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  • Dan Dredger wrote a new post, The True Meaning of BS 3 years, 9 months ago

    Photo credit: Izhar Cohen
    By Michael Shermer
    Babble, bafflegab, balderdash, bilge, blabber, blarney, blather, bollocks, bosh, bunkum. These are a few of the synonyms (from just the b’s) for the demotic […]

    • Nice piece but I don’t see how you can discuss Chopra without Dan Dennett’s neologism “deepity.”

    • rjohn19 @ #3.

      Nice piece but I don’t see how you can discuss Chopra without Dan Dennett’s neologism “deepity.”

      My first thought too.

    • bonnie @ # 5.

      It’s good t be reminded of the Sagan criteria.

      The pale blue dot was mentioned on BBC television’s The Sky at Night last evening.

    • it is incumbent on us all to transduce our neuro-phonemic excitatory action potentials into laconic phonological resonances unencumbered by extraneous and obfuscating utterances.

      My very thoughts….

      I blame post-modernism, that concoction of try-too-hard words by French academics, feeling neglected and seeking to match the rhetorical clout of professional science-speak.

    • It is only when you lack the clear understanding of a subject that you try to explain it’s essentials via BS. In some cases you may; through diligence, learn the subject thoroughly enough to articulate it without BS. But when the subject itself is based on nothing but BS (like, say, oh I don’t know… religion?), then you can never escape BS however diligently you try.

    • “Better to lie and be deceitful than be truthful and full of shit”

    • Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation

      I love it. So poetic. Such excellent use of -tentions, resolving via alliteration the mechanism of man into his station. Lewis Carroll would have been delighted.

      It would look better in Headline Case: Attention and Intention are the Mechanics of Manifestation. Say it aloud, sounds great, doesn’t it? For best effect, try it over the PA system at any railway station in Britain.

      I want it on a T-shirt. Or maybe I should start a band, just to use the name, abbreviated to MoM. Nearly as good as the Axles of Elvis, or the Quan Tum Tuggers.

    • ” Conversely, and revealingly, they concluded that those most receptive to pseudo-profound BS are also more prone to “conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.” ”

      This leads me to think that the intelligent people have to regard Deepak as BS and believe in what is wide spread, or mainstream. Any idea that goes out of the common path, if you leave the flock, you’re less intelligent. After this, would you be able to express any idea or doubt, even if you had any slight suspicion or questions upon widely accepted conclusions/stories ? No, you would be ridiculed.

      I’m not a Deepak fan, but if he uttered to me one of so-called pseudo-profound statements, I’d ask him to put it in a way for me to understand. Complex thoughts may be difficult to explain, so I’d try to find out what he exactly has in mind. I would challenge him to put his thoughts into more digestable terms.

      Conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, etc … Any hypothesis is good to me and I’d definitely look into them and openly and critically think about them. I’d point out whatever I find interesting or even convincing, without fear for being taken as a less intelligent person.

      Similarly, I’d certainly question everything we read in newspapers, everything I buy at the market as food, and any medicin I’m taking in.

      Michael Shermer is too keen to put people in boxes. Relax, you don’t have to jump into judging and considering people as less intelligent, because they don’t take mainstream media granted as truth.

      About the belief in God and religion, that doesn’t seem to hinder the most important scientific discoveries back in time, and even today there are believers in the scientific world. Making a link between the intelligence of people and religious beliefs doesn’t work for me.

      I think, rather than coming up with silly separations between intelligents and dumbs, Michael should put his efforts into respect, and issue an invitation for honest research and discussions among all people, about any kind of topic without any fear for being taken as a fool.

    • Michael #14
      Mar 31, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, etc … Any hypothesis is good to me and I’d definitely look into them and openly and critically think about them. I’d point out whatever I find interesting or even convincing, without fear for being taken as a less intelligent person.

      How could you possibly know if some carefully concocted deepity bullshit, was technical language or just meaningless semantics, unless you were familiar with the subject area?

      I think, rather than coming up with silly separations between intelligents and dumbs, Michael should put his efforts into respect, and issue an invitation for honest research and discussions among all people, about any kind of topic without any fear for being taken as a fool.

      Those who offer respect to the views of charlatans, who have a long track record of concocting bullshit, can be quite rightly taken as unintelligent or fools!

      That is why in science we look to peer-reviewed papers for expert advice, rather than guessing if something is technically complex information, or just pseudo-science junk!

      Perhaps you would like to critically examine this paragraph?

      RTGs are usually the most desirable power source for unmaintained situations that need a few hundred watts (or less) of power for durations {of years} too long for fuel cells, batteries, or generators to provide economically, and in places where solar cells are not practical. – This generator has no moving parts.

    • “How could you possibly know if some carefully concocted deepity bullshit, was technical language or just meaningless semantics, unless you were familiar with the subject area?”

      If I’m not familiar with the subject area, what gives me the right to consider it BS ? This is why, I’d try to understand, but if I fail to understand, I’d refrain from having a final opinion, let alone judgment.

      Respect is always given for anyone who come up with honesty. Like Michael Shermer says, he thinks that Deepak Chopra believes in what he says. To me, calling him charlatan isn’t the right thing to do. Disagreeing with him, yes ! If people are forming and “selling” ideas to harm others, that should be fought with but if people show honesty nobody has right to call them charlatans, nor the ones who chose to believe stupid.

      Has science found the truths after the first peer-reviewed paper ? No, many peer reviewed papers and established truths became wrong at some point. Even, after some people who came up outlandish ideas, which became scientific truths with time. Some ideas were BS once upon a time.

      “Perhaps you would like to critically examine this paragraph?

      RTGs are usually the most desirable power source for unmaintained situations that need a few hundred watts (or less) of power for durations {of years} too long for fuel cells, batteries, or generators to provide economically, and in places where solar cells are not practical. – This generator has no moving parts.”

      To that, I would say : “I know what each of those words mean. I still don’t think I know….”

      If I have to critically examine this paragraph, I’d ask the author to help me understand in simpler terms.

    • Re: Bullshit/Charlatanism

      Good question posted above. However (and there’s always a however), I would argue that men who are evil, who engage in evil (and of course this begs the question: what is evil?) do not think that they are evil. But that does not make them any less evil. I would apply this to most charlatans. If someone (like Chopra, who strikes me as a man who is half charlatan, half conscientious professional) believe what their own theories they still deserve to be called charlatans. If they are not aware that their ideas are unscientific, then that is irresponsible; irresponsibility is a choice; the implicit lack of interest in what is true is precisely what makes them charlatans; they may also be demented or stupid. But assuming that they are not – and in Chora’s case he clearly is neither stupid nor deranged, we are safe in attributing an egoistic motive to him. In other wand fewer words, he and people like him, should know better.
      One might then argue that he really does believe that atoms have consciousness, for example. But the judgment: so-and-so is a charlatan, is peddling Bullshit, is also based on our observation of such things as facial expressions, mannerisms, a wide variety of traits including defensiveness and evasiveness, etc.
      No, better to call someone a charlatan. If they can demonstrate otherwise then more power to them. Let’s call a spade a spade, and call it when we see it. No excuse for raking in all that money disseminating all that crap. And he’s a medical doctor! A quintessential charlatan, with some goodness mixed in, as I said before. That complicates things, and makes him (and others like him), all the more insidious and dangerous…as a charlatan, or quasi-charlatan.
      That being said, I would hate to be called a charlatan. It’s a very unflattering appellation . . . I think there is always the element of gain and profit. The charlatan always promotes, is always driven by some material or base, egoistic gain. Another sign.

    • Ah Alan I looked up your quote and sure enough there it was on the Wikipedia page !

      RTG Generator

      It must have taken me all of a minute. So yes your quote makes perfect sense ! I won’t waste time looking up Deepshit’s definition of consciousness.

    • Michael #16
      Mar 31, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      “How could you possibly know if some carefully concocted deepity bullshit, was technical language or just meaningless semantics, unless you were familiar with the subject area?”

      If I’m not familiar with the subject area, what gives me the right to consider it BS ? This is why, I’d try to understand, but if I fail to understand, I’d refrain from having a final opinion, let alone judgement.

      That question is about investigation skills, so while it may be appropriate to suspend judgement on unclear issues, many matters can be simply resolved by consulting reputable sources of expertise.

      Respect is always given for anyone who come up with honesty. Like Michael Shermer says, he thinks that Deepak Chopra believes in what he says. To me, calling him charlatan isn’t the right thing to do.

      But he is a charlatan – as competent investigations show!

      Disagreeing with him, yes ! If people are forming and “selling” ideas to harm others, that should be fought with

      That is precisely what Chopra is doing!

      but if people show honesty nobody has right to call them charlatans, nor the ones who chose to believe stupid.

      Chopra is regularly transparently dishonest when his claims are examined by informed people, – either deliberately, because his is a sincere self deluder, or by simple incompetence.
      None of these point to there being any merit in his claims!

      Has science found the truths after the first peer-reviewed paper ? No, many peer reviewed papers and established truths became wrong at some point.

      The point of the peer-review process is that claims are examined in detail and tested by competent specialists.
      The difference between science and pseudo-science charlatan claims, is that science dumps refuted claims, whereas charlatans persist in pretending their claims are correct even after decisive refutation.

      Even, after some people who came up outlandish ideas, which became scientific truths with time.

      That progression is simply the process of moving from imaginative speculation, to objective measurement and testing.

      Some ideas were BS once upon a time.

      Some may have been initially perceived as bullshit, but objective testing and repeat confirmations fix that!

      Once the repeat confirmations mount up into hundreds or thousands only corrections of minor inaccuracies or different reactions under special conditions are likely make changes.

      RTGs are usually the most desirable power source. . . .

      To that, I would say : “I know what each of those words mean. I still don’t think I know….”

      If I have to critically examine this paragraph, I’d ask the author to help me understand in simpler terms.

      The test was not of an “all-knowing understanding of science”, but of basic investigation skills!

      To be properly informed all you needed to do was google “RTG generator Wikipedia” to discover if it is real science which has confirmed uses by reputable organisations!

      Give it another try!

    • In this case, if Deepak Chopra is willingly harming others in order to make money, this should be handled by legal ways. While this should be so easy to handle the issue, why do they bother calling him a charlatan ?

      But honestly, I must say Deepak Chopra is not my concern. I’m not really interested in his ideas, for the simple reason that he doesn’t seem to be willing to work towards proving his points. I spent hours watching him debating with Richard Dawkins, nothing comes out of such discussions.

      But my real problem is Michael Shermer’s comments about who is clever, who is more analytical, who is stupid, etc … You very rightly said Alan4discussion :

      “Some may have been initially perceived as bullshit, but objective testing and repeat confirmations fix that!”

      There is such pressure, due to such articles and hostility around ideas which seem to contradict the current views, so much that people are afraid of being destroyed before even their projects can take off. Many people wouldn’t want to be taken yet another Deepak Chopra. Michael Shermer started off with his favorite friend Chopra, but went into a generalization about “what kind of people believe in this or that” …

      This is why playing this game is dangerous. Scientific circles should be places where you can talk about any crazy project, also alternative medicine, conspiracies, anything and everything, freely. People shouldn’t be under pressure of being considered as woo woo or stupid. I’m sorry, the picture you give of science is not that nice. There is a lot of bias and agendas involved and any “controversial” project has tremendous opposition and they are not always considered fairly. It’s far from being the perfect picture we’re led to believe. In such circumstances people would even abandon ideas that might harm their career.

      Putting people into boxes like this is a toxic idea and it’s not productive at all.

    • Michael #20
      Mar 31, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      There is such pressure, due to such articles and hostility around ideas which seem to contradict the current views,

      In science there is indeed hostility to incompetent and flawed views, particularly so when people dishonestly posing as experts, persist with them after they have been competently refuted.

      so much that people are afraid of being destroyed before even their projects can take off.

      All projects should be competently evaluated, so as hair-brained schemes to no cause damage!

      Many people wouldn’t want to be taken yet another Deepak Chopra. Michael Shermer started off with his favorite friend Chopra,

      It is quite reasonable when considering opinions, to evaluate the competence of any investigations and research into the forming of those opinions.

      but went into a generalization about “what kind of people believe in this or that” . . . .

      The kind of people who are misled and exploited by Chopra et al, are those uneducated in science, who have not mastered the rational, critical thinking skills, needed to expose his false claims.
      They just accept and copy his asserted ignorance and his denials of properly evidenced science and medicine.

      Current views in science are classified by probability based on testable evidence:

      Speculations, hypotheses, laws, theories etc. giving an indication of the reliability and usability of the information presented.

      Many imaginative speculations, turn out to be wrong, while many laws and theories, can be up to 99%+ accurate in practical applications.

      Contradictions of information repeatedly confirmed by practical applications and testing, ARE bullshit!!!

    • I think I’m having trouble to pass on the ideas properly. Ridicule, and vocabulary like “bullshit” doesn’t belong to science. Scientific proposals are made and evaluated using scientific tools and methods. There is not need to create hostility in addition, just because someone had a bad idea (if ever, it was a bad idea).

      Illegal/dishonest actions, if proven, can be punished by law.

      There are proven/disproven proposals. If you’re talking about stupid, delusional people, to me, that’s not science. Such qualifications don’t belong to the vocabulary of science. This is the way I see it.

      Your “opportunity” at #15, I really don’t see where you’re trying to reach at … I fail to see a link to the main message I’m trying to bring up.

    • Michael #23
      Apr 1, 2016 at 7:14 am

      I think I’m having trouble to pass on the ideas properly.

      I think the basic problem is that they are bad ideas about respecting dishonest nonsense!

      Ridicule, and vocabulary like “bullshit” doesn’t belong to science.

      It certainly belongs in the descriptions of material dishonestly presented by those whose minds are closed to evidence and reason who promoting misleading nonsense while posing as experts!

      Scientific proposals are made and evaluated using scientific tools and methods.

      That is so! But many of the irrational and closed minded deny scientific evidence. No levels of proof will change their minds.

      There is not need to create hostility in addition, just because someone had a bad idea (if ever, it was a bad idea).

      Science and scientists don’t do that!
      They reply and respond to hostile attacks on valid science by pseudo-scientists and charlatans!

      Illegal/dishonest actions, if proven, can be punished by law.

      But for the most part, are not.
      Liars and charlatans are free to posture as experts as much as they like at meetings and on-line!

      There are proven/disproven proposals.

      That is how the debates go in academic circles and in professional journals, where honesty integrity is valued.

      If you’re talking about stupid, delusional people, to me, that’s not science.

      In blogs and public debates, stupid and delusional people, along with opinionated ignoramuses and liars, often participate, challenging scientific evidence with spurious claims. (Creationists, AGW deniers etc)

      Such qualifications don’t belong to the vocabulary of science. This is the way I see it.

      Science deals with the real world where such people exist and their claims need to be accurately described to non-specialist audiences.

      Your “opportunity” at #15, I really don’t see where you’re trying to reach at …

      As I explained earlier, the sources of opinions need to be evaluated, so when people make claims about scientific evidence sources need to be confirmed to separate evidence based claims, for whimsical opinions just picked out of the air!

      I fail to see a link to the main message I’m trying to bring up.

      This site promotes science evidence and reasoning.
      I think the issue is that you fail to see the main points in identifying and debunking the false claims of pseudo-science.

      Your arguments appears to be, that as you can’t tell pseudoscience from specialist terminology, (where information is readily available), other people can’t possibly do so either, and therefore should not call out contrived misleading gobble-de-gook from the likes of Chopra!

      This is a very poor argument!

      Science quite correctly offers no respect to dishonesty or gratuitous posturing contradiction of soundly based knowledge.

      Nonsense is nonsense regardless of the semantic obscurity and packaging!

    • OHooligan #13
      Mar 23, 2016 at 2:40 am

      Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation

      Say it aloud, sounds great, doesn’t it?

      According to the motorcycle handbook, all “the mechanics of manifestation” are all hidden inside the crankcase! 🙂

    • You know what, it’s been quite a few times I read about an hypothesis, then I read about a critic on that hypothesis, trying to “debunk” it. The debate goes on and on, specially very hard questions where there is no evidence either way. Sometimes people make up their minds in advance (thanks to articles like this) and anyone having a “bad idea” is a pseudo scientist, charlatan, etc. But there is no evidence whatsoever, EITHER WAY !

      This is what I observe about the hardest scientific questions. And the “competence” is as subjective appreciation as what is called as “pseudoscience”. What is the measure of “competence” ? Education ? Achievements ? I have seen a few people who satisfy these criteria being called charlatans.

      And Michael Shermer’s generalization doesn’t help anything. If you come across some kind of “alternative medicine” that really works … By the time you’ll get recognition on its validity, you’ll suffer ridicule, suspicion and your life will be much harder than anyone coming up with an easier subject. This is exactly how it works in scientific community. Yet, each attempt should be a clean start until it’s proven or disproven. This is not the case.

      Even if Deepak Chopra is a dishonest charlatan, anyone who may have ideas on the limits of science shouldn’t suffer hostility just because of him. Michael Shermer’s article is toxic just because of that, because it goes beyond Deepak Chopra, and puts people with similar ideas or beliefs in the same box. So it’s not about Deepak Chopra, it’s about anyone who may develop an idea to test, or a conspiracy theory, or whatever … This is how I read this article.

    • I think it is about Deepak. In other words, one has to treat each case individually when they are presented to one. It is all well and good to advocate suspension of judgment and tolerance in the abstract, but when you suspend judgment at the expense of your instincts regarding a particular person that you are forced to have dealings with in some capacity, then you are obligated to judge – rightly or wrongly– for the sake of self-protection, and the protection of others, and out of one’s sense of intellectual pollution and sense of right and wrong.—When that sense is offended one must act, speak out. When one acts during these moments, judges, speaks out, there are ramifications; one runs the risk of being unjust and of suppressing someone who might not yet be misunderstood. This has happened throughout history; but it is better to take that risk than remain a passive spectator.

      Isn’t it all about context when we make a judgment about someone’s character and motives? When a con man tries to sell us something and it sounds like a con man’s pitch, why question that impression? The extreme likelihood is that Dr. Chopra is a damned charlatan par excellence. I base this on his misuse of language, his obfuscation of meaning, and his absurd claims, and his demeanor. (He becomes agitated when confronted, for example.)

      Are we doing him and others a disservice when we judge them, keeping them in a box, as you say? Perhaps. But we keep ourselves in a box by refusing to judge and, yes, condemn. If he turns out to be right about all this stuff than the joke’s on us and he gets the last laugh – as truth is brought to light, finally. A possible, but an unlikely scenario.

      Bad people are not always bad and good people are often wrong. No guarantees; but silence, the suspension of one instincts, the suppression of one’s own impressions (which one has to trust, finally), and the dismissal of one’s own ideas of what is reasonable, in the face of perceived injustice (and the dissemination of lies is a form of injustice),—are not (on the whole) conducive to the production of a better culture. That can have dire consequences.

      Judge or don’t judge. It’s an individual choice.

    • Mr DArcy #19
      Mar 31, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Ah Alan I looked up your quote and sure enough there it was on the Wikipedia page !

      RTG Generator

      It must have taken me all of a minute. So yes your quote makes perfect sense ! I won’t waste time looking up Deepshit’s definition of consciousness.

      It provides an interesting test, and interesting comparison of scientific and pseudo-science claims about “energy flows”.

      The real science is concise and precise, with links to practical examples and reputable studies.

      The pseudo-science is full of extensive, vague, obscurantist verbosity, which is contrived to look “deepity”, but is pretty well a meaningless confusion of terms!

    • Michael #16
      Mar 31, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      “Perhaps you would like to critically examine this paragraph?

      RTGs are usually the most desirable power source for unmaintained situations that need a few hundred watts (or less) of power for durations {of years} too long for fuel cells, batteries, or generators to provide economically, and in places where solar cells are not practical. – This generator has no moving parts.”

      If I have to critically examine this paragraph, I’d ask the author to help me understand in simpler terms.

      Authors are usually not around to explain their books and papers, so we have to be able to investigate the reliability of published material for ourselves.

      However if you were to ask Chopra, he would just feed you more deepity bullshit, and then pretend you could not understand its “deep meaning” (rather than the fact, that the heap of word-salad, did not have any meaning). – That’s what charlatans do!

      To that, I would say :

      “I know what each of those words mean. I still don’t think I know….”

      However, to make such a claim about readily available scientific information with linked reputable sources, simply indicates a failure to conduct a one minute investigation and a dodging of the question, – suggesting that any opinion on the subject is lightweight, to say the least!

    • Dan, thank you for your comment. I agree on your comments regarding Deepak Chopra, including the way he uses the language (or fails to express what he really has in mind) and above all, the way he gets aggressive and agitated. I reproach other scientists of such aggresivity … no matter whoever they are.

      But I doubt that the scientific community works as fairly and nicely as it seems to be believed here, when I come across stories of scientist who were pretty much crucified for things they worked upon and ideas they got. I’m not saying that they were necessarily right, but the harshness against such people was incredible. Even wrong, their ideas didn’t deserve such hostility.

      So sorry, if I’m told it’s all about the scientific rigor, or that scientific community is a fair, righteous community free from bias and even hostility, I’m not buying it. It’s normal, you will have this anywhere human beings are involved. This is my reason to react to this article.

      I don’t know everyone else figured it out already, but if someone comes up with an idea that “consciousness is fundamental in the universe”, I’d like to hear more of it. I wouldn’t like to see this guy laughed at just because “he sounds like Deepak”. I’d like to see any “crazy” idea worked upon and scientific community should support it, until it is lead to a result either way. And this, even if it attempts to change any existing paradigm.

      I wish the best of luck to any scientist who would have a Deepak-ish idea in the future … And I hope they will always be wrong …

    • Michael #31
      Apr 1, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      But I doubt that the scientific community works as fairly and nicely as it seems to be believed here, when I come across stories of scientist who were pretty much crucified for things they worked upon and ideas they got. I’m not saying that they were necessarily right, but the harshness against such people was incredible. Even wrong, their ideas didn’t deserve such hostility.

      Without specific examples or links, it is impossible to tell if there is any basis for this, or if it is just some poorly informed gossip from a blog somewhere.
      Your earlier comments suggest this is the type of dubious source you are quoting.

      Even wrong, their ideas didn’t deserve such hostility.

      Once a claim has been conclusively refuted in science, it is binned! Repetitive assertion beyond this point is just dishonesty – especially if further dishonest or misleading claims are made about confirmed science which contradicts the claims.

      Hostility to dishonesty is a feature of all reputable organisations!

      I don’t know everyone else figured it out already, but if someone comes up with an idea that “consciousness is fundamental in the universe”, I’d like to hear more of it.

      If you want to study consciousness, or the universe, you have some serious study to do in the areas neuropsychology, cosmology and astronomy.
      Consciousness is pretty solidly confirmed as a property of brains!

      Most of those babbling bullshit about the universe, don’t know a solar-system from a galaxy, a nebula from a galaxy, or a galaxy from a universe!

      However, Deepak’s quackology has nothing to do with these subjects, as his arguments have no basis in evidenced science, or in logical reasoning.
      Scientists have better things to do than indulge in well debunked, delusional whimsicality because some quack thinks they should waste their time on his pet notions.

      Among scientists, some psychologists study of delusional thought processes, as a human mental failing or psychological disorder.

      I wouldn’t like to see this guy laughed at just because “he sounds like Deepak”. I’d like to see any “crazy” idea worked upon and scientific community should support it, until it is lead to a result either way.

      Rubbish like Deepak’s has been shown to be unevidenced whimsy or clearly refuted many times.
      It is the standard practice of pseudo-science and quacks, to continue to pretend that their debunked nonsense is valid, regardless of how many solid refutations have been presented.

      They usually succeed in persuading some of the naive uneducated, while the competent scientists pity their delusional self deception, or just laugh at their ignorant posturing being presented as “expertise”!!

      Again I come back to the examples identifying crazy sounding real science – such as RTGs, and distinguishing it from crazy meaningless nonsense from charlatans and scientific illiterates!

      Several people on this site have considerable skill at this, but so far you have demonstrated none, despite making various assertions about the workings of science!

    • Michael #31

      if someone comes up with an idea that “consciousness is fundamental in the universe”, I’d like to hear more of it.

      So go listen to psychologist philosopher and proponent of panpsychism as an approach to solving “The Hard Problem of Consciousness” David Chalmers. I disagree with him but his is a great general effort of explication that strives for clarity in a tough, very tough area. Contrast with Deepak’s cut’n’paste usage of sexy scientific phrases trawled indiscriminately from all and sundry areas, with a poverty of any understanding of the original, then crafted to look like the pieces he has been snipping from.

      Chalmer’s is clearly striving for real insight. Chopra is clearly striving for book sales. I have never seen him achieve a clarification of his ideas when tackled, except when the concept is a pre-existing scientific one.

      Go look first at published and peer reviewed scientists. Many many choose to dance on those dangerous edges of the unknown. More than anything they want you to understand their hypotheses. They are not selling new age feel-good for first time agnostics who still feel a bit shaky and in need of a pantheist god-u-like, albeit diluted to homeopathic intensities and disguised as science.

    • @ Michael #31

      I agree with you. I actually think that we are both right. Confession: I was watching a debate between Chopra and Harris. There were a few others there. At one point D.C. made the following remark: without consciousness the moon is a highly ambiguous entity. (Paraphrasing.) The entire audience burst out laughing, and Harris rolled his eyes. (He never smiles.) I actually agree with Chopra about that. (I am a convinced Kantian idealist, btw.—Now don’t laugh!) Nice to e-meet you.

      Correction (from my comment #28):

      suppressing someone who might not yet be misunderstood.

      Should read: suppressing someone who is not yet understood.

    • An “ambiguous entity ” indeed ? That almost reaches to the level of a deepity. In law, ambiguity allows whatever interpretation can be put on it. A “highly ambiguous entity” even more so ! Stop playing with words and learn some science.

    • without consciousness the moon is a highly ambiguous entity

      This is just fantastic. It takes a special mind to come up with this stuff. I’m not even close to capable of it but I intend to use this one every chance I get. Fair warning. 🙁

    • Alan4discussion, you are jumping too much into conclusions when you’re debating, it’s surprizing for someone who cherishes the scientific method. Don’t make assumptions of people, I wouldn’t just look into a gossip blog and make up my mind. For your info, I even found and downloaded the “research” Shermer is mentioning, and I’ll read it whenever I have a moment. I don’t know if you did the same.

      Try to look up Jacques Benveniste. He had a hypothesis regarding the high dilutions and their effects.

      To make a long story short, because his ideas were potentially supportive (potentially ! it was not his main purpose) homeopathy, he paid the price for that. His article appeared in Nature, but exceptionally, with a hostile remark from John Maddox, saying that there were doubts on the validity (although the referees never found any issue, similar to any other articles, with Benveniste’s paper) and this would be double checked.

      They made a follow up visit to confirm the results. John Maddox chose Walter Stewart and …. James Randi ! Of course, who else better than a magician, to confirm validity of a biology experiment ? Why are there biologists anyway right ? So instead of chosing an alternative set of biologists to replicate the experiments (the original paper was already made with participation of several laboratories in France, Italy, Israel) Maddox found it more appropriate to bring a scientific fraud expert and a debunker/magician instead of biologists. Maddox’s scientific curiosity leaves me speechless. They stayed there a week, making life impossible to Benveniste and his team, and after 4 successful trials, a 5th failed. That was enough to judge the whole experiment as a failure.

      They left the lab and published a very nasty article on Benveniste. They questioned his abilities as a biologist, also his honesty, etc. But when you think of it, what if the first article’s publication was proposed by James Randi as scientist ? Would this be more convincing ? No, because Randi has no scientific credentials, but he was needed there and somehow, the experiment made by a magician counted more than a biologist’s, when it was about disproving it. Wouldn’t such a “repeat experiment” be made under similar conditions and conducted by the similar profile of experts ? You can feel free to check Benveniste’s track record as a scientist, all I know is that Randi is not a biologist.

      It killed his career and and some years later, it killed him too. The most horrible was the way he was mocked and given the Ig Noble prize (another nice feature of science I guess).

      After his death, his research project resumed with Luc Montagnier. He got the nobel prize for discovering HIV and he had some positive results (but of course, he was mocked too and even his Nobel prize didn’t help him too much from getting nasty remarks). On one of the interviews, an Italian physician was helping him and he was talking about the “difficulty” and “challenges” working on such controversial projects represented.

      Feel free to read, look up info and watch documentaries about it on youtube, I don’t know how much of it is available in English. I was really intrigued about this and I read as much as I found and I’m not done yet. But please, don’t assume things about people you don’t know.

      Shermer’s article seems to have a bad influence on you.

      Benveniste might be wrong with his hypothesis (yes, I’m using the word correctly) for high dilutions having an effect. Along the way, he even might have committed errors himself. But he didn’t deserve such rudeness. That’s the beauty of the wonderful perfect scientific world you’re talking about.

      I have the impression that we’re going in circles. Going back to the article in question :

      Something like “Conversely, and revealingly, they concluded that those most receptive to pseudo-profound BS are also more prone to “conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.” …..

      It’s only my own opinion, and I appreciate if it’s not everyone’s opinion, but this sounds quite antagonistic to scientific curiosity to me. I’m all with you about people with bad intentions, but such dogmatic approach made victims too.

      Now up to you – if you can show me that

      Consciousness is pretty solidly confirmed as a property of brains!

      Last I left on this subject, it was still the “hard problem”.

    • Michael #41

      It’s only my own opinion, and I appreciate if it’s not everyone’s opinion, but this sounds quite antagonistic to scientific curiosity to me.

      It would not be antagonistic to a great many scientists, often atheist, mostly medically mainstream, who could produce hypotheses with metaphysicics quite as mindboggling as DC yet argue for it in scientifically literate and collegiate ways.

      The hard problem and the willingness to address it amongst those in the field shows entirely todays scientist willing to engage in such profound metaphysics. I think you may have a vision of the scientist in 19th century garb rather than todays set, happy to accept that reality is non-local and an electron may go backwards in time during a photon, electron encounter….

    • Alan4discussion #40
      Apr 1, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      From the OP

      “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.” This is an actual tweet composed by Deepak Chopra

      and

      Chopra defines consciousness as “a superposition of possibilities,”

      If you wish to be protected from brain damage,

      Sorry Alan, it’s too late for that. :’-(

    • @ Laurie, Mr. DArcy, Olgun

      “Without consciousness the moon is a highly ambiguous entity.” – Chopra / Dan

      I am glad that you gave me an opportunity to clarify this: he was not referring to the moon’s consciousness, but to human consciousness in relation to the moon.—Without that consciousness, it is hard to imagine what the moon would be like. I agree a hundred percent. (No, the moon itself is not conscious. I think Chopra and I would have to part ways on that one.)

      Mr. Darcy, I challenge you (in a friendly way) to say something non-ambiguous about the old moon up there. But you have to first assume that there has never been consciousness anywhere in the universe. Now go ahead, please. Say something definitive about that unperceived, unknown, unseen, entity. And don’t say it’s circular.

      (Now I know how Chopra feels.)

    • P.S. You can’t do it! All that is left is pure, formless matter (unless you want to throw energy in there). Pure matter is almost an abstraction; it certainly cannot be visualized.

      The moon is there! So it exists! No problem! End of story!

      Bravo! Now that’s deep!

    • How does Dan make an apple pie?

      First, he creates the universe.

      -badum tish

    • Dan,

      Mr. Darcy, I challenge you (in a friendly way) to say something non-ambiguous about the old moon up there. But you have to first assume that there has never been consciousness anywhere in the universe. Now go ahead, please. Say something definitive about that unperceived, unknown, unseen, entity. And don’t say it’s circular.

      This is a question with a spectacular number of variables not eliminated or not fixed. How could Mr DArcy answer it? Is Mr DArcy conscious? Is he as far as he is concerned the first conscious being? Is he new born conscious? Is he grown up? Is he without enculturation? How can he talk or understand? What sort of brain development did he undergo? Are you proposing some comedy caveman? Has he lived amongst animals. Has he hunted by night? Has there been no animal consciousness? Is he Mr DArcy of here and now transplanted to 4bn years ago?

      This is a question framed with so little consciousness about the possibilities of consciousness that it is mostly unrooted in its meaning.

      All cognitions are situated because only with shared experience can we readily hypothesise externality and reification. A solitary Mr DArcy begs your question.

    • Michael #41
      Apr 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Alan4discussion, you are jumping too much into conclusions when you’re debating, it’s surprizing for someone who cherishes the scientific method. Don’t make assumptions of people, I wouldn’t just look into a gossip blog and make up my mind.

      I think this would be classed as a mixture of psychological projection and denial!

      After numerous vague posts disparaging science, you give no source reference or internet address, for the claims you present on Jacques Benveniste, which appear to be the basis of your earlier posts.

      Try to look up Jacques Benveniste. He had a hypothesis regarding the high dilutions and their effects.

      To make a long story short, because his ideas were potentially supportive (potentially ! it was not his main purpose) homeopathy,

      Your misleading account, has the appearance of some amateurish whingeing rant by quacks or homeopaths, denigrating the scientific methodology which debunks their claims and undermines their scams!
      Pseudo-science often latches on to flawed of out-dated refuted studies, if they appear to support their agendas.
      Its followers then concoct conspiracy theories to make some sort of martyrs out of failed or rogue scientists or doctors.

      he paid the price for that. His article appeared in Nature, but exceptionally, with a hostile remark from John Maddox, saying that there were doubts on the validity

      John Maddox clearly had reservations about the claims, but gave Jacques Benveniste the benefit of the doubt and pubished the article for scrutiny and evaluation by the scientific community.

      Jacques Benveniste’s results were not reproduced by independent teams, so he was fairly given the opportunity to demonstrate the reproduction of his results with his own team, – while under scrutiny of those skilled in detecting fraud.
      As my linked follow-up in Nature News, shows, no fraud was detected, but the experiments failed to replicate the claimed results under these conditions.

      If people present dishonest, sloppy or incompetent studies, for critical examination by the world’s experts, and reports on the follow up work gives them a score of zero %, ranting and denigrating peer-review in misleading and emotive terms, is simply not science, regardless of how many amateurs who don’t understand science, may be impressed, or how many quacks disparage science in their magazines or websites!

      They left the lab and published a very nasty article on Benveniste. They questioned his abilities as a biologist, also his honesty, etc.

      According to whom?

      Could your give your source for the article you are quoting.

    • Thank you Alan4discussion, our exchanges have been revealing to me.

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    • Michael #51
      Apr 2, 2016 at 7:23 am

      Thank you Alan4discussion, our exchanges have been revealing to me.

      I rather hoped they would be revealing to you and to others, but what about those sources of the claims you have posted?

      Where did they come from? Homeopathy promoters perhaps?

    • Mod #52

      For those amongst us, Aspie in our failure to notice nuance, where was this post directed?

      How safe a space are you intending to make here?

      • In this case it is directed at some of Alan4discussion’s posts above.

        No safe space whatsoever in terms of the ideas that can be discussed.

        But certainly a safe space to the extent that ideas can be put forward, discussed, challenged and rebutted without the person holding them being subjected to a highly public exposition of their perceived personal failures. We are very appreciative of the amazing breadth and depth of knowledge shown and shared by many users here. We want newcomers who perhaps know less about science and how it works but are none the less interested in the topics discussed here to feel welcome and to have an opportunity to learn; but that won’t happen if they disappear again, having been met by responses that feel more like an outpouring of wrath for having dared to know less or see the world differently than a genuine attempt to explain and enlighten. Of course people who post here must be prepared to have their ideas challenged; but they should not need to have a thick skin on a personal level too. The quote from the Terms of Use is fairly clear on this, in our view.

    • Mod #55

      Thanks for your time on this.

      I can’t help but feel that identifying specifics would operate usefully a little like case law, perhaps?

    • @ Sean, Mr. DArcy, Alan, Phil, Michael, Laurie, Olgun, everyone:

      We know that consciousness was late to arrive in the universe. The moon was there before consciousness. Of that there can be no doubt. I am just asking one or all of you good people to take my “challenge” seriously and to say something specific about the appearance, form (qualities) of that never-before-perceived entity that we now call the moon, and also explain to me why this question is ridiculous or pseudo-scientific!! And someone other than Phil (my regular interlocutor) go first (please).

      The first thing that you will have to confront is the fact that IT HAS NO APPEARANCE!

      Re Phil’s comment # 48

      Very good reply. But it obfuscates and renders the problem meaningless. What consciousness? I’ll make this simple: a consciousness (and an understanding) more or less equal to your own. When I say “your” own, I am addressing each reader individually.—Again: your own consciousness. You must assume that all consciousness is your very own consciousness. Otherwise we will succeed in pushing this question/problem under the rug, and its (possible) implications can never be brought to light.

    • Dan #59

      Promise I won’t answer.

      But more clarification please.

      Is it your/my/their adult consciousness but with no experience at all, so no sensory experience and no cultural experience?

      No answer but a question though….

      Do you think you have created a useful analytical tool?

    • Olgun # 58

      It’s not just about appearing or not appearing, if that is what you are referring to; it’s about Being. What qualities do remain? What qualities are left? Finally, what does it mean to say that something IS?
      I still maintain that we cannot distinguish most qualities from our own selves; they cannot be said to have an absolute, self-sufficient reality.
      Well this was my question of the week – although it was actually the central question of modern philosophy since Descartes’ time.
      (Has this ancient problem been all figured out – or has scientific realism unwittingly put a blanket over it?)
      Thank you, SC. I did check out the presentation. Was that a joke? True (critical) idealism, SC, is not “correlationism.”[!] That was a surprisingly superficial discussion, frankly – although it would give young kids something to think about, I guess.—But he talks, at the end, about objects existing without humans to perceive them, and is thereby merely reintroducing the very premise of the original question!
      And so my question (or this part of it) remains:
      How? How can we speak of an object without a subject?
      Anyone else?

    • Phil 61

      Yes, Phil, it is you. Think of it as you, or someone close enough to you in all respects so as to make the question possible to address. For the sake of the argument, there is, culturally and intellectually, no difference between the consciousness of some other forms of intelligent beings, in my imaginary construction, and you yourself. I think I see where you’re going with this.

      And yes, I think this is a most useful question to ask.

    • Dan

      1.) But is it me with my experience…

      2.) or no experience whatsoever…

      3.) or just no experience of the moon?

      4.) Is it me, encultured?

      5.) Me with no contact with culture?

      6.) Encultured but a culture without words or knowledge of the moon

      7.) With language?…

      8.) or not?

      This is not in the least obfuscation but fair warning that like all other capacities to cognise and evaluate, consciousness here is a capacity we must entirely suspect as being formed by its first apprehensions. Indeed without experience it will not wire but indeed go into that energy efficiency mode of neural apoptosis or cell death that eliminates non functional wiring (use it or lose it) that leaves subsequent potential experience playing to an empty Cartesian Theatre. With nothing to think about, a newly sessile sea squirt devours its entire brain, much as a professor on achieving tenure….

      (Actually the whole scenario could be even more interesting than impoverished cognitions and conscious experience. The whole pruning process of after the 18month peak of wild and random brain growth from our premature infant selves will not be proportionately pruned back into the the useful mapping topiary of the associative corteces, but, suffering merely random and severe pruning, will net the ultimate in impoverished synaesthetes.)

      Some permutations of yesses and noes above will yield a meaningless me (not the first time) that will prove nothing of any actual cognising that may be considered to result.

    • Tide comes in. Tide goes out . Dan seems to think it’s a mystery. Did I have to say something about the moon before I was born, or even knew about the moon ? Sorry Dan I didn’t mean to class you with Bill O’Reily, but your challenge is equally as worthless as O’Reily’s claims that we don’t understand the tides. No amount of clever philosophy ever discovered why tides happen roughly every 24 hours. It took a good dose of hard work observationally to be able to predict the tides, and even now those predictions can be wrong, but not by much. If the point of philosophy is to find “truths” in the world, then the philosophers had better bloody get on with observing it, rather than creating abstract and meaningless arguments.

    • Dan:

      Mr. Darcy, I challenge you (in a friendly way) to say something non-ambiguous about the old moon up there. But you have to first assume that there has never been consciousness anywhere in the universe. Now go ahead, please. Say something definitive about that unperceived, unknown, unseen, entity. And don’t say it’s circular.

      Well I’m flattered to have been singled out ! As to whether there has ever been ‘consciousness’ in the cosmos before humans is rather a steep assumption. Just my view, but the odds favour the existence of intelligent life elsewhere other than Earth. If not in our galaxy, in others, but likely we will never know. But vee haff ways of finding out things, vee are asking der questions, no ?

    • Michael #41
      Apr 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Consciousness is pretty solidly confirmed as a property of brains!

      Last I left on this subject, it was still the “hard problem”.

      The fact that understanding the details of how brains work, is “a hard problem” , in no way alters the fact that consciousness is generated by living brains in conjunction with associated sense organs.
      Of course if someone can produced convincing evidence of say, “an intelligent rock with awareness of its surroundings”, I am open to persuasion!

    • I like the question Dan, and I am taking it seriously. I enjoy entertaining scary thoughts like, can I trust reason and language? -boo-

    • I am afraid that none of you have understood the question. And Phil confused me with his question about “what kind of consciousness I am taking about” and his question about degrees and varieties of enculturation. Phil, NO CONSCIOUSNESS! That means NO CULTURE! NO CONSCIOUSNESS! NO CULTURE!

      Mr. DArcy, I am not like Bill O’Reilly. Listen again. And Phil, listen. And Schrodinger’s Cat, listen: this is not a superficial question. This is a profound question – with far-reaching implications. It has a highly respectable lineage. It is a subtly apprehended point, a very fine point. You may not be able to grasp it right away. You have to really think about this, a lot, in order to get it. One reason for this difficulty is this: it is the natural disposition of the intellect to start from the object and to forget the subject. (That, Phil, is a habit of mind that makes it virtually impossible for most people, regardless of their degree of understanding of the various empirical sciences, to take this question seriously when it is first presented to them.)

      Again: no consciousness anywhere in the universe. No intelligent life. Can you imagine that? Try. Now tell me something about your physically real moon. Tell me what qualities it would have when you separate the moon’s existence from perception and experience altogether. What precisely is left?

      You have compared me to a loathsome and detestable man, Mr DArcy. That’s okay. I don’t mind. I don’t mind at all. I just want to present this problem (the antithesis between the real and the ideal) to all of you. I want you to grasp it, to appreciate it. This is also an interesting study in the topic: “Bullshit.” Perhaps we need to listen more to each other.

      I never conceded that objects existed before consciousness, SC! I said that if something appears, is represented (such as the moon), then there has to be something (rather than nothing) that is being represented. I am considering what that thing-in-itself is, what we can say about it, what qualities it has – this something existing yet not represented to us in any way.

      That something is not an object. You are unwittingly putting words in my mouth, SC. It’s the very opposite. That is what I am refuting! The whole idea of an object existing without a subject is nonsensical, inconceivable. You have misunderstood me. You have all misunderstood me, and now I know how others feel, the good thinkers who are ridiculed and yet not understood. Chopra is a condescending charlatan par excellence, but I am not. O’Reilly is a sick, reactionary, narrow-minded guttersnipe.

      I feel disheartened (but not angry, except at myself. I have not expressed myself well enough on this thread, and elsewhere).

      This is perhaps futile, but my challenge is still open to anyone.

      Oh yes:

      As to whether there has ever [never?] been ‘consciousness’ in the cosmos before humans is rather a steep assumption.

      That has nothing to do with anything, Mr. DArcy. Read what I wrote (if you want to). I am simply asking you to try to imagine our universe without consciousness – past or present.— That is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. I never said that there was consciousness before humans, although there was – and you know this. Is that a typo? Did you mean “never”? But whether there was consciousness or not before life appeared on earth is irrelevant! (A fascinating question but irrelevant.)

      The tides go in and out? I am, again, not saying that we don’t understand the tides. The tides (and their going in and out) are not the mystery.

      “Going in and out” implies a perceiver, doesn’t it? No? Yes? (I am getting closer to the mystery now.)

      By the way, I only “singled you out” because you had quite a strong reaction (#36) to my poorly phrased comment about ambiguity; it’s usually more worthwhile to address those who disagree with you the most.

      Sean, my question has not a whit to do with trusting reason and language. I am in fact employing language as I present a reasonable yet abstruse problem.

    • SC 70

      If an atom can be said to be matter than I would say that matter without consciousness, i.e. pure matter, whether it consists of atoms or not, is not something that can be regarded as an an object. That was my point.

      This point here is rather interesting:

      “We cannot have a conscious experience of ‘what an atom is like’. Instead we have to use the highly symbolic language of mathematics…matrix mechanics and so on, none of which ‘is’ the actual object itself.”

      I am, unfortunately, not qualified at the present time to discuss what atoms are in themselves. I am trying to get you to say something definitive about the moon (or any other empirical object in nature) independently of consciousness – which includes vision. (So I don’t know why you felt the need to discuss vision in this context.)

      The moon, then, is essentially comprised of atoms that cannot be seen or experienced. The moon sounds highly ambiguous when one puts it that way.

      As I have said before, the scientist enters through one end of the tunnel; the (critical) philosopher enters through the other; if both are fortunate enough to stumble upon, or arrive at, truth, then they shall meet each other somewhere in the middle.

    • @ Phil 48

      “Mr. Darcy, I challenge you (in a friendly way) to say something non-ambiguous about the old moon up there. But you have to first assume that there has never been consciousness anywhere in the universe. Now go ahead, please. Say something definitive about that unperceived, unknown, unseen, entity. And don’t say it’s circular.”
      -Dan

      “This is a question with a spectacular number of variables not eliminated or not fixed. How could Mr DArcy answer it? Is Mr DArcy conscious? Is he as far as he is concerned the first conscious being? Is he new born conscious?…”
      – Phil

      Phil, I got confused for a moment, and should have answered you this way: NO CONSCIOUSNESS. When I said “Say something definitive” I was making a point: he can’t, because he is not conscious. And that too is my question: what can we say (if anything) about something that is neither seen or thought or related to in any way? NO CONSCIOUSNESS.

      And this is not a mind-bender. That cheapens it.

      Olgun, I hope the question makes more sense now. I got thrown off. It happens.

    • Dan,

      Consciousness and culture co-evolve but at the level of the the individual enculturation profoundly forms consciousness’s capacities. Remember what is being roped in to “culture” in my questions. I include “experience”. I mean all experience here. Any input. Our neoteny is unique. Cognitions (as Richard Gregory rightly intuited) are built upon expectations and those expectations are formed first from cultural and personal saliency. Rain forrest dwellers taken on to the savannah for the first time ever see rihnos in the distance and think them ants. Distance scaling and perspective is totally undeveloped because their experiences were all comparatively close range.

      Perhaps now you can see why you have to answer my questions so I can take a stab at answering your question and we can make some progress.

      On culture.

      Ants automatic behaviours form a proto-culture such that if they developed a capacity for intelligence and an early period of hyper plasticity they would cognise and value and moralise and love and hate and notice entirely in a way consistent to their previous proto-culture and its subsequent evolutionary path.

      Dan, I wish you’d notice how seriously I take your question. Some of this material and some to come I believe may prove helpful to you. Its the only act of discovery happening in these threads right now.

      And don’t shout at me, please. I don’t deserve it. (Dammit, I need my Emotional Cognition Therapist to find the right emoticon here, tentative, worried, smiley but not guilty dog.)

      Todays invention. Emoticon generator that encodes (and decodes), say, up to five emotional states at once.

    • Phil 74

      I notice it, Phil, and I thank you.

      I am so displeased with myself. I got confused and probably confused everyone else even more and ended up sounding like a creep. Anyway, I did my best to clarify my question and the problem this past evening.

      Please read my last remark (#75).

    • Alan4discussion #68
      Apr 2, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      There is a whole string of claims (of varying degrees of wild speculation) related to “homeopathic water memory”, which fail to be replicated in independent tests, – listed in Wikipedia! (see earlier link)

      The July 1989 edition of Nature reported that INSERM placed Benveniste on probation following a routine evaluation of his lab. Although INSERM found that his laboratory activities overall were exemplary, it expressed severe discomfort with his high dilution studies, and criticized him for “an insufficiently critical analysis of the results he reported, the cavalier character of the interpretations he made of them, and the abusive use of his scientific authority vis-à-vis his informing of the public“.

      Benveniste has been awarded two Ig Nobel Prizes in Chemistry. They are a parody of the Nobel Prizes. The first in 1991 describes Jacques Benveniste as a “prolific proselytizer and dedicated correspondent of Nature, for his persistent belief that water, H2O, is an intelligent liquid, and for demonstrating to his satisfaction that water is able to remember events long after all trace of those events has vanished.” The second in 1998 cites “his homeopathic discovery that not only does water have memory, but that the information can be transmitted over telephone lines and the Internet.”

      It is clear that these examples are bad-science progressing towards pseudo-science, rather than Chopra-style bullshit!

      BTW: I am not sure how to debunk unevidenced, anti-science, anti-peer-review claims, without discouraging those who are promoting them! – Particularly in the absence of citations or linked sources which could be discussed in place of posts presented as purely personal opinions.

    • Sooo? (And I’m still a little concerned that I haven’t got deep enough here)

      No consciousness so no apprehension no language so no comment.

      But ants, lets presume all automatic for this so no consciousness, no apprehension in that sense, but the scout ants out of the nest may leave chemical “comments” to bring others out of the nest to forage because the moon is out to light their way. (This is like twilight sensing on my porch light.)The moonlight comment is indistinguishable from the sunlight comment perhaps, though the two may be distinguished by the coincidence of light, cold and light, hot, multiple comments.

      (I know ants don’t do this light thing. Bug X does.)

      Now there is a mountain to disentangle about this, not least that my oversensitive porch light “sees” and “comments on” the moons presence (at least when full and bright.) But these are not “signs” in W’s sense, for instance. There is no conscious observation until we observe our mooted automatic “observers”.

      Talking about the kind of consciousness is important because conscious cognition emerges in evolutionary and personal terms from the automatic. My claim is that there is no sense in which this burgeoning capacity is not made of the same stuff.

      I think the old metaphysical idea of conscious cognition as a singular and self contained capacity was increasingly shown to be false from the 1960’s on. These ideas are legacy stuff of creatures, of created beings, top down stuff that even today seems utterly reasonable and prevails in common exchanges.

      There is a lot more I can say, but I think we could progress more by saying only one or two things at a time. (4 here…too many.)

    • I often wondered what the homeopathic qualities of resublimated thiotimoline might be. Its endochronicity might lead it to anticipate an infinitely large number of dilutions and become terrifyingly powerful…

    • Phil 77

      You can’t tell me anything about what the moon would be like without a mind to relate to it in some way, based on your knowledge of science? You can use all the language you want now, you know. I hope you see what I mean. You are free to use your mind and use language now. But you must tell me what the moon (or whatever object you wish to describe) would be like, based on your knowledge of science, independently of the mind.

      And you mustn’t say the question is meaningless. Scientists are always saying things about objects that existed, presumably, in the absence of knowledge. But they never succeed in eliminating the conditions that make experience possible. They attach, unwittingly, qualities to objects that would not be there without a brain to experience them.

      Position and extension in space. How could something appear or be said to be an object if there is no inside or outside? How can matter exist without form? But form must occupy space. In order to occupy space it has to be known to occupy space.

      There is not a single person yet who has been able to convince me that an object can exist without a subject. I have heard of atoms that cannot be seen or experienced, of energy that is also objectless, and of pure matter.

      One of these days I will tell you why the failure to recognize the fundamental view of true (critical) idealism (as opposed to Realism, in all its many forms and incarnations) has ramifications – affecting the aesthetic, intellectual, and moral future of mankind.

      You have language and consciousness now, and, again, I ask you to use your mind and to use language. Understand? But you must tell me what qualities an object (any object) would have if you did not have consciousness, and if there never was consciousness. What qualities remain?

      What, finally, is a universe without objects? So much has been discovered by science. But what is an objectless object? That it has never answered.

      Are these question basic and superficial? Are they meaningless?

    • phil rimmer #79
      Apr 3, 2016 at 6:02 am

      I often wondered what the homeopathic qualities of resublimated thiotimoline might be. Its endochronicity might lead it to anticipate an infinitely large number of dilutions and become terrifyingly powerful…

      Over a few billion years, the oceans of the world have been recycled through quite a few organisms, and more recently through quite a few sewerage systems!
      The homeopathic (or was that homeopathetic?) suggestion, that “their chosen substance dilution information memory”, is an exclusive transmittable molecular feature, is laughable, – but I suppose, a good example of wish-thinking and self-delusion!

    • Dan #80

      You can’t tell me anything about what the moon would be like without a mind to relate to it in some way, based on your knowledge of science?

      I really don’t understand why this point exercises you so much, Dan.

      I get that without consciousness we would be unable to describe the moon. But that only tells you something about us (or about consciousness, if you like), nothing whatsoever about the moon.

      A rock has no way of knowing that the moon exists, let alone anything about its properties. But so what? The reality and characteristics of the moon are not altered by that fact. Nor were they altered when consciousness evolved.

      Are you suggesting there might more to the moon than can be adequately described by reference to the physical dimensions and characteristics that we are able to perceive? If so, how could you possibly know? Is this your point? That we cannot know if there is more to an object than our senses can perceive?

    • Alan4discussion #79

      BTW: I am not sure how to debunk unevidenced, anti-science, anti-peer-review claims, without discouraging those who are promoting them!

      Indeed. You want to ensure the promoters of such claims have as much opportunity as possible to understand why they are talking BS. And just as importantly, for the wider audience (particularly other newcomers) to understand. Then again, you don’t want to appear “wrathful” 🙂 As I said in a previous post (which disappeared) this reminds me of the wonderful reply by Richard Dawkins to similar concerns from Neil DG Tyson.

