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  Topic: No reason for a rift between science and religion?, Skeptic's chance to prove his claims.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,14:24   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Dec. 05 2007,20:11)
Quote (Louis @ Dec. 05 2007,13:53)
3) I see on another thread some Yanks having become uppety. I'm off to give them a good kicking. Cheeky fuckers. Honestly, you have an early night with the beloved Mrs and you get this sort of shit from lowly colonials. There should be a law!

Hey Louis, be fair! I stood up for you when Carlsonjok said that you were so fat that you had other fat people in orbit around you!

However, the jury is still out on whether your ass has its own member of Parliament. Maybe you could set us straight on that?

My blood type is NOT "gravy". I do not have my own post code. The reason I have my own MP is due to my INTELLECTUAL stature, not my steatopygous nature (which I neither confirm nor deny).

Granted, as a prop forward I am not a lithe and lissome fellow. However, some rampaging sack of unrepentant lardiness I am not. The very suggestion!

Now, just because you have a face that makes babies cry, reminiscent of a bulldog licking piss off a nettle or perhaps shite off a razor blade, it doesn't give you the right to go around casting aspertions at other people's physical nature. We all know you're still bitter about the Mornington Crescent thing, NOW you're bitter because you are a 145 lb weakling who could be knocked over by a delicate fart from a loose boweled five year old.

{shakes head}

Arden, Arden, Arden. When will you learn? Don't worry, I still love you for who you are. You don't need to get all excited and prove anything to me. I still think you're REALLY big and clever. Now, do you want a sweetie?

Louis

P.S. I think Arden's tired and is showing off.

--------------
Bye.

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,14:30   

This paragraph of BWE's tickled my funny bone (while also lighting up the "fond reminiscence" region of my gray matter), and then I got to thinking about it:
Quote
Sitting or meditating peels away the layers and tripping wraps you up in them. I have experienced both sensations and I like them both although at my age I've started a program trying to conserve my remaining brain cells so I am rusty with the latter experience. I don't think they are really the same thing. You might have moments of similarity though. I don't know.

What happens if you sit/meditate while tripping?  I seem to remember doing that...  Needless to say, I'm a little rusty with the latter experience as well (hell, I'm rusty with the ladder experience, which is really inexcusable...), but I sense an experiment lurking in the weeds.

If the CIA didn't already run it.  Maybe a FOIA request?

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,14:40   

Louis, you still haven't addressed these concerns. Therefore, they must be true. :angry:

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,15:06   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Dec. 05 2007,20:40)
Louis, you still haven't addressed these concerns. Therefore, they must be true. :angry:

Sorry Arden, Hadn't seen them.

{reads quickly}

Nope nothing true or original there. Wake me when you come up with something useful

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,16:15   

I'm going to jump in for just a second but I'll promise to jump out just as quick.  I think what you're trying to do is analyze meditation and break it down in a manner that makes sense to you. Nothing wrong with that but there are alternatives.

While your view of how meditation works may be right it can also be wrong.  Take this analogy.  You're not training yourself to use different thought processes but rather you're teaching yourself to quiet down so you can "hear" what's always been out there.  If it is the conscious thinking process getting in the way then meditation inhibits that process to make you more receptive to addition stimuli that is normally lost in the noise.  Of course, there's no real way to tell the difference and that's the rub.

If I were to apply this in a faith context.  Again, with the assumption that God is out there and talking, meditation or prayer opens you up so you can hear him.  This would then be a conduit to external knowledge that has no basis we know of in reason.

One disclaimer, I'm in no way implying that meditation is communion.  Certainly in the Eastern sense, meditation has an entirely different context and purpose I just wanted to point out how this concept can also extend into realm of faith.  I just wanted to head off the yelling that this is not what you're saying, Bill and BWE, I understand that and I'm not trying to hijack your comments.

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,17:27   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Dec. 05 2007,14:30)
This paragraph of BWE's tickled my funny bone (while also lighting up the "fond reminiscence" region of my gray matter), and then I got to thinking about it:
   
Quote
Sitting or meditating peels away the layers and tripping wraps you up in them. I have experienced both sensations and I like them both although at my age I've started a program trying to conserve my remaining brain cells so I am rusty with the latter experience. I don't think they are really the same thing. You might have moments of similarity though. I don't know.

What happens if you sit/meditate while tripping?  I seem to remember doing that...  Needless to say, I'm a little rusty with the latter experience as well (hell, I'm rusty with the ladder experience, which is really inexcusable...), but I sense an experiment lurking in the weeds.

If the CIA didn't already run it.  Maybe a FOIA request?

Not me. We (and you from what I've heard) received the gift of somewhere between 30 and 100 inches of rain on Sunday and Monday and my pear  tree decided to use that opportunity to deposit all its remaining leaves in my gutters.

I am not only freshly acquainted with ladders but also now posses a highly developed skill which gives me faith should I ever need to use a ladder in 50 mph winds during a downpour again.

My suspicions on meditating while tripping tend toward the idea that you probably should just call it tripping no matter what position your body happens to take. Someday I'll experiment.


Louis,
Sorry, I was sleepy when I wrote the opium bit :) . Let's see now... Very good. I need you to answer one question before I deliver my devastating critique.

What does it mean to say that I have faith in reason?

Please use the quote below as a reference.
   
Quote ("louis @ Mornington,Crescent")
This is the thing with religion. I'd be singularly amazed if all relgious ideas from all religions over all time turned out to be totally useless. In fact it would be a staggering (and interesting) clue if they were. As it turns out, not all the ideas contained in religion are totally useless, some of them, many of them are quite useful. But a) how do we know they are useful, b) how did they develop, and c) how do we examine them and extract the useful bits? The answer to those three questions is not "faith and revelation". The answer is "by careful reasoning, rational examination of their claims and coherence, careful observation of their effects and basis, and scrutiny of the evidence they claim in support". The useful bits of religions are not only discernable by reason and observation, they are derived from them and can be reverse engineered on that basis. The fact that we have forgotten how they arose, or that their workings are hidden is no more significant than the fact that some part of our brain does very rapid and complex differential calculus when we catch a ball, or that we don't show the full proofs of number theory when we add two and two to get four.



Skeptic,
Quote
While your view of how meditation works may be right it can also be wrong.  Take this analogy.  You're not training yourself to use different thought processes but rather you're teaching yourself to quiet down so you can "hear" what's always been out there.  If it is the conscious thinking process getting in the way then meditation inhibits that process to make you more receptive to addition stimuli that is normally lost in the noise.  Of course, there's no real way to tell the difference and that's the rub.

