”.

    A lot of people are really quite empty.

    The psychopathic, hugely, astonishingly significant in the transition into history, partially and wholly co-opt them. Yes these masses are bad by infection, but in quite an empty/shallow way.

    It is like Germany in the thirties with an unfortunately high concentration of psychopaths at the top, a critical mass nearly. Yet in terms of cold, heartless, competence there is no comparison (yet). These are comedy characters, buffoons. They can do untold damage, but it looks like some kids have broken into the control room.

    I have no problem calling psychopaths bad or evil, say. It is what the words were mostly intended for. But I have no problem, being non-American, in realising that evil isn’t cured by justice. The personal hurt and offence of others’ evil, needs rather less self serving feelgoods than that, than mere justice, to actually fix it.

    The empty folk need some more filling. This is how we constrain psychopaths and more use their powers for good.

  4. Good points.

    I meant morally bad. (I think you know.)

    Just what is a psychopath anyway?

    Germany was sick. The German people, I mean. It’s a two-way street. Ever see those crowds of people crying and adoring the führer? And America is sick too.

    How do we get well again? It’s all very complex. Education is not the answer. Many educated people like Trump. They have their reasons. And many poorly educated people were not for Trump. Many were.

    What we need is a complete transvaluation of values. Education, a good liberal arts education, which would require massive spending in order to be affordable and available to all, will do more good than harm; but it is not the answer. I used to think it was. Maybe it’s the place to start. I just don’t know how societies are supposed to change, improve, become better. It seems as though too many people are just bad, greedy, selfish… It’s so easy to say “it’s the system.” But this kind of wealth and income inequality is sick. The capitalist system in its current state is now a cancer. People have no sense of collectivism. Hell, I talk the talk, but I have some money – and I sure as hell ain’t giving any of it away. Am I infected too by the disease? Or am I just not as good as I’d like to be?

    Anyway, maybe Democratic Socialism is the answer, or one part of the solution. But people need to be educated in order to develop a social and political consciousness, a sense of collectivism. Yes, education is a good place to start – in spite of the fact that many college graduates are, have remained, and have been, selfish, reactionary, unenlightened Republicans, even Trump supporters.

  5. Just what is a psychopath anyway? Dan #9

    see https://www.publico.pt/2001/03/24/jornal/o-fascinante-mundo-do-cerebro-dos-psicopatas-155930

    and translate the page, if you wish, the following text is google translated from Portuguese:

    “(…) What, for example, would the Portuguese neurologist Antonio Damasio say of the brain of a serial killer like the famous Hannibal Lecter? Damasio argues along with other experts that the biological and social disorder suffered by individuals who tend to call psychopaths resides in the area of ​​the orbitofrontal cortex, an area of ​​the brain that forms part of the prefrontal cortex where, according to Damasio, develop conscious decision-making. For this reason, argues the Portuguese specialist, researcher at the University of Iowa, when there is an injury at the level of this area the individual has certain problems of social behavior and may be aggressive. This is what happened to Phineas Gage, the railroad foreman Damasio says in his book ” Descartes´s Error”: Gage’s skull was accidentally punctured by an iron bar, which damaged the orbitofrontal cortex . Despite the fact that he escaped with his life, Gage, who was a normal individual, became a socially and quite aggressive individual. “More and more data leads us to conclude that psychopathy has a biological basis,” said Sabine Herpertz, a psychiatrist at the University of Aachen, Germany, in an article published last week by the journal Science on the evolution of science in the study of psychopaths’ brain, “one of the most controversial frontiers of neuroscience,” as advocated by journalist Alison Abbott. , since the nineteenth century that scientists try to find a biological explanation to explain extreme deviant behavior, as in the case of psychopaths. Cesare Lombroso, a famous Italian criminologist who argued that the criminals were innate and uncreated, believed that they could be distinguished from socially normal people by the form of skulls, a theory which is conventionally called phrenology, and which had several supporters.”

  6. The German Volk were particularly empty. Indeed they had been emptied out nationally and economically, not long since. Communism looked very dangerous and definitely didn’t play to German strengths.

    Americans have a crisis of identity. In just about every American mind, the USA is the world. It leads you to say

    It’s so easy to say “it’s the system.”

    rather than more usefully, it’s our system and acknowledge a whole world of alternative possibilities.

    Health and welfare and the radical reduction of inequality quite as much as decent education make the difference. Empty of well being and of choices make the empty volk the get away vehicle of choice for the heartless parasite kleptocracy.

    Patrician you needs to invest in Americans’ better future.

    Promote access to Al Jazeera and the BBC World Service. Promote reading The Atlantic. Bernie is funded by people who feel like you not by corporate America. Get involved in local education…..

  7. How do we get well again? It’s all very complex. Education is not the
    answer. Many educated people like Trump. Dan #9

    I´m puzzled!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????

    Please read here part of the Synopsis of the book “The Ovary of Eve
    Egg and Sperm and Preformation” (which I haven´t despite that I attend sometimes lectures organized by the author, which were so wonderful, one about Darwin´s sexual selection which was WONDERFUL, the lecturer was another author however.
    http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/O/bo3634815.html
    “Clara Pinto Correia is also a “European intellectual” – in the most admirable sense – a person who knows many languages and cultures through their experience, while most American researchers only learn academically, if they learn at all.”.

    Preface by Stephen Jay Gould

    So, it really seems there´s something wrong with american educational institutions, just look at

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/04/a-preacher-boy/

    I don´t think Donalt Trump is educated at all, not even polite, rather the opposite, anyway consider each person personality and individuality, education does not surpress it (nor it should according to Rosseau).

    Quality education would be very important to start with.

  8. Hi, Maria,

    How are you?

    Thanks for your comments.

    Damasio is a fine man but he was dead wrong about Descartes’ error, as I explained in the previous Open Discussion thread.

    And I reject the neurobiological explanation of all personality traits such as malice and cruelty or virtue and kindness as inadequate, reductionistic, misleading, and ultimately meaningless.

    Some behaviors, and certainly the behaviors of psychotics and many psychopaths, are caused by brain damage and/or disease or other brain-related medical conditions; but this emphasis on the brain as the cause of everything we are and do suggests to me a limiting view of the human personality, frankly, and is also a symptom of the pervasive lack of understanding of one of the most important insights in the history of moral philosophy, to wit, the insight that the motive is a cause and that knowledge is the medium of motives. In other words, the brain presents motives through the medium of conscious knowledge, and then we choose one or the other, and act. We are what we will! And the brain does not will; it only presents motives! (I know how intelligent you are, Maria; and I don’t want to sound condescending; I just don’t like this when it is taken too far: “Damasio argues along with other experts that the biological and social disorder suffered by individuals who [we] tend to call psychopaths resides in the area of ​​the orbitofrontal cortex, an area of ​​the brain that forms part of the prefrontal cortex where, according to Damasio, develop conscious decision-making.”)

    Quality education would be very important to start with.

    I arrived at the same conclusion, Maria. (#9)”Yes, education is a good place to start – in spite of the fact that many college graduates are, have remained, and have been, selfish, reactionary, unenlightened Republicans, even Trump supporters.” The concern I was voicing has to do with the complexity of the problem. Many educated people are barbaric. Look at Germany. They weren’t uneducated. Hitler was a fairly educated man, as were and are many of the most vicious racists and bigots among leaders and among the people. The problems we face in America and in the world is not attributable to just bad education. It’s about a lot of things. But yes, I agree with your statement (quoted above).

    Phil,

    “Emptiness.” Not bad. But you have a tendency to let the people off the hook, however, and to put most of the blame on the “psychopathic” leaders. I tend to think that while there is much room for improvement there are a great many people who are permanently and unalterably immoral and who were born that way; and there will always be those people. (I can’t get into the various arguments in support of that now. Too tired. By the way, I am aware that I sound dogmatic; chalk it up to fatigue; I can present my arguments some other time, although I have touched upon the subject of the inborn moral disposition many times already.)

    You think morality and what we truly are is in the brain? Have a look! (No straw-man, Phil.)

    http://www.sciencephoto.com/image/549496/530wm/C0180487-Craniotomy_brain_surgery-SPL.jpg

  9. Not just in a brain, as I keep saying. You really, really have to stop this. Please try and keep in mind all the things I say and not just the most recent. Cognition is situated. Culture is key. How is a religion constituted?

    Think what I’m saying and how it relates to this issue.

    Did a psychic disease sweep the majority of Germans into a decade and a half long of miraculously coordinated madness or was Hitler and a few equally psychopathic mates the key cause of it?

    And don’t think I don’t think religionists and rightists immoral for their behaviours. But what we are concerned with is far more important than justice.

    What if all the functioning psychopaths (30 million in the US) naturally formed, or were drawn to, a political party in the US? What would it be called? How could they form the core a hugely efficient supply of brain filling justifications for selfishness and galvanising fear of exactly these and these enemies?

    Until you can see your enemy, you are sunk. Danes and Americans aren’t wildly different. They have their fascist tendencies, their fair share of latent selfishness. But Danes are less empty less needy and their political system not corrupt to Hell, pre-purchased. American babies have no more evil capacity than Danish babies, nor any less.

  10. Descarte’s error was dualism as we agreed from the evidence. Damasio’s error was to imply this was innate in singular idea of Cogito when it was in associated texts. Damasio’s arguments are quite unharmed otherwise. It would be nice if we could agree our progress rather than have such a complete reset.

  11. Descartes!! Phil, you need to stop this too. You don’t listen to me either. Not always.

    You are almost as bad as I am. My criticism of Damasio’s criticism is valid, absolutely valid. “Descartes’ error” may have been dualism but that dualism was addressed and refuted!! And Damasio fails to appreciate what is profound and useful in the Cogito and exploited Descartes’ now obsolete error for his own purposes! That makes him a bad critic.

    Read what I wrote, and maybe I’ll be more inclined to try harder to do the same:

    Descartes did apparently believe in a mind body duality, but as I said there were thinkers who came after him who built on what he established (below) but also established the inadmissibility of that old duality. So Damasio either created a straw-man as a pretext for a title and having something to refute, or his knowledge of modern philosophy ends with Descartes – when in fact modern philosophy began with Descartes!

    When he took his cogito ergo sum as alone certain, and provisionally regarded the existence of the world as problematical, he really discovered the essential and only right starting-point of all philosophy, and at the same time its true foundation. This foundation is essentially and inevitably the subjective, the individual consciousness. For this alone is and remains immediate; everything else, whatever it may be, is mediated and conditioned through it, and is therefore dependent upon it.

    As for the moral character, if it isn’t in the brain (and it isn’t, in my opinion) what is it then? (Forget “where?”) It’s not caused by the environment either, although both the brain and the environment can be factors that influence behavior. (Exhibiting behavior is not always the same as exhibiting one’s character.)

    I don’t know about Danes versus Americans. But there is a vast lividity in American life; you got that right. Mailer wrote about that – the plague, as he called it – better than anyone. You should read or revisit him.

    Did a psychic disease sweep the majority of Germans into a decade and a half long of miraculously coordinated madness or was Hitler and a few equally psychopathic mates the key cause of it?

    I would say both. Both.

  12. Damasio argues along with other experts that the biological and social disorder suffered by individuals who tend to be called psychopaths resides in the area of ​​the orbitofrontal cortex…

    Resides!

  13. Descartes did apparently believe in a mind body duality,

    Thank you! And the details of this were laid out in relation to his Cogito exposition

    That was Damasio’s only interest and the reason for his book. The philosophy of Cogito of establishing what exists is of no interest to him. What others did with it is equally irrelevant to his case about duality.

    Germans.

    I would say emptiness and psychopaths. It came and went with great speed.

    Americans have some long standing toxic cultural narratives, as we’ve discussed before.

    Resides

    Not his prhrasing, but, yep and?

  14. The point is that Descarte had many great and influential ideas. There is a reason Substance Dualism is most often identified as Cartesian Dualism.

  15. But there is no mind body duality!! So his interest and reason for the book is false, stupid, and obsolete!
    And? And what you think is IN the brain is NOT IN the brain. Forget about the physiology of psychopathology; what about hate? what about radical evil? what about genius? (I have no interest in such things as schizophrenia; that’s clearly a medical disease.) If such things as sympathy or love and hate are in the brain then they can be said to be literally in the heart as well; and nobility can be said to be literally in the blood! No difference – in my humble opinion.

    No one knows what it means to be alive, or human, or moral or what we are. They just think they know. No one, except maybe a handful of very wise philosophers, really has any clue what life or existence or morality – and its opposite, egotism – is. And we are, finally, surrounded by impenetrable mysteries that lie beyond the realm of perception.

    And I am now going to retire. Please excuse me.

    By the way, my respect for Wittgenstein has gone up a notch.

  16. But there is no mind body duality!! So his interest and reason for the book is false, stupid, and obsolete!

    What on earth has the truth got to do with what people think and believe!!

    No need for education.

    I won’t correct the logic in the rest of that silliness. The truth is out there and that’s all that matters.

    There is a movie about Wittgenstein by Derek Jarman. Scripted with Terry Eagleton. I think it does a great job of portraying the strange troubled individual he was. Super aspie for sure. A result substantially of a particular neural expression of early peri-natal wiring? Yep. But unique in its particulars and the uses to which he put it.

    Sleep well.

  17. Dan,

    How are you?
    I´m fine thanks, in holidays, but in fact I plan to read a book(s) and exercise because I feel I´m loosing my time here.

    So, after six months (and two decades after Descartes´Error 1994) you finally aknowledge Descartes´s dualism?

    Here in my comment #83 of the thread about Daniel Dennett I wanted to clear it.

    “(…)Descartes certainly was not alone in this history of purity and autonomy of reason, as he had some good companies and even close. Indeed, the reason for purity of mind had been glossed over by some thinkers of the Renaissance who drank it above all in Platonic or Neoplatonic sources. Marsilio Ficino, for example, had insisted on the necessity of separating the soul from the “contagion” of the body with the condition to access the contemplation of ideas, emphasizing the contrast between the “pure mind” and the “crass body”. Key aspects of Ficino’s philosophical program seem to be taken up again in the program of Cartesian metaphysics, not excluding Fycian mediation-and even a possible reading of the Platonic Theology of Imortalitate animorum-as decisive for Descartes’s familiarization with the characteristic topics of Platonism. **
    footnotes:
    Marsilio Ficino, Platonic Theology of immortalitate animorum, ed. Paris, 1559, 100, 127 v (lib.IX, cap.I-V) ed. Belles Lettres, Paris, 1964, t.II, pp.8ss. Ficino’s central concern is to prove the immortality of the soul, which he does by showing that the soul is independent of the body in its existence and in its operation, and the more active it is, the freer it is of the body, the senses, the imagination. There are recurrent expressions in Ficino’s text, such as these, referring to the mind or soul: mens absque corpore operatur (chapter V), rationalis anima nullo mode pendet ex corpore in essendo, sicut neque in movendo et operand (chap. I), mens Quo magis separatur a corpore and melius se matum nubilus, animus per se aliquid speculatur, tunc intellectus sincere discernit clareque max (chapter II).
    The Fycian mediation in the formation of Cartesian metaphysics-and not only on this topic, but also on the subject of doubt-the dubito ergo sum, which can be grasped already in the refutation of skepticism found in chap. VII of Book XI of the Platonic Theology-has not deserved the attention of the interpreters, lacking a study of our own that we can not do here. Some indications and clues can be found in the following works by Étienne Gilson, Index scolastico-cartésien, Paris, Vrin, 1979 (1st ed., 1913); Études sur le rôle de la pensée médiévale dans la formation du système cartésien, Paris, Vrin, 1930; Ficino’s works, even beyond the fourteenth-century editions, were widely known throughout the sixteenth century, attested by the successive reprints not only of the Opera Omnia (Basel, 1561 and 1576) As in other isolated works, and in the same year in which the Meditations of Descartes (1641) are published in Paris, there is also an edition of the opera Omnia of the Platonic Florentine philosopher from the Parisian press of Guilherme Pelé. From the Platonic Theology of immortalitate animorum was made separate edition, In paris, in the year 1559, and is made another in the year of Descartes´s death, (1650).* end of footnotes
    Closer to Descartes, the English philosopher Francis Bacon had developed a new philosophical method with which he proposed to purify the understanding of the false images (idola) that constitute obstacles to the correct repopulation of nature. The pars destruens of the Nvum Organon, is actually presented as a “doctrine of expurgation and intellectus,” in a sense already epistemologically-gnoseological, but where mythical resonances are still audible, at least at the level of language. Like the Hercules of ancient mythology, the hero of the new science must undergo a kind of initiatory proof and, so to speak, clean the stables of Augeias-the temple of science, defiled by the false knowledge of traditional philosophical systems- before Of being able to merit the revelation of the most intimate secrets of nature.
    In Descartes, the topic of purity of reason, evoking the Platonic and Neoplatonic versions of the theme, loses the mystical and even ethical connotations associated with it, and begins to indicate above all the methodological-speculative and gnoseological-metaphysical tasks of the new philosophy. Methodical doubt, like the sophist purge of which Plato spoke, fulfills in the Cartesian method a cardiac function, cleaning the soul of the representations of the senses and belief in them, as a precondition for the full affirmation of the autonomy of reason and its capacity Of extracting all the knowledge “from his own fund” (de son propre fonds). By the topic of purity of reason we are led to the central problem of Cartesian epistemology and epistemology, characterized by the secondary and even marginal and negative status that is attributed to imagination and sensibility and respective representations of pure understanding and clear and distinct ideas. That can guarantee certain and obvious knowledge. With Descartes, reason reveals not only, as in Bacon, the awareness of its maturity and the impulse to emancipation from and religion. It now claims its full autonomy and affirms its self-sufficiency in the traditional forms and sources of knowledge, but also in the face of sensibility and imagination, and finally in front of corporeal things and the world. The “purity of reason” is for Descartes the way in which the “autonomy of reason” is expressed, its separation from all that is other or strange to it. Reason is affirmed, in fact, as the only and sufficient source of all truth and science. There is no such thing as Bacon, which reflects the light that comes to him from objects or nature. It is rather itself that, from itself, as the sun and source of all light, is able to illuminate whatever object is. The metaphor of the mirror presides over Cartesian philosophies, as he also presided over Bacon. But this ancient metaphor, by which one says the knowledge of reality, suffers an essential characteristic metamorphosis in the use made of it by the author of the Dioptric essay: mind is at the same time the light which makes visible, the seeing eye, The mirror and the object itself reflected. Responding to Gassendi, who had pointed out to him the need to distinguish between the gaze and the mirror, Descartes tells him that “the eye does not see the mirror more than it sees itself and the mind alone knows the mirror, the Eye and herself. In this circularity and immanence the whole Cartesian conception of the autonomy of reason is said.” end of quote
    From the book Razão e Espírito Científico that I typed and Google translated, hope it´s not too bad
    http://www.bulhosa.pt/livro/razao-e-espirito-cientifico-eduardo-chitas-adrian-serrao/
    reason and Scientific Spirit

  18. Taken literally, the statement [I think, therefore I am] illustrates precisely the opposite of what I believe to be true about the origins of mind and about the relation between mind and body. It suggests that thinking, and awareness of thinking, are the real substrates of being. And since we know that Descartes imagined thinking as an activity quite separate from the body, it does celebrate the separation of mind, the “thinking thing” from the nonthinking body, that which has extension and mechanical parts. – Damasio

    Bad. Just plain bad. Shabby. The book itself is filled with a lot of facts, I am sure; but I don’t like how he used Descartes’ outdated notion of duality and the identity of thought and being to promote his own ideas and book. That’s aphilosophical, and that’s that. I am enjoying aspects of W; a movie about that creep?…no. But thanks.

    I think many scientists will eventually start turning to artists and philosophers of the past and future for answers as they labor in vain in search of the ultimate meaning of certain things.