    • Marktony #83
      Apr 3, 2016 at 7:22 am

      Alan4discussion #79

      Indeed.
      You want to ensure the promoters of such claims have as much opportunity as possible to understand why they are talking BS.
      And just as importantly, for the wider audience (particularly other newcomers) to understand.

      While I would not wish to discourage newcomers from participating in science debates, drive-by salesmen for particular forms of woo, (with science-disparaging claims which look like cut and paste from quackery sites), have a habit of disappearing when requests for disclosure of their sources, call check-mate on their claims or denials of connections to woo!

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    • Alan4discussion, thank you again. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the discussion is not really fertile.

      If you think that you’re right about your points, including the case I wrote about (Benveniste) you can go ahead and think that you’re right, and I’m wrong. I don’t feel the need to spend more time on explaining or justifying you about my view of the issues, it would not head to anywhere and we’d keep turning in circles.

      What I did about Benveniste case was reading a first article, or a youtube video (I can’t even remember). Then I went to every source (among which the ones you mentioned excerpts from) and at each material, there were more references, and I went on checking them on and on and on. You can do the same.

      Then I said, “let me look into the ‘other side of the story’ … What does Benveniste and the ones who give him support say about it ? And also, what I read, is it the whole truth (even if it’s Nature, why should I stick to ONLY their point of view) ? Then I went on reading more material and see how Benveniste himself answers to many accusations and also provides with additional info with relevant details to the experiments and their biological effects themselves. A part of this material is not available in English. I’m sorry for this, if you don’t speak French it would be hard for you to have exposure to that side of the story (and maybe food for thought regarding your extent of research before making up your mind). I can’t say I’m at Benveniste’s side, there are also some questions that raise in my mind about some of his own actions in this affair, but at least, I do my best to have an as large landscape as possible about this topic.

      The question is not about homeopathy here. But indeed, its possible links that might be used for defending homeopathy was a delicate side of this whole affair. But it was not relevant to the experiments themselves.

      Still, your comments present some contradictions : You say that his results were not replicated elsewhere. First of all, even the first paper was the result of the collaboration of several laboratories (I mentioned that in my initial post). Secondly, his results were replicated elsewhere, at least this is what Benveniste writes in his book giving references. It’s not that I don’t want to write about them but I’m tired of it, because you seem to ignore some details I wrote above.

      One of the double blind experiments that worked, happened with Maddox, Stewart and Randi too ! And that very experiment was suggested by them ! What do you make of it ? So if they accuse him about his methods, they are also shooting themselves in their feet. In which part there was a flaw in approach and methodology, when the trial was made under their orders ? You would say it’s not determinant, and I agree, but if someone accuses him of methodical flaws shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a part of the experiments were made under their conditions. What if I take this as an argument and disregard ALL their opinion about that visit they did ?

      But the real contradiction is this : If the experiment cannot be replicated elsewhere, this would be enough to ‘get rid of the hypothesis’ that high dilutions had an effect ! This is how you can prove him wrong. This is why you don’t need a magician in the lab and a fraud busters squad !!! This is not the way you treat a researcher, even if you have heavy doubts on the accuracy of his methods (did I forget to say that Benveniste actually published in Nature before ? So it was not about the man, it was about the area of the research).

      And again, if Randi worked with his pals on the original experiment, aiming at proving that “water has memory”, his experiments would be countered with suspicion, mostly because he’s not a qualified scientist. I mean, they accused Benveniste of all kinds of reasons, why wouldn’t they say “hey, Randi is even not a scientist, what is he doing in the lab ?”. Somehow, his involvement in a research experiment is perfectly OK, when it aims at disproving it, while this additional control could have been made by an independent lab, using the protocols and all relevant input, by independent scientists. What made them choose the Randi option while any other regular way you could do in such a situation ?

      To be honest with you, when I go through the whole story, what raises my suspicion is the way he was “debunked”, not the way he allegedly prepared a fake experiment and had the stupidity to propose it to the most prestigious and rigorous scientific revue ! Specially after he published quite a few times on that same revue.

      I’m not saying that Jacques Benveniste was right. If you remember, I said that in the scientific community there is politics and agendas as well, and this was my example, because I thought that he was treated unfairly – NOT because he was right, because as a scientist you have the right to be wrong and still bring out your ideas for scrutinity. Not for witchhunts, which is exactly what occured, in my opinion.

      As I said, if you think your view of this is the correct one and I missed the whole point, go ahead and think so. I took the time to address some points I thought I should write about, that’s all. No need to clutter the thread with copy and pastes and make this thread even longer. As I said, you’re free to think what you like, including that you’re right and I’m wrong, but as I wouldn’t like to sound unpolite, I’d like to say that it would be fine not to go in circles with this and I hope you don’t mind I no longer answer in this thread.

      Thanks again.

    • @Michael #89

      One of the double blind experiments that worked, happened with Maddox, Stewart and Randi too !

      Can you provide a link for this confirmation?

      Have you watched the BBC Horizon programme on the homeopathy test? Here is a link to the relevant part of the programme describing the experiment:

      BBC Horizon Homeopathy The Test Part 4

      See part 5 for the results and why Horizon did not win Randi’s $1M.

    • Sean, my question has not a whit to do with trusting reason and language. I am in fact employing language as I present a reasonable yet abstruse problem.

      And they’re exempt from the implications of your question because?

    • Dan #80

      We’re not half done yet.

      There is not a single person yet who has been able to convince me that an object can exist without a subject.

      My ant commented on the moon. Its fellow ants acted upon that comment. (I can go to cells if needed.) There is no mind in play, yet minds grow seemingly without sudden transition into existence from these automatic behaviours.

      Position and extension in space.

      My astronomer ant has terrible image forming optics. The quality of the moon’s presence or non-presence requires no “extension” infered but merely an enhanced ability of the astronomer ant to cognise its immediate surroundings.

      We have done the metaphysics discussion here. I have claimed like Popper that it is a thing that all scientists do. I have claimed that explanations (often the main mode of wrangling these fuzzy shapes into a compelling form) are part of the mode that concludes by utterly stripping away such stuff in favour of the rigour of the mathematical model. Extension is say a value of x and this may lead us where ever the mathematics takes us, most especially into the mathematics of dimensions where “extension” produces utterly unimaginable results YET though we cannot conceive an actuality for this “extension” it sits within a process that is satisfyingly predictive.

      The properties being invented for mooted entities beyond our world of direct experience have no real meaning. Quarks have been allocated properties of up, down, sideways, sex appeal and peppermint (unless I’m confusing it with something Terry Pratchett wrote.)

      The experience of our middle scale existence is not based in any sense on some consciousness and spurious artifact, but on the effects it has on pre-conscious automatic actors. Extension is experienced as a duration or energy use, for example. The interaction “out of its own nature” of stuff with other stuff and effects with other effects builds a substrate of pertinent and informative stuff-effect-behavioural metaphor. which forms a launch pad metaphysics which we try and and extend as far as we can. All since 1905 is to be whipped away at the limit when we achieve our best scientific models.

      Enough for now.

    • If Dan feels I have been unkind to him, that was not my intention. IMO Dan’s absurd question about the moon reminded me of O’Reilly’s ridiculous comments about the tides. Philosophy might be your bag, Dan, but it ain’t mine. Oh and most of the observable universe has no “consciousness” that we are aware of, but the universe doesn’t care. ( AFAWK) ! And what is this nonsense about object and subject ? Are we talking grammar or science here ? Science ASSUMES the universe exists independently of us. It can’t be proved, but there are compelling reasons to believe that assumption to be true.

    • Hi Olgun,

      If we assume he was told his data wasn’t robust before, would this by default mean fraud ? Also, the team who went there did not report fraud, but argued about methodology issues. But the question is this : You go there one physician, one chemist converted into scientific fraud investigator, and a magician. You come back with results indicating, not a fraud (for which the experts were selected), but scientific method related issues.
      Instead of this, demanding further replications by independent scientists acting on the same area, wouldn’t this be a more logical track to take ?

      Secondly, if you already go with “fraud” in mind, how much it can be said that you are unbiased or neutral ?

      When you read everyone’s take on this (both Nature, Benveniste, and others involved) it’s quite a deep subject and it appears to me like neither Benveniste was fraud, or incompetent, nor did he take it too lightly before going ahead with submitting to Nature.

      Then of course, there is the response from Nature and their arguments, but the whole story goes on and on, including Benveniste giving very detailed explanations to defend himself.

      Actually this high dilutions issue is still unfinished business and there are quite a number of scientists supported this idea, as well as the ones who disagreed. It’s perfectly OK, but I get the impression that the only fault of this issue was it was controversial.

      I wonder if there could be a third option : It could be said that there may be something going on, but it requires more investigation. This whole story is quite confusing but I don’t think it’s really clear cut either way, so my personal take on this, it should not be such a costly thing to a scientist venturing into a controversial area.

      Olgun, your second point is a thought provoking one. I apologize if I sounded as you described, like putting science on a pedestal and debunking it. It’s a human endeavour, of course there will be any human traits that goes with it, it doesn’t change a thing to the beauty of the scientific work. Actually I was reacting to my other friend, who seemed to give such a picture that it’s all perfect in scientific world.

      And I actually didn’t really want to talk Benveniste neither 🙂 My main point was (maybe I failed to express it properly) the issues I see with propositions like “people who believe in conspiracy, alternative medicine, religious beliefs are so and so …” – now that we talk Benveniste, how do we know a similar judgement in advance didn’t cause there was first a fraud squad sent over there, rather than independent experts in the field …

    • Hi Marktony,

      The series of experiments were described in John Maddox’s report in NATURE VOL. 334 28 JULY 1988. It’s title is “”High-dilution” experiments a delusion”.

      Benveniste also wrote about his comments to that in his book but not sure if it’s available in English.

      http://www.amazon.fr/Ma-v%C3%A9rit%C3%A9-sur-m%C3%A9moire-leau/dp/2226158774/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459707171&sr=8-1&keywords=jacques+benveniste

      Regarding James Randi’s 1M $ prize : I’ll check it out and I’m sure homeopathy claims weren’t successful.

      However, unlike many, I don’t pay too much attention to James Randi’s prize. If there is a preliminary selection process, which is not open for all to see, I don’t know why I should take it seriously, I even don’t have visibility to everything that happens, only the ones “after the preliminary selection”.

    • Michael #88
      Apr 3, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Alan4discussion, thank you again. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the discussion is not really fertile.

      If you think that you’re right about your points, including the case I wrote about (Benveniste) you can go ahead and think that you’re right, and I’m wrong. I don’t feel the need to spend more time on explaining or justifying you about my view of the issues, it would not head to anywhere and we’d keep turning in circles.

      The point is that you have produced no evidence to justify them, and that you either did not diligently investigate as far as the wikipedia article i posted or you failed to notice the string of experiments published in more than on scientific journal where Benveniste’s wild claims about results failed to replicate when independently tested.

      What I did about Benveniste case was reading a first article, or a youtube video (I can’t even remember). Then I went to every source (among which the ones you mentioned excerpts from) and at each material, there were more references, and I went on checking them on and on and on. You can do the same.

      Perhaps you are unable to tell reputable science sites sources from promoters of quack nonsense. All opinions are not equal and all claims are not equally competent.

      Then I said, “let me look into the ‘other side of the story’ … What does Benveniste and the ones who give him support say about it ?

      INSERM – linked @#78 made a clear expert view when they put him on probation, as did the Journal Nature, on Benveniste’s public claims, when they reported this.!

      And also, what I read, is it the whole truth

      How would you know?

      (even if it’s Nature, why should I stick to ONLY their point of view) ?

      The Journal Nature is on of the world’s top scientific journals noted for its integrity, the excellence of the evidence based material it publishes, and the critical analysis of presented material.
      It in no way resembles casually presented materials in books, magazines, or newsapapers.

      As I said, all claims and standards of statements are not equal!

      Then I went on reading more material and see how Benveniste himself answers to many accusations and also provides with additional info with relevant details to the experiments and their biological effects themselves. A part of this material is not available in English. I’m sorry for this, if you don’t speak French it would be hard for you to have exposure to that side of the story (and maybe food for thought regarding your extent of research before making up your mind).

      The extent of the research is the key issue! Nature insists on the highest standards.
      Benveniste is noted as a rogue scientist who makes cavalier statements and persists with refuted claims.

      I can’t say I’m at Benveniste’s side, there are also some questions that raise in my mind about some of his own actions in this affair, but at least, I do my best to have an as large landscape as possible about this topic.

      Ordinary members of the public are in no position to tell the concocted stories put about by plausible rogues, and they probably don’t, or can’t, read highly specialised science papers which require quite high standards of specialist knowledge to gain understanding.

      The question is not about homeopathy here.

      If you read the Wiki article I linked earlier, a whole list of his claims are very much about homeopathy, even though they pretend to be science.

      But indeed, its possible links that might be used for defending homeopathy was a delicate side of this whole affair. But it was not relevant to the experiments themselves.

      This claim shows a laughable level of lack of comprehension!

      Still, your comments present some contradictions : You say that his results were not replicated elsewhere. First of all, even the first paper was the result of the collaboration of several laboratories (I mentioned that in my initial post). Secondly, his results were replicated elsewhere, at least this is what Benveniste writes in his book giving references.

      That is where the lack of integrity comes in if you are taking information from his book! The properly monitored double blind tests failed to replicate claimed results in multiple cases wasting many people’s time and money. Some tests appeared to support his claims, but were deemed too sloppy to give conclusive answers.

      One of the double blind experiments that worked, happened with Maddox, Stewart and Randi too ! And that very experiment was suggested by them ! What do you make of it ?

      Multiple experiments often have the odd fluke result, some contamination in the samples, or a fault with the equipment.
      That is why they run multiple tests!

      But the real contradiction is this : If the experiment cannot be replicated elsewhere, this would be enough to ‘get rid of the hypothesis’ that high dilutions had an effect !

      A whole string of his experiments including later claims, could not be replicated.
      An honest and competent scientist would have dropped the claims unless he could devise new tests, and publish ONLY AFTER consistent results had been obtained.

      This is how you can prove him wrong. This is why you don’t need a magician in the lab and a fraud busters squad !!!

      You really don’t get it despite my earlier explanation. Fraud busters and magicians are used to spot the deceptions used by charlatans when falsification of experiments is suspected.

      The evidence is that Benveniste was simply cavalier, sloppy and incompetent in making claims, which were not supported by experimental evidence. He is also a rogue scientist, in that he has persisted in making public claims which have been repeatedly shown not to be supported by the replicatable evidence.

      This is not the way you treat a researcher, even if you have heavy doubts on the accuracy of his methods

      You seem to be preaching this as a personal opinion, based on I’m not sure what!
      Your criticisms of Randi would indicate you do not understand fraud investigation procedures. (see Wiki link to Uri Geller)
      Benveniste’s experiments were subjected to the normal review and investigation procedures of the journal with the highest standards, and found to be below the acceptable standards expected. Failures of replication tests of other later claims were recorded in other journals.

      To be honest with you, when I go through the whole story, what raises my suspicion is the way he was “debunked”, not the way he allegedly prepared a fake experiment and had the stupidity to propose it to the most prestigious and rigorous scientific revue !

      I don’t think anyone claimed he prepared a faked experiment, but suspicions were raised because replication testing failed in multiple instances. He was debunked, because his claimed conclusions were not supported by experimental evidence and could not be consistently reproduced.

      His succession of further even wilder unreplicated claims of transmission in telephone lines have only further made him a laughing stock!

      Scientists are well aware of many forms and states of water, but homeopathic wish-thinking quackery, is about placebo effects in humans, not about properties of water or fairy stories about “memory”!

      The descriptions in the Ignobel awards sum up his antics quite clearly.

      Scientific journals and their investigations uphold standards of competence and integrity, regardless of rogues not liking this.

    • Michael #88
      Apr 3, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Alan4discussion, thank you again. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the discussion is not really fertile.

      Many attempts to educate people in science are not fertile once they have bought into martyrdom stories from exposed rogues.

      Exposed rogues whose flawed works are convenient props for large groups of people who like conspiracy theories, quickly discover there can be more money made from writing books on anti-authority conspiracy theories, than in doing the honest research they are not very good at.
      The topics are well known: anti-vaxers, AGW deniers, creationism, homeopathy, other quackery, “Out of body” experiences, and various paranormal claims. Science regularly debunks these, but conspiracy theorists don’t let inconvenient facts get in the way of marketable stories!

      Those who come to this RDFS site with minds open to evidence and reason, can learn much!
      Others come with fixed agendas and learn nothing!

    • @ Marco (# 72) and others

      “Characteristics of the moon…”

      Here is a quote from a famous book: ” ‘[…] how early this basic truth was recognized by the sages of India, since it appears as the fundamental tenet of the Vedânta ascribed to Vyasa, is proved by Sir William Jones in the last of his essays: “On the Philosophy of the Asiatics” (Asiatic Researches, vol. IV. p 164): “The fundamental tenet of the Vedântic school consisted not in denying the existence of matter, that is, of solidity, impenetrability, and extended figure (to deny which would be lunacy), but in correcting the popular notion of it, and in contending that it has no essence independent of mental perception; that existence and perceptibility are convertible terms.’ These words adequately express the compatibility of empirical reality with transcendental ideality.”

      Marco, your objection is the principal abjection that is almost always raised when one is first introduced to such a radical and seemingly bizarre view. (Kant, by the way, referred to his own philosophy as the Copernican revolution in philosophy.)

      The doctrine of transcendental idealism, which considers the world, the whole universe, in fact, from the point of view of the subject) is an important doctrine (and you are free to reject it or regard it as bullshit); it dates back the “sacred” writings of the Hindus, is implicit in Buddhism, was has been expressed directly by many of the ancients, including Plato, e.g. the (Allegory of the Cave), by a number of highly eminent modern philosophers; most notably John Locke , Kant and Schopenhauer. Traces of this fundamental view can in fact be found throughout the whole history of philosophy (although it has, to my knowledge, never been positively enunciated by any 20th or 21st Century thinkers – except for me! It has been discussed, however).

      I like to, when I can, and without sounding like a broken record, present this doctrine, which everyone seems to despises and instinctively, as it were, revolt against, to the minds of the other members of this site, who have imparted their knowledge and insights to me and others. I too would like to teach them something once in a while (although this isn’t an online seminar). In fact, I myself have grown (temporarily) weary even of this topic and need a rest.

      Marco, you are absolutely correct, and from that perspective it does seem as though this idea is really without substance or merit. But you are making a very common mistake. It is as common as it is natural. Everything you have described is real. It is as real as real can be. But I am distinguishing between absolute reality and empirical (experienced) reality. The rock has no senses, no brain, no consciousness, and therefore no reality is presented to it. It is not a living thing, has no will and no intellect. We, on the other hand, see and observe all those things that you’ve described, and they are real. All I want (and I don’t want to sound condescending!) is for people to think about what reality is. “The tides come in and out.” Of course they do!

      Life has been compared to a dream, and it is like a dream – but only in so far as one confuses empirical reality with absolute reality.

      Olgun, what you have described is real, as I said above. Those things are no less real than the activity of our own bodies, and your argument that it is real is granted; this realness applies to every conceivable observable phenomenon in nature. But it doesn’t end there, and this distinction between empirical reality (which Is real!) and absolute reality is a highly subtle one, as I have said numerous times.

      There a great many things that I do not understand – like just about everything that has to do with mathematics and physics. But there is always time to learn, if one has the will and the time – which we both do. I have taken too much space on this thread already – although I will say that this: it has been an interesting study in reactions by very bright people to a foreign idea that may or may not be “bullshit.”

      So this online thread on “Bullshit” has been a crucible of sorts!

      I said early this morning, that the failure to recognize this basic truth will have ramifications, “will affect the intellectual, aesthetic and the moral future of mankind.” A bit dramatic and portentous, but without getting into these other facets of this multi-faceted theory, I will just say, laconically, if not cryptically, that that has to do with the vanity and suffering of life, with philosophical enlightenment, and with resignation, respectively.

      Bye for now.

    • Dan #99

      Sorry Dan. So many words, but I’m afraid I still don’t have a clue what you’re trying to say. I thought perhaps I’d hit on it earlier, but apparently not.

      So what if this alleged problem has been written about by Indian sages through the ages? The Indian so-called sages have written all sorts of hokum. The fact that someone wrote about it means nothing, does nothing to bolster your case. On the contrary, the reference to ‘sacred’ writings only heightens my suspicion that it’s all deepity nonsense. Why on earth should they have any special insight into reality?

      Two key questions remain:

      Whatever the musings of philosophers through the ages, what test could you possibly devise to demonstrate the truth of your claim that there is an absolute reality that is distinct from our experienced/perceived reality?

      and

      Why should anyone even care? You are, after all, proposing the existence of something we cannot experience or otherwise perceive. That being so, it could not possibly have any effect on us, even if it did exist. For the moment it had any effect on us or influenced it in any way, we would be able to experience/perceive it.

      It seems to me you are arguing on and on and on for the existence of something whose existence could never be demonstrated and which could have no possible significance for us, even if it could. It’s clearly a notion that holds considerable fascination for you, but I cannot for the life of me see why.

    • @ Michael

      The series of experiments were described in John Maddox’s report in NATURE VOL. 334 28 JULY 1988. It’s title is “”High-dilution” experiments a delusion”.

      I see the Nature article was published back in 1988 and it is the opposite of confirmation! The conclusions from the article included:

      We conclude that the claims made by Davenas et al. are not to be believed. Our conclusion, not based solely on the circumstance that the only strictly doubleblind experiments we had witnessed proved to be failures, may be summarized as follows:

      The care with which the experiments reported have been carried out does not match the extraordinary character of the claims made in their interpretation.

      The phenomena described are not reproducible, but there has been no serious investigation of the reasons.

      The data lack errors of the magnitude that would be expected, and which are unavoidable.

      The climate of the laboratory is inimical to an objective evaluation of the exceptional data.

      And in the postscript:

      We presented the substance of these conclusions to Dr Benveniste and his colleagues immediately after the strictly blinded experiments were decoded. The discussion that followed was inevitably tense. Benveniste acknowledged that his experimental design may not have been “perfect”, but insisted (not for the first time) that the quality of his data was no worse than that of many papers published in Nature and other such journals.

      This article was published well before the BBC Horizon investigation of 2002 that I linked to in #90. You really should take a look. Horizon commissioned experiments by British experts overseen by The Royal Society. The homeopathic dilutions were prepared by University College London, Guys Hospital analysed the cells for any effect of the homeopathic water – this analysis was also performed in parallel by The Royal London Hospital. Here is the link again:

      BBC Horizon Homeopathy The Test Part 4.

    • @ Mr DArcy 94

      I don’t feel that you’ve been unkind at all, and I fully appreciate and respect your thoughts, arguments and feelings with regard to this peculiar issue. I say this without any condescension.

    • @ Marco and Phil

      “Whatever the musings of philosophers through the ages, what test could you possibly devise to demonstrate the truth of your claim that there is an absolute reality that is distinct from our experienced/perceived reality?”

      Yes, and the sun (which is usually yellow and very, very hot indeed and also round) revolves around the flat earth. What does it matter if one says otherwise? And why would one care about something so contrary to everything our infallible senses and our judgment tells us? I see a rose. That rose smells sweet. But to who? to what? No one’s here, in Dan’s crazy imaginary scenario. Maybe God smells it!

      What does it matter if the will is free or not? What does it matter what the nature of reality is? Love of truth.—What’s that?

      “Musings.” Hmm.

      Ants! Ants! They have knowledge, evasive man! (Sorry, Phil.)

      Minor correction: the view of idealism was expressed directly and indirectly by the ancient Greeks. Plato’s immortal “Allegory of the Cave” was an indirect expression, I would say. (Comment #99)

    • Ants! Ants! They have knowledge, evasive man!

      Where’s the evasion? Dan, I have given you a clear proposition-

      It does not take consciousness for useful information of the universe to be embedded in entities that only later may become conscious. Automatic actors mediate the quality of extension etc.

      As for the shadows on our cave wall. These truly mean we do not have direct access to most entities and must model their qualities and how they act out of their own natures. We find that we can form a variety of overlapping models that seem equivalent at points in their explanatory and predictive power. These models (some of which work over different ranges) may represent particles and waves say. We strangely find our accounts of a substantial universe is as well accounted for in mathematical modelling as if it where a holographic projection from the edge of the universe. (Very cave wall!) The substance of what we know if we know anything lies in the predictive reliable mathematics. The rest are the guesses of metaphysics that we use to grope our way to those gleaming but workable (dehumanised!) abstractions.

    • Michael #41
      Apr 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      . . . .

      Michael #31 – Apr 1, 2016 at 1:27 pm – But I doubt that the scientific community works as fairly and nicely as it seems to be believed here, when I come across stories of scientist who were pretty much crucified for things they worked upon and ideas they got. I’m not saying that they were necessarily right, but the harshness against such people was incredible. Even wrong, their ideas didn’t deserve such hostility.

      Alan @#32 – Without specific examples or links, it is impossible to tell if there is any basis for this, or if it is just some poorly informed gossip from a blog somewhere.
      Your earlier comments suggest this is the type of dubious source you are quoting.

      Alan4discussion, you are jumping too much into conclusions when you’re debating, it’s surprizing for someone who cherishes the scientific method. Don’t make assumptions of people, I wouldn’t just look into a gossip blog and make up my mind.

      Thank you for clarifying that you are using Benveniste’s book of excuses, and denial of valid criticisms from independent researchers, as your source. Rogues, love looking for sympathy by playing the martyr when held to account.

      In the absence of information and citations, I confused the similarity of the misleading content of this material, with the type of similar disparaging fanciful content on anti-science and pseudo-science blogs!

      Indeed, looking into the detail, it showed that the peer-review system went to extraordinary lengths to fairly test and check his dubious claims, while the rogue scientist continued to make unsupported assertions to mislead the public, (despite a warning on professional standards, and being put on probation by INSERM ), when he had failed to produce acceptable evidence or experimental methodology, to persuade a succession of competent scientists.

    • Dan #105

      Yes, and the sun (which is usually yellow and very, very hot indeed and also round) revolves around the flat earth. What does it matter if one says otherwise? And why would one care about something so contrary to everything our infallible senses and our judgment tells us?

      What does it matter? Why should we care?
      If the sun revolved around a flat earth, it would affect transport, which means the ability to visit other countries, experience other cultures, import or export foodstuffs and raw materials, and and and and and …. It would affect space travel and satellites, which in turn would mean no internet and no ability to have this conversation in the first place. And that’s just for starters.

      What equivalent significance can you provide for your claim that absolute and empirical reality are two distinct things? What difference would it make? You’ve predicted moral collapse if we don’t accept your claim – why? How? How do you know? For goodness’ sake, get specific, man!

      And what evidence can you provide for this duality between absolute and perceived really being so? The evidence for a spherical Earth revolving around the sun is readily available to you. Where should we look for the evidence for your claim? (NB. ‘Written in a book’ is not evidence. Not even when it was written by Indian sages.)

      I see a rose. That rose smells sweet. But to who? to what? No one’s here, in Dan’s crazy imaginary scenario. Maybe God smells it!

      Scented flowers (unless they have been specifically bred by humans for their fragrance) are merely a means of attracting specific pollinators. No pollinators, no scent. Not because there’d be no pollinator to detect the scent, but because without pollinators there’d have been no need for the scent to evolve. The scent that smells so sweet is the result of chemical processes within the rose that will take place whether there’s anyone in your garden or not.

      All you have come up with so far is an idea. And all you’re presenting is words, words, words, but with no attempt to demonstrate how they tie in to reality. But words alone can’t prove the existence of anything. You seem to be obsessing about something you cannot prove exists and that wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to anything even if it did.

      Sorry, Dan, I think you’re wasting everyone’s time. I’m out, as they say.

    • I think Dan is suffering from physics envy…..Discuss.

    • Sorry, Dan, I think you’re wasting everyone’s time.

      I don’t. I think he has two interesting propositions. One, we have dealt with before, where I agree with Dan (and Kant etc.) Reality and our experiences of it are always divergent and sometimes spectacularly so. Second, that consciousness in some way creates the universe (a venerable philosophical trope), for which, so far, I see no evidence or credible metaphysics.

      I sometimes think scientists may be better at imagining themselves out of the picture than the metaphysics-only wranglers of old school philosophers, for whom creators and the anthropocentric mindset still prevailed.

      Philosophy lost its way after Wittgenstein cured it of both Theology and a metaphysics of itself proving something outside of that metaphysics. But the brute fact of wildly successful physics predicting like crazy and well the weirdest things (reality is non-local etc. etc. etc. etc.) meant that philosophy had to recognise that one of its key deliverables had, in fact been safely delivered and that it must face a collection of lesser problems (getting scientists to take better care of their metaphysics, confusing explanations with proofs or rather disproofs etc.) and square up to the biggy…The Hard Problem. Interestingly, so far it has been the philosopher-scientists that are keen on it…

    • Hi, Marco (and others…Hi, Phil)

      I understand that this subject does not interest you, Marco.

      I appreciate your refusal to allow yourself to be impressed by the argument of authority. Mere references to the sages of India and their sacred writings doesn’t impress me either.—One would have to study these writings, although I never did.—But that is the first part of a passage that I quoted which ends with a well-articulated statement that I wanted very much to use.

      Sometimes citing eminent scientists and thinkers who agree with what you are trying to get across can get someone’s attention, so it is not completely useless as a technique. I have to admit, however, that I sounded a bit like a charlatan myself; I seemed to be almost boasting about all the corroboration (and there has been some) throughout the history of philosophy, etc. (That’s what the Transcendental Meditation people do when they want you to sign up: they tell you how widely accepted it is and show you massive books filled with nothing. Pure manipulation, woo, as they say here. Truth is: there are far more realist than idealist throughout the history of ideas, so you’re in the majority.—Not that you care.)

      Locke, I must say, was truly a great philosopher, as were others, so I think it behooves one to maybe perk up their ears just a bit when he hears someone say: Locke said this – or Kant said that. Same with science and history. Certain scientists and historians have attained eminence while most have not: so those names represent something earned, that should warrant more attention rather than less. Doesn’t mean their right. Just means: “I didn’t make this up; listen, etc.”

      You asked me about my moral prediction. Is that what I called it? Maybe I did. “Moral prediction” is just too high-flown. Anyway, sorry.— Some other time. (I also referred to “enlightenment” and alluded to mental freedom.) There is no way that one can possible make these thoughts in any way intelligible unless you have a strong interest in the subject of the antithesis between Realism and Idealism, which you don’t.

      I don’t know enough about physics to envy physicists, M27Holts. I’d like to learn more. Hard to start so late in life (not that I’m old). Maybe some envy. More like frustration with myself for having had, thus far, such a lopsided education (the price that many autodidacts pay for educating themselves willy-nilly).

      If you ever do, later in life, develop some curiosity about all this I would recommend The World as Will and Representation, (Volumes 1 and 2, E.F.J. Payne translation), by my favorite philosopher: Arthur Schopenhauer.

      Finally, with regard to proof and evidence, the onus, I believe, is not on me alone; it is on others too to prove that there is no difference between empirical reality and absolute (mind-independent) reality. That would be quite impossible, however.

      Asking me to prove that a-tree-is-a-tree-is-a-tree (to keep this simple), or to prove that a tree, a landscape, a stone, the moon, the waves, the sun do not exist in some way independently of the mind is not what I am saying (and I’d rather not have to repeat that again). What I am saying is that there is, at the very least, a difference between what appears and what MUST BE but does NOT APPEAR. And it is actually illogical to confuse a simple, common-sense assumption that that which appears to us is no way different than that which IS, independently of that appearance. Not to recognize that there is even a problem, or something there worth considering, and to almost cavalierly assert the identity of the two is, frankly, a knee-jerk reaction of sorts, and also completely natural, as I said before.

    • Phil 106

      You are always talking about models and mathematics in relation to the universe and our knowledge of it, and you feel that after W. metaphysics was left with no standing. What are you saying that we can know about a physically real “thing-in-itself”? Are any of these model based on maths a model that proves the existence of something physical and yet never capable of being perceived by anything?

      (Sorry. I ask for your patience. I am as confused by what you said, as Mr. DArcy was confused about Idealism – after hearing about it from me.)

      So we learn from beings that are not yet conscious? Okay, I should have said: “never was, is not, and never will be, consciousness in the universe.” Nothing to teach and nothing to learn (in my game). How’s that? (But, again, you can, you must, use your consciousness now and make use of what has been learned, to make a case for a physically real quality that must remain in spite of this permanent absence, and make it one that I can understand.)

      The Allegory of the Cave is just that: an allegory. (That, and his Allegory of the Metals, are wonderful allegories.)

    • @ Marco and Phil, others

      Re: My comment 114

      As usual, in spite of my best efforts, I made a couple of glaring grammatical errors which render one sentence almost meaningless. Here it is corrected:

      Asking me to disprove that a-tree-is-a-tree-is-a-tree (to keep this simple) is an absurd request, as it is far too easy. And to prove that a tree, a landscape, a stone, the moon, the waves, the sun, do not exist in some way independently of the mind was never my intention. What I am saying is that there is, at the very least, a difference between what appears and what MUST BE but does NOT APPEAR. And it is actually illogical to confuse a simple, common-sense assumption that that which appears to us is no way different than that which IS, independently of that appearance.

      P.S. I brought up the smell of flowers to make a point: that sensible quality is dependent upon perception. This idea can be applied to the other sensible qualities. But thanks for the information.

    • @ Phil # 110

      “I think he has two interesting propositions. One, we have dealt with before, where I agree with Dan (and Kant etc.) Reality and our experiences of it are always divergent and sometimes spectacularly so…” – Rimmer

      Thanks, Phil. Well said. I’d have liked even more but I’ll take what I can get. (The need for validation.—Human frailty?)

    • To be fair, Dan – I Bet you’ve been dying to get the word “autodidact” into a sentence – made me smile. Marvellous stuff……I have read quite a number of philosophy books – but none by Schopenhauer – I find the metaphysical meanderings of philosophers amusing….but unfortunately none of them has come close to proving mathematically (and empirically) – what physicists have managed to do with the standard model. Yes we really can’t prove that tiny tea-pots existence – and with that simple statement Russell did his Oolon Colluphid and shot down all metaphysical arguments with one simple statement.

    • @ M27Holts 119

      Hi,
      Would you be so kind as to tell me where I can find the quote by Russell that you mentioned?

      Best,
      Dan

    • Dan #105

      and you feel that after W. metaphysics was left with no standing

      The sentence, from which I presume you took this as the basis of the above, was about the rather humiliated state state of philosophy after W. To repeat (for the 6th, 7th? time) Popper got us to see that such musings (i.e. metaphysics, even with their uncertain “signs”) are the very grist for the mill of disruptive hypotheses, though they alone could never conclude an investigative journey as the Theologians had once imagined.

      Are any of these model based on maths a model that proves the existence of something physical and yet never capable of being perceived by anything?

      Again not reflecting what I said. Science doesn’t prove, in philosophical terms, anything. It disproves absolutely or it accumulates certainty. The models represent the mooted elements and their mutual processes of an entity. We may measure in actuality and from our model in a way we believe affected, mooted elements may cause such measurements. Certainty, of the model representing reality, is increased with each novel test of the model in actuality. Certainty is also gained if the model incorporated into another or greater model proves to be accurately predictive. Etc. I refer you to the recent piece on “mastery and understanding” for my views on whether this constitutes “knowing”.

      So we learn from beings that are not yet conscious?

      Again, no. We evolve into beings that are conscious and as I said before we do that personally as well as as a species. I said-

      conscious cognition emerges in evolutionary and personal terms from the automatic.

      I take a very long time writing this stuff because all the detail matters. The property of extension, say, as I illustrated, may as well emerge from a use of energy or time and quite embed itself in our early automatic ant selves through evolution. Some leaves are a glucose homeostatic offset too much. Leaf-too-far “distance” is measured in ant fungus meals, say. Our hopeless subjectivity of observation precedes consciousness. The edge detection that evolves in the mostly blind infant retina does so unconsciously and automatically. The spectacular errors of comprehension that our automatic pre-conscious detectors make quite obviate the need for consciousness to be the generator of perceptual error.

      The shadow on the cave wall is a great model to adapt. It is a model of mapping and profound. The Myth of the Metals is a crass just so story from a self important “guardian”. Metaphors may range from the fruitful to the crass. Simply use them to find out.

    • Hi @Marktony

      Many thanks for the BBC link, and I will take a careful look at it. I know very little about homeopathy in general and I never had enough exposure to it to think about it. Many thanks again, I will carefully watch the material you suggested.

      About Benveniste, yes, the Nature article is negative about the experiment that resulted during their visit. This is why I’m so interested about this whole topic :

      I came across Benveniste’s story totally by chance, quite a while ago.
      There are comments and practices that raise questions on my part, from BOTH sides. This is why I kept on reading about it. There are heavy arguments about Benveniste’s book on this thread – including his attempts to make some money with it (although it would make a meager one, and for his kids actually as the book came out posthumously and so far, only in French and Japanese ) – but for me, I need to see the both sides of the story to have a better idea. I think any skeptic would do that. It really goes on an on but it’s quite interesting.

      That’s all really. My strong comment though, which started all the discussions in this thread, is about the drama that this seems to result, also from both sides. The reports and comments seem that Benveniste was under heavy suspicion in such a way to harm his career. And as it can be read on the reports, the fraud squad actually didn’t find fraud, although, if you read the whole Nature article, they make hints of “stepladders changing position” … I fail to understand what they were trying to say there …

      I don’t know what to make of it, but I find it quite dangerous to make up my mind only on one side’s comments. As for the Benveniste’s comments in his own reports, I hope I could find some evidence too, because the things he writes are equally disturbing.

      That’s really the whole story. For this whole Benveniste saga, I just would like to find out the bottom of the issue. Some people seem to have made up their minds, but I’m new to this issue and I see really weird details, and I’d like to see what’s more about it.

      If this makes me a conspiracy theorist, so be it 🙂

      Thank you very much again, I appreciate, both your reply and the references you included.

    • @ Olgun (118), Phil

      This whole business about models established through various technological processes and measurements, has me confused, Olgun. I admit it. I need time to investigate and reflect.

      I have, however, yet to relinquish anything.

      Just a question: something is either perceived (in some way) or not perceived. I have no doubt that the shaking and orbiting you have referred to is real. I have no doubt that we can prove this. Physicists, with the help of what must be enormously sophisticated technologies, have established, proof of this. But are these proofs, of real shaking and real orbiting, still within the realm of perception and experience (however far removed these perceptions are from the naked eye, so to speak)? or are you suggesting that the physical objects themselves that shake and orbit are shaking and orbiting in my scenario: a universe without consciousness?

      You asked me earlier, the following question about an unperceived moon: “ambiguous to what?” I ask you now: shaking and orbiting with no mind to perceive it.—What is shaking and orbiting? What physical qualities in themselves, apart from everything sensible, do these moving and shaking colossi have as they move and shake?

      (I also question the idea of motion without time. And time, in my exceedingly humble opinion, is not absolute. Time is in us. Empirically, we are in time.)

      But as I said before, I am confused. These infernal models!

      This thread has been a crucible, as I also said previously. Interesting to note the variety of responses to my own most unpalatable “model.”

    • Re: Bullshit, woo, deepity, horse-shit, Dunning-Kruger, etc., etc.

      I’ll tell you who I think is full of shit: Wittgenstein. Reading his so-called masterpiece: Philosophical Investigations. Filled with nothing but horror and disgust.
      He was either a genius or vastly overrated. I suspect it’s the latter.
      One of the great hoaxes of the Twentieth Century.
      A mind destroyer, a twisted man, a master obscurantist. He hoodwinked a generation, was the father of post modernist drivel, and derailed transcendentalism, which can be reason-based. Transcendentalism is often nothing more than superstition. Not one or the other. It all depends on who is writing or speaking.
      Wittgenstein put an end to metaphysics and transcendentalism once and for all, I hear. (Russell too.) Sure.

      “It is conceivable that I feel pain in a tooth in another man’s mouth; and the man who says that he cannot feel the other toothache is not denying this. The grammatical difficulty we are in we shall only see clearly if we get familiar with the idea of feeling pain in another person’s body.”
      -From the great and profound Blue and Brown Books

      Thanks, Bonnie. I keep forgetting to google stuff.

    • @ M27Holts #119

      Oh yes! I remember reading about Russell’s parable of the teapot in Dawkins’ marvelous book The God Delusion. I love the parable of the teapot!

    • Olgun #129
      Apr 5, 2016 at 6:01 am

      I was doing well until:

      a universe without consciousness?

      I have no idea what that is?

      If ET does not exist, and humans achieve a total extinction of all life on Earth, there could well be “a universe without consciousness” or brains – as there was before life evolved!

    • A lot of philosophy has been written about events not actually being an event without an Observer to witness the event. But again, this metaphysical gibberish can be obliterated by the application of Occam’s razor. The problem with trying to apply the razor when in conversations with person who refuse to think critically (usually the religious it has to be said) is that they simply do not understand the negation of their argument in terms of the disregard of unnecessary hypotheses….At that point I usually just get myself another pint…..

    • Olgun #131
      Apr 5, 2016 at 6:22 am

      @ Alan – I know what it means in scientific terms but not in philosophical. Dan has now(?) said that things exist without us but keeps asking if it is ‘real’ and that seems like a contradiction to me?

      Yep! Scientific clarity and philosophical word juggling, are two different forms of presentation! 🙂

      Still – I think we are on the right thread for that!!

    • Dan.

      A mind destroyer, a twisted man, a master obscurantist. He hoodwinked a generation, was the father of post modernist drivel, and derailed transcendentalism, which can be reason-based.

      I think we need to put some sand down here before someone steps in it…

      Jeffrey Skilling former boss of Enron had a favourite book. He loved it because it proved him right. Selfish was right. The book? The Selfish Gene. He may have been very, very clever, but confirmation bias makes people idiots.

      Lyotard took one small application of W’s language game and went from there for right or wrong. (Yup, wrong probably best describes it.)

      I won’t correct the mis-statements yet again, but retire, pending the restart of conversation.

    • Hi again @Marktony,

      Thanks again for the BBC Horizon video which I watched. Quick question : Is there a way to find out the experiment protocol and details ? The reason why I’m asking this, I’d like to see if it was a similar experiment to Benveniste’s, and it was following the similar protocol and even, verifying the same parameters …

      I don’t know it by heart as I write this, but I am not sure if Benveniste’s original protocol was with histamine, also, not sure if the experiment details are exactly the same. This could be interesting to check out.

    • M27Holts, Olgun, Phil, others

      I am frustrated by my own inability to convey to Olgun and others, the meaning of my question. So I have taken a bit of time to simplify this:

      No consciousness in the universe. (Alan acknowledged that this scenario is quite thinkable and it is.)

      M27Holts thinks that I am playing with words and thinks that I am creating a lose-lose situation, when I am merely presenting a a hypothetical scenario in order to ask a question, setting the stage, as it were.

      Forgot then that you do not have consciousness. That is what is causing the confusion. You think that if you remove consciousness you are not still free to use it in order to answer the question. No, you can use it as you try to answer the question, but you have to describe something that cannot be known and yet is.

      (That is presenting a challenge to you, I see. That is really my point in a way! — There isn’t much left to think, is there?)

      If you cannot do that then describe a twig or a stone or a piece of furniture or we can stick with the moon if you wish and if you can, please eliminate all sensible qualities from your answer, as there is no way that even the most stubborn realist can assert reasonably that a tree is brown or hard, or that it provides shade, or is soft to the touch, or that it gives off a pleasant smell, etc. in this scenario where there are no existing beings with senses to apprehend those qualities and effects! (Do you believe in consciousness without beings that are conscious?) But if you think you can reasonably assert that, then do so. (Remember: you do have senses and consciousness now, but you must be careful to keep the object you are now describing separate from those senses and that consciousness.)

      I hope that’s a bit clearer.

      Or, if you prefer, describe for me as many of the physically real qualities that any article of nature might have had before there was consciousness (which you now have, although you must be careful to keep it separate from the object(s) in question whose qualities I have asked you to describe). Got it?

      (Occam’s Razor. Not sure precisely what that is. But I don’t think there is any violation of logic here. None whatsoever. I am not anti-Reason or anti-science. On the contrary. This question is, historically, a philosophical one, but it is not bullshit. If you think it is then so be it.)

      Sorry, Phil, I am unable to comprehend at the present time all of your points in your comment, # 120.

    • Re: # 138

      No, no, SC. No. Listen: you say that objects (like the moon) exist without anyone there to perceive it. So use your conscious mind now and simply describe that moon, but eliminate all of the qualities that are subjective, such as all of the senses. And while you are at it, eliminate any quality that one can be conscious of. Get to what you no doubt regard as the real thing.

      Are you saying that there has to be a conscious observer in order for every quality to exist? Is that what science has taught us? Well if you don’t think that, then please describe what qualities (if any) would remain.

      For example, you might think that matter, or energy, or solidity, or motion, exists without a conscious participant, as it were.

      So do you get it now?

      Look, I presented this question as well as I can in # 136. If you cannot grasp it, then so be it. It is not a trick. I can assure you of that, and I have no wish to cause vexation.

      I am sympathetic to your confusion. It is very hard to describe what something is like, to describe what something is, without confusing empirical reality with non-empirical reality. That is because science, and the disposition of the human intellect, is empirical. It starts from the object, you see. But good philosophers do not take such things as objects for granted. But I ask you to try (as I want to learn) what all this is when you remove all qualities that are essentially subjective, and are left with only what is absolute and objective!

      Not semantics. Not sophistry. I am asking a question worthy of the respect of any scientist. I know about Berkeley and his solipsism. I am aware of Kant’s refutation. Forget about those guys and be a scientist and tell me what is left over after all of the sensible and other qualities associated with objects (and you can pick any object you wish) are eliminated.

      One ought not to just dismiss this or evade it, and at the moment, I don’t care, frankly, what others have said on the other thread or elsewhere. I would like someone here and now to either tell me that they have tried and failed to answer the question, or to provide me with a positive, satisfactory and conceivable answer.

      Btw, your analogy, SC, about a living person describing a dead person is apt. You cannot describe a sound in a scenario where there are no ears. You have expressed, unwittingly, a sensible analogy. I like that.

    • Dan.

      So this IS about the Hard Problem!

      The more usual question is to posit p-Zombies.

      p-Zombies have all our brainstates, actions, language, culture but lack the singular vivid wakeful experience of qualities. Their brains, subconsciously process all this stuff. They act indistinguishably from us having the same brainstates.

      Are p-Zombies philosophically possible?

      We and p-Zombies are evolved to be detectors of our environment for our survival. When developing culture, sharing our detections gave us huge advantage. Common labels, tags, signs for these allowed us the exchange of experience whilst leaving the actual internal nature of our qualia (if we are human not zombie) entirely private. We share them at the level of the detectors and what they respond to out of their own (physics) nature.

      I had thought the question was abount Kant’s dichotomy

      Things as they appear, or “phenomena”, which constitute the immanent world of common experience, which (according to Kant) is illusion.
      Things in themselves, or “noumena”, which (according to Kant) constitute a transcendental world to which we have no empirical access, which is reality.

      And the proposition that phenomena dissappear without experiencers?

      Saying clearly what you seek to prove would help here.

    • Re 140

      Phil, you were right the first time. Not about zombies. This is about what we can know (if anything) about objective existence.
      I personally think that objective existence is an oxymoron, but you know what I mean. Language must be employed here, and there is no other word to use but existence. So describe an object’s existence, but eliminate the subject entirely. Choose something specific, if you can. Doesn’t have to be an object even; that would be unfair and would limit you. Matter, for example. Or atoms, or energy.— Something.

    • Michael #88
      Apr 3, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Unfortunately, I get the impression that the discussion is not really fertile.

      I have certainly presented enough scientific evidenced links and quotes to make it fertile, should you chose to make use of them and address this issues!

      If you think that you’re right about your points, including the case I wrote about (Benveniste) you can go ahead and think that you’re right, and I’m wrong. I don’t feel the need to spend more time on explaining or justifying you about my view of the issues, it would not head to anywhere and we’d keep turning in circles.

      Perhaps you should try harder at understanding the detailed evidence I have provided, if you are going to comment about the quality of scientific studies and the peer-review process.

      What I did about Benveniste case was reading a first article, or a youtube video (I can’t even remember). Then I went to every source (among which the ones you mentioned excerpts from) and at each material, there were more references, and I went on checking them on and on and on. You can do the same.

      This is the sort of claim which causes problems of credibility when I examine the evidence of expert evaluations and repeated failures to replicate, which you do not seem to understand.

      Then I went on reading more material and see how Benveniste himself answers to many accusations and also provides with additional info with relevant details to the experiments and their biological effects themselves. A part of this material is not available in English. I’m sorry for this, if you don’t speak French it would be hard for you to have exposure to that side of the story (and maybe food for thought regarding your extent of research before making up your mind). I can’t say I’m at Benveniste’s side, there are also some questions that raise in my mind about some of his own actions in this affair, but at least, I do my best to have an as large landscape as possible about this topic.

      While I do speak basic French, I think this French (which you have not commented on following its earlier posting), is all that is required!

      INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale ,) placed Benveniste on probation following a routine evaluation of his lab.

      The question is not about homeopathy here.

      Really!
      To what extent have you compared Benveniste’s claims with those of homeopathy?

      But indeed, its possible links that might be used for defending homeopathy was a delicate side of this whole affair. But it was not relevant to the experiments themselves.

      Really?
      In view of your following comment: – How would you know?

      Michael #122
      Apr 4, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      I know very little about homeopathy in general and I never had enough exposure to it to think about it.

      Perhaps you should have addressed this issue first BEFORE making the earlier claims on this thread!

    • SC

      me arguing the David Chalmers view on consciousness and Steve Zara arguing the Daniel Dennett view ( which I have since converted to )

      Good man!

      I remember the exchanges clearly.

      Why the conversion? SZ’s argument for the inability of Chalmer’s epiphenomenon to develop reports of its own action rendered the Chalmer’s “solution” as ineffective. It also spuriously added the requirement of some fancy unlocking of the effect with brains like thus but not so. Either of those?

      Incidentally welcome back. I trust you are well?

    • Dan #143

      Why? Why would I attempt to do that? Communicate with no-one? What new or useful will I learn?

      That I communicate with experiencers, means, to do so, I must build first on the common substrate of experience, to proceed to the abstraction of mathematical and logical models (to break free of mere parochial experience), means I (and they) must, like Wittgenstein use a prosaic ladder to leave behind as much vestige of parochial experience that colours our respective descriptions. Anyone I may want to “talk” to, I will be able to talk to, experiencers the both of us.

    • Ah, yes the Dennett “multiple drafts” hypothesis V a sort of homunculi in the brain looking at images played out in the Cartesian theatre – Consciousness explained – is a very good book and Dennett is one of those philosophers who is well worth reading!

    • @ Phil 145

      Phil, this is infuriating! You and others have argued repeatedly that Kant’s distinction between the the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon is an erroneous one. Therefore, you think that there is REAL existence without the mind. So describe that “object.”

      Just employ your knowledge of science and tell me what is left over after all of the subjective conditions associated with our experience of the objective world is eliminated and you are left with the “object-in-itself.” What is it? Tell me what it is.

      Even you? Not even you can grasp this question. No one can.

      I told you, a number of times, that that this doctrine is an enormously subtle one, and apparently I was right.

      If you think that the objects that we see and study and observe and think about have a mind-independent, real existence then say something about it. Describe it. Name one quality that can be said to exist prior to, or independently of, all knowledge, all consciousness, all sensibility.

      Think about this. Read Schopenhauer if you have to. I want you to get this! Get back to me when you can.
      Sorry guy, you don’t get it. Have some humility.—I have plenty, don’t know a damned thing about physics.

      Regards to one and all.

    • Cat #150

      Ever the engineer, I was a confirmed supporter of the idea that the Hard Problem was only apparently and not actually a problem by the fact that none of my neurosience sources in fifty years had found an informational defecit that required this meta-experience to be singled out for study.

      I’m currently re-reading “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” having recently commended it. Its so rich in recent historical detail of the evolution (!) of some of these ideas. In thinking there is something to explain about consciousness, a class of scientist was keen not to choose the reactive, blind engineer of evolution, but the nobler clean driving principles of physics.. Thus, mighty Penrose, invents quantum gravity in tubules (or some such). This still does service as a bookstop for me. Astonishingly, Dennett reveals in this class of scientist also is Chomsky. He always remained fairly schtumm on how “the Language Module” that he posited giving a speeding leg up to language acquisition could have possibly come about. Dennett reveals Chomsky thought (hoped) it would have the nobility of a Principle of Physics behind it.

      My own view now is evolution of multiple staged language modules, with the human key lying in the very recent development of the post natal growth of the brain areas around the linking, associative corteces, the result of our remarkable neotony.

      Great book.

    • Schrodinger’s Cat 146

      In other words you cannot step outside of consciousness and make an observation on consciousness itself.

      No ploy, and that is NOT what I am saying at all. I am not asking anyone to make an observation on consciousness outside of consciousness. I am asking you to tell me what we can say about an “object” (any object; pick one) if there was no consciousness. I am asking you to describe that object. (If you can’t you can’t.) I am merely asking you and others to first eliminate the sensible qualities and consciousness altogether, and then tell me what science has taught us about what, say, the moon would then be like.