If I were to apply this in a faith context.  Again, with the assumption that God is out there and talking, meditation or prayer opens you up so you can hear him.  This would then be a conduit to external knowledge that has no basis we know of in reason.


You are directly at odds with the scientific method. Sure quiet down to "hear what's out there" but then decipher the new information based on your experience of it. If you assume that there is some toga clad bearded man in there flailing about with a can o' whup ass on unbelievers before you get there, you short circuit the scientific process. If you discover god while you're in there, that's a different story.

Also, do you have a response to my earlier question about why you assume god?

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,17:40   

sorry, BWE, missed that one but I'll go back and give it a look.

not sure exactly what you're saying in the first comment unless it is to say that faith operates outside the scientific method (I don't think you're actually saying that) and if so then I whole-heartedly agree.

  
Annyday



Posts: 583
Joined: Nov. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,18:36   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Dec. 05 2007,14:30)
This paragraph of BWE's tickled my funny bone (while also lighting up the "fond reminiscence" region of my gray matter), and then I got to thinking about it:
 
Quote
Sitting or meditating peels away the layers and tripping wraps you up in them. I have experienced both sensations and I like them both although at my age I've started a program trying to conserve my remaining brain cells so I am rusty with the latter experience. I don't think they are really the same thing. You might have moments of similarity though. I don't know.

What happens if you sit/meditate while tripping?  I seem to remember doing that...  Needless to say, I'm a little rusty with the latter experience as well (hell, I'm rusty with the ladder experience, which is really inexcusable...), but I sense an experiment lurking in the weeds.

If the CIA didn't already run it.  Maybe a FOIA request?

I've done it a few times. Meditating makes you trip harder. My personal explanation is that pruning out external stimuli through meditation frees up resources with which to exercise the mind, whether it's being fueled by conscious contemplation or hallucinogens. Isolation tanks supposedly do similar things.

I'm, uh, not reading the parts of this thread that aren't about hallucinogens. I surmise, sort of, that it's a form of argument about the validity of experience, faith, qualia and suchlike and is probably very dull.

--------------
"ALL eight of the "nature" miracles of Jesus could have been accomplished via the electroweak quantum tunneling mechanism. For example, walking on water could be accomplished by directing a neutrino beam created just below Jesus' feet downward." - Frank Tipler, ISCID fellow

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,20:53   

Some responses to Louis. Apologies: this is way too long.
                 
Quote
I'm rather surprised. I have been using the word "reason" in its clear philosophical, epistemological sense (openly stated) since the word go, and NOW the definition is in question?

Actually, I don't see that the definition of "reason" is at issue here at all, and am unsure of the source of your surprise. What I said was "I ultimately associate 'reasoning' with 'justification or warrant' for holding a conclusion or engaging in a behavior." That, obviously, is essentially identical to the first dictionary definition of reason you've reproduced above: "1. a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc." This also seems right at home within the context of the theme of this entire thread, and specifically your argument with Skeptic: You have repeatedly asked him to provide explicit warrant for his conclusions in the form of evidence and explicitly articulated reasoning over that evidence, and repeatedly expressed exasperation over his unwillingness to do so. Instead, he has tended to restate his assertions, asserting the warrant to do so on "faith." Further, central to the thread has been your argument regarding the power and value of explicit reasoning over states of affairs (evidence) as a means to justify conclusions, relative to statements asserted from faith.

                             
Quote
Oh well, my own fault I suppose. I checked back and I haven't seen me say that the ball toss was "reasoned" but that it was a process that is based on the use of reason.

Vis the very specific form "reasoned" I was recalling your PM to me. There you said "...It's an operation of your brain based on interaction between your CNS and its environment, it is the very essence of a reasoned process based on observation and interaction."

I do take note of the fact that you've also, in the above definitions, favored a related definition of "reason" that carries a somewhat different emphasis: "Philosophy. a. the faculty or power of acquiring intellectual knowledge, either by direct understanding of first principles or by argument." Then, you provided a supportive definition of "knowledge," with this emphasis: "something that is or may be known; information: He sought knowledge of her activities...the body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time"  I don't dispute any of these definitions, and accept the emphasis that you've preferred above (although I would say that a definition of knowledge as "something that is or may be known" is pretty close to tautological and therefore not very helpful).

So. We agree on the definition of "reason," yet I still find your application of "reason" to an exquisite motor act such as catching a ball somewhat inappropriate. Given our agreement on definition, it is likely that we are differing on applicability. For me this difference flows,

1) from elements implicit within the definition of "reasoning" reported above (namely its propositional nature), and

2) from the actual neural basis of such acts, which is not propositional, or even representational.

The short version is that "reason" and "reasoning" are inherently representational and often propositional in nature, while the visual networks that guide motor actions are not.

----------------------------------

I have repeatedly emphasized "propositional" versus "non-propositional" insights in discussing meditation. A proposition entails a representation of a possible state of affairs in the world ("there are a lot of cats in the neighborhood") and may be factual or counterfactual. Propositions may be articulated as first principles or stated as assertions about states of affairs that may be affirmed by public observation (e.g. evidence). As one reasons, one then operates logically over those propositions to attain conclusions that are also expressed propositionally. Hence reasoning, as I construe it, is inherently propositional/representational in nature. Similarly, "knowledge" as you define it, and incorporate to your preferred definition of "reason," is inherently propositional: inherent to any notion of "truths" (as in "the body of truths") is propositional content; truths are that subset of propositions we know to be factual rather than counterfactual. It may be that reasoning in this sense can be accomplished unconsciously, but I think it inherent in the definition that, on demand, the evidence, propositions, operations across those propositions, and resulting assertions can be explicitly articulated. I don't think you'd be impressed if Skeptic claimed "My conclusions ARE based on reasoning - only this is unconscious reasoning that I can't articulate. But I know it is reason, and that my conclusions are reasonable." You would ask that he make his reasoning explicit, or request that he cease characterizing his process as "reason."