  19. Part of an interview students from secondary school named after António Damásio made to their Patron Professor, where AD explains the title of the book Descartes´Error was not so planned:

    In The Book of Consciousness you sir [Professor] rende “homage to Fernando Pessoa” as “one of the great literary workers of consciousness.” Antonio Damasio is one of the great workers, neuroscientist and philosopher of consciousness. This homage to Fernando Pessoa places him in a lineage that seems to me to be chosen by you sir [Professor] and in which are located Spinoza, Shakespeare, William James, David Hume and others. Espinosa is a symbolic choice as opposed to the figure of Descartes.
    Is this epistemological clarification important from the beginning of the works published by you sir [Professor] giving emotion it´s propper due place?
    AD
    Another interesting question, despite being heavy, philosophical questions. It’s curious, I’ll give you many answers to that question.
    The first is that there was no planning whatsoever on my part. For example, the fact that the first of the books I wrote was not strictly scientific but open to a larger audience, such as Descartes’ Error, is a book that is turning twenty in 1994.
    The title Descartes’ Error was the title of last hour. The first title that the book had in English was Choices, and it turned out to be the book Descartes’ Error because there was an argument that actually had to do with Descartes who came very late in the book and, therefore, it was called so. There was no concern of mine about Descartes as an essential philosophical mark to then move from Descartes to Spinoza and continue. Of all things not, but there is no doubt that after having made a book that was called Descartes’ Error and after there have been immense arguments about Descartes in regard to the mind, in relation to the brain that still seems to me to make perfect sense, At that time, Spinoza as opposed to Descartes made a lot of sense and that is why it appeared and is the third book in this series that, so far, has four.
    Other figures of philosophy appear in the middle, perhaps because as I said in the first answer, philosophy is always present as matter, as a source of dialogue about what we do. Other figures appeared, a figure who is not philosophical, but who is not only philosopher, because he is a great psychologist and a great scientist, is William James. William James for certain readers is a philosopher, no doubt a great philosopher of pragmatism, but for other readers is a great psychologist and, of course, it was both. Therefore, William James plays a very important role in our work precisely because he was a philosopher of the problem of emotion although there are many things with which I do not agree, but they are remarkable.
    http://www.esad.edu.pt/ficheiros/revista/Revista_10.pdf

    The book it represents a paradigm shift that seemed necessary to AD, that gives emotion an importance that was not aknowledged before, it´s a kind of critique of pure reason, once there´s not such thing as pure reason and rational decision making is “contaminated” by emotion too (of course, perhaps another kind of emotion to replace it, however still is emotion, it´s not possible to surpress it).

    I guess more than 20 years after this well known book (I used to see people all over the places, in swimming pools, beach etc. reading this book, is was outspoken everywhere, university title of lectures, television…) Dr. Jane Goodall for instances seems to aknowledge better the importance of this paradigm shift in neuroscience and in other academic fields this book represents than Professor Richard Dawkins.

    read the interview

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/528151/the-importance-of-feelings/

  20. Dan, why did you just hang yourself on this?

    I gave you an out with Damasio’s error, but you then quote the exact passage that shows Damasio completely understood substance dualism was separate from Cogito but the problem arises in taking the the foundation of being (Cogito) as being the non physical substance in substance dualism.

    Descarte didn’t alter his views of substance dualism. This was something he did more thinking and writing on than any other at the time. Even now he is the exemplar of it.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/

    Creep?

    I shudder to imagine what you think of argumentative me.

    I really do think Americans are condemned by some dreadful narratives. When debating elsewhere with them (which is everyday and unlike here which is much more self selecting) they are rigid with values. rather than just facts.

  21. You? not at all a creep.

    Wittgenstein: he gets under my skin.

    Sorry. I was irritable yesterday, and feeling angry at the world.

    I can’t discuss Descartes without repeating myself. I think, therefore I am does not mean that Being and Thought are identical. Even if Descartes thought they were, it isn’t implicit in the Cogito itself. I think, therefore I know I exist is how it should be read.

    Damasio was wrong not to see that, and was wrong to pursue the old mind-body problem in light of its obsolete nature; it has been obsolete since Kant’s time. What part of that don’t you understand?

    Avatar is down again. Site was down all night. Hope it’s not the Russians. No way to italicize or highlight. It says “Howdy Dan” on top.

  22. Maria, I am not interested in Descartes dualism. That is a straw-man (argumento do palhaço). And no one should be. This is what he accomplished. (Read quote below). This is his great achievement. Dennett can harp on Descartes’ dualism all he wants. Dennett is not a great philosopher, period. And he knows it. Neither is Damasio. This below is more valuable than anything anyone ever wrote about Descartes – and it’s only one short paragraph.

    *When he took his cogito ergo sum as alone certain, and provisionally regarded the existence of the world as problematical, he really discovered the essential and only right starting-point of all philosophy, and at the same time its true foundation. This foundation is essentially and inevitably the subjective, the individual consciousness. For this alone is and remains immediate; everything else, whatever it may be, is mediated and conditioned through it, and is therefore dependent upon it.*

  23. Maria, I am not interested in Descartes dualism. That is a straw-man (argumento do palhaço). And no one should be. This is what he accomplished. (Read quote below). This is his great achievement. Dennett can harp on Descartes’ dualism all he wants. Dennett is not a great philosopher, period. And he knows it. Neither is Damasio. This below is more valuable than anything anyone ever wrote about Descartes – and it’s only one short paragraph.

    “When he took his cogito ergo sum as alone certain, and provisionally regarded the existence of the world as problematical, he really discovered the essential and only right starting-point of all philosophy, and at the same time its true foundation. This foundation is essentially and inevitably the subjective, the individual consciousness. For this alone is and remains immediate; everything else, whatever it may be, is mediated and conditioned through it, and is therefore dependent upon it.”

  24. Is it just me or is the site now in a state of shambles? I added quotes as italicizing failed, and couldn’t delete the first one.

    Btw, Maria, I haven’t read Descartes’ Error. Couldn’t get through it. I read parts of it.

    Phil, my comments, 21, about existence are a reflection of my own struggle right now, one that is intensifying. I want to know what I am and what things are – in that order.

    William James was okay. He wrote some good essays but American Pragmatism is not to my liking. I took a course once, read them all. Peirce, Emerson, Dewey, all of them. Emerson was good but not always.

  25. I´ve to confess that while I was ready to accomplish my plans for holidays, rereading Looking for Spinoza, I had to make a pause when I read a paragraph and reminded my last comment here about Descartes- perhaps had a wrong idea about Descartes real ideas as far as I thought him as a traditional theologian, perhaps he was not really? (so I had to search in the internet and even got amazed with myself, once I keep encouraging the use of internet to everybody and my plan is to avoid the internet).
    Antonio Damasio mentions there about Descartes: that perhaps he needed to distort his own ideas, suspended the publication of Treatise of Man in the same year that Galileo was arrested in his own home by the Roman inquisition after a trial. Even so Descartes was confronted and had to answer to some ferrocious attempts against his ideas.
    In my free translation into English (which is not the English version of the book you may have in your shelves) of a paragraph of the book Looking for Spinoza, AD writes:
    In the year 1642, Descartes contradicts his own initial thoughts and postulated an immortal soul separated from a pececible body, perhaps trying to avoid new attempts against his own ideas.

    Not to mention that Descartes chosen Holand to live and latter Sweden, more tolerant places to live, and for his own epitaph chosen the Latin inscription or motto which is a quote from the Roman poet Ovid: “bene qui latuit, bene vixit” – He who hid well, lived well.
    http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/224626/view

    Just two silly notes: in the year 1988 I´ve seen Descartes´ really small skull in exibhition in Paris, in the Mussée de l´Homme, and here´s na ironic remark coming from a philosophy book that mentions:

    http://www.ladepeche.fr/article/2015/08/29/2167141-cranes-homme-cro-magnon-descartes-retour-musee-homme.html

    (my free translation)

    “So, if we can say so in a certain way, if the skull is where the brain is and if the brain represents the mind, herein the separation between the mind and the body from which Descartes was a postmortem victim.”

    Dan,

    Of course you are free to return to Descartes dualism issue, and everytime you do so, I feel I´ve to know more about it -what´s positive afteral.

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/descmind/

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  27. Dan,

    I don´t think Damasio ever aspired to discuss philosphy, he makes it clear in Looking for Spinoza that his book is about neurscience and that he gets to Spinoza as far as for him Spinoza seems related to his work.
    About the cogito ergo sum, Damasio in some interview remaks that the body even comes first than councious thought-of course, the mind in a certain way is a reflection of the it seems, not in any case separated from it-except for artifitial intelligence.
    I can see you look like irritated against philosophers. Usually I get irritated in my work place if I cannot have luch and cannot smoke, and once a psychological report mentioned high rates of”biological irritability”, caused by drugs consume, it asked).
    Well, Dan, try not to be so irritated, for your own sake.

  28. “We can educate our emotions, but we do not suppress them completely, and the inner feelings we are having are the best witness of our failure.”
    Antonio Damasio

    “It can be said that for a normal life it is not enough to react to
    the challenges of the environment with primary emotions. In the same
    way, it is counterproductive to separate reason from emotion. Emotions
    are an indispensable part of our rational life. Thus, contrary to what
    Descartes and even Kant propose, that reasoning must be done in a pure
    form dissociated from the emotions, it is actually the emotions that
    allow the balance of our decisions. As Damasio himself suggests, the
    only true Kantian is a patient with a pre-frontal cortex damage. In
    conclusion, the book of Damasio is exciting! An indispensable
    reference for psychologists, neurologists and all interested in the
    study of human behavior.”

    quoted from

    http://www.scielo.br/pdf/epsic/v2n2/a13v02n2.pdf
    Dan #21

    And? And what you think is IN the brain is NOT IN the brain. Forget
    about the physiology of psychopathology; what about hate? what about
    radical evil? what about genius?

    Once in some lectures someone from the audience was asking a question, so, he identified himself: He had studied part of anthropolgy related to the brain (forgot the name of the discipline), so he shared a bit of his thought, the really thought violence came from the phisiological brain functioning, never forgot this part of the lecture.

    Recentely I´ve watched an interesting lecture in the internet about multiple brains, where the lecturerer talks about “Love” for the members of our group as related to the mammalian brain, not the repetile brain she remarked: notice that reptiles don´t care for their offspring.So the brain exists to control behaviour necessary to survival (even hate and agression).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVrUhMa5O48&t=2064s

  29. I haven’t been able to post since my last one. Don’t think the site has been Apple friendly for a while. I log in and navigating logged me out again.

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  31. maria melo #35
    Oct 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I´ve watched an interesting lecture in the internet about multiple brains,
    where the lecturerer talks about “Love” for the members of our group as related to the mammalian brain,
    not the repetile brain
    she remarked: notice that reptiles don´t care for their offspring.

    Reptiles vary. While many do not care for their offspring, or may even eat them, – given the chance, there are some exceptions.

    http://animals.mom.me/long-lizards-stay-mothers-8882.html

    Lizards devote varying degrees of parental care to their offspring. Most species are oviparous, and deposit calcified eggs, while some are ovoviviparous, retaining their young internally, inside flexible, transparent shells that hatch near the time of parturition. Other lizards, called viviparous species, give live birth and use placenta-like connections with their young. Despite this variation, very few species provide care to their young once they are born or have hatched.

    Protective Parents

    Some lizards do protect their eggs from predators.
    Five-lined skinks (Plestiodon fasciatus) are one such example.
    After the mother deposits about 10 eggs under a rock or inside a tree hollow, she curls around the egg mass until hatching time nears.
    Long-tailed skinks (Eutropis longicaudata) are also very protective of their eggs, and will even defend them from marauding snakes.
    Ovoviparity and viviparity are essentially extreme versions of this practice — by keeping their young inside until they are ready to “hatch,” they not only protect them, but also accelerate their development by thermoregulating to keep them at optimal temperatures.
    Once the young hatch, they quickly disperse and receive no parental care.

    Prehensile Parents

    Prehensile-tailed skinks exhibit the most extreme example of parental care among lizards.
    These large, nocturnal lizards give birth to live young.
    Baby prehensile-tailed skinks remain with their parents for a period of six months to one year following their birth.
    During this time, both parents will actively defend the young from predators.
    The young also ingest feces from the adults — this provides the young with beneficial intestinal bacteria that help them to digest their leaf-based diet.

    We should also recognise that birds are of reptile descent, on a different evolutionary branch to mammals, and certainly do care for their young.

    Looking at other evolutionary steps and branches, some fish also care for their young, so I don’t think it is quite as clear as that!

  32. Dan,

    High levels of irritability (if it is correct to say so) I see in Nietzsche´s writings, his extreme “romantic” poetic forms of lucidity, are perhaps related to madness.
    why a radical and frustration towards philosophy?
    Philosophy is only an attempt to wisdom, all philosophers can get things wrong, but at least they make us think and they think for themselves.
    Don´t get too angry with the world too, at least I try to understand even what´s not satisfactory, and take the responsability that at least I´ve tryed to understand, even tryed to understand incomphreension, barbarismo and so on, and still love humanities I guess.

  33. It this unfair?

    [Cogito] suggests that thinking, and awareness of thinking, are the real substrates of being.

    Look, Dan, did we get on to this stuff too soon? I’ll stop on this quite happily.

    I see Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for literature. I think The Remains of the Day his masterpiece. No finer examination on the nature of Englishness exists since Forsters Howard’s End.

    Two Merchant Ivory films were made of them a year or so apart and with Hopkins and Thompson in the leads of both. Near perfection for both. A class system that eventually leaches the life out of the lower orders and allows the monied and political classes their witless heads.

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  35. Review of Antonio Damasio’s “Descartes Error”

    http://www.metanexus.net/book-review/review-antonio-damasios-descartes-error

    “(…) One might have subtitled this “A Critical Critique of Pure Reason,” suggesting its departure from Kant as well from Descartes. Like many reared in the scientific tradition, Damasio recalls that he grew up “accustomed to thinking that the mechanisms for reason existed in a separate province of the mind, where emotion should not be allowed to intrude.” Yet his experience with patients like Gage convinced him that normal human reasoning is inextricably linked to emotion: “Reason may not be as pure as most of us think it is or wish it were…Emotions and feelings may not be intruders in the bastion of reason at all: they may be enmeshed in its networks for worse and for better.”
    Pure reason, reason uninfluenced by emotion, seems to occur only in pathological states that are characterized by impairment of day-to-day decision-making and social interaction. Says Damasio, “Certain aspects of the process of emotion and feeling are indispensable for rationality.” To think otherwise was Descartes’ error. “(The error was) the abyssal separation between body and mind, between the sizable, dimensioned, mechanically operated, infinitely divisible body stuff, on the one hand, and the unsizable, undimensioned, un-pushpullable, nondivisible mind stuff; the suggestion that reasoning, and moral judgement, and the suffering that comes from physical pain or emotional upheaval might exist separately from the body. Specifically: the separation of the most refined operations of the mind from the structure and operation of a biological organism.”
    Damasio is clear about why Reason depends upon Emotion. It flows directly from evolution’s first commandment (Survive!), and from the fact that “evolution is thrifty and tinkering.”(…)”

  36. The evolution of emotion: Charles Darwin’s little-known psychology experiment

    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-evolution-of-emotion-charles-darwins-little-known-psychology-experiment/

    “(…) For Darwin, emotion had an evolutionary history that could be traced across cultures and species—an unpopular view at the time. Today, many psychologists agree that certain emotions are universal to all humans, regardless of culture: anger, fear, surprise, disgust, happiness and sadness. (…)”

  37. Gestures of Human and Ape Infants Are More Similar Than You Might Expect

    “(…) In the 1872 book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, the naturalist argued that people from different cultures exhibit any given emotion through the same facial expression. This hypothesis didn’t quite pan out—last year, researchers poked a hole in the idea by showing that the expression of emotions such as anger, happiness and fear wasn’t universal (PDF). Nonetheless, certain basic things—such as the urge to cry out in pain, an increase in blood pressure when feeling anger, even shrugging when we don’t understand something—cross cultures.

    A new study, published today in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, compares such involuntary responses, but with an added twist: Some observable behaviors aren’t only universal to the human species, but to our closest relatives too—chimpanzees and bonobos.

    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/gestures-of-human-and-ape-infants-are-more-similar-than-you-might-expect-94958090/#SYyOxAyKGOFh7Mzs.99

  38. maria,

    I love that it is now thought adolescent chimps put rocks on their shoulders to imagine what it is like to carry their own youngster that way. They are dolls no less. They may even be an expression to others that they can do this.

    The gorgeous unanswered question is whether such expressions as a laugh or smile or shrug is genetic or cultural. Given the millions of years involved most might think it genetic. I however think it truly cultural….across millions of years! I think this is the very heart of muscle-memes (copying others physical actions, thanks the the increasing population of mirror neurons in higher mammals, peaking so far in us.

    Alan’s lovely account of reptilian parental bonding in a few reminds us that evolution flows by the tiniest steps. Reptiles had a version of oxytocin (a vasopressin of very similar structure). This chemical mediates bonding but existed before bonding. For it to be used it needed to have triggers for it evolved and actions consequent on it developed. The trigger detectors were many and various and the consequent actions often about muscle relaxation. Detecting a parent and detecting an offspring could be very simple. Detecting parents, it could be the first moving thing (ducks), red dot on beak (gulls), in mammals its the first caring big person, cuddler and milk provider. For offspring detection it could be the high pitched cry (chicks) or the big eye small face appearance (for most mammals).

    Clearly reciprocal detectors of sorts were being developed by particular skinks and birds. Mammals though with the need for early nurturing developed the best mutual detectors with grooming to get the oxytocin flowing and its consequent actions of pacifying, muscle relaxation and milk let-down, mutually reinforcing a state of high bonding.

  39. Phil

    [Cogito] suggests that thinking, and awareness of thinking, are the real substrates of being.

    Maybe too soon; but all I’m saying is that anyone who thinks that thinking and being constitutes something identical – whether it is Descartes or anyone else – is, was, wrong. And anyone who uses that as a starting-point for a book that lays claim to having any philosophical relevance is starting from the wrong place, unless you’re compiling a retrospective.

    Awareness of thinking leads to awareness of being, as thinking is something. (And that which is must be, as Parmenides said.) But a substrate of being? What is that! How could thinking be a substrate of being? That’s the opposite of the truth, or the opposite end from which any responsible intellectual would approach the problem, in my opinion; being is the substrate of thinking, and most existing things in nature do not think; and Damasio is right to say that that is the opposite of what he thinks is true; but it’s a straw man. For the final time, it’s a straw man; the non-existent mind-body duality is an inessential and obsolete aspect of Descarte’s Cogito, as I have indicated!

    Hi, Maria. Yes, I shouldn’t let all this stuff get to me.

    High levels of irritability (if it is correct to say so) I see in Nietzsche´s writings…

    I’d rather see it there than in his brain. But no signs of madness in his writings; nowhere does he exhibit madness prior to his collapse in Turin. I don’t know if he wrote anything after that. I believe his mental life was extinguished forever – after that. (That irritates me. People always say he was mad.)

    As for the world, I was watching Huckabee Sanders answer questions about contraception and when I heard her mention “religious freedom” I wanted to smash the TV into pieces. (Not really, but it’s really sickening what is happening.) Plus, I read about all that Trump is doing to ensure that the Affordable Care Act does not provide insurance to those in need. Although the lying scum in Congress failed to end the ACA, Trump, a human garbage can, is succeeding anyway in his goal of killing the program. That’s barbarismo.

  40. The gorgeous unanswered question is whether such expressions as a laugh or smile or shrug is genetic or cultural.

    “Gorgeous?” Why not? Anyway, Pinker made a fascinating, almost chilling, point. When people today get mad they often show their teeth – like they were going to bite. In the distant past our ancestors did just that: they bit. So assuming that that gesture hearkens back to the distant past, would that make that gesture genetic or cultural?