      Is Man really the measure of all thing? I thought the universe didn’t care about us! That’s what everyone says. So let’s get rid of our paltry little brains in this (entirely plausible) scenario. Tell me what science has taught us about this vast world, this object-filled universe – prior to, or independently, of all of the qualities associated with, and derived from, experience.

      The moon did exist before consciousness, right? Let’s assume it did. So what was it like? I am trying to get you and others to tell me what is known (if anything) about the thing-in-itself (Kant).

      And you do not understand the question, and I would never use a ploy. I resent that. But it’s okay.

      I’ll help you out. You can say: without consciousness everything would be the same as it is with consciousness. Or you could say: there would be pure energy, or maybe pure matter, pure this, pure that. Just tell me what we can say about phenomena independently of perception and knowledge. What have we learned about the “objects of nature,” the universe, prior to the emergence of consciousness?

      This will be my last attempt (for a while) to explain what I mean.

      No ploy. No tricks. You have my word, friend.

    • You… have argued repeatedly that Kant’s distinction between the the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon is an erroneous one.

      I agree with Dan (and Kant etc.) Reality and our experiences of it are always divergent and sometimes spectacularly so.

      So, so tired of the continual misrepresentation of my position, Dan. You don’t have to reset to zero your view of the other each time you don’t get compliance.

    • @ Dan

      Hi, Dan!

      You wrote, “Name one quality that can be said to exist prior to, or independently of, all knowledge, all consciousness, all sensibility.”

      Forgive me, please, as I know I’ve asked this before: what difference does it make? I honestly don’t see any value in the wondering. Maybe I’m more shallow than I’d like to think?

    • 155

      We model the unseen both in time and place or scale. We can know with a specifiable degree of reliability what phenomena might have been experienced by experiencers when there were no experiencers in time and place and using metaphor we can conjur meta-phenomena at scales of being otherwise unavailable to experiencers.

      If I were dropped back in time by 4bn years the phenomena I could expect would be some version of our model of it.

      Iceland, jagged basalt cliffs with a huge moon zipping across the sky and tides 100 times higher.

      We always model as if an experiencer/experimenter is present because we must parse the output.

    • Phil, SC, anyone and everyone

      It is nonsensical to ask how could one imagine the universe in the absence of anyone existing to imagine it.

      I am not asking what something would look like if there were no eyes in the universe, or anything like that. That would be nonsensical and a trick-question. Nor am I asking you to imagine the universe without employing thought or “imagination” in the process. You may do so. But what you describe must be separate from what can be perceived through the senses, or known in some way by a conscious entity. Therefore, such qualities as bright or big or soft would have to be eliminated. But not everything is dependent upon sense impressions or even knowledge, is it? Aren’t there some primary qualities that you can think of? Well describe these primary qualities. Extended? solid? in motion? Please try to grasp this question.

      What has science established about the qualities of the moon (or anything else for that matter) before the emergence of consciousness?

      Employ thought, employ imagination if you need to, use language, and simply tell me what qualities any object (and you can take your pick) can be said to have, if there was no knowledge in the universe. Has science advanced so little? Is there nothing you can tell me about any object in nature as a thing-in-itself?
      Has there always been consciousness? Obviously not.

      We know about prehistoric times. So what have we learned about pre-consciousness times? Tell me what the moon was before there was consciousness, perception, brains, etc. It is obvious that it didn’t look like anything. But is that all the moon is known to be, something we look at? Come on.

    • Dan #163

      OK. To put us out of our misery I’ll offer tidal bivalve evolution. Though I was perfectly happy with my first offering of light to cut leaves by.

      So it can’t be extension, or solid or movement because those can be perceived by the senses.

      A quality not perceived by the senses and not known by other means…

      Goddess-like? Cheesy? Some lie or other? Charm?

      You got me. Now what’s the point?

      And why do you talk about the moon then only ask questions about observers?

    • Out of interest the moon takes a hundred heartbeats to move its own width in the sky….

    • What a long dry and mostly humourless topic this has become. Who knew BS could be so unfunny!

      Until Phil takes the pulse of the moon. Thank you Phil, that’s somehow Poetic.

      And Alan (#25) who said:

      According to the motorcycle handbook, all “the mechanics of manifestation” are all hidden inside the crankcase!

      That handbook would be Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I presume.

      Hoping to restore the balance of humour, anyone heard of the Australian Philosopher, Arthur Happyhour, who couldn’t tell his nose from his willy?

    • @ Vicki 161

      What difference does it make?

      Hi,

      No. That is an excellent question. I do not have the energy to address it now, and it is a very large question indeed. I will make a note of it, and will definitely get back to you at some point, if I can find an appropriate place here to do so.

      Hell, I can’t just say nothing, but this will be quite inadequate. The Will in nature is metaphysical. Our own will is metaphysical. (More on this some other time.) And if there is a knowable thing-in-itself as opposed to the Will as thing-in-itself, there can be no true moral goodness. The false claims of Realism confuse the mind and bar the way to enlightenment and to an understanding of the true nature of morality (compassion), thus inhibiting its expression. (Exhausted. Sorry. Wish I could talk more. There are several reasons why it matters. I am merely touching on one.) Read carefully (please).

      The assertion of an empirical freedom of the will, a
      liberum arbitrium indifferentiae, agrees precisely with the
      doctrine that places the inner nature of man in a soul,
      which is originally a knowing, and indeed really an
      abstract thinking nature, and only in consequence of this
      a willing nature — a doctrine which thus regards the
      will as of a secondary or derivative nature, instead of
      knowledge which is really so. The will indeed came to
      be regarded as an act of thought, and to be identified
      with the judgment, especially by Descartes and Spinoza.
      According to this doctrine every man must become
      what he is only through his knowledge ; he must enter
      the world as a moral cipher come to know the things in
      it, and thereupon determine to be this or that, to act
      thus or thus, and may also through new knowledge
      achieve a new course of action, that is to say, become
      another person. Further, he must first know a thing
      to be good, and in consequence of this will it, instead of
      first willing it, and in consequence of this calling it good.
      According to my fundamental point of view, all this is a
      reversal of the true relation. Will is first and original ;
      knowledge is merely added to it as an instrument be-
      longing to the phenomenon of will. Therefore every
      man is what he is through his will, and his character is
      original, for willing is the basis of his nature. Through
      the knowledge which is added to it he comes to know in
      the course of experience what he is, i.e., he learns his
      character. Thus he knows himself in consequence of and
      in accordance with the nature of his will, instead of
      willing in consequence of and in accordance with his
      knowing. According to the latter view, he would only
      require to consider how he would like best to be, and he
      would be it ; that is its doctrine of the freedom of the
      will. Thus it consists really in this, that a man is his
      own work guided by the light of knowledge. I, on the
      contrary, say that he is his own work before all know-
      ledge, and knowledge is merely added to it to enlighten
      it. Therefore he cannot resolve to be this or that, nor
      can he become other than he is ; but he is once for all,
      and he knows in the course of experience what he is.
      According to one doctrine he wills what he knows, and
      according to the other he knows what he wills.
      -Arthur Schopenhauer (WWR Vol 1., Bk IV)

    • Dan

      Will is first and original ; knowledge is merely added to it as an instrument belonging to the phenomenon of will. Therefore every man is what he is through his will, and his character is original, for willing is the basis of his nature.

      Dan. I recognise this is the kind of world you want to live in. But it simply doesn’t comport with actual knowledge of how brains appear to work. There are two few mooted entities to create the varieties of observed behaviours. Like souls, it makes for handy metaphors to tell simple stories. But by its simplicity it necessarily generates non-real artifacts when over applied.

      I really, really, have to leave you here until the day you discover Google and the new metaphysics. and its continual journeying after (say) 1905.

    • ouch!

      too few mooted entities…

    • Michael #88
      Apr 3, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Alan4discussion, thank you again. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the discussion is not really fertile.

      Rationally evaluated scientific evidence is a better basis for conclusions than impressions.

      If you think that you’re right about your points, including the case I wrote about (Benveniste) you can go ahead and think that you’re right, and I’m wrong.

      Scientific conclusions are not made by choosing what we want to believe or recycling confirmation biases in circular arguments or unevidenced assertions.

      I don’t feel the need to spend more time on explaining or justifying you about my view of the issues, it would not head to anywhere and we’d keep turning in circles.

      Indeed! Until you take the scientific evidence from a professional body and several scientific journals seriously, you will just keep recycling confirmation biases you have picked up from dubious sources!

      What I did about Benveniste case was reading a first article, or a youtube video (I can’t even remember).

      A youtube video or blog article, and a book of excuses from a rogue scientist who was given an official warning about his behaviour, really do not look like reliable sources of information, and are certainly not a basis for ignoring reputable researchers, with articles in several highly rated scientific journals or, official bodies commenting on professional standards!

      Michael #122
      Apr 4, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      I know very little about homeopathy in general
      and I never had enough exposure to it to think about it.

      A string of assertions and opinions about tests purporting to support homeopathy, really have no credibility, when those opinions are from someone who freely admits to making no study of the the subject of homeopathy at all!

      To then use this as a basis for making sweeping statements about the standards of peer-review in general, is laughable!

    • I think Dan should ponder on something more important – Like why is it that, after each pint of Holt’s bitter I imbibe, the female attractiveness increases. But is the increase in direct proportion to the amount of beer molecules I ingest or is it logarithmic? I usually come to the conclusion (after 10 pints) that all the women are now Hollywood starlet quality…this is usually known as the Shallow-Hal effect……..

    • Phil, OHooligan and SC, Alan

      “…until the day you discover Google and the new metaphysics.”

      Phil, I did not want to get into the Will. I can’t do justice to the idea of the Will as thing-in-itself. I would need weeks, months! I was obligated to respond to a question. Forget the Will.

      Now you still have not answered my question. (I am not sure that you even understand it.) Nor have I misrepresented you.—Not entirely. You and I have had long exchanges about this: the unknowability of the thing-in-itself. You have never, to my knowledge, conceded my point. You have consistently maintained that what we do not know just isn’t known yet. Perhaps by forgetting your “yet” I have misrepresented you a bit. But let’s talk about what we can or cannot conceive of now.

      OHooligan, hi! I don’t think that this is a bullshit question. Listen. Listen everyone:

      You may think that I am asking something like this: what would a sound sound like without an ear.

      That would be meaningless. That would be BS.

      My question once again (and everyone here, that has spoken, has indicated that they regard this question itself as ridiculous): what can we say now about any object if we remove all sensible qualities? what is left?
      can we distinguish between an “object” as it IS and that same “object” as it appears? And if the former is possible then I ask you to simply say something anything, about the qualities that we are justified in, as it were, attaching to this unperceived entity.

      Clearly the objects (irony) existed prior to their being observed in some way; so what can we say about this “preconsciousness” object, as I have been forced to call it? For example, is it pure energy? pure matter? is it solid? is it large? Can we say anything? Remember: no subject. No brain.

      My point is that it may be impossible to do this, and Kant was right: we only know that which appears: we can say nothing about what an object is in itself. But it must BE: hence the famous term thing-in-itself. As soon as you say anything about any object it implies some kind of perception or knowledge.

      Reply to this, and spare me (or yourselves) the jokes, as it only sounds like you’ve had a taste of sour (bitter) grapes.

    • @ Phil (and Alan)

      You got me. Now what’s the point?

      I don’t know if you are being serious or just vexed. The point? The point? We (including many teachers, scientist, physicists, as well as the rest of us) are all deluding ourselves and each other when we imagine the world and the universe, its past and possible future, without brains; as we imagine, we make the error of retaining these illusory images, and of assuming that the very same qualities that we merely associate with these images do actually inhere in the things themselves. This is something I have alway been against.

      So it can’t be extension, or solid or movement because those can be perceived by the senses.

      Again, I don’t know if this is sincere or not. (Motion is a tough one; why would you throw that in like that?)

      So when speaking about the “objective universe” in this way, through custom and habit, it behooves us to maybe reflect for a moment, and consider it from the perspective that I have, in good faith, presented, and make room in our minds to acknowledge that there is a virtually incalculable difference between what is and what appears.— It behooves us to consider refraining from scoffing at (what I still consider to be) an important, vitally important, contribution to the history of Thought: Kant’s doctrine of the distinction between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon. It remains valid, may in fact be quite irrefutable.

      Confession: after reading all of the comments I am not sure that I am not the one who is deluded. (Well we all doubt ourselves, don’t we?)

    • @ Phil

      “I really, really, have to leave you here until the day you discover Google and the new metaphysics. and its continual journeying after (say) 1905.” – Phil

      What! You give me condescending and ambiguous replies on a subject dear to my heart and you expect me to be open to this? And this is way too broad. I wouldn’t know where to begin!

    • @ Schrodinger’s Cat (And what kind of a name is that? Hard to write.) #178

      It is transcendental idealism, but there has been much confusion about it ever since it was first presented and that confusion has persisted to the present time. — And it cannot be understood by merely saying the words “transcendental idealism.” Perhaps it can (in some cases), but experience has taught me otherwise. (Also, there are forms of idealism that I disagree with and these are often confused with true (critical) idealism. You mentioned Berkeley. Case in point, although he is quite rightly called the father of idealism.

      Thanks.

      Regards,
      DR

    • @ Phil #170

      “Like souls, it makes for handy metaphors to tell simple stories. But by its simplicity it necessarily generates non-real artifacts when over applied.”

      Phil, this will be my last comment for today. You were responding to my quoted passage about the will. This criticism is just bad. You are comparing Schopenhauer’s profound conception of Will to that infernal object of superstition: a soul! (by insinuation at least), and that is exactly the opposite of what S was trying to establish. The intellect was always equated with knowledge of God or spirit or what have you, and had a kind of halo around it, if I may borrow a phrase from W (although I am taking that out of context). That is what S is against. You are free to reject the idea of the will as primary and knowledge as secondary, but why don’t you believe me when I say that he arrived at that painstakingly, methodically, and was exceedingly precise and careful every step of the way? You condemn too quickly and always refer to “what we now know and didn’t know then.” You take a passage, glance at it (in this forum you’ve done that), make zero attempt to understand it, and then tell me it’s bullshit. It is not possible to arrive at such a conclusion (in this case) so quickly.

      You asked me to read modern metaphysics. Why don’t you read On the Will in Nature and then respond, or just say it doesn’t interest you? But you misrepresent my ideas as much as you say I misrepresent yours! You’re as bad as me!

      Bye, for now.

    • @dan RE: @ Schrodinger’s Cat (And what kind of a name is that? Hard to write.)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat

    • @ Alan

      Alan, my good man, I have apparently exhausted the patience of all of these fine people here, as far as this matter is concerned. You, however, have been strangely, uncharacteristically, silent.

      This is perhaps the last and maybe the best opportunity I will have on this site to discuss this issue (so dear to my heart) at such length. (Where else but on a BS thread?)

      Is my premise: things that appear are entirely different than things as they are a valid one? And if it is, how far, based on your considerable knowledge, do you think we can go, at the present time, in describe any given object (pick anyone) in nature in isolation? Obviously when you look at a tree and turn away the tree is still there (as an image of an image, as it were). But if a tree had never been seen or perceived or known about in some way, and yet still exist independently of the mind, as you say it does, what, pray tell, is left of it even after the sensible qualities alone are eliminated? You have described things in the past: waves, vibrations, have referred to processes that involve mathematics and technologies of various kinds, which prove the real existence of all kinds of phenomena. But what can a human being know of, say, a tree by examining such data, and what, finally, IS a tree in itself?

      And what is real existence, finally? What constitutes it? A vibration (something you have adamantly maintained is real in the past): is that real? Real to what? to who? Or is reality not defined that way? If it isn’t then would you agree that this reality-in-itself is not so wholly removed from Kant’s thing-in-itself?

      (“The thing-in-itself is a posited object or event that is known (if at all) without the use of ordinary sense-perception. The term thing-in-itself is generally used in contrast with, or in relation to phenomenon, which refers to anything that can be apprehended by, or is an object of the senses.” -Good old wiki)

      Note: I substituted the word noumenon for Kant’s thing-in-itself.

    • After “…extraneous and obfuscating utterances.”, there are plenty of “Imaginary, transcendental and irrational numbers.” I challenge Michael Shermer to try his hand at Euler’s Constant or some other type of mathematical BS? And that’s no compound interest.

      GL

    • Schrodinger’s Cat # 146

      Hello,

      Dennett’s heterophenomenology (a real mouthful), as you have presented it, deals with nothing close to the issue that I am discussing. (And I like Dennett a lot; don’t get me wrong. Perhaps he does deal with it well. I only know what you just presented).

      “Thus if 10 million apples fall off 10 million trees and 10 million observers all observe the apples accelerating downwards with a specific rate that never changes…it can be assumed that a phenomenon called gravity exists !

      “The issue then becomes that it is easier and simpler to conjecture that gravity is an external force that operates independently of the observer than it is to conclude that 10 million observers all share some idealism mind that never makes a mistake!!”

      You have added absolutely nothing here, and do not understand this issue. I have no doubt that you’re an exceedingly smart person and quite capable of understanding it, but, again, it is obvious to me that you do not (yet) understand this issue.

      Gravity is real: Granted. (It is empirically real.) External force: Impossible to conceive of in a world of Actual Being where the division of subject and object has no place. External? External to what? What is moving through space in this world you are conjuring up? What objects? What can they be said to be? Do you mean that red apple that just fell? that nice, red, sweet-tasting apple?

      Sorry. I just want to get my point across: there is a problem.—The antithesis between the Real and the Ideal is a legitimate problem. Not BS.

      Okay.

    • Dan #185
      Apr 6, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      Alan, my good man, I have apparently exhausted the patience of all of these fine people here, as far as this matter is concerned. You, however, have been strangely, uncharacteristically, silent.

      This is perhaps the last and maybe the best opportunity I will have on this site to discuss this issue (so dear to my heart) at such length.

      I left it largely alone, because we have covered many aspects of this “perceived mental models V underlying material realities”, earlier on other threads, so I have little to add.

      Also I was busy with the rogue scientist / homeopathy issue.

      I put the Schrodinger’s Cat link on, as I thought you would find it interesting – only to find Steven007 had beaten me to it while my link was awaiting moderation.

    • @ Alan 184

      Yes, I understand. But this thread was different. I have to say (and I don’t want to flatter myself) I think I did a fairly decent job this time representing my thesis, presenting my argument / question.

      Do not feel constrained, but could you perhaps briefly reiterate your position? (I have built-in forgetters.) When sensible qualities are eliminated (and there can be no sensible qualities inherent in “objects-in-themselves” and no objects without subjects, for that matter) what is left? What is the nature of the underlying “material reality” you have just referred to . . . and what is V?

      P.S. Homeopathy is for the birds. No offense to the birds.

    • Dan #189
      Apr 6, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      What is the nature of the underlying “material reality” you have just referred to

      It is the physical nature of matter, energy and forces, to which science tries to match its models of the workings of the universe. (at various levels of accuracy).

      It can also be the basis for objective, probabalistic constructions of mental models in individuals, but of course individuals can also construct fanciful imaginary models which are pure fiction or “castles in the air”!

      . . . and what is V?

      “perceived mental models Versus underlying material realities”,

      Which are usually less than a 100% match.

      Bullshit and semantic word-salad, are of course, usually too incoherent to even be wrong, or to have any probability score allocated to them.

    • @ Schrodinger’s Cat and others (Alan?)

      A bit more on gravity and other forces (and then I will give you guys
      a much needed vacation from what you all clearly regard as metaphysical
      mumbo-jumbo).

      (To be bullshit, or not to be bullshit, that is the question.)

      “let us think of some kind of machine
      constructed according to the laws of mechanics. Iron
      weights begin the motion by their gravity ; copper wheels
      resist by their rigidity, affect and raise each other and
      the lever by their impenetrability, and so on. Here
      gravity, rigidity, and impenetrability are original unex-
      plained forces ; mechanics only gives us the condition
      under which, and the manner in which, they manifest
      themselves, appear, and govern a definite matter, time,
      and place. If, now, a strong magnet is made to attract
      the iron of the weight, and overcome its gravity, the
      movement of the machine stops, and the matter becomes
      forthwith the scene of quite a different force of nature
      — magnetism, of which etiology again gives no further
      explanation than the condition under which it appears.”
      -S.

    • P.S. Okay, I understand that what is stated in the above-quote is out of date, and may not be the last word on the subject (of forces). But that does not mean that everything the man said is wrong in its entirety. Nor does it mean that everything I have said is entirely wrong. That would be an unreasonable conclusion to draw.

      I will leave you with this: “Do not understand me too quickly.” — André Gide

    • I think you’re forced to exclude the mind from the universe as we commonly think of it in order to justify your beliefs about the unknowable essence of things. That’s what I was getting at with trusting reason and language.

    • @dan

      Is my premise: “things that appear are entirely different than things as they are” a valid one?

      (I’ve added quotes to make the parsing easier, I hope I didn’t destroy the meaning.)

      Since you asked, my answer – if you don’t want humour – has to be NO.

      And after that NO, the rest of your writing, no matter how well backed up by quotes from respected thinkers/writers of long ago, ceases to mean anything to me. Sorry.

      I also think that humour better addresses many of the unresolved issues of Life, the Universe, and Everything than does the kind of thinking that you appear to support. Monty Python, Black Adder, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett work far better for me at exposing truths than anything I’ve seen cataloged under “Philosophy”.

      What I find interesting, though, is that your quotes seem to pre-date the upheaval in science that led to relativity, quantum mechanics, and all that followed, putting Schrodinger’s cat among Skinner’s pigeons, to mangle a metaphor. Maybe you’re suggesting these philosophers had an inkling of what the scientists of their day had yet to encounter.

      I shall try to take your advice, and not understand you too quickly. Actually, I don’t understand you at all, but that won’t stop me answering at least some of your more rhetorical questions. Don’t take it as criticism, because, since we’re doing quotes: “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand” – Bob Dylan.

    • @ OHooligan

      I love humor. Please use it, as much and as often as you can, and don’t feel constrained on my account; I just got a little uptight before. I’m human.

      As for the Dylan quote, I think mine is a little better, frankly – although I do appreciate the sentiment. But we can’t ever understand anything entirely, can we? Hell, you don’t have to understand everything you criticize. If we had to wait to gain a perfect understanding of things we’d never criticize anything.

      It’s all about balance (a nice, trite cliché); most of us criticize and judge and condemn too damned much, and too damned quickly! So Dylan is definitely on to something.

      Best,

      Dan

    • @ Sean_W

      “I think you’re forced to exclude the mind from the universe as we commonly think of it in order to justify your beliefs about the unknowable essence of things.”

      I would put it this way, Sean: in order to get my interlocutors to appreciate a very subtle and (in most cases) strange and unfamiliar theory, concerning the unknowable essence of things, I must try very hard to get them to exclude, to the best of their ability, the qualities that are essentially subjective from any description of objective phenomena (so-called). Otherwise they will continue to mix up what is of subjective origin with whatever qualities may actually inhere in the objects of the universe themselves.

      Well I tried and failed. Best Wishes.—DR

    • Dan #182

      I am fully aware of the complexities of S’s thoughts on the will and how that leads him to incorporate it into his vision of solipsistic universes. This is the very essence of my complaint. Mooting an entity without parts makes it far too generative and unconstrained.

      I want to get back to your question to explain why I think you are half right but only half.

      My brother was a maths professor. He specialised in low speed fluid dynamics and claimed he could not readily converse with a high speed fluid dynamics specialist. It would take many days and weeks of mutual teaching to learn the particular maths needed.

      To most closely approach the noumenal we build models of what we think it might be and using mathematics we make the the model run. Most data it produces we really have no idea how to even think of it. The up, down, charm, sex appeal and peppermint of quarks etc., though these elements feed back into the grinding cogs of our mathematical model. A few parameters we know how to measure (at least, our models seek to enfold any errors of perception we suspect) and working from these we seek to fine tune the model to make it yield perfect prediction. Having done so we may reasonably think we have, in our model (this super charged and logical metaphor), glimpsed some of the noumenal. As we get closer and indeed master this stuff the less we seem able to understand it as once we did. We can conjur and predict in a reality that is non local but it may take us generations before we get a glimmer of understanding of it.

      So here’s the thing. Describing our best models of the noumenal takes much grounding in the phenomenal and slow and detailed growth to create these abstracted machine analogs. There is no lingo noumenese hidden in everyday speech. Our phenomenal language is a wonder of metaphor, teasing the start of abstraction out of our physical experience, but no noumen.

      No-one answered you because these is no single thing to say. But we could take you (with a lot of experiential laden and metaphorical exchanges along the way) slowly into a world of abstraction and finally get you to see a beautiful mathematical machine producing the most curious and unexpected results.

      You’ll whisper, “So is that how things in themselves actually look?”

      And I’ll look a bit shifty and say, “Yes, well, er, formally so.” I’ll shift metaphorical gears and say, “Its not the territory but it is the map of it, seemingly complete in all its un-seeable parts, the sinuous rills, the sunless seas….”

    • @dan

      Interested in “how things work” more than the (to me) complicated and not useful word manipulation that seems to be what philosophers write, I explored maths and engineering, understanding (to my own satisfaction) the workings of governors on steam engines, bimetallic strips in thermostats, and the simple-but-complex if-then-else and while (or repeat-until, for those who recall that one) languages of programming, and I built and understood and fixed systems that did tasks useful enough for someone to pay for them.

      Then one day I examined a traffic light controller, I don’t recall if it was an actual installed one or a model, but it worked well at managing traffic flows in busy and in quiet times. And I saw the source code. It was a neural net, with the vehicle sensors and a clock as inputs, and the traffic light colour settings as outputs, and nothing in between but a small set of nodes linked to each other by very arbitrary looking numbers.

      It had been “trained”, and these numbers gave an optimal, or at least good-enough, result. I have no idea how it “works”, and neither, I suspect, do the engineers who built and trained it. I mean, “why” do those particular numbers make it work well, but other numbers don’t. I couldn’t look at it and tweak a number to make it better, or to modify its behavior (for example, by adding a pedestrian push-button to the mix), it would have to be “re-trained” in simulations, and against recorded data representing actual traffic flows, and would, presumably, find itself a new set of numbers that would work best, or at least well-enough.

      And all it needed to operate was a circuit board far less complex than the one in your phone.

      It reminded me of Richard Feynmann on QED, in which he described HOW to do the calculations, but nothing about WHY the calculations worked. They just did, and very accurately.

      I accept that I can’t understand everything, and neither can anyone else, but that doesn’t stop us. We get by, make do, make stuff happen, and learn from the results, intended and otherwise. Like that neural net, we are trained to get “good enough” results to survive. Mostly.

      I don’t think there’s any deeper real truth to be found under it all, and I don’t think there even can be one, but I don’t want anyone to stop looking.

      Dan, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, but, hey, I could be wrong. It might be the tree that suits you best, and maybe there’s something up there after all. On the other hand, if you decide to try other trees, I’d be very interested to hear about it. Cheers.

    • @Olgun 197 (Phil?)

      First of all, thank you, Ohooligan (if you’re reading) for that interesting comment. I enjoyed reading it.

      Olgun (and Phil if you’re reading), I didn’t want to continue this, wanted to put this aside for a while, as it may be an exercise in futility.

      Please listen: if I asked you to tell me what a flower looks like to a blind person that would be a “con trick.” If I asked you what a person without knowledge knows about a flower that would be a con trick. Okay? I am not asking what a a person without knowledge knows! I am asking what a person WITH knowledge (you) can tell me about any object independently of a subject.

      What I am asking you to do is this: try to separate the qualities that are clearly and unmistakably of subjective origin, from the qualities (such as energy or pure matter, or atoms) that may inhere in the object itself (flower, moon – take your pick).

      This might clear things up: I ask you to describe a pencil but you must eliminate all of the qualities that we see. So you would say: hard, long, etc. Now! Take that and extend it. Describe what qualities inhere in the pencil when touch and sight are eliminated. Then eliminate sound. (One could tap it or poke you with it). Now eliminate knowledge. Science is realistic. (It rejects Idealism.) What does realism mean? What has it taught us? What is that based on? So tell me what is left over. What is the unperceived pencil? What qualities does it have? (Is it solid, for example? Maybe solidity remains. So tell me about solidity. What is it?)Tell me you’re stumped but don’t tell me that this is gobbledygook.

      You don’t think that the sun is round do you? You are able to understand this concept, aren’t you? There is, I say, a difference between that which appears and that which is, although I am raising the question as to the nature of that “scientifically real” universe of objects that you and others are always talking about.

      The universe doesn’t care! That’s all I hear. Okay, then it doesn’t care; it existed before us and will continue to exist after we (all living things) are extinct and knowledge is no more. So tell me! For God’s sake, tell me what remains when our inconsequential minds are no longer there. What is left of the object? Is it matter? Is it energy? Is it possible to say anything definitive about any object in nature independently of the senses and the understanding? Try, try very hard to exclude, to the best of your ability, the qualities that are essentially subjective from any description of objective phenomena (so-called). Otherwise you will continue to mix up what is of subjective origin with whatever qualities may actually inhere in the objects of the universe themselves. Is the sun yellow? The universe doesn’t care whether we perceive it or not, but what can we say about this universe that is indifferent to us.

      Name one quality! Just one! What is left when you take away the qualities that are of subjective origin. Someone above said something about atoms. Okay, atoms. Tell me about atoms. Tell me anything. I am waiting.

      I said in the past that the subject of the distinction between what IS and what APPEARS is subtly apprehended, and I was right. (In fact, Schopenhauer tells the readers about this, says that people cling to realism and reject idealism out of force of habit, and because this is the natural disposition of the intellect; it operates empirically, starts from the object and forgets the subject. — And it is almost impossible to get them to alter this view, this way of thinking.)

      This is NOT word salad. You have my word of honor, sir. This is a profound question and I am a profound man in my way, and a truthful one.

      Kind Regards,

      Dan

    • @ Phil

      Sorry, Phil. I hadn’t yet read your comment 198. Sorry if I appeared to ignore what you said there in the above-comment. I will try to reply a bit more thoroughly in a day or so. I did glance at it just now, and noticed the word “noumenal,” which you have used before. You also have said that there has been or will be “glimpses” of it. What do you mean by noumenon? Perhaps we aren’t so far apart on this. Perhaps we are.

      You’ll whisper, “So is that how things in themselves actually look?”

      This bothered me. As I said, we cannot see what cannot be seen or know what cannot be known! That is nonsensical, of course. I am asking you and others something entirely different – and this has been almost impossible for me to make clear but I will try yet again!

      Hmm. How should I put this?

      Just how far can knowledge go? What are we capable of knowing at this point in time about so-called objects independently of the senses? If we eliminate the senses are we still justified in calling them objects? What can we know about objects independently of perception? What can we know about anything is like, what its nature is, when knowledge is absent. There was a time, Phil, when there was no consciousness. That is a reasonable assumption, unless you believe in an eternal, all-knowing God. So are we able to say anything concrete (Irony intended) about this universe and the objects that fill it?

      If you are not a transcendental idealist like me then it is incumbent upon you to provide a satisfactory answer.

      “The moon is an infinitely ambiguous entity, without a conscious mind to apprehend it in some way.”

      We are back to my original (paraphrased) quote. Full circle.

    • Dan.

      Let me only put the most accurately guessed at words in your mouth.

      You’ll whisper, “So is that how you claim things in themselves actually look?”

      I will await you commenting on the internal parts of that post.

      Are gluons objects?

      O’Hooligan.

      Feynman and Quantum Electro-Dynamics. This is the perfect example of mastery where understanding trails sadly behind. Quantum Electro Dynamics, Dear Granny, is the most precise map, the most exquisitely precise working model we have ever made. We have every reason to believe, to date, it comports with this little sector of reality. Our understanding of the thing though necessarily lags well behind and may never catch up because understanding is so rooted in our physical experiential selves.

      Feynman was always making physical models (in his head) and testing them often by taking the system to extremes to see the results, to test, in effect, the universality of the model. The precession of a wobbling dinner plate thrown in the air and its mathematics formed the basis of his modeling of electron behaviour in QED.

      But understanding is the process of finding entities and causal processes familiar. Further we curiously pay extra attention to the causal processes underwritten by the “intention” of an agent. (All part of our wired hyper vigilance for agency). The desire for this reassuring “Understanding” is a powerful motor that projected us additionally on the path of mastery.

    • Dan #189
      Apr 6, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      P.S. Homeopathy is for the birds. No offense to the birds.

      But unlike birds, and more like creationists or AGW deniers, its advocates insist on doubt-mongering science, by seeking to investigate pseudo-controversies which may massage their confirmation biases, while ignoring the soundly researched evidence which is right under their noses!

    • “The moon is an infinitely ambiguous entity,

      To whom?

      without a conscious mind to apprehend it in some way.”

      A conscious mind excluded but not excluded….

      “The moon is an unapprehended entity, without a conscious mind to apprehend it in some way.”

      at least can mean something and is a help in defining a possible property of conscious minds.

      It can of course be unwittingly experienced, just as we do when sightless we feel the tide rush around our feet. We have been essentially unwitting in our experience of what we have chosen to call quarks, yet experience them we do. “Witting” yet still unconscious ants experience the moon and respond to it. The blind sight lunar phobic will not acknowledge why he will regularly not go out of the cottage door some nights.

      “Conscious” used in this kind of metaphysical deliberation, because of the inadequate nature of the signs for it, (in my terms lacking detailed parts) is overly and spuriously generative in its outcomes.

      To his great credit, though his later work was a bit of a failure for Wittgenstein, it was nobly so. He embarked on the idea of aspect-perception. Before the psychology was in, he was imagining the kind of parts that may go to build up consciousness. (He would have loved to know about my aunt Brenda, her ability to recognise precisely my brother’s form, but not recognise the man’s bodily familiarity to her.)

      All things interact with all other things by their natures even when some things are conscious (however, defined) and despite the inevitable attraction of solipsism.

    • @ Phil

      “The moon is an unapprehended entity, without a conscious mind to apprehend it in some way.”

      I never said this. This is not what I am positing, and I have been laboring to get you and others not to interpret my idea in this way. The moon IS an apprehended entity. If you are not a transcendental idealist than you are a realist. I am the former and you are the latter. No? You believe that what you and other observers and scientists study is real. My question, for the umpteenth time: what can you say about any real quality that exists independently of the mind? If you cannot answer this once and for all, then I will conclude that you are (without knowing it) an idealist just like me. (And idealism is not solipsism, btw.)

      Gluons. Are they objects? You tell me.

    • Why don’t you address anything I say? You just reset or block. I gave my concession to answering the question quite a while ago and have been trying to get some further exchange from you on why the thing is of interest.

      Science attempts to do what you ask in a more complete fashion. It attempts to entirely write Qualia out of its accounts. It is a slow process and has been going on for years, with most of its work still ahead. What you are asking me to say is quite beyond any one person because it is a very long process and it must start, disappointingly for you stuffed with Qualia-invoking steps on the lower rungs of its ladder. And after the centuries of account Methusela Dan may be pissed off that all he got was this lousy map instead of the direct view.

      A philosophical account is of no value if it can’t affect our daily thoughts and actions. I can’t see the affects of yours. Though my account is partially observational and not strictly philosophical I think it can have an affect.

    • @ Phil 207

      “You just reset or block.”

      I might be doing that a little. Sorry. You do it to me too. I feel that you don’t respond to some of the fine points but act as though they were never stated. I could be wrong about that too, and will try to improve, read your comments more carefully. Perhaps I am unconsciously avoiding the pain of some kind of psychic death at the foot of an irresistible and unceasing avalanche of opposition and derision. But I shouldn’t present my ideas and then avert my eyes; a timorous attitude is unworthy of a member of a site such as this, or of a serious student of ideas and of truth.

      I do recall a concession (number?), but it sounded flippant; you were conceding too much, or so I thought. So I asked you if it was sincere, and didn’t hear back from you.

      As for the reason why this is important, I hesitate again to open up that can of worms at the moment.—But just for the record, my conception of sympathy and the all-important subject of freedom versus determinism, is inextricably bound up with my repudiation of Materialism (Realism) as I have come to understand it.

      Let me ask you this. You made an interesting comment about W. in comment 204. “Before the psychology was in, he was imagining the kind of parts that may go to build up consciousness.” I am reading the Investigations now and was prepared to scoff at his discussion of “Nothung”, the old Norse sword. He asks whether we are justified in naming the sword a sword if it had been rendered to bits. I thought this was bullshit and it may be, or not be: is this perhaps an example of something from his late work that might have led to some insights re “consciousness-building” or do you not recall W’s “Nothung”?

    • @ Phil

      P.S. Freedom vs. necessity, compassion, beauty, the possibility of transcendence or enlightenment, (universal vs particular and the apprehension of the Ideas), establishing a view of existence, pessimism vs optimism, affirmation or denial of the will to live, resignation / suffering, wisdom, insight …Those are all just words, and as I said I do not wish to explain why all this is so important at this time, but there are some words for you. That’s all I wish to do/say now.

    • Michael #41
      Apr 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Alan4discussion, you are jumping too much into conclusions when you’re debating, it’s surprizing for someone who cherishes the scientific method. Don’t make assumptions of people, I wouldn’t just look into a gossip blog and make up my mind.

      Michael #88
      Apr 3, 2016 at 8:50 am

      What I did about Benveniste case was reading a first article, or a youtube video (I can’t even remember).

      Mmmmm!

      Michael #135
      Apr 5, 2016 at 11:08 am

      I am not sure if Benveniste’s original protocol was with histamine, also, not sure if the experiment details are exactly the same. This could be interesting to check out.

      While enquiry is to be commended, this does seem to be a strange question to be asking, after claiming to have checked out all the links to the relevant peer-reviewed studies and Wiki in your comment @#88 (quoted below)!

      Michael #88
      Apr 3, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Then I went to every source (among which the ones you mentioned excerpts from) and at each material, there were more references, and I went on checking them on and on and on. You can do the same.

      This quote also suggests severe limitations in the diligence of your “checking on and on and on”!

      Michael #122
      Apr 4, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      I know very little about homeopathy in general and I never had enough exposure to it to think about it.

    • @ Phil

      “A philosophical account is of no value if it can’t affect our daily thoughts and actions.”

      Philosophy is like art. It is quite dispensable. But that which produces inaction and yet enriches us mentally and emotionally has value.

      Pragmatism. I am not impressed.

      How does Wittgenstein affect our daily thoughts and actions, other than by producing irritation?

    • To Cairsley # 212

      Hello again!

      I’d like to know how we will. Can you give me a hint? “They are beginning to explain” how we will. I’d like to hear what “they” have to say, even if they are just beginning to explain this. (Is explaining how we will something the same as understanding the true nature of the will? I am skeptical. Everything produces some observable activity in the brain. Thoughts, decisions, not thinking, not deciding, desiring, not desiring.—All of this can be observed by studying synaptic responses. This explanation of “how we will” would be given by people who can only talk about neurons and chemical messages and synaptic moments in the brain.)

      I do need to make something clear, if it isn’t already. Willing, according to Schopenhauer is NOT a function of the mind or brain. (I’m fine with “brain.” Btw, I looked up the word generatum. No definition to be found. What does it mean?) He differed from other “philosophers” in that regard. I know you think that the brain wills and that therefore the will is IN the brain, and maybe you’re right, but Schopenhauer never thought it was, and I don’t either. (“The brain wills.” Sounds somewhat absurd when one puts it that way, doesn’t it? To be precise and fair, you did also say that “we” will.)

      Have you ever seen a film of someone undergoing brain surgery? Perhaps you’re an MD. Ever had a look inside there? Not too pretty. It’s hard to imagine that acts of good-will, acts of kindness, emanate from that organ in our skulls. It is like saying that goodness comes from the heart in a literal sense. No different, as far as I am concerned. Are we our organs? Is that what we are? Maybe so.

      What are we? Does anyone really know?

      In spite of your interesting and informative comment – and you have a most forceful style of writing, as do I – I am, as I said, not (yet) convinced that willing is a mental act.

      Augustine believed that knowing was secondary and that willing was non-mental and primary? Well my opinion of Augustine just went up a few notches.

    • Dan

      generatum is Latin for generated, so in this instance a thing generated by the brain.

      “A philosophical account is of no value if it can’t affect our daily thoughts or actions.”

      and

      But that which produces inaction and yet enriches us mentally and emotionally has value.

      My phrase corrected to reflect my intention.

    • Dan #208

      W’s (seriously intentioned) language “games” were an attempt at testing the rigor of signs under a variety of usage conditions. This was all much earlier than his thoughts on aspect-perception etc. and I’m not sure how the two might connect, if at all. I need to think about it.

      Broadly what emerges from his consideration of what he came to term language games, is that language is not the rigorous rule governed behaviour some philosophers would propose, but has a plasticity, an interactive give and take with its users, shaping and being shaped.

      Polysemous language is the bane of the professional user of language, who seeks its elimination and ever greater precision in the signs she employs, but does so at the expense of the endless tiny prompts to creative thinking and the inductive motor of metaphor.

      All professional language is a work in progress. The greatest philosophical rigor is achieved in formal logic, set theory and maths. These qualia-stripped signs are our cultural and intellectual jewel, the machine that works the same for all conscious living entities in the Universe we presume, but ruthlessly stripped as they are, they can only map experience not provide it.

    • Hello, Cairsley,

      “You write: ‘I’d like to know how we will.’ ”

      Alluding sarcastically (sorry) to the neuroscientists (who sound like they are, in a Faustian sense, on their way to amassing the totality of knowledge), and what they are beginning to explain. I think I know at least one essential thing about how we will. (This applies only to the will in relation to our conscious actions, however. We must, as you know, have a much broader understanding of Schopenhauer’s will.) The motive, presented through the medium of knowledge, acts upon the will, and we then act. That’s it in a nutshell. Disagree?

      “You write: ‘I know you think the brain wills and that therefore the will is IN the brain…’ I think no such thing, dear fellow. Willing is a phenomenon of the organism (the soul), as Schopenhauer thought and most other philosophers have thought. How that comes about, however, is the result, as we now know, of immensely complex cerebral processes. Brains do not will or reason, only organisms with sufficiently complex brains have such conscious experiences.”

      I am sorry that I put words in your mouth, but the rest is, in my honest opinion, meaningless, and many, many people, by the way, have said that about my comments, so you are in excellent company. (Read this thread and you’ll see). Please do not be offended, and try to have the humility to consider the possibility that you are saying very little here. I am referring to the above quote.

      “Willing is a phenomenon of the organism (soul).”

      How could it not be a phenomenon associated with the organism in some way? Action, not willing, is phenomenon.—The will itself cannot be perceived, can it?

      ”(Soul)”

      S. never confuses the animal organism with soul—or with will, for that matter.

      “How that comes about.”

      How what comes about? willing? If we do something, raise our hand, we attribute it to will, do we not? That is how we associate will with the body. But what determines the will and what is the will and what is it that wills?

      “…as we now know.”

      I thought we were “just beginning to explain” how willing works.

      “Brains do not will or reason, only organisms with sufficiently complex brains have such conscious experiences.”

      So what is it that wills and what precisely are we conscious of other than our actions?

      “Whether willing is a mental act or not depends very much on the sense in which you are using the term ‘mind.’ “

      No, it depends on whether it is a mental act or not.

      “…we need facts, empirical evidence…”

      Schopenhauer did attempt to answer these and other questions. I think he is not given enough credit, and to say that because he was a 19th Century philosopher (a label) and not a modern-day neuroscientist he was incapable of shedding light on this subject and others, seems to me unfair. Schopenhauer’s theory of the will as something entirely separate from the intellect, and as the thing-in-itself, present in everything “from the magnet and the crystal up to man,” is also very interesting and also well worth a look-in. He was a highly responsible and logical thinker (assumed nothing, took nothing for granted). His conclusions are no less logical than the conclusions of any scientist worthy of the name. He never presented groundless assertions, despised groundless assertions:

      “[…] since the terms of the question [concerning the basis of morality, a question posed by the Danish Royal Society of Sciences] enforce the separation of ethics from all metaphysics, there remains nothing but the analytic method, which proceeds from facts either of external experience, or of consciousness…”

      Please remember: he was a critical idealist; he eliminated from phenomena those qualities that are rooted in perception (his method to a large extent), and his conclusions regarding the will as something incapable of being observed by itself, has much to do with what it is not, as opposed to what it is. But establishing what something is not, is as important as establishing what something is. In other words, the act of will is empirical. He observed the actions of his own body. His conclusion that his own will could not be conceived as a representation of perception, i.e., empirical in nature, not capable of being observed, is a conclusion based on logic and reason, arrived at through painstaking, careful analysis. We’re talking about one of the greatest thinkers that ever lived.

      Have you studied his work carefully?” I urge you and others to do so.

      “Thus we see already that we can never arrive at the inner nature of things from without. However much we investigate, we can never reach anything but images and names. We are like a man who goes round a castle seeking in vain for an entrance, and sometimes sketching the facades. And yet this is the method that has been followed by all philosophers before me.

      “In fact, the meaning for which we seek of that world which is present to us only as my representation, or the transition from the world as mere representation of the knowing subject to whatever it may be besides this, would never be found if the investigator himself were nothing more than the pure knowing subject (a winged cherub without a body). But he is himself rooted in that world; he finds himself in it as an individual, that is to say, his knowledge, which is the necessary supporter of the whole world as representation, is yet always given through the medium of a body, whose affections are, as we have shown, the starting-point for the understanding in its perception of this world. For the purely knowing subject as such, this body is a representation like any other, an object among objects. Its movements and actions are so far known to him in the same way as the changes of all other perceived objects, and would be just as strange and incomprehensible to him if their meaning were not explained to him in an entirely different way. Otherwise, he would see his actions follow upon given motives with the constancy of a law of nature, just as the changes of other objects follow upon causes, stimuli, or motives. But he would not understand the influence of the motives any more than the connection between every other effect which he sees and its cause. He would then call the inner nature of these manifestations and actions of his body which he did not understand a force, a quality, or a character, as he pleased, but he would have no further insight into it. But all this is not the case; indeed the answer to the riddle is given to the subject of knowledge who appears as an individual, and the answer is Will. This and this alone gives him the key to his own phenomenon, reveals to him the significance, shows him the inner mechanism of his being, of his action, of his movements. The body is given in two entirely different ways to the subject of knowledge, who becomes an individual only through his identity with it. It is given as a representation in intelligent perception, as an object among objects subject to the laws of objects. And it is also given in quite a different way as that which is immediately known to every one, and is signified by the word will. Every true act of his will is also at once and without exception a movement of his body. The act of will and the movement of the body are not two different things objectively known, which the bond of causality unites; they do not stand in the relation of cause and effect; they are one and the same, but they are given in two entirely different ways, first quite directly, and again in perception for the understanding. The action of the body is nothing but the act of the will objectified, i.e., passed into perception. It will appear later that this is true of every movement of the body, not merely those which follow upon motives, but also involuntary movements which follow upon mere stimuli; indeed, that the whole body is nothing but objectified will, i.e., will become representation. All this will be proved and made quite clear in the course of this work.” (A.S., WWR, Vol. 1, Bk 2, End of §17, §18)

      Sorry about generatum. No college degree . . . The mind is generated by the brain? Never thought of that. That is interesting. (Seriously.)

    • P.S. We have discovered mind thru science? Generatum? When did that happen?

      We know very little about representation to and of the self, or as the self, which we ordinarily mean by mind, from science. We know more about the brain, and correspondences between pulses etc in the brain and states of awareness, vividness, mood, etc., however nothing to resolve the discrepancy between matter (bag of meat) and awareness that is “generated” (!!)

    • Dan #218

      In saying a mind is a product of a brain (which is attested to by every piece of hard evidence so far) we must not forget it sits at the end of wires sensing all manner of things arrayed across our bodies AND that it is a container of experience and pre-thought thoughts, its own and others. That it cognises primarily in terms of its own body’s properties and secondarily in some metaphorical mode based on that and thirdly in some shared cultural inferencing based on those.

      Try Damasio The Feeling of What Happens.

    • Cairsley 213

      “Nowhere does he provide any reason why anyone else should accept his account of human nature. He merely asserts it.”

      Nowhere? His entire chief work (along with his treatise on the principle of sufficient reason) is a prodigious attempt to provide reasons why his readers should do just that. It is a rich work, a complete philosophic system, and while you might not agree with his theory of the moral character or feel that he has presented it to your satisfaction, you cannot say that he provides no reasons. That is just false. In fact your statement is a “mere assertion.” Nothing more. I see no point in continuing this exchange, frankly.

    • @ Phil

      To be honest, Phil, I am all confused about this mind-brain issue (which I have never thought about). I didn’t know that neuroscientists and had been working on this. I don’t really see the problem. The word Mind has various uses; it is virtually synonymous with the brain in many cases, and largely metaphorical in others (like the word heart). We don’t say: “I am going to operate on his mind,” do we? But we could say: “use your brain and imagine!” In fact, one could say that the mind has conceived of the brain, but that is simply saying that the brain has conceived of the brain, etc. But solve the problems of the brain and you’ve solved the problem of mind, and vice-versa; both are functions of the animal organism.

      There is no mind-body problem. That was one of S’s achievements; he drove the last nail into the coffin and we now know that consciousness (which is still the hard problem) is physiological through and through. But since no one read him then and no one does anything now but attack, it’s as if we’re back in ancient times, as far as that false duality is concerned.

      I do think that the issue of self, or what we are, is an equally hard problem, and one that neuroscience may or may not be able to address, as self may not be observable in any ordinary scientific sense. Let’s say that what we are, in the final analysis, can be conceived of as what we do (will!); our self, perhaps, is the sum total of our actions; being is acting. Perhaps not. In any case, how could neuroscience address something like that? That is a moral answer to a scientific question. In other words, if what we are can only be understood in a moral sense (we are good, or seeking the good, are bad, something in-between, etc.) how could that possibly be discovered or demonstrated? That would be a judgment based on one’s values and one’s philosophical life-view, or one’s theory of what gives life meaning or purpose.

      A non-physical explanation like that would not necessarily be the wrong explanation.

      Just thinking aloud.

    • Comment 213

      Cairsley, don’t feel constrained. You can tell me that you think Schopenhauer was full of shit and that I am confused (which I am, although not altogether confused). After all, this is a unique thread: the official BS thread.

      It’s just hard to reply to a statement like “S. makes assertions.” when the man wrote so much. All I can say is read him, in his entirety and carefully. You can always find selections that appear to be groundless if you take them out of context. Now he might be wrong, but his assertions are never (or hardly ever) just mere assertions, i.e., groundless.

      I don’t think what language he wrote in is, in this case, significant. His meanings are clear enough. Mind (knowing) is mind and will is will, and the twain (according to S) shall never meet, or more precisely, are not identical. So why bring in all of that stuff about the ambiguity and confusion associated with the word mind? That has nothing to do with anything; we’re not talking about British empiricists or Descartes, are we? That’s just willful obfuscation, disguised as important historical facts.

    • A different perspective, for what it’s worth:

      “Scientists cannot use brain scans to look into the brain and see what you’re thinking. Brain scans and the pretty pictures associated with them, are not at all what they seem. Right now, beyond a doubt, if you see the root neuro- attached to any term at all, suspect pseudoscience bullshit. Period.

      “And so enters Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience, by Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfied:

      “You’ve Seen The Headlines: This is your brain on love. Or God. Or envy. Or happiness. And they’re reliably accompanied by articles boasting pictures of color-drenched brains — scans capturing Buddhist monks meditating, addicts craving cocaine, and college sophomores choosing Coke over Pepsi. The media — and even some neuroscientists, it seems — love to invoke the neural foundations of human behavior to explain everything from the Berne Madoff financial fiasco to slavish devotion to our iPhones, the sexual indiscretions of politicians, conservatives’ dismissal of global warming, and even an obsession with selt-tanning.” –Author of these words unknown

      http://www.gustrength.com/books:brainwashed-seductive-appeal-of-mindless-neuroscie

    • @ Phil

      Damasio

      Read review. Many extracts. Mostly medical stuff, incomprehensible to me. The rest is liking pouring words from one vessel into another vessel.

      (In Damasio’s terminology, “object” may refer to a thing external to the body but also to a toothache or a state of bliss; this may be the source of some unnecessary confusion, which I will try and avoid).
      The thesis is an elaboration on his former claim that feeling is “the realization of a
      nexus between an object and an emotional body state” (Damasio, 1994, p. 132).

      From review by Aldo Mosca

      Is this a joke? Feeling is a realization? I think we have to feel a feeling in order to feel it, and if we do not have a realization we can’t realize it. So far so good. Feeling is an emotional body state? Not a feeling? Nexus? In other words, we know that there is a connection between an object of knowledge (pain) and our knowledge of the pain? Object “may” refer…? But everything known is an object of knowledge. This is BS, imo. Thanks but no thanks.

    • Dan #221

      In philosophical terms I think the self is trivial at the scale of “The Hard Problem” as defined by David Chalmers (the coiner of the term).

      One proposal for the self is as a result of us forming models of agents (other people, creatures etc.) so that we can run simulations in given or imagined circumstances to better predict the future. The realisation that the simulation was incomplete until we provided a usable model of ourselves led (the hypothesis goes) to the habit of the self. As we have discussed about the will, it is the recognition that it is ourselves letting down the plan by not blithely doing as we had expected that leads to an introspection of what it is that we are and want to be.

      Fairly recently (as well as periodically before) I wrote here about my exchanges with Dennett and my suggestion that a lot of the quality of self conscious experience comes comes from the second by second maintenance of a compact self model.

      The Hard Problem, by contrast ranks with the other Philosophical biggy (why is there something rather than nothing?) being- why does experience consist of qualia? Why aren’t we p-zombies?