----------------------------------

Given the above: I don't believe that the mechanisms that underlie skills such as catching a ball are necessarily propositional or even representational. In fact, the contrary appears to be true: rapid visual-motor coordination and actions are guided by an unconscious stream of visual processing that is NOT representational - and hence is not propositional (because all propositions are representations, athough the reverse is not true). Nor is this non-concious process amenable to explicit articulation in terms of propositional reasoning, even upon demand. The following draws upon Milner and Goodale's 1996 book The Visual Brain in Action:

From an evolutionary perspective, the original function of vision was to enable organisms to perform skilled actions.  It was only in mammalian evolution, particularly with the evolution of the primates, that the ability to build and store manipulable perceptual representations of the visual world appeared, representations that are the basis of visual "observation." In the primate brain these functions are accomplished by two relatively independent streams of neural processing which progress from back to front of the brain along independent ventral and dorsal pathways. The output of the ventral stream is perception; the output of the dorsal stream is action.  

Persons who suffer lesions that interrupt then ventral "what" stream suffer various “form agnosias” that render them unable to recognize or discriminate common objects, simple geometric shapes, and faces.  The ventral stream’s sole source of input is the primary visual cortex (V1); hence complete disruption or disconnection of V1 results in “cortical blindness.”  Persons suffering such brain damage report no visual experience.  

The dorsal "where/how" stream of visual information processing is, in contrast, responsible for the guidance of immediate motor actions, such as reaching one’s arm, posturing one’s hand and opening one’s fingers to grasp an object - and catching a ball. The dorsal stream receives a variety of subcortical inputs, particularly from the superior colliculus, at points beyond area V1, and hence continues to receive some input even when V1 has been destroyed and cortical blindness is present. Moreover, the motor guidance accomplished by the dorsal stream appears to occur entirely outside awareness, and does not directly contribute to direct perceptual experience at all, including the perception of space and objects within it. These computations must be constantly and rapidly updated “online” in a real-time fashion - hence this action-based stream of visual processing has very little memory, does not create or utilize stored representations, and does not directly contribute to conscious perception.
   
In short, many rapid visual-motor actions are accomplished by means of visual processing that does NOT contribute to the construction of the visual scene, and hence to anything resembling observation.

Persons who have suffered damage to the “what” pathway and hence suffer various visual agnosias often remain capable of performing visually guided manual tasks with considerable precision, even as they remain utterly incapable of reporting, on the basis of vision alone, the size, shape, orientation, identity or function of the objects they successfully manipulate. For example, one exhaustively studied patient (D. F.), who suffered damage to the ventral pathway (secondary to carbon monoxide poisoning), is completely unable to recognize forms or objects (her perception of color and texture remain quite vivid, however). However, D. F. is capable of orienting her hand to post a card into a slot oriented at various angles with adeptness equal to controls, while remaining utterly unable to report or describe either verbally or by gesture the orientation of the slot at a level above chance. She is similarly able to reach and grasp objects of various sizes with normal precision, opening her fingers in preparation for a grasp in a normal fashion and grasping the objects across physically efficient axes, yet remains completely unable to identify, describe or discriminate these objects on the basis of size or form. Damage to the ventral pathway has completely disrupted her ability to recognize or describe visual forms, yet she continues to be guided in her motor actions by dorsal visual processing to which she has no conscious access and that results in no visual experience.

In contrast, persons who suffer dorsal stream damage remain largely perceptually intact while exhibiting severe impairment of visually guided behavior.  They have comparatively little difficulty giving accurate verbal reports of the orientation and location of objects, and are capable of making various discriminations.  Nevertheless, they exhibit a narrowing of attention, fixed gaze, difficulty executing saccadic eye movements, and difficulty reaching their arms and forming their hands to complete a grasp of target objects.  In short, they are able to contemplate the perceptual scene constructed by the ventral pathway, yet have difficulty utilizing that information to guide motor actions.  This is not a deficit of the motor system, as demonstrated by the fact that these persons remain capable of adeptly guiding motor actions using other sensory modalities such as touch.

In short, the vision-action neural nets that guide rapid and precise motor actions such as catching a ball are NOT representational in nature, are not at all propositional, and do not result in observations, unconscious or otherwise. Yes, they adapt us beautifully to circumstances in the external world, but they do not represent "reasoning" over experience in any of the senses defined above, because they do not entail representations. Something other than reasoning, even unconscious reasoning, is going on when this dorsal stream of processing guides one's hand as one catches a ball.

[very minor edits for clarity]

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,21:08   

Quote (BWE @ Dec. 04 2007,14:41)
Skeptic,

From my perspective, your position derives from faith but not directly in God; rather it appears faith in the people who told you about God and the book those people showed you. They told you what God was like. They told you what God thinks. They told you what God expects. If you hear God talk to you and he says the things you heard in church and read in a book but he doesn't ever ever ever say those things to people who haven't read the book, then we might be able to employ reason to that little tidbit.

I am tracking with your comment (I think) but do you contradict yourself here?

Quote
It took me 34 pages to realize that until and if I can prove God exists, or some similar agent, then I have no right to claim that knowledge can come from external sources.  

The question of whether or not revelation is coming from God, the Devil or my own diseased head is irrelevant to the conversation.  Why?  Because the premise is unprovable.  I convice you that God spoke to me and told me "thou shalt not kill" unless you also believe in God.  Certainly God could be more blatent and tell me the winning six numbers but I'm pretty sure that still wouldn't constitute convincing evidence.  The knowledge that "thou shalt not kill" did come from somewhere and it is foolish to argue about it's source because there is no resolution to that discussion.

It's all fun and games till God tells you to go kill him a son or obliterate an entire city, people and all. Not that I'm going down the bad things in the bible road but it looks to me like you cherry pick a bit. Sure, I can't tell you God didn't speak to you. I wholeheartedly agree. But what god says is a whole different story.

Imagine if a native from the deepest darkest part of the Amazon, he's never seen nor even heard of humanity outside his own hunting grounds. Imagine if he walked out of the Jungle and told the story of Jesus. Or the miracles in the bible. Or imagine that he says "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife. God told me that."

But actually, that's not what happens is it? What seems to happen is this:
Quote
The Huaorani were contacted only 50 years ago. Before that time, these hunter-gatherers were roaming in small groups on an area three times bigger than their present day territory. Recently, the Ecuadorian government granted the Huaorani communal rights over their current territory....
The Huaorani are known for their spears, which are long, with both ends sharpened. One of the ends is carved with sharp barbs. Once the spear enters the body, there is no way of taking it out without tearing the flesh and causing more damage.  They are feared by neighboring tribes for their violent reputation.  Huaoranis are indeed very temperamental, moody, and unpredictable.  They have a long history of bloody vengeances; violent payback was part of their culture.  Most of the conflicts were solved by spearing the other party, then the family of the victim would seek revenge, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.