    What does it mean to say that it’s one and not the other? or both? Is it just a bad habit? Maybe somewhere along the line we just forgot to say: “we don’t bite and chew people that make us angry anymore. You don’t have to show your canines.”

  41. And anyone who uses that as a starting-point for a book that lays claim to…

    Listen, listen, listen! He doesn’t start there. His point is Cartesian dualism quite separately identified THEN connected to Cogito as the none material substance by which we know we exist.

    As Maria points out its not even part of his original plan for the book.

  42. The gorgeous unanswered question is whether such expressions as a
    laugh or smile or shrug is genetic or cultural.

    Phil,

    I don´t think it is unanswered.
    Funny thing, I remember: to meet with a stranger- Dr. Kim Bard- in some corridor of my faculty before a conference and smiled at her (sometimes I see people smiling to me, then I remember that I must have smiled at them and and they are smiling back, I don´t even notice anymore that I smile at strangers so often, so strange isn´t it?

    Hours latter I discovered that Dr. Kim Bard was a researcher also in the study of fatial expressions of smile. That day, after a presentation I guess she mentioned she was planning was to study homologous fatial musculature in chimps, as in humans (the study that enabled further research to answer to the “unanswered” as you say).

    Here´s a clear answer:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0127337

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2826116/

    I was lucky to see some vídeo footages of Gonçalo Jesus too about surprise in fatial expression of chimps- well to me-I´m not a researcher, they look the same as in humans.
    Again in 2008, in a presentation by Dr. Kim Bard, the conclusion was, that some behaviour was indeed philogenetic, common to chimps and humans-it was not laugh this time (but I could reognize the same behaviour in my childhood I had that chimp infants have too, to run to the arms of a caregiver afyer a period of distress far from them..
    That´s not surprising, is it?

    I see, parental care didn´t started from scratch with mammalians, that would be unlikely from an evolutionary perspective, it must have been a way of resuming too much to say that parental care increased with mammalians perhaps.

    Thanks for your wisdom about parental care and it´s biological biochemical mechanisms which I´m ignorant about while you seem wise at the subject.

  43. As Maria points out its not even part of his original plan for the
    book.

    That´s right!

    On the other hand Antonio Damasio planned the title Looking for Spinoza. Spinoza seems the opposite of Descartes concerning the dualism body/mind, in simple words.
    Try to break a leg, and see if the pain doesn´t make you feel miserable, if it doesn´t change something in your mind, specially if you will not be able to walk again as before. The brain makes neuronal maps of the body that we become aware, it seems. (I´m just a layperson aknowledging the complexity neuroscience is, thanks to books like these).

  44. I said “what about hate?” I didn’t say that hate cannot possibly come from brain matter; I am merely questioning that paradigm. By the way, Damasio rejects thought as a substrate of being, as he should (although I am unfamiliar with his reasons), so why can’t I question the idea of the brain as the substrate, or place of residence, of our moral character? Hate is a moral relation of being: self and It, as opposed to self and Other. I ask questions. (And I even lay claim to having come up with a few answers – although most of my answers are negative, i.e, it cannot be that. Negative knowledge is a form of knowledge.)

    I would love to know what thought is. It is not matter? I don’t think it is matter either. But why not just write about the nature of thought and the nature of being and then explain why thought is not the substrate of being? I resent the perpetuation and revival of the mind-body duality. Descartes, a unique figure and a product of his age, was right in-between dogmatism and the critical philosophy that ended it. He ushered in the end of the dogmatism that he himself was still steeped in.

    I suppose it’s not the end of the world that Damasio used that title and used the great Descartes’ mind-body fallacy as a straw-man, completely ignoring the fact that this duality – and this has been shown – cannot possibly exist, unless thought is still spirit, the soul is still in the brain, and Reason is still pure. (!!) Again that is ahistorical. (Ask Damasio himself and press him on this; he’d probably agree.)

    The nature of thought is still a great problem and is very hard not to see it as something separate and apart from the body. Descartes’ Error. – Okay. Whatever works.

    And I read the part about the error. It speaks for itself. Nothing I have said is unfair.

    But as I haven’t read the work – just bits and pieces – I will now say no more – until I have.

    Maria, what was that about pain? Could you rephrase that, please?

    Looking for Spinoza. Looking for Richard. (The Pacino film.) Not great at coming up with titles, is he?

  45. Damasio rejects thought as a substrate of being, as he should
    (although I am unfamiliar with his reasons).

    What´s a “substrate of being” anyway,it reminds me a kind of plant “food” .
    Where does Damasio rejects this “substrate of being”? (it seems “substrate of being” may have some kind of formula).
    It does not sounds okay to me when we use the word sub, as far as it seems more like the cherry on the top (not at the bottom, not sub).

    Where does Damasio talks about “substrate of being”?

    so why can’t I question the idea of the brain as the substrate, or
    place of residence, of our moral character?

    Of course you can, you´re free to do so.

    Hate is a moral relation of being: self and It, as opposed to self and
    Other.

    A social emotion it seems, reflexive of the “other”, but expresses through primary emotions such as disgust (at the origin of racism).
    Perhaps one of those emotions that need to be educated.

    “We the men, others the eggs of lice”

  46. Maria,

    Substrate. I agree; what the hell is that? Such an ambiguous word. But I do think that Being is a substrate of thinking. By that I simply mean that Being comes first. Our thinking doesn’t define us as existing entities. It merely defines us as thinking existing entities. (That’s ambiguous too, I suppose; but not as much. Can’t elaborate or be too precise right now. Exhausted.)

    Where does he talk about substrate of being? Here. It’s from his book.

    “Taken literally, the statement [I think, therefore I am] illustrates precisely the opposite of what I believe to be true about the origins of mind and about the relation between mind and body. It suggests that thinking, and awareness of thinking, are the real substrates of being. And since we know that Descartes imagined thinking as an activity quite separate from the body, it does celebrate the separation of mind, the “thinking thing” from the nonthinking body, that which has extension and mechanical parts.”
    – Antonio Damasio, Descartes’ Error

  47. Dan

    and then explain why thought is not the substrate of being?

    There is no objection from Damasio at this point despite your insistence on manufacturing one. The sentence is followed by an “And”. In other words the concept under question is not yet completed. The addition (of dualism) is essential to form the objection. Damasio is indeed very sympathetic to the idea of thought as being the substrate of being. He goes on at length in this and other books (especially “The Feeling of What Happens”) about the primary nature of introspection and its creation of a self. He does though want to nudge in some other grounding mental process that we generally find subconscious. But his theories are additional and not one of them has any virtue in a philosophical endeavour like Cogito, because, well, subconscious. This is why he is proposing a series of selves, that later emerge into consciousness (of a fleeting sort) then another more sustained by biography.

    Substrate is a beautiful choice for a constructivist narrative. It has its simple meaning of foundation, the bottom most (first made) fabric of the construction, under this no more turtles. To biologists and chemists this is a surface where enzymes and catalysts work, making possible reactions and new materials that would not otherwise be created. For the physicist substrates have a structure that imparts itself onto the layers above. In the building of crystals and more chaotic structures, from the very small elements that make a substrate to a final formed object self similar qualities can be carried through at successively larger scales. Fractal behaviour is often an outcome. The important differentiator to mere “foundation” is this implication of being an active foundation, a source of the material to come and an imprinter of form and process. Contingent and not rigidly designed.

  48. ´Dan,

    I feel bombarded and just want some calm holidays and accomplish my plan of reading a book in quietude and exercising. Who cares about what I think? (me at leat, that´s enough).
    I cannot think of living organisms as machines, consciousness as an illusion, despite the fact that I know in a certain way living organisms have a “programme” of behaviour.
    All these matters:, qualia, free will ….consciouness, machnies, reason are boring me., immortal souls, atheism, science… are irritating me., I need my time. to digest things in my way.
    (wrotee a lot of comments and delete all, the “machine is blocked for now).

  49. Phil, you never understand me. I agree that thought is “not the substrate of being.”

    “Taken literally, the statement [I think, therefore I am] illustrates precisely the opposite of what I believe to be true about the origins of mind and about the relation between mind and body. It suggests that thinking, and awareness of thinking, are the real substrates of being.

    And?? So he does think that thought is the substrate of being?? Then what’s the error? …. Like Maria, I am bored. I don’t care what Damasio thinks. And you can defend your gods all you want.

  50. Think of how much time had to elapse and how much evolution had to happen before consciousness appeared. Were we nothing before that? Had we no existences? Existence is a continuum; it includes conscious and non-conscious nature.

    The only illusion of thought is Dennett’s illusions about the quality of his own thinking as far as these matters are concerned.

    I didn’t have time to edit: mind as separate from body was the error, if that is what Descartes thought. “I think therefore I know I exist” is incapable of being refuted.

    And there are no series of selves.

  51. Maria, hope you see this: you sound like me. I agree with you:

    All these matters:, qualia, free will ….consciouness, machnies, reason are boring me., immortal souls, atheism, science… are irritating me., I need my time. to digest things in my way.

    Exactly how I feel!

    (Except for free will and consciousness; those subjects don’t bore me ever. Qualia, AI, atheism, and even science in general, can become wearisome. Hell, even Shakespeare can get boring. But consciousness and existence? Never.)

  52. Phil, substrate is an okay word; I liked it enough to say that “being is the substrate of thought”, didn’t I? And I am right.

    Sorry I said that you worship your gods.

    I am worried about many things now, not in the best shape. I need some time. Let me read some Asimov or some Rex Stout. I’ll be back to my charming self in no time.

  53. He goes on at length in this and other books (especially “The Feeling of What Happens”) about the primary nature of introspection and its creation of a self.

    We can know our selves through our actions and our thoughts, feelings, desires, decisions, memories, etc., or we can be our selves, or we can do both; but this “knowing what we are” relates to the empirical self only; and the inner nature of being-in-itself can never be known. Knowledge relates to what is observable, broadly speaking. The subject (the “core self”) is hidden. As soon as a “subject” (pure self, the substrate of thought) becomes an object it is no longer a subject. This point is the basis of the metaphysics of “the will” as I understand it. (The pure subject must be distinguished from the knowing subject.)

    If thought is the substrate of being than to think is to be (as opposed to knowing that one is). In that case, it should be: I think therefore I think.

    Or better yet, I am therefore I am!

  54. Dan

    Existence is a continuum; it includes conscious and non-conscious nature.

    This is exactly Damasio’s point. This is why we need to imagine the evolution of the self. What could a self possibly mean to a fish and then a mammal. A self that learns from its environment and uniquely adapts to it. A self that identifies itself by the its associations with others, like mates or offspring. Just like apes still exist even though there are humans these earlier brainy contrivances remain. Our best peer detector from early on, the amygdala computing friend, foe, don’t know, lies on an antique, deeply buried circuit quite separate from later developed cognitive abilities (when biographical knowledge of ourselves and others developed). (I’ve reported on the great distress when the amygdala starts to fail and loved ones get reported exactly as loved ones yet “unknown”.)

    Your insight, rephrased ([personal] existence is a continuum of all personal-neuronal, conscious and subconscious and personal-cultural/social processes) is what he is exploring. He is most concerned with those processes that lie less visible to us, that thinking that happens when we are at perfect rest, the sub conscious ones that clearly result in consciously perceivable effects yet seemingly elude any conscious traction, and the deeper taking care of the meat beast. (Brains evolved first to manage survival through movement of a single animal.)

    It is perfectly OK to think of his stack of selves as an archaeological account of the evolution of the self. It is also obvious that though Cogito is a perfectly reasonable and elegant philosophical proof of self existence (that of itself is indifferent to ideas of substance), it is far from an account of this evolution of self. These are totally different types of discourse. There is no value in thinking them equivalent in intention.

    “knowing what we are” relates to the empirical self only

    Yep. This is Damasio’s concern only. His focus is mostly on the earliest aspects, deepest buried parts. What we make of what we’ve got is for other books.

  55. A clarification. I would suggest that Damasio would think thinking certainly part of the substrate of (our) being. The ability to infer pops us in a sense into 3D and ideation (now) grows from us. His intention is precisely to flesh out what underlies that. How we got there, able to produce Cogito.

  56. Maria

    the “machine” is blocked for now

    That is why books and exercise work so well. Enjoy your holiday!

    I cannot think of living organisms as machines.

    Nor can you when engaging in everyday life. Thinking about walking, how you’re doing it, when walking, trips you up.

  57. Maria,

    Don’t read this yet! Wait until you are done with your book, exercised and restored.

    Artaud, in his play “To have done with the Judgement of God.” said

    When you will have made him a body without organs,
    then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
    and restored him to his true freedom.

    I think this is what our new cultural/intellectual adventure may gift us. An increasing freedom from our evolved selves into something mutually made.

    It took a bunch of us, diverse in our perceptions and a need for mutualism to co-invent strict, logical reason. A brain on its own has no need of strict logic, nor has it a strictly and reliably logical neuron/synapse within it.

    Philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari develop the idea of the body without organs and use it quite widely and productively.

    Its only when we more thoroughly know our parts that we can effectively plot against them.

  58. “Leading American political analyst and philosopher Noam Chomsky has said that the administration of US President Donald Trump is profoundly committed to destroying planet Earth.” And this won’t happen 10,000 years from now. We’ll all be lucky to make it to 2020.

    And this administration is “systematically” destroying governmental institutions, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, for the sake of “profits and power.”

    And are food is now poisoned with pesticides that had previously been banned, thanks to Pruitt.

  59. When I talk about “self” I am not talking about self as in “sense of self”, that is, the way psychologists and psychoanalysts (those soon-to-be relics) do. I am not talking about personal identity. I am asking the question, what is existence? what does it mean to exist? What can we know about this existence? What can we not know?

    A dead person is no longer conscious, and no longer a living being. But not all living beings are or ever were conscious. So if there is homogeneity in nature, and we are part of a vast continuum which includes even inorganic nature, then that begs the question: what constitutes what makes us what we are – if not consciousness? “No soul” is a straw-man.

    But yes, I am a hopeless transcendentalist.

  60. It is not neuro-psychologist Damasio’s place to argue your philosophical concerns.

    I am a hopeless transcendentalist.

    No bad thing, necessarily. But can you be a builder of the transcendent rather than just an assumer of it?

    Does Artaud (in my post to Maria) have something to say about freedom of being?

  61. Phil

    Your insight, rephrased ([personal] existence is a continuum of all personal-neuronal, conscious and subconscious and personal-cultural/social processes) is what he is exploring.

    That wasn’t exactly what I meant; I meant that existence (personal and non-personal) is a continuum; it includes the conscious and the unconscious in nature; in other words, magnets and crystals and trees and water polyps and worms and apes and humans all exist. Therefore, if there is a continuum of existence in nature then consciousness is a non-essential feature – and we can never be justified in thinking that consciousness must be an essential or necessary part of our definition of what constitutes the inner nature of our own (personal) existences.

    This continuum may apply to the psyche as well, which has a conscious and unconscious part; but that was not my insight; it is yours (and I guess Damasio’s); I just suggested your own insight to you, unwittingly.

    I see that your use of the phrase “series of selves” has meaning, although I had no idea what that was, and might have asked. I get wrapped up in my own terminology and ideas sometimes. Sorry.

    Let’s talk tomorrow, shall we?

  62. Does Artaud (in my post to Maria) have something to say about freedom of being?

    When you will have made him a body without organs,
    then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
    and restored him to his true freedom.

    Yes, apparently.

    Does this fellow?

    Nevertheless, it is true that our actions are attended with a consciousness of independence and original initiative, which makes us recognise them as our own work, and every one with ineradicable certainty feels that he is the real author of his conduct, and morally responsible for it. But since responsibility implies the possibility of having acted otherwise, which possibility means freedom in some sort or manner: therefore in the consciousness of responsibility is indirectly involved also the consciousness of freedom. The key to resolve the contradiction, that thus arises out of the nature of the case, was at last found by Kant through the distinction he drew with profound acumen, between phaenomena and the Thing in itself. This distinction is the very core of his whole philosophy, and its greatest merit. The individual, with his immutable, innate character, strictly determined in all his modes of expression by the law of Causality, which, as acting through the medium of the intellect, is here called by the name of Motivation, — the individual so constituted is only the phaenomenon (Erscheinung). The Thing in itself which underlies this phaenomenon is outside of Time and Space, consequently free from all succession and plurality, one, and changeless. Its constitution in itself is the intelligible character, which is equally present in all the acts of the individual, and stamped on every one of them, like the impress of a signet on a thousand seals.

  63. More on the theory of the intelligible self – and the “freedom of being”:

    . . . Man forms no exception to the rest of nature: he too has a changeless character, which, however, is strictly individual and different in each case. This character is of course empirical as far as we can grasp it, and therefore only phenomenal; while the intelligible character is whatever may be the real nature itself of the person. His actions one and all, being, as regards their external constitution, determined by motives, can never be shaped otherwise than in accordance with the unchangeable individual character. As a man is, so he his bound to act. Hence for a given person in every single case, there is absolutely only one way of acting possible: Operari sequitar esse} Freedom belongs only to the intelligible character, not to the empirical. The operari (conduct) of a given individual is necessarily determined externally by motives, internally by his character; therefore everything that he does necessarily takes place. But in his esse (i.e., in what he is), there, we find Freedom. He might have been something different; and guilt or merit attaches to that which he is. All that he does follows from what he is, as a mere corollary.

  64. I saw something similar to that with Sam Harris and Dennett, I think: when we make a decision, something happens in the brain before the action takes place, implying that our conscious volition is determined by something that precedes it.

    I may have that mixed up, but if I don’t, it would seem to support at least one important aspect of Schopenhauer’s thesis: the consciousness of freedom as it relates to our decisions is illusory in so far as the decisions – consciously made – are determined by something we are not directly conscious of.

  65. Dan, Phil,

    I was following, just not participating, nor will I with profound knowledge, just copy pasre.

    Let me share a part Daniel Dennett´s interview, which seems quite interesting that focus a lot about “free will”.
    By the way, also found something abot Gilles Deleuze, that´s just surrealism, poetry.

    Google translated, with no revision whatsoever from me, here´s part of DD interview, you need to translate the whole page from Spanish.
    (or Portuguese about Deleuze).
    Hey, didn´t I plan I wouldn´t use the internet, don´t I have free will ? in fact I´m reducing.

    “Free Will” must be one of those popular expressions such “God particle”, which I don´t find interesting at all, but those popular expressions have a huge impact on people.

    (…)
    In the 1970s, thanks to the experiments of Benjamin Libet, it was discovered that our brain gives a command before we are aware that we want to make a gesture. This led some philosophers and neuroscientists to conclude that free will does not exist. That there are, for example, no morally relevant distinctions between a psychopath and us. Do you agree?
    DD: At all, we have free will and we can distinguish it from that of a mad psychopath. We are misusing the terms. That interpretation according to which Libet’s findings suppose the demonstration that specific neural events are the real cause of our decisions must be considered a misconception of consciousness. The experiments were ill-conceived. The motor decisions that were studied are extraordinarily poor models about the decisions allowed by our free will. They have no relation to the range of our decision-making autonomy. There are researchers and thinkers too impatient.
    If no one is responsible, not only should prisons be emptied, contracts would not be valid, mortgages should be abolished and we could not require people to take responsibility for their actions.

    DD: It would be a calamity if those neuroscientists and thinkers were right that there is no free will. The arguments are manifestly foolish. They have not realized the consequences of this vision and the limitations of their data. To make progress in this, we have to do many studies.
    Some current holds that free will is perfectly compatible with the unconscious processes that precede decisions, a perspective that does not accord with the idea that many people have of what free will is. What should we then understand by free will?