      224

      Somehow you have has missed Damasio’s key definition. Feelings are emotions introspected upon. D points out that emotions affect our cognition but the fact of then is not always cognised. (We can be stressed with high levels of cortisol without realising it.) We learn to read our body state, we learn to introspect upon it and the result is feelings. These are realised (the objects made real out of inferences upon inferences drawn together from our various outlying bodily conditions, muscle tension, heart rate, breathing, inability to settle, etc. etc. etc. hence his use of nexus). Lest you think otherwise this is not the totality of his thinking on feelings and their sources, but he does see it as some kind of substrate. This, incidentally, is the same substrate that Sapolsky uses for our metaphoric cognitions. Those root feelings/introspections are the very stuff of the metaphorical extensions of good and bad, safe and scary, disgusting and attractive and as reflected in much of our language.

    • @Phil

      Interesting comment above.
      Please disregard my own comment. (224) I did read part of a review which included quotes.
      That comment, however, was unworthy of me.
      I didn’t read Damasio’s book and don’t want to discourage others from reading it.
      I just get tired of people who haven’t read great philosophy saying that it’s “great but we now know this and that,” etc.
      But two wrongs don’t make a right.
      As for feelings, Schopenhauer has said (and I have mentioned this) that a feeling alone cannot produce knowledge of an object, or of a source. That requires understanding. Is this a valid distinction?
      I haven’t missed anything; I made no real attempt to understand Damasio in the first place, was turned off from the get-go. My bad, as some of the commenters here say.

    • @ Phil

      “As for feelings, Schopenhauer has said (and I have mentioned this) that a feeling alone cannot produce knowledge of an object, or of a source. That requires understanding. Is this a valid distinction?”

      Distinction: Knowledge / understanding. Not knowledge as opposed to feeling.
      You have to know (experience, have) a pain in order to feel the pain. Many forms and gradations of knowing.
      Questions: Must all feeling be accompanied by knowledge? What is knowing and when does it cease to be knowing?
      All object-recognition requires knowledge, but must a feeling (in order to be felt) necessarily be an object of some form of knowledge? You say no, right?
      “Having a feeling and not knowing it as in stress from raised cortisol.” Questionable. It is experienced and therefore known in some way. The sufferer would say: “Oh yes, I was more stressed than usual, wasn’t I”? In the heat of the moment he is not reflecting, however. Many forms and gradations of knowing.
      (I do think I got the gist of his point without knowing it.)
      These questions can be answered just as well by a good philosopher.
      I will try to read the book and get back to you (if I can) at some future time. Too many medical terms, like hippocampus, etc. I am not a doctor.

    • Must all feeling be accompanied by knowledge?

      Damasio’s “feelings” are necessarily self knowledge.

      “Having a feeling and not knowing it as in stress from raised cortisol.” Questionable. It is experienced

      No it truly often isn’t as any GP (family doctor) will tell you. It will not be something you are aware of if the subconscious heuristics used to judge potential salience have not judged it so. This status which confers awareness and the cortical inference generations that accompany introspection is used sparingly as we have discussed before. Too much stuff will crowd in if potential salience isn’t triaged and energy use is, as we know, conserved by some of our most primitive drivers.

      Some of the most important aspects of our humanity reside in the hippocampus. It is a gatekeeper of our memories, valuing them, linking them, forming that aspect you most treasure about our intellect-our teasing out and addiction to causality.

      It is what makes us more than anything Homo Memorator, Man the Narrator.

    • I have to endorse Cairsley’s view of S.

      For me he is at his most valuable as the most astute of observers of the real world.

      I think I also need to defend S, though, in relation to his science compatible mode of working. His work on colour vision (we discussed it here a while back) was teetering on the brink of a psychological/physiological breakthrough. He was close to an understanding of the oppositional nature of the colour experience and our understanding of a (triangular) colour space.

      Being a man with a philosophical theory, however, I fear stopped him short of seeing that there were two crucial aspects composing the experience of colour, not just the internal detector responses and algorithmic internal representation. What he overlooked in his enthusiam to have Qualia be the “projection”t of the subject, the observer, was that (some) colour was in some substantive way entirely physical and external. Keen to trash both Hooke and Newton elsewhere he neglected the significance of Newton’s (Hooke’s) Rings and the clear demonstration of physically differentiatable colours by means of a dimension, (these more clearly so than the use of an angle and a prism).

      It strikes me that the primarily philosophically inclined seek the simple and the singular. Pragmatic scientists see astonishing complexity, expect it and look for it, becoming “philosophical” only when observations dry up.

      I notice that most of my complaints about the philosophical is its lack of parts, of sufficient internal structure.

    • @ Cairsley, Phil, Olgun

      Hi, nice to hear back from you, Cairsley. I welcome that, and I am not unwilling to continue (as I said in comment 222). Did you read my comments carefully? Have you read the “great” Schopenhauer carefully?

      Some thoughts:

      First of all, “great” philosophers do not just say whatever suits them independently of whether it is logically sound! Are you saying that only a scientist can establish truth, that no one else can say anything true about anything in nature? (And how can you prove something when the condition of the proof is presupposed by the the act of proving it? Try proving that space is not external, for example. You would have to remove yourself first, which cannot be done. That is where some scientists may be at a disadvantage, and where some philosophers have an advantage. This is not a superficial or erroneous point. Nor is it dogmatic. Maybe you think it is. But enough of that.)

      I am sorry if I sound a bit agitated at times. I am all alone with all this. (That’s okay.)

      So what are the will and intellect. I suspect (although I could be dead-wrong) that you do not have a clear idea of how S arrived at his conception of the will, or what proofs he provided, and if you do, you have tell me where he has erred.— If you know so much about both these things (the nature of will and mind in S’s writing) then say something specific about that, please. “He was great but wrong” doesn’t impress me. His greatness, his introspective genius and ability to penetrate into the inner meanings of things, lies precisely in his being right or at least partially right, and so intuitive and ahead of his time. There is an essay, a good one, about the similarities between S’s theory of the will and aspects of Darwin’s theory. (Intuitive, but also a mighty discoverer.) Freud himself “stumbled upon the shores of S’s philosophy.” (Beyond the Pleasure Principle). I suppose Freud is passé too. (They said of him that he wasn’t a scientist. Still do.)

      No one way to arrive at truth. You just need to assume nothing, and proceed carefully and analytically. Scientific method: a philosopher says “this is a hand: am I justified in saying that it is a hand independently of the senses?” How is that crude example not one that can result in useful knowledge, in truth? A scientist just accepts the hand as a given empirical object and then proceeds to do whatever he does, e.g. explains its origin, its physiology, etc.

      You would not have to distinguish between will and mind (the way you did in your comment 212) to me, or anyone, if you understood S and are assuming that others, myself in particular, understand him. He has made it very, very clear why one cannot conflate one with the other.

      The onus is on others to point out his mistakes (if any) in a precise way rather than just saying that he didn’t use the scientific method.

      There is another thread now about “the brain seeing.” So “attention to” (defined a certain way), and being able to say that you see something, i.e. feeling that you see something, may be separated. Big deal. Supposed it is further found that when blood or nerve pulses hit a very particular part of your brain, all of a sudden, one would be aware, and say, yes I saw the dot.

      You think this investigation has said anything about the nature of consciousness? It doesn’t say very much about awareness itself, and one can point to external influences that create awareness with great ease, much more readily than one can point to internal parts of the brain that must be lit up in order for consciousness to occur. In either case, has one actually made inroads into the nature of consciousness or what we mean by meaning, as experienced and given a further place in our lives? No.

      Freud actually came the closest to saying what consciousness actually is in an astonishing passage. Was he a scientist? (Can’t remember what he said about cs! Sorry. Still looking for it.)

      And you didn’t address any of my replies to your assertions. For example you said: “Brains do not will or reason, only organisms with sufficiently complex brains have such conscious experiences.” I said that you have said nothing here about where the organism ends and the brain begins or vice-versa.

      What’s all this about the mind? Mind is just a word, an expression. It does mean something, but the difference between mind and brain is of no interest to me, and shouldn’t be to others. “My heart is filled with love! Use you mind!” You can say that the mind created the brain (the concept, the word), etc. But the mind seems more like a concept, or a poetic term, as opposed to a generatum, in the purely scientific sense; it (like the intellect) can’t not be part of the body; it is body through and through.

      Enough w/ Descartes. Great as he was, he is outdated but did start the conversation; his work was the point of departure: the antithesis between the real and the ideal was now a bona fide problem; a thesis (real) and antithesis (ideal) was now established. Descartes established that self-consciousness is immediately given (although his famous “I” which has caused so much confusion is not the absolute subject; it is a knowing subject!), and that knowledge of objects (“therefore, it is”) is mediately given. This is his great contribution to epistemology (and he wasn’t a neuroscientist either). Neuroscientist still talk about the mind-body problem, still take descartes to task. They haven’t read S! There is no mind-body problem! But none of them understand this. (There is a mind-self-will problem, however; a very real one.)

      P.S. I wrote this at lightning speed, hope it’s not completely unreadable.

      -Dan (who is related to Einstein, and very proud of that. Fritz Lebrecht, my maternal grandfather, was born in Ulm, was his cousin.)

    • @ Phil

      I think I also need to defend S, though, in relation to his science compatible mode of working.

      I took that in. Thanks.

      the most astute of observers

      Took that in too. (Contradiction?) Not just an observer; a formulator, dissector, a theoretician, a discoverer – mode of working no less compatible with science than an archeologist’s mode of working. Gross understatement. I still suspect, my friend, that you have not read S in many years (and maybe only read a few things) and have been so absorbed with your many interests and pursuits (which is good) that you have simply forgotten about poor Artie, or simply don’t know what he said and how he arrived at what he arrived at (which is not good).

    • Dan,

      Neuroscientist still talk about the mind-body problem,

      Nah. Only in some introductory remarks about the history or if talking to the potentially religious.

      I read most of my philosophy in the mid seventies, shortly after University then topped up with most modern philosophers in the naughties. I have only twenty or so philosophy books currently on my bookshelves. Rather more are up in the attic. On the server I have five or six by S including World as Will and On Human Nature and countless other philosophy tomes in PDF and ebook forms mostly thanks to The Guttenberg Project.

      For me there is so much new to take in that retrospection has to be more than of some clever prescience by a thinker, it has to bring me genuine novelty.

      Most of my reading of things retrospective (and I do a lot of it for leisure) is about scientists, artists, writers, industrialists, adventurers. I like the role they have in shaping their societies. Somehow philosophers with a few notable and incidental exceptions, don’t achieve such substance.

      Sorry.

    • No apology is needed.
      The mind-body duality is alive and well.
      Maybe neuroscientists are over it for the most part, but I still hear it mentioned all the time, as though the mind was something other than something physical. (I sound like a materialist now. I am not.) People are always invoking Descartes’ “mind-body problem.” Annoys me.
      The mind knows (objects of knowledge). That which knows can never know itself.
      Just thought of something funny.— Imagine, a year from now, you had re-read WWR and wrote to me saying: Dan, he was right! The world IS will and representation! I am now a Schopenhauerian!
      (Anything can happen.)
      And then I write back and say: no evidence, no proof. What did that little man know about neuroscience?

    • @ P.R. 207

      “Science attempts to do what you ask in a more complete fashion. It attempts to entirely write Qualia out of its accounts.”

      Well that’s precisely what I thought and precisely what I am against. What I ask? What have I asked? What I’ve asked is that it not do that. You can’t start from the object and simply forget the subject. But this is all too much for people to get their heads around. So be it.

    • (232 continued and concluded.)
      @ Cairsley

      “… According to one doctrine he wills what he knows, and according to the other he knows what he wills.”

      “This final sentence of your excellent quotation from Arthur Schopenhauer summarizes nicely what he is discussing in that passage. Phenomenologically, both options are found to occur in the experience of any one human being. In some cases one forms the will for something on the basis of what one knows…”
      – Cairsley

      What he is discussing is the difference between the former doctrine, which is a deception enjoyed by the unenlightened, and the latter correct doctrine. They do not both occur unless you take the word “know” and use it it in an altogether different sense. Obviously we cannot desire something that we do not know about; but we cannot know what we want to will and then just decide to will what we will, regardless of a stronger counter-motive acting upon us. And you have yet to tell me what the will is, by the way. Something we have a conscious experience of, you say? Yes, we are conscious of it at times.

      “You would not have to distinguish between will and mind (the way you did in your comment 212) to me, or anyone, if you understood…”

      I do owe you an apology: I said this (above) twice and you already addressed it the first time. You were “expressing your own thoughts.” I forgot. I stand corrected, again.

    • Dan, #236

      First you are quote mining and using material out of a specific context.

      Well that’s precisely what I thought and precisely what I am against.

      We know well enough what you feel about this stuff.

      What have I asked? What I’ve asked is that it not do that.

      No, you asked this-

      You can’t tell me anything about what the moon would be like without a mind to relate to it in some way, based on your knowledge of science? You can use all the language you want now, you know. I hope you see what I mean. You are free to use your mind and use language now. But you must tell me what the moon (or whatever object you wish to describe) would be like, based on your knowledge of science, independently of the mind.

      Science, however, tries not to get hung up on feelings but pulls its best trick of certainty by creating negatable hypotheses and showing an instance of their failure. The hypothesis is broken for good and all. If we assume that qualia are necessary in themselves for an account of all/any behaviour external and mental and then we have scientists find (time after time for each behaviour) that non qualia based models are sufficient an account of what is observed, then we have a growing certainty that qualia (the qualities of an experience) have no additional affective power than the experience itself.

      Besides my account in 207 was entirely about how we seek to build a non-subjective model of reality. My response to your admirable negatable hypothesis of a question was how we create maps (at least) of the universe that are non-mind dependent by starting a process at first mind dependent then later increasingly independent. To simply tell me my answer doesn’t suit you is of no deliberative consequence.

      But this is all too much for people to get their heads around. So be it.

      Can’t fault you on your silencing rhetoric.

    • Phil 239

      Phil, we’re not getting along right now. Why can’t we get along? Anyway, I am sorry you think it is “silencing rhetoric.” (!!) We have a misunderstanding and that is that.

      Saying that I “feel” this way or that I am “quote mining” is a conversation-stopper. You are the one silencing.

      (I do actually feel that my entirely reasonable point, almost child-like in its straightforward simplicity, although subtle, about the errors that would inevitably ensue if you were to leave all consideration of qualia behind, is in fact valid, to be precise and honest. I can’t be certain of that, however. My point is bound up with other points that may have eluded me. Perhaps in one context I would be right and in another I wouldn’t!)

      Why would I want to win a damned argument for the sake of winning it and by blinding or tricking my interlocutor? That’s worthless.

      And you still don’t get the question, and my comment about your qualia (an ambiguous-sounding word that I just recently learned) applies still to this eternal question I am posing. I am asking what the moon is! Get it? A large question, yes. But in order to address it I think it behooves any reasonable person (philosopher or not) to consider to what extent its qualities inhere in the moon itself independently of our paltry human senses, and to what extent it does not! If the moon is what it appears to be (or is a close approximation of that), however, than say that and proceed from there – and while you’re at it, stop attributing “tricks” to me. I don’t like that. (But that is your impression at times, so I have to accept it.)

      Science! There are a million-plus ways to go about doing science. Ask a hundred great scientists and you’ll get a variety of answers about the method. I did some quote digging on that. (You were an actor: is there a method, or is that not BS, as Steiger said, the greatest “method” actor of all times).

    • Why would I want to win a damned argument for the sake of winning it?

      Dunno…Why are you unwilling to embrace philosophers after S. or psychologists after Freud or any neuroscientists? Why do we have to have this bizarre exchange with three quarters of the field out of bounds? (In fairness to you you have been recently venturing out of your quadrant a little at least to acknowledge there is a greater space…)

      You cannot deny you have tastes in knowledge. I have never come across this before. I don’t understand why it is such a powerful and specific disposition. It feels like you want to make S a champion, not so much yourself, but certainly not further our collective insight into an interesting area.

      For the life of me I don’t understand why you think I don’t understand your question. I have gone back to the sources several times. And again I am flummoxed how I have granted your point that I cannot comply with your request as stated, (but can do something different, less?, more?) and you fail to pick this up and move the conversation on, but endlessly circle back like something must change.

      Its like you have run out of script, or I have failed to pick up my cues.

    • On science, for most leading hard scientists Popper is now their (my) guy. Amongst soft scientists and the PoMos Kuhn, sadly, is da man.

    • Besides, Dan, we agree on other stuff, I’m pleased to see. Important stuff.

    • Olgun,

      You can explain your analogy again. Can’t hoit. (hurt)
      Thanks.

    • I lost Dan at the moon question. Completely. It appeared to be a deliberately constructed unanswerable. It did make me wonder a bit: Why would somebody ask a question like that? Shrug, don’t know that one either.

      Then I thought it was rhetorical, and I enjoy answering those, but no, it seems to be central to whatever it is that Dan is trying to get us to see. Puzzled. But not puzzled enough to re-read this whole thread. I would re-read specific items, it’s good that they’re numbered.

      Oh, belatedly: is it to do with the discovery/realization that in quantum physics, the Observer is part of an Observation, that nothing can be Observed without interaction, thereby altering the state of the Observed, leading to Hisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle? I’m not sure 🙂 I am sure there’s a better way to summarize this, help me out somebody? You can never see what something looks like when it’s not being watched.

      Maybe: the longer a thread the less likely it is to inform.

    • That (in effect) transcendental idealism might connect to the idea of the quantum observer was one of my first er..observations to Dan. It was not accepted.

    • Transcendental idealism might be connected to the idea of the quantum observer…

      I recall that very well, Phil. I didn’t know what was meant by that or what specific conclusions were reached, if any. It sounded like you were throwing me a bone with – nothing substantial on it to absorb or extract.

      I have read a certain work multiple times over the course of many years. If you were to do so you might see that the question about the moon or the tree, or any object that one can possibly name in the universe for that matter, any object which has entered our experience as knowing participants engaging in some form of perception, or indeed any force of nature (such as gravity) which manifests itself in some way, is a question that compels one to consider the inescapable fact that that object or force has two sides: it appears and it is.

      The former (appearing) is a form of existence but the latter belongs to an order of things that is toto genere different from the latter, and while nothing that is can be said not to exist, absolute existence is an altogether different species of existence, and if it has been proven that the absolute existence of objects cannot be denied, then present your defense of this proof. This is where people get muddled, or suspicious, or begin to suspect that this a mere mind-bender. But if you think about it enough it will dawn on you that this is not the same as asking what a deaf man hears or what a blind man sees, etc.; it is asking (to continue the analogy) what a deaf scientist can say about sound, or what a blind scientist can say about color –if anything; but he must assume that all people are deaf and blind. This is an old question; I did not invent it.

      If it is the goal of science to attribute qualities to things, it must be prepared to eliminate the qualities that are essentially subjective or at least separate them from the object in itself.

      What has you and others stuck is the concept: object-in-itself. Well this is quite natural; this idea goes against every intellectual instinct we have; to consider an object such as the moon in this light is asking one to consider something that cannot be perceived and yet surely must be.; but once you have grasped this fundamental proposition, i.e. the difference between objects as they appear and objects as they are, you will have acquired a rich philosophical insight (and one not without interest to science).

      It is not a trick question; a pure object is an oxymoron; objects must be presented in some other way insofar as objects implies subjects, and subjects imply objects.—They are reciprocally dependent and give us what we call reality, what in fact is, empirical reality.—But they do not give us knowledge of things-in-themselves.

      There is no need to prove this; it is a thesis. It is a question, a view. I challenge anyone to refute this. Short of that I await a simple acknowledgement that the question is good and valid. That would suit me fine.
      All I ask is that you recognize the logical nature of the question; you need not come up with an answer, although some have tried: pure matter, consisting of atomic particles and energy, waves, vibrations, are common answers. Not wholly satisfying, but attempts nonetheless. . .

      I hear this objection a lot: “it is logical to assume that if we all experience gravity, it would still be real even without us: the law of gravity, and the universe itself doesn’t care, etc.” To that I say: your argument is granted; gravity is real. So is space and time and so are all the objects that appear in it and which act according to all of the laws of nature.

      But without a conscious perceiver there is nothing that I for one can think of to say about any of these objects that fall through space. But if you can enlighten me please do: what can you tell me about the qualities of, say, an apple-in-itself that has just fallen from the tree as a result of the force of its weight?
      The answer is: precisely nothing – unless science (which is empirical) has discovered something about the non-sensible qualities of an apple or a tree or a bone or a moon or any object, that I do not know about (which is possible).

    • @dan #247

      Thanks Dan for attempting to clarify your position, and for accepting that it’s not readily comprehensible.

      if it has been proven that the absolute existence of objects cannot be denied, then present your defense of this proof.

      See, the “if” at the start of that? Well, I have no idea if such a thing has been “proven” at all. It is more like an assumption, an inference, the simplest explanation for certain observations that Occam’s Razor can help us find.

      No proof, therefore no defense. As in The Matrix, all our sensory inputs might be rigged by some alien virtual reality. If it was done well enough, we wouldn’t know, and would simply assume – if it quacks like a duck etc.

      So the scientist pokes around using sensory inputs, integrating them, and building a model of an alleged universe of alleged objects, and testing it for veracity — does it have predictive power, does it explain what is observed, and also explain what is NOT observed? Nowhere does it prove the “absolute existence” that you speak of.

      All this works fine until we enter the Quantum Realm, you should really read up on this stuff because it undermines the commonsense model with its simple, unproven assumption about absolute existence of objects.

      Instead, what you see depends on what you’re looking for, and the sensory results — observations — of experiments are no longer completely consistent with the assumption (unproven) of absolute existence.

      Instead we get uncertainty (which can be very accurately measured) and contradictions, and the best model the scientists have come up with is one that has to include the observer in the observation. All our observations are Selfies.

      If it is the goal of science to attribute qualities to things, it must be prepared to eliminate the qualities that are essentially subjective or at least separate them from the object in itself.

      Once more, that “if”. But is that the goal of science? I thought it was to “make sense” of observations? Once more, all observations are subjective. Science has managed to integrate many subjective observations into a mostly consistent and fairly concise description of an external universe that would give rise to these observations, were it to exist. Once again, all we have are Selfies.

      what can you tell me about the qualities of, say, an apple-in-itself that has just fallen from the tree

      I’m trying to treat your questions as reasonable, Dan. So, a scientific response might be to observe a great many instances of apples falling, and other things falling, and come up with an accurate description, one more precise than natural language can provide, a mathematical description. A formula that accurately matches up with observation, and that can be used to predict what would be observed when another apple falls, sometime in the future. It’s velocity upon impact, how much it heats the ground on impact, how high it bounces, how badly bruised it is. All this assumes an actual apple, indeed, a supply of apples. The result would be a body of knowledge about apples-in-general, allowing predictions to be made about specific apples, or about certain classes of apple, which might lead to improvements in orchard management, reducing spoilage of apple harvests in future, and improving the quality of life of the orchardist and his customers.

      At the core – pun intended – there is nothing to be said about nothing. There are no “non-sensible qualities”. There are only Selfies. Here’s one of me eating an apple….

      On the other hand, there may be “sensible qualities” that have as yet gone un-noticed. Un-sensed. Measurements, microscopic observations, chemical analysis, reports by many people tasting many apples, skin thickness, market research, how naming affects sales, does Royal Gala really sell better than just plain Gala, even if they’re otherwise the same?

      I know, I slip away into practical matters, observable matters, every time I try to come near your question. I think the topic that you’ve been gnawing at is somehow akin to a black hole. You can only see its effects, you can’t — by definition — see the “thing in itself”. But you can, by theoretical modelling and by careful observation of the effects, deduce a lot about the behaviour of matter that gives rise to these effects.

      Thought experiment: when you get close to this topic you have been trying to tell us about, is it like a Black Hole? Does time slow down? Do you feel you’ve been reading for just 10 minutes only to look up and find that hours have gone by? Is it ever harder to pull away?

      Sorry for the long response. I’d hoped I could be more concise. I also hope I get Peer Reviewed, and corrected where I’ve erred.

    • Dan

      I didn’t know what was meant by that or what specific conclusions were reached,

      Nothing was discussed about it because you didn’t take up the idea.

      Again you mistake me. I understand the question. I understood it when I first came across the idea decades and decades ago.

      Scientists understood precisely this pre-experiential profound existence, most particularly from 1905 onwards

      this idea goes against every intellectual instinct we have;

      Not for physicists particularly. The idea is commonplace.

      If it is the goal of science to attribute qualities to things, it must be prepared to eliminate the qualities that are essentially subjective or at least separate them from the object in itself.

      Today, I would have said defined variables rather than qualities as quality is quintessentially experiential. Scientists have long known that experiential qualities (in some fields particularly) are meaningless and simply don’t start there. But Hurrah!! This is my point exactly. These definitions necessarily become relative to others losing any viable experiential meaning except through tenuous metaphor.

      But without a conscious perceiver there is nothing that I for one can think of to say about any of these objects that fall through space.

      Granted ever such a long time ago, but…

      No conscious perceiver……

      Ever? Who cares? Why?

      Introduce a perceiver after 13.73bn years and we infer history without perception of the specifics.

      You still need a specific and novel point to deal with this-

      “Without consciousness the moon is a highly ambiguous entity.” – Chopra / Dan

      I am glad that you gave me an opportunity to clarify this: he was not referring to the moon’s consciousness, but to human consciousness in relation to the moon.—Without that consciousness, it is hard to imagine what the moon would be like. I agree a hundred percent. (No, the moon itself is not conscious. I think Chopra and I would have to part ways on that one.)

      Mr. Darcy, I challenge you (in a friendly way) to say something non-ambiguous about the old moon up there. But you have to first assume that there has never been consciousness anywhere in the universe. Now go ahead, please. Say something definitive about that unperceived, unknown, unseen, entity. And don’t say it’s circular.

      (Now I know how Chopra feels.)

      You have to say why it matters to this concocted observer who bears no resemblance to an observer living or dead or even possible.

    • @dan (via Phil #249)

      Mr. Darcy, I challenge you (in a friendly way) to say something non-ambiguous about the old moon up there. But you have to first assume that there has never been consciousness anywhere in the universe.

      See, Dan, this makes no sense at all to me. Why first assume….?

      But, ok, suspending disbelief for a bit, I can infer (from the science founded on many observations and some excellent thinking) the history of the moon, that it is made of the same stuff as the earth, that it used to be closer and take less time to orbit, that it took a terrific battering since it first solidified, and that none of these things involved consciousness, which – as far as we can infer – emerged within life on earth only much more recently.

      And, yes, that it’s approximately spherical, because that’s what the stuff of planets apparently does when there’s enough of it gathered together, independent of consciousness. We can also predict that other as-yet-unseen objects of planetary size will also seem to be approximately spherical, once we get a look at them.

      This, I suspect, is not what you’re driving at, and is not a satisfactory answer to you. Are you still trying to see past the Event Horizon?

    • OHooligan (and others)

      “[Kant] eliminated theism from philosophy; for in philosophy, as a science and not a doctrine of faith, only that can find a place which either is empirically given or is established through tenable and solid proofs.”
      (WWR, Vol. 1)

      Ohooligan, regardless of what I am driving at, and regardless of whether I agree that the qualities you have named really do inhere in the object we call the moon, I thank you for addressing my question and for attempting to provide an answer. You (alone) have named some qualities: spherical, solid, same stuff.

      “Goal of science” was a mistake. I wish I hadn’t put it that way. As you know, once something is posted it’s posted.

      I should have said it this way: “science attributes qualities to things, does it not?”

    • Dan #251

      You (alone) have named some qualities: spherical, solid, same stuff.

      But these you pre-emptively disallowed in the category experiential. Besides these are not apprehendible as such and must be infered.

      You continue to confound.

    • @dan

      consider something that cannot be perceived and yet surely must be

      Dark Matter. Dark Energy. Cannot be perceived, yet are required to make the sums work out in accordance with observation of other things. Or, at least, unless/until someone comes up with a model of the cosmos that doesn’t require it.

      Will that do?

    • @ Phil

      “But these [qualities] you pre-emptively disallowed in the category experiential.”

      Not at all! If you think such things as solidity and shape can be said to exist without perception (as opposed to being said to be perceivable without a perceiver!) then say so. I have not asked you what the unperceived qualities appear as! I have asked you what the unperceived qualities could possibly be!

      Too subtle for you, ol’ boy? A little friendly jab ’cause you said this problem/question is “commonplace.” (249) Commonplace indeed.

      @ OHooligan

      Not bad, OHooligan. You get it. At least you don’t think I am asking a trick question like “what would a deaf person hear?” My question is more along the lines of “is a sound without an ear still a sound?”

    • Olgun, you do not have to be wary of appearing rude; I know that you are not a rude man; but I have never been inconsistent on this issue, ever. Said the opposite of what?
      This did come up a while back and it was argued by Alan and others that a sound may be defined as a vibration, and that a color is a wave.
      I am less clear in my own mind as to where a wave ends and a perceived hue begins but I have never conceded that a vibration can be heard (perceived).
      A radio station? That’s a lot of stuff not to exist, isn’t it? Well, it does exist. The qualities that give it its existence, however, are dependent, at least in part, on our ability to perceive them and not only do they not exist independently of perception they can’t be conceived of as existing in this way. If you isolate the various qualities and separate them from each other you will see, I think, that it is absurd to assume from the get-go that such qualities as hardness exist IN THE SAME WAY as when we determine such a quality, i.e. by placing our hand on a flat surface, etc, and judge it as 1. external. 2. hard. These are subjective judgments. Hardness does not inhere in the desk or the wall. But if you think it does I would be open to hearing you explain how you or others had arrived at that. (When you see a floater it appears external, but it is isn’t. So neither is the radio station, although it does have reality. It is not an illusion, like a mirage or a floater. The difference is attributable to what our judgment tells us, not our senses, i.e., the station IS real; the floater APPEARS real. But in the former case, its realness IS its appearance in space, and it really does have all the qualities we experience; the floater appears real (external) but is judged to be an illusion.
      Sorry if I sound like I am trying to confound you, or pig-headed or obtuse.It is not, in my honest opinion, a BS question, never has been. It is a sound and reasonable question with far-reaching implications.
      The radio station is real. I see your point. I have never said that it and other things aren’t real.
      This subject is not of interest to everyone. It may not be your cup of tea; but it is not BS. I can assure you of that.

    • P.S. re BS:

      I think I know what you may be alluding to. I did say earlier that the question is not “what would a deaf person hear.” That would be a BS question.
      But that is not the question; it is this: “if a sound is not defined as something heard (and many people do not define it this way) then what can we say about the unheard sound? If it is a vibration, but not a sound, how then would a vibration be perceived? And if it cannot be perceived then what is it? It would then be something existing independently of the senses.— What form would this take? We can prove now that such a thing as a sound-vibration “exists,” but if it can never perceived, has no form or manner of being, but exists nonetheless, yet in relation to nothing or no one, are we not then stretching the meaning of the word existence past any acceptable usage of the word?
      I am distinguishing, you see, between absolute (or pure) existence from empirical existence.
      I will concede this: matter cannot be thought away. All the sensible qualities can be thought away. But Pure Matter remains. Take away all the sensible qualities, and matter is still there, although indeterminate with regards to its imagined inherent qualities, i.e.,– shape, form, size, texture, hardness, softness, extension,solidity, and so on. We are left with pure matter. Hardly more than an abstraction, and yet I cannot conceive of its non-existence: in other words, no object without the mind, AND no mind (knowledge) without matter. At this point my understanding comes to a stand-still.
      But to argue, as many have done, that there is no problem at all, that the Subject and Matter are not permanently and inextricably combined and reciprocally dependent upon each other, that we can eliminate Mind and still have Matter, or that we can eliminate Matter and still have Mind (which is also completely untenable) and that a door or a tree or the moon, or this sound or that image, are exactly as they appear to be with or without a mind to perceive them, is as natural to argue as it is futile.

    • But to argue, as many have done, that there is no problem at all, that the Subject and Matter are not permanently and inextricably combined and reciprocally dependent upon each other, that we can eliminate Mind and still have Matter, or that we can eliminate Matter and still have Mind (which is also completely untenable) and that a door or a tree or the moon, or this sound or that image, are exactly as they appear to be with or without a mind to perceive them, is as natural to argue as it is futile.

      Minds need matter. To say others claim otherwise here is a strawman and misdirection. Nor has anyone argued that things appear anything without minds.

      You sometimes treat words so carelessly. (How could you think anyone would say “appear” in that situation?) I think that’s why you may impute falsely. I argue in support of half your case yet you seem to insist I am implacably opposed to all of it. That just beats me.

      This thread has become hugely indulgent. Maybe you and I can have another crack at the issue on a later thread?

      Sorry to interject.

    • Feel free to interject, at any time, Phil. I usually write “and others” but sometimes forget.
      I wanted to be fair: that is why I said “no subject without the object (as opposed to the usual no object without the subject.) “Minds need matter.” Of course. Minds are matter and need matter in order to be aware of an internal existence and the external world
      A solipsist might think that mind is separate from matter and that matter does not exist. But you’re right; that was a bit unclear. Most people do understand that minds “need” matter, although that is an odd way of putting it, also unclear.
      No one is arguing that things appear without minds, you say, but they are in their ignorance! And everyone is always saying that the goddamned universe doesn’t care. So I am asking what this goddamned universe that contains the moon and the stars and the planets is filled with? What exists within it and what can you tell me about these existing things? I repeat this question over and over and over, and yet everyone (including you) thinks I am asking what an unperceived object would appear as!! (Except OHooligan who seems to sort of get it). No. I am asking you to tell me ANYTHING about it (any object) as an existing thing yet not perceived! Not self-indulgent. No straw-man. I am an honest thinker. And I started this but I am not the one continuing it; if someone has a comment I am obliged to reply.
      As far as you and I go, perhaps we can discuss this some other time when an opportunity presents itself. That’s your choice.
      I try to use words precisely and I am careful to the point of obsessive.
      I do try to express myself clearly. I often fail.

    • @ Phil (et al),

      Just respond to this, please (if you want to). I think I have now made my question confusion-free. (Wishful thinking, perhaps.)

      No one is arguing that things appear without minds! My question: what is there without minds? Be specific and descriptive. Is it solid? Is it big? small? I await, with great anticipation, your reply (although you are not obligated to reply.)

    • @dan

      I think you mistake me for someone who understands what you’re trying to get at. But at least I tried, and got past my initial impression that it was confusing word-salad-BS.

      Here, maybe, is your core question:

      My question: what is there without minds? Be specific

      Answer: I have no idea. Specifically, none at all. Not the faintest. And not only do I not know, I don’t think I CAN know. I don’t think (by extrapolation from myself) that anyone CAN know. So when they say they do, I think they’re lying or deluded, and I maybe distracted into the secondary question of why are they lying, or who deluded them.

      Will that do?

    • I think so.

    • The vast majority, OHooligan, of the scientific and philosophical world (what’s left of it) adheres to some form of scientific realism. That’s fine; but what bothers me is that no one among them (that I have ever spoken with) even understands this problem, is even able to acknowledge that there is one. They think it’s out-dated bullshit.
      “We now know, neuroscience teaches this and that, modern physics says this and that, … bla, bla, bla.” We now know, we know now. What do they know now?
      I’d be more inclined to listen to their arguments (in the context of this debate) if I felt that they understood, respected, and appreciated the opposing view, the anti-realist position.
      Even this fellow (quoted below) who wrote an article for an encyclopedia of philosophy has presented the problem poorly! Of course the external world exists! “There is no world external to and thus independent of the mind.” No. Poorly phrased. The world is external to the mind, and to the mind alone! —Externality implies the division into subject and object; again, the eternal failure to distinguish between empirical reality (which is external to us) and absolute reality (which cannot be). Apart from that, I think what he (or she?) says is correct. That is why I quoted him.
      I suspect at times that I am one of the last remaining human beings on earth that truly understands the doctrine of true, i.e. critical, idealism.

      […] “realism is committed to the mind-independent existence of the world investigated by the sciences. This idea is best clarified in contrast with positions that deny it. For instance, it is denied by any position that falls under the traditional heading of ‘idealism’, including some forms of phenomenology, according to which there is no world external to and thus independent of the mind. This sort of idealism, though historically important, is rarely encountered in contemporary philosophy of science, however.” [!!]
      – Anjan Chakravartty, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2011

    • Dan #260

      No one is arguing that things appear without minds! My question: what is there without minds? Be specific and descriptive. Is it solid? Is it big? small? I await, with great anticipation, your reply (although you are not obligated to reply.)

      Why don’t you try to accurately reproduce my answer to this?

      In the meantime, tentacled civilisation A are wiped out and their planet sterilised by the gamma ray burst of a nearby super nova. Arthropod civilisation B on the same planet 3 billion years later map out what happened in the past. They stumble into a library of Civilisation A. One of the unremarkable things they note is that the accounts they (A) gave in their models of the universe from that time comport reasonably well with their own (B) models 3 billion years later given the three billion year gap. (In relative terms this cluster of energy releasing objects has moved relative to that lot in just the way their (A) model said it would.

      The fun thing is that civilisation A were echo-locators and also able to feel warmth on the skin of a tentacle if they poked it out of their supporting fluid, with but no high resolution coherently mapped detectors. The arthropods had crappy low resolution arthropod vision, coherently mapped then but mostly dependent on antennae for surface chemistry attribute sensation. Both had good plastic brains though substantially unwired in parts and Hebbian and Bayesian wiring and unwiring. (Brains like us , because I don’t know how else it could happen). Both civilisations built maps of the universe with the help of their detecting tools, but B are not yet advanced enough to recognise that one enormous model is the start of a wave equation for the orbitting planetoid, (the one that brings them out for the traditional leaf cutting get together), once being being assembled by civilisation A’s copy device slicing through the moon. They’ll eventually learn what it is if they are lucky with the gamma ray bursts. Ant Shroedinger is already at work on an equation for those tiny field sources that seem to make everything up yet are only probably precisely there ….Learning to create and work with abstract models takes a very very long time. What would those tiny fields feel like to our antennae? Ha, Folly. Our antennae are made of these things. Tiny fields just act from their own nature.

      No minds for 3 billion years and no surprises.

    • @phil
      Lovely. Reminds me of Greg Egan’s “Incandescence”. If you’ve not read it you’re in for a treat.

      @dan #263

      Sorry, you’ve lost me again. Really. I got nothing but added confusion from reading that post. Please try harder. Short sentences would be good. Don’t fail to avoid double negatives. (That was a hint).

      What I do have is this: my experience of me, and the universe I find myself in, including all I’ve read or heard about it, and the mental model I have of my home town and outside it something vast with planets and galaxies and such, all of that is contained inside my mind. Which, according to the model, is contained inside my head. Which is contained in the Real Universe that is the origin of my sensory experiences. So, like the Tardis, am I bigger on the inside? Or, conversely, the universe is so much vaster than you imagine. And, by definition, vaster than you CAN imagine, you being but a small part of it.

      Running on empty here, Dan. You don’t seem to have brought any refreshment to this thread for a long long while.

    • Dear Phil and OHooligan,

      This time I didn’t read what you wrote in its entirety, Phil. Not interested in reading sci-fi right now. I have Asimov’s novels and stories on my shelf. (Complete works.)

      I have accurately reproduced your answer: you don’t get it. (This is nothing to be ashamed of.)

      Why won’t you answer me? “Models that predict” is no answer, by the way. I am asking a very specific question. You see, OHooligan, a model is always based on what is empirically given. The models prove this and that and we can make accurate predictions based on them. But these proofs do not prove that we can conceive of mind-independent reality. Nor does it provide us with any idea of what that reality IS!

      I have enough humility to admit that I may not be able to fully appreciate at this time what models may be able to tell us about the universe in itself. As I have noted before, I am an “ignoramus.” —And like Galileo and Socrates themselves – and these are apt comparisons – I am resigned to my fate of being regarded as a lunatic or incompetent, or both.

      OHooligan, I have added nothing new to this thread for a while. True. It is not my fault that no one understands the question. Yes. That’s the truth. (I thought you got a piece of it. What happened? I thought I had won a disciple!)

      Poor me. (LOL)

    • @dan

      It’s slowly dawning on me that you’re showing us a working example of the human trait that allowed religion to take root in the first place. Trying to know the Unknowable. A task I believe to be inherently impossible.

      Weaker minds than yours would have been swept away into Faith by some charismatic BS artist by now, and you’d happily be imagining you somehow contacted the Unknowable, and now have some Knowledge of It. See, it gets religious real fast.

      Disciple, hah. Definitely you’re barking up the wrong tree mate. You’d have to knock out a few miracles first. Hint: Water to Wine always goes down well. And get someone to mistranslate your writings. And get tax exemptions.

    • @ Phil, Alan, et al

      OHooligan,
      Know the unknowable? I am asking what can be known. I am trying NOT to know what is unknowable!! You have it backwards. If you are not an idealist then that makes you a realist. So tell me what is real and what we can say about this realness. Sorry. Slippery stuff, I guess.

      IS THIS OUTDATED, UNSCIENTIFIC, RELIGIOUS BULLSHIT? (S. on a priori knowledge and the faculty of understanding.)

      “Thus touch and sight have each their own special advantages, to begin with; therefore they assist each other
      mutually. Sight needs no contact, nor even proximity; its field is unbounded and extends to the stars. It is more
      over sensitive to the most delicate degrees of light, shade, colour, and transparency; so that it supplies the Understanding with a quantity of nicely defined data, out of which, by dint of practice, it becomes able to construct the shape, size, distance, and nature of bodies, and represents them at once perceptibly. On the other hand, touch certainly depends upon contact; still its data are so varied and so trustworthy, that it is the most searching of all the senses. Even perception by sight may, in the last resort, be referred to touch; nay, sight may be looked upon as an imperfect touch extending to a great distance, which uses the rays of light as long feelers; and it is just because it is limited to those qualities which have light for their medium and is therefore one-sided, that it is so liable to deception ; whereas touch supplies the data for cognising size, shape, hardness, softness, roughness, temperature, &c. &c., quite immediately. In this it is assisted, partly by the shape and mobility of our arms, hands, and fingers, from whose position in feeling objects the Understanding derives its data for constructing bodies in Space, partly by muscular power, which enables it to know the weight, solidity, toughness, or brittleness of bodies: all this with the least possible liability to error.

      “These data nevertheless do not by any means yet give perception, which is always the work of the Understanding. The sensation I have in pressing against a table with my hand, contains no representation of a firm cohesion of parts in that object, nor indeed anything at all like it. It is only when my Understanding passes from that sensation to its cause, that the intellect constructs for itself a body having the properties of solidity, impenetrability, and hardness. If in the dark, I put my hand upon a flat surface,or lay hold of a ball of about three inches in diameter, the same parts of my hand feel the pressure in both cases; it is only by the different position which my hand takes that, in the one or in the other case, my Understanding constructs the shape of the body whose contact is the cause of the sensation, for which it receives confirmation from the changes of position which I make. The sensations in the hand of a man born blind, on feeling an object of cubic shape, are quite uniform and the same on all sides and in every direction : the edges, it is true, press upon a smaller portion of his hand, still nothing at all like a cube is contained in these sensations. His Understanding, however, draws the immediate and intuitive conclusion from the resistance felt, that this resistance must have a cause, which then presents itself through that conclusion as a hard body; and through the movements of his arms in feeling the object, while the hand s sensation remains unaltered, he constructs the cubic shape in Space, which is known to him a priori. If the representation of a cause and of Space, together with their laws, had not already existed within him, the image of a cube could never have proceeded from those successive sensations in his hand. If a rope be drawn through his hand, he will construct, as the cause of the friction he feels and of its duration, a long cylindrical body, moving uniformly in the same direction in that particular position of his hand. But the representation of movement, i.e. of change of place in Space by means of Time, never could arise for him out of the mere sensation in his hand ; for that sensation can neither contain, nor can it ever by itself alone produce any such thing. It is his intellect which must, on the contrary, contain within itself, before all experience, the intuitions of Space, Time, and together with them that of the possibility of movement; and it must also contain the representation of Causality, in order to pass from sensation which alone is given by experience to a cause of that sensation, and to construct that cause as a body having this or that shape, moving in this or that direction. For how great is the difference between a mere sensation in my hand and the representations of causality, materiality, and mobility in Space by means of Time! The sensation in my hand, even if its position and its points of contact are altered, is a thing far too uniform and far too poor in data, to enable me to construct out of it the representation of Space, with its three dimensions, and of the influences of bodies one upon another, together with the properties of expansion, impenetrability, cohesion, shape, hardness, softness, rest, and motion: the basis, in short, of the objective world. This is, on the contrary, only possible by the intellect containing within itself, anterior to all experience, Space, as the form of perception; Time, as the form of change ; and the law of Causality, as the regulator of the passing in and out of changes. Now it is precisely the pre-existence before all experience of all these forms, which constitutes the Intellect. Physiologically, it is a function of the brain, which the brain no more learns by experience than the stomach to digest, or the liver to secrete bile.”

    • Dan #266

      sci-fi

      Strawman

      Asimov

      Deflection

      I have accurately reproduced your answer: you don’t get it.

      Wrong: condescending

      I’ll repeat (third time). I half concede your point. What we can say cannot be said in any quick or trite way but is a long journey into abstraction and the end result even then is not of course any direct perception of reality but an abstract proxy that maps. I have illustrated how this abstraction may straddle two entirely different and non congruent phenomenologies. I have repeated that things act out of their own nature in the absence of minds and that were minds to be suddenly created this would be validated by deductive observation.

      Now what you have to say is why your point matters in any shape or form. Why mind “creating” phenomenology, as it does, of this our that type matters at any other than this phenomenological level.

      I suspect my parable (in best philosophic tradition) of phenomenology A and phenomenology B will have you wanting to propose a deeper level of phenomenology.

      A model, a map is the only form that knowledge can take.

    • Dan

      This is precisely the root of S’s error.

      This is, on the contrary, only possible by the intellect containing within itself, anterior to all experience, Space, as the form of perception; Time, as the form of change ; and the law of Causality, as the regulator of the passing in and out of changes. Now it is precisely the pre-existence before all experience of all these forms, which constitutes the Intellect. Physiologically, it is a function of the brain, which the brain no more learns by experience than the stomach to digest, or the liver to secrete bile.

      We know now how all three are learned.

    • “We know now how all three are learned.”

      I guess I deserve that.

      On a serious note: Sure! Externality (S’s “space”) is learned from the outside in. Remove the subject and space is still outside of us. Very good!

      And tracing an image or a sensation back to a cause is learned too. Then why is it that only beings with understanding (sufficient intellect) can do that? A sensation by itself can never give us knowledge of a cause; the knowledge of causality alone allows us to distinguish between internal sensations and causes.

      How do we learn about causality, Phil? If that formal condition was not an innate function of the intellect then how could anything be learned? It is the pre-condition of learning, and of all perception. And infants can differentiate between itself and something that is not itself. Infants have perception of space. Not learned. They have knowledge of causality in so far as they know that, say, the water it is bathing in, or the arm that holds it, or the food it takes in, is not part of its own body. This is intuitive knowledge and at that stage (the infant stage) must be very indistinct. (I admit it must be very indistinct as knowledge, but it is there.)

      True story: I was fourteen seconds old. Dr. Weiss slapped me. I looked at him and said: “wha…wha…why?” In Guinness Book of World Records. Youngest talking baby.

      I am no expert on infant psychology, but I think it is absurd to suggest that the knowledge of Causality is of empirical origin.

      “Straw-man.” Sorry if I seem obstinate, or careless, or if I am not hearing you. Not intentional.

    • @dan

      I think it is absurd to suggest that the knowledge of Causality is of empirical origin.

      Well I think the opposite. I’m glad we got this far. We can, of course, agree to disagree.

      It’s all learned. Learning cause-and-effect, before-therefore-because-of (whatever the Latin). Nothing innate but the ability to learn, the network of neurons that will become a human intelligence. And at some point it stops learning so much, and acts solely on its sensory inputs and its stored collection of guidelines, rules-of-thumb, practical responses to common situations. And the lamb stops playing and becomes a sheep. Us “smart” monkeys keep on playing, longer at least than most species, but that’s about it.

      On sight, btw, ours is abysmal. Imagine having a hearing range of just a single octave, and only 3 tone detectors, so that all notes in an octave “appear” as varying emphasis on a single 3 note chord, relative intensities of only 3 notes. Where’s the majors and minors, where’s the 7ths, the diminished and augmented…. Where’s Beethoven and Bach and the Blues and the Beatles and the Beach Boys (and I’ve only gotten as far as B…)

      Our sense of light is pitiful. Even with decent lenses, the detectors are really quite shoddy, and clearly are only-just good enough to get by with, in the world where we evolved.

      Imagine – I know, you’ll probably call this sci-fi and stop reading – but try to imagine an alien intelligence with a sense of electromagnetic radiation that’s equivalent to our sense of pressure waves in the air around us – 10 or more octaves, and able to tell a blend of red and green from the single pure frequency emitted by sodium lamps. Able to see the cosmos directly in all the frequencies that we can only detect via our machines. What would it make of us earthbound creatures with our paltry senses, and our – by implication – paltry concept of the universe?

      In summary, I’d have to say, yes, there’s something Out There that we are perceiving, dimly. But we can say nothing more about it than what we can deduce, infer, surmise, and guess from what we experience, what we sense. Is that Realism (as opposed to Idealism)?

    • @OHooligan (and others)

      Hi, my lost disciple (kidding),

      Let me just say one thing about cause and effect, and perhaps I will address the rest of your rich comment tomorrow. (It is the wee hours of the morning where I am. )

      There is knowledge of cause and effect as it relates to particular things in life (how things work), and there is the knowledge of causality itself as a pure intuition. The latter conception of causality is not often discussed or contemplated. Of course we learn how to apply our understanding and learn how to figure out how particular things follow upon others. That is something that develops and evolves. Also, the idea of cause and effect, that is, the concept, is abstract and therefore must be learned. But causality as a pure intuition, a pure, intuitive perception (as opposed to the idea in the abstract, or the application of our understanding to problems of mechanics –in the broadest sense) is this (and I will borrow from the quote above, written by a twenty-five year old Schopenhauer): “The sensation I have in pressing against a table with my hand, contains no representation of a firm cohesion of parts in that object, nor indeed anything at all like it. It is only when my Understanding passes from that sensation to its cause, that the intellect constructs for itself a body having the properties of solidity, impenetrability, and hardness.”

      That ability to trace back is innate. All perception of objects (which most of the animals have, as they have understanding in this sense) implies this ability to trace a sensation, e.g., the visual sensation of a predator (the fear of which cannot be explained by instinct alone; it must also be perceived) back to a cause (simply an object outside and apart from its own subjectivity). I wish I could elaborate further as I haven’t even approached doing any kind of justice to this thesis. But I wanted to give a cursory reply rather than not reply at all.

      One proof of the non-empirical nature of the knowledge of causality (as a pure intuition) is the very fact itself that it constitutes a law. If it were learned it could be unlearned, but that is not possible. Every cause must have a preceding cause and every effect must in turn produce a cause. This “law of causality” is a law of the human mind, and not an abstract principle, but is first and foremost a perception, and an inseparable and essential lineament of the fabric of reality. It constitutes an infinite regress and an infinite progression, and, like space and time, cannot, as I said, be separated from empirical reality. That is why we cannot conceive of a first cause or an end to space. The knowledge of space, time, and causality (pure and immediate intuitions), are rooted in our minds themselves from birth onwards. This is no doubt a product of evolution.

      Not sure I grasped your music theory analogy, which got my attention: a two-note chord can be a minor chord: B to D is a minor interval. The triad B, D#, A is a B dominant 7th chord. (I will look at your comment again.)

      “I’d have to say, yes, there’s something Out There that we are perceiving, dimly. But we can say nothing more about it than what we can deduce, infer, surmise, and guess from what we experience, what we sense. Is that Realism (as opposed to Idealism)?”

      I don’t actually “perceive” anything – dimly or otherwise – but neither do I think it’s productive to understand what people say too quickly or to be too quick to refute and argue. In other words, I see what you mean. —And I am prepared to say that there is something Out There too. (Fuck the solipsists.)

    • Dan #271

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for a non dismissive reply.

      The quality of passing time and its directionality is learned from thermodynamics. Entropy (chaos, except in special cases) increases. Water is spilled from a cup but we never get to see the film run backwards and water fly from the table into the cup. Things get in a mess and it takes us to tidy up. (An adjunct to this is continuity of existence. Babies need to learn that objects sustain through time.)

      Causality is learned by that combination of Hebbian learning and Bayesian weighting. Hebbian learning is neurons that fire together wire together (an evolutionary trick simple enough to happen from very few mutations early on in animals say 500million years ago). Inference generation is a later trick evolved from this first trick and used together with coincidence becomes a primitive form of causality. Many humans even now cannot distinguish coincidence from causality. (It takes cultural evolution to create logical abstraction and a rigorous causality.)

      A sense of externality is never entirely achieved. Solepsists exist. As W luckily hypothesised we do actually experience another’s aching tooth. We (apart from marsupials) are born with the least pre-wired brain. Our brains grow 300% after birth. We are consequently the least viable younglings of the mammals. Mirror neurons are wildly more present in us than other mammals. These are our apron strings, they allow us to be more completely managed and more completely wired after birth. They are why our cognitions are better described as situated. Mirror neurons have us smile back at mum and coincidence detect the soft voice and the surge of oxytocin released by the cuddling and the stimulation of the c-tactile afferent nerves. Mum, baby, happy, mum smiles, baby smiles…every time. Minds appear connected. You feel your mum’s feelings. Even now feelings are infectious. Externality is only a slowly realised.