In 1956 the Huaorani were contacted by missionaries of the Summer Language Institute and the process of evangelization began. The missionaries translated the Bible in Huao Terero. They taught the Huaorani it was shameful to walk around naked as they were accustomed, making them ashamed of their traditions and lifestyle.  The influence of missionaries became very apparent to me when I was playing cards with young adults in a Kichwa community in the jungle just outside Huaorani territory.  I was accompanied by a young Huaorani man who had been my guide in a trip to Huaorani territory.  To make the game more entertaining, I proposed that whoever loses, get punished (made to do something funny, like sing, dance, or act silly).  My guide immediately let me know that he was not allowed to dance, because in the Bible it is written that dancing is bad.  When he was punished, my Huaorani guide started singing a religious hymn learned from missionaries.  Huaoranis were lured to live in fixed areas (reservations) where the missionaries built houses and schools, thus destroying their nomadic lifestyle, and disrupting their social structure.  The missionaries paved the way for oil companies to enter Huaorani territory and start drilling. Money, clothing, and new diseases made the Huaorani dependent on consumer goods and western medicines.  In exchange for salt, sugar, and Nike shoes, they gave missionaries and oil companies permission to do pretty much whatever they wanted on their land.

http://www.amazon-indians.org/page11.html

Right?

So, when you talk about a God that you didn't invent, we can look at things like where the idea originated. Right? Or wrong? I'm not talking about disproving God, I'm talking about myth. It can be traced, diagrammed, mapped over time using GIS software like Arcsoft and Arcview, broken down into its constituent bits analyzed and set upon a platter for display.

At that point, reason would tell us that the revelation didn't come from God. Not that knowledge can't come from revelation -

*An aside: and until Louis refines the definitions to draw at least narrow gray areas, his point regarding knowledge looks a bit like "opium makes you sleepy because of its soporific effects" to me right now. But skeptic, watch how he deals with that statement and then watch how I respond. I do suppose that logical soft spot to be the case in this one narrow part of the OP so I expect Louis will vigorously defend his definitions and I will consider his definitions. I suspect Louis will either not be able to support his definition in which case he will blush, giggle and say "oops, quite right.", or he will support his definition in such a way that reason can be reasonably delineated in which case I will concede the point and probably muse on the subject for a good while later because I might see it in a new way. I however, will not say "oops, quite right." Only a Brit would say that and that's because they aren't afraid of looking homosexual like we americans are. Sorry, I can't speak for aussies or kiwis.

- but that previously known knowledge isn't by definition revelation.

Maybe that makes sense. I don't care what you believe but if you claim yesterday's headline as a revelation and also immutable truth and rational investigation leads to a conflicting conclusion then that is the spot where the rift between science and religion begins.

Woo. Gotta go. Bye.

Skeptic. This one.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,21:10   

As an addendum (I don't want to lengthen the above post any further), the above points on visual-motor guidance can be extended to the experiences harvested by meditation. There is a LOT of neural and bodily action going on within our brains, nervous systems, and bodies that is similarly not at all propositional. This functioning isn't directly encountered during travels through the corridors of language and reason, however skillful, and aren't derived products of propositional reason. Yet one can pause to dwell within those streams of activity, which are also part of oneself, part of one's organism, and indeed embody the many strata evolutionary history that lie within each of us. Meditation is one way to so dwell.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Henry J



Posts: 4815
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,21:49   

Quote
often remain capable of performing manual tasks with considerable precision, even as they remain utterly incapable of reporting, on the basis of vision alone, the size, shape, orientation, identity or function of the objects they successfully manipulate.


Weird!

Makes me wonder if those internal calculations might be analog rather than digital - using some sort of signal strength or chemical concentration instead of any sort of symbols for the variables in the "calculation".

Henry

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,21:54   

Quote (Henry J @ Dec. 05 2007,22:49)
Quote
often remain capable of performing manual tasks with considerable precision, even as they remain utterly incapable of reporting, on the basis of vision alone, the size, shape, orientation, identity or function of the objects they successfully manipulate.


Weird!

Makes me wonder if those internal calculations might be analog rather than digital - using some sort of signal strength or chemical concentration instead of any sort of symbols for the variables in the "calculation".

Henry

That's probably right. Neural-net computation doesn't use procedures nor variables (although it can simulate algorithmic computation that does). Rather, strengths of connections are established and modified between nodes, very much an analog process.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,07:29   

Bill,

Re: reasoned. AH! Thanks very much! I had an inkling I'd said it somewhere (and knew that it was an error) but when I checked back on the thread I couldn't find it so I figured I'd corrected it. My mistake entirely. My apologises for the confusion caused (at least to myself!). I recently deleted all my PMs ad my inbox had filled, sorry. Consider my surprise retracted. ;-) Delete that "reasoned" and insert a "based on a process derived from reason, observation etc.". Wrong or right that at least makes it consistent with what I've said before.

Also I didn't mean to imply that you or BWE were using invalid definitions of "reason" etc, just that you (plural) and I were probably using different ones, or that I had inadvertantly used two different ones poorly (as above). And yes, I have used "reason" in different contexts, but I'd hoped until now I'd been clear, obviously I haven't! I'll try harder. (Incidentally, I've also always found the definition of "knowledge" to be as you describe it, and I think that it marks one of the foundational difficulties of these discussions. I was thinking of adding a "communicable" caveat to the definition, but I didn't because I haven't worked out all the details of its implications yet)

I'm not sure however if I'm being thick (always a possibility) or if we're talking at cross purposes with reference to ball catching and reason. Knowing me, probably the former! I understand the point about propositional/representational aspects inherent in the definitions of reason and knowledge I've used. I think maybe where I've made the mistake is saying "knowledge" regarding ball catching when perhaps I meant data or information. Let me think about this.

{time passes}

I think we're both caught up in the propositonal nature of reasoning, and my (perhaps poor) use of the term "reason" for unconscious processes. I'm not even sure that ball catching is not propositional. The problem I'm having is in articulating that distinction. Maybe I've used the wrong words, maybe the emphasis I've been trying to make is not coming across.

Bear with me whilst I try to work this out:

1) The ability to catch a ball is derived in part from the interaction of conscious and unconscious brain processes with the environment.

2) Inherent in those learning processes are a "trial and error" style series of "observations". I.e. the brain "observes" the behaviour of balls in flight and learns how to intercept their trajectories via a series of interactions with balls in flight.