    DD: People believe they have a free will that does not really exist in the way it is usually formulated. Free will has nothing to do with determinism. It is “moral competence”. Some people do not have it or have it in varying degrees. Some are missing information, others are too stupid or incompetent and therefore can not be reasonable. Sometimes it is not their fault: they have, for example, a serious brain injury or anomaly. They do not have free will. They do not have it because they have no moral competence. We do not allow someone to sign a contract or vote. Why? Because they do not have the age or capacity to do it. When a person is sick or has become senile certain rights are withdrawn. To protect you, since you are no longer morally competent. The idea of ​​”moral competence” is very clear. And it has nothing to do with determinism or indeterminism.

    Do the “degrees of freedom” solve the problem?

    DD: My hand has different degrees of freedom (…)

    (translate the page if you´d like to read more: http://www.letraslibres.com/mexico-espana/gran-parte-la-mente-humana-es-resultado-la-evolucion-cultural#.Wd1F88rsuYM.facebook)

    Deleuze, from which I didn´t know nothing until now, but don´t expect it to be more than poetic or “surrealist

    https://razaoinadequada.com/2013/04/14/deleuze-corpo-sem-orgaos/“.

  66. No option. But then we congratulate or blame ourselves for having made that decision – and I suppose that’s how it should be.

  67. Maria, Phil, Olgun, others

    (My comment # 80 was in response to Olgun’s comment #78. I hadn’t yet seen comment #79.)

    My opinion:

    Judging from what you presented above, Maria, I would say that Daniel Dennett may think he is deep but he is – and this is my honest opinion – relatively quite shallow, and ignorant; he has a very limited understanding of this issue, even from a simple historical standpoint. He may know quite a bit about other things; I am sure he does; but he repeats the same never-ending superficial misconceptions and errors, ones that had already been addressed and clarified. That is what happens when you don’t read great philosophers or don’t read them with any comprehension. And free will is the very opposite of determinism, nothing less – the two do not coexist, only an apparent coexistence exists. And as it turns out, we lack (an absolutely) free will. Nothing is free that takes place within the chain of causality; to do so would take it outside the sphere of reality itself. Nothing can take place without a cause, and in the sphere of conscious deliberation and the final actions, that cause is the motive. Almost all serious and deep thinkers throughout the age are united in agreement about the denial of the doctrine of the freedom of the will (liberum arbitrium). In fact, I believe you can more or less judge a person’s depth as a thinker by evaluating his or her position on this issue.

    No one, given two or more conflicting motives, can choose which motive appeals to him more; the strongest motive will always prevail. And you cannot choose two things at one and the same time. And after you act, you must realize, if you are honest and unprejudiced, that you could not possibly have done otherwise. Could have means nothing at all. The point is that you didn’t. You do or you do not do a given thing – and once it is done it is irrevocable

    (The will and the act of will are one and the same thing. Thinking and deliberating are not acts of will.)

    Dennett thinks that determinism implies a lack of responsibility; it is the very opposite of the truth. If everyone could will more than one thing at any given moment or if one could alter one’s susceptibility to one kind of motive (like love of money) to another kind of motive (like love of one’s neighbor) from one moment to the next than moral responsibility would have no meaning. “. . .every one with ineradicable certainty feels that he is the real author of his conduct, and morally responsible for it. But since responsibility implies the possibility of having acted otherwise, which possibility means freedom in some sort or manner: therefore in the consciousness of responsibility is indirectly involved also the consciousness of freedom.”

    Personal remark: I have written about this before and have thought about it quite a bit. This subject always causes me unrest. If I read or think about it too much I start to feel anxious.

    We are, by the way, conscious of a free will; no one can know beforehand what we will do; in that sense (and in another more comprehensive and abstruse sense) we are free.

  68. Note

    I made one correction and did not want to put a strain on the system.

    I meant to write:

    …if one could transfer one’s susceptibility…

    To do something freely in an absolutely literal sense would be the equivalent of taking such an event outside the sphere of reality itself.

    Throughout the ages.

  69. Things are even more startling than Libet and the few hundred millisecond readiness potential. The start of some voluntary actions can be traced back using fMRI to brain state changes before they are presented as salient (conscious) decisions to act.

    We have varying degrees of certainty over what we will do, dependent upon our agonising/rehearsal of it. Sportsfolk know very well what they will do when the moment comes. We train the unconscious beast to have increasing confidence of our actions. Before asking for a raise we rehearse what we will say. We know only too well the bastard is skilled at intimidation. He knows the destructive power of his silences that you rush in to fill until you say stupid self defeating things. We are never will-full in the moment when some of our craven/cowardly selfish selves defeat our more considered and respected selves. We need to round them up and say listen lads this is what we are going to do, and you go over it and over it like a team of bank robbers.

    Taken by surprise I have disastrously taken home two chocolate bars because they were “two for the price of one one”. (Bastards!) Reason kicks in and rather than co-operate with the fatty sugary dopamine junkie who works faster than my prefrontal cortex, (clever but slow working on project “Healthy Long-lived Me”), I concoct a plan to slow him down. I put both chocolate bars high up at the back of different cupboards. I need to give rational Phil time to come to my better senses. I half win. A whole week later (more than expected) I see the special offer has gone, no risk of a repeat at least, a day after that so has my chocolate. The second bar gone straight after the first is part of a demented aversion therapy plan that popped up from nowhere.

    The answer? Much much more planning so that better considered me wins out over dopamine junkie me.

  70. Obviously if one is brought up to think that, say, greed is good or that certain people are subhuman, or if one is mentally ill or is on drugs, etc, he is not to be held entirely responsible for his beliefs and actions. These factors all affect one’s decisions. That is why one must assume that one is mentally and physically free in order to judge whether that person is to considered morally responsible for a given action. If I hold a gun to someone’s head and tell him to lie and he lies he is not responsible. Sound dumb? Well to say that all our actions are determined by the environment only suggests that we all are coerced or manipulated in a similar way. Mental and physical freedom (freedom from prejudice, etc. and disease or threats, etc. respectively) is a necessary precondition; in order to exhibit one’s character, that is, to expose to oneself and others a greater or lesser susceptibility to one motive rather than another, to be motivated, say, by sympathy rather than egotism, mental and physical freedom is presupposed.

    To say that it is only the environment that makes us act the way we do implies that we are determined from without and not from within. It also implies that we are neither good nor bad, have no character, are incapable of virtue or even vice, are incapable of an authentic act of meanness or kindness, are all being acted upon from without. This is precisely what most people think and it is a form of determinism but in reverse.

    Einstein (in agreement with Schopenhauer) said: we can do what we will one but cannot will what we will.

    Let me put it another way: we cannot choose what we choose to do.

  71. The answer? Much much more planning so that better considered me wins out over dopamine junkie me.

    The answer? Much much more planning so that better considered me wins out over dopamine junkie me or bastard advertising/special offer them.

    I have talked before about Jonathan Haidt’s image of being a human is like being an elephant and rider that have to train each other to create a coherent maximally functioning entity.

  72. Phil,

    Forget about the chocolate bars and dopamine for a second. Let me present what you said but with a moral component and allow me to substitute a few words and sentences for some others. (This is implausible but I am trying to illustrate a point.)

    Taken by surprise I have disastrously stolen fifty dollars from my best friend because I knew he would never find out is was me and I needed the cash. I have been doing stuff like this repeatedly now for thirty years. My doctor devised a plan: whenever I get the impulse to steal I get a brain zap, as I had something installed in my brain. It is highly, highly unpleasant. I still steal but I steal less now. I must be improving morally.

    You see? You’re not getting to the real root of the problem, or are you? I am trying to.

  73. Maria,

    Earlier I described Deleuze as a philosopher who delivers his ideas as art, much like Bachelard. I don’t think this unreasonable. I think it psychologically insightful, without risking harm. I rather wish Freud had kept much of his musings so. The claim of objectiveness did untold damage to many in my view.

  74. .every one with ineradicable certainty feels that he is the real author of his conduct, and morally responsible for it.

    Your thief also. A simple thief.

    Morality isn’t coerced. This is why religious brainwashing doesn’t create self authored morality…. the only sort.

  75. Dan,

    That Justice Junkie looks nowhere as playful as I intended. Maybe I’ll master smilies. Emojis are clearly way beyond me. My son sent me one that was intended intended to be an acknowledgement of my wit. I thought it signalled a demented kind of anger.

  76. I need to give rational Phil time to come to my better senses.

    Whether it is a rational consideration that influences your decisions or some other emotional impulse your actions are still determined by motives.

    And I am not convinced that reason has the potential to compel everyone to always do what is reasonable.

    Moreover, what is reasonable (logically sound) is not always right or good. Atrocities can be committed in the name of reason.

    One should never let one’s sense of morals prevent one from doing what is right. And one should never let reason allow one to do what is wrong.

  77. Morality cannot be coerced; “moral” behavior can.

    I don’t for a moment understand your obsession with external manipulation of brains.

    I agree. (;

  78. Sick and tired of this: can’t edit! That was supposed to be a wink, Phil. I tried a different computer. I make one correction, edit, post, and zap! the site is inaccessible for a few minutes; and then I see that my editing time is over. Have you had any trouble with that? Using word doesn’t work; I will always make mistakes, like with the emoji.

  79. Reason has the potential to better manage integrity, aligning your actions with your most wished for self.

    If you are a psychopath, that is not going to end in anything mistakable for moral.

    As you know I believe in no objective morality, but I do believe that the mutualism we have evolved genetically and culturally is in various degrees innate and by definition what we need, and that other less numerous species of interbred human that survive parasitically upon us are indeed the potential enemy within society and partially ourselves (genetically and culturally).

    Moral progress is mutualisms progress, and the depletion of parasitism. (I suspect we need parasites at some level if only not to become susceptible to them.)

    It is bizarre to think morality primarily a free will issue when it is a culturally generated needed and system of exchange.

    This mode I see as a religious/justice concern for the purposes of control.

    We want moralism grown by culture from the earliest so that it is a lived thing in society. It must have the integrity that comes from a deep personal history of biographical experiences and semantic understandings. If one part of the circuit breaks the rest is still intact and worm-tongued parasites end up rebuffed.

  80. Immorality≠psychopathology

    That’s right, they are not identical; if one is mentally deranged or physiologically incapacitated in some way then one is not entirely responsible for one’s actions, as I attempted to say above – unless you are simply using the word psychopath to mean immoral; in that case it is a tautology.

    There are psychopaths that are highly moral but unable to be who they are, and there are immoral people who have healthy brains. At least I think that is the case. (And yes, there are a great many people who are psychopaths and immoral. One does not exclude the other. But the immorality is mitigated if there is impairment.)

    Let’s talk soon. Complex stuff. I have to go now. Work to do.

  81. One should never let one’s sense of morals prevent one from doing what is right.

    Perfect, from that Prince of Rationalism, Asimov.

    The risk of culture are manipulative idealisms (like an objective moral code) that can never keep up with the new facts and new problems.

    A lived morality from the earliest acknowledging mutualism as a primary deliverer of good and a personal struggle for integrity of that most wished and ones actions are the rational processes needed.

  82. That’s right, Phil. – Asimov. But the second part, the follow-up sentence, was mine. I used that quote here before and said at that time that it was Asimov. This time the motive to impress, coupled with the rationalization that “everyone knows that’s Asimov and that I used the quote once before and indicated the source” outweighed my motive to do the right thing and say it was Asimov. If I keep it up then eventually I will have to conclude that I am somewhat unethical. But one swallow does not make a summer, and I rarely mislead readers in this way.

    Apply this on a large scale or small; this is basically how it works, imo. Of course I could always chalk it up to this explanation or that. Easy to rationalize. Hell, I knew what I was doing, was free to choose, but had no freedom to choose what I chose.

  83. Correction

    This time the motive to impress, coupled with the rationalization “everyone knows that’s Asimov and I used the quote once before and indicated the source” outweighed my motive to do the right thing and say it was Asimov.

    Cannot edit. When I edit the site goes down for anywhere from three to ten minutes. Sometimes the correction is shown, sometimes not. I called my mother about fifteen minutes ago and asked her to go on the site. She couldn’t either. That’s proof it isn’t me. This needs to be fixed. Try editing, Phil. Tell me what happens.

    Sorry to harp on this. I won’t mention it again.

    Objective morality: means nothing. Antiquated nonsense. Morality in its purest form is based on compassion and nothing else. Identification with another’s pain is not merely understanding another’s pain; it is actually feeling the pain of another as if it were your own. This may be – and here’s that terrible word – a metaphysical phenomenon.

  84. Editing is screwy atm. Just site repairs and tinkering. It’ll get better.

    The Asimov quote is famous. It needs no introduction. I hardly ever attribute my quotes, unless they are obscure.

    Reason alone is never, ever enough to do anything. Evidence and reason at the least… and to do anything risky corroborated evidence and many attempted, failed Popperian disproofs as with anything that we deem important, and then proceed with caution after a full risk analysis.

    Politics in charge of (paid for) make-shit-up science is not science. A few loons favoured by bully politicians is all they are.

    objective moral code needed scare quotes. We firmly agree here.

  85. You are completely right to correct me on the morality of psychopaths. I know several completely moral despite no empathy for others nor concern for it. But they do believe in the efficacy of playing by the rules. This is why the psychopath parasites are the species I target. Psychopathy facilitates pro-active parasitism. not that reactive desperate survival parasitism.

  86. Evidence and reason is reason. It should be enough. Should….

    I think your comments, and I appreciate them, reflect a rootedness and involvement in the real world, which my comments here do not reflect. I am concerned about society too, but I don’t find it easy to combine politics with philosophy. When I am thinking about Trump and all that I am usually not philosophizing. When I am discussing an issue like morality (which is very much a political issue too) I find myself removed, detached; I lose sight of the realm of the political and the practical, become almost disinterested in that sense.

    It is not enough for me to know that people can change and improve; I want to know what improvement implies, means, entails, and whether or not there are those who are incapable of (moral) improvement and why that is, etc. You are theoretically oriented too, but I think you always have one foot in the pragmatic and in problem-solving and solutions – which is commendable. Different styles, the same wish for “betterment”. (Rimmer). (I used your word “empty” on another thread and attributed the quote to you.)

    Now I really have to go.

    Thanks, Dan

  87. Phil

    I know several completely moral despite no empathy for others nor concern for it.

    I appreciate the fact that you agree with me that “psychopaths” can be moral; but what I don’t understand is how someone with no empathy can be said to be moral. My confusion is based on my conviction that morality is nothing other than empathy – or sympathy. What other kind of moral feeling can there other than that which is actually felt, and other than that which has arisen out of identification with another’s suffering?

    I suppose one can have certain principles and not actually be moral. One can believe in fairness and equity, for example, and even try to do things to bring that about; but that would be action based on concepts, ideas coupled with a need to fulfill an obligation to be true to one’s principles (and one’s principles are often based on one’s ideas). Opposed to this is action arising primarily from feeling and the sense of injustice must be based on feeling. We speak of a feeling for justice. An apt phrase. Pragmatic ethics or principle-based ethics has pragmatic value but has no real moral content as one’s principles can change along with the fashions of the day. Feelings of this kind, on the other hand, do not waver, do not pass in and out of us. Where there is no feeling there is no real empathy, and therefore no moral feeling as I understand it.

  88. Phil #101

    I know several completely moral despite no empathy for others nor
    concern for it.

    Makes me think the role was there before the person. A place where an over sensitive empathy trait can be dulled by the pain and any more pain avoided but the job still has to be done???

  89. Dan, you use an inappropriate definition of empathy, one not consistent with current psychology. Empathy is the visceral body wired, mirror neuron responding, can’t-help-it experience of another’s feelings.

    Stick with it if you wish but forever puzzle over what people are talking about. A lack of empathy (like mine) doesn’t mean your sympathetic emotions are broken it means the subconscious engagement of them doesn’t work or work so strongly. They can be engaged by understanding intellectually that people are suffering like thus and so, like you did when x happened or you had it explained graphically in a movie you saw as a child.

    I’m a sucker for romantic movies I cry with the best, I just lag behind other’s and I’m conned far less.

    Paul Bloom “Against Empathy” (and for reasoned compassion).

    Psychopaths as Simon Baron Cohen describes them are doubly lacking. They not only lack the visceral empathetic response, but they lack the corresponding emotions of sympathy as well. These can’t be stimulated by understanding of predicaments.

    Psycopaths can be moral (if not sympathetic (through understanding) emotionally) by accepting what is correct behaviour.

  90. Ollie,

    I think autism (and its lack of empathy) and the early feedstock for scientists is the male personality of systemising over socialising just overdone (due to a double genetic dose from parents). The Refrigerator Mother (emotional neglect) hypothesis for them has no evidence after many decades of looking.

    The double whammy of psychopaths (the feedstock for alpha males) does indeed show signs of abusive parenting. The fundamental religious right seem a vector for this. Abusive parenting, a cortisol bath for the brain shutting down wasted emotional strategies (just like the Romanian orphans) does produce a lack of visceral empathy, and a lack of emotionalism for others. leaving the way clear for a keen eye for maximally exploiting your circumstance, either by exploiting/parasitising or even just learning to fit in.

  91. Phil

    My confusion is based on my conviction that morality is nothing other than empathy – or sympathy.
    I did use the word empathy imprecisely there. But I am more confused by your use of the term.

    Empathy you say is feeling like you are in someone’s shoes. No, that is sympathy, unless you are talking about understanding and not emphasizing feeling as a necessary element.

    I think empathy is the ability to intellectually understand what someone is going through, so you say: you have my empathy. Sympathy is more direct and necessarily implies feeling. A good psychotherapist is supposed to have empathy, which is a form of sensitivity, as is understanding. And the ability to empathize suggests a person of good character, that is, a nice, decent sort of person; and most empathetic people are sympathetic as well – but this need not be the case.

    One can have sympathy for someone and no understanding of the predicament that person is in or the issue that he or she is facing. Sympathy is always moral; the ability to sympathize is the mark of someone who is moral. But like most things, quantity changes quality. Someone may only be able to sympathize with, say, certain people, or family members, or members of his own class, etc. Others can sympathize with more people and are less particular. The ability to sympathize with anyone or with everyone is the true mark of a supremely good-hearted person. Empathy can be learned through training. My assumption is that most empathetic people are also sympathetic as the cultivation of empathy without any sympathy, is, I am sure, an unnatural and rigorous process.

    I would imagine, as you say, that autistic people could easily be taught to empathize, but may lack the ability to be taught to feel sympathy. That makes sense, doesn’t? How do you teach someone to feel what they don’t feel?

    From whence does your interest in social justice and fairness arise if not a feeling of concern on behalf of those who are being oppressed or disenfranchised and dispossessed? You seem to me to have empathy, according to the definition I just presented; but are you saying that any sympathy you and others with similar conditions have is brought out in such individuals by being taught to understand the problem of justice and suffering? That sounds implausible. Someone points to a homeless man and explains the social and economic factors and elements associated with his predicament; and that is supposed to engender sympathy in some form?

    Here’s a Wittgensteinan question: what is it like not to empathize?

    And how do you know your ability to empathize is impaired or inhibited? Why should it be, if it is mere understanding? Are you sure that it isn’t sentiment as opposed to empathy (understanding and commiserating) that is deficient amongst people with autism?

    Without getting into mirrored neurons and what is hard wired tell me what the difference between sympathy and empathy is. Give me an example.

    By the way, reasoned compassion is an oxymoron. Could it be that “current psychology” has co-opted the word empathy and is engaging, wittingly or unwittingly, in the abuse of language?

    What other kind of sympathy can there be other than that which is actually felt prior to any explanation as to why one should feel this way or that? You can’t teach that, can you? maybe you can. I know that if I don’t have a feeling for architecture and someone points to the Taj Mahal, or better yet, gives me a grand tour and explains everything there is to know about it to me, I will say yes yes, and I will be thinking: get me out of here! I don’t care! This kind of thing happens to all people. Try explaining to an unmusical person why he should feel moved by a Beatles song or a Schubert quartet… Yes yes they’ll say.