      There are books-worth of information about all three of these and I can only give you a flavour here. S’s hypotheses are false about a priori knowledge. Now I think if he were to step back from his simplified entities of human attributes to how something like thermodynamics drives the phenomenal he would be on to something but then it would be less anthropocentric. It is the legacy of the anthropocentric view that ultimately confounds much of earlier philosophy in my view. This is understandable because of the lack of opportunity of insight into how mentality (neologism?) actually could work.

    • @phil #274

      Good stuff, thank you. Tasty too.

    • @dan #273

      As I recall when I looked closer at this, the “chord” represented by our 3-sensor colour vision system has the frequency relations of the notes of a simple major chord. All you get are relative volumes of the same 3 notes. Try making music with that, a 3-key piano or a 3 string guitar, and no using the left hand.

      That, btw, explains why it is well nigh impossible to generate a satisfactory visual representation of music. Tangerine Dream did pretty well in their day, and Fantasia was good too, but there was a lot of creative visual imagination in that work.

    • OHooligan

      “chord” represented by our 3-sensor colour vision…

      You lost me.

    • @ Phil 271

      I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, frankly. I see you have no less than two “likes’, by the way. That’s a sign that you’re wrong right there. The truth is seldom popular. (Kidding.)

      “A sense of externality is never entirely achieved. Solepsists [sic] exist. As W luckily hypothesised we do actually experience another’s aching tooth.”

      That’s very enlightening.

      Re: causality as innate:

      I’m trying to distinguish between the raw material that the senses alone receive and what S. calls the faculty of understanding, that is able to (immediately and intuitively) trace that effect (the sense impression/data) back to a cause (the perceived object). Not all living organisms can do this!

      Externality is as innate as the organs of sense themselves and the understanding itself. Why do we have hands and eyes and ears and noses – not to mention brains?

      Solipsism denies the reality of our knowledge of the external world, and confuses that reality with illusion. It is superficial although hard to refute with proofs.

      Thanks for your non-dismissive reply to my reply.

    • Dan

      That’s very enlightening.

      I can’t figure out if this is a problem, if, perhaps, you are being facetious but don’t care to be enlightened anyway because there is no substantive point or question related. My style tends to run with a provocative headline unpacked through the paragraph or the piece. That was a typical paragraph headline explained later.

      I’m trying to distinguish between the raw material that the senses alone receive and what S. calls the faculty of understanding, that is able to (immediately and intuitively) trace that effect (the sense impression/data) back to a cause (the perceived object). Not all living organisms can do this!

      Certainly not the young. All en-brained animals (non sessile animals) employ coincidence detection. The snap of the twig was caused by another agent (prey or predator). But the innocent young learn causality through experience.

      Externality is as innate as the organs of sense themselves and the understanding itself.

      and yet there is the possibility

      Solipsism denies the reality of our knowledge of the external world, and confuses that reality with illusion. It is superficial although hard to refute with proofs.

      A sense of self (to distinguish from the rest) takes a long time to form. It follows from the discovery of agents in your universe. This isn’t so immediate or clear to infant us when these agents feel our feelings and do our bidding.

      At some point a precis of how a priori knowledge could exist would be good. This could allow you to round out with a fuller treatment of idealism and the implications of your original question.

    • @dan #277

      You lost me.

      Hah, shoe’s on the other foot for a change.

      OK, what I meant was this: expressing our sense of light in terms of our sense of vibration, we have basically only 3 detectors. Scaling the different frequencies to get something comparable, light having a much higher frequency than sound, I found this:

      One (call it L) is triggered by tones in the range of D to G (in the octave above middle C), and is most sensitive to F natural.
      One (call it M) is triggered by tones in the range E to A, and is most sensitive to F#
      One (call it S) is triggered by tones in the range G# to B, and is most sensitive to Bb.

      All our hearing would be varying emphasis on the notes F, F# and Bb. We’d hear nothing below D and nothing above B, within a single octave.

      So, for example a G natural note will trigger M, and to a lesser extent L

      While a G# note will trigger M and also S.

      B and Bb (or A#) are barely indistinguishable, they both excite S only.

      Not a lot of musical scope with these 3 very inaccurate detectors. That’s all. When people extol the wondrous perfection of human vision, I like to remember this.

      BTW you need nothing more to reproduce this for yourself than a couple of Wikipedia pages (“Piano key frequencies”, and “Color vision”) and a calculator or spreadsheet for the arithmetic, that’s all I had. You could scale it differently (like using a capo) but the overall meaning stays the same.

      Or you might find I’d made a mistake somewhere. It always helps to have someone check your facts.

    • Phil,

      You said:

      “We appreciate another man’s toothache, as W hypothesized.”

      I am sick of Wittgenstein. Yes, I was being “facetious” (sarcastic) when I said “enlightening” in response to the extraordinary statement above.

      W said (in his Blue Book, I think) that we “feel” another man’s toothache. He didn’t say “appreciate.” I don’t think he was alluding to empathy.

      As for a more thorough exegesis of the doctrine of a priori knowledge, I will need some time, as I am not sure how to address the issue of infant cognition. In the mean time, I will say this: a newborn infant can see. That I know. If it can see then the “knowledge” of space must be as innate as its ability to see – for how could it possibly see except by seeing into, or intuiting in some other way, external space, which cannot be said to exist except in relation to something looking (or feeling) from the inside out?

      Moreover, “the most profound change at birth is [a] baby’s first breath[…]The first few breaths after birth may be the most difficult breaths [a] baby will take for the rest of her life.” (A. James) Does this process of “learning” imply that the ability to breathe is not an innate ability?

    • W said (in his Blue Book, I think) that we “feel” another man’s toothache. He didn’t say “appreciate.” I don’t think he was alluding to empathy.

      “Feel” another’s pain IS empathy and what I should have said. Appreciation is purely an intellectual process (to understand fully etc.) We empathise from the earliest ages with the help of mirror neurons. They appear to be more subdued later on as we assume a greater autonomy. The decline is seen in the falling off of the attribute of “overimitation”.

      Take any amount of time on a priori. If you can deal with it in little steps that would possibly be best for me to focus on the detail.

      Breathing is a fascinating muscle action falling between automatic like peristalsis and fully controlled like biceps flexing. When young it is probably fully automatic driven by homeostatic needs of oxygenation….But I need to research a little more..

    • Go back to The Blue and Brown Books, Phil. You will see that W did not have feeling in that sense (empathy) in mind at all in that asinine toothache section. He also said that vowels have shades. That’s right. He also used the word thought and the word feeling irresponsibly, just substituted one for the other. (“When I feel that one and one makes two,” etc. Made that up but that’s the kind of thing he often says.) He wasn’t really irresponsible; I suspect that he was trying deliberately to confuse, conflate, confound, and paralyze us.

      Feeling as empathy would have made sense but W, you see, did not like to make sense. No, that he did not like. Read what he wrote. You will see that he is, as always, saying precisely nothing. He even suggests that machines can have headaches. Why not? (That’s from either the Blue Book or On Certainty.) Everyone thinks this is all very profound.

      W was a charlatan, hoodwinked a generation. He was worse than Deepak Chopra, but cut from the same cloth. Both are obscurantists par excellence. I could be wrong, but I have been reading him for a year and a half and have discovered nothing of value anywhere. He just plays with words, thrives on the inevitable ambiguity and imperfections associated with language, doesn’t appreciate language, seems to hate it. Language (like art and philosophy) is really the fruit of man’s emergence from a mere animal existence; it is one of our most noble inventions, or creations. He was a monster, a destructive and insidious man with a cruel streak a mile wide. He trampled on truth and beauty. A degenerate. I detest W. He wanted to take us back to the year zero. His anti-philosophical mode of philosophy is regressive, anti-intellectual.

      W: the epitome of “deepity.”

      Sorry if I sound vitriolic.

      Personal remark: I Have a friend (Paul) and our 40 year friendship is on the verge of permanent destruction right now because I just don’t “get” W and I continue to write “crap.”

      Talk to you soon.

    • Dan, sorry to hear about your friend. Friendship shouldn’t come to hinge on this stuff.

      I was not in any way invoking W as an authority on empathy. You will see I described W’s choice of words as lucky (not wise). It simply served as a recent image used that encapsulated a (seemingly evidenced by science) truth I wanted to employ. I’m sorry I used that image. I should have stuck to smiling mothers etc. I strive constantly to see through authority to better attend to evidence and reason.

      I looked back at what I wrote which was “experience” another’s toothache, which I stand by. W actually played the word game, I think, “had” another man’s toothache, which was the rather shocking image I actually wanted to use, to kick off the paragraph.

    • Phil, thank you for clarifying that. Could you please reiterate your point about empathy when you can? I missed something. Is this related to our discussion of a priori knowledge? Perhaps we should stick to causality for the time being. Empathy is inborn too, in my opinion, but adding this subject on top of causality will complicate things.
      Regardless of whether it complicates things I am still curious to know what your point about empathy was, and will get back to you about that.

    • @Phil 279

      A sense of self (to distinguish from the rest) takes a long time to form.

      I am not suggesting that babies are born with a sense of self that approaches anything like an “I”. That is indeed learned. I agree. —But I am talking about something much more basic. A cat or a dog has no sense of self in the way you mean it, presumably; nor do they ever develop an I consciousness. But both dogs and cats as well as babies (before the I is developed) have Understanding, that is, the ability to trace a sensation (whether it be visual or felt as a touch of the hand) back to a cause – however indeterminate this cause may be. The data of sense-impressions (felt by mice and birds, by most, if not all, animals with brains, if I am not mistaken) may be a sound, may be a visual object; it produces a feeling, a sensation, of some kind. Only beings with the capacity to understand (as a result of sufficient brain capacity) that this feeling-producing data has a cause that has arisen from outside of its own self – and I am using the word “self” in an elemental, non-psychological sense – has any awareness of the reality of an external “world.” Opposed to this are the many organisms with no such innate faculty – such as cells, which live in an enclosed, solipsistic, internal world. No distinction between their own existence and an outer one is made.

      Sense of self: straw man (Unintended, but still a straw man.)

    • Dan

      But both dogs and cats as well as babies (before the I is developed) have Understanding, that is, the ability to trace a sensation (whether it be visual or felt as a touch of the hand) back to a cause

      Is this conscious?

      Is your thesis of a priori knowledge damaged if a connection process which we agree exists from the earliest moments is conscious or not, necessarily causal or not or merely coincidence detection strengthened by repitition of occurrence?

      Why would a priori knowledge in S’s terms not be now better understood by processes like Hebbian learning with Bayesian weighting as an automatic process of all brains?

      Your biggest ally in this is Chomsky arguing for non-evolved “a priori” Chomskian language modules that dismay the biologists as it (seemingly to them) pushes back any sensible account of their occurrence. A wonderful account of Chomsky’s thinking on this convincingly suggests these modules are hoped by him to be the result of properties of physics. What Chomsky is unaware of is the work of folk like Andreas Wagner who are analysing the solution space available to evolution (the entire theoretical range of all possible proteins etc.) and revealing deep and repetitive structures of all viable solutions, this by tackling the problem as a pure physics/mechanical issue. In other words Chomsky’s distaste for evolution being insufficiently primal is unwarranted and evolution is (of course) ordered by physics….it just needs computers using large complex models to discover the ordered tendencies.

    • Phil,

      We are getting into obscure areas, and it behooves me now to prove to you once and for all that causality is a form of a priori knowledge.—I will have to do some digging, into my own mind, and into the writings of my great teacher.

      I’ll get back to you when I can.

      Is it conscious?

      The dim apprehension of a source of a sensation is conscious; all awareness is conscious awareness. The process by which the understanding traces the effect back to the cause (source) is quite unconscious.

    • Dan

      We are getting into obscure areas,

      For me this is moving into the light, out of hypotheses supported by hypotheses, into the realm of hypotheses supportable and refutable by testing.

      Chomsky’s hypothesis of a priori knowledge has pretty much dominated language theory for half a century now.

      all awareness is conscious awareness

      Completely agreed. This is a definition of awareness.

      The process by which the understanding traces the effect [of which you are aware] back to the cause (source) [of which you become aware] is quite unconscious.

      Most often, yes. The question is is this often automatic capacity gained through experience (conscious/unconscious) or is it innate?

      Supporting S’s idea of innateness of cognitive heuristics is the fly, grown from an egg in isolation from all others. The fly still circles the light bulb because it has the short term navigational heuristic of flying at a fixed angle to the light source. The expectation, perhaps, is that this is the sun and that by flying thus it will get to new territory hopefully less food depleted than the current one. (Fascinatingly this is an overlay of possibly an earlier (and really primitive) heuristic that seems to be common to all living things and that is an “anti lost” strategy that has us (creatures all) in the absence of usable navigational data circle (quite unconsciously in our case) back on our selves. Blind and deaf (say) we walk quite unwittingly in circles, presumably not to get lost. Relocation it seems may require an overriding strategy.)

      The infant forms no biographical memories during the great explosion of brain growth in the regions associated with these, but the more basic cerebellum is left mostly free of these unstructured growth additions and succesfully learns and stores behaviours. The nature of early infant seeming “conscious awareness” (one that lays down no conscious memories) is one that can have no “conscious learning”. We make models of how this primary pre-conscious learning seems to happen (CMAC and Multi-Layer Perceptrons) that comport with the neural physionomy of the cerebellum and enable us to make learning machines for ourselves. This non-conscious learning process that builds our behaviours in response to our environment and its stimuli could of itself possibly count as the a-priori “knowledge” that S needs. ..Perhaps?

    • Olgun,

      A priori? Must read? Not sure I get it if you’re being facetious. Glad you liked it. London was not a scientist. He was, as you know, a novelist, short story writer, and essayist. I just think the writing is superlative.

      I am curious. You know something about mid-pleistocene man, I think. Do you think he may have captured at least something of what life might have been like back then?

    • Phil, obviously I’m not going to send you all of P’s comments. Just these two. What do you think of them? He kind of stunned me with the first one. So damned hard to prove a priori knowledge. I need time. Give me time.

      “[T]he faculty of understanding […] is able to (immediately and intuitively) trace that effect (the sense impression/data) back to a cause (the perceived object). Not all living organisms can do this!” -Me

      You can’t define “doing this” with a recognizable agent — “faculty”(!) “of understanding” — internally who “does.” Who is “understanding,” in your model, and how? Can we observe the process, or just chart electrical impulses inside the head?

      Paul

      “He also used the word thought and the word feeling irresponsibly, just substituted one for the other. (“When I feel that one and one makes two,” etc.)” -Me

      OK, you’ve said this before. Listen, it’s up to you to see how these two things can mean the same thing by speaking in the first person. I completely get your point, that as rigorous terms, predefined in a certain way, it distorts Schopenhauer’s meaning — in his language game — to use them interchangeably.

      But we use them interchangeably all the time in other circumstances. I feel irritated with you: my thoughts are describable as accompanying OR SUBSTANTIATING “irritation.”

      You are too caught up in the sort of defined-terms-must-mean-what-we-say-they-mean logic W briefly comments on in what we recently read.

      I invite you to send my comment to Phil if you like. Send all our correspondence to Phil in fact, so Phil can get, shall we say, a clearer picture of your interactions with me, Danny.

      Paul

    • Phil,

      We are having a worthwhile dialogue, and guess who agrees? Who knows?—Maybe this correspondence will be read by people a hundred years from now. (I don’t see why it wouldn’t.)

      “The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent upon each other. Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is—insofar as it is thinkable at all—primitive and muddled.” -Einstein 1949

    • Dan #293

      Epistomology.

      We must indeed try and know how much we know.

      I suspect (!) my epistomology would not invoke “knowledge” but rather talk of our “best working suspicions”. Such “knowledge” as it is works as maps do and should never be confused with the territory, nor be expected to deliver in any direct sense experience of the territory (though we can’t help ourselves in feeling, in responding emotionally and introspecting upon our apprehension of even the most abstract of things.)

      I count myself a rationalist rather than a realist. I believe that a priori knowledge, though, is nothing of the sort (it is not knowledge in any sensible definition, a Wittgensteinian failure of signifying) and sits very far back in the physics of things though it really does predispose later biological and sensory and subsequently empirical data gathering. I think we can accommodate such physics, as we slowly uncover it, in our reasoning.

      292

      We can hold “knowledge” in two ways. We can be the masters of it (and use it to predict the future with it or successfully manipulate our surroundings by it). We can understand it (by having a feeling of familiarity and engagement with it). The former is our suspicions made palpable (confirmed) for as long as the state lasts. The latter is transitory and contingent upon longevity of cultural association and metaphorical anchoring but ultimately doomed by the child that asks the next “but why?”

      Feelings are thoughts (emotions introspected upon) but not necessarily vice versa. When I feel that one and one make two I am adding the further information that there is some emotional engagement in my introspection.

    • Phil #294

      I am concerned now with the problem of knowing what knowing is, reading Plato’s Theaetetus.
      When you say “hold” knowledge in two ways, as understanding and mastering, do you mean mastering and understanding knowledge itself, or the specific ideas or theories, etc., that we “know”? Not clear.

      I might know that a tree makes a sound, but I don’t yet know what it means to know that I know that.

      As the self-proclaimed part-time representative of philosophy and epistemology on this site it behooves me to acquire a deeper understanding of the various forms of knowing, and to establish to my own satisfaction a clear, precise understanding of what justifies my own use of this word, whose meaning must surely vary from context to context.

      Epistemology and science are absolutely dependent upon each other, in my opinion. The former can be regarded as the science of thought. Epistemology and neuroscience are not incompatible but I am at a loss to see how the latter can prove or disprove anything regarding the a priori nature of causality. That might be due to my own ignorance, and I will therefore have to compensate for that by burying even deeper and arriving at conclusions using the only methods of inquiry that I know how to employ. It must stand the test of logic: that is the supreme and only criteria that I know of in judging something to be true. This criteria is not fool-proof, but it can also produce useful results.

    • @dan

      It must stand the test of logic: that is the supreme and only criteria that I know of in judging something to be true.

      Sometimes, Dan, you do get to a point, in a way I can understand. And in this case disagree completely. There are more important criteria: does it enable you to make predictions that can be tested, and verified or refuted? For if no testable predictions can be made, it’s not good enough.

    • Dan #295

      do you mean mastering and understanding knowledge itself,

      Yes. Mastering is an active use of knowledge and does not require an understanding of it. Understanding is that feeling that signals an emotional and accepting engagement with it nor does it require absolute mastery. Often the two go together, but it is getting increasingly difficult to understand what the property of “charm” of a quark or “non-local reality” could possibly be in any relatable experiential sense. The hugely familiar experience of gravity makes Newtons inverse square law enough of an explanation for understanding until the next but why….

      Epistemology and neuroscience are not incompatible but I am at a loss to see how the latter can prove or disprove anything regarding the a priori nature of causality.

      is made a more appropriate and accurate question thus-

      Epistemology and science are not incompatible but I am at a loss to see how the latter can prove or disprove anything regarding the a priori nature of causality.

      Causality and the increase of entropy are related. This from the wiki on arrows of time. (Warning David Hume quote ahead…they could have inserted a dozen others)…

      A cause precedes its effect: the causal event occurs before the event it affects. Birth, for example, follows a successful conception and not vice versa. Thus causality is intimately bound up with time’s arrow.

      An epistemological problem with using causality as an arrow of time is that, as David Hume maintained, the causal relation per se cannot be perceived; one only perceives sequences of events. Furthermore, it is surprisingly difficult to provide a clear explanation of what the terms cause and effect really mean, or to define the events to which they refer. However, it does seem evident that dropping a cup of water is a cause while the cup subsequently shattering and spilling the water is the effect.

      Physically speaking, the perception of cause and effect in the dropped cup example is a phenomenon of the thermodynamic arrow of time, a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics.[9] Controlling the future, or causing something to happen, creates correlations between the doer and the effect,[10] and these can only be created as we move forwards in time, not backwards.

      The identification of causality is not a primary attribute of perception but the final result of a long sequence of cognising processes each of which is an example of a process obeying the second law of thermodynamics. Nor is it finally certain. We know the processes and can easily manipulate jugments of causality. An early process we know is coincidence detection. This alone makes for superstitious chickens (B. F. Skinner) and Bishops reminding us of the earquake inductive powers of sodomy.

    • Phil, if some of this sounds a bit muddled, it is. My thoughts are not always Schopenhauer’s. I am thinking for myself much of the time. The influence is enormous, however.

      I have great respect for Hume. He was a most distinguished empirical psychologist. I agree that we do not perceive causality itself (although I may have mistakenly said otherwise), but only the perceived changes of states of matter in time. (That IS causality, in action.) That observation influenced the idealists who concluded that Causality, like Space (externality) and like Time (the form of the inner sense) relates only to phenomenon.

      Thanks for reminding me of Hume. Although he was an empiricist he was one of the greats and I look forward to re-reading his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

      Phil, causality need not be identified; it is a pure intuition. The concept can be learned but doesn’t have to be. Space is a concept too. We mustn’t confuse concepts with pure intuitions.

      If we did not have the knowledge of cause and effect, did not have the knowledge that things act upon each other, did not have the knowledge that this acting-upon constitutes a nexus, we would then see a billiard ball hit another billiard ball and the second one would move; but there would be no connection made in our minds between these material objects.

      No connection would be made in our minds. Sounds silly? Well it isn’t. My point: Reality is dependent upon this understanding of a connecting link between one thing and another.

      It is not like this: the ball hit the other ball and made it move; that’s causality. It is more like this: we have the knowledge, built into us, that the changes of states of matter in time and space are connected and form a nexus, back to infinity and forward to infinity. Moreover, the objects we see are recognized as objects because we are able to connect via the agency of causality, the visual objects, these sensuous things outside us, to ourselves. So it is quite “natural” that the first ball caused the second ball to move, and so on and so forth. I do not believe that causality, the knowledge that every change is the effect of another change, is of empirical origin.

      It is firmly established a priori. Can you respect that assertion and suspend judgment, until my proof is delivered, as promised?

      OHooligan, I am not clear about the criteria you mentioned (and this is probably my fault.) The sun might not rise tomorrow, as Hume said, and gravity might cease to be, and yet both these things have been verified, predicted, and have yet to be refuted. Sorry if I sound thick right now; I am just confused. —But nothing empirical is certain. The only things that are certain are the truths that are not of empirical origin, such as the truths of mathematics, and the various laws of nature, (e.g., every action must have an equal and opposite reaction), which, I believe, are based on a priori knowledge.

    • Dan

      Can you respect that assertion and suspend judgment, until my proof is delivered, as promised?

      Respecting and judging are automatic pre-conscious dispositions. I can, however, choose not use the keyboard.

      I shall stop, forthwith, pending your respon oh a

    • @dan

      The only things that are certain are the truths that are not of empirical origin, such as the truths of mathematics, and the various laws of nature, (e.g., every action must have an equal and opposite reaction), which, I believe, are based on a priori knowledge.

      Once again, I think you’ve chosen absolutely the wrong end of the stick. No no no no no. Wrong.

      None of that is based on “a priori knowledge”. That’s making it all too easy. These “truths” and “laws” are not something we have built into us, evolved into us. They were extracted and explained carefully, painstakingly, by observation, by constructive guessing/thinking of the mathematical kind, and by rigorous testing – doing experiments, recording the results – and discarding any “guesses” that didn’t meet up with observation. You are sounding not just “thick”, but wilfully so.

      Ah, you’re going to suggest that the inspirational side of science, the guesses, are produced by a priori knowledge, coming to us in dreams or visions. Are you? That is unfairly belittling all the hard work of observation, measurement, calculation, prediction. Most dreams and visions don’t produce any useful advance in our understanding of the workings of our universe.

      As for the sun rising etc, science has constructed the theory is that we live on a rotating planet in orbit round a star. This theory fits the observations to minute levels of detail, provably so, as the images from the craft that landed on a comet show so spectacularly. And stars, according to the best theory so far, last a long time, and ours looks like one that’s in the prime of its life and should last some more billions of years. And the inertia of the rotating planet we live on means it’s not going to suddenly stop rotating. Ergo, the sun will rise tomorrow. And the day after. Whatever Hume said. Or anyone else for that matter.

      Every time you use your phone or a satnav to get directions, every time you travel by road rail air or sea, you’re betting your life that mainstream science has got it right, or at least right enough.

      But you prefer to dwell in the space of the word-games of writers of philosophy, so-called great thinkers. I think they just had too much time on their hands and not enough to do. Or perhaps they were to thick or too lazy to follow the productive branch of Natural Philosophy, and do some actual Science.

      Nothing empirical is certain? Well, then, nothing is certain. Will 99.9997% certain do?

    • @dan

      A separate reply for a separate thought: if – instead of the conventional model of the cosmos that works for day-to-day engineering calculations – we adopt another model: “We exist in God’s Imagination”, then all bets are off, and indeed the sun might not rise tomorrow. Or if we exist in The Matrix, and it got unplugged tomorrow, then, also, all bets are off.

      These are just different versions of answers to the unanswerable questions. I’d rather stick with the answerable ones, there are plenty of them, and also ASSUME that the simplest answer that fits the evidence is the one that’s nearest to the truth. It is an assumption, and is always conditional. New evidence might turn up that refutes our current simplest explanation, and we’ll have to accept that and look for the next simplest explanation that fits the new facts, and all the old ones too.

    • O’Hooligan.

      Nothing empirical is certain?

      No. That’s why Einstein champions epistemology.

      Empirically space is flat and light is bent by mass. Einstein thought it better interpreted that spacetime was curved by mass. This predicted other effects which were later perceived.

      The nature of our universe is as well described by the mathematics of it being a holographic projection from its edge.

      We may be, in effect, code on a mapping substrate, which may be prone to behaviours special to it and unavailable directly to us. This is Dan’s point. We may be in the Matrix in some sense and glitches may happen.

      My point is that so far we have, by use of abstract modelling been able to take each apparent glitch in the Matrix (light being bent!) back to a deeper…erm…understanding of reality. (Oops, that’s a causal cheat. The abstract modelling predicted the bent light. Perhaps the single photon twin slit experiment then.)

      Living glitch free for a long time will give us some reason to feel satisfied with our modelling, but the scientists themselves will be pissed off.

    • O’Hooligan #300

      Nothing empirical is certain even without hidden agency. Hidden mechanism is quite enough. Empirical observations will never cover the infinities of permutations of circumstance possible around it f’rinstance..

      (Agency is only an intellectual or unrealised delaying tactic in need of a further back account.)

    • @phil

      Thanks. I’m educated and entertained by this thread, mostly your responses to Dan’s provocations. If that’s what they are. Just when I find them most irritating, you come up with some new (to me) gem.

      @dan – agent provocateur? You’re doing a grand job, it seems.

      @myself – sorry about the typos in the previous posts, I only spotted them when it was too late to edit.

    • Hi, OHooligan. Not trying to provoke. Promise. (I get accused of that a lot, however. I give off a pompous quality at times. I admit it. Chalk it up to an idiosyncrasy, and to the eccentricity of a rough-hewn genius.) Phil, you may write to me about anything you wish and as often as you wish. Coming up with a proof of a priori knowledge might take years. I might not ever be able to do that (although I am fairly confident that I can convince you and others that it is more reasonable to affirm the existence of a priori knowledge than to deny it).

      Phil! We agree! —“Nothing empirical is certain.” OHooligan, Hume explains why in his very readable and accessible essay on Human Understanding. This is a key, by the way, to the possible solution of my self-appointed and small task of proving the existence of a priori knowledge.

      The truths of mathematics and other truths that are rooted in laws of the mind (the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, matter is infinitely divisible, we cannot conceive of a first cause, two parallel lines will never intersect, 7+5=12, to name a few) are rooted in a priori knowledge. That is why they must always be true! Thank you, thank you, for reminding me of this, Phil. Mathematics must be invoked in any attempt to prove the existence of a priori knowledge, and yet it slipped my mind. (How could that have happened? I’ve been reading Kant for twenty-five years!)

      Proof on its way. (But my invitation to write still stands.)

      Bye, bye, for now. 🙂

      P.S. An agent provocateur is someone who is hired to incite others to commit illegal acts. You either meant provocateur or were joking. If it was a joke I’m impressed; it’s actually quite funny.

    • Hi Dan,

      I’m glad we’ve got to a state where you think I am not entirely agin’ you. I always claimed to be half on your side.

      To get me to being more accepting of the idea of a priori knowledge you will have to demonstrate a piece of knowledge that cannot be explained elsehow. For me I have failed to find anything in cognitions that have anything other than a priori physics in its process. Chomsky is the most likely area for you, I think.

      I am surprised you as a Transcendental Idealist argue for maths as a product of laws of the mind. Minds have not a single strictly logical (Boolean) process within them. Theirs is more akin to Fuzzy Logic (which see). Maths (and logic) are like a culturally constructed machine made useful because it seems to allow perfect models of how things behave in themselves. It is like a perfect losseless language between fuzzy and non congruent brains.

    • @dan and @phil

      More on where mathematics comes from would be helpful in this discussion, I think.

      I’m out of my depth here, but it seems the rules of math are like the effects of gravity, they’ve been observed and common patterns extracted by our excellent pattern-recognition capabilities, becoming distilled into a highly potent intellectual tool. They apply to the universe we (seem to) occupy, and we didn’t a-priori know about them, what we know is from observation, experience, and cultural transmission – teaching/learning.

      All we have a-priory, wired-in, to our brains is pattern recognition and the ability to learn. Approximately. Phil, you’ve delved deeper into this already.

      Dan, ok, the agent part of the provocateur was inaccurate, I didn’t mean to imply you have funding to do what you’re doing here. So if you found the rest of it a good joke, then I’ll accept the credit for it. Thanks for laughing.

    • On the contrary, Phil.—Transcendental idealists (all the ones I know, at least) love maths as a product of laws of the mind; it’s the key as I said, to the proof. Please be patient. I want to do this right, and this proof, using maths, will require some revisiting.

      Because mathematical truths are necessarily true and cannot be altered, it follows from that that they cannot be of empirical origin.

      3+2 must always equal 4. This, OHooligan, cannot possibly be based on probability. It is more certain than gravity, the knowledge of which, is of empirical origin.

      “Bodies have weight” (which implies gravity) is a synthetic judgment, based on experience. It is not a law of the mind. It is, as you said, learned. This does not apply to all knowledge. Remember this important distinction: all knowledge begins with experience. But not all knowledge is derived from experience. “All bodies are extended” is an analytic judgment. The predicate is contained in the subject, and that implies a priori knowledge. Nothing can be represented as extended except in space. Ergo, all bodies are extended, that is, occupy space, is an analytic judgment a priori.

      I have asserted elsewhere that the knowledge of objects in inborn. This is because space is in our heads since birth. I have yet to prove this.

      That’s just a tidbit. More about the relationship between Space and Time and the strict necessity which governs the laws of mathematics, and my attempt at presenting a proof of the a priori nature of the former, coming up. I have to read up on the Prolegomena and other great “ancient” works (as Alan would say) which deal with this topic.

    • Dan #308

      This is because space is in our heads since birth. I have yet to prove this.

      OK. I’ll back off.

      But I beg you to consider that your “laws of the mind” are not at all what we find when we look, they are something far more oblique and fascinating. Maths is a discovery of minds initiated when contemplating the nature of how things act in themselves….

      Whatever metaphysics you produce from minds working with far less knowledge than our own, if it is not to be an inconsequential game, you have to make it comport with what is known. (When tested against reality Leibnitz was wrong, Newton was wrong, Schopenhauer was wrong, Einstein was wrong (Lemaitre!))

    • You don’t have to back off. Don’t feel constrained. I need resistance, can’t just listen to myself.
      I also need to focus. It’s about balance. I can choose not to look at your infernal comments. (Kidding.)
      I said 3+2 must always equal 4! That was a parapraxis. Why did I write that?
      Where’s Freud when you need him?

      Metaphysics? The theory of a priori knowledge is not based on metaphysics, but it does, or may, lead to it.

      Tested against reality? Sometimes, my friend, you are just too damned vague. (Honesty.)

    • @dan

      I said 3+2 must always equal 4

      I assumed you meant for very small values of 3.

      Anyway that’s not a priori, you gotta learn that stuff by repeated observation, using physical objects like nuts or eggs or whatever, before developing the mental rules, guidelines, shorthand tricks that let us do sums without objects. I’m sure we’re not the only species with some counting ability. Phil?

    • I meant 3+2 =5. That and nothing else.

      You have to learn to count, but the results of counting 3 perceived units (III) in time (the basis of arithmetic) and adding 2 more units (II), will always result in five units. (Mill argues otherwise. “On a different planet with beings with different laws, etc.”) The mere learning of how to count is one thing. The unchanging aspect of the process of counting individual things (units) in space and time, a process that yields the same product/result, every time and with no exception,—That, I believe, is rooted somehow in the a priori knowledge of succession and duration in time (a pure intuition which is innate) and space (which is also in us).

      Empirically, we are IN time and IN space. They are IN us, actually. I mean space not in the physics sense; I mean it in the psychological-physiological sense. Phil?

      Can 3 + 2 ever equal 6? Do you know J.S. Mill? He was a very gifted man, but his empiricism bordered on faith, had a desperate quality to it. He argued that a unit such as one (I) can be broken in two on a continuous basis making it impossible to ever succeed in adding anything. (Something like that.) That’s just plain old obscurantism, as far as I’m concerned.

    • @dan

      I thought the 3+2=4 joke was obvious. Seemingly not. I’m not suggesting alternate forms of arithmetic, though if you’re measuring distances, 3 + 2 = 4 may be correct sometimes on some non-planar surfaces.

      Counting is learned, yes. The correspondence to the physical universe is learned, abstracted, turned into mental models and shortcuts so we don’t need a pile of beans in a shop to add up the prices. I’m very much in favor of mathematical rigor, it’s the tool that lets us exert so much control over our surroundings, and it’s not even controversial. From an earlier post, I don’t FEEL that 2 + 2 = 4, I KNOW it to be true according to the rules of the game I’ve learned. How I feel about it is another matter, as when the inevitable workings of arithmetic mean I’ve run out of spending money sooner than I’d anticipated.

      Duration in time is also learned. Watch children discover that things persist even when they’re out of sight. Play peek-a-boo.

      The J.S. Mill thing sounds like Zeno’s Paradox. Which is only mildly interesting the first time you hear of it.

    • @dan

      A sci-fi story I once read explored an idea I’d like you to consider. It involved an unpleasant regime that transplanted childrens’ brains into rocket-ships, or possibly missiles. The child/brain “grew up” with sensory input provided by the rocket/missile hardware, and (my recollection is vague) was educated/indoctrinated to want to fulfil its destiny/mission by getting to target and blowing up. The back-story suggested this was cheaper and more effective than their computer technology.

      Not a nice story, but my point is this: given an entirely different set of sensory inputs, from birth, how would you imagine a child’s mind might develop? How much a priori stuff would you expect that mind to contain? What if every experience of 3 things added to 2 things always resulted in 4 things?

    • @ Phil, Ohooligan

      Re 313

      Duration in time.

      Watching children may teach us a great many things, but it will not teach us anything about a priori knowledge. I am not suggesting that we don’t discover through experience that things “persist.”

      This might take more time than I thought, and I have yet to review certain books and essays that deal with this topic, but I’d like to be able to present, at some point, an irrefutable argument (I am not interested in absolute proofs; the former will have to suffice) that we would not be able to learn about persistence if time was not already present in our minds as a pure intuition. Duration and succession are learned. We learn that a clock goes tick, tick, tick, and that this ticking has the quality of what we call succession. We learn that it takes a certain amount of time to get from point A too point B.

      Those are particular perceptions of particular objects of experience; these perceptions are rooted in something more primary than anything that is learned from the outside in. As I said, it is important to distinguish what begins with a child’s learned experience (of such things as the continuation of something after we are through with it) and the mental ground, if you will, the foundation, of this knowledge – which is time, space, and causality. (These three forms cannot be separated from each other.)

      Succession relates to things, objects. We learn how one thing follows upon another. But the connecting link is not learned, that is, it is by no means given to us a posteriori, in any meaningful way, that one event or thing follows or precedes others in time. The knowledge of time is already present, and is wedded to causality. If this were not the case, then we would have no ability to connect effects (changes of states of matter) to causes (other changes of states of matter). “Persistence,” to use your example, would have no meaning if the child did not have the innate sense of succession and duration in time. Duration is in time but time is not duration. Duration presupposes a brain, time (a function of the brain), an empirically real external world, and the ability to distinguish between sensations and (external) objects (Understanding, the pure intuition of causality).

      (We take far too much for granted. We take reality for granted and assume that such things as duration and extension are just there for us. A ready-made word, with objects moving about and acting upon each other and upon us. Space and time are in us. The ability to even observe “persistence” or to think it, requires Understanding, which is an innate faculty, not shared by the vast majority of living organisms.)

      The same goes for extension. You can say that we learn about this and that object, that this is big and that is small. But those particular perceptions, which are learned, could not be learned if the representation of space was not already present, and without the Understanding, which allows us to trace the objects back to an external cause in space via the agency of causality.

      P.S. I am all too aware that this comment is not sufficiently clear, leaves many questions unanswered, and may, in fact, not even succeed in answering a single one. (I am my own worst –or best– critic.)

      P.P.S. Looked up your guy Popper, Phil. A fallibilist. He’s a tough guy. Not sure, however, if he understood Kant well enough to successfully refute him.

    • Dan #312

      Empirically, we are IN time and IN space. They are IN us, actually. I mean space not in the physics sense; I mean it in the psychological-physiological sense. Phil?

      No. Hebbian Learning, how we become functional and co-ordinated (apart from autonomous muscle functions like lungs, heart and guts), builds us from the very start and is entirely pre-psychology. Physiology is physics.

      Note the random movement of newborns’ limbs. This provides the experiential grist for the Hebbian mill (no relation) to discover useful coincidence. Utility is powered primarily by the proto-purpose of all life, Homeostasis, the evolved process to return to the least energy consuming state. Without this as an evolved mechanism in all autonomous, energy using reproducers, they would kill themselves by their actions in short measure.

      A priori knowledge, as I say, is nothing more than the fact of thermodynamics and the need to fight entropy.

      Maths is a discovery, abstracting from observing how things act together out of their own nature. First observing by means of coincidence that “things”, the reifications of phenomena are evolutionaryily fit (useful). It is quite by the use of coincidence that the three layer neuronal stack stack in the retina organises itself in the act of seeing first to detect visual edges (lines of contrast transition) and then to find sets of edges that (near enough) join into loops. The non coincident movement of a loop in a collection of loops distinguishes it with a quality we as humans may later be encultured to call a “thing”. Loop types may be further distinguished (reified) by the repitition (coincidence!) of grouped form sets (views).

      But here is the big point. The nature, the personal quality even, of the experience of loops (loops) doesn’t matter one iota, so long as for us they are organised and consistent within our own head. A distant thing may evoke the quality… quiet or red or wibble or delta for all we care at the social interface. Qualia, Dennett rightly argues, are not actual things. Redness is not a thing except for its label, agreed from a common stimulus. Distance likewise.

    • Ha! Crossed posting…

      Karl Popper was both a lifelong student and advocate of Immanuel Kant. The chapter on Kant within Popper’s Conjectures and Refutations (Ch. 7) is more than enough to prove Popper’s admiration. However, included in this chapter and many of Popper’s other works, he rejects Kant’s concept of synthetic a priori knowledge on the grounds that Kant created an impossible category of unfalsifiable knowledge.

      http://www.friesian.com/samra.htm

      This is the essence of the complaint. It is also a complaint he must make given his views on falsifiability of hypotheses and agreeing with W (sorry) on the failure of metaphysics as a self contained system able to deliver reliable knowledge.

      Above I wrote (loops) when I intended (things).

    • @phil
      Enlightening as ever, thanks. I worked at one point in machine vision, there’s a very long way from having a load of pixels of different values to having something useful, edge detection is just a beginning. Meaning, yes, I see your point. And yes, we do learn how to see, and what it means, so effectively that we have forgotten how much of our daily visual perception is synthesised, made up. I like optical illusions, they show us the glitches.

      @dan, the a priori thing seems now to be mainly the arrow of time. Why can we remember the past and not the future?

    • Dan

      We take far too much for granted. We take reality for granted and assume that such things as duration and extension are just there for us.

      Physicists, I must repeat, take absolutely none of this for granted. I still contend that the Kantian caveat about the nature of reality is a warning already well taken among the er cogniscenti.

    • Think about this: “time has no beginning, but all beginning is in time.” If that isn’t a proof that time is of subjective origin, I don’t know what is.

      Time did not begin with the big bang; that shows you how absurd and ignorant even the most sophisticated physicists sound when they ignore this principle.

      We do not learn how to see. We do and we don’t. Straw man.

      I will read the article about Popper’s refutation of Kant.

      Arrow of time? No. I don’t see your point. The future is an abstraction. The past is dead. yet every moment passes in time. (The past is real, as is the present. Real. Empirically real.)

      Phil, you are very quick to accept refutations of the subtlest of all philosophers (along with Hume and S) by lesser men, such as Popper. Kant’s ideas (and perhaps even these agitated and erratic and at times incompetent attempts on my part to represent them here on this thread and elsewhere) will survive –and some day they will be regarded as true; at that time we will know that the fundamental view of idealism is the correct view, and that no scientific cosmological theory that doesn’t take this into account is worth considering. Even today I regard the theory of time beginning with the big bang as laughable.

      “On the other hand, the law of causality and the treatment and investigation of nature which is based upon it, lead us necessarily to the conclusion that, in time, each more highly organised state of matter has succeeded a cruder state: so that the lower animals existed before men, fishes before land animals, plants before fishes, and the unorganised before all that is organised; that, consequently, the original mass had to pass through a long series of changes before the first eye could be opened. And yet, the existence of this whole world remains ever dependent upon the first eye that opened, even if it were that of an insect. For such an eye is a necessary condition of the possibility of knowledge, and the whole world exists only in and for knowledge, and without it is not even thinkable.”

      Hebbian learning. I will look into that too.

    • Dan

      Time did not begin with the big bang; that shows you how absurd and ignorant even the most sophisticated physicists sound when they ignore this principle.

      After complaining about the how stilted and phenomenon-based we all are with our perceptions and subsequent accounts of reality, you then accuse physicists trying to shake off exactly these shackles of thereby being absurd whilst cleaving to the utterly conventional view yourself!

      There are currently five broad cosmologies in play at the moment, only two of which start time at a specific moment. Physicists often play with ideas of time reversal. Curiously at the quantum level there seem to be a lot of time symmetric processes going on. Its only in the statistics at the macro scale that the thermodynamic assymmetry of time is reliably the direction we experience. Three times I have posted a link to a documentary of these five theories (strictly hypotheses) here in the recent past. (The big bang is currently the best working hypothesis only, but simply has nothing to say about t<0). I will track the documentary down if I can and repost it here.

      You clearly have no idea what physicists and cosmologists actually think.

      I find it astonishing that you aren’t aware of Karl Popper. I first new of Kant from a talk on him by Popper on the Third Programme on the BBC in the late sixties though it came from earlier. Popper was much mentioned by our physics teacher (Dave Marlborough) hence my tuning in. I don’t think I’m quick to think anything.

      And yet, the existence of this whole world remains ever dependent upon the first eye that opened, even if it were that of an insect. For such an eye is a necessary condition of the possibility of knowledge, and the whole world exists only in and for knowledge, and without it is not even thinkable

      What a pity you didn’t bother reading my account of two non congruent perceptions. Dismissed as scifi….

    • Phil, I read the article about Popper. No comment. Here; read this:

      “…We see ever more clearly that what is chemical can never be referred to what is mechanical, nor what is organic to what is chemical or electrical. Those who in our own day are entering anew on this old, misleading path, will soon slink back silent and ashamed, as all their predecessors have done before them… Materialism… even at its birth, has death in its heart, because it ignores the subject and the forms of knowledge, which are presupposed, just as much in the case of the crudest matter, from which it desires to start, as in that of the organism, at which it desires to arrive. For, “no object without a subject,” is the principle which renders all materialism for ever impossible. Suns and planets without an eye that sees them, and an understanding that knows them, may indeed be spoken of in words, but for the idea, these words are absolutely meaningless.”
      -Schopenhauer

      No, I haven’t read Popper. Now when was the last time you read the Transcendental Aesthetic? Be honest.

    • Bonnie, Phil, OHooligan and others

      Sean’s lecture made my blood boil. He just doesn’t get it. Time did not begin. There is no beginning and no end to time. Nor is there a beginning or end to space. Time and space are neither finite nor infinite. We cannot conceive of either because time and space are not absolutely real. They are empirically real. The “universe” may have had a beginning in a purely scientific sense. But time, which implies existence, or the “flow of time”, did not originate with the universe.

      OHooligan, I like illusions too. They make good analogies. The sun appears to revolve around the earth. This can be applied to empirical reality as a whole. That is why Kant’s philosophy has been called the Copernican revolution in philosophy. (He may have said that himself.) But the senses do not err; only the judgment errs. To say that the sun appears to revolve around us us a true statement; to say that it does is a false statement, based on an error in judgment.

      Phil, read Kant’s critique of dialectical illusion. This is his first antinomy:

      The First Antinomy (of Space and Time)
      Thesis:
      The world has a beginning in time, and is also limited as regards space.
      Anti-thesis:
      The world has no beginning, and no limits in space; it is infinite as regards both time and space.

      Time does not exist independently of the mind. This is not “metaphysics” (although it is a point of departure). It is critical idealism.

      Science once again has lost its way. Without epistemology it is “primitive and muddled.”

    • Phil 322

      “Non-congruent perception argument” addressed below.

      “After complaining about the how stilted and phenomenon-based we all are with our perceptions and subsequent accounts of reality, you then accuse physicists trying to shake off exactly these shackles of thereby being absurd whilst cleaving to the utterly conventional view yourself!”

      No idea what this mixed up sentence means.

      You mustn’t use the phrase “phenomenon” lightly. If “we” were phenomenon based we would not be mixed up about reality. Physicists are not phenomenon based. If they were, then they’d be Kantians, idealists. The phenomenon is a representation of perception as opposed to something really existing independently of the mind.. My problem with physicists is precisely the dismissal of Kant’s distinction between phenomenon and Absolute (mind-independent) Reality.

      Empirical reality begins and ends with phenomenon. No models can teach us anything about what else there could be, and if it can, you have yet to enlighten me. Forget the documentary. Put it in your own words, and I will now look at your two non-congruent perception argument. [Five minutes has passed.]

      I read your comment about tentacled beings and models which can predict the future. It illustrates nothing and proves zilch. Consciousness can be annihilated for a thousand centuries. Then it emerges. A model of some kind is discovered containing predictions that are then verified. Empirical reality , with all its laws, has come to be once again. Without the emergence of that one mind, the nature, form, manner, mode of existence of any objects or natural occurrences, remains completely devoid of any meaning, any existence. More later. (Tired now. What have I not gotten? Let me know.)

      You and Paul are always revealing through your lack of precision and inaccuracies, your lack of understanding of most of what I have been saying.

      And I don’t know what Hebbian is. Are you suggesting that Space is outside of us and learned from the outside in, and that Time is as well? This cannot be. Hebbian learning cannot prove this as it is impossible to conceive of perceived space without the division of subject and object!

      I am not inconsistent AT ALL.

      (Not mad. Hope you aren’t either.)

    • @bonnie2 #321

      Thanks, well worth the time.

    • @dan

      We see ever more clearly that what is chemical can never be referred to what is mechanical, nor what is organic to what is chemical or electrical.

      Is that meant to be Words of Wisdom?
      But we know a lot better than that these days, don’t we? Or we would, if we studied some biology, chemistry, and physics.

      Actually, I’m tempted to summarise the whole quote thusly:

      these words are absolutely meaningless.”
      -Schopenhauer

      Which, of course, brings us right back to the original topic.

    • Dan

      No idea what this mixed up sentence means.

      Oops. Thats because of a critical word error sorry. It should read.

      After complaining about the how stilted and phenomenon-based we all are with our perceptions and subsequent accounts of reality, you then accuse physicists trying to shake off exactly these shackles as thereby being absurd whilst cleaving to the utterly conventional view yourself!

      You claimed we were beguiled by our senses into thinking that that must be how we believe underlying reality must be. Well scientists are thinking about time outside of the phenomenal box in positing a t=0, that time is a component of spacetime and may have limits. Some see it as in some sense being pinched off and “reflective” at its “ends”. Simple assertions of what is thought to be sensible here is hardly in the spirit of lifting the “veil.”

      One simple assertion made by toddler scientists has proved rock solid though and that is things act out of their own nature and one of those natures is continuity of existence. The doll left on the bed, when the family all go out, is still on the bed when they all come back. Its the same doll too. The clock on the bedside too. But the clock acting from its own nature still says the same seven when it gets dark and becomes bed time. So with the planet and the turning, fleeing galaxies.

      For 3bn years there are no minds to think thoughts, have experiences about such things. And yet, you seem not to have rejected my story as unreasonable. If the whole of observable existence seems to carry on as predicted by a mentally derived model, this tested when observing model makers come back, restriction of the use of “existence” to observers/experiencers is merely semantic calling on the need for a term to describe a non-observed. continuity of acting out of it own nature.

      No models can teach us anything about what else there could be, and if it can, you have yet to enlighten me.

      Astonishing! This is physics’ daily job. The glitches in the matrix are revealed by our once reliable models being caught out often in the tiniest of ways. This happens most usefully when we push our models to new areas of observation. The “Standard Model” of subatomic physics Is being pushed further and further (in energy) by the Large Hadron Collider. Sometimes this kind of process confirms the model, sometimes it breaks it and unexpected details or even new particles are found and the model is broken and must be revised.

      A model of some kind is discovered containing predictions that are then verified.

      You missed the critical bit. Civilisation A had a model of how things acted out of there own nature. Much later civilisation B found the model to have predicted exactly where the galaxies are in relation to one another. Here they have confirmation that “non-observed. continuity of acting out of it own nature” is a real thing. I will call it “crypto-existence” in your presence, and “existence” for everyone else.

      Empirical reality , with all its laws, has come to be once again.

      All laws are human constructs. They are the models. Nature (let us loosely call it) does not obey Laws. There is no necessary link between the thing in itself and its nature and what we know as Laws. Laws are our attempt to compactly describe how nature acts. Things act out of their own nature. There isn’t this extra thing super-added to things without a lawgiver. This is part of the theological legacy contaminating science and philosophy. It is a reflection of when God supposedly gave laws to a formless creation and they got grouped as laws of physics etc.

      Now this is where we might start to find a little agreement. Laws need law givers.

      Crypto-existence doesn’t need crypto-existence givers. The doll remains on the bed and the clock still beats its unflustered little electronic heart. Toddlers learn about crypto-existence very early on-

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object_permanence#Stages

      If they were, then they’d be Kantians, idealists.

      They might possibly call themselves rationalists like me.

    • Without epistemology it is “primitive and muddled.”

      Nothing empirical is certain?

      No. That’s why Einstein champions epistemology.

      You want to go back to your old battles. Lets argue my point-

      Physicists, I must repeat, take absolutely none of this for granted. I still contend that the Kantian caveat about the nature of reality is a warning already well taken among the er cogniscenti.

      Or we could explore a priori knowledge versus a priori physics (my position).

      Or you could explain the superiority of existence versus crypto-existence. That models may be made in the former seems the essential difference to me. But we are trying to escape the Kantian caveat and find a way of “seeing” without merely seeing. We want the library to outlast us and remain true for any passersby. Its our helpful, hopeful epitaph.

    • O’ Hooligan #327

      we know a lot better than that these days, don’t we?

      We sure do.

      An excellent account of biochemical processes in proteins for instance is described by Andreas Wagner adding to the already well known lock and key actuality of specific binding, with further observations that proteins are literaly cleaved by vibrating chopper mechanisms next to a handy adjacent holding plate, the energy coming from sufficient heat into the springy knife component. These models are hugely precise (rooted in the physics of the internal bonds and folding into shapes) in their predicted “chemical” effect and they allowed him to investigate the self acting nature of billions of possible proteins and their potential utility in evolution.

      Schopenhauer was good on what he could see….

    • @phil #330

      Thanks Phil. Another nugget. Can you point me at any good, realistic animations of this or other processes around the operations on DNA, in protein building and in replication? There’s a snippet that keeps turning up in the Neil deGrasse Tyson “Cosmos” remake, of molecular “machines” marching along a DNA strand (I think). More like that would be good.

      One other point, sorry to nitpick, but a bit more proof-reading on your part would help in the discussion with Dan. I’ve seen some uncorrected typos, and, while I think I’ve mentally fixed them properly, it does detract from the presentation, and sometimes – like the last one you (partly) fixed – it kills the meaning of a sentence. It doesn’t look to me like you’re muddled, more like your fingers aren’t keeping up with your mind. An audio debate between yourself and Dan would be an interesting one. Meanwhile, please, read through one extra time before hitting that Post button. Thanks.

    • Phil 328

      Hi, how are you? OHooligan, you are well, I presume?

      (327) I think by “refer back” S. was alluding to the possibility of a material “first causes”, and wasn’t dismissing all other explanations.

      Many today would have us believe that epistemology in its entirety can be “referred back” to the “first cause” of neuro-science (and that this somehow nullifies the a priori in the process).

      “Rationalist.” Kant as a rationalist, as opposed to an empiricist. These words can mean different things to different people.