3) By this process the brain develops a picture of how balls in flight behave, that "data" (knowledge? information? Maybe I've been using the wrong words) is, as mentioned, derived from brain-environment interaction, be that for an individual organism or as an evolved ability, both require that interaction to develop.

4) I think that this is precisely what you describe as "A proposition entails a representation of a possible state of affairs in the world ("there are a lot of cats in the neighborhood") and may be factual or counterfactual." The brain has developed a representation of a possible state of affairs in the world, i.e. how balls behave in flight, and learned how to interact with that state of affairs to produce a specific result (catching of ball). How permanent or temporary that representation is, how quickly or consciously it is used/maintained are besides the point. It is an interaction of brain and environment in a consistent manner.

5) I think I see where we're diverging, it's the conscious/unconscious dichotomy and how the data is processed. I am not saying that brain processes underlying ball catching are part of the conscious processes of the brain, or even that we are aware of them, or represent a conscious model of what the environment around the brain is, and perhaps my use of the words "reason" and "observation" imply a conscious element I don't intend, but I'm not sure what other words to use (maybe "reason-like proccess"?). How that data is processed, the multifarious layers and pathways through the brain, whilst not irrrelevant, are not the point of what I was trying to say.

The distinction I have been making is that brains learn to catch balls by interaction with their environment (trivially true), that interaction  is an example of reason in the same way that the distribution of petals on specific flowers are examples of the Fibonnacci sequence. The distinction being that faith and revelation are not processes that utilise interaction with their environment, they are the internal generation of concepts within the brains of individuals, they eschew interaction deliberately. Idea X is true as an article of faith, comparing idea X to the universe around one is in opposition to having faith in it. No knowledge/data/information is generated or acquired by the process of having an idea untested by any form of interaction even though that idea might, by coincidence represent something externally verifiable. If the brain made models of the environment around it without interacting with that environment in anyway, those models are more likely to be inaccurate. So the brain makes models that are based on interaction with the environment (observations made using sense data. I don't think that implies CONSCIOUS/AWARE observation btw). I think our process of reason as a conscious thing is a representation of this underlying mechanism of generating models via interaction.

6) Maybe I've missed the point and been a bit thick, if so, please explain it to me! Maybe I haven't got across the distinction I'm trying to make very well. Maybe the distinction is a poor one or maybe I'm using the wrong words to describe it. I know, for example, you are not and cannot be saying that the brain's ability to do the processing necessary to catch a ball is informed by something other than the brain's interaction with its environment via the senses. I think I've just used the wrong words to describe the process and you are trying to sort out those poorly chosen terms.

Either way, maybe I've fucked up.

Cheers

Louis

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Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,11:45   

Louis -

That is clarifying. I think what you want to say is not that the mechanisms that catch a ball use a form of reasoning, but rather that both propositional reasoning across evidence and the mechanisms that enable one to catch a ball are instances of a more general phenomenon: "processes that interact with and derive feedback and correction from the environment." That certainly characterizes scientific reasoning, and also characterizes the homeostasis to target that characterizes catching a ball, while avoiding the hang up on propositions. It doesn't characterize the process of deriving propositions from faith, because there the correction from environmental input is absent.

Your Fibonnacci sequence observation raises an interesting point. Of course, it was natural selection that enabled the emergence of plant organization around the extremely efficient arrangement described by the Fibonnacci sequence. Yet we know that natural selection generates only apparent design - structures that appear for all the world to have been designed, and hence to have emerged by means of a process of representational reasoning, yet emerged from a process that is completely absent actual reasoning (or representation of any kind). That is the essence of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (both the book and the dangerous idea itself). Hence, in the flower petals, we have an arrangement that appears to have been devised by means of reasoning and even the ultra-abstract representational art we know as "mathematics," and that may be described with exquisite precision by means of this mathematical computation - yet did NOT originate by means of a process of mathematical reasoning. So too the apparent unconscious "reasoning" that underlies motor behavior may also be only apparent.  Which is not to gainsay the point of the first paragraph, above.

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Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,13:02   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Dec. 06 2007,17:45)
Louis -

That is clarifying. I think what you want to say is not that the mechanisms that catch a ball use a form of reasoning, but rather that both propositional reasoning across evicence and the mechanisms that enable one to catch a ball are instances of a more general phenomenon: "processes that interact with and derive feedback and correction from the environment." That certainly characterizes scientific reasoning, and also characterizes the homeostasis to target that characterizes catching a ball, while avoiding the hang up on propositions. It doesn't characterize the process of deriving propositions from faith, because there the correction from environmental input is absent.

Your Fibonnacci sequence observation raises an interesting point. Of course, it was natural selection that enabled the emergence of plant organization around the extremely efficient arrangement described by the Fibonnacci sequence. Yet we know that natural selection generates only apparent design - structures that appear for all the world to have been designed, and hence to have emerged by means of a process of representational reasoning, yet emerged from a process that is completely absent actual reasoning (or representation of any kind). That is the essence of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (both the book and the dangerous idea itself). Hence, in the flower petals, we have an arrangement that appears to have been devised by means of reasoning and even the ultra-abstract representational art we know as "mathematics," and that may be described with exquisite precision by means of this mathematical computation - yet did NOT originate by means of a process of mathematical reasoning. So too the apparent unconscious "reasoning" that underlies motor behavior may also be only apparent.  Which is not to gainsay the point of the first paragraph, above.

That's exactly it. I done broke my language bone today.

Louis

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,13:27   

Louis,

Either reason is a conscious process or it approaches a tautology for the purposes of this discussion. Skeptic's concept of God ™ as an unconscious process is subject to reason in that he has a definition of God which he employed reason (however incorrectly or correctly) to create. My example of the amazonian witch Dr. finding Jesus without ever meeting a christian speaks to that point.

Learning to be conscious of unconscious processes blurs the distinction between reason as a conscious process and the ability to learn through experience. For example, somewhere in this thread someone mentioned instinct. Does a cat use reason to catch a mouse? Kind of. But it knows how to stalk instinctively. Does an infant use reason to know that it is afraid of falling? Do you use reason to know how to breath? No.

If you want to claim that there can be no non-propositional truth regardless of where you draw the line but then draw the line to include instinctual or trained motor skills you've effectively claimed that all consciousness is propositional and that religion is simply an incorrect proposition. But then you've also claimed that the zen archer is using propositional reasoning and that the training he used to learn to avoid using the process formerly known as reason is actually itself a form of reasoning.