  92. Dan #81

    Judging from what you presented above, Maria, I would say that Daniel
    Dennett may think he is deep but he is – and this is my honest opinion
    – relatively quite shallow, and ignorant; he has a very limited
    understanding of this issue, even from a simple historical standpoint.
    He may know quite a bit about other things; I am sure he does; but he
    repeats the same never-ending superficial misconceptions and errors,
    ones that had already been addressed and clarified. That is what
    happens when you don’t read great philosophers or don’t read them with
    any comprehension. And free will is the very opposite of determinism,
    nothing less –

    Dan,

    I didn´t read a book from DD, (I leave books aside easily if I feel I cannot adapt to the author).
    what have I missed from the man that looks so nice? Darwin or Santa Claus with his beard,
    I don´t read him actually-nor will-, but I have interest in reading Hermínio Martins- he wrote the preface of one of my professor´s books and he was his former professor, I guess, (Popper was a former professor of HM). HM thought (he died very recentely as did my professor unfortunately) that Freedon is ulterly the most important philosophical value , while RD and DD have perhaps the most strange and bizarre ideas I aknowledge too late I´m afraid,
    I´m shoked by the ideas that RD expressed in this vídeo, so shoked that it almost paralises me (I mean even from paraticipating in this site).
    So, it seems ok for RD that AI (whatever) would rule us or the world?

    http://bigthink.com/videos/richard-dawkins-richard-dawkins-why-ai-might-run-the-world-better-than-humans-do

    I consider DD more a “social engeneer” in the sense of Popper, his work is not philosophical naive considerations, but real social action.

    Read the text and look for DD there. What, zombies, cyborgs?

    http://recil.ulusofona.pt/bitstream/handle/10437/370/artigos_4.pdf?sequence=1

    This time you´re lucky, it´s written in perfect English.

  93. confused by your use of the term.

    Its not my use its is current psychological use and pretty close to colloquial use.

    Looking at standard definitions, they all pretty much line up. These succinct phrases capture the general usages.

    Empathy. Walking in another’s shoes. (from both positive and negative emotions)

    Sympathy. Feeling sorry for another’s hurt. (from negative emotions only)

    Compassion. Love in action. (Seeking to mitigate another’s negative emotions and experience.)

    Recently in understanding the mammal invention of the limbic system to facilitate bonding and nurturing, psychologists have come to realise our own response to others has a large array of unconscious mechanisms that get us to feel the emotions of others, and act compassionately or defensively or cautiously. You smile. She smiles. She yawns, you yawn. Her tooth hurts, you hurt. Empathy is the term used in psychology for this (walking in another’s shoes.)

    I was a bit slow on this front. Like many boys when faced with a family crisis I would giggle in confusion and make other’s angry. because I lacked a fellow feeling. Its not that I didn’t understand the pain of a death of another, I felt it myself. But that easy flowing mutuality that comes from an automatic mirroring of shared emotions wasn’t there. But I could have sympathy. I knew intellectually the tragedy and the hurt. I could see all the ways it was bad. And that would be enough to trigger compassion for the various sufferers and know what they needed… eventually.

    With a loving family I got half pieced together. I knew I was a bit deficient even for a boy. Mid teens I fell on Lorna Wing’s book about autism, and recognised those Hans Asperger symptoms as a bit like me. (Invasion of the Body Snatchers gave a final push.) I got very heavily involved in acting and found I loved understanding how we all work and inhabiting others. My intellectual understanding of lived lives slowly got wired into a learned automatic (subconscious) skill. The emotions were always there but a new circuit to them got put in. I still have some seriously clunky bits, but others have worse. I call myself a house-trained aspie. I think this is the state of men (maybe just a little worse for me, but with great socialising from acting experience and most important the three great female relationships in my life. I thank them all.

    The urge to act can come from empathy (mammal feelings needing an image of an individual) or sympathy (human cultural, working from information, eg newspaper headlines and on classes of folk even ). There is no oxymoron in rational compassion, being initiated by either.

  94. Dodgy connection screwed up editing.

    Those last few sentences.

    I think this is the state of men (maybe just a little worse for me), but with great socialising from acting experience (I love people watching) and most important the three great female relationships in my life I got sorted well enough. I thank them all.

    The urge to act can come from empathy (mammal feelings needing an image of an individual) or sympathy (human cultural, working from information, eg newspaper headlines and on classes of folk even ). There is no oxymoron in rational compassion, being initiated by either.

  95. D’oh, still wrong.

    There is no oxymoron in rational compassion. Compassion from empathy is emotional. Compassion from sympathy may be rational.

    Please note the definitions of the terms. No semantic arguments, are acceptable. I shall else call empathy, personfeelylike, sympathy, sadhurtysee and compassion lovingwantafix and repeat.

  96. These succinct phrases capture the general usages.

    Empathy. Walking in another’s shoes. (from both positive and negative
    emotions)

    Sympathy. Feeling sorry for another’s hurt. (from negative emotions
    only)

    Compassion. Love in action. (Seeking to mitigate another’s negative
    emotions and experience.)

    Sorry Phil. Nonsense. Where do you get this stuff, from a children’s library? D’oh yourself; you like to be right, don’t you?! Well so do I and you have it backwards, my friend. Sympathy need not be….is in fact, non rational. There is no current psychological use, only the ones that you like and have appropriated. One can have sympathy for another’s joy. Walking in another’s shoes!! What does that mean? I said that empathy is understanding and does not necessarily imply feeling, and every definition I have found emphasizes understanding. So you tell me what walking in someone else’s shoes means. You haven’t defined it. Is it understanding or is it feeling or both? Nowhere is it written that compassion must include action. To suffer with. Maybe some Christians think that St Francis the Psycho was the prototype of the man of compassion… I have heard a few people assert that compassion means action but that is not what compassion (must) mean. Sympathy and compassion are almost perfect synonyms.

    So we disagree. Not that important, but you remind me at my worst sometimes. Stop having to be right all the time. This time I am quite sure that you have sympathy and empathy mixed up and your definition of compassion is rigid and inaccurate. Your definitions of these three words are, in short, nonsense, as Wittgenstein likes to say. May I say that without hurting your feelings?

    Sadhurtsee = denigration of a sacred concept, no understanding of sympathy.

    (Honesty)

    (Btw, you can give it right back to me; I can take it.)

    Maria,

    Hello! How are you? Dan Dennett. A very expressive, well-spoken and thoughtful man; he is at his best when he is discussing religion. There is a YouTube video of Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens sitting around and talking about the problem of religion and there he’s excellent. When he starts to get into philosophy I can’t listen to him for very long.

    Dennett must be a very nice man. He is, I believe, quite close to Dawkins, and anyone close to Dawkins has to be a decent and honorable person.

  97. Phil #106

    I understand the early formed, or beginnings, phycopath through mistreatment by parents but is the position open to a really sensative person ( my younger self) who hurt too much to take on others pain, slowly re-wiring to become desensitised almost wilfully. I don’t like fair rides. I don’t have the adrenaline slowly ebbing away once I know I am safe for the rest of the ride. It just seems to keep coming and the fear just keeps building. I feel the same way about immersing myself in others pain. I will do all I can to help but my pain can feel greater than theirs in my head and the afterthoughts even more so. I can see your description of practical thinking empathy lacking people just being trapped by their practicality in accepting this as a cruel world hurting, but getting on with the job. I suppose I am asking if the system works without these phycopaths taking up the position that is essential to our present day system.
    ?

  98. Dan. Its no skin off my nose.

    So we disagree. Not that important,

    No. The point is you disagree with most psychologists and most popular definitions of the words. I did quite a lot of scouting around. If you want to understand what folk are talking about or any of the papers or books on the subject, or indeed what I am saying ever it might be handy to reference this.

    Your definitions of these three words

    Simply not mine. As I say the semantics is mere semantics. As Wittgenstein said you can’t prove anything with metaphysical concepts, because the words…they slip around definition-wise. As Popper said oh yes they can if they can be mapped onto demonstrable artifacts. In fact just as empathy did. Its notable that after this happened the other words shuffled around a bit to take up slightly different emphases.

    None of it, just none of it my doing.

    I’m happy to discuss Schopenhauer on mitleid if you wish, but it doesn’t alter the fascinating facts of feelypersonlike (or whatever, that needs a name) that I need to talk about. But be aware empathy wasn’t coined for another fifty years (even then as einfulung or something) and was coined specifically to identify this sort of emotional infection that we mammals appear to have outside of some mental conditions. Mitleid (most usually translated as pity or compassion) has to serve for a much broader range of concepts therefore and is quite oblivious to the subtleties of English usage. Compassion is all heart. Pity is now often mean-spirited compassion even contemptuous as pitiful became an insult. Sympathy has shriveled and become as trite as a card or the brush off, you have my sympathies. For a while empathic was taken as a fantasy ability to experience another’s thoughts, not just another’s feelings like the empathetic. It briefly became a “super sympathy” because you had so much sympathy you started to feel the feelings too. That was soon squashed as the limbic system became better understood and empathy’s evolutionary priority was established. which is also why you see it used so much by animal scientists but never see sympathy used. Invented in 1905ish empathy an obscure psychological term wasn’t used until the fifties and sixties when specifically folk analysing autistic spectrum folk found it the term they needed to describe folk like me. Use of sympathy nosedived in the seventies with increasing and more nuancing terms like empathy and undegraded compassion.

  99. Phil

    Comment 16 disappeared. I have ‘faith’ in the site; it will reappear.

    “Compassion from empathy is emotional. Compassion from sympathy may be rational.”

    That’s very funny. Bravo! And hatred from disgust is emotional, while hatred from antipathy may be…uh, rational.

  100. Maria,

    I haven’t yet looked at the Dawkins video you sent, but I share your horror of AI – or is horror of people?

    “People who work with computers have an extraordinary vanity about what a computer can accomplish, and they go on and on with it; they’re pushing to more and more places….” – Norman Mailer (late 1960s)

  101. Phil #115

    I think that I have a little more balance these days but I was never clearer in my head than when angry at someone who is being an arse. The time I slapped a bully in the face because he slapped and tormented another boy in the changing rooms. The time I “told it like it is” to someone who I tried to avoid because he thought he was more worthy than the little “wog” buying him drinks. He went out of his way to become my friend after that. I can’t always forgive out and out rudeness.

    I am trying not to read your link like some do a horoscope. Little bits of me in there for sure.

  102. Comment 16 did appear and now it’s gone again! I am not enjoying this. It almost seems like mischief.

    Phil

    Let me just say two things. I was just thinking about it. I don’t really think it is possible to feel empathy without feeling empathy. Sounds silly, but I think either you or I had suggested that empathy can be learned through the process of gaining understanding of the good reasons why one should feel sorry for people.

    Perhaps you were talking about sympathy and I was speaking of empathy. But in both cases that is not possible, in my opinion. And that leads me to this point. When I said that rational compassion is oxymoronic I meant this: you cannot teach someone to feel. All the good reasons why it is in one’s best interest to feel compassion cannot ever make one feel it. But in fairness to you, I do admit that if people are potentially capable of feeling compassion but are uncultivated or depressed or angry or selfish, one can be taught to overcome such mental obstacles through the guidance of reason. But even that is questionable as one’s sole form of therapy, as it were. It’s too intellectual.

    I maintain that neither compassion, sympathy, nor empathy can be produced by giving one “information”. And I maintain that the phrase “rational compassion” is the epitome of the oxymoron.

  103. Ollie,

    First I see in #83 I failed to note the time that fMRI can detect an unconscious brain state signal ahead of the action that results from it. Not Libet’s few hundred milliseconds but 10 seconds. Ten seconds our subconscious has “known” what we will do before thinking of telling our conscious selves about it.

    We have many decision makers in our heads like amygdala (friend foe don’t know) or dopamine junkie or reflexive me (why do I not only copy people’s gestures but also their accents?), dirty old man (sigh, I’m not 24 anymore, this is unseemly) and huge huge subconscious me, poet and playwright of my life.

    Unsurprisingly I sort of disagree with Dan, Schopenhauer and Einstein about not being able to will what you will. Ultimately, of course, yes, but if we can get to see these parts of us that reach back 500 million years, 150 million years etc. might not be our best selves then we can plot against them. Dopamine junkie me can be plotted against. Its hard but progress breeds progress. I brought up my kids to have a rich interior life and enjoy it, how to use introspection and simply observe how you and the world work together, notice how it gives you choices of what to make of yourself and achieve more sustainable satisfactions.

    From age seven I was identified as a nerd at school (by the teachers, though they hadn’t the word for it), so they were surprised when I kept getting into fights. I too got outraged at bullies. I felt great commonality with underdogs and deeply frustrated that I couldn’t explain to the bullies the bullies’ simple error. I simply didn’t understand they were brute not brain. I really didn’t understand about brutish pleasures, so I (brutally) set to. It took two delightful (educative) relationships with two wonderful women before I saw clearly the brute in me. Then it went away because I could plot against the angry fellow, notice the circumstance remember the alternative more effective behaviours I could choose and their alternate satisfactions.

    I think we can be more self authored than we too often are and I care not one iota that none of that was my own idea but itself authored by a hundred generations of increasingly wise others. The unexamined life is truly no life. But that can only happen with the help of others.

  104. Phil,

    I read your article about the psychopath that studies psychopaths.

    One has a violent nature. Cause: something in the brain. (“All of them appeared to have low levels of activity in a region of the brain located towards its center at the base of the frontal and temporal lobes.”)

    Or, is that something in the brain caused by one’s violent nature?

    I acknowledge that both psychopathy and sociopathy have a genetic component. That we know. But what came first, the genetic makeup or the violence? An erroneous distinction?

    Schopenhauer was convinced that the moral character is hereditary; but how did it start? Maybe his Will and our Gene are, on some level, not entirely and altogether heterogeneous!

    Here’s another philosophical q: where is my comment 16? Does it exist? It pops in and out of the realm of empirical reality. I suppose now it is in the realm of the thing-in-itself (noumenon).

  105. Dan,

    Rational Compassion? Take it up with Professor Paul Bloom.

    Empathy (coined for infectious emotions) is the result of the limbic system, oxytocin, mirror neurons and a host of other stuff. (Professor Simon Baron Cohen suggests at least twelve elements.) If its broken or damaged in some way it is broken or damaged. Like in me. But brain and memes are plastic and evolve. I learned about emotions in others. I was taught to see their value. I wanted to join in as most aspies do. I had the emotions just not the automatic trigger for them.

    With loving parents and acting and a fascination for how people work. I could piece it all together. (I believe I made a better observer than many with a little outsider’s distance.) I lagged others in my time to tears. It didn’t take mere tears of others to get mine going. I needed to know why. (This is the flip side of SJWs). Often it wasn’t even the image of the starving child, which only left me stunned and bewildered, but imagining the parent looking on that makes the tears come.

    After decades of this and continued loving experiences, this rational compassion has got more habituated and more nearly looks like empathy-fed compassion. But details tell me apart from fully functioning visceral empathisers, who, in extreme cases, make me feel sick.

  106. So you do have the emotions. I thought so.

    I thought you were suggesting that someone who is incapable of feeling can still be taught empathy (or sympathy), as if empathy was something that could exist without feeling, or that compassion could be created from hearing arguments.

    Give me Bloom’s number; he’s dead wrong.

    Based on your description it sounds to me like you have more feeling than most of the world does. Who taught you to regard yourself as different in that regard? I am sure you do have Aspergers, but just because you don’t cry a lot… I shouldn’t comment on this; I don’t know enough about it.

    Limbic system. Is that what it is when I look at photos of little Vietnamese children fleeing naked from napalm and I feel sad and disgusted. You’ve seen that pic, right? I don’t know, Phil. I am not sure that you and many others haven’t lost their way…

    http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/140620084853-napalm-60s-restricted-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg

  107. Dan

    Chicken or egg first?

    An erroneous distinction?

    As with all evolution, whether genetic or cultural, completely erroneous.

    Schopenhauer was incomplete, as we all will prove to be. Unknown to him, the expression of genetic behavioural elements is contingent on ecological and cultural contexts. The expression of memetic behavioural elements is partially known to him. (He recognised the fact of what would come to be known as over-imitation in children.)

  108. Dan,

    You miss again. I am doing a lousy job. Having low empathy means another person’s emotional state is not automatically detected and experienced/shared.

    The detection/comprehension is the problem for me. Even now I can’t read certain facial expressions at all. I can work stuff out slowly but in mixed company I’m overwhelmed by what individuals may be thinking/feeling. (In tests reading faces for their emotions I can do as well as average for a man but I take 30 minutes to do what others achieve in three and there are still total blind spots.) Without detection it can’t be shared/experienced.

    Stop sending me unpleasant images. (and don’t say ahha! I’ve explained how I get there.) Split turds, brain operations, what I suspect this is. This just comes across as aggressive. Its (suitably) depressing.

  109. Phil #120

    My middle brother joined the army as soon as he could to get away from my dad. Not a bad man but an uneducated dictator. The one of us that spent more time away from dad became just like him. I, do everything I can not to be like my dad but realise some things will be a life long battle. I get a reward for acting differently and do the same next time but a conscious effort to begin with.

  110. Ollie

    I suspect by just noticing, a major change has been achieved. There is even a controlled experiment in play with your brother to suggest this.

    Others can help plot with your better self just by going public to them. In sickness and in health… I’m going on a diet… Feeling the gaze of caring/supportive others is so much better than that of the disapproving/punishing others.

  111. Note to mods: Comment 116 (not “16”) did not post; then it appeared; then it disappeared. Very odd.

    More importantly I thought I’d let you know that commenter #28 on the Trump Confirmed thread is, I believe, in violation of term of use. He is advertising.

    Genetic or cultural. Nothing else? That could be an erroneous distinction.

    Low empathy means poor detection? Among aspies or in general? That’s a perceptual disorder, has nothing to do with empathy per se. You can certainly teach someone with poor detection skills to feel empathy. Sure. No controversy there. But low empathy in general means just that: low empathy. They see and detect just fine, but cannot empathize.

    I showed you the picture, and I started at it for a longtime myself, to make a point: what the hell does it mean to be a human being? If you look at an image like that long enough you might start to question the adequacy of the limpid system as an explanation of the meaning of compassion.

  112. you might start to question the adequacy of the limbic system as an explanation of the meaning of compassion.

    I could scream. That is the point. The detection of the emotional state of others and reflecting it is a mammal primate evolution that kickstarted our cultural mutuality.

    Look I’m stopping. too much. steam escaping… too much time deleting swear words. This refusal to agree to the terminology of current researchers makes this fatuous.

    This must be miserable to watch.

  113. 117

    Maria, I haven’t yet looked at the Dawkins video you sent, but I share
    your horror of AI – or is horror of people? “People who work with
    computers have an extraordinary vanity about what a computer can
    accomplish, and they go on and on with it; they’re pushing to more and
    more places….” – Norman Mailer (late 1960s)

    I don´t see computers as autonomous, so, it´s horror of science fiction scnenarios some people make, Those scenarios will of course hardly become true, nevertheless people wish it were, I suspect Richard Dawkins is dreaming of such scenarios and enthusiasmed with it. It seems intelligence -violence-, is what matters, “lower intelligence” (as we would become in face of a super AI) don´t deserve to exist? Will someone teach super intelligence a sense of -religious-profound respect of all living creatures, conservationism, ecology, compassion?
    Richard Dawkins it seems would be happy with silicon replicas, not of an ordinary human specimen, but Bethoven. Richard Dawkins is strange and creepy.

  114. Phil, that comment that you responded in your comment 130 had been re-written by me but it failed to post. Then I wrote a comment saying that it didn’t post and that that was infuriating to me. That too was deleted or disappeared!

    I will say again that the detecting part of empathy seems like a problem other than being low on empathy. Interrelated I am sure but still separate. You said that you have the emotions, but not the detecting skills (if that is the right word) and that would support my assumption. A natural assumption. A blind person can empathize.