      Yes, all laws that are human constructs, are laws. 3 + 2 equalling 5, and that is the kind of law that I am interested in drawing your attention to, cannot be based on human construction but is a laws of the mind, is constructed for us (BY EVOLUTION), is rooted in the apprehension of time and of the understanding itself. What is limited and determined by brain function is not limited and determined by a being.

      Law giver=strawman

      When you can convince me that we can exist without intuitive knowledge that one thing follows another, or that we see object but not in space then I will begin to question the idea of a priori knowledge.

      Schopenhauer was good on perception (which is intellectual) and what we can see, and what can never be seen or realized (such as your anti-philosophical, primitive, dogmatic physicists’ “beginning and end of time”).

      Btw, vision is a priori. We do have it since birth, but it is not knowledge per see. Vision is a sensation. As I explained above a sensation can never produce knowledge without causality. So strictly speaking it cannot be included amongst the forms of a priori knowledge. There forms are so basic they eluded the attention of Popper and have no relevance to Hebbian learning. To illustrate this, I will ask you to consider this: we learn about this and that and that can be explained by Hebbian learning, and what is going on in the brain (matter) which explains how we perceive from a neuro-scientific perspective; I am more concerned with the fact THAT we perceive.

      We can discuss a priori knowledge vs physics. But you said that physics and physiology is the same (although they are not), so what is there to argue about?

    • Correction / clarification: vision is innate, not a priori. And it is definitely not knowledge unless there is understanding; a visual object must be cognized (perceived). Without the understanding we would see a variegated surface at best. This is a actually something that I’d like to hear addressed by a good neuroscientist: what would we see if we were missing the part of the brain responsible for knowledge of cause and effect?

      An audio debate. OHooligan you set it up. We’ll send it in like Dawkins’ health updates. It’ll make RDFRS history. Unfortunately, I am highly erratic as a speaker; sometimes I have bursts of clarity and eloquence. Other times, I can barely form one articulate sentence.

      (Note: Phil, I’d love to be able to email you. We’ve been corresponding for a while now. Can you send me your email address via the superb, awesome mods? Don’t feel constrained, obligated; but I’d like to be able to email you once in a while. Just thought I’d ask. Doesn’t hurt to ask.)

    • O’Hooligan #331

      This was the first I really saw .

      Really nice would be to see animations of Andreas Wagner’s work. His book illustrations show the actual shape of choppers and plates formed entirely out of the self acting nature of atoms and their electronic dispositions etc.

      Look deep enough and physiology is physics, at the tiniest scales and the largest. The formulation of laws is the way of making high level processes managable within a lifetime. Physics shows the “power of three quarters” type laws that seek to model how animals for instance scale up and down in size. Physicists adore this stuff and are very successful when making the transition to cells, proteins and DNA. They bring a deeper knowledge than the simple “laws” can allow. They are better at doubting “laws”. Feynman loved mooching around the biology lab. He it was who kicked of the whole idea of nanobots.

      I was good at chemistry because I was good at physics and had a base up handle on the stuff. If only I was born much later with smart physics PC based modelling of chemical reactions I would have been tempted to cross the barrier of rote learning the middle scale stuff.

    • Phil

      You cannot convince yourself that external space is of empirical origin. And an object cannot be seen except in space. All your Hebbian learning and fancy talk about neurons doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, as far as a priori knowledge is concerned.

      You two can talk to each other all you want, but infants, like all animals with brains, are able to distinguish between themselves (although they have no ego, or sense of self) and objects.

      My sister just showed me a photo of her daughter (newly born and in her arms) looking up at her mother’s face. The infant sees that face in space and is able to dimly perceive it as external.

      You are afraid of a priori knowledge, afraid of the not knowing and the metaphysical implications associated with idealism and a priori knowledge.

      (Sorry about the typos in 322.)

      You say I don’t listen to you, Phil. Well you are worse than me.

      “After complaining about the how stilted and phenomenon-based we all are with our perceptions and subsequent accounts of reality, you then accuse physicists trying to shake off exactly these shackles as thereby being absurd whilst cleaving to the utterly conventional view yourself!”

      I am not cleaving to a conventional view. I am the only one on this site and the only person I know who regards the distinction between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon as a valid one! Conventional! They should shake off these shackles. But what is it that remains when perception is eliminated? Still no answer, except “models.” Tell me what is external to us without mental perception?

      Laws: I am not using the word in the conventional sense. The law of causality, for example, is as a law of the human mind. We do not learn this from experience; it is what makes experience possible.

      “Third Form: The Principle of Sufficient Reason of Being (principium rationis sufficientis essendi); the law whereby the parts of space and time determine one another as regards those relations. Example in arithmetic: Each number presupposes the preceding numbers as grounds or reasons of its being; “I can reach ten only by going through all the preceding numbers; and only by virtue of this insight into the ground of being, do I know that where there are ten, so are there eight, six, four.” –Arthur Schopenhauer, On The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

      “One simple assertion made by toddler scientists has proved rock solid though and that is things act out of their own nature and one of those natures is continuity of existence.”

      Phil, I know you well enough now to reply this way, so here goes:

      Ha!

      OHooligan, S mentions the “flow of time” in this passage. Phil, this is a good one. It took me a long time to find it. And I typed out each word.

      “One must indeed be forsaken by all the gods, to imagine that the outer, perceptible world, filling Space in its three dimensions and moving on in the inexorable flow of Time, governed at every step by the laws of Causality, which is without exception, and in all this merely obeying laws we can indicate before all experience of them that such a world as this, we say, can have a real, objective existence outside us, without any agency of our own, and that it can then have found its way into our heads through bare sensation and thus have a second existence within us like the one outside. For what a miserably poor thing is mere sensation, after all! Even in the noblest of our organs it is nothing but a local, specific feeling, susceptible of slight variation, still in itself always subjective and, as such therefore, incapable of containing anything objective, anything like perception. For sensation is and remains a process within the organism and is limited, as such, to the region within the skin; it cannot therefore contain any thing which lies beyond that region, or, in other words, anything that is outside us.” – A.S., Fourfold Root

    • @dan

      But what is it that remains when perception is eliminated?

      Is this the question you keep asking, in various phrasings? Do you have an answer, or are you seeking an answer, or is this rhetorical? Are you trying to goad with a question that is a-priori unanswerable?

      I am the only one on this site and the only person I know who regards the distinction between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon as being a valid one!

      Yep, so it seems.

      a sensation can never produce knowledge without causality

      That’s an unsupported assertion. Noticing patterns, coincidences, sequences of sensations can lead one to conclude (possibly erroneously) that one causes another. Causality is derived from observation, that is from sensations. Unpleasant feeling, warm milk, pleasant feeling replaces the unpleasant. Mummy smile coincides along the way. Our sense of time deriving from cyclic unconscious activities in our own bodies. Heartbeats. Wake and Sleep. Rhythms of the brain and of the bowels. Me- and Not-Me, similarly, derived as plausible explanations, working hypotheses, for the aggregated sensations. An external world, with things that persist. That’s a reasonable hypothesis. Room service, deals with not-nice feelings, though sometimes it takes a bit of effort to get attention. Cause and effect, another reasonable hypothesis, though it’s easy to apply incorrectly. Babies are scientists more than you seem willing to admit, exploring the barrage of sensory input, organising, classifying, making order from the chaos. And learning what works and what doesn’t work. I’m not distinguishing humans from other animals here, all part of a spectrum with no distinct edges except the ones we make up.

      Like colour, if I may digress. There is no boundary, red-orange-yellow-green-blue, any boundaries we see are an artifact of our visual sensors, not something innate about the world we appear to live in, where electromagnetic waves of every frequency abound, some we notice and some we don’t. Light has no colour, it’s only eyes that make colour. Is that the kind of thing you’ve been alluding to?

      You, Dan, seem reluctant to build on any of this. You come across as dogmatic, especially when you turn insulting:

      You are afraid of a priori knowledge, afraid of….

      And on the not listening jibe, from this viewpoint it seems Phil has tried to pay a lot more attention to your posts than anyone else. I’ve tried following your arguments, and keep getting lost in the maze of words, I still, really, don’t get what you’re trying to tell us.

      I like illusions too. They make good analogies. The sun appears to revolve around the earth.

      That’s not the kind of illusion I meant. If the sun did go round the earth, which remains stationary, that’s how it would look, until examined in very close detail (needing telescopes, for instance). I’m meaning more the illusions that show up glitches in our perceptions, look up “optical illusions” for plenty of them.

      Sorry so long a post, trying to hit various points in one go.

    • @ Phil, OHooligan

      “Is this the question you keep asking, in various phrasings? Do you have an answer, or are you seeking an answer, or is this rhetorical? Are you trying to goad with a question that is a-priori unanswerable?”
      -OHooligan

      I have an answer and I am seeking a sensible reply. Not rhetorical. The division into subject and object is divided by the intellect. The world of Actual Being (a world that most of the scientific community is forever maintaining is Real) cannot be described without naming qualities that presuppose this division in some way or another.

      Models are not real until they are experienced. By real I mean experienced-as-real. Whatever else there is is not real, in this sense; it is Absolutely Real. Phil is forever denying a priori knowledge in the Kantian sense, OHooligan. (And Popper does to.) But if (EXTERNAL) space, for example, is not a form of a priori knowledge, then you are implying that inside and outside are things in themselves! If space is learned from the outside in then you are saying that externality can exist prior to perception. But what I am saying is that perception IS in space, IS IS IS in space. External Space is a priori knowledge. It begins and ends with the subject.

      Confession: I hardly know what a model is.

      “Afraid of a priori knowledge.” I don’t mean to insult. I do wonder why there is so much opposition to Kantian idealism. I suspect at times that people want to feel that everything is potentially knowable. I might be afraid of finding out certain things myself.

      Yes, Phil has replied to me and I to him. I still think the isn’t hearing me and I am not always hearing (or understanding) him.

    • Phil,

      Crypto existence. Interesting phrase There is existence and there is absolute existence which is never perceived. There may be something in-between, but what could this be? As I said earlier, it is important to establish: 1. Understanding of what constitutes knowing, and: 2. What it is that is known and: 3. What cannot be known.

      What is it that you want preserved in the “library”? What information?

      “But we are trying to escape the Kantian caveat and find a way of “seeing” without merely seeing.” -PR

      I ask again: what can you tell me about this vision of sorts? What qualities, if any, does such an implied entity have, for crying out loud? Models (in spite of their predictive ability) are abstract theories and are not real until someone or something experiences it.

      “Crypto-existence.” Things “act out of their own nature.” Without any participation from a knowing subject, no agency of our own? I am quite ignorant of what physicist and cosmologists think, and make certain assumptions that may be unwarranted. But “acting out of one’s own nature” is a phrase pregnant with presuppositions!

      Bye, for now.

    • OHooligan #336

      “Light has no colour, it’s only eyes that make colour. Is that the kind of thing you’ve been alluding to?”

      Good! Yes! Keep going with that, and soon I will have disciple after all! (LOL)

      Peace! (Stole that from Stephen of Wimbledon)

    • Dan #339 and preceding.

      “acting out of one’s own nature” is a phrase pregnant with presuppositions!

      Maybe, but it importantly has one less inherent supposition than this dichotomy you use-

      Nature and the laws of nature.

      as if we could have this very stuff and super add laws to mediate between it.

      “Law” drips with subjectivity, also. The whole of science understands the need to strive for distance, for a quality-free objectivity in its language now (and lest you take these ideas beyond their remit as you often do…this striving will never be done especially when trying to explain or achieve understanding rather than nastery.)

      Talking of over extending comments. My comment about you surprisingly taking the conventional view about time, related only to this. From the time of the Herschells and Kant with the scientific demonstration of Deep Space and its necessary correlate Deep Time (multi millions of miles and years at least) the steady state theory of the universe (eternal, probably infinite) was the standard (non religious) view through the nineteenth and half of the twentieth century. It is surprising from you precisely because you have maintained that convention is inevitably wrong. That is and was the limit of the comment.

      I ask again: what can you tell me about this vision of sorts? What qualities, if any, does such an implied entity have, for crying out loud? Models (in spite of their predictive ability) are abstract theories and are not real until someone or something experiences it.

      No qualities. Thats the point! The model is abstract and transferable between sonar navigating octopus civilisation and ant civilisation with compound eyes. What is more, both civilisations undertand how their own perceptions work and are differently limited. Both groups are entirely capable of using the same model to regenerate experiential manifestations appropriate to their own species.

      We take physics models and do this to ourselves.

      http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-truth-behind-interstellars-scientifically-accurate-1686120318

      We have long used vision and to a lesser extent sound to pretend we have a broader window to view through. Rendering IR and UV visible with a visible colour allows us to “see” in much the way we might expect to see, seeing form and gradation, at least. We pretend we have giant’s eyes able to see the smallest details by zooming in unnaturally. (Tiny ant eyes are no good for seeing ants except close up. Big eyes can resolve smaller detail.)

      Models are not real until they are experienced.

      This may be the root of your problem. They are entirely tractable and predictive (say) without experience (manifestations of qualitities) being needed. This is the point. Don’t confuse the map (the representation of reallity) with the territory (reality).

      Toddler scientists next.

      I am ill at the moment, man flu, and so I have to stop for a while. I can feel another wave of that merciless self pity coming on. If only there was a tablet for that….

    • Dan

      what can you tell me about this vision of sorts? What qualities, if any, does such an implied entity have, for crying out loud? Models (in spite of their predictive ability) are abstract theories and are not real until someone or something experiences it.

      Almost right!

      The models the maps, the stuff in libraties is entirely real. It is there to be used by any passing arthropod or Cristopher Nolan.

      Explain the difference between existence and crypto-existence, and why in terms of existy-ness (not documentedness, or experiencedness) one is superior. Why isn’t experiencedness a super-addition to crypto-existence? (I’m provocatively standing outside the Kant’s construct and use of language with this.)

      So honey, lemon, paracetemol and scotch seems therapuetic. Honey and lemon to remind me of the tradition of nurturing mums, paracetemol for best placebo credibility and scotch to tackle the root problem of self pity. Chicken soup next….

    • @dan

      “One must indeed be forsaken by all the gods, to imagine that the outer, perceptible world, filling Space in its three dimensions and moving on in the inexorable flow of Time, governed at every step by the laws of Causality, which is without exception, and in all this merely obeying laws we can indicate before all experience of them that such a world as this, we say, can have a real, objective existence outside us, without any agency of our own, and that it can then have found its way into our heads through bare sensation and thus have a second existence within us like the one outside. For what a miserably poor thing is mere sensation, after all! Even in the noblest of our organs it is nothing but a local, specific feeling, susceptible of slight variation, still in itself always subjective and, as such therefore, incapable of containing anything objective, anything like perception. For sensation is and remains a process within the organism and is limited, as such, to the region within the skin; it cannot therefore contain any thing which lies beyond that region, or, in other words, anything that is outside us.” – A.S., Fourfold Root

      Thank you for taking the effort to type that lot. I shall trust that you proof-read it adequately and there are no mistakes. Next, it looks to me like one of those paragraphs used to test English Language parsing skills. I can’t read it, the sentences are too long and have too many sub clauses. But to respect your efforts in typing, I’m going to try to parse it. There will be posts from me with the sentences in this quote dismantled into their clauses, because that’s what I’ll have to do in order to understand what it says.

      I think that the 19th century may have been the high point of complex structured English sentences. Simplification has come since, perhaps it’s a dumbing down. One can have different opinions of the merits of American vs English spelling, the American version is usually more concise, color vs colour etc. Perhaps the English language is also simplifying, people don’t use such long complex sentences any more (except perhaps patent attorneys), and we’re unused to the effort needed to parse. If it’s too long for a tweet, it’s rejected.

      Anyway, all I’m saying at this point is this: I’m going to try.

      I’m encouraged by your comment about my comment about colo(u)r. Maybe I’m onto something.

      Peace.

    • @phil

      Try this: garlic and fresh ginger, freshly grated, in generous amounts. Fresh mint leaves (optional).
      Simmer in about half a litre of water for a while.

      Sieve.

      Serve in a large mug with honey (manuka is supposed to be best, with its tea-tree germicidal properties, or at least the flavour, but really, honey is honey), juice of a whole lemon or lime, and a double measure (or more) of Irish whiskey. Scotch will do at a pinch, but it’s maybe a bit smokey for this recipe, and certainly not worth wasting a single malt on. Drink it hot, before the alcohol evaporates. Lie down under covers. Stay down. Expect to sweat. Surface next day feeling a whole lot better.

      Let me know if it works for you. It does for me.

      Substitutions: I’ve seen a shot of creme de menthe used to replace the mint, and green ginger wine to replace the ginger, but this may lead to a hangover that outlasts the original malady.

    • Yes, Phil! Yes! Laws “drip with subjectivity.”

      I never said otherwise. In fact that is my point. I just haven’t had the opportunity to elaborate on this. I can’t address everything, but thought that that was implicit. The laws I am referring to are the ones that are rooted in subjectivity. They are objective in a sense, that is, we do experience these laws as objective. But there would not be necessity (“laws”) without subjectivity. Two parallel lines can never meet is a law of perception. That would be an example. The law of causality is another law. I have very specific laws in mind when I refer to them.

      Now you as a scientist know that there are many kinds of “laws.” Water boils at whatever degrees (I think seven), and the list goes on and on and on. I have not addressed these empirical laws or facts, and have expressed no opinion with regards to their subjective aspect or their objective aspect.

      The universe is neither finite, nor infinite. That is precisely my view. If by universe we mean existence in a universe, for without existence and knowledge the idea of an end or a beginning is as meaningless as it is with it.

      Sorry if I misconstrued or failed to grasp some of what you’ve said.

    • OHooligan

      Yes! You are making great strides, young man.

      As for the passage. Don’t know if you’re kidding or not. He’s saying that a sensation, feeling something in your hand, for example, or even a visual sensation (and he compares sight to the sensation of touch and refers to rays of light as “feelers”) cannot produce knowledge of an object. In order to apprehend (perceive) an object, there has to be understanding. Most if not all animals have this. His definition of understanding is a faculty which allows one to trace the source of a sensation back to a source. That is not something that he takes for granted; a cell, for example, has no understanding and merely reacts to stimuli. Animals react to causes. Perception is intellectual. This supports his thesis that our knowledge of the objective world is only objective in so far as we think in terms of causes. Remember: this cause is not a concept; it is first and foremost an intuition—and yes, inborn, a priori. I know you don’t agree with that, but that is what he’s saying. He’s pointing out the absurdity of the notion that there is no difference between objects as they appear and objects as they are in themselves. He is illustrating this by breaking down the apparatus: sensation must pass through the understanding in order to be recognized as an object. The object itself is a cause, not mere stimuli. Both sensations and perceptions are subjectively determined; the latter is intellectual; the former is not.

    • @dan

      No I wasn’t kidding that I couldn’t on-the-fly parse/comprehend that paragraph you quoted.
      I’m not alone it seems. Seeking online English language parsing, I got these responses, just for the first 108 word sentence.

      Stanford Parser: Sorry, can’t parse sentences containing more than 70 words.

      Enju 2.4 online demo: Sorry: Online demo accepts a sentence with less than 100 words

      University of Oslo : The parser exhausted its search space limit (of 20000 passive edges);
      try non-exhaustive parsing or a shorter (or less ambiguous) sentence.

      http://zzcad.com/cgi-bin/webparse.exe – this one worked, mapping the sentence out into all its sub-components. Makes a nice chart but not one that helps me make sense of the original.

      I like the recommendation from Oslo. Please pass it on to Mr S if you can, a message from the future. He doesn’t have a degree from there, I don’t suppose. They’d have failed him.

      Anyhow, all you said was the world we wander round in and that seems to be external, has red buses, blue skies, white snow and all our direct personal experience, that world exists entirely inside our own heads, it is a fabrication, a simulation if you will, constantly updated from raw sensory input, and sometimes it makes guesses as to what’s there, and we “see” the guesses, until further input contradicts our experience, and we have to “see” something else.

      There, that was a nice long sentence, see, I can do them too.

      Yes, my experience of the (alleged) world exists inside my head, which, so the theory goes, exists in this world that I’m perceiving. But my experience is inside my head, my head is inside the world, ergo the world is bigger than I perceive, than I imagine, and bigger than I CAN imagine.

      Is that it yet? Corollary: there’s always going to be stuff you don’t know, because you’re too small.

      Or are we going to invoke Tardis-like capabilities?

      Oh, one other conclusion: S, whatever he’s banging on about, isn’t worth the effort. For me.

    • Don’t confuse the map (the representation of reality) with the territory (reality).

      This is probably the key point. That the reality that you see around you is also a MAP, carefully constructed and decorated in your own mind. It’s a good-enough map most of the time, you can wander round using it and not bang your head (all that often). It’s so good that we usually treat it as if it is a view of the real thing, not a personally constructed map. But it’s not a view of the real thing, as, for example, the colours we see in a rainbow tell us more about our own map-making equipment than about the reality of raindrops in sunshine. We don’t look out at the world. We look at an internal construction.

      Is this where Dan and the overly-verbose (for my taste) Mr S is going?

    • OHooligan:

      Enjoyed reading your comments. Witty and engaging, as always.
      Not an “alleged” world, OHooligan. It is a real world.
      As I said elsewhere, it is an illusion only in so far as one confuses empirical reality with absolute reality.
      The word is real.
      We do look out at the world. External reality is not an illusion. —Not if you understand its nature.
      The representation is not a map of the world; it IS the real word. And if I am confusing a representation (“map”) with something real that you call territory, disabuse me of this fanciful notion by naming one quality associated with this territory that isn’t represented!
      It is others who confuse the map with the real territory. That is precisely what I do not do and what I am against.
      I think you have a philosophical bent. Why don’t you order The World as Will and Representation at some point and try reading a few chapters? I’d recommend volume 2. More accessible than volume 1 and just as informative. E.F.J. Payne translation a must.
      (Jesus. I sound like a frigging Jehovah’s Witness peddling something religious. I am a bit of an “evangelist” but that’s just because I love S., have been enriched by him, and want others to be enriched too.)
      See ya later.

    • Dan

      The calumny that maddens is that you persist in laying this

      It is others who confuse the map with the real territory.

      at the door of physicists.

      Your error and Kant’s error lies in a misapprehension of where and how the best maps are made. They are made in part by the abstract machine of mathematics (beyond human manipulation) which means they need not contain a scintilla of the mapmaker.

      Understanding is less and less an attribute of map making though our mastery of maps increases.

      Cognition simply doesn’t work as Kant believes. This is not a critical failure to his enterprise it is just that it leads him to the above error in how maps can be made. It results in him not making a distinction between mastery and understanding. A reliable epistemology is quite independent of the capacity of understanding.

    • Dan,

      I think calumny is a little stronger than I intended. Sorry. But,

      by passing what I think a clearly erroneous judgment on an area you have so little interest in and experience of is…well…

      I’ll find the word.

    • @dan #348

      We do look out at the world. External reality is not an illusion.

      I see we’re still at cross purposes. The world you’re sitting “looking out at” right now is NOT reality. It is a 3d model, a rendering, a virtual reality if you will, constructed by your brain using data from your senses. Proof? A rainbow will do nicely. I agree that the senses are informed by the real world “out there”. But all your experience of it is what your senses sense, and your brain constructs into a convenient form that gives you the illusion of “looking out” at the world.

      Philosophy? No thanks. Not my taste, it seems. All those long sentences….

    • …unreasonable.

    • A somewhat naive Mr DArcy, who is not well versed in the eloquence of philosophers, asks how else can we perceive the world, if not through our senses ? Yes we know they can be fooled and are fooled, but what other means do we have ?

    • Re: the methods of mathematics/proofs/the true meaning of BS

      “The Euclidean method of demonstration has brought forth from its own womb its most striking parody and caricature in the famous controversy over the theory of parallels, and in the attempts, repeated every year, to prove the eleventh axiom. This axiom asserts, and that indeed through the indirect criterion of a third intersecting line, that two lines inclined to each other (for this is the precise meaning of “less than two right angles”), if produced far enough, must meet. Now this truth is supposed to be too complicated to pass as self-evident, and therefore needs a proof; but no such proof can be produced, just because there is nothing more immediate. This scruple of conscience reminds me of Schiller’s question of law:

      ‘For years I have already made use of my nose for smelling:
      Then have I actually a right to it that can be demonstrated?’ ”

      —A.S.

    • @phil #352

      Sorry, Phil, what’s unreasonable? Hope you’re feeling better btw.

    • @ Mr. DArcy #353

      Hi, Mr. DArcy,

      How are you, sir? Thanks again for your comment about Marx /labor/value (Capital) on the other thread. I need help with that stuff.

      To answer your question, we do perceive the world via our senses. I do distinguish between the senses and other faculties, however. The senses alone cannot produce an object. In order to perceive an object a being must have understanding. Without understanding (of cause and effect), that which acts upon us is nothing more than stimuli, indistinguishable from a self-generated feeling.—This constitutes a coalescence.

      The knowledge of a cause is often taken for granted, but it shouldn’t be, and it should, in my considered opinion, be separated from the mere sensation.

      But you are absolutely right; we apprehend the world via our senses – along with other faculties, as i said before.

      (I believe you indicated that you agree with Marx about many things. I’m curious: are you interested at all in Gramsci? )

      Regards,

      DR

    • @Mr DArcy #353

      You are correct, we have only our senses, which we’ve extended with tools, in space and under Switzerland, to better sense the universe around us.

      I was merely pointing out that the world of our immediate experience is also a model, a construct, made by our minds, as a “visualisation” of the incoming data. We short-hand imagine this as “looking out” at the world, but it’s not. Doesn’t matter, most of the time, but Phil suggested that Dan seemed to be muddling “the map” and “the territory”, so I felt it worth reminding that even our most direct perceptions are still “a map”, and not the territory itself. Being a map it can have decorations that aren’t really part of the territory it represents. “Here be dragons” and such. Reminders that it’s a map come from optical illusions, for example, which highlight glitches or shortcomings in the way our senses work.

      Maybe the territory is Dans “thing in itself”, and we’ve just been scrambling words in misunderstanding of each other.

      not well versed in the eloquence of philosophers

      Nicely put. I’ve tried saying similar, but I never managed to stay so polite.

    • O’Hooligan #352

      The word I was looking for in #350.

      Much better. Garlic, ginger, Jamesons…all my favourites. Thanks.

    • O’Hooligan.

      Phil suggested that Dan seemed to be muddling “the map” and “the territory”,

      I truly don’t think Dan does in that simple sense you illustrate, and I agree with him (I suspect) that our sensory perceptions are direct perceptions and not usefully described as mediated via a model. Those disparate bits where the various sensors cause cortical twitching in a pattern like thus and so are the parts of ME being twitched. This is the only way we know direct experience happens. (Yes there is modelling in parallel creating endless expectations and used for interpolation when we turn the automatic pilot on, but this is a secondary capacity.) Dan and I will agree that these perceptions fall woefully short of informing us on the underlying nature of stuff. (Even in 1850-ish, Faraday rightly suspected that all that seemed substantial was possibly just fields interacting, whatever they were.)

      No my concern with Dan was this sort of idea-

      Models are not real until they are experienced.

      Models are not just (or even mainly) to be experienced and, as I explain, increasingly nor can they be. They deliver mastery not understanding. Arthropod and Cephalopod civilisations can extrapolate some of such models into an experienceable form. Ant Christopher Nolan and Octopus Christopher Nolan can create a species-appropriate rendering of a black hole as modeled by General Relativity. But these are mere glimpses by analogy or metaphorical means.

      Models if they exist are perfectly real and fit for purpose just as they are.

    • @ Mr. DArcy (Cont.)

      I forgot to mention that it is because we apprehend the objects of the universe through the senses (and with our understanding intuit these objects as separate from our own bodies), that the statement I made at the outset (comment 34): “the moon without perception is an ambiguous entity” is not nonsensical. S’s point (and I think the quoted passage may have given rise to your question above) is that because we see things though the senses and because the senses are can only give us perception, the objects-in-themselves must be something altogether different than what they appear as. This caused much confusion and irritation. But it is a logical question to ask, and I will put it another way, to avoid a repetition of the confusion: when you remove the sensible qualities from, say, the moon, what is left that we can know, and what can we actually say about these “known” qualities? (And what constitutes knowledge?)

      Someone said “spherical” and “solid.” Okay, that was an attempt and I appreciate that.

      Phil, you refer to models quite a bit. I am asking what can be known about the qualities that pertain to these models, independently of the mind. And what can be predicted is not an answer. Yes, the planets and the stars will be here or somewhere else 10,000 years from now. But what does “being here” mean?

      (I admitted before that I am not precisely sure what a model is.)

    • @phil #359

      I agree with [Dan] (I suspect) that our sensory perceptions are direct perceptions and not usefully described as mediated via a model.

      Interesting. When you two finally agree, I find I disagree with both of you. [Dan, I’m writing this as addressed to Phil, but really it’s for you both, please excuse being mentioned as 3rd party]

      I thought I was chipping away at whatever Dan’s trying to get to, and I relate much better to (and get more educational value from) your posts, Phil.

      As Jimi Hendrix put it: “are you Experienced?”. Perturbing the brain with psychoactive molecules leads to wholesale distortions of what we’d normally consider to be external reality. Sensory perceptions are anything but direct, which came as quite a surprise. The well-behaved external reality we move around in is constructed, on the fly, in a kind of reverse virtual-reality rendering process, that turns raw sense data (of which we’re only partially conscious) into an integrated whole, an interactive 3D world of colour and sound and solidity and permanence that we can function in. It’s a marvelous job of re-construction, and it presents to the conscious mind via a combination of sensory input and memory retrieval (which Dan might call “knowledge”) the whole rich or mundane or ordinary world. I look at the stapler on my desk and see my stapler, but what I see is informed, without conscious effort, by my memory of this stapler, and of other staplers in my past, by memories of using a stapler, and by memories of surfaces of plastic and metal in other situations, so the shiny curve I see near the hinge is enough for me to know it’s a spring, and how springs work, and the feel of the resistance of that spring when I use the stapler.

      And we take all this for granted, as we must, else we’d sit blankly gazing at the nearest stapler, or anything else, going “Wow…..” all day. But we’ve all done that, or something like it, as babies, gazing at a mobile or a curtain or the bars of a cot, while we built up the knowledge base that lets us turn sensory input into a world around us.

      Maybe this is somewhere near where Dan is trying to go, with his distinction between perception and knowledge.

      But I’m sure we can’t even notice this distinction, except in rare, perhaps artificially induced, circumstances. We certainly can’t have one without the other, so most of Dan’s questions would seem to be moot.

      Also, having read a bit about the Hebbian learning that Dan so casually dismissed, I’m comfortable accepting that kind of activity is sufficient to explain the things he claims are a-priori — notions of cause and effect, notions of the 3D space around us and the existence and persistence of objects, moons and staplers and all.

      I like the Mastery vs Understanding distinction. Mastery would be, for example, hitting a winning stroke at Wimbledon. Understanding would deal with inertia, vectors, velocities, gravitational fields, the springiness of tennis racket strings (not still parts of dead cats?), reaction times, muscle power generation curves, and have loads of equations and some really cool computer graphics, which I’d enjoy but which would hardly improve my stroke. Phil, did I get that (sort of, more or less, vaguely) right?

      I now suspect Phil and Dan will gang up on me…..

    • “Also, having read a bit about the Hebbian learning that Dan so casually dismissed, I’m comfortable accepting that kind of activity is sufficient to explain the things he claims are a-priori — notions of cause and effect, notions of the 3D space around us and the existence and persistence of objects, moons and staplers and all.”

      What! When did I ever say that Hebbian learning isn’t a great thing? (Kidding, but I do need to look into that more.)

    • O’Hooligan and Dan various

      O’H

      When you two finally agree, I find I disagree with both of you.

      I’ve always said that I half agree with Dan and half agree with Kant. Its just that I claim the “problem” of misapprehending what reallity might be is not a pitfall for scientists (physicists at the sharpest end) it is their day job. Negotiating, grappling with the underlying fabric of existence even though it can never, ever be be experienced is why they joined. Reality they find is non-local, there is spooky action at a distance, time seems reversible for the tiniest of interactions, particles exist just here with the probability of Psi squared Psi being computed from Schroedingers equation, the same particle exists just there with a different probability. A quark, which if a truly fundamental particle, can have no size as such (a composite particle like an electron) also has properties that are meaningless to any experiential understanding. Calling them things like Charm is a tease. At base things are better described as possessing attributes rather than qualities with its false hope of experience.

      Oops. Work

      More at coffee break.

    • 343 O Hooligan, That is my recipe for marinade! Works for chicken, salmon and cat.

    • O’Hooligan, Dan.

      Quickly…

      Notice that “”Mastery answers the “how” question. Its what science properly does.

      “Understanding” answers the “why” question and that is conceptually tied to the idea of intention and is a question for agents.

      Philosophers (in the most general sense) are endlessly muddling the latter into the former and creating problems.

      This point can never be underlined enough. How questions can be brought to a conclusion. Why is always contingent and susceptible to the next “but why”.

    • Phil @ 365
      I was wondering when this fundamental crutch of woo-woo merchants would be exposed….
      “Why” is only of use as a tool to obtain the “How”…….It can then be discarded….Unfortunately philosophers patently persist to forget the latter…..I learnt this a long time ago when I ran out of matching socks! which brings us back nicely into the odd socks debate…….

    • Thank you Phil, and M27Holts (do we call you M or M27 for short?)

      Stripped of the verbosity, it’s down to How vs Why.

      I like that. Succinct.

      And I must admit I’m none too interested in the “why”, I shall leave that to philosophy and theology, and avoid both.

      Footnote: I always thought Prof Dawkins push-back against religion was due to their trampling all over the turf of “How”. If religion stuck to “Why” and left “How” alone it would be a lot less bothersome. The Vatican learned some of this since Galileo, but the upstart religions still stupidly think they have to overrule science on “How”.

    • Phil and the whole gang,

      Stripped of the verbosity, it’s down to How vs Why.

      No it isn’t. Sorry. Nothing, and I mean nothing, that I have said about the faculty of understanding or anything else for that matter, has anything to do with “Why.” It has to do with what we perceive and how such perception is possible.

      “Why.” Straw man. Thanks for your dismissive and stubborn attitudes. I am truly disappointed at times.

      “Verbosity.” A term of abuse for that which you disagree with or, by your own admission, cannot quite understand.—My arguments are sound!

      (Not mad, just frustrated.)

    • OHooligan, Phil

      The world you’re sitting “looking out at” right now is NOT reality. It is a 3d model, a rendering, a virtual reality if you will, constructed by your brain using data from your senses. Proof? A rainbow will do nicely.

      What is this, role reversal? No, no no. Reality is not an illusion. It is an illusion if you start from the object and assume that there is no difference between what APPEARS and what IS. I cannot keep making these basic distinctions. Either read Kant, and the others who I have mentioned, or don’t…But this comment of yours above shows a complete lack of knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the distinction that I have made numerous times on this thread, between illusion and empirical reality.

      Interesting that you keep expressing, unwittingly, partial agreement with me.

      The thing-in-itself is not the territory. The map (representation of perception) and the territory are one. I am using your words. Map is not part of my philosophical vocabulary.

      Phil, your comment: “A reliable epistemology is quite independent of the capacity of understanding.”

      Whaaa? Are you feeling okay? (LOL)

    • Phil 349: “The calumny (“unreasonableness”) that maddens is that you persist in laying this:

      ‘It is others who confuse the map with the real territory.’ at the door of physicists.”

      No, you persist in laying this: ‘It is others who confuse the map with the real territory’ at the door of the great epistemologists.

    • Phil 341

      I have not said that existence is “superior” to your “crypto-existence.”

      I will say that there is, finally, only ONE (1) existence. I for one want to understand what it is and is not. This might sound ignorant and naive, but when you talk about the abstract universe, what are you really talking about? If you were to travel a gazillion miles in space, guess what?—You’d still be in your own skin and would be staring straight out into space, just like you were back home here on earth.

      Moreover, the fundamental nature of empirical existence cannot be altered (in so far as you are experiencing it) by removing yourself from the equation. As soon as you remove yourself there is nothing to experience. What do your maps tell us? Name one thing. What can you tell me about your crypto-existence?

      (Your flu has subsided I hope.)

    • Dan various

      Phil, your comment: “A reliable epistemology is quite independent of the capacity of understanding.”

      It is though entirely dependent on mastery

      [you say] ‘It is others who confuse the map with the …. territory’ at the door of the great epistemologists.

      No. It is your good self that imagines that a map (this abstracted account of the territory) may contain experience in some way. It is a common confusion. The very best maps (the most abstracted) are usable by Civilisation A and Civilisation B.

      What can you tell me about your crypto-existence?

      Crypto-existence is unobserved existence. No agents. Civilisation A left an animated map consisting of the most humungous wave equation and a learning path key. If I was Schroedinger Ant of the later Civilisation B I might come to understand the key and know with reasonable certainty that 3bn sols of crypto-existence was identical to existence.

      What is your expectation of crypto existence?

      Why did you include me in #368?

    • Dan.

      So, again-

      “Explain the difference between existence and crypto-existence, and why in terms of existy-ness (not documentedness, or experiencedness) one is superior. Why isn’t experiencedness [just] a super-addition to crypto-existence [as a definition of existence]?”

      Still many sniffles but the self pity has cleared up nicely, thanks.

    • “abstract universe”?

      Where did I say that? It doesn’t sound like me unless there is more to it. Models are abstracted, stripped of experience. An abstract model of the universe, perhaps, or an error?

    • 368? Something you said about Understanding, which had nothing to do with anything I had said. Sorry to lump you in there like that.

      Mastery? As Socrates would say, mastery is not knowledge. (Or is it? I don’t see how it can be.)

      “Identical to existence.” Existence is inextricably bound up with a great many subjective conditions. The map left by civilization A would be a map of what? A map of a representation? But what is represented IS existence. Again, you confuse the “map” with the real universe. And if you are suggesting that this Real, absolute existence is not dependent upon subjective conditions and that this map holds the key to the thing-in-itself, or to use your language: crypto-existence, then that is something I’d be very much interested in hearing about, let alone “mastering.” Mastery seems to me to be a convenient language-trick. It is something that implies knowledge; known yet not known; it is mastered.—It is hyper-knowledge.

      My expectation of crypto-existence? I expect it to be material or immaterial. If it is material in any way then a subject MUST be present.

    • 374

      Before I answer your question about crypto existence you must tell me what it is or can be? I have my hands full with existence. Now I have to answer questions about crypto-existence? I know of one thing, and it is called existence. It is in time and space and is perceived. Whatever cannot be perceived is not existence. it is immaterial and therefore non-existent in a physical sense. I cannot say otherwise and be true to myself at the same time. If I am missing something, so be it: there’s always time to learn. The nature of matter is to act and act upon and be acted upon. That which acts must be perceived in time and in space, and the knowledge of causality makes this possible, is a precondition (for positing the existence of matter) or presupposition. Pure matter is not conceivable to me. Is this an element of crypto-existence? If crypto-existence is something other than the thing-in-itself than it must be real. So? How can something be real and be of a material nature and yet not capable of being perceived? If it is capable of being perceived then it is no longer crypto-existence, and we’re back where we started.

      I added the word abstract to the word universe, and my point was made clear (I thought) with this statement: “If you were to travel a gazillion miles in space, guess what?—You’d still be in your own skin and would be staring straight out into space, just like you were back home here on earth.”

      Phil, I’d like to meet you one of these days.

    • @Dan

      Me: it’s down to How vs Why.

      Dan: No it isn’t.

      Thanks Dan for clearing that up. I see I was mistaken (again).

      [I] show a complete lack of knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the distinction that I have made numerous times on this thread, between illusion and empirical reality.

      Exactly. I’m glad we can agree on something. Your distinction, rephrased often, eludes me. Every time I think I’ve got a workable hypothesis, you say something that refutes it. Especially as you seem to think that you “look out” upon reality, denying that your experience is a fabrication, a construct of sense and memory.

      The thing-in-itself is not the territory.

      Isn’t it? I thought, by the way Phil introduced the map/territory terminology, it was exactly what “territory” was supposed to mean. It’s not the map, and it’s not the territory? Sorry, I’m now reconfused.

      The map and the territory are one.

      Now you’re reconfused. The whole map/territory thing is about them NOT being the same. When I said you were muddling map and territory, you said you weren’t. Now you’re doing it again. I may have to give up.

      I am using your words.

      Maybe, but not as I know them.

      Map is not part of my philosophical vocabulary.

      Clearly not.

    • Dan

      That which acts must be perceived in time and in space.

      No. The only Civilisation in the Universe (A) died out and the galaxies still turned and fled each other.

    • If anybody is interested (my login is a composite of my British outwards part of my home town postcode (M27) (Swinton & Pendlebury, Manchester) and Holts is the name of the brewery thet produces cask ale that I drink and my avatar is the pub (Park Inn) where I often drink it!).
      Mind you that may not be true, coz from Dan’s perception I am a six foot five alien from a small planet orbiting the star called Arcturus, and I am in fact fond of drinking Blue-WKD with a straw whilst wearing a pink-and blue basque!

    • @M27Holts

      So that WAS you I spotted, last time I was over Arcturus way. That blue stuff gave me a terrible hangover, I’d be better to stick to the Holts. Anyway, say Hi to your clones for me, hope you and the rest of the hive are doing well.

      Regards, ^%$@*EH%#$, (known locally as OHooligan. Only because Suzuki Swift was taken).

    • @dan #360

      because we see things though the senses and because the senses are can only give us perception, the objects-in-themselves must be something altogether different than what they appear as.

      Hey, I think we’ve found a point of agreement. What you think you’re “seeing through your senses” is indeed altogether different from what you call the “objects-in-themselves”. I agree with that.

      It’s the job of science to dig deeper, and come back with a better description of objects (matter, fields, space, time, how it all fits together) than the one that “meets the eye”. A good (scientific) description is bound to become highly mathematical, natural language is too imprecise, and is laden with analogies and references to the normal-sized world around us, so it’s of little use when dealing with anything on a different scale (big, small, fast, slow).

      I should add: when I say a “good” description, I mean one that’s demonstrably accurate (within stated limits), and that has predictive power. I mean it enables us to make predictions, and then verify them. If it enables some new technology, all the better.

      It seems we’ve been circling each other for a while, dog chasing tail metaphor springs to my mind.

    • OHooligan,

      How are you doing? I suspect that you have an aptitude for philosophy. Like anything else it takes time to familiarize yourself with that world, the language, the concepts. Same with Shakespeare. It’s like anything else.

      …experience is a fabrication, a construct of sense and memory…

      No. The empirically real world is not a fabrication. It is real. If you confuse what you see with what it IS, independently of the mind, then you have an illusion. If you say “the object appears to be absolutely real” then that is a true statement. If you say “it IS absolutely real then you have illusion. If I say the mirage is real, than it is an illusion. If I say that it appears real, than there is no illusion; you are seeing something real – a real illusion. But the world is not a mirage; but it is analogous to one; if you confuse empirical reality with absolute reality then it is like saying that the mirage is real.

      Maybe I am confused. What are your definitions of map and territory. This is new terminology to me.

      From 377: Me: it’s down to How vs Why.
      Dan: No it isn’t.
      Thanks Dan for clearing that up. I see I was mistaken (again). -OHooligan

      You didn’t use the full quote:

      No it isn’t. Sorry. Nothing, and I mean nothing, that I have said about the faculty of understanding or anything else for that matter, has anything to do with “Why.”

      Phil (378): You lost me.

    • @dan #358

      You say “No” to my quote. Then you say something that seems to be in agreement what I’m saying, rephrased. But you exchange “experience” and “empirically real world” without explanation. I think you are tripping yourself up with terminology. Also you have an uneven number of quote marks, which tends to undermine whatever sentence you were trying to write. My English Language parser is picky. More proof-reading required, I can’t read between your lines and deduce what you mean to say, all I have is what you actually say.

      Map vs Territory: I thought that self evident. It was to me. A map helps you find your way round a territory (say, in a fog), but nobody pretends it IS the territory. These are not tricky specialist redefinitions of common words, they ARE the common words, used as an analogy. Or so I understood. Territory, in the present context, I assume means the same as your “things-in-themselves”, something we cannot directly perceive.

      Or have we lost each other in the fog, again?

      You didn’t use the full quote

      No, I didn’t, in the interests of brevity. It didn’t seem to make any difference.

      Philosophy? I don’t think so. Unless there’s a Philosophy for Dummies edition.

    • @ OHooligan the hooligan (kidding)
      @ Phil

      But you exchange “experience” and “empirically real world” without explanation.

      No explanation is needed, not tripped up. Empirical means experienced. Look up the word empirical in the dictionary. (No condescension or belligerence intended.)

      Quote marks. I hate that. You’re right. I do that with parentheses too. You’re feeding into my OCD! Here’s a missing second quote mark (after the word “real…er, “real”):

      If you say “it IS absolutely real“ then you have illusion.

      You just said before that the world is a “3D image,” and now you are distinguishing between a map (image!) and the real McCoy, the thing-in-itself? (And thanks for clarifying. So “territory” is our new word for thing-in-itself. You’ll forgive me, Phil, for smiling with a certain almost smug satisfaction, I hope.) Perception is in us. The so-called real territory you speak of is what? An image yet not an image? It’s out there. Fine. But what can we say or know about it? What can it be said to be other than that which is represented to us? Matter?

      The Territory. Ah!

      Phil? Anything you’d like to say?

    • Phil, my quark-loving friend, you still have not said one thing about this territory you speak of, or about the “information” about it, passed one from universe A to universe B. All you have said is that it has no qualities and is not perceived.

      363: “…attributes rather than qualities…”

      Territories! And now attributes! (Don’t you see what’s happening here?) Quarks and hadrons and fundamental forces are not nothing in themselves, but they are not things in themselves either. You insist upon confusing the material-known with the immaterial-unknown. Those quarks either have attributes or they don’t!! If they do, then they are material attributes.

      “For what is material is that which acts (the actual) in general, apart from the specific nature of its acting. Therefore, merely as such, matter is not an object of perception, but only of thinking, and is thus really an abstraction. On the other hand, it occurs in perception only in combination with form and quality, as body, in other words, as a quite definite mode of acting.” WWR, Vol. 2, Ch. 24

      You said you agree “half with me and half with Kant.” Math question: does that mean half with me and Kant, or a quarter with me and a quarter with Kant?

    • @dan

      OK, but “empirically real world” has an issue, for me. Lets call that the “empirical world”, the world we experience day to day, including any day-to-day readings from inventions that detect/measure things our senses don’t react to, such as X-rays. It was your addition of “real” that threw me into confusion.

      OCD has much to commend it. Keep on matching those parentheses and quotes, you know you want to.

      Now, lets agree that the “territory” is the thing-in-itself, synonyms. [Phil please interject when I go wrong…].

      Can we also agree that this territory/things-in-themselves IS what we want to call “reality”, the common ground that we share, albeit indirectly, via experience?

      Then a “map” is something else, for example a scientific theory or collection of theories that have predictive power, that lets us predict stuff about the behaviour of things, and how that would look to us, observing with our empirical senses.

      But a “map” can also be a reconstruction, a virtual reality. Real Estate Agents offer “virtual” tours of houses these days. You can see what it would look to walk around a house, without actually going there. Virtual reality systems are integrating head movements with the display outputs so you can turn your head and the (virtual) landscape appears as it should. Any of those things are “maps”.

      Now, the bit you seem to find hard to swallow: your so-called “direct” experience is also a “map” of this kind, a reconstruction in your head of a world around you, with visual stimuli integrated with eye and head movements to construct a stable outside observable interactive reality. And what you see is not just the signals from the rods and cones (pixels) of your eyes, it is overlaid, enhanced, with what you know already, what you remember, all you’ve learned. So, for example, you can see faces in clouds, know they’re not there, and still see them. Or you can quickly identify “something’s there”, before you have gathered enough actual input to determine what or who it is. You can see six or seven distinct colours in a rainbow, and know they’re just your own eyes’ way of reacting to a continual spectrum of frequencies, the distinct bands of colour are not “out there”, despite what you see.

      Cameras mimic our colour sensors, so they too “see” the rainbow, and present it in photographs, but the photograph no longer presents a smooth spectrum of frequencies, it presents instead a blend of 3 specific frequencies, nothing more. But our eyes are unable to make the distinction, so we see a colour photograph and are able to “look through” it into the scene it was capturing. Alien eyes might see an image that bears only the most vague relation to the original scene.

      Still with me? Or did I lose you along the way?

      As for the repeated “what can be said” questions, I still find them meaningless and unanswerable.

    • We have to work hard to make maps. We need to use tools to help us. We don’t see the mine shaft or appreciate the difference between a boggy and a firm field. We can always make a more detailed map. This map making is a conscious excercise in describing reality.

      In perception there are no mental processes that can be said are external to US. The data compression in the retina delivering pre-identified edge information could be said to be map making, finding features in reallity that may be useful to us like moving closed loops or like boggy fields. Philosophically this is different to the conscious map making endeavour. For me this is just a description of me. We already accept that I do not perceive fully and do so with a built in bias to make my perceptions more useful to a certain kind of mammal in its natural habitat. Cognitions are embodied cognitons. I am not a little homunculus in my head. My retinas are me also.

      Perception, however we automatically achieve it, is perception. Its failings are its failings. There is no purer more direct perception to contemplate, because, pure spirit is not a coherent idea. I am (and must be) a collection of parts brought suitably together.

      Dan Phil #378

      That which acts must be perceived in time and in space.

      No. For three billion years, with no life in the Universe, civilisation B, when it finally evolved into existence could observe the galaxies had moved exactly as civilisation A predicted they would.

    • Dan #385

      363: “…attributes rather than qualities…”

      So in making the best map of over there I would not say blue but I would write a wave equation, provide information that allows the computation of Quantum Electro Dynamic processes and the photon electron energy interchanges discovered. These may or may not have any sensory significance for the map reader. If it were human it might say, “485nm wavelength, no wonder my human pupils closed done so swiftly.” Or “Pretty turquoise!”. Thargians, might shudder in contemplation of the prickly pain.

    • OHooligan,

      Good question: “why can’t the thing-in-itself be real?”

      I refuse to call the thing-in-itself “real.” Real is a word I use for what is capable of being experienced, and not merely thought in the abstract (conceptualized). A concept that isn’t borrowed from perception is an empty husk.

      You can call the thing-in-itself real if you want to, but I refuse to do so. I understand how this can be confusing. I am not saying that the thing-in-itself or the “territory” is nothing – but it remains, so far as I know, an unknown X. Scientific realism to me is not realism; I can form no idea of what this unknown, immaterial, “really existing” territory, can be. It is not reality as I understand it or conceive of it.

    • @dan #389

      You can call the thing-in-itself real if you want to, but I refuse to do so.

      WTF? Honestly, if we can’t agree on terminology then we can’t agree on anything.

      Real. Thing (in itself). Perception. Empirical world. Empirical real world. Scientific realism is not realism. Therefore realism is not scientific? Some of these are not the same as others. Pick the odd man out? I see why map vs territory doesn’t work for you. You don’t have 2 categories, you have maybe 3, or some other number that isn’t 2.

      My BS detector is threatening to melt, I’ve been ignoring it for too long. I have no idea what you’re on about, and you can’t say I haven’t tried. Best guess so far is you’re just messing with me.

    • OHooligan

      Absolutely not messing with you. I make a distinction between empirical reality and absolute reality. If you want me to use the phrase absolute reality, or use a capital R when I use the word reality this way (as I sometimes do) then I’d be happy to do so.

      I did not create the terminology that I use. I am using a language given to me, or handed down to me, by my great teachers.

      I hope you don’t think I am a BS artist (and it’s good that we’re still on topic), but that is out of my control. I assure you, that I am not one. You have my word of honor. I would be willing to stand on my beloved late father’s grave (d. 2014) and say: “if I am bullshitting anyone on the Dawkins site then I am a fucking asshole and you, dad, can go rot in hell, if there is one.

      (I don’t believe in hell, OHooligan, but I am trying to convince you of my sincerity and good will, and have conveyed that message in the strongest possible terms.)

    • This may all be a holographic projection from the edge of the universe. Whatever, it is all part of the thing in itself.

      I now see the essential problem of idealism as being the necessary woo generating idea of conscious agents as having only one part, a spirit or observing homunculus.

      Dan

      Real is a word I use for what is capable of being experienced

      In its complete and utter totality, or will a glimpse do? Besides the capacity for mooted entities to be experienced is currently not a proven thing.

      Besides, the reality of your own spleen is best not tested by experiencing it. Holding it in your hand is never good.

    • Dan

      So there’s reality and absolute reality?

      Why not partial and full reality? Or sensed and inferred reality?

      Like existence whilst it can be qualified by independent attributes (observed, unobserved), reality can have only one meaning.

    • The reality of the spleen?

      Silly joke to lighten things…..failed.

    • Woo generating? Spirit? The reality of the spleen?
      The spleen is an empirical object.
      It doesn’t have to be seen continuously to be an empirical object.
      Jesus.
      Sensed and inferred?
      Two separate things, strictly speaking.
      I have said nothing illogical.
      Others keep trying to cheat their way into “taking a peek” at the thing-in-itself.
      Glimpse? We can infer that there is a thing-in-itself. Granted.
      Why do you suppose the damned phrase exists?
      I need a break.
      Talk to you soon.
      Such resistance and massive confusion. Quite interesting.
      I am forever patient (except when I am not).
      I told you when we first met that idealism is enormously subtle…

    • “Like existence whilst it can be qualified by independent attributes (observed, unobserved), reality can have only one meaning.” -Phil.

      Interesting, Phil. I said elsewhere that there can only be one existence. We are so close to, and yet so far from, agreement.