The rift between science and religion apparently involves propositions that fail to flow from evidence but surely you aren't claiming that consciousness itself is a product of reason are you? My question once again, what does it mean when you say you have faith in reason?

Bill,

Where did you learn to write like that? What do you do for work? I'm impressed FWIW.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,13:46   

Quote (BWE @ Dec. 06 2007,19:27)
Louis,

Either reason is a conscious process or it approaches a tautology for the purposes of this discussion. Skeptic's concept of God ™ as an unconscious process is subject to reason in that he has a definition of God which he employed reason (however incorrectly or correctly) to create. My example of the amazonian witch Dr. finding Jesus without ever meeting a christian speaks to that point.

Learning to be conscious of unconscious processes blurs the distinction between reason as a conscious process and the ability to learn through experience. For example, somewhere in this thread someone mentioned instinct. Does a cat use reason to catch a mouse? Kind of. But it knows how to stalk instinctively. Does an infant use reason to know that it is afraid of falling? Do you use reason to know how to breath? No.

If you want to claim that there can be no non-propositional truth regardless of where you draw the line but then draw the line to include instinctual or trained motor skills you've effectively claimed that all consciousness is propositional and that religion is simply an incorrect proposition. But then you've also claimed that the zen archer is using propositional reasoning and that the training he used to learn to avoid using the process formerly known as reason is actually itself a form of reasoning.

The rift between science and religion apparently involves propositions that fail to flow from evidence but surely you aren't claiming that consciousness itself is a product of reason are you? My question once again, what does it mean when you say you have faith in reason?

Bill,

Where did you learn to write like that? What do you do for work? I'm impressed FWIW.

BWE,

I didn't say I had faith in reason IIRC. I think Bill gets what I was trying to say, and perhaps it was my poor phrasing of it that's caused the confusion. I don't think I am claiming what you think I am claiming.

Louis

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,14:23   

Gaak! No. I didn't mean to imply whether you do or don't have faith in reason (although I'm curious now as to the answer) but what does it mean as far as the definition of terms to say "I have faith in reason."?

That said, I missed Bill's last post until just now. Hmmm. That doesn't really leave you anywhere though. I think I've been discussing a slightly different topic. Typical. My issue was the contention that Lenny got caught up in. I think he objected to the idea that all knowledge is a result of reason. It's a definition problem and the more specific you were the more you included.

If you agree with what Bill (once again eloquently) wrote:
 

Quote
both propositional reasoning across evicence and the mechanisms that enable one to catch a ball are instances of a more general phenomenon: "processes that interact with and derive feedback and correction from the environment." That certainly characterizes scientific reasoning, and also characterizes the homeostasis to target that characterizes catching a ball, while avoiding the hang up on propositions. It doesn't characterize the process of deriving propositions from faith, because there the correction from environmental input is absent.


Imagine Lenny sitting there writing this:

Quote
The question I am asking is a simple one: ?are brunettes hotter than blondes? ?And, of course, the relevant question behind that question is: is there any area that reason (or logic, or science, or kohlinar, or whatever anyone wants to call it) cannot answer (which is itself the result of the question "do science and religion necessarily conflict?"). ?My assertion, of course, is that no, science and religion need not inherently conflict, because yes, there are areas that science simply cannot answer -- one of those areas being moral, ethical or aesthetic judgements such as "are brunettes hotter than blondes?".

Louis, instead of just admitting that science and reason cannot answer ethical, moral or aesthetic questions, wants to change the question to make it into an "objective" question that science CAN answer, and that is why he is so hung up on the matter of "precise definitions". ?Indeed, when Louis asks me to DEFINE exactly what I mean by "hotter", he is, in essence, just asking me to answer the question for him, since science and reason simply can't answer it.

See, all Louis is doing is setting up an algorithm -- a perfectly rational algorithm that ruthlessly follows all the laws of logic. ?All you have to do is input the correct "definitions", turn the crank, and voila, out pops your perfectly rational logical answer. ?Simple, and works on any possible question.

The problem is that Louis's algorithm isn't actually ANSWERING anything. ?After all, it is the "definitions" themselves which determine the answer. ?If I define "hotter" as X, Y and Z, then lo and behold, Louis's algorithm will simply tell me that Girl A meets criteria X, Y and Z (according to the rational laws of logic) while Girl B doesn't. ?In other words, Louis is simply saying, "tell me what you think, and I'll tell you if this is what you think". ?Louis is simply measuring whether this or that thing meets my definition that I have already given him. ?

Given the last 10 relevant posts from the past few days. So, while is example was propositional, I see the problem he attempted to deal with as one of definitions. If actions or preferences rely on unconscious or even subconscious decision making then at some point you've defined yourself right out of a point. I can imagine getting frustrated if he got caught up in it.

Does that make sense? I'm having a difficult time recovering from sleep deprivation this week.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,18:39   

Yes, I'm going to agree with BWE here (I think, lol).  The initial premise of whether or not knowledge can come from sources other than human reason is the problem.  Without agreement on this question, we can not even approach the rift.

BWE, I'm going to look at your post again.  I'm trying to find "a" question but I think you want something a little more indepth.  I'll see what I can do.

  
BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2007,20:32   

Quote (BWE @ Dec. 04 2007,14:41)
Skeptic,

From my perspective, your position derives from faith but not directly in God; rather it appears faith in the people who told you about God and the book those people showed you. They told you what God was like. They told you what God thinks. They told you what God expects. If you hear God talk to you and he says the things you heard in church and read in a book but he doesn't ever ever ever say those things to people who haven't read the book, then we might be able to employ reason to that little tidbit.

I am tracking with your comment (I think) but do you contradict yourself here?

Quote
It took me 34 pages to realize that until and if I can prove God exists, or some similar agent, then I have no right to claim that knowledge can come from external sources.  

The question of whether or not revelation is coming from God, the Devil or my own diseased head is irrelevant to the conversation.  Why?  Because the premise is unprovable.  I convice you that God spoke to me and told me "thou shalt not kill" unless you also believe in God.  Certainly God could be more blatent and tell me the winning six numbers but I'm pretty sure that still wouldn't constitute convincing evidence.  The knowledge that "thou shalt not kill" did come from somewhere and it is foolish to argue about it's source because there is no resolution to that discussion.

It's all fun and games till God tells you to go kill him a son or obliterate an entire city, people and all. Not that I'm going down the bad things in the bible road but it looks to me like you cherry pick a bit. Sure, I can't tell you God didn't speak to you. I wholeheartedly agree. But what god says is a whole different story.