    I had a comment about Bloom that vanished. Others have vanished. I think it’s time I move on now. I can’t have my comments disappearing like that.

    I said that Bloom’s criticism of empathy is completely nonsensical, Phil. It makes us focus on one person? It makes us do things that are unproductive? No, that’s just bad judgement. And he likes compassion, is all for it. He defines that as caring about others, whereas empathizing is “walking in the shoes of others.” How are we supposed to know the difference? And what do we do, whip up compassion and say “Go away, empathy”?

    Let’s see if this one stays up there.

  115. This refusal to agree to the terminology of current researchers makes this fatuous.

    You think Bloom is someone I have to respect? I reject his terminology completely. And I had another comment which vanished that said that these definitions are literally out of Psychology Today and are completely fatuous. It seems like they were made up out of thin air. I posted a link.

    “Compassion from empathy is emotional. Compassion from sympathy may be rational.”

    Your refusal to reject this terminology makes this fatuous. Compassion IS sympathy. No difference except maybe for a translator who has a fine sense of subtle nuance. Empathy and sympathy cannot be experienced without some feeling so they too are virtually synonymous. I am not entirely clear on the difference. One has an element of understanding, I think. Not sure which. I believe it is empathy and if I am right than you’ve got the two words backwards.

  116. “People who work with
    books/cars/telephone have an extraordinary vanity about what a they can
    accomplish, and they go on and on with it; they’re pushing to more and
    more places….” – Any old technophobe.

  117. Empathy taught. For a child that bites I let them bite my finger and scream Ouch! Then I take my forfinger and put it on theirs and let them bite me again. This time their little finger is being bitten by the bottom teeth and mine by the top. The first bite and the realisation in their eyes is magic. Some are stubborn and have to keep going until they make themselves cry but, in my experience, they are more sympathetic to my pain.

  118. @ 130

    Phil

    In summary, the limbic system is responsible for controlling various functions in the body. Some of these functions include interpreting emotional responses, storing memories, and regulating hormones. The limbic system is also involved in sensory perception, motor function, and olfaction.

    That’s from an article. Trying to understand this and the various parts within this system a little better. I am not saying that all this isn’t true. I am asking what it means to say that we feel sad or shocked or outraged at the sight of an act of cruelty and that others don’t, are indifferent or even derive pleasure from it. I don’t think it is enough to say that the limbic system is “responsible” for such emotions (or that wicked peoples are all “psychopaths” or physiologically impaired). A biologist is justified in speaking that way, and while it adds to my understanding of biology it doesn’t add to my understanding of the real meanings of cruelty and compassion, character, morality and immorality; it only obfuscates, reduces, and pushes any truly moral (i.e. not exclusively biological) explanation of humanity and inhumanity away; and the vital and essential idea of responsibility is going to ultimately suffer.

    I see the photo I showed you, of those Vietnamese children screaming and running from napalm, and feel sad because I have empathy and because it was atrocious. I saw, felt, myself in them. The cause of my empathy was what I saw and what I am: a person who is no less vulnerable to cruelty and no more desirous of happiness than those people were, and above all a person who has a sense of dignity and knows and feels that all human beings have that same dignity.

    I can’t explain it too well. Sorry: half formulated as is often the case.

  119. I am somewhat afraid of technology, and everyone is to some extent or another. But I am certainly not opposed to all of it. I think claustrophobic people are afraid of all enclosed spaces; they don’t discriminate.

  120. Comment disappeared.

    Again,

    I said (133) “A blind person can empathize.”

    Phil, that was a stupid remark I made. The detecting mechanism is part of an integrated process and one that has evolved. In the case of a blind person that mechanism is still intact regardless of one’s vision. Apples and oranges. Straw-man.

    Impressed?

  121. Dan

    Have you seen the film The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas?

    If not, watch it and then look at that photo again please.

  122. Dan

    A blind person can empathize.

    Glad you thought again here.

    The whole of us is a detection system or assists in detection in one form or another. My Aunt’s damaged amygdala meant she thought my Dad a cheap Chinese copy. Detection is a cascade of inference upon inference split up into streams that at points rejoin, many inferences and additions later. And some of these inferences over here or on that path are the stuff of emotion reading, of friend or foe or don’t know. This reflects our evolutionary history and our differing needs as fish reptile and “rodent”. Its a kludge upon a kludge and it makes us as complex as we are…and we love it, those spaces nameless strange, ghosts of our earlier selves.

    In the case of a blind person that mechanism is still intact regardless of one’s vision.

    First, which mechanism? There are many used to read emotion, pre-consciously.

    Someone who goes blind is very different to one who is blind from birth. For the latter that other mechanism of reading emotional state from the voice will be more developed because it developed early when brain development was at its most ferocious. Early brains wire to their task significantly directed by the organisation of the inbound data. Strabismus sufferers never experience stereoscopic vision if their squint is corrected late. Though they can walk into the world like us, it will not appear bumpy and deep to them and we shall never be able to adequately recreate in words what depth perception feels like so they can feel it too. Cochlear implants are a horrid jangly nightmare if fitted late and often unwanted. The aesthetic detection circuitry grows in the experience of it. The aesthetic beauties of music, the satisfying co-sonority of those pitch intervals in chords, simply aren’t in there.

    And don’t get scared of “wiring”. Memories are wiring. Rich memories are rich filigrees of links with paths and highways in from all sides, some strengthening and still growing a few dwindling to barely discernible tracks, perhaps traversed only in dreams.

    Memories of our earliest experiences, their routes and first formed connections, become the highways of later parsing of experience. We are categorisers to help us understand the world. Parsing experience is detection too.

  123. Dan

    I see the photo I showed you, of those Vietnamese children screaming and running from napalm, and feel sad because I have empathy and because it was atrocious. I saw, felt, myself in them. The cause of my empathy was what I saw and what I am: a person who is no less vulnerable to cruelty and no more desirous of happiness than those people were, and above all a person who has a sense of dignity and knows and feels that all human beings have that same dignity.

    In the research and books about empathy from psychologists (remember this. I am not your opponent here) empathy is that part of what you are saying, where in the first second, before conscious thought has got its boots on, you feel a pang, a burning on your skin, a terror, their terror. Thats it. The rest is the intellectual understanding of the enormity of the outrage its implications for all, yourself included and closing the almost inevitable compassion a desire to mitigate this or future this-es.

    Now for me, for the longest time I lacked that first bit, the burning skin, the terror, running in their bare feet (if its the picture I think). As a teen I stared at pictures of starving Biafran kids dumbfounded not really knowing what I was seeing. My mother instantly, hand to the side of her face, mouth open, tears next second. It was clear something was absent. Nor am I saying that I am that much more than a typical male with their typically muted empathy. (Remember the definition here! The “empathy” used by psychologists and animal-psychology scientists. Pick terminological fights and we can’t have a discussion about reality. We are not discussing mitlied yet, nor your understanding of empathy as a caring-emotional addition to sympathy as it became in the eighties and nineties.) I have some testable defecits a notable slowness to read faces that may possibly explain why I felt a little different to others.

    I end up in tears now pretty quickly and it may be strongly biased towards children. Adult suffering is still a little slow to get going, but kids…. almost instantly I am their parent and made helpless by circumstance and my inability to do my job reduces me to tears. A whole second mode of detecting the needs of particular others, the need to be nurtured, side stepped my inability to quickly read faces. All the later-in-sequence intellectual understanding of a situation was well developed and functioning in me, so I was always able to care.

    In relationships, heart achingly full, I suspect my pupils didn’t dilate in mirrored response as much as could be wished. Worse, the faces I always got wrong in tests, were those looks of love or lust which I unfailingly attributed to anger or hatred. I needed to go with other clues in real life. I have a lot to thank my patient trainers for. Again not too unlike other men, I suspect.

  124. Phil (#143)

    I appreciate all of that. Okay. The brain is a most useful organ… (humor)

    I don’t know which mechanism; I was just acknowledging the fact that I was conflating two separate issues.

    But I don’t get Bloom at all. Empathy is bad? So next time you feel it, tell it to go away. (And the next timer the weather is not to your liking simply reject it.) And make sure you don’t confuse your empathy (feeling like you’re “in the shoes” of someone who is in pain) with compassion (caring about that person).

    Sheeesh!

    Olgun

    I’ve seen parts of that movie. I know the story. Very sad movie. What’s the connection between that and the photo? If you insist I will watch the film in its entirety and then look at the photo; but I can’t imagine what that would teach me; I already know that the world has been a very sad and hellish place for all too many.

  125. Your refusal to reject this terminology makes this fatuous.

    Your loss not mine.

    I want to understand all the research work and hypotheses. I want to have conversations with the discipline and about the discipline. Even Psychology Today crappy as it is is catching up I see.

    Traditional terminology, those metaphysics of old, is fitting itself to measured and understood things as Popper said it would. New terminology needed, like empathy, cause some of the shuffle around as its uncovered evolutionary place sequences the other components. Sealed metaphysics will decide nothing because of terminological exactitude as per W. (To say nothing of translation approximations.)

    Do you want to discuss Schopenhauer’s Philosophy surrounding mitlied and perhaps Nietsche’s objections?

  126. Dan

    But I don’t get Bloom at all. Empathy is bad?

    No!!! But depending on it exclusively leads to terrible decisions on occasions. Only touchy feely compassion means you choose the wrong underdog, the one practiced in whimpering, say, even when the stoical underdog may be the more deserving.

    As you observed the empathy free folk may make more moral decisions by being able to see a greater good beyond an immediate hurt. Yes inoculation may kill these children but it will save thousands more.

    A number of empathy researchers have voiced the opinion that this visceral feeling for the hurt of others (Discipline definitions apply) cannot be overdone. Way before Bloom I was writing about a mooted Hyper Pro Social as a negative force, this over-reliance on an immediate feeling of other’s harms. (There was absolutely nothing to say you had read those harms reliably even.) You may recall me writing extensively when I realised that my mooting of the HPS had a real identity in Social Justice Warriors and the Regressive Left. (Not my terms….I’m not here to deal with other people’s terminology.

    My argument against the HPS was that evidence and reason were more reliable moral computers of social utilitarian states and outcomes, and that folk less quick to feel and decide may have an advantage.

    Reasoned Compassion as an additional skill the HPS could learn.

    I debate with an SJW elsewhere on line. I call her an SJW and she calls me a Nazi. I often uptick her and she often upticks me. We’ve somewhat changed each other. She has taught me that SJWs even flinging Nazi epithets are endlessly well intentioned, which I always now state. I may have taught her the need for greater care in arguments. Not Islamophobia, but anti-Muslim bigot. That careful argument rather than passion is because you so passionately want the right thing to be done and done securely and forever more.

  127. Professor Nicholas Epley in Mindwise reveals research about how poorly we actually understand the minds of others. Just enough to make a difference, but more often wrong than right. This is the risk of HPS judgments of others’ relative suffering (one group to another) and why empathy (per discipline) researchers like (Professors) Simon Baron Cohen and Frans de Waal are wrong to call for endlessly more of the stuff.

  128. I am somewhat afraid of technology, and everyone is to some extent or
    another. Dan

    I´m not afraid of technology!
    In fact, not even afraid of the ideas and visions about future (utopias or dystopias), only impressed because some ideas seem coming from disturbed minds.

  129. Okay, let’s all teach kids not to rely on empathy but to focus more on sympathy. Then they can graduate to compassion. Absurd. I’m sorry, Phil. I don’t want to get you riled up. You can have the last word if you wish and then we can table this discussion of the differences (if any) between empathy, compassion and sympathy – maybe forever.

    Maria, I am afraid of my own shadow. Seriously, I am not afraid of fictional dystopias or technology itself. I am afraid of the here-and-now; and I am a little afraid to think of what it would be like if we were to be led by robots, or robot-like people without compassion. Just following orders. And we’d be like cogs in the wheel – and expendable.

    Probably, we will never be able to determine the psychic havoc of the concentration camps and the atom bomb upon the unconscious mind of almost everyone alive in these years. For the first time in civilized history, perhaps for the first time in all of history, we have been forced to live with the suppressed knowledge that the smallest facets of our personality or the most minor projection of our ideas, or indeed the absence of ideas and the absence of personality could mean equally well that we might still be doomed to die as a cipher in some vast statistical operation in which our teeth would be counted, and our hair would be saved, but our death itself would be unknown, unhonored, and unremarked, a death which could not follow with dignity as a possible consequence to serious actions we had chosen, but rather a death by deus ex machina in a gas chamber or a radioactive city […]

    The Second World War presented a mirror to the human condition which blinded anyone who looked into it. For if tens of millions were killed in concentration camps out of the inexorable agonies and contractions of super-states founded upon the always insoluble contradictions of injustice, one was then obliged also to see that no matter how crippled and perverted an image of man was the society he had created, it was nonetheless his creation, his collective creation (at least his collective creation from the past) and if society was so murderous, then who could ignore the most hideous of questions about his own nature?

    . . . Worse. One could hardly maintain the courage to be individual, to speak with one’s own voice, for the years in which one could complacently accept oneself as part of an elite by being a radical were forever gone. A. man knew that when he dissented, he gave a note upon his life which could be called in any year of overt crisis. No wonder then that these have been the years of conformity and depression. A stench of fear has come out of every pore of American life, and we suffer from a collective failure of nerve. The only courage, with rare exceptions, that we have been witness to, has been the isolated courage of isolated people. […]

    Norman Mailer “The White Negro” (Dissent Fall 1957)

  130. As you observed the empathy free folk may make more moral decisions by being able to see a greater good beyond an immediate hurt.

    My last comment about this. This sounds truly dangerous. Sounds like f-ing mind control, and I ain’t listening no more.

    Hyper-pro-social? You’re just talking about people with bad judgment, bleeding hearts or assholes. Empathy researchers? Indeed! You’re not saying anything, just bandying words around! Nietzsche was critical of pity in so far as it degraded the person one is pitying, and disempowered him or her. You could make a case for something like that; but what else are suggesting?

    …evidence and reason were more reliable moral computers of social utilitarian states and outcomes…

    Yeah yeah, evidence and reason are good. Moral computers! Social utilitarian states! Maybe your friend is on to something.

    Sorry, Phil. First time you actually frightened me.

  131. As I cannot safely edit at this time and realized I hadn’t finished I had to post another one. Then the site shut down yet again, right after posting. This was twenty minutes ago.

    As you observed the empathy free folk may make more moral decisions by being able to see a greater good beyond an immediate hurt.

    I never observed anything of the kind. I don’t hang out with empathy-free people so I haven’t had an opportunity to observe them. Moreover, not only is there nothing wrong with empathy; it’s indispensable. We all make bad judgments at times. Being overly emotional can be bad. We all know that. But few people in their right mind would allow a million people to die in order to save one. And rarely does one face choices like that in the real world. But what if we could rid the world of the sick and the mentally incompetent in order to improve the species? Arguments for genocide can be rational, can’t they? You say you’re for neural diversity but there may be others who are not.

    Okay. Done.

  132. Dan

    there nothing wrong with empathy

    and yet

    Being overly emotional can be bad. We all know that

    then

    Million to one? Poor show. Poor imagination.

    Anti-vaxxers continually weigh the harms wrong.

    SJWs continually balance the mere offence to a community with the ongoing oppression of its women and LGBT folk.

    As you observed the empathy free folk may make more moral decisions by being able to see a greater good beyond an immediate hurt.

    I never observed anything of the kind.

    I was entirely wrong. Apologies.

    I conflated things in my mind. The most you said was that psychopaths can be moral (as you have seen in that article.) And we both agree that psychopaths are mostly bad news and you will of course recall how over the years I have declared modern civilisation’s greatest problem is how we deal with them…. You can’t have forgotten that?

    I didn’t talk of psychopaths though but empathy free folk (by which I intended those lacking the visceral, initial emotional mirroring response to other individuals) More extreme versions of me. And you recall I said that that didn’t mean we didn’t have the output emotions the capacity and desire for compassion. (Indeed in full on autism no theory of another’s mind is possible, but as Simon Baron Cohen explains that for those less afflicted a theory of mind is slowly developed often through other more intellectual routes as I found and the capacity for demonstrative emotionalism unlocked.

    This is starkly illustrated in SBC’s book, Zero Degrees of Empathy. His contention was that the autistic lack just one degree of empathy (the detection and sharing of other’s emotional states). But psychopaths lack another. They lack in addition the caring about another’s emotional state. Aspies care. They want to know, to unlock the mysteries of their immediate world and better engage in it.

  133. Dan

    If you have watched bits of it you don’t have to watch it all as long as one of those bits was the end. The rest of the film is pretty straight forward but the end…..

    The nazis son ends up in the gas chamber by accident. Who do you feel sorry for and who do you feel deserved it? The boy could have grown to be a worse nazi than his dad. The mother might have made him a more compassionate man. The war might have ended to aid the mother and the father could have been viewed as a hero if the nazis won but what would the child of thought of his father having befriended a Jewish boy. When the nazi cries for his son do you feel guilty. Are you ready to forgive him because of his grief.

    The photo you posted is made more horrific when you find out that it was napalm being used. Why? If the child was laying in the floor dead with a bullet hole, would that make it any better? Were the people dropping the napalm justified to do so and however many more questions pop into your head the more you look at it.

    At face value it means one thing and questions can make it another. That’s why my brain went to the film with your questions.

  134. Dan

    Sorry, Phil. First time you actually frightened me.

    Oh, I thought you were scared of how I wanted to fix people’s brains or that my views would lead to lots of brain fixing? Your judgment of me seems to go from moment to moment, Like I’m new everyday.

  135. Olgun (and Phil too),

    I will watch it again, if I can stomach it. I did know how it ends but my my recollection is vague. You raise very interesting and difficult questions. Yes.

    As for innocent children or people getting killed with napalm rather than a bullet or a drone, that one I will try to answer now: all are horrible. But some forms of killing are more disturbing than others. Not worse, just more disturbing. Someone gets killed in a fight. Okay, that’s tragic. Someone is killed because he is black or gay or whatever. Is that worse? Well, yes and no. More worrisome, I suppose. Saying it is worse is almost like saying that the other one is “better”, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want to say that. But when murder is based on, say, racism or bigotry it is worse in so far as the motive of the killer is quite literally poisonous, and more dangerous for us as a species and as a culture. Everything has its peculiar nature and character. A hundred people are killed in a flood, but they could have been saved if they had lived in a better neighborhood with better infrastructure. So they were, in an indirect, sense, murdered, murdered by a system that is unfair, by poverty and neglect. And those that have a vested interest in the inherent inequality of such a system and in maintaining such neglect are guilty, but only up to a point. It isn’t the same as taking a machine gun and mowing them all down. To not see that would be symptomatic of the kind of thing Phil has expressed concern about, a kind of “hyper-pro-social” righteousness, driven by a superfluity of passion at the expense of reasoned analysis. (Okay, Phil?)

    I don’t know what to say really. Need to think about that. I think we just respond to things as they are and take things as they come; as long as we don’t start competing about whose suffering is worse or which holocaust in history is worse, this one or that one, I guess it’s not really a problem. Napalm, an atom bomb, setting a village on fire. Is one worse than the other? No.

    But one could be, depending on the motive. Suppose I had set the home of a vicious Nazi who had killed my whole family on fire. Not praiseworthy. Nothing to boast of. But not as bad as lynching a black person because he happens to be black. I don’t know what else to say.

    There is something about killing with mechanized precision and efficiency that is particularly chilling, horrifying. Does that make killing with emotion and in a sloppy haphazard way less insidious? I would say…. maybe? Yeah, probably. I guess you could argue that the efficient ones did it quicker so the victims suffered less. Let me think some more. But not now. I feel a little sick thinking about this shit. Bottom line; we (all of us, I mean) can argue about these questions and philosophize about them, and speculate: what if this had happened or that; but I think decent people like you, and hopefully me, know what’s right and wrong when it is staring us in the face, know evil when we see it. And I know that what I see in that iconic photo is wrong, it is evil, and it is unjust, period!