      Reality can have many meanings, in my opinion.

      Sorry I didn’t get the spleen joke.

    • Dan

      Reality can have many meanings, in my opinion.

      Polysemous speech is the very enemy of metaphysics in its ambition to deliver truths. W in other words.

      We are so close to, and yet so far from, agreement

      Yes and yes. Just as I’ve been saying all along. The premises are good, but the conclusions unwarranted and not useful. The conclusions actually reached by those who needed conclusions have been spectacularly successful. Reality is non-local etc. etc..

      The philosophical homunculus was offered as an alternate to “spirit”. “Spirit” wasn’t the source of potential woo. It is my repeated point from earlier that in mooting concepts with too few parts (the philosophical homunculus that looks out through our eyes and embodies us within our own body) we create hypotheses that are spuriously generative.

    • Aha – Back to philosophy in room 101.
      As far as historical figures go – Jesus as a single flesh & blood homo-sapiens did not exist (on the balance of probability i.e. Mathematically) – He is like any other protagonist of a fictional book – an invention inside another persons brain. But as any philosopher is going to tell you, Jesus,& Harry Potter are just as real at present time X as Hitler, Stalin and Mohammed…time is the crucial dimension of reality and as Einstein found out – that is relative also….just to muddy the waters to the point of making it virtually impossible to nail down reality as a singlularity.
      Thus like we agreed several posts ago – lets all concentrate on the current understanding of HOW. and realise that WHY is currently WAY-BEYOND our current capacity to find out. e.g. WHY does 1 + 1 = 2?

    • What was that about polysemous speech? You said reality meant one thing. I said it didn’t. Mooted? I wish I could understand you better. Reality local?

      There can only be one existence. I think about what things are and what we can know about them and not know. Meaning is a word in philosophy that tends to repel me. Asking what this or that means as opposed to what it is and how it is, is worse than asking why 3+2=5, as the other fellow said. As you know, I rather dislike W., although I just started the Investigations.

      Spuriously generative. Yes, scientific realism is spuriously generative.

    • Dan,

      Polysemy-

      Polysemy (/pəˈlɪsᵻmi/ or /ˈpɒlᵻsiːmi/; from Greek: πολυ-, poly-, “many” and σῆμα, sêma, “sign”) is the capacity for a sign (such as a word, phrase, or symbol) to have multiple meanings (that is, multiple semes or sememes and thus multiple senses), usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field

      I’m glad to withold the use of “meaning” here and work with the term sign (W’s prefered terminology.)

      Mooted-proposed for debate

      nonlocal-

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

    • Meaning, sign, –Whichever you prefer.
      I just looked up Bohmian trajectories. Then I looked up Schrodinger’s law. (Sorry about spelling.)
      I don’t have any background in that. I will have to continue to navigate as best I can. I feel like I am crossing the ocean in a rowboat. (A golden rowboat.)
      Didn’t you say that reality had one meaning? That’s not Wittgensteinian. Confused.
      Talk to you tomorrow or whenever.

    • Meaning, sign, –Whichever you prefer.

      Whichever you prefer…

      “Meaning” co-opts ideas of subjective value (meaningful). “Sign” is more like the plain tag or descriptor. It is an attempt to reduce the quantity of subjectivity entrained.

    • @dan

      I accept your assurance that you’re not deliberately yanking my chain, pulling my leg, winding me up.

      You say you got your terminology from your “teachers”, that I presume to be the writers you admire.

      Well then, either (a) they were BS artists in their own right, and you’ve been conned, or (b) you’ve not done very well on using their terminology.

      If your goal was to explain something so that others could grasp, grok, comprehend, understand (pick one or more), then as far as I’m concerned you’ve failed. I have tried to digest what you say, re-form it in my own words, and send them back to you for confirmation or correction. And I’ve never got confirmation, only another slew of hard-to-digest sentences. Hard for me to digest, but then I’m somewhat lactose-intolerant. And possibly verbose-intolerant too. It might be related to the spleen, but it’s not talking to me so I can’t ask it.

    • OHooligan

      Yes, I meant writers.

      The many philosophical writers amongst them include, as you know, Schopenhauer: he distinguished between reality, the empirically real, and absolute reality. He was convinced that even Matter had to be included as an attribute of the former; and while it is true that he belonged to a different time, it seems reasonable to me to maintain this terminology.

      Opposed to transcendental idealism is not only realism, but transcendental realism: the latter implies empirical ideality. Transcendental (or critical) idealism implies empirical reality.

      I’ll try to respond better to your comments and others. By the way, I cannot understand Phil and other commenters at times; I just don’t have the background.

    • @Someone good at math.—Phil? Ohooligan?

      I told someone (Paul) that two lines inclined toward each other will always intersect.
      According to “Bohmian trajectories” they never cross each other. How could this be?
      Perhaps in some theoretical vacuum they wouldn’t; but if you draw two lines with a ruler and a pencil and they are inclined towards each other, they have to meet, don’t they? What is this BS?

    • @dan

      Opposed to transcendental idealism is not only realism, but transcendental realism: the latter implies empirical ideality. Transcendental (or critical) idealism implies empirical reality.

      See, I’d have to hunt down lengthy definitions of all the above to even begin to try to unravel it. Why can’t you just write plain English? Because, I don’t know what the above sentence is supposed to tell me, if anything. I don’t have the incentive. I think I’ll have to leave room 101 and try elsewhere.

    • @dan #405

      Quantum theory has no bearing on plane geometry, as far as I know.

    • @OHooligan 407, others

      Lousy (beneath me), quick explanations for room 101. 😉

      Transcendental idealism: Can’t know the thing-in-itself, as it lies beyond the realm of experience. Everything is determined by the subject. No subject, then no object. No object, then nothing to know (as a physical object). This includes matter.

      Transcendental realism: We can know the thing-in-itself. “Von Hartmann called his philosophy a transcendental realism, because in it he professed to reach by means of induction from the broadest possible basis of experience a knowledge of that which lies beyond experience.”

      Realism: objects that fill reality, as it were, and are experienced via the mind exist independently of the mind, and we are justified [somehow] in thinking that we can know that they exist independently of the mind and experience.

      Ideality: in the mind.

      Empirical: based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience.

      For extra credit:

      “The whole world of objects is and remains representation, and is for this reason wholly and for ever conditioned by the subject; in other words, it has transcendental ideality. But it is not on that account falsehood or illusion; it presents itself as what it is, as representation.” […] A.S. WWR, Vol I

      For extra, extra credit:

      A note on the doctrine of realism.

      “According to realism, the world is supposed to exist, as we know it, independently of this knowledge. Now let us remove from it all knowing beings, and thus leave behind only inorganic and vegetable nature. Rock, tree, and the blue sky; sun, moon, and stars illuminate this word, as before, only of course to no purpose, since there exists no eye to see such things. But then let us subsequently put into the world a knowing being. That world then presents itself once more in his brain, and repeats itself inside that brain exactly as it was previously outside it. Thus to the first world a second has been added, which, although completely separated from the first, resemble it to a nicety.” A.S. WWR Vol. 2, Ch. 1

    • sun, moon, and stars illuminate this word, as before, only of course to no purpose, since there exists no eye to see such things.

      I understood that and I think it’s crap. Arrogant, self-centred crap. No purpose. FFS. Who said it had to have a purpose? Also, it’s bollocks. To put it nicely. Might have gone down well in pre-Darwin times, when churches had more influence, but thankfully those times are gone, in a few lucky places.

      Thanks for the other definitions, I still haven’t absorbed them fully.

    • 410

      What he is describing is the view of Realism (and a lot of people hold this view) and therefore you are right; it is utterly nonsensical and self-centered. But that’s not what you meant, is it?

      Purpose. He is making a specific point in a specific context; it’s absurd to think of something as illuminated yet with no eye to see it, etc. S. did NOT believe in purpose, or any kind of unfolding or grand design. On the contrary, he was an atheist and a profound pessimist, was convinced that existence at bottom consists in a ceaseless striving without end or aim. We can say, however, that without the eye or the ear nothing seen or heard would have purpose as sights or sounds – and if there was nothing to see or hear the eye and the ear would have no purpose.

    • @dan #408

      Ah, hang on. Apart from disagreeing about the self-centred bit, I just realised this quote from S is very much aligned with Phil’s story of two different intelligent species, with very different senses, and how they could both arrive at the same physics, the same cosmology.

      So “realism” declares that the universe “out there” carries on regardless of who happens to be looking, or indeed what they may be using to look with. That would make me a “realist” I suppose.

      I don’t yet grok the “transcendental” adjective, and what difference it makes.

    • @pinball1970 #411

      brewing beer was a major advance in human advancement and philosophy

      Absolutely. Without beer there would be no philosophy, or at least there’d be far less talk about it.

      Thanks for warning me off the Holts.

    • “Transcendental”

      Kant- (of a judgment or logical deduction) being both synthetic and a priori. of or relating to knowledge of the presuppositions of thought.

      Phil Rimmer- (of a judgment or inference) That which cannot be experienced but can be known arbitrarily well using induction and indirect experience and an appropriate discounting of our particular experience.

      Not too far apart. I add indirect experience. Inductions are in part synthetic (being based on the wholly synthetic deductively manipulated concepts of metaphysics)…… a mooted model, then tested against reallity. All the while with the understanding that we are midsized in the Universe able to see throught the tiniest of windows to no smaller than half a micron because the photons we detect wiggle too slowly and have the illusion of a singular self.

      Let me simplify…

      Transcendental- of or pertaining to, physics.

      Clearly this makes me a Transcendental Realist in some sense as TI equivocates on “Knowing” by making it that rather primitive rather biblical concept of “knowing” as needing experience.

      This equivocatioon is the root of all this threads woes….

    • Phil Rimmer- (of a judgment or inference) That which cannot be experienced but can be mastered arbitrarily well using induction and indirect experience and an appropriate discounting of our particular experience.

      Just to use my preferred terms.

    • Mmmmmm, bacon.

    • Transcendental :

      of or relating to a spiritual or nonphysical realm.

      Or

      (of a number, e.g., e or π) real but not a root of an algebraic equation with rational roots.

      Transcendental Meditation: wot the Beatles done before/during/after they were into LSD.

      Or
      Some other definitions from Kant and even from Phil, of whom I’d expected better.

      Or
      OHooligan: A word commonly used in BS. Meaningless twaddle.

    • Bullshit like Deepak’s is manufactured from wholesome ingredients like physics but adding in anthropocentric wooish nonesense. We may well have uncovered a well-intentioned but quite mistaken well-spring for this stuff in Kant.

      Some other definitions [of transcendental… from Phil, of whom I’d expected better.

      just weird.

      Phobic about the term “transcendental”? Stay away from Pi.

    • More definitions of transcendent

      extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience

      being beyond comprehension

      in Kantian philosophy : being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge

      also, Transcendental Meditation: thinking about getting tooth implants.

    • Why the narrow reading, OHooligan?

      Its a perfectly good word meaning above specific categorical use, of universal use etc. in maths and philosophy.

      D’Oh! Those bloody Beatles and their meditation. My mother was right to drag me away from them at the Woolton Village Show….

    • Apart from the mathematical definition, I find the word very, shall we say, BS friendly. It’s far too easy to use – or misuse – in the Lewis Carroll way, to mean exactly what I want it to mean.

      As such, using it in a sentence almost automatically renders that sentence ambiguous, ambivalent, or just plain confusing. Perfect for BS, not much use for conveying information.

      OK, I’ll accept the specific philosophical terminology, once I get a clear understanding of the distinctions: we have at least these 4 directions, should they be plotted on x/y axes, or are they simply mutually exclusive states?

      realism, idealism, transcendental realism, transcendental idealism.

    • But here’s the thing O’Hooligan. People really do get bamboozled by polysemous speech (like “transcendental”) and think they have won through with some new and mysterious insight into the nature of reality, something we lumpen fools aren’t equipped or prepared to see. But look at the words and the simplicity of the signs they are and notice that in invoking “transcendental” we have really just invoked physics.

      I don’t actually subscribe to labels like Transcendental Realist as defined by philosophy. Rationalism is still the least objectionable….

    • Phil, Holts, OHooligan

      If you’re going to invoke Kant or find fault with him I would focus first on his Transcendental Aesthetic. and try to appreciate it That is a true masterpiece of the mind. Then read S’s criticism of the Kantian Philosophy. Like all human beings, K made errors.

      So you (and I am addressing no one in particular) don’t like the word transcendental and you are not interested in what reality is?— So now you have an excuse to keep your mind closed. Those philosophers are just like theologians or mystics, aren’t they? Not interested in what reality is? Well I am not terribly interested in sports. To each his own.

      Schopenhauer actually preferred the word “critical” to “transcendental.” Critical idealism.

      OHooligan, I don’t know what transcendental realism is exactly. Never have. But I do know what transcendental idealism is. It is critical idealism.

      Phil, a transcendental realist (I think) looks at a table and says: “that is real and I see the thing-in-itself. It is right there in front of me.” The realist doesn’t believe in a thing-in-itself. Both positions make no sense, as far as I can see. You have to tell me what you mean by knowing when you insist that the thing-in-itself can be glimpsed at or inferred, and how far this word can be extended.

      The knowledge of the thing-in-itself has to be of a limitative nature; we can only say what it isn’t. I admitted that the thing-in-itself is implied by the representation of perception, but that is as I am prepared to go as my intellectual conscience prohibits me from admitting anything else. (It may or may not be Will.)

      A logical or theoretical truth can be known. But the object of knowledge – and all knowledge is, in my view, an object of knowing, that is, something that you know, and not an idea, is something real! —The thing-in-itself as a known object that you say you can know (as you are a kind of self-proclaimed transcendental realist) is what? Say something about it or admit that the knowledge you are referring to lacks concretion, exists in theory, but is not experienced. What IS it? If you then say that you are indeed experiencing knowledge of something that has theoretical validity and can be proven to have mathematical and logical realness to it, then you are stretching the meaning of the words knowledge and realness to the point of absurdity. 3+2=5. But that cannot be seen or experienced unless you refer back to perception: III II = IIIII

    • P.S. (Preemptive strike. LOL)

      But the object of knowledge – and all knowledge is, in my view, an object of knowing, that is, something that you know, and not an idea, is something real!

      To avoid confusion and the accusation of inconsistency, by “idea” I meant a theory, as opposed to Idea as a representation of perception. The latter is really perceived, is real. The former is thought merely. Not a superfluous distinction; a perfectly valid and important one.

    • OHooligan 412, Phil,

      Ironic. Schopenhauer made it very clear how utterly absurd realism can be when presented in that extreme way. And yet it made no impression on you; on the contrary, it reinforced your own belief in realism. ( and yes, realism of this kind is hardly more than a belief.)

      the universe “out there” carries on regardless of who happens to be looking…

      OHooligan, I am not trying to be mean. I just want to call your attention to the highly ambiguous use of words here. That is a sign of weakness, of looking for an easy solution to a very difficult problem. “Carries on.” What carries on and how? Back to square one. It’s like Phil’s “attributes” and “inferences” [of something real, i.e., supported by experience] and “glimpses” and your “territories.” Carries on sounds like you have faith that it carries on. I, the representative of philosophy on this thread and elsewhere, am revealing myself as being the least dogmatic and the most reasonable person here, as far as this issue is concerned, than any one else!

      This is what Kant tried to prevent: dogmatism, groundless assertions. That always follows when you start from the object, and insist that it is real and yet can say nothing in support of this claim, and forget the subject. Yes.

      Again, the representation implies something “out there carrying on.” There can be no representation unless something is represented. But going from that to “out there and carrying on” is quite a leap and really says nothing scientific at all. There is an unknown X. That is what I know. There is no out or in without an in to begin with and nothing can act out of its own nature. Grasping this is like trying to hold your hand with the same hand.

    • @dan #428 and before.

      “critical” instead of “transcendental”. Well, blow me down with a feather. Why use the “t-” word then unless you enjoy its ambivalence. Critical seems better, though still having various meanings. At least it gets us away from The Beatles.

      Me, ambiguous. Pot and kettle, methinks. You repeated a sentence of mine (“the universe… regardless…”) and say it’s (a) ambiguous, and (b) dogmatic. Make your mind up will you? Can it really be both?

      OK, done here now. My initial vague feeling from distant memories of student days, that Dire Straits was spot on with “Philosophy is useless, Theology is worse”, have been confirmed to my own satisfaction on this lengthy thread. (And who else is there to satisfy? – I ask rhetorically).

      Thanks for the brave but futile defense of a sandcastle of ever-shifting wordplay against the advancing tide of actual useful knowledge. The rump-end of Natural Philosophy, interesting only as a dusty curio, for those who like that kind of thing. Like train spotting, perhaps.

      I hope we’ll have more fruitful exchanges on other topics, but for me this one’s played out.

    • OHooligan #429 (and Phil),

      Okay. Fair enough. By the way, although you don’t like long sentences you are a good writer.—A good, pithy style. You have wit and a biting quality.

      Transcendental is a multi-used term that should be seen in its proper context.

      Ambiguous vs. dogmatic: if the thing-in-itself remains ambiguous or unknowable it is ambiguous. If one moves beyond that and professes to have knowledge of it, as the philosophical and scientific realists do, than one may be said to be engaging in dogmatism – or self-deception.

      Let me leave you with these:

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

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

      “Opposing Kantian transcendental idealism is the doctrine of philosophical realism, that is, the proposition that the world is knowable as it really is, without any consideration of the knower’s manner of knowing. This has been propounded by philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Ralph Barton Perry, and Henry Babcock Veatch. Realism claims, contrary to idealism, that perceived objects exist in the way that they appear, in and of themselves, independent of a knowing spectator’s mind.”

      —Author unknown…

      But spot-on, as you would say. This insidious and loathsome species of realism is the “sand castle” you speak of – or a castle in the air!! A sand castle is at least (empirically) real.

    • Dan,

      You have asked this far too many times without acknowledging or responding to my unwavering answer-

      Say something about it or admit that the knowledge you are referring to lacks concretion, exists in theory, but is not experienced.

      This knowledge(Quark Charm, time symmetric quantum level processes, nonlocality, probable existence just exactly here, etc….) about things of which we can never experience directly has conferred on us a level of mastery of those things (Quantum computers are becoming a reality. Predictions of unexpected particles and phenomena accessible via our subcontracted sense organs. Predictions of greater accuracy of the future of our Universe fully accessible to our direct experience.) yet all the while remain things we will never experience directly. Don’t confuse the model with the the reality it seeks to emulate !!!!!

      We humans have a process to turn novel outputs of the model into some form of useable cognising experience. Physicists do this less and less as they start to think in modelese for more and more of the time. Science journalists make physicists wince and shudder at their egregious metaphors and junior models in an effort to evoke experience. Yet this is how we lesser humans might begin our accent of W’s trancendental ladder.

      Do we have direct glimpses of reality? Yes. Little window. (Squints. Fingers that far apart.)

      Am I a realist? Not happily so. It depends on the scope of the question. I am a physicist and know I don’t know what I don’t know. A realist before Faraday’s universe comprising only fields or before annus miriabilis 1905 would be realists of an entirely different stripe to today. We (the measured and mastered universe) may be a holographic projection from the edge of space, with actual phenomena particular to that reality (seeming glitches). The Hard Problem…why is experience vivid yet the information upon which every scintilla of it is based demonstrably non vivid? We have to master what reality fully constitutes before we can reliably declare for it.

      Rationalist covers the bases for me.

    • @Phil # 431

      Phil, I got side-tracked on this thread, and was happy to be side-tracked, but I lost my focus a bit.

      What great event happened in 1905 that made the subject-object division no longer applicable?I have been informed that all of my premises (including that one) no longer apply, as I have never taken any advanced science courses.

      I didn’t know that you were a professional physicist. (I have never taken a science class. Not since grammar school. I know nothing about physics or chemistry, or astronomy, know less than a five year old.)

      Everything physicists predict to a nicety is in fact predicted, and we have gained mastery. So no problem exists? Everything I have said about the senses and about tracing effects back to a cause which is the object itself, is irrelevant? The world, the universe, is what then?

      How could I not be concerned about the relationship between the model and reality? Is the model your proof of the reality? Or is the reality proof that the model is a valid one?

      And yet you yourself asked (and I am glad that you still ask this), what is reality? I cannot imagine that it can be in itself something in-between the thing-in-itself and the representation. If it is real then what proof can you offer as a rationalist that it is anything other than that which is represented in some way or another? I have a definition of reality: it is what we experience.

      Without consciousness the objective world ceases to be AS an objective world and becomes something else. How are you justified in expecting me to conceive of reality in any other way, when 1. by your own honest admission you are in doubt as to what constitutes reality. 2. with the mind removed from the equation even after the models have been established, there is nothing that can possibly act. Matter must act; it must have form.

      As I have said of matter, if it is not observable but has a logical existence nonetheless, how does that mere logical existence based on inference, rather than perception, differ from abstract matter? Matter is either concrete or abstract, or is that not the case? Is materialism (the doctrine of the existence of pure matter) a view worthy of a true rationalist? Matter is what this all boils down to, isn’t it? Quarks et al are all reducible, finally, to matter. And matter, if it does nothing, does not act, does not act upon, is not acted upon – and how could it in a theoretical vacuum? – is no longer objective.

      So long as the division into inner and outer, subject and object, remains, so reality and the existence of matter remain dependent upon each other and on us (and we are matter and knowing beings. No contradiction there, as we know now – thanks to Descartes and his successors.) Reality without matter is nothing. Matter without reality is nothing.

      Reality without experience, without anyone or anything, to fill it, is – I still would argue –not reality. Is it?

      …tentacled civilisation A are wiped out and their planet sterilised by the gamma ray burst of a nearby super nova. Arthropod civilisation B on the same planet 3 billion years later map out what happened in the past. They stumble into a library of Civilisation A. One of the unremarkable things they note is that the accounts they (A) gave in their models of the universe from that time comport reasonably well with their own (B) models 3 billion years later given the three billion year gap… -Phil Rimmer

      Civilization A could be a small patch of “land” somewhere, with a few advanced insects, some trees, some H2O, oxygen and nitrogen, etc. They pass on their information to another species a week later or three billion years later (Doesn’t matter.) The models pertain to empirical facts. That is all. Water does really exist, you know. Air certainly does exist. Hell, we breathe it and it keeps us alive, right? But both these civilizations have brains, you see.

      But if all consciousness had never arisen and never were to arise, what reality would the models correspond to? Don’t physicists tend to have one foot in empirical reality without knowing it and then make the mistake of thinking that that they are approaching the problem of pure reality with fantastic stories of fact-based models enduring the test of time and the test of being shared amongst so-called heterogeneous organisms?

      (Personal remark: my birthday tomorrow, the 9th. Send me a nice watch. No second hand, please. Simple, classic face, Roman Numerals, rectangular, leather strap…Kidding about watch.)

      Sorry if I don’t appreciate all your comments. I want to. But I am like a savant in some ways. I had to look up quark. Can you believe it?

    • Phil, my quark-loving e-friend:

      Corrected sentence:

      I have been informed that all of my premises (including that one) no longer apply, and I would be more likely to understand this had I taken some advanced science courses.

      (OCD. It’s a bitch. Then again, maybe it can also be used to one’s advantage.)

    • Happy Birthday Dan!

      I didn’t get you the watch. I wanted to get you an antikythera which looks like a watch.

      It is in fact the first working model of the universe we know of (200BC).

      Far from a complete model, but a good start.

      If it is real then what proof can you offer as a rationalist that it is anything other than that which is represented in some way or another?

      The antikythera is clever. It is not only a model in the physical sense, readable, experience-able by the maths innumerate, but before it could be made it effectively existed as mathematics.

      Deep models have no “experience” in them yet the professional physicist like David Bohm (surely your kind of guy?) can in some limited way read them just as a conductor (say Karl Bohm) looks at a musical score and hears the music.

      Don’t understand the purpose of your retelling of a little civilisation A.

      But if all consciousness had never arisen and never were to arise, what reality would the models correspond to?

      We build models and run them backwards and forwards. Running them forwards predicting eclipses like the antikythera proves we’re clever and our model is cleverer because it will be discovered by later civilisations. We build our model and run it backwards and discover the big bang and we look and discover its echoes in the background radiation in the sky wherever we look, just as predicted by the model. I can tell you what the moon looked like and did 4 billion years ago. It was huge in the sky and the hardening crust of the earth crackled because of it. Tides from our filling oceans were hundreds of meters high.

      If consciousness never arose?

      Who’s to care? More to the point…

      Who should care on a chap’s birthday?

      Just enjoy the view.

      Happy Birthday.

    • @ Phil #434

      First of all, thank you!

      “I can tell you what the moon looked like and did 4 billion years ago.”

      This I cannot understand.

      “If consciousness never arose?” This is not an idle question. On the contrary.

      Retold your two-civilizations tale to make the point that brains are communicating with brains. Brains relate to what is and not what is not. — Everything that is can either be an object or something other than an object. If it is not an object than it is an immaterial object or matter non-objectified! I still maintain (and perhaps stubbornly, but I do not think so) that without brains there is nothing that we can call objective – including the moon. What is an object that is not an object? It is certainly not “huge.” You needn’t be an idealist; simple (vulgar) relativism informs us that size is relative, and that a point and a colossus are potentially equal; it all depends on the size of the observer.

      In spite of your prodigious acumen I can’t help feeling that the enormously subtly apprehended doctrine of the distinction between empirical reality (and this includes everything that has been predicted and established via models, I would think) and reality-in-itself (mind-independent reality) has eluded you. Is this possible? This doctrine has great significance and far-reaching implications. If consciousness never arose. —Not an idle question at all.

      Bohm: I asked you this (#405), and ask again.

      Two lines inclined toward each other will always intersect, or so I thought.

      According to “Bohmian trajectories” they never cross each other. How could this be? Perhaps in some theoretical vacuum they wouldn’t; but if you draw two lines with a ruler and a pencil and they are inclined towards each other, they have to meet, don’t they?

      (Right now I prefer Karl. I have the Mozart symphonies 25-41 w/ Karl Bohm, on vinyl. Good stuff.)

      “Just enjoy the view.” Yes, that does have its place. I mustn’t forget.

    • This doctrine has great significance and far-reaching implications.

      And one day you will tell us….

      Civilisation B may or may not have arisen. In our thought experiment they arose and an unobserved 3bn years of crypto-existence was demonstrated to be indistinguishable from existence. If we now assume civilisation B didn’t arise must we change our view of the 3bn years?

    • Dan,

      Bohm trajectories fall out of some real physics around the area of quantum effects, the double slit experiment carried out with single photons or electrons say, de Broglie-Bohm’s pilot wave interpretation of quantum mechanics and the added Aharonov-Bohm effect that really rather nicely demonstrates the pilot wave interpretation.

      Aharonov-Bohm effect’s analogue in water waves

      Read “a geometric version” in the above.

      I don’t expect you to understand it but you will get a feel that the physics clearly demonstrated has its descriptive mathematics based in non-euclidean geometry. Now go to wikipedia and look up non-euclidean geometry and get a feel for how mathematics can take us exploring in places we can’t even begin to experience directly except, for instance, by observing the Ahranov-Bohm experiment and then modelling what is going on.

    • Phil, I don’t want to annoy you, but bear with me; one question: how is your elaborate and imaginative thought-experiment, in essence, any different than this one: civilization A (human beings on earth today) is informed that all life will be extinguished for five years and then the human species will reemerge. During those five years, all civilizations are wiped out. The five years have elapsed, and the emergent civilization finds a note in the hole of an oak tree, and it presents, in abstract terms, of course, a precise and accurate model of what the weather will be like over the course of those five years. The people (Civilization B) that emerged had done their own investigations and everything matched. So we can assume that it snowed X amount of days during two of the five winters when there were no minds, etc. So there was weather and snow and the sun rose and set, and rain came down and existence and “crypto-existence” were one and the same.

      This thought-experiment of yours is a very good one. I need to think. (Does my version present the question adequately or did I miss something?)

      Not sure how you were able to read my comment 435 before it posted. Mystery of mysteries!

    • P.S. I’ll tell you one thing, Phil (and thanks for getting back to me about Bohm and my question about lines): during the five years of no-consciousness (in my version of your thought-experiment) it wouldn’t be cold. Even if the weather forecast, found and confirmed by civilization B, had said thirty-below with wind-chill factor on Day X. Nor would it be sunny. Think about that.

    • Dan my civilisations have utterly non-overlapping sensory data. Non congruent qualia.

      These

      The five years have elapsed, and the emergent civilization

      predicting the weather forward and back 5 years

      Are fantastical propositions way beyond reason. Just taking the first, as a thought experiment it is ill formed in my view because we don’t know how a civilisation springing up in five years may not have the cognitive skews of the first civilisation.

      It would be much simpler and less ambiguous to say Katie came home and her doll was still on the bed and her clock though it told a different time still told reliably when it would get dark.

    • it wouldn’t be cold.

      No, but, surface’s of perfect quantum electrodynamic behaviour would emit (when not externally irradiated) (say) 400W/m^2.

      (Units can be defined in absolute terms and between utterly non congruent civilisations. Simply identify a behaviour of Caesium (number 55 from the simplest) to get to seconds or to get to metres that there are ten thousand of them across the planet’s surface between the axis of rotation and the line of greatest swept out area. Much more abstracted and physics based definitions exist and we can go into them if you want…)

    • @Pinball1970 (#411)
      I must say that Holts bitter is an acquired taste, it had the allure (when I was 17 and a student) of being reasonably strong (4% abv) and VERY cheap. Lager boys invariably don’t like it – it has a very distinct taste, and it has a very strange sicky aroma….I like a lot of real ale – but for a session beer you don’t get better than Holts (kept properly by a landlord who cares) – only Boddingtons cask (unfortunately no longer around) could equal it for a session beer in the 80’s!

    • Phil,

      My version of your thought-experiment is sufficient, and has me very concerned. Even if there were no consciousness in the universe for one second, and then consciousness reemerged, I am asking myself what would happen in the interim. My guess is that there would be nothingness, or nothing physical. I can’t say anything else. Not at the preset time. The empirical universe would cease to be and then reemerge. Sounds nuts. So be it.

      I am honored to be exchanging ideas with you. Be well.

      -Dan

    • I am asking myself what would happen in the interim. My guess is that there would be nothingness, or nothing physical.

      But, but, but….so……….what?

      And if there truly were nothingness, how could consciousness subsequently arise?

      Processes need to happen….how can they?

    • And more importantly….who is getting in the next round?

    • The current fave for our Thursday Liquid Philosophy sessions is Tribute

      http://www.staustellbrewery.co.uk/tribute

      It survives the journey remarkably well.

      Our solutions are always better at the end of the evening.

      A couple of years ago to match up with fellow philosophers around the world I invented InterBoozer, a sort of skype with drinks where you could all catch up with each other in a pub of your choice and stand a round of drinks remotely. When proposed to the others dotted around the planet the occasional early morning drinking seemed not to be a disincentive…

    • I have had Tribute as a bottled conditioned ale – but not draught, unfortunately.
      Nice beer. Bit far from home to cornwall tho….

    • I think that dan is possibly one of those people who is suitably terrified by those horror movies, where the thing that is stalking you is only caught in glimpses on a movie camera. but is invisible when you look with your naked eyes – a good story line but as we all know that ALL paranormal activity is explainable, thus you will probably get a good look at the real life killer before he/she stabs your eyes out! haha….

    • @bonnie2 #449
      Hmmmm – I like dark beers – I do love a fruit/chocolate stout – I’ll have to buy some of that – I reckon three or four bottles of that (@8.9% abv) might well have me a tad tiddly….. Must have beer I think!

    • 444

      Knowledge would cease to be (along with knowledge of the world that we regard as objective) and then reemerge – and knowledge of the processes along with it.

      So where did it all go? All that stuff, all that material? I don’t know. But it wasn’t the same world during the interim as it was before and after. A first and a second world identical in every respect? Nonsense! That is not even thinkable.

      I don’t have the answer! I am asking questions!

      448

      I like that, Olgun. It’s funny. May I use it in a sci-fi story and claim it as my own? As a matter of fact, if consciousness were eliminated, we’d all be dead. So it’s no solution; it would just be quicker that way.
      And if it could be arranged that the cessation of consciousness were temporary, were to last, say, ten years, until all of the worst effects of the collision had worn off and the world had become habitable again (Sorry about my bad science here.), we’d reawaken to the same world, one that had been decimated by a meteor. During the interim, however, no meteors can be said to exist. No world, no subjects, no objects.

      I have, as I said, raised a question on this thread and elsewhere, and do not have the definitive answer.

    • Dan:

      This doctrine has great significance and far-reaching implications.

      And one day you will tell us….

    • I just read an article in New York Magazine rife with praise about Judith Butler, the W inspired (?) author and professor. Here’s one of B’s brilliant remarks, and this is not a satire from that website that pokes fun at “postmodernism.” (To be fair, I know people who I respect who think that she has made a valuable contribution. Perhaps she has. But not here.)

      “The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.”

    • @dan #454

      Thank you Dan for that excellent example of pure refined concentrated BS.

    • Can’t really stick this on W.

      http://www.shmoop.com/judith-butler/influences.html

      I see the problem. Derrida assisted by make-shit-up Freud. Ok, well Derrida.

      She’s got a simple point under there, but she thinks that she is rooting it in reallity with every concept pre-excused with a “professional” tag.

      Its not money organises power, but power, understaning how money works, that can and must, thereby, continually reassert itself.

      This is professional bullshit at its steamiest…. and I think the Althusser reference may be mistaken also.

    • Incidentally, this (purely professional) train wreck doesn’t detract from her plain speaking about what it takes to be moral-

      Judith Butler’s philosophy is an assault on common sense, on the atrophy of thinking. It untangles not only how ideas compel us to action, but how unexamined action leaves us with unexamined ideas—and, then, disastrous politics.Her work over the last few years has been devoted to challenging the Bush/Cheney-era torpor that came over would-be dissenters in the face of two wars and an acquiescent electorate. She does so not with policy prescriptions or electoral tactics, but with an analysis of the habits of thinking and doing that stand behind them. It is in response to the suffering of others, she insists, of innocent victims in particular, that we must come to terms with the world as it is and act in it.

      Sadly she needs a job and being in academe requires this bollock-speak to join the club.

    • Ah…your post has gone. It may return edited and this may yet answer it.

      W

      There can be no certainties with might-bes because the signs (words, tags, labels definitions) used for the might-be can never be absolutely trusted. The world of might-bes, remain only might-bes.

      Popper.

      Might-bes are hugely valuable to negotiate the unknown because they make hypotheses of unknown entities possible. These, when they are shown to be sufficiently congruent with an observed reality, can have their “signs”confirmed or more likely tightened up. (Its not quite what we imagined, say.) This is done by having them mesh with other high grade knowledge, those still successful theories, our best working hypotheses, that mutually support each other and that have not yet been found to fail. The point of meshing is built into the sign of this new most-probably-is.

    • @ Phil

      Wittgenstein.

      I cannot grasp a thing and I suspect now that there is nothing to grasp or I would have already grasped it. He says (or you both say) no might-bes. Fine. No metaphysical questions are valid; but physical absolutism (the opposite of metaphysics) is a metaphysical premise, an assertion of sorts in itself!!

      Phil, why do you say that about freud? I’ve heard that before: he made shit up. We certainly have our likes and dislikes, don’t we? like a bunch of babies. That’s what we are.

      Perhaps his theories (like the Oedipus Complex) threaten us; that is all the more reason why I think that 90 percent about what he said was right.

    • Dan

      Freud is a good thinker but a poor scientist. He didn’t understand the paucity of his own evidence and his inability to be objective. He deserves to be flagged for this because his arguing of might-bes is supremely self consistent and appears to be persuasive. I think it is essential to have him studied as a source of interesting ideas that may yet prove to have content. I think he will become increasingly important to narratologists, possibly my favourite discipline, but woefully behind the curve on neuro-psychology.

      I just don’t get this love hate thing about philosophers and scientists. I seem to have absolutely none of that. There are good and bad ideas and all efforts are welcome (and as a scientist) especially the destructive ones (the disproofs) because these (as Popper notes) give us certainty like nothing else. I don’t think the worse of Fraud because he did insufficient testing before proposing a theory. It was hugely difficult for him. On parapraxis he did a tremendous amount of research on his eponymous slip. Its a slip that truly shows a subconscious mind.

      I love Richard Feynman because I love the way he lived his life and his story telling. I love Dawkins for his aesthetic mix and his story telling. And Baruch for his soft cow eyes.

    • Phil,

      You underrate Freud. He was a great thinker, a great scientist, and a mighty discover of secrets, a genius.

      “Ah…your post has gone. It may return edited and this may yet answer it.”

      It’s on another thread. We were getting into W and I have some issue w/ him, so I shifted the exchange to this thread.

      Here it is again, edited. Your reply didn’t satisfy me, but I like what Popper said (I think). I would like to know what you think of this comment below, not what Popper thinks or what W thinks.

      What is wrong with might-bes?

      Science and philosophy and the imaginative mind deals with might-bes. Might-bes are good.

      Let W. employ precise language and prove that his “real” physical world, which he does refer to from time to time, is an absolute! That’s a might-be too. No metaphysical questions are valid, he says; but physical absolutism (the opposite of metaphysics) is a metaphysical premise, an assertion in itself!

      “Sadly she needs a job and being in academe requires this bollock-speak to join the club.”

      Nope. My father was in academia for many, many years, was a writer, a scholar, a professor too. (Two doctorates.) He never wrote like that. He wrote clearly, and yet dealt with difficult ideas. He wanted to reach people, you see. Even his friends the late Edward Said and Fredric Jameson (who use a tremendous amount of jargon, verbiage and academese) write more clearly than Butler at her worst. There is no excuse for that. It’s just bad writing, period. (But what the gentleman you quoted said sounds promising.)

    • Dan

      No metaphysical questions are valid, he says;

      Answers to metaphysical deliberations cannot deliver certainty. Notice specifically the actual implications of what what he claims.

      Give me evidence of Freud’s good science (not good thinking) apar from my allowance of the Fraudian Slip.

      I don’t want to overly defend Butler on that piece of verbiage. It is frankly appalling, but at least it made sense. Was she young when she wrote it? I always liked the response from err (famous intellectual’s name here). “I’ve written you a long letter because I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Was it perhaps a dissertation?

    • Phil,

      On the Islam thread you had the audacity (kidding) to question my assertion that animals are neither moral nor immoral. You then mentioned a Frenchman. (Too tired to go back there for the name.)

      First of all, I don’t like to say “in my opinion” too often. That is bad writing. I’d rather just be wrong.

      Look, I don’t doubt that animals have feelings, and that they exhibit behaviors such as care and sacrifice and protectiveness and I suppose loyalty, and all that. But that is not the same as having ethical principles or a moral character. You can’t speak of a dog as being decent or even kind. Decency or kindness or treachery or meanness are traits that cannot be attributed to animals. Animals, unlike humans, do not contend with conflicting motives. A cool breeze refreshes us; does that make it kind? An animal protects its young; but like the breeze, it has no principles to guide it. Without anything to oppose an act, such as protecting or warning, without a counter-motive (egotism, self-seeking, etc.) the act in question has no moral element to it.

      A man can have knowledge of principles and be completely amoral. But you cannot be moral without principles. And the susceptibility to motives such as kindness and compassion and honesty (ethical principles), and the ability to act upon these motives, rather than the opposing motives associated with egotism, is what makes a being moral. If there is no conscious choice involved in the act, if there is no resistance, no struggle, no deliberation, if the question: could I have done otherwise? has no place, then how can we speak of such an act as moral?

      Animals do not contend with opposing motives, like Hamlet. Where there is no resistance and choice there can be no morality.

      Animals have no knowledge of right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, what they do is neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. But as I said on numerous occasions, having principles, knowing what is right and wrong, will not cause one to do what is right. (Knowledge is the medium of motives.) The point is that the behavior of animals can never be called right or good (although we say “good dog”). There is no Right without Wrong. This distinction does not exist for animals. They behave.—That is all.

      I am tired of this animals-are-just-like-people BS, frankly.

      What is my evidence? I am not seeking to prove anything. I am merely presenting an argument based on logic, and challenging what I consider to be a fallacious claim that nonhuman animals are moral or ethical beings.

    • Evidence of Freud’s good science? Okay, I will settle for great thinking. Not sure what constitutes good science.
      The works speak for themselves. If you’ve read his works and aren’t impressed, there is nothing I can say. Moreover, I haven’t the will or the energy to defend Freud. I’d have to go back to the books (and I’ve read them all, but a while ago) and site specific passages. That’s a tall order.

      Read Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Read Totem and Taboo, read the lectures, his many papers, his Interpretation of Dreams, Civilization and its Discontents. There’s a lot there. I can’t understand how anyone can read Freud and not be mesmerized!

      The parapraxes? That’s it? his only notable achievement? Clearly you have a bias, my friend.

      Tell me, what does Freud represent to you? Who does he remind you of? (LOL)

    • Dan,

      You make unevidenced assertions. I make assertions I can back up. I can show you how monkeys refuse treats because treats are not given to their friend. Monkeys in well fed environments have a keen sense of fairness to others and will protest the unfairness by assuming the neglect for themselves also. (This is not a trained behaviour in any way.) I can point you to research were children from poor countries would not do this for other children. Children from richer countries, though, would.

      I am tired of this animals-are-just-like-people BS, frankly.

      Strawman. Absolutely no-one said they were.

      Don’t you want to understand what good science is? Its not complicated and it was advocated as valuable for philosophers by a philosopher.

      I’m greatly impressed by much of Freud’s thinking, but only of one piece of science.

    • @dan

      Try this:

      http://www.neuroticpoets.com/plath/poem/madgirl/

      I think I made you up inside my head.

    • Phil 69 (from Q of the wk thread)

      There are a lot of composers, but only a handful that speak to me. There are many philosophers; the same with them; novelists, playwrights, films, people–you name it; I only love a few.

      I don’t pick the ones that say what I want to hear. No one is more disturbing than Kierkegaard, as challenging as Nietzsche, as bleak as Schopenhauer. But I am enriched by them all, because they speak to me and they speak the truth. These are not truths in the scientific sense, necessarily. They are observations and reflections, and I say: yes, that is right! And then I learn.

      When I read W I contract with annoyance. I can’t say that he is right or wrong. I do not understand him with his chess pieces and his “fetch me this red sample” and all that tiresome weird repetitious obsessive bullshit:

      What does it mean to say that we mean something? That’s all he asks. He seems to thrive on the inherent ambiguity associated with language. It almost seems as if he is merely playing with words, manipulating us and trampling on truth and beauty like a little Hitler. And no rules, he says. Fine. I hate him. And yet I keep reading. My oldest friend insists that I will eventually “get it.” Perhaps I will.

      W. attacked Popper? Literally? And what’s this about metaphysics? Popper revived it? Is that what he did? Most laudable.

    • Thanks, Dan. It helps me endlessly to see inside other people heads.

      From very young at school I was promised that the greatest pleasures are pains overcome. Though this has failed to make me a masochist, its promise of reward helped me assimilate my Dad’s insitent advice about the “meta stance”…. everything is always interesting. If I don’t find X good/engaging why do others? I have never been bored since. My kids, I think are finding this to be true as well. The meta stance allows us in with a steady gaze to puzzle at every human striving. For an aspie the meta stance comes quite naturally.

      What also flows from this is a slowness to judgement, both in seeking aesthetic rewards and intellectual rewards, a patience and an investment in novelty. I spend more time, rewarded, in tears say, over some newly discovered piece, that may not yet assail the heights of a Bach cello suite or a Beethoven piano sonata, but that sits in the greater expanse of the same slopes lower down. Attempting greater things and failing is often particularly fascinating. There is often greater invention amongst the brave attempts.

      Persisting with W, the self important and arrogant manic depressive perhaps, told too often he was a genius, may possibly turn you into a masochist. But then, like Popper, seeing through his eyes that there can never be certainty in might-bes and why, you may perceive another way to approach certainty, perhaps even closing on it assymptotically (0.999…).

      Literally, with a poker during a fifteen minute encounter. Enough other budding philosophers were around to stay his hand.

    • Addendum to comment 463

      I knew there was something wrong, an inconsistency. The knowledge of right and wrong does not exist for any animal other than Man; and it is also true that animals behave and do not choose or deliberate; but the basis of morality is essentially compassion, whether there are other opposing motives or not. I woke up this morning and took my copy of Schopenhauer’s chief work (Vol. 2) off my shelf, wiped off the dust, and proceeded to look for a sentence that I knew existed (yet had not read for many years), concerning this confusing subject of animals and ethics. I found it (as it were by chance) in a chapter that, apart from this and a few other remarks, had nothing to do with animals.

      “…higher animals—those endowed not just with intuitive cognition but also emotional lives–may be moral agents as well as moral patients, insofar as they too may act to relieve the suffering of others out of the motive of compassion.”

      I stand corrected.

    • Phil 168

      “I spend more time, rewarded, in tears say, over some newly discovered piece, that may not yet assail the heights of a Bach cello suite or a Beethoven piano sonata, but that sits in the greater expanse of the same slopes lower down. Attempting greater things and failing is often particularly fascinating. There is often greater invention amongst the brave attempts.” —P.R.

      Could you explain these two sentences, please? I agree with the second sentence, but don’t see how it connects to the first sentence. I can scarcely conceive of anything greater or artistically braver or more inventive than the Beethoven sonatas. That left me confused.

      You are able to take in interest in what bores you, but is not boring to others. Admirable. I am often plagued by boredom, and haven’t the slightest interest in other people’s interest in, say, certain TV shows. I always assume that they’re just thick, uncultivated, ordinary, victims. But you would ask: why do they settle for so little? And in contemplating that question you are no longer bored. Is that it?

    • 470 cont.

      Do I want to know what good science is? Fine. Tell me.
      But if you think Freud had only one scientific discovery worth mentioning and that causes you to value the thinking less, then maybe I am better off not knowing, better off without the categories. I am very interested in what you think it is, however. So go ahead. Shoot, Phil.
      And what was Freud’s one piece of science?

    • Dan,

      There are brave and ambitious composers (say) whose compositions may fail in some part of their execution and fall short of a singular perfection, but in mapping out new territory, the potetial for new art and poetry, extend the reach of aesthetic vocabulary and feeling. I might quite randomly collar Scriabin or Penderecki here. There are many possible. The excitement of might-bes or might-have-beens creates strong emotional responses from me, for what they do get right and also for opening up the landscape of possbilities.

      The crowning achievements of the likes of the piano sonatas are few and far between. (I have an entire Beethoven discography. There is an awful lot of same old same old pap in there with the familiar fourishes.) I listen to these lofty few infrequently for fear of losing my taste for them. I keep some music for special, a live performance, the return of black dog. Its notable that I listen to symphonies, 4 7 and 8 most frequently.

    • @dan

      The knowledge of right and wrong does not exist for any animal other than Man.

      And that’s cos that fool Adam ate that damn apple…. Dan, you’ve gone all Scriptural on us. Philosophy was bad enough, but this seems to be a whole new depth.

      Taking Genesis as a myth is fair enough. It describes a long standing Opinion that We (Humans) are Not Like Animals, because We Knows, yes my precious, we knows. And that’s been deeply culturally ingrained ever since. Convenient, as it lets us in clear conscience lord it over all the rest of the lifeforms on this planet.

      How irksome that we’re gradually discovering facts that erode this sharp distinction between this species and others, and the more we have to accept that we are indeed just one twig on the tree of life, the more people who don’t like that idea keep throwing up reasons why We Are Special. As in the words of the song, “So F***in Special”. Yeah, we’ve got the Discontinuous Mind, always making artificial distinctions, black or white, us or them.

    • a live performance, the return of black dog

      I thought that was Led Zeppelin, not Beethoven. I learn so much here, thanks.

    • @olgun

      By the time I learned the words I hated the song

      That resonated with me. I admire singers and musicians I know who can perform the same material over and over and still present it as fresh and new as the first time, only better polished. But they tell me some material has to be given a sabbatical, or it will become worn beyond recovery.

    • Dan

      I always assume that they’re just thick, uncultivated, ordinary, victims. But you would ask: why do they settle for so little? And in contemplating that question you are no longer bored. Is that it?

      I would ask why do they settle for different. High and low culture long ago stopped being a thing for me. In the UK “The South Bank Show”,(1978-2010) a major arts programme pretty much saw the end of such distinction. As Noel Coward observed, “Strange how potent cheap music can be…” Thus we see, for instance, soap opera every where and its function as the moral and cultural dialogue that a society has with itself. How can it all not be interesting?

    • Dan #471

      Good science is richly evidenced, ideally with multiple corroborating sources and a clear and documented process of evidence evaluation. Parapraxis was based on deep research. Freud may have done other (scientifically) good stuff too but I don’t know of it.

      Psychiatry, poorly evidenced as it mostly was, harmed people extensively when it became instituionalised. (Read Neurotribes Steve Silberman.) For the rich, the weekly session on the couch was often harmless enough and for the neurotic comic it was the best way to use up their money until coke became the therapy of choice…

    • OHooligan (474), others

      I am a strong ‘believer’ as you are in the idea of nature as a continuum. But quality changes quality; there are vast differences between humans and other animals. The ability to form sophisticated abstract concepts, the ability to know right from wrong, for example, is barred from animals at the present time. I grow weary of continuously having to explain and repeat and clarify, and eventually I will stop trying. If you want to argue that animals can pontificate on jurisprudence and politics be my guest. You have a tendency to misconstrue what I say and disregard past comments, and present straw-man arguments. I do the same thing sometimes. It’s okay, just annoying. Genesis? I am talking about good and evil; I said right and wrong. although good and evil are concepts that animals have no ability to form either. If you think they do, then you are are deluding yourself. Have some humility, and do yourself a favor, my friend, and admit that what I say is not nonsense. Your knee-jerk reactions do not help you. (I speak with candor not with condescension.)

      Here’s a quote from an essay. I haven’t the energy to elaborate further.

      “To sum up, Schopenhauer sees human and non-human animals as being on a continuum, sharing the same sort of knowledge of non-conceptual perception or intuitive knowledge. The main difference between human and animal cognition on this view is that human beings have in addition abstract or conceptual knowledge (Wissen) by virtue of the faculty of reason. This additional sort of knowledge affords human beings many practical advantages over animals such as the ability to think and reflect on the past and future, to do trigonometry, to build complicated tools, and to communicate through discursive language, but, as I shall discuss below, this faculty does not endow human beings with a different kind of moral status so that ethically, as well, human and non-human animals are on a continuum.” -S. Shapshay

      Dawkins himself said that animals cannot reflect upon the future, and that man is absolutely unique in this regard. Altruism based on concern for the future – and not the immediate future – is a human characteristic. By future I mean ten years from now or a year from now. And let’s not get instinct mixed up with the ability to conceptualize. Don’t go there.

    • Phil 472, 478

      The discovery of the parapraxis was what opened the door to everything else!

      “There are brave and ambitious composers (say) whose compositions may fail in some part of their execution and fall short of a singular perfection, but in mapping out new territory, the potential for new art and poetry, extend the reach of aesthetic vocabulary and feeling.”

      This describes Beethoven! As Stravinsky said, his greatest masterpieces (late quartets, Grosse Fugue (!) and sonatas, in particular) have many imperfections – as most great masterpieces do. By the way, Stravinsky had a preference for symphonies 4 and 8 as well. (And 2!) Beethoven himself loved number 8 and said it was unpopular because it’s “too good.” Ha!

      “There is an awful lot of same old same old pap in there with the familiar flourishes.”

      An example, please? But come on! They can’t all be masterpieces!!

      Now you’re trashing Beethoven. First Dickens, now Beethoven. (LOL)

      You say you have the complete works. I want you to listen to the adagio from the Hammerklavier sonata right now, or ASAP, without interruption and with undivided attention. This is the music of the soul. Science must know when to remain silent. (I hope your recording is not too slow. Who’s playing?)

      Black Dog? Whaaa? Why mention Zep in this context? But since you did, listen to “In the Light.”

      Later, brother.

    • 479

      OHooligan,

      “I am talking about good and evil.”

      Corrected sentence: I am not talking about good and evil.

      Again, you’ve raised this point about humans and animals in the past, and it is a legitimate and important one. (Couldn’t be more important.) And I have expressed complete agreement. A continuum, yes. And I too am violently opposed to the abuse of nature and and of animals in particular. (Just keeping the record straight.)

    • Dan,

      No 29 is a great piece. Barenboim in my collection, but I much prefer Arrau. Arrau doesn’t hang about. His pace and rubato brings the thing vividly to life. Barenboim tries to extract more lyricism and counters it with overwrought drama. It doesn’t hang together so well.

      Beethoven covered a lot of geography, but there is a ton more for others

      When you have the undifferentiated wodge of a jobbing composer’s output, its really not worth bashing through yet another trite laendler.

      Black dog is depression.

      Science I’m afraid, Dan, will go everywhere. Rainbows are not unweaved simply seen more closely.

      Parapraxis. Yes this is hugely important. His big discovery and a very solid base for his subsequent thinking was (more properly) the subconscious mind.

      He proved the subconscious existed by proving a little apect of it. If only his later thoughts had had such rigour and wise evidence. Yet it was difficult for him to do, i.e. contrive proper tests, with the result that his guesses led us astray.

    • Phil,

      Arrau is my favorite interpreter too. Barenboim’s choice of tempi is not to my liking. Goode is good.

      “Beethoven covered a lot of geography, but there is a ton more for others.”

      “When you have the undifferentiated wodge of a jobbing composer’s output, its really not worth bashing through yet another trite laendler.”