Imagine if a native from the deepest darkest part of the Amazon, he's never seen nor even heard of humanity outside his own hunting grounds. Imagine if he walked out of the Jungle and told the story of Jesus. Or the miracles in the bible. Or imagine that he says "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife. God told me that."

But actually, that's not what happens is it? What seems to happen is this:
Quote
The Huaorani were contacted only 50 years ago. Before that time, these hunter-gatherers were roaming in small groups on an area three times bigger than their present day territory. Recently, the Ecuadorian government granted the Huaorani communal rights over their current territory....
The Huaorani are known for their spears, which are long, with both ends sharpened. One of the ends is carved with sharp barbs. Once the spear enters the body, there is no way of taking it out without tearing the flesh and causing more damage.  They are feared by neighboring tribes for their violent reputation.  Huaoranis are indeed very temperamental, moody, and unpredictable.  They have a long history of bloody vengeances; violent payback was part of their culture.  Most of the conflicts were solved by spearing the other party, then the family of the victim would seek revenge, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.

In 1956 the Huaorani were contacted by missionaries of the Summer Language Institute and the process of evangelization began. The missionaries translated the Bible in Huao Terero. They taught the Huaorani it was shameful to walk around naked as they were accustomed, making them ashamed of their traditions and lifestyle.  The influence of missionaries became very apparent to me when I was playing cards with young adults in a Kichwa community in the jungle just outside Huaorani territory.  I was accompanied by a young Huaorani man who had been my guide in a trip to Huaorani territory.  To make the game more entertaining, I proposed that whoever loses, get punished (made to do something funny, like sing, dance, or act silly).  My guide immediately let me know that he was not allowed to dance, because in the Bible it is written that dancing is bad.  When he was punished, my Huaorani guide started singing a religious hymn learned from missionaries.  Huaoranis were lured to live in fixed areas (reservations) where the missionaries built houses and schools, thus destroying their nomadic lifestyle, and disrupting their social structure.  The missionaries paved the way for oil companies to enter Huaorani territory and start drilling. Money, clothing, and new diseases made the Huaorani dependent on consumer goods and western medicines.  In exchange for salt, sugar, and Nike shoes, they gave missionaries and oil companies permission to do pretty much whatever they wanted on their land.

http://www.amazon-indians.org/page11.html

Right?

So, when you talk about a God that you didn't invent, we can look at things like where the idea originated. Right? Or wrong? I'm not talking about disproving God, I'm talking about myth. It can be traced, diagrammed, mapped over time using GIS software like Arcsoft and Arcview, broken down into its constituent bits analyzed and set upon a platter for display.

At that point, reason would tell us that the revelation didn't come from God. Not that knowledge can't come from revelation -

*An aside: and until Louis refines the definitions to draw at least narrow gray areas, his point regarding knowledge looks a bit like "opium makes you sleepy because of its soporific effects" to me right now. But skeptic, watch how he deals with that statement and then watch how I respond. I do suppose that logical soft spot to be the case in this one narrow part of the OP so I expect Louis will vigorously defend his definitions and I will consider his definitions. I suspect Louis will either not be able to support his definition in which case he will blush, giggle and say "oops, quite right.", or he will support his definition in such a way that reason can be reasonably delineated in which case I will concede the point and probably muse on the subject for a good while later because I might see it in a new way. I however, will not say "oops, quite right." Only a Brit would say that and that's because they aren't afraid of looking homosexual like we americans are. Sorry, I can't speak for aussies or kiwis.

- but that previously known knowledge isn't by definition revelation.

Maybe that makes sense. I don't care what you believe but if you claim yesterday's headline as a revelation and also immutable truth and rational investigation leads to a conflicting conclusion the that is the spot where the rift between science and religion begins.

Woo. Gotta go. Bye.

this one skeptic.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,06:39   

BWE,

In no particular order:

1) Lenny's mischaracterisation of my arguments is well documented, and the post you quote is one of the more egregious examples. I have never, and will never fail to acknowledge the limits of what is knowable by any means. I don't think what Lenny and I differed on was the conscious/subconscious issue, that I admit I have confused due to poor selection of teminology for it.

Lenny repeatedly, irrationally and erroneously insisted that "are blonder hotter than brunettes?" etc were questions. I repeatedly demonstrated that in that form and in the absence of context they are not. That was the core of our disagreement. He kept accusing me of having to change the question, and whether he liked it or not, I wasn't changing it. I explained the errors he made at some length. It'll be in that links post I made.

2) Read again what Bill rote, he's phrased it better than I have. Stop importing "conscious" "aware" "human" etc as prefixes for the "unconscious reason-like" process I have been describing (admittedly poorly). I take full blame for the misunderstanding. I hadn't thought how to phrase what I wrote carefully enough to remove intentionality/awareness implications from it.

3) Faith in reason? No I don't have it. I go with what works as best I can. To quote Feynman:

Quote
I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong.


Quote
The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty damn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress, we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty—some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain. Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question—to doubt—to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.


I quote Prof Feynman for at least one reason: he expresses what I think vastly better than I do.

If someone has faith in reason, they've missed the point.

Louis

--------------
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Assassinator



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,09:10   

Quote
If someone has faith in reason, they've missed the point.

Well, ofcourse you've got different grades of faith. Trust is also an example of faith. But the key difference is the foundation of that trust. For example scientists trust other scientists that they can do there work, but the foundations of that trust are the proof that those scientists can be trusted. Phd's, peer-reviewd work and things like that. That's the main difference with the faith in religion. It's, in a way, blind. It has no solid foundation.

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,13:26   

Quote (Assassinator @ Dec. 07 2007,15:10)
Quote
If someone has faith in reason, they've missed the point.

Well, ofcourse you've got different grades of faith. Trust is also an example of faith. But the key difference is the foundation of that trust. For example scientists trust other scientists that they can do there work, but the foundations of that trust are the proof that those scientists can be trusted. Phd's, peer-reviewd work and things like that. That's the main difference with the faith in religion. It's, in a way, blind. It has no solid foundation.

Assassinator,

Sure, but I think BWE's question was specifically referring to the definitions of faith and reason I gave a page or so ago. I mentioned Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back on this thread that "lowercase f" faith was commonplace in science as part of the iterative process of developing ideas.