    I will say this: quantity does change quality. Once a philosopher, twice a pervert, as Voltaire said. “A man who murders one man may be moral or immoral; we can’t know; we have to know intimately what happened; generally we have the assumption that he was immoral, grievously immoral. […] But a man who murders millions is a man who defies our conception of what it is to be a man.” (Mailer)

    And no, the people who dropped the bomb may have felt that it was just. But I do not think it was. I think they would be wrong and that I am right to say that they are wrong. Who is to say what injustice and justice is? I am, you are, they were, we all are. And there will never be universal agreement about the atrocities of the world. One man’s atrocity is another’s…. whatever. And no child “deserves” to be killed. One should care about that little Nazi kid too. Hard, however. Don’t like Nazis much. But, yes, I think there should be plenty of room for compassion for the child of a Nazi who got trapped in a death camp, for, “God’s” sake. Yes.

    Let me know what you think of this comment.

    By the way, if I hadn’t saved this comment I’d have lost it – and these were not exactly easy questions you asked me, Olgun. I suggest saving all comments for the time-being.

    Let me try posting again….

  136. Hi, Olgun,

    I have been thinking about this, would like to add a few things.

    I think certain things are infinitely horrible in themselves. Auschwitz is one of those things. There are many things that are infinitely horrible in themselves. Throwing live babies in ovens because there was no room in the gas chambers is infinitely horrible in itself. (Reported by witnesses at Nuremberg trial.)You can’t put a ceiling on it. Why say: what about this? what about that? Nonsense. I hate when people (“people”; not you! I don’t mean you) say, when I am talking about a certain atrocity: “what about what Stalin did? What about the pain he caused?” I even heard someone say that one death is as bad as a million deaths.

    We can talk about Stalin. We can talk about the Native American Indians and slavery and Vietnam, etc. We can talk about Saddam Hussein and an infinite number of events and figures in history. We can talk about one death by murder or four or five. But these comparisons are odious. I won’t compare. As soon as one makes that shift while discussing something utterly horrendous (whatever that may be) one sacrifices part of one’s humanity. It is also ahistorical. If we don’t want these things repeating themselves we have to understand that every atrocity that takes place has its own peculiar set of elements.

    Napalm in the context of that photo, is horrible in itself. To ask what is better or worse, guns or napalm, seemed, at first, to be a worthwhile question to ask – and I still think it is; it raises the issue of perception; but upon reflection I have concluded that it is less meaningful than I had originally thought and even a bit absurd. If it was something other than napalm you could ask why that is worse than something else ad infinitum. If someone you knew had cancer and was suffering and dying, would you like it if someone said: “Cancer? Everyone talks about cancer. My father died of emphysema. What about his pain, his suffering? Cancer is always in the spotlight.”

    And I wouldn’t feel the least bit sorry for the Nazi father of the kid. I would rejoice in his suffering. A lesson for the sick son-of-a-bitch.

    And asking hypotheticals is all well and good but it has nothing to do with what actually is. You might as well ask: what if the nazi father was really a nice man and felt horrible about the holocaust and was afraid to be killed? The answer is: I’d take that into consideration; but I have no reason to think that that’s the case. No evidence.

    The war might have ended to aid the mother and the father could have been viewed as a hero if the nazis won but what would the child of thought of his father having befriended a Jewish boy.

    Unclear. Could you rephrase that?

    Best, Dan

  137. I would rejoice in his suffering.

    I feel no sorrow for the father, but nor would I rejoice at his suffering. The hating process needs no further fuel. Justice is best served cold.

  138. Hey, Phil. How are you?

    Well I don’t think I would really rejoice. You don’t have to take everything I say literally– but then again, you’re right to call me on that. I’d probably feel nothing, to tell you the truth.

  139. Dan

    Been having trouble with the site log in and internet in North Cyprus since last night. Just wrote a reply, went to save it before posting but it wouldn’t let me. My phone screen froze. I lost it. Will try later as we are off out soon.

  140. And we both agree [sic] that psychopaths are mostly bad news and you will of course recall how over the years I have declared modern civilisation’s greatest problem is how we deal with them

    There are many forms of psychopathology. Neurosis is a species of psychopathology. Kleptomania and drug addiction are forms of psychopathology. I don’t know how you arrived at these conceptions of yours. Anti-vaxxers weigh the harms wrong? That’s a judgment issue, or a phobia, or any number of things; but I wouldn’t attribute that to too much empathy. It has nothing to do with empathy. Maybe a control issue for some. I have never – and I am being very candid now – met anyone who was so confused and yet so enlightened. You’re a piece of work.

    I thought you were scared of how I wanted to fix people’s brains or that my views would lead to lots of brain fixing?

    That’s right. I was being imprecise when I said “first time.” Good on ya. What do you suppose to do about all those psychopaths? They are a scourge. They foul the earth with their existence. If you didn’t believe in neural diversity would you be in favor of mass extermination for the sake of the greater good of the species? A small price to pay, isn’t it? Now let’s not let empathy get in the way of creating a better race. 😉

  141. Hello, Olgun,

    The site would not work any better in Kansas than in North Cyprus. I wrote to someone and he said this: “Since the foundation merged with the Center for Inquiry, we have been working on both websites. We do know there are problems as we had to move the site to a new host and it has not been an easy task.”

    They’ll fix it.

    I look forward to hearing back from you. I hope I wasn’t too didactic. I liked your stimulating and challenging questions. Trying to reply did trigger some emotions, however.

  142. In just about every American mind, the USA is the world.

    That’s just projection. What’s actually obvious is that for just about every non-American the US is the world.

    -tee-hee-

    I almost didn’t write this because somebody is bound to justify their fixation on the US…

  143. somebody is bound to justify their fixation on the US

    Let this be a lesson, Sean.

    Well… Until the mid seventies it was the only important part of the world to me. When it came to the end of the eighties and a chance to move there and become rich on the back of executive toys (ferchrissakes), suddenly it seemed to have emptied of all the things I loved.

  144. That’s right. I was being imprecise when I said “first time.” Good on ya

    (Cleaned up) What!!!!!!?????

    There’s a mistake. I have explicitly told you I have a desire not to fiddle with brains medically or surgically, but to encourage people by other mean to live with what they’ve got, unless they are in distress because of it. Have I just been out aspied? Is this just an insult? Did you miss my earlier clarifications of your earlier errors here? I don’t get it.

    Professor Robert D. Hare can clear up your misunderstandings about psychopathy. (SBC is good too.)

    This is good

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Without-Conscience-Disturbing-World-Psychopaths/dp/1572304510

    The Hare PCL-R is the most used diagnostic tool.

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

    When discussing these folk, two numbered amongst friends of old, I have always phrased it as how can we make better use of this resource. (So, e.g. insist on advisors with certain powers and reporting tasks to all those jobs that utilise those alpha-male/female capacities, Presidents of countries and companies, reporting to stakeholder representatives. Simply by recognising that these sorts of people fit into those sorts of slots usefully can allow us to better design the supporting roles.)

    I want to de-medicalise much of mental health, making neuro-diversity much more accepted and accommodated in everyday life, but without losing the value medical research insight it offers for all of us.

  145. Mods, I have posted pretty much the same thing several times. They’ll be in the spam bin.

    Could you post the last version please? I must edit fully before posting…

  146. Phil

    Psychopathy is: mental illness or disorder.

    I don’t need any clearing up. You do.

    I said others might not feel too strongly about “neural diversity.” And if we need to put “rational compassion” ahead of empathy (simple human feeling) than that could lead to wholesale brain tampering if we’re lucky and genocide if we’re not so lucky.

  147. Then, not than.

    Phil #167

    No, it is not an insult. Absolutely not. I am just baffled. Now what is this:

    Did you miss my earlier clarifications of your earlier errors here?

    Yes I did. In fact I don’t believe they exist. You haven’t addressed any of my ideas. Look at your comment 167. All you’re doing is reasserting your limited, inaccurate and rigid definition of psychopathy using the argument of authority. You’ve argued the same way about empathy, for the most part.

    You always say that I don’t get it and that I am in error. (I do the same thing!) Is that a symptom of aspergers? (I’d truly like to know.) Hare’s definition is one definition only. Bloom’s conception of empathy may actually have no merit at all.

    Your remarks about empathy make absolutely no sense to me. How is one to know whether one is feeling empathy or compassion? And what do you do with the “unwanted” feelings, reject them? learn to ignore them through some process of behavior modification? I said “mind control”. Is that so far off? Perhaps some other form of tampering might do the job. I’m not saying that that is what you are advocating; but your general advocacy of “rational compassion” is something I am questioning. It’s an odious and superfluous concept. How is that any different than simply saying that people should be reasonable and not to let their emotions get the better of them – but that it is good to care about others? It sounds like a mind game.

    Phil, What is all this? This, for example:

    Yes inoculation may kill these children but it will save thousands more.

    So?

    And this:

    …evidence and reason were more reliable moral computers of social utilitarian states and outcomes…

    Moral computer is an ugly phrase. Sounds cold. Cruel even.

  148. Dan

    In fact I don’t believe they exist.

    A liar and a megalomaniacal Frankenstein.

    But we’ve been discussing this stuff for years. Folk are surely tired of all my repetitions

    But I also observe that those with psychopathic tendencies are a resource we make use of to our collective advantage

    Is the first mention of the idea I can find in a quick search (But I’ve got a number of hits since then May 2016)

    I hope you haven’t forgotten your own, “We have become phrase slaves”.

    “Ironically excellent.” (Phil Rimmer) from the same thread.

    Sounds cold, cruel even…

    Got me again. Utilitarianism is a bit calculating and cold, which is why those with lower empathy might be able to see a bigger picture more clearly. The proposition.

  149. Psychopathy, sometimes considered synonymous with sociopathy, is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterised by persistent antisocial behaviour, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits.

    You’ve argued the same way about empathy, for the most part.

    I have quoted always a Professor, the leader in his field. I don’t know how else I can get you to pause for thought and reflection.

    I even tried changing the words so you would see the concepts behind. The concepts are what matter and what fit together. But you are fixed to semantics not able to talk concepts.

  150. Okay, I do owe you an apology.

    I got psychopathy and psychopathology mixed up. It happens. I’m human.

    (It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong.)

    I don’t recall any substantive rebuttals of my arguments on this thread. That’s all I meant.

    Suggestion: let’s not talk for a good solid work.

    Not a Frankenstein monster. (Great movie! Karloff was brilliant. Great character actor.)

  151. Dan

    How is one to know whether one is feeling empathy or compassion?

    I gave you a glossary of how I and these others use the terms. It mightn’t be how you use them but that should not be the concern how this these mooted concepts could work together.

    By finding more testable (existing!) detail in these processes, older usages of terms may not have the necessary finesse and terms may need splitting up. Usefully modern usage has already started to split apart the terms. Sympathy has declined as an all encompassing term and the old term compassion has been coming back at an equal rate to the new term empathy. Empathy was created to mean that initial automatic emotional sharing engagement with another and compassion the resultant wanting to do something about it, mitigate, nurture console or whatever or whatever. Actions are done out of compassion.

    Using the terms others use means that when you read their books or their papers you will be able to trace things through more easily,

  152. Big Man

    I don’t recall any substantive rebuttals of my arguments on this thread. That’s all I meant.

    True.

    But we can’t begin until the base concepts are laid out and if the one immovable term sits across all three ideas and cannot be finessed how can we examine the detail?

  153. Week, not work.

    Interesting parapraxis but what could it mean?

    Phil, are you perhaps taking this too personally? I acknowledged your belief in neural diversity and I acknowledge your compassion. I just don’t like this whole thing about empathy and “rational compassion”.

  154. Phil, my good friend,

    Bloom has started something. He has a disciple. Kindness has a new meaning too, apparently.

    Have you read the new book by that eminent neurosurgeon and polymath Dr. Wilson Freumeyer?

    It’s called The Myth of Kindness

    Freumeyer’s main argument is that kindness, like empathy, makes us focus on the one person who we are being kind to. He uses Bloom’s term “spotlighting”. And our so-called acts of kindness are poor substitutes for those that arise from Compassion. He agrees with Bloom that we must try never to be kind; only compassionate.

  155. I’m afraid my Internet doesn’t reach that far, Dan. Nor could I find “Being Nice can Fnck Right Off” by Hans Alterndorffer, (building on his handy little volume “Punching Old Ladies for Pleasure and Profit.”)

    Hm? I could actually see that last one becoming a Christmas Gift book….

    Seriously…

    Getting us to be a little less tribal and immediate in our concerns in favour of remembering to remember that little Vietnamese girl, that starving Biafran boy (and his devastated mother in my head), then the millions of them, when in the voting booth say, is the point. We live in extraordinary new and sprawling circumstances at the teetering edge of our evolved and our ecology’s capacities. We have the tools to hand to do a better job if we are diligent… Reason.

    Most people would die rather than think. But they’re not Russell’s fools. Thoughtless, they’ll have others die in their stead.

    Why is this not the highest of endeavours? The shock of a book title ” Against Empathy” is of course to begin to make you think. What on Earth can Bloom be thinking?

    Its about creating a better moral balance in our thinking, strengthen those unused mental/moral muscles. It is against nothing of course other than an exclusivity, but rather a leveraging of the empathetic detectors to more see those we too easily put from our mind’s eye. Engaging our rational ability to think things through can bring to life, like a playwright, the lives of absent others, enough hopefully to bring about those compassionate acts needed. Our pale blue dot of a home needs us to up our game.

  156. It is against nothing, of course, other than an exclusivity, but rather a leveraging of the empathetic detectors to more see those we too easily put from our mind’s eye.

    It is against nothing, of course, other than an exclusivity, but rather is for a leveraging of the empathetic detectors to more see those we too easily put from our mind’s eye.

  157. Phil

    I guess that sounds okay, although I am not sure what practical tools Bloom has in mind to facilitate the – shall I say – sublimation of this feeling that you and I call empathy (a feeling unknown and uncomprehended by far too many) so that it can be used in a more resourceful and useful way as we strive to achieve maximum results during this precarious time…

    We better get moving on this. A lot at stake and not much time, as you so eloquently said:

    “We live in extraordinary new and sprawling circumstances at the teetering edge of our evolved and our ecology’s capacities.”

    In spite of the occasional discord and apparent clash of ideas we seem to wind up more or less on the same side more often than not.

  158. Dan

    What a nightmare this site has become for me. Hope it’s mended soon. I am going to attempt a post but it will have to be in its raw form. I will not try to edit. All typos will have to remain.

    The reason I made the comparison between napalm and a bullet was not from our point of view but from the press. Which one would have made a better story and had more chance of being reported. When first reported, they even cropped the photo so the press in uniform were cut out. Make of that what you will.

    On the other points of the film. Of course there is compassion for the child but my empathy was as a father. My stomach hurt and I worried for the boy. At the same time I had a little feeling of “serve you right” for the nazi father. Difficult to feel both and not get uncomfortable and confused. But you didn’t mention the mother? That is still the most confusing mixed up feelings. Empathy for a mother protecting her child. Nature at its strongest but she stayed with the nazi father inorder to do so. She saw and smelled what going on, felt remorse but did nothing about it. I sometimes think she was worse than the father.

    Can you have sympathy without first having empathy?

  159. Olgun

    I see your point about how different things thing would be covered differently by the press, and therefore judged or misjudged differently by history. I agree; that is, at the very least, genuinely problematic.

    As for the character of the mother. I must confess that I have not seen the film in its entirety and hardly remember the mother; that is why I didn’t mention her. But now I am interested in seeing it again, although hesitant too. I am depressed; I am so worried about history repeating itself here and now – and I am not talking about Jews and Germans or anything like that; I’m talking about the religious right. I think they would establish a dictatorship if they could. There is an article about Pence on the ‘Danger of President Pence’ thread. And one of the commenters here named James posted a comment in the form of a quote that is positively chilling in its prophetic aspect. I would suggest reading both to anyone.

    If you could explain the difference between empathy and compassion to me I’d be be obliged to you. I have a problem with that as you might have noticed had you observed this almost comical yet difficult interaction with Phil on this thread.

    I think that love of one’s own child is very different than “loving” another’s child. The latter is a different kind of sympathy. I don’t want to make a moral judgment too quickly, as I have not seen the film. But if that mother is able to love and protect her own child but is indifferent to the suffering of others’ children and is even complicit insofar as her husband is involved in that suffering – and, she feels nothing about that, than that would surely be deserving of the words: ironic and insidious. Of course if her motive to remain uninvolved is fear rather than indifference, that would change things; if that isn’t made clear to the viewer I can see how that would leave one feeling disturbed. Maybe she agrees that extermination is the right thing to do, for all we know. That would constitute making this loving mom a willing participant in spirit viv-a-vis these cruel and senseless executions.

    My advice about the site while they are still working on it:

    When you’re able to get on, write your comment, edit, and then save. Try to post. If you can’t post, just wait. Wait a good ten minutes or more. It’ll get posted. If it doesn’t, post again and repeat until it’s up there. That is what I do and it works. (If you see a mistake after it is posted, you can use the edit box, but it might not post; so always make sure it’s saved; if it is saved you can always repost at some point.)

  160. Can you have sympathy without first having empathy?

    Yep. As a teen and into my twenties I was very slow to feel another’s hurts or happiness (empathy encompasses the range). I could though express sympathy (I think genuinely.) I understood the hurts that people had, thought it unfair. With folk in dire straights I was often the first to show compassion and act in their favour. I stood up to bullies on behalf of the bullied and never for a moment felt the blows.

    Into my forties the feelings of others’ hurt started to happen then happen much sooner. Empathy, or something like it, started to seep in. I started to feel almost like a real boy.

  161. …slow to feel another’s hurts … could though express sympathy … the first to show compassion…

    Who said that compassion must lead to action? These definitions of yours…. They are ridiculous. Slow to feel another’s hurt but quick to act out of compassion? Patently absurd. Acting out of compassion but being unable able to feel another’s hurt – yet able to express sympathy? This is just nonsense. Sounds like you found some nice categories that you can wrap up with a nice tight bow, but at the expense of reason.

    I am more convinced than ever of the fallacious nature of these ridiculous distinctions which are based on false definitions. I stand by what I have said about these definitions. I am, I believe, right and you and whoever it was that fed you this stuff are, I am quite sure, wrong.

    Please do not be offended. I am trying to be helpful.

  162. After several Chardonnays I refrain from posting. But if I were to post, I would quote Will Durant on Augustine: “he proclaimed, like Kant, that the soul is the most directly known of all realities and clearly stated the idealistic position–that since matter is known only through the mind, we cannot logically reduce mind to matter.” Being neither idealist nor dualist, I would have posited that the estimable (and truly hilarious) Mr. Durant was poking fun at Augustine, but since I’m not posting I won’t.

  163. Compassion is thus related in origin, form and meaning to the English noun patient (= one who suffers), from patiens, present participle of the same patior, and is akin to the Greek verb πάσχειν (= paskhein, to suffer) and to its cognate noun πάθος (= pathos).

    Online Etymology Dictionary. mid-14c., from Old French compassion “sympathy, pity” (12c.), from Late Latin compassionem (nominative compassio) “sympathy,” noun of state from past participle stem of compati “to feel pity,” from com “with, together” (see com-) + pati “to suffer” (see passion).

    In your search for the meaning of such things as compassion don’t rely solely on books about autism or books by medical doctors; beware of manipulative authors with agendas.

  164. Kant demonstrated that such things as God and the soul can never be known.

    The only thing directly known is our own consciousness. Everything else is known indirectly.

    How could “the soul” be known directly, if according to Kant, all knowledge is phenomenon – that is, conditioned by the pure a priori forms of space and time? Is the soul is outside of space and time, eternal, then, according to Kant, it belongs within the realm of the unknowable thing-in-itself.