      Sorry, I want to understand you. What does this mean? I know what a laendler is but cannot comprehend these two sentences.

      Science will not unweave the rainbow. But it, along with the philosophy of language, can confuse and unweave that delicate, perishable thing called the inspired mind. “I fear science…” Very apt, said Freud.

    • Dan,

      Beethoven discovered new musical territory, but there were and are plenty of other areas to be discovered.

      He produced a lot of trite little pieces, not bad but produced to order and without inspiration. As any working composer might well do also. This is no criticism of him at all. just an observation from viewing the totality of his output. There are valleys between the peaks. The middle and upper slopes is where you will most often find me looking for flashes of greatness.

      Goode? Good! Ta.

      Stravinsky. Nice comment.

    • Dan

      But it, along with the philosophy of language, can confuse and unweave that delicate, perishable thing called the inspired mind. “I fear science…” Very apt, said Freud.

      The religious mind is inspired.

      You have to choose. Will you engage your phobias? Break through and discover they were groundless? I feel only charged by science. It makes the open handed magic of great art, its effect on us, only the more astonishing. Inspiration and science co-exist, with more of the good stuff and less of the bad.

    • @phil #482

      Black dog is depression.

      Ah, my apologies, Phil, I didn’t mean to trivialize. I suppose Zep knew this too, hence the title. I just thought that one of the band had a dog that was black, or maybe it was a reference to Treasure Island, so I couldn’t resist throwing Led Zeppelin in along with the Beethoven, in the vein of “Roll over Beethoven”, a bit of anti-high-brow from the 60s. Sorry.

    • @dan #481

      you’ve raised this point about humans and animals in the past, and it is a legitimate and important one. (Couldn’t be more important.) And I have expressed complete agreement.

      Yes, indeed you have. Please excuse me, I get irritated by the Special Pleading thing about humans, it’s usually from the faith-blinkered, but they’re not the only ones. I’d even go so far as to suggest (I think I did before) that many species see themselves as the Exceptional Ones. Well, all, really. They’re the only species they’d want to mate with, so they must be Special, Exceptional. And they can pick a skill or trait or ability that they possess better than any other, and so justify their self-admiration, when they’re raising their young, the stories I can imagine them telling:

      We build the best dams. We can fly. We can swim underwater and fly as well. We can see in the dark. We can hear a lemming under a snowdrift. We can fly silently, and catch mice in the dark. We’re the best architects…. I’m just picking not-quite-random examples, and no, I don’t think of animals like Wind in the Willows or Beatrix Potter anthropomorphic creatures, but I do like to try to imagine along that continuum, a little of what they must be like if they’re not entirely discontinuously Unlike Us. I’m sure if they think about us at all they fear us, and possibly hate us, maybe despise us for the stupidity of our misuse of our big brains with crap “deep thinking” while we wreck the whole world for everyone else, and, in the end, for ourselves too. Stupid arrogant dangerous squabbling monkeys, too clever for their own good (and everyone else’s too).

      Somewhere lately I read that Macaques have less brain capacity than Macaws, in the problem-solving parts of the brain. Mis-stating it I’m sure, I forget where I read it. (Phil??? ) But, the suggestion is that primates aren’t all that far from (some) birds in the Intelligence league.

    • Good post, OHooligan!
      (I’ll try to get to your thought-experiment this week.)
      Phil 485
      Inspiration is not for the religious, only, Phil. I for one do not know where inspiration comes from
      and I don’t want to. You engage your phobias.
      What! No higher and lower art? What about better or worse? No? Just different?
      Very post modern.

    • What are my phobias? I have them but I rarely talk about them.

      What! No higher and lower art?

      I’ll take Little Richard over Litolff. Quality, originality and engagement are the tests not the form, soap opera versus novel. Quality can come from anywhere, even cheap monthly or weekly magazines for the masses.

      Noel Coward had it. “Surprising how potent cheap music can be.”

      Inspiration is not for the religious, only, Phil.

      Exactly! I talk of inspiration and the well spring of creativity often. (Not least when defending schizophrenia and the religious mindset from attack by well-meaning eliminators of the predisposition entirely.) Hence the need for science one of the cultural tests for acceptability if we leave inspiration maximally unfettered.

    • OHooligan, corvids have the same brain bodyweight ratio as the highest primates. Size in animals is mostly a function of cell size with similar cell counts for large and small (though not exclusively so). So corvid neurons are much smaller than the larger ape and have more brain cells, particularly in the frontal cortex (frontal pallium in the crow) where more executive and general purpose functions reside. Corvids probably outperform monkeys in many tasks having more (if smaller) neurons. But note, given the limit of not having astonishing manipulator hands and the added brain that that entails and the metaphorical dividend it would bring, they may not have some of the intellectual parallel processing skills of we apes…..

      http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/06/07/1517131113.full

    • Phil,

      Well as long as you’re not saying: “surprising how good bad art can be,” or “how deep shallowness can be” I guess you’ll be alright. Of course quality is the test, and popularity need not be at the expense of quality, although it often is.
      Coward’s okay. My aunt likes him. I find him engaging, I guess. Saw Private Lives. Eh.
      I like Strindberg: Here’s the LAWYER’S monologue from his marvelous Dream Play:

      THE LAWYER: Look at these walls. Does it not look as if the wall-paper itself had been soiled by every conceivable sin? Look at these documents into which I write tales of wrong. Look at myself — No smiling man ever comes here; nothing is to be seen here but angry glances, snarling lips, clenched fists — And everybody pours his anger, his envy, his suspicions, upon me. Look — my hands are black, and no washing will clean them. See how they are chapped and bleeding — I can never wear my clothes more than a few days because they smell of other people’s crimes — At times I have the place fumigated with sulphur, but it does not help. I sleep near by, and I dream of nothing but crimes — Just now I have a murder case in court — oh, I can stand that, but do you know what is worse than anything else? — That is to separate married people! Then it is as if something cried way down in the earth and up there in the sky — as if it cried treason against the primal force, against the source of all good, against love– And do you know, when reams of paper have been filled with mutual accusations, and at last a sympathetic person takes one of the two apart and asks, with a pinch of the ear or a smile, the simple question: what have you really got against your husband?–or your wife?–then he, or she, stands perplexed and cannot give the cause. Once–well, I think a lettuce salad was the principal issue; another time it was just a word–mostly it is nothing at all. But the tortures, the sufferings–these I have to bear– See how I look! Do you think I could ever win a woman’s love with this countenance so like a criminal’s? Do you think anybody dares to be friendly with me, who has to collect all the debts, all the money obligations, of the whole city?– It is a misery to be a man!

    • And yet now I prefer the insightful, the introspective. I prefer the integrated Arrau to the overwrought drama of Barenboim. When younger I would take the Strindberg everytime, to find the limits of sanity. When young I loathed, positively hated the Coward scripted Brief bloody Encounter. Now I see its everyday drama, the tragedy of its trapped Englishness. How seemingly benign cultures effortlessly entrain misery within its etiquette. Perhaps only a gay man could so clearly write at that time about a love forbidden.

      If I were to talk about great theatre, it would not be Strindberg and certainly not Coward, or even The Dog Company, it would be Peter Brook and more recently and more modestly a Turgenev adaption.

      Not that I mentioned Coward as an exemplar of cheap music/theatre. His aphorism stands quite on its own two feet.

      But, as it happens, Coward’s wartime and cabaret songs are quite gem like in their musicality and wit. “London Pride” & “Matelot” are surprisingly tender. Brief Encounter was a fine and tender David Lean movie… His next two movies drew from even greater source material…

    • Well to each his own. I love Strindberg. He was a great novelist, btw. A truly fascinating man.
      I saw a production of father’s and Sons in London (in 1985). Same adaptation?
      Enjoyed it.
      Favorite two plays: A Dream Play and When We Dead Awaken
      I have a 100 page draft myself. Not so easy to write a good play.
      I am a little concerned that my latest post about the crazy wife murderer on the “Let’s Face It” thread was a bit unfair.
      Not sure.
      Brook’s a director, isn’t he? Not a writer.
      Bye, for now.

    • The Peter Brook was A Mid Summer Night’s Dream. His production was a peak experience for me. It led to my coining the term open handed magic, stuff of such simple power any science could only add too the wonder.

    • @Phil #94 (Referendum thread)

      Let me respond to to your second (or perhaps third) request for evidence of Freud’s scientific greatness.

      Dizzie Gillespie was once asked: what is jazz? If you have to ask, he said, you’ll never know.

      If I have to try to prove to you that Freud was fascinating and brilliant and that anyone who reads him and is able to understand him and remains open will be permanently enriched, than I fear that nothing will do the job. And to be honest, I can’t prove that, say, the Oedipus Complex is a universal law of mental life, or that dread of incest is universal and the oldest dread known to man, or that penis envy is a valid theory, etc. I can’t. Why must I? I look for corroboration, not proof.

      I understand that science seeks to establish incontrovertible proofs. But some truths are not amenable to proofs of that kind. And, I might add that you can sometimes learn more about history from a novel than from a text book. The former can give you a feel of what it might have been like to, say, live in Paris in the 20s, and (historical) novels can be more instructive, and thought-provoking, for another reason: they can present hypothetical scenarios, based not on research alone, but on a lot of intuitive guess-work, which cannot be found in text books.

      I like sitting with the might-bes, as you call them. Here is how I often approach ideas, my friend:

      “My interest in idea is not necessarily in verifying its certainty, because one rarely can; it’s in gaining an intimation of whether it is a nicely placed or nicely proportioned idea, by the way you feel it as it passes through you. It’s an existential approach to the intellectual life.” —Norman Mailer

      I’ll read Grayling too… Maybe. Let’s see Grayling tear old Freud to shreds – his latter works in particular. Beyond the Pleasure Principle! What a lousy book that is. (Sarcasm.)

    • Olgun Referendum thread 89

      I am not as impervious as I seem.

      You are assuming that the more we know, the more consciousness we have, the more “I” there is.

      I don’t believe that the I can be explained or described that way. I myself have found the I precisely nowhere. Descartes: it is that which knows. That which knows cannot be the I that I am searching for.

      It is late where I am. Sorry if I missed something. Perhaps you do have a good working definition of the I, but I am not terribly interested in working definitions, in so far as they do not constitute the kind of knowledge that I am in need of. I am happy to consider them, however.

    • Thank you, Olgun, for your generosity, and for the interesting and challenging presentation of how you think about the “I” question. Much food for thought.

      (You mentioned turtles. Just saw your comment about my comment on the Science thread. Serendipity.)

    • Hi, Olgun

      I took a look at that wretched article. I’d like to make something perfectly clear. That adds no fuel to my fire. It is easy, in a forum such as this, for misunderstandings to arise.

      I have always maintained that the brain, and everything associated with the brain, i.e., thought, awareness, consciousness, intellect, etc., is physiological in nature. —No less physiological than digestion – although it’s a different animal, so to speak. That is what Schopenhauer sought to establish, and what Kant, who “clipped the wings of reason”, sought to establish (Critique of Pure Reason).

      No, there can be no intelligence apart from the body!

      I do admit that my repeated assertions that we are not our brains, and other assertions I have made, suggest a metaphysical being of some kind. Be that as it may, that being (which may or may not exist) cannot be anything conscious or knowing. Please don’t get me mixed up with the likes of those “spiritualists” who wrote that shit article, or with that consummate charlatan Chopra (who does make sensible points once in a blue moon).

      You missed the point (and that is not your fault, as I said above); consciousness can never be an energy source outside the brain. That is what Phil would call a straw-man (par excellence), would be regressive; it would take us back to the ancient, dogmatic philosophers who assumed that Intellect is primary, and permanently linked to Being or, in some cases, a Deity; and I have never expressed or suggested that I have any desire to demonstrate such a thing. On the contrary.

      That trek you took sounds wonderful.

    • Phil 94 (Referendum Thread.)

      496 Cont.

      The death instinct. (Beyond the Pleasure Principle) I am assuming that this is one of the theories that Grayling and others have sought to repudiate. Such repudiation is superfluous. Freud was well aware of the scientific method and was honest about his successes and failures.; he tried to prove it and neither succeeded nor failed. But he succeeded in influencing others, raising a question, and in introducing an important theory. Who knows? Maybe it will gain universal acceptance down the road. It has already led to many things, such as masochism as clinical manifestation. We learn from half-truths and partial failures, don’t we? Why denigrate the man? He tried to prove this theory and others and, as I said, did not entirely succeed. But is it not unduly harsh and rigid to undermine the theory itself on that grounds? Don’t scientists benefit from half-proven theories and from might-bes? Aren’t you cherry-picking which thinkers you choose to defend? That is why I said: “you defend Pinker and you are severe with Freud?” Freud was a bold, and innovative man, a giant, a mighty discover. He understood the need for evidence. But to call him a spinner of tales, as many do, is stupid, vastly unfair. (I know: Pinker took on Marx, and Grayling took on Freud.)

      “Thereupon, ‘Freud plunged into the thickets of speculative modern biology, even into philosophy, in search of corroborative evidence’— looking to ‘arguments of every kind, frequently borrowed from fields outside of psychoanalytic practice, calling to the rescue biology, philosophy, and mythology.’ He turned to prewar experiments on protozoa — of perhaps questionable relevance, even if it is not the case that ‘his interpretation of the experiments on the successive generations of protozoa contains a fatal flaw’. The most that can perhaps be said is that Freud did not find ‘any biological argument which contradicts his dualistic conception of instinctual life’, but at the same time, ‘as Jones (1957) points out, ‘no biological observation can be found to support the idea of a death instinct, one which contradicts all biological principles’ either.

      “Freud then continued with a reference to ‘the harbour of Schopenhauer’s philosophy’; but in groping for a return to the clinical he admitted that ‘it looks suspiciously as though we were trying to find a way out of a highly embarrassing situation at any price’”

    • Dan

      Why denigrate the man?

      Aaaaaargh. No one is denigrating the man! What is wrong with you? He did brilliant work then ventured further than he could support, the results of which turned out to be a poor therapeutically and a poor source of subsequent useful hypotheses.

      Every genius lucked out sometime, often later in their career. The only thing that annoys me in this instance are the sheer decades of deep harms done by subsequent psychotherapists continuing to bark up this wrong tree. (Neurotribes, Herb Silverman, is a good recent if specific account.)

      Why denigrate the idea, then? That I can answer.

      Newton? Feynman? Always right? If a scientist isn’t getting down to a 50% hit rate he is being overly cautious. I have never held up anyone as 100% trustable. Its so not about the people. Its about the quality of each idea.

      Ideas not people.

    • Phil,

      Leopardi also wrote fantastic essays.

      Btw, you sometimes fail to “reflect an idea back to me in toto.” Didn’t you read what I wrote about his theory of the death instinct? He couldn’t prove it and it was enormously useful. Not mutually exclusive. So his ideas were misused. Everyone’s ideas are. Nietzsche’s ideas were misused. Don’t blame Freud and Nietzsche for that.

      Okay, “denigrate” was a bit strong.

      I’ll leave you (until we meet again) with these quote from Leopardi:

      “Men seldom act from a correct sense of what may be harmful or useful to them.”

      “The world laughs at things it would really prefer to admire, and like Aesop’s fox it criticizes things it covets.”

    • Ahhh – the (former?) Schopenhauer thread.

      Dan –

      You: “Why denigrate the man (Freud)”
      Phil: “Aaaaaargh. No one is denigrating the man!”

      I spent far too many hours on this thread the odd week ago when I had just joined the site. The specific (most recent quotes) from yourself and Phil are only meant as an example. Take notes, or whatever. When someone has clarified a point (occasionally perhaps conceded it – which I would on intuition consider to be as bad an idea as conceding to Stephen Jay Gould on much), then let it be! Otherwise, people (such as myself) could get the impression that you do not listen to (read) what others explain, leading to tiresome and useless repetitions. Just another (possibly erroneous) impression of mine: when you feel you are in argumentative trouble of some sort, you answer with extensive (not to say excessive) posts. As to Schopenhauer (or at least the immense amount of stuff you posted about him): what came to my mind at some point was Richard Dawkins’s article “Postmodernism Disrobed” in “A Devil’s Chaplain.”

    • GK —

      “Take notes or something.”

      I will try, GK. I admit that I am not the world’s greatest listener. And I also find Phil hard to follow at times.

      No, my style of writing is not postmodern.

      I think we should all try to listen better. I don’t feel heard either much of the time either. More importantly, we all need to try to appreciate the inner experience of others. We are all to quick to judge. Myself included.

      I hope you’re enjoying the site, and I thank you for your honest feedback.

      Here is some real postmodernist talk for you!

      “The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.” —Judith Butler

    • @Phil

      Quick note: I took a look at the Townsend translation. It’s a rhymed translation. I would urge you to get an unrhymed translation. Think about how much would have to be altered in order to produce a rhymed translation.

      And try to read the essays and dialogues too, if you can.

      Townsend! He should stick to singing and playing the guitar! (kidding)

      (Beautiful view of Mars last night.)

    • I noticed the rhyming and thought like you. Any translation preferences, Dan?

      Thanks.

    • I read the essays a while back and thought they were marvelous. I read some of the poems too and was deeply impressed. But those books are long gone.
      I will email Lauro Martines, an old and dear friend of my late father’s, who, by the way, lives in London and who is an eminent renaissance scholar. He would know. I’ll get back to you soon.

    • @Phil 511

      P.S. Leopardi was not from the renaissance. I know that. I haven’t heard from that guy yet. I know some Italianists, colleagues of my late father. I’ll keep inquiring. I want you to have the best translation out there. Give me a few days. In the mean time here’s a short book review of my father’s work on Leopardi:
      https://www.buffalo.edu/content/dam/www/nemla/NIS/XXXIV/v34br6_epstein.pdf

    • Phil,
      The reviewer uses the word “useful” too much and one part of it didn’t make any sense.
      Btw, I am an Tottenham Court Road right now. I’m lost. It’s 7:30 am right now.
      Look for me. I am wearing a blue polo shirt. Bring me a sandwich.
      (A little humor during these troubled times can’t hurt, right? Terrible shooting in Dallas and a lot of uprisings over here about racial inequality. And Trump is a man truly to be feared. Pivotal time in our nation’s history.)

    • Hi Dan

      Welcome to London. Its a grey day over here as you can see. Sadly, I’m out of town at the moment on my way out of the country.

      I have possibly stirred a hornet’s nest with my last post. I think we have usefully different intellectual modi operandorum. I thought it pertinent to the “criticising the left” concerns.

      It should brighten up. My son recommends the Tate Britain Painting with Light exhibition…Photography and the Pre-Raphaelites.

      Lost? Google maps is wond’rous for walking in London.

    • No hornet’s nest. I appreciate your ideas. I could be underestimating the scope and seriousness of the issue.
      But just for the record: I am absolutely opposed to the “my group right or wrong” approach.
      I was kidding about being in London. Sorry.
      (I have a weird sense of humor.)

    • Phil,

      I just read an article by A.C. Grayling about Wittgenstein (OC and PI). I skimmed through it, as I got bored; but he really nailed it (here below). I presented the same criticism to our mutual friend Sir Paul (Remember him?) and he got mad. Read this:

      “One often sees an opposition posed between realism and idealism, as if the labels marked competitors for the same terrain. As the foregoing shows, this is a surprisingly common, simple, but serious mistake.

      “Wittgenstein makes this mistake. But he also makes the mistake, or seems to, of confusing idealism and scepticism. This mistake stems from the crude view that idealism consists in the denial of the existence of the external world, and that this is what scepticism denies too. But as we see, idealism is the metaphysical claim that the world is ultimately mental in some sense, and scepticism is an epistemological challenge to us to justify our beliefs and our methods of acquiring them. In view of this one is sometimes puzzled as to what exactly Wittgenstein takes scepticism to be.” —Grayling

      Maybe Grayling isn’t so bad. Maybe you didn’t steer me wrong after all.

    • Phil, I really think his guy Haidt is completely full of shit. (He is probably a Trump supporter.)

      (from some articles online):

      With Sara Algoe, Haidt demonstrated that exposure to stories about moral beauty (the opposite of moral disgust) cause a common set of responses, including warm, loving feelings, calmness, and a desire to become a better person. Haidt called the emotion “moral elevation”, as a tribute to Thomas Jefferson, who had described the emotion in detail in a letter discussing the benefits of reading great literature. Feelings of moral elevation cause lactation in breast-feeding mothers, suggesting the involvement of the hormone oxytocin. There is now a large body of research on elevation and related emotions.

      Moral foundations theory

      In 2004, Haidt began to extend the social intuitionist model to specify the most important categories of moral intuition. The result was moral foundations theory, co-developed with Craig Joseph and Jesse Graham, and based in part on the writings of Richard Shweder. The theory posits that there are (at least) six innate moral foundations, upon which cultures develop their various moralities, just as there are five innate taste receptors on the tongue, which cultures have used to create many different cuisines. The six are care/harm, fairness (equality)/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. The theory was developed to explain cross-cultural differences in morality, but Haidt and his collaborators at YourMorals.org have found that the theory works well to explain political differences as well. Liberals (leftists) tend to endorse primarily the care and equality foundations, whereas conservatives (rightists) tend to endorse all six foundations more equally.

    • Phil, I really think his guy Haidt is completely full of shit. (He is probably a Trump supporter.)

      Stopped reading right there.

    • Phil,

      Sorry about “full of shit.”

      Anyway, a friend of mine put it well:

      “To make a science of social behavior is to my mind inherently dangerous. […] But social theory dressed in the the robe of hard science should be handled with extreme care and be ready to err on the side of a curious ignorance rather than hard undisputed fact.”

      The Right struck an unprecedented level of degradation at the first night of their convention.

      They are liars, engage in the politics of fear, are greedy, extremely susceptible to propaganda and sentimentality (flags, songs, soldiers, and other patriotic symbols, images, messages), stupid, tribal (excessively loyal) and vile.

      Where does that fit into Haidt’s theory (of so-called moral foundations)? What is the theory and how is that science and how is it useful? Could it have prevented fascism in the past? Can it prevent fascism from emerging again? Or is he just another smug pseudo-soft-scientist with yet another worthless model?

      Psychoanalytic investigation can bear fruit. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

      I gave you a “prezzie” (517).

      (I haven’t heard from you in a while. )

    • Call it what you want, this is BS! Not plagiarism? Decide for yourself:

      Liars.

      From Mrs. Trump

      From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow.Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

      Mrs. Obama, in her 2008 speech:

      “Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

    • Phil,

      Sorry I said Haidt is “full of shit.”

      It wasn’t me. It’s my brain and evolution! Not me. (humor)

    • Dan.

      just insanely busy atm.

      You seem to think I give a shit about Haidt, that I take offense on his account. No. I give a shit about his ideas. You live in a world o heroes and villains. I live in a world rather more of heroism and villainy.

      To restate: I am not interested in any more argument about the inferred character of a generator of potentially useful or potentially harmful ideas. This seems to me one of the great errors of thinking amongst the masses that plague both our countries at the moment. Understanding heroism and villainy in all of their parts charts the clearest path.

      In like fashion this isn’t about you and me. Now, how do I do this… 🙂

      For all our differences we share much more.

    • Thanks for your comment and your perspective. For me saying that so-and-so is full of shit, is a release, affords a certain gratification. I never saw that as pernicious, will think about that. Regardless of whether I agree with you or not, I will certainly respect your feelings on this matter and will refrain, in any future discourse with you, from gratuitously attacking, or focusing on, the generators themselves of ideas.

      (That aside, it is hard for me to live without heroes – and to a lesser extent enemies, in the form of the “generators”.)

      I wrote a nice one just now on the Watch Mike Pence Thread. Everyone was chanting “Trump digs coal” last night. Such defiance. Such a cavalier attitude. Don’t we, at some point, have to identify character traits associated with people (as opposed to their ideas alone) as a factor when trying to address the problems we face – or am I over-thinking this? If some individual or group is engaging in nefarious activity shouldn’t we say it’s the people themselves, as well as the ideas they put forth, that are, say, corrupt? Isn’t the generator of, say, cruel propaganda himself corrupt and dishonest, as opposed to, or perhaps in addition to, his ideas?

      On the other hand, a gratuitous attack on a person’s character as a convenient way of avoiding careful investigation, and a reason-based critique of a set of ideas, is as irresponsible as it is fruitless. Depends on what we’re talking about, doesn’t it?

      How do I do this… Okay… 🙂

    • 525 cont.

      Phil,

      What is wrong with the beautiful concept Knowledge? (I don’t want to take up more space on the brain map thread.)

      How can you say we don’t have knowledge?

      It’s the age of absurdity, of reduction.

      And don’t say that in ordinary speech this has meaning but not in a philosophical exchange. Where does the former end and the latter begin? We do have knowledge and the word should be used by everyone, especially philosophers. Explain (clearly and succinctly) your objection.

      And what do you mean when you refer to ethics as a form or branch of aesthetics? Never got that.

    • How can you say we don’t have knowledge?

      I never said that. I said I wanted to speak more carefully than that.

      Professional speech is entirely more specific than colloquial. Always was, always will be.

      what do you mean when you refer to ethics as a form or branch of aesthetics?

      I never said that either.

      Aesthetics are the deep rooted heuristics we seem powerless to change. Genes and early indoctrination and experience form them. These are our viceral judging processes. Identical things underlie our moral lives. We may mitigate these feelings with overlaid deliberations, but vicerally we may be scared of others stealing from us or conversely expect that others will help us.

    • Phil:

      “They have the same concerns of fairness and harms amongst their moral aesthetics but these are rather diluted by the added concerns of loyalty, subjection to authority, and purity of institutions.” —P. Rimmer

      Free Speech and Islam # 22.

      One of a number of statements that seem to conflate morality with aesthetics. This confuses me.

    • Ethics (the philosophy of morals perhaps) is not “a branch of aesthetics” (the philosophy of art)

      I am talking of some ethical judgments having a neurally wired and heuristic nature, formed in the same pre and early experience way as aesthetics. Instinctive value judgments. Shoulda put scare quotes around aesthetics.

      their moral “aesthetics”.

      Done.

    • Those quotes make a world of difference.

      I still think that the basis of morality is compassion and that compassion is not in the brain.

      .

    • I still think that the basis of morality is compassion and that compassion is not in the brain.

      Have at it…

    • Welcome to the BS thread!

      I envy you for being able to read German.

      Watching CNN right now. Why are these so-called journalists so damned passive, GK? They let the Trump people say whatever they want and then ask these ridiculous soft-ball questions instead of really challenging the bastards, calling them on their bullshit.

      The will, according to S, is in everything – from the magnet and the crystal up to man. The will operates independently of consciousness.

      The forms or Ideas, are, according to S, objects of enlightened perception. This can only be achieved by relinquishing the concepts of reason. Very rare. Only the most gifted amongst us can experience this. You look at a tree. You see the Idea, not the particular tree. (See Allegory of the Cave.)

      The world’s existence as an object depends on our perception. Non-objectified existence is as inconceivable as a disembodied existence after death. And yet nothing could be represented if there wasn’t something to be represented. And solipsism has been thoroughly repudiated. (No subject without the object. No object without the subject.) Hence the thing-in-itself.

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

    • Dan #509

      It took me an awfully long time (I sometimes continue with reading such threads with what can only be considered pigheadedness) to get to the end of it the first time (maybe in the late 300s or early 400s), so I was also a “bit” tired when I reached the then end.

      “Take notes or something”. So easy to give as advice, so hard to do myself. But retracing this long thread was (is?) a bit of sensory overload all in one go.

      I wouldn’t really know postmodernist writing apart from what I have read about it in several of RD’s books – perhaps a feeling of “does this mean anything at all” could be a giveaway. I’m guessing I will not add any books in that vein to my “library” anytime soon – though one can never tell what dementia can cause.

      The feeling I did have (for the Schopenhauer discussion you had with Phil, mostly) was that I somehow kept missing the point you were trying to make; and occasionally the feeling “we’ve been through this before”; and a slight bit about your posting “no, that’s not (quite) it” without saying what, only giving (to me) cryptic hints. I guess I just get a bit impatient (go into my “werewolf” or “Wolverine” – more X-Men than the animal – or “Tasmanian devil” mode) with – what to call them – “blind-man’s-buff” answers shrug.

      I did comment on Schopenhauer’s “Die Welt als Wille” in a different thread; yup, my hackles definitely go up at that concept. It kind of goes in the direction of Steven Jay Gould’s impatience with any tree of evolution putting Homo sapiens (too often stupidens would be more appropriate) at the top of the heap, one of his opinions I can fully agree with (I found “Full House” interesting preisely because of the baseball .400 hitter part, which drove RD a bit to distraction; some other parts of it I found less convincing).

    • Dan #531

      CNN & assorted wimps: I just recently worried that the “fair, balanced” press might be up to the same tripe as in 2000, when they ran with flat-out lies from the Dubya camp against Gore, while Dubya had a Mount Everest of manure for them to dig into with very little effort. Why do they take their cues from the Goebbels Channel Fox in such things instead of doing their job a journalists? Or has the murdochization of the media progressed so far by now? And if yes, where the hell are the antitrust guys, did Dubya get rid of them altogether? Just gives me a feeling of total disgust.

      “The will operates independently of consciousness.” Well, one can give definitions of one’s own I guess, but it can muddle things up. And I guess I just simply, flatly disagree with the concept.

    • Dan mentioned this post would be more appropriate here, as it mentions Schopenhauer; well, OK.

      Schopenhauer.

      “Die Welt als Wille”. (I could read him in the original, being an English / German dual native speaker).

      Will determines all proceedings in the organic AND ANORGANIC nature.

      I only have a two-word comment:

      Anthropocentric arrogance.

      I would also say very 19th century, but I don’t really like sweeping statements like that. Plato’s “theory of forms” still raises its discredited head occasionally, after 2500 years. Other thoughts of a similar age have NOT been improved on in the intervening time.

      That we are only able to perceive a fraction of what occurs around us (and even less consciously), seems to be fairly clear by now. Much of what we see / hear / experience otherwise is created by that most powerful virtual reality generator known, the (undamaged) human brain; adjusted by observations of changes in the external world. Similar VR generators can be assumed to exits in various levels of complexity in all other brains. (Never mind those pathetic little toys the IT world is trying to fob off on us currently, those goggles.)

      There is thus much we do not perceive, much we may never be able to perceive. Well, that’s just our incurable imperfection, the world’s existence does not depend on our perception, let alone will. Will implies consciousness of some sorts, so considering what astronomers tell us, the universe has existed for about 13 billion years without any will. And shall likely exist unknown billions of years after the will best known to us has most likely caused its own destruction.

    • GK, others (Phil?)—

      Dan mentioned this post would be more appropriate here, as it mentions Schopenhauer…

      I revere Schopenhauer. I suggested this thread only because it is virtually all-inclusive.

      I understand your opposition to the idea of will as something prior to, and independent of, intellect. I haven’t really the strength to elaborate on this right now, but I would ask you to consider, for the sake of argument, all movement as a manifestation of will, as opposed to thinking about will in the traditional sense, i.e., as human will. Why should the movement of our hand – voluntary movement – be attributable to conscious willing, but not the involuntary movement of our hand, or the flow of a river or the growth of a tree? Schopenhauer’s point of departure is his fundamental conviction that (perceptual) space, (perceptual) time, and causality are in us, are functions of the brain, that the existence of every material object that we perceive, including our own bodies, is existence as phenomenon or idea (representation). (Most scientists, according to S., start from the object and forget the subject. It is the natural disposition of the intellect to do this.) It follows from this that we cannot know things as they are. Kant’s thing-in-itself was an unknown X. S called it will…

      Some remarks on the “I”:

      The “I” is the word or sound which is employed to designate the knowing part of the body which is not an object. Nor is the I a subject in an absolute sense. This particular division (which really is a division) into subject (I) and object (body) is not a division between a non-physical entity; it is a division into knower and known. Both the knower and the known are parts of the body; the former cannot be perceived; the latter can only exist in so far as it is perceived.

      The will or any essence or non-physical, or unknowable, substratum – assuming there is one and I believe there is – is not the I in this context, in this sense (of being a knowing I); the process of knowing is entirely physical. If there is an essence then that would be incapable of knowing or being known; in other words, it would be outside the realm of the physically real.

      This thing-in-itself (if it does exist) can only be known in a very indistinct and negative sense – as that which cannot be an object with any sensible qualities; and it cannot possess intellect, as the intellect is bound up inextricably and permanently with the body. (Kant paved the way for the death-blow to the idea of an Intelligent Deity.) Descartes established that all of our knowledge of bodies (including our own), in so far as they are perceived through the senses in combination with intellectual faculties (such as understanding), is mediately given. The medium is the knowing I. All our knowledge of the world must pass through that medium.

      Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” Rather crude, but it’s a start. Modern Philosophy began right there, and led to this:

      I think, therefore it (and “it” includes our own bodies and our brain, Phil)…is! (Schopenhauer, Kant)

      I wrote a bit more than I though I would but still did not come close to doing justice to S’s idea of will.

      Trump had a “Town Hall” meeting on the Goebbels channel. Mothers of kids killed by illegal immigrants told their stories. Godawful stuff.

    • Addendum:

      This particular division (which really is a division) into subject (I) and object (body) is not a division between a non-physical entity; it is a division into knower and known.

      Corrected sentence:

      This particular division into subject (I) and object (body) is not a division between a non-physical entity and a physical entity; it is a division into knower and known.

    • Dan #535
      Aug 28, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Trump had a “Town Hall” meeting on the Goebbels channel. Mothers of kids killed by illegal immigrants told their stories. Godawful stuff.

      I don’t suppose they also had immigrants or child immigrants fleeing poverty and civil wars started by foreign funded rebels, or repressive corrupt governments funded and armed by US agents, or drug cartels funded and armed by criminal gangs thriving on the profits from their smuggled illegal drugs market in the US?

    • Phil

      I’ll be honest none of S’s true Pessimism makes any sense to me except in the context of his own life. I truly find zero logical engagement possible as I do over other aspects of S’s thinking. Pain is not a singular substance, not even a metaphysical one.

      “Electricity transmits its inner self-repulsion to infinity, though the mass of the earth absorbs the effect. Galvanism is certainly, so long as the pile is working, an aimless, unceasingly repeated act of repulsion and attraction. The existence of the plant is just such a restless, never satisfied striving, a ceaseless tendency through ever-ascending forms, till the end, the seed, becomes a new starting-point; and this repeated ad infinitum — nowhere an end, nowhere a final satisfaction, nowhere a resting place. It will also be remembered from the Second Book, that the multitude of natural forces and organised forms everywhere strive with each other for the matter in which they desire to appear, for each of them only possesses what it has wrested from the others; and thus a constant internecine war is waged, from which, for the most part, arises the resistance through which that striving, which constitutes the inner nature of everything, is at all points hindered; struggles in vain, yet, from its nature, cannot leave off; toils on laboriously till this phenomenon dies, when others eagerly seize its place and its matter.

      “We have long since recognised this striving, which constitutes the kernel and in-itself of everything, as identical with that which in us, where it manifests itself most distinctly in the light of the fullest consciousness, is called will. Its hindrance through an obstacle which places itself between it and its temporary aim we call
      suffering, and, on the other hand, its attainment of the end satisfaction, wellbeing, happiness. We may also transfer this terminology to the phenomena of the unconscious world, for though weaker in degree, they are identical in nature. Then we see them involved in constant suffering, and without any continuing happiness. For all effort springs from defect — from discontent with one’s estate — is thus suffering so long as it is not satisfied; but no satisfaction is lasting, rather it is always merely the starting-point of a new effort. The striving we see everywhere hindered in many ways, everywhere in conflict, and therefore always under the form of suffering. Thus, if there is no final end of striving, there is no measure and end of suffering.” –A.S. WWR 1, Bk 4

    • We may also transfer this terminology to the phenomena of the unconscious world, for though weaker in degree, they are identical in nature.

      So this is where Deepak learned his tricks.

      This is S at his worst, Dan. Anthropomorphic language in place of logical rigor.

    • @Dan#538

      Now we all might know (depending on which RD books we have read – or others, too) that, as an example, Fred Hoyle, an astronomer whose NOT getting a Nobel Prize for physics may border on being a scandal, also uttered one of the most pathetic mental-diarrhea howlers about Evolution / Natural Selection with his 747 / hurricane drivel.

      And physics was anything but my stellar (oops – unintended pun!) subject in high school in the US in the very early seventies. But everything above that you probably quote from Schopenhauer which appears to touch on physics makes even me want to utter a sonic boom in protest! Those with more advanced knowledge of physics would probably go anywhere from ballistic to relativistic (getting a bit close to the speed of light) at these pathetic babblings.

      Did Schopenhauer make the mistake of uttering further amateur babblings on scientific subjects, perhaps like Goethe’s thunderingly discredited “Theory of Colors?”
      It has been, kind of, the more you present direct quotes from Schopenhauer, the less I consider him to be a coherent thinker.

    • GK

      S was a pretty good scientist. His own colour vision theory was almost right. He screws up here by presenting some physics for a wider audience in anthropomorphised language and uses his shaky metaphors for psychological processes in place of logic.

    • phil#541
      I have the suspicion that Schopenhauer’s anthropomorphised language was his major weakness. The Will independent of consciousness. B.F. Skinner went over the other edge with his form of behaviorism …

    • Phil, GK

      I appreciate your comment about S’s work on color, Phil. S was immensely proud of it. I don’t appreciate the comparison to Chopra. Saying that unconscious nature has will is not the same as saying that atoms and rocks have consciousness. If you were to read his chief work in its entirety you still might disagree, but you will see that that comparison is unfair. It borders on cruelty. One must try to understand what he means by will, what his precise conception of will is! Your conception of will is not his. His assertion that the will may be transferred to unconscious nature, is in everything “from the magnet and the crystal up to man”, is a unifying substratum, is not anthropomorphism; surely you acknowledge that non-human animals have will. So why not plants? (Don’t laugh.) His insistence that will must not be confined to conscious entities, that there need not be a brain in order to will only sounds illogical. But that is because you, and most others, are used to thinking a certain (conventional) way about Will. S’s conception of Will was unique.

      (Do I detect a “conservative” streak in you too, my friend?)

      There is no possible way to understand what S means by all this or to fully understand anything he says, unless you do what he advises (below). I have done this. When considering the idea of being able to transfer the Will from the conscious to the unconscious world here’s something to keep in mind:

      “Since, as has been said, this whole work is only the unfolding of a single thought, it follows that all its parts
      have the most intimate connection with each other. Not merely that each part stands in a necessary relation to
      what immediately precedes it, and only presupposes a recollection of that by the reader, as is the case with all
      philosophies which consist merely of a series of inferences, but that every part of the whole work is related to every other part and presupposes it. It is, therefore, necessary that the reader should remember not only what has just been said, but all the earlier parts of the work, so that he may be able to connect them with what he is reading, however much may have intervened. Plato also makes this demand upon his readers through the intricate digressions of his dialogues, in which he only returns to the leading thought after long episodes, which illustrate and explain it. In our case this demand is necessary; for the breaking up of our one single thought into its many aspects is indeed the only means of imparting it, though not essential to the thought itself, but merely an artificial form. The division of four principal points of view into books, and the most careful bringing together of all that is related and homogeneous, assists the exposition and its comprehension; yet the material absolutely does not admit of an advance in a straight line, such as the progress of history, but necessitates a more complicated exposition. This again makes a repeated study of the book necessary, for thus alone does the connection of all the parts with each other become distinct, and only then do they all mutually throw light upon each other and become quite clear.”
      —S. WWR Vol. 1, Bk 4

    • Dan,

      The essential-ness of inferential contiguity in any argument does not need this much defence.

      What needs defence is-

      We may also transfer this terminology to the phenomena of the unconscious world, for though weaker in degree, they are identical in nature.

      This blithe assertion is the logical monstrosity.

      As if the entities of unconscious phenomena were like force fields or the urges of “fluid” flow from a pile…

      This comes from a time when evil was a stuff. This is why S fails to grok the world. The Will is a stuff is the wrong premise. Too much too soon in his investigation and too in thrall to the thinking of religion.

    • There is of course no Will as such, only the post hoc account of it.

      “Urges” exist but they are disparate and multilayered. They are the likes of-

      Principle of least action

      Fields, gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear strong, nuclear weak

      at higher levels-

      (in entropy-defying life) homeostasis and its rich lineage of living behaviours.

      Thermodynamics

      Their various qualities are not mirrors of each other in any way.

    • Without consciousness the moon is a highly ambiguous entity.

      BOYLE: …. I ofen looked up at the sky an’ assed meself the question – what is the stars, what is the stars?
      JOXER: Ah, that’s the question, that’s the question – what is the stars?
      BOYLE: An’ then, I’d have another look, an’ I’d ass meself – what is the moon?
      JOXER: Ah, that’s the question – what is the moon, what is the moon?

      from sean o’casey’s juno and the paycock

    • phil#544, and Dan

      “… too in thrall to the thinking of religion.”

      Something that is a red thread (this may be a German term that looses in translation) throughout 19th century thinking, perhaps in the 18th and 20th (and 21st?) too. How should I put it? Perhaps like this: Nietzsche may have been a nihilist – but he wasn’t an atheist; he has much too much of a hangup about god. Ya “killed” something … well … that doesn’t exist, Friedrich. Get a grip on yourself.

    • Phil (545), and GK

      Well than “urge” then. A blind urge. There are urges. Fine – although an urge does not imply a necessary act. The act of will and the willing itself are one and the same thing. And surely there is a will or urge-to-live, a struggle for survival. If everything was at rest life would cease to be. Wherever there is something that lives, or that doesn’t live, but that changes or moves, there is activity; if all of this activity – inner and outer activity – were to stop, then those entities would die out or cease to be. All matter must act in some way, act upon the mind or upon other forms of matter.

      There has to be something common to all life and common to everything that has movement: a blind urge, if you like. This something cannot be explained by causes that act upon them; the something that is acting upon a form of matter is also being acted upon by other causes, and other forms of matter, ad infinitum. One cause refers to another cause, but the inner nature of the act of motion which is being transferred, as it were, from one thing to another and manifesting itself as growth, or movement of some kind, must remain incapable of being explained by empirical means.

      I raise my hand. The immediate cause was an urge. But as I said, an urge is not an act per se; the raising of my hand IS the will itself in action. The same will that I observe in the actions of my own body is in the meteor hurling towards the earth or in the flow of water.

      There is no other will except that which acts. The “urge” was caused by stimuli or a motive or some other kind of cause. The connecting links, which extend, in either direction, to infinity, cannot account for the movement of my hand. Causes cannot explain will. Neither can energy. Will, or Urge, if you prefer, is the only explanation of causation, is the only possible “cause behind the cause” and it must lie outside the sphere of the chain of empirical causality.—Such an explanation, rooted in the non-empirical, can only explain so much; causes are part of a chain of interconnecting links; whereas will is outside the sphere of causes and is presupposed by the existence of all change, all motion, all feeling. All action is objectified will. There is this two-fold aspect of everything that acts; they have their inner, inscrutable nature – and yet in so far as our own bodies are objects like all others, are felt by all as (“will”) – and they have their outer aspect (perceived from an objective standpoint, and as movement).

      Nothing in the universe can be said to exist that does not act in some way. The nature of matter is to act. Even cohesion is a form of action – albeit the lowest. “If the cohesion is too weak the body crumbles merely through the body of its parts.”

      (Note: The above comments were written without reviewing any material, and are not necessarily the ones that S. himself would have used or approved of. As I have said before, it is hard to know, at times, where my own thinking begins and where his end or where mine end and his begins. And it would not be honest if I did not admit that this aspect of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, in spite of years of study, off and on, is not entirely clear to me.)

      I don’t think Nietzsche was a theist. S definitely was not. “God is dead” first appears in the book The Gay Science (Book 4, Sanctus Januarius) It is from “The Parable of the Madman.” He, Nietzsche, is the “madman”, the atheist-prophet, speaking to the European atheists of his time, who might have gotten more than they had bargained for, are bewildered and await a great, a terrible challenge.

      “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.

    • Corrections to comment 548:

      body of its parts

      Corrected phrase: gravity of its parts

      …where my own thinking begins and where his end or where mine end and his begins…

      Corrected sentence: …where my own thinking begins and where his ends or where mine ends and his begins…

    • Dan

      There has to be something common to all life and common to everything that has movement: a blind urge, if you like.

      Energy.

      Okay. That’s sorted.

      Can we move on before this gets Depaked (sorry, but this is how it looks) into a Life Force (totally screwing up the units).

      This is what S got spectacularly wrong.

      Electricity transmits its inner self-repulsion to infinity, though the mass of the earth absorbs the effect. Galvanism is certainly, so long as the pile is working, an aimless, unceasingly repeated act of repulsion and attraction. The existence of the plant is just such a restless, never satisfied striving, a ceaseless tendency through ever-ascending forms, till the end, the seed, becomes a new starting-point; and this repeated ad infinitum — nowhere an end, nowhere a final satisfaction, nowhere a resting place.

      This is science bunk. These urges, these motive forces are never, in fact, ceaseless. Never, ever, ever. Energy and high grade energy at that, separated out, allow the listed forces to achieve the actions above. Batteries get flat. Energy, separated out, gets used and less separate.

      So another scientific view is that all movement and especially complex movement associated with life, is to facilitate the smearing out of all energy, the use of energy, making it no longer capable of action.

      The “Will” is terrible metaphysics based on a semantic trick of a crappy polysemous word that itself misunderstands the variegated roots of human action. The while physics stitches together a deep understanding of what is actually common to all movement and to what end.

    • Phil

      To tell you the truth I have spent several painful hours trying to decide if what I said above has any real basis to it. There are worse ways to spend one’s time, however. As for human actions, they are not the issue; what is the issue is what is common to all movement. So perhaps we can agree that that is a good starting point. But I do not regard the Will as an act of thought. I regard thought itself as an act of will.

      I have suggested in the past that energy cannot be explained by energy. Or is it the Will? Clearly not.

      Poor Hillary has pneumonia and they are accusing her of a lack of transparency because she knew about it on Friday and didn’t hold up a big sign.

      Boo Chopra.

    • Phil

      “These urges, these motive forces are never, in fact, ceaseless.”

      Yes they are. Our descendants can be traced back to the dawn of time (an infinite regress) and our species – all species – will, barring extinction, continue to reproduce itself – theoretically to infinity. Batteries die? Yes, and bulbs blow out, and individual pass away. Straw-man.

      (The extinction of a species does not constitute a cessation of the “Will”.) (Motive force is a crappy phrase.)

      The Schopenhauerian word Will, as I understand it (and I don’t understand it entirely, have been grappling with this for years), has a very specific meaning. It is as polysemous as you allow it to be.

    • Energy is not an irreducible substance.

      “Energy is a property of light and matter and not a substance in itself.” —Author unknown

      The will as thing-in-itself. The unknowable thing-in-itself.— I will not renounce these ideas. (I have done a lousy job defending them, for the most part; and my comment # 548 is unreadable.)

    • Energy is not an irreducible substance.

      Energy is irreducible. It is stuff by another name. (E=MC^2). (However it may just be negative stuff in a spacetime of net nothing.)

      But energy’s topography is not irreducible.

      Perhaps the best shot S has of “Will” existing is as the second law of thermodynamics. This motor for complexity (N.B.) that takes energy and uses it up to do work (act) by making energy more uniform (work is done by energy flow from its areas of peak concentration into its valleys until such mountains are brought low) and thereby brings us closer to the heat death of the universe. This appears to be a property of spacetimes.

    • @Dan#548

      “Will, or Urge, if you prefer, is the only explanation of causation, is the only possible “cause behind the cause” and it must lie outside the sphere of the chain of empirical causality.”

      My spontaneous response: so will = god; “… too in thrall to the thinking of religion.” Too 19th century.

    • It does seem as though one can simply substitute the word God or Spirit for Will. The word God implies an intelligence and a purpose. The word Spirt implies something ethereal. The Will is not purpose-driven, is not ethereal, has no intelligence.

    • @Dan#556

      Errr …

      “The Will is not purpose-driven, is not ethereal, has no intelligence.”
      A mutation by itself is a coincidence inasmuch as whether its effects are beneficial or detrimental are a matter of chance (though most mutations tend to be detrimental).
      OK.

      “… it must lie outside the sphere of the chain of empirical causality.”
      Sound like what (very) little I understand of multiverse astrophysics …

      But as I understand “Will, or Urge”, they both imply purpose to me, and when you redefine them as you do, you are doing violence to the language for my taste!

      Perhaps you have read the term “quantum leap” (in German it’s “Quantensprung”) used by habitual doers of violence to the language, journalists, politicians, managers and lawyers (I’m not even going to start about fashion, advertising or marketing!!!). They use it to mean some great advancement or other. The true meaning, in the sense it is used in physics, means exactly the opposite!

      “Atomic electron transition is a change of an electron from one quantum state to another …” during my high school days decades ago “electron orbits” were used instead of quantum states. The point is, it is the smallest possible energy difference between one quantum state to another. No half, no quarter, no other fraction – this or nothing. At the subatomic level, our world becomes digital, in contrast to what we with our limited senses experience in our day-to-day world. It’s probably too late for this term to convince the idiots that they’re idiots.

      But please do not “explain” your definitions to the moron classes I have named above. We have enough Orwellian doublespeak as it is!

    • GK, Phil, others—

      I wouldn’t want to do violence to the language, GK. I have strong feelings about that. But it’s hard to express certain things sometimes, and I am dealing with highly abstruse subjects. I try my best, and don’t mean to offend. I need more clarity. It’s a process.

      Interesting comment about multiverse astrophysics. I would love to be able to find some corroboration by modern physicists, and by scientists who work in other areas, of Schopenhauer’s basic conceptions. One author compared his “will” to Darwin’s genome.

      Double-speak. I hate that too. And think about the phrase “school choice” or “religious freedom”; “though [school choice] attracts mainstream conservatives like Cosby its most important backers are rightwing organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and other groups supported by billionaire rightwing ideologues like the Koch brothers. They want to dismantle public education altogether and run schools as businesses, judged as “successes” or “failures” based on abstract data taken from high-stakes standardized test scores.” —Truthdig.org

      “Religious freedom” you know about.

      The libertarians are the worst. That schmuck Johnson tries to appear like a laid back, reasonable guy, wears jeans and talks about legalizing weed, the good old constitution, and above all: liberty.

      “What’s called libertarian in the United States, which is a special U. S. phenomenon, it doesn’t really exist anywhere else — a little bit in England — permits a very high level of authority and domination but in the hands of private power: so private power should be unleashed to do whatever it likes. The assumption is that by some kind of magic, concentrated private power will lead to a more free and just society […] that kind of libertarianism, in my view, in the current world, is just a call for some of the worst kinds of tyranny, namely unaccountable private tyranny.”
      —Noam Chomsky

      Trump’s surrogates (stormtroopers) are LIARS! They are sycophants. The führer won’t release his tax returns and won’t show us the letter from the IRS proving that he is under audit. “What is he, a liar?” asked Kellyanne Conway. Yes! He says he gave tens of millions to charity. No evidence. No proof. Many, many more lies. Hillary gave a third of her income to charity, and that is a public record, and she released all her returns.

      Trump’s appearing on Dr. Oz’s show to discuss his health tomorrow. Pathetic. No “embarrassing questions” allowed. That’s his version of transparency: a controlled media event with someone who hasn’t examined him and cannot ask tough questions. More entertainment. More publicity. More nonsense. That’s his genius: generating publicity. And the Hillary-haters, journalists like Maureen Dowd, say HC isn’t transparent? Give me a break.

      I’m so goddamned sick of all this bullshit and stupidity! And CNN and MSNBC are actively campaigning for him. The media (cable news in particular) has sold its soul to…yes, the Devil. (Part of the language.) Joy Reid and a couple of others are good. Anderson Cooper has his moments. Basically the situation is deplorable.

      Best,

      D

    • Dan

      The Will is not purpose-driven, is not ethereal, has no intelligence.

      The Will as the second law of Thermodynamics acts to a clear if complex end. It creates all the phenomena of time. It creates/marks action.

      What is more it is real and understood like the noumen, the quantum substrate, that time-symmetric conjurer of spacetimes and their thermodynamic second law clocks.

      I win….erm… 🙂

    • Touché!

    • “I suspect for Dan, the questions won’t end…but my thanks to him.”

      Phil, I hope that doesn’t mean that you are through with this issue, that our dialogue about the thing–n-itself has come to an end We’ve only just scratched the surface. And I have presented my thoughts piecemeal.

      The freedom of the will, the noumenon, knowledge, physics, neuroscience… All these issues are interrelated. A lot more to discuss (in the appropriate places).

      I have a comment on the What it Means thread. Not sure if it makes sense. Feeling off.

      • Moderator message

        Phil, I hope that doesn’t mean that you are through with this issue, that our dialogue about the thing–n-itself has come to an end We’ve only just scratched the surface. And I have presented my thoughts piecemeal.

        No, Dan. Enough is enough. For the last year and more the discussions have been completely dominated by a subject that is clearly of great interest to you, but that has provoked protests from other users for whom it is not of primary interest and who don’t come to http://www.richarddawkins.net for endless discussions about it. That’s not to say it can never be of any relevance, but it is not the primary focus or interest or purpose of this site. We have allowed you to go on and on, but the discussion has now reached a natural end, and that is where we will now insist you leave it. The insistence on drawing thread after thread back to your particular passion comes well and truly under the heading of ‘drum-banging’ in our Terms of Use, and it is time to stop now, please.

        The mods

    • Understood, mods.

    • Aw, just as this thread was becoming “interesting”…….