    By the way, empirical reality + the thing-in-itself = duality.

    Opposed to critical idealism is realism. The realists starts from the object and forgets the subject and it leads to the absurd conclusion that that which appears and that which truly is in itself is identical.

    The mind is just another word for the knowing subject, according to Kant. The knowing subject is not the soul. In other words, it cannot be known; for in order for the mind (that which knows) to know itself, the subject of knowing would have to become its own object.

    Durant was an historian. And his comment is not funny; it is infuriating.

  165. (Could not edit or improve upon above comment, as the site is undergoing repair.)

    Everyone

    Let me say something.

    You mustn’t just cherry pick quotes about Kant or even Descartes or take an obscure and atypical quote out of context and say “look all you Dawkins site reason lovers, Kant was a jerk; he thought that we can know the soul and that the mind must be immaterial. Ha ha.”

    That is, by the way, the very antithesis of everything Kant spent so many years of labor trying to refute.

    I do what I said should not be done myself occasionally, but that does not make it right. It is not intellectually honest or fair.

  166. Dan, Ollie

    And yet what do autists lack? (Hint: Emotional engagement, but not emotions)

    What is that feeling of concern for another’s tribulations needing expression to them?

    What is that feeling to mitigate those tribulations by action?

    So many words have etymological roots that have them more or less occupy the same space. English splits apart, in use, clusters of such self-similar words, biasing them this way and that. Were the definitions those of psychologists only I would hesitate over pressing them, but the psychologists followed a popular lead (though I’ll admit the coining of a technical term “empathy” helped jostle terms around in the anglophone population in the twentieth century.) This is why I checked out many popular definitions before settling on some median definitions that seem to reflect popular usage.

    I always claimed I could, though lacking any initial emotional engagement, indeed arouse my own passions through intellectual understanding of harms and unfairness to others and boil. I could intellectually put myself in their shoes. I could see the particular (though often the general would become tied in as well, this poor fellow and all such) You may scoff at that, but not only is it true for me but, I claim, in a more modest way, how men are civilised. Those with too much initial emotional engagement may make poorer subsequent evaluations of all the harms and fairness we now deem it civilised to consider.

    Only by seeing the distinct varieties of our capacities and being able to name them and consider their variability can we come to terms with them and best use them.

  167. I will cherry pick any quote from any source expresses something I find interesting, thanks.

    I think a short break from accusations of dishonesty and unfairness is in order.

    The Story of Civilization may be written as history (and a luminous history it is), but Durant at his best is a humorist. Describing the tail end of undistinguished Roman emperors:

    Olybrius…ruled for two months (472) and surprised himself by dying a natural death.

    And in my personal favorite, Will describes the vigor of Elizabethan England:

    Nearly every house was a miniature factory where people prepared herb medicines, distilled liquor, and almost succeeded in developing an art of cookery in England.

    Peter

  168. peter,

    Perhaps unwittingly, Durant is unkind to Kant, certainly misrepresenting him, I think. How do you rate his philosophical prowess? Does he represent the subject well otherwise?

    But your man is otherwise good stuff. Very droll. Clearly a sweet man.

  169. “…he [Augustine] proclaimed, like Kant, that the soul is the most directly known of all realities…”

    This wasn’t hard to find. It’s in the preface to the first edition of Kant’s Critique, and it supports what I said and implies a view which is the direct opposite of what Durant said (Italics added):

    . . . While I say this, I think I see upon the countenance of the reader signs of dissatisfaction mingled with contempt, when he hears declarations which sound so boastful and extravagant; and yet they are beyond comparison more moderate than those advanced by the commonest author of the commonest philosophical programme, in which the dogmatist professes to demonstrate the simple nature of the soul, or the necessity of a primal being. Such a dogmatist promises to extend human knowledge beyond the limits of possible experience; while I humbly confess that this is completely beyond my power. Instead of any such attempt, I confine myself to the examination of reason alone and its pure thought; and I do not need to seek far for the sum-total of its cognition, because it has its seat in my own mind. Besides, common logic presents me with a complete and systematic catalogue of all the simple operations of reason; and it is my task to answer the question how far reason can go, without the material presented and the aid furnished by experience.

  170. First of all, at least as far as I was concerned this was never about Kant. I was reading about Augustine (“Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet”) and saw an opportunity to cite an observation in support of my own opinion that there is nothing magical in consciousness, and that attempting to draw a distinction between the flesh-and-blood brain and the mind is useless. Kant just got caught in the undertow.

    Second, you’re reacting about Kant the same way I would if you claimed Patrick O’Brian was a talentless hack. I defer to everyone here about anything at all having to do with philosophy–I know little and care less. All my leaky memory retains about Kant is that his life seemed to be a dialectic between reason and feeling, philosophy and religion. As a child of both Pietism and the Enlightenment, he

    …tried to save religion from Voltaire. –Durant

    And the phrase “completely beyond my power” is a cop-out. He’s trying to have it both ways: he ridicules the dogmatist while simultaneously maintaining the possibility the dogmatist may be right. I will say this for the Critique–it pissed everybody off in equal measure:

    The Critique of Pure Reason has been proclaimed by dogmatists as the attempt of a skeptic who undermines the certainty of all knowledge; by the skeptics as a piece of arrogant presumption that undertakes to erect a new form of dogmatism upon the ruins of previous systems; by the supernaturalists as a subtly plotted artifice to displace the historical foundations of of religion, and to establish naturalism without polemic; by the naturalists as a new prop for the dying philosophy of faith; by the materialists as an idealistic contradiction of the reality of matter; by the spiritualists as an unjustifiable limitation of all knowledge to the corporeal world, concealed under the name of the domain of experience…Karl Reinhold, 1786

    Did I leave anybody out?

    Third, I’m just a kid from California of a mere 60 summers with most of my adult life spent in television production. As a consequence most of what is left of my brain has turned to mush. I find the company here congenial, the conversations stimulating, and the website somewhat clunky. I have no wish to leave, and I will from time to time commit my opinions to unforgiving text. Please stay calm and grant me the space to do so.

    Peter

  171. The Republicans are driven by motives that I literally cannot comprehend. The healthcare proposal and the tax “reform” proposals are nothing but a con job. These people (and Cruz is among the very worst) are not much different than refined criminals. Key phrase: con job:

    After Wednesday’s meeting, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden issued a statement saying,

    “I made it clear in today’s meeting that there is an enormous chasm between the rhetoric and the reality of the Trump tax plan. All the happy talk about helping the middle class and avoiding a giveaway to the wealthy sounds great, but it is not what the White House and Republicans have on offer. Democrats agree that our tax code is broken, and you fix it with reforms focused on simplicity and putting more dollars in middle class paychecks. But as of today, the Trump plan would increase taxes on hardworking families while giving away trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the biggest corporations and the ultra-wealthy. You’re not going to reach bipartisanship by plowing forward with this con job on the middle class.”

    Hi, Peter,

    Of course. I will absolutely give you space here. No worries.

    I liked the Reinhold quote. It’s funny. I need to look him up.

    Garrick, it’s been a while. How are you? Terrible times here in the States.

  172. Plus, the money lost to the Treasury from the tax breaks will come from Medicare and Medicaid!

    Phil, these Republicans – just about all of them – are real psychopaths. I heard Cruz debating Sanders the other day. I remember thinking: this guy Cruz is absolutely a psychopath. No question about it! Congress and the White House is occupied by psychopaths!

  173. real psychopaths

    Psychopathy is not really an illness in the common understanding. Its intelligent “sufferers” rarely suffer and mostly thrive as bankers. Its stupider sufferers become criminals.

    My observation from half a year ago was that the thing we most need to fear was reaching a critical mass of these people. I believe it was not just Hitler that changed the zeitgeist but all those other heartless men changing the norm amongst their upper echelon peers almost over night. Creating a rapid uniform message denies people their old reference points.

    Psychologically, at a personal level we have always been homeostatic. (This is the primary proto-purpose of all life. Its a super simple rule to implement and has high levels of success.) Our primary instinct is to get back to “normal”. The issue is what is normal? A comprehensive rewrite of what normal is, can very easily deny people the truth of what it quite recently was. Few folk study academically these things and truth is got by a simple principle of Bayesian statistical corroboration… you hear it from several sources… people you trust and neighbours… its true! A full set of psychopaths at the top can contrive far more consistent messaging because the end ALWAYS justifies the means. Zero qualms there.

  174. The White House and Congress is occupied by psychopaths. Watch that video, please. This is who Trump appoints, a climate change denier bought and paid for by the Koch bros. Watch senator question him in the short video I posted, if you haven’t already. Only problem is that he was probably nominated.

    Btw, the EPA website has been corrupted from within! Look! They are praising Trump’s climate change denying appointee! Horrible! This country is falling apart.

    https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/environmental-leaders-praise-bill-wehrum-epa-nomination

  175. Its intelligent “sufferers” rarely suffer and mostly thrive as bankers. Its stupider sufferers become criminals.

    How does this help us? More confusion, that’s all.

    The intelligent “psychopaths” became politicians and bankers, etc., and they make others suffer. How are they not criminals, even if they are not breaking laws? They are still conning us and lying, doing great harm. I don’t know if “psychopath” is that useful a term. You say the leaders are not the criminals. What is Cruz and that guy in the video? I am just left feeling confused.

    The “Republicans” and “conservatives” in power in the US at this time are sick and are engaged in active destruction and those that support them are responsible, in varying degrees, for their complicity.

    Your fixation on categories and labels and your questionable distinctions continue to leave me frustrated.

  176. Did you see the EPA website? It’s now government propaganda. That should be illegal. They praise Pruitt (who has corrupted the agency and the website from within) and the guy in the video.

  177. Dan

    You say the leaders are not the criminals.

    No I didn’t…. not at all. I have often called for bankers to be called to book. I also thought the parallel of bankers and criminals separated by intellect alone spoke volumes. (Besides, they each were just representatives of broader classes.)

    (Ah! an edit didn’t make it. I inserted a just in front of criminals.)

    Psychopath is a hugely useful term. How can you deal with problem people if you don’t understand how they work? How can the case be pieced together if you muddle the justice thing in with the comprehension?

    You emotive reactors seem unable to analyse clearly and react clearly. You’d make terrible detectives.

    You project bizarre ideas on to me almost increasingly at the moment and neglect all the things I have said in the past.

    General question. Do you read your own past posts to check if you have forgotten something or changed you views or understanding? I do all the time. I find it essential not only for reasons of integrity but also to review others’s views in response to my own that I often find I may have misapprehended.

    (OK new TV detective/investigator after apsie Greg House, a psychopath, working for the EPA in the Dark Days of Trump, 2025. Uncovers the sins of the psychopaths, industrialists, politicians to the highest level (can know their minds and play their games) but is aligned with the good guys and saving the planet because he’s cleverer.)

  178. Phil, I was confused by your comment. I thought you were saying that only stupid people are criminals. I know that is not what you think. Sorry.

  179. Phil, anyone

    General Kelly, that sonofabitch, hasn’t even been pressured to resign. Abnormal times. He slandered Congressperson Frederica Wilson, didn’t he? He said she boasted about raising money for the FBI building and she didn’t. Trump’s still attacking her on twitter. Kelly goes up there and talks about his dead son. That has nothing to do with Trump. Damage control is what it was. A poor attempt but it wasn’t entirely unsuccessful. He exploited the fact that people respect figures like him, milked it for all it’s worth. (Then he says: “there is no right way to comfort the spouse of a fallen officer”, or something to that effect. Yes there is, you idiot. You say something like: “I am so sorry for your loss. I offer you my heartfelt condolences. Your son was a hero; he died serving his country, and he will not be forgotten. His memory and his legacy will be honored. You have my support and my gratitude to your son for his heroic service, and you have the support of an entire nation.” Done.)

    Then Sarah Sanders says we shouldn’t question a four star general. That’s great.

    A bunch of bums. I’ve run out of epithets.

    I don’t know why people respect military people so much. Some soldiers are genuine heroes. But generally speaking, I think we should be far more discriminating when it comes to appraising and judging military figures and even our troops (most of whom, presumably, are not very well educated and see no other future for themselves and our being exploited), and we should reexamine our attitude towards the military as an institution. I would question the politics and the mental health of anyone who decides to make US military service one’s career, especially given our military history (since WWII). I’m no historian but I think we glorify this shit way too much.

    I think this incident in Niger may have been the result of malfeasance and incompetence on the part of Trump. He added Chad, an ally, to the travel ban. A month or so later this incident occurred. Probably a million times worse than Uncle Benghazi. Dat’s called Hy-po-cri-sy.

    Oct 12, 2017 – NIAMEY/DAKAR (Reuters) – Chad has withdrawn hundreds of troops from neighboring Niger, where they were helping local forces fight Boko Haram Islamist militants, humanitarian sources and officials said. … Chad warned at the time the order could affect its security commitments…

  180. Hello MODS!

    The technical staff and yourselves may be interested in this news item, as this RDFS site uses Captcha

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-41775968

    Computer scientists have developed artificial intelligence that can outsmart the Captcha website security check system.

    Captcha challenges people to prove they are human by recognising combinations of letters and numbers that machines would struggle to complete correctly.

    Researchers developed an algorithm that imitates how the human brain responds to these visual clues.

    The neural network could identify letters and numbers from their shapes.

    The research, conducted by Vicarious – a Californian artificial intelligence firm funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – is published in the journal Science .

  181. I was in the elevator just now. There was a young elderly woman with two small children, a boy and a girl. The woman (maybe the grandmother) was horrible, like a drill sergeant. Those kids are probably going to grow up deranged, and then we will all suffer as a result, will have two more assholes to put up with. All she did was order the kids around, non-stop. The orders were mostly to the boy. And she was nasty! It seemed gratuitous and mean spirited. Do this, do that, do this, do that! Then the little girl started parroting the woman and berating her brother. I said good-night and exited. Say good evening to the man, she barked.

    I thought about Norman Mailer and his insightful remarks about the appeal of fascism.

    “Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.”

  182. Dan #212

    I think you can afford to give the child the benefit of the doubt here Dan. I can’t say that I escaped all the trappings but to watch and not want to become like my dad was probably one of my earliest goals in life.

  183. That’s great, Olgun – so glad you’re seeing an improvement.

    Thanks for letting us know: we’ll pass on the good news to the techie team.

    The mods

  184. Ollie,

    If kids are treated indulgently when very young (until five or seven) and more stringently when older they are more likely to be able to fend off the adult bully indoctrination. Bullied from very young the cortisol bath in the forming infant brain can be devastating and permanent as the Romanian orphanage children have demonstrated. Very low empathy kids result, Baron Cohen’s double zero, lacking detection of others’ emotions and the absence of any positive emotions of their own.

  185. Phil#216

    I am number five of six so got more of mum than dad those early years Phil. It has been a fight with her over sentivity as well.

  186. Olgun, Phil (212, 213)

    If I see cruelty I point it out. I have room for nothing but my observation. The kids might be fine; I hope so; but if they aren’t – and many kids do not turn out okay – I know who’s to blame: that sick sadist posing as a parent. Parents can do a lot of harm.

    Trump is lying to the people regularly via twitter. Hate his guts.

  187. Olgun #214
    Oct 29, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Great to have the site working properly, even on my iPhone.

    The site has seemed rather quiet lately.

    Perhaps some regulars have been discouraged by the technical problems! There have been times when some persistence has been needed to gain access or upload posts!

    Maybe more people need to be informed it is back running normally and the mods could email them to let them know!

  188. I adore Andy Hamilton.

    His old radio series “Old Harry’s Game” I discover nearly got itself animated.

    You’ll have to follow the link but here’s a taste of what might have been. Towards the end you can get to see the huge capacity for political satire it offered.

    https://vimeo.com/31443366

    It failed to fly as a business proposition, probably because of the prospect of poor US sales.

  189. Phil, I meant Physics teacher from France this past evening at a jazz club. Very nice man. I asked him if he thinks time exists independently of the mind. He said no and then went on to say something about particles and electrons. I wish I could remember what he said. But he did say no, for what that’s worth.

  190. The test, Dan, is to ask him how old the universe is. I don’t know any physicist who doesn’t think the irresistible growth of entropy marks the unwinding of spacetime’s spring.

    Asking if minds exist independently of time then, we all agree….no.

  191. Dan #221
    Oct 31, 2017 at 2:43 am

    I asked him if he thinks time exists independently of the mind. He said no and then went on to say something about particles and electrons.

    Tim does exist independently of the mind, and different minds can run at different speeds according to the stimulation and energy consumption of the bodies they occupy.

    Like car engines and clocks, brains can be adjusted to “rev up” to run faster, with increased blood flow, nutrients and oxygen.

    We should not conflate a machine, bio-process, or clock, running faster, with the rate of the passage of time on our planet.

    When you rev up a car engine, it is the revs which change, not the minutes!

  192. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41812369

    Facebook has said as many as 126 million American users may have seen content uploaded by Russia-based operatives over the past two years.

    The social networking site said about 80,000 posts were produced before and after the 2016 presidential election.

    Most of the posts focused on divisive social and political messages.

    Facebook released the figures ahead of a Senate hearing where it – together with Twitter and Google – will detail Russia’s impact on the popular sites.

    Those propagandist divisive messages clearly chime with the bigoted biases of voter- base Trumpies and Trump appointees, so it is no surprise that the vacuous minds akin to bears with sore heads, seek confrontations with more reasonable people, and that the right wing junk media copies the various items of false divisive news!

    There seem to be previously partially hidden connections emerging between the Russian troll factory, Wikileaks, the Trump campaign, Nigel Farage and the brexiteers!

    The latest figures released by Facebook have been seen by Reuters news agency and the Washington Post newspaper.

    The 80,000 posts were published between June 2015 and August 2017.

    Facebook said they were posted by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin.

    “These actions run counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for,” wrote Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch, Reuters reports.

    “And we are determined to do everything we can to address this new threat.”

    Oct 2017: Google finds evidence that Russian agents
    spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads
    in a bid to sway the election, media reports say

    Oct 2017: Facebook says it will provide details
    of more than 3,000 adverts it says were bought in Russia
    around the time of the election

    Oct 2017: Twitter bans Russia's RT and Sputnik media outlets
    from buying advertising amid fears
    they attempted to interfere in the election

    On Monday, Google also revealed that Russian trolls uploaded more than 1,000 videos on YouTube on 18 different channels, according to the Washington Post.

    Meanwhile, Twitter found and suspended all 2,752 accounts that it had tracked to Russia-based Internet Research Agency, a source familiar with the company’s written testimony was quoted as saying by Reuters.

    Meanwhile, as there is a major investigation into the perversion of the US electoral system by foreign agencies, Trump sit in noisy denial, and trots off to aim abuse at the gay citizens of the USA!

    What a dysfunctional, pathetic, and dangerous waste of time he is, in the role of president!

  193. Science question:

    Is it okay to plug a desk top computer directly into the wall or should one use a power strip?

    I was cleaning my “office” just now (I call it my office) and came across a note I wrote on a napkin:

    Imagine this: the cessation of life and consciousness; no living or knowing being anywhere in the universe. Sun, moon, and stars illuminate this world, as before, only of course to no purpose, since there exists no eyes to see such things.

    Time does exist. But talking about the age of the universe is no different than talking about what happened yesterday.

    Time is one of the great problems of science and philosophy. And time is real, and that adds to the complexity of the problem.

  194. Dan #225
    Oct 31, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Science question:

    Is it okay to plug a desk top computer directly into the wall or should one use a power strip?

    Computers should have a surge protector either built in, or in the power strip connecting them.

    Otherwise lightning or other causes of surges can fry their electronics.

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

    A surge protector (or surge suppressor or surge diverter[1]) is an appliance or device designed to protect electrical devices from voltage spikes. A surge protector attempts to limit the voltage supplied to an electric device by either blocking or shorting to ground any unwanted voltages above a safe threshold.

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