And of course you;re also right that "lowercase f" faith in experts is present in all walks of human life, science included. There obviously are important distinctions, none phrased better than Feynman's:

"Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceding generation ... Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. "

Or I suppose the motto of the Royal Society: Nullius in verbia.

Louis

--------------
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BWE



Posts: 1898
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,13:42   

Quote (Louis @ Dec. 07 2007,06:39)
BWE,

In no particular order:

1) Lenny's mischaracterisation of my arguments is well documented, and the post you quote is one of the more egregious examples. I have never, and will never fail to acknowledge the limits of what is knowable by any means. I don't think what Lenny and I differed on was the conscious/subconscious issue, that I admit I have confused due to poor selection of teminology for it.

Lenny repeatedly, irrationally and erroneously insisted that "are blonder hotter than brunettes?" etc were questions. I repeatedly demonstrated that in that form and in the absence of context they are not. That was the core of our disagreement. He kept accusing me of having to change the question, and whether he liked it or not, I wasn't changing it. I explained the errors he made at some length. It'll be in that links post I made.

2) Read again what Bill rote, he's phrased it better than I have. Stop importing "conscious" "aware" "human" etc as prefixes for the "unconscious reason-like" process I have been describing (admittedly poorly). I take full blame for the misunderstanding. I hadn't thought how to phrase what I wrote carefully enough to remove intentionality/awareness implications from it.

3) Faith in reason? No I don't have it. I go with what works as best I can. To quote Feynman:

   
Quote
I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong.


   
Quote
The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty damn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress, we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty—some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain. Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question—to doubt—to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.


I quote Prof Feynman for at least one reason: he expresses what I think vastly better than I do.

If someone has faith in reason, they've missed the point.

Louis

Touchy? Sorry. I just picked up on the whole episode a little while ago so I rehashed it for my own benefit. Sorry if it's a sore spot.

How I see things:


I'm not trying to poke at you. The thread has an interesting narrative and sub-narrative regarding how people deal with their own interpretations of the world around them. I very much enjoyed the premise and the human stories told through the force of opinion and frustration of limitations that words impose.

Horace Walpole once wrote in a letter to the queen of upper Austria that "The world is a comedy to those that think and a tragedy to those that feel." Whether that statement has any meaning at all or not, ever since I first read it I have tried to blend the two perspectives so I can see the comic and the tragic elements in our world. This thread blends those elements in a way that only rarely happens in a message board thread.

I saw Lenny's quote from above characterizing one of the more emotional appeals to a world view. The lens he used - his initial assumptions or platform - was a complimentary color to yours. When combined, they made gray. It's not so much that he used poor logic as that he developed a stake in the outcome. Once he had a stake, he couldn't edit his own ideas down to where they made sense within the framework you laid out. The stake ended up needing defense because the discussion got hung up in definitions. You got pretty wound up too around that point and moved into saying that science gives better insight into preferences than religion. In defending your own reference point, you took a semantic issue and moved it from an internal dimension to an external dimension. You started in on quantifying it, dissecting it and claiming rational reason as the only source of information that could be valid. The problem with that approach was that you included unconscious processes as rational and reasoned (I do understand the current developments). Of course they are but doesn't that kind of make the words meaningless?  I can read the thread more than one way depending on whether I want to see it as comedic or tragic.

You said that faith in reason is silly. Right. From the point of view you brought on, that is correct. But isn't that a kind of blanket doing away with the word? Are you just narrowing the definition of faith till it only means a belief in the irrational? So all you've done is have a long tirade against a definition of a word in that case. Or that reason includes any action or trust based on "processes that interact with and derive feedback and correction from the environment." (as Bill put it) Which includes pretty much everything else? I was looking for how you would define the words "faith" and "reason" in the context of the sentence. Apologies for being less than clear on that. I know you (plural) hashed out the definitions already but the context is what I was after. I did have a point I wanted to get at.

Lenny's poorly worded point is that what you know from experience with consciousness- internal dimensions- is different from what you know from measurement and quantification- external dimensions. Quantifying feeling provides mechanistic knowledge of the feeling but no living conscious knowledge. Lenny's POV uses a different model than yours. The resulting argument ended up weird, intractable and mildly aggressive.

You can't change that Lenny went off in a snit. He got all uptight defending his viewpoint. He used logical fallacies and questionable tactics to try to make you stop or change or whatever. Then he decided to leave rather than deal. Oops. But he wasn't exactly "wrong" so much as he used the wrong examples. And he made the mistake of taking himself seriously at an inopportune time. Live and learn. That was his decision and you being you isn't a problem.

As goofy as it sounds, there is a community here at a virtual after-hours bar. The idea of "Louis" to me resembles the parallel of people I know in real-life that I like. So does the idea of "Lenny". Iconoclastic assholes that you can trust with your life. Great fishing or drinking buddies. Guys who wade right into a brawl simply for the fun of it. The real point of figuring out how to deal with the problem of dogma an increasingly complicated and delicate world, the rift between science and religion, got subverted by a pissing match over definitions. That's part of the fun. It's up to Lenny to decide to come back so don't stress on that on my account.

I did read what Bill wrote and it seems like a reasonable approach to a philosophical question regarding knowledge. I don't know exactly why I need to "Stop importing "conscious" "aware" "human" etc as prefixes for the "unconscious reason-like" process I have been describing (admittedly poorly).", when you take full blame for the misunderstanding. Because you hadn't thought how to phrase what you wrote carefully enough to remove intentionality/awareness implications from it, the idea ended up getting a much richer treatment and you get the chance to have a wry chuckle.

And Skeptic's claims that there is no reason for a rift between science and religion ended up as battered as any claim could be. His own definitions were clear and at odds with his claim. Since we tend to gather at this particular tavern to discuss that particular topic it seems appropriate that it got such a thorough hearing. Nothing helps expose the implications of dogma like someone trying to defend it.

BWE

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Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
J-Dog



Posts: 4402
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,14:04   

BWE and Louis - Twin sons of different mothers... And that's a good thing!

You guys should sign up for the Genome Project and compare results - My guess is that you are 99.99% homologous.

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Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,14:32   

Quote
As goofy as it sounds, there is a community here at a virtual after-hours bar. The idea of "Louis" to me resembles the parallel of people I know in real-life that I like. So does the idea of "Lenny". Iconoclastic assholes that you can trust with your life. Great fishing or drinking buddies.




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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,14:35   

Thanks Arden. I needed that. I feel better.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,15:01   

I feel there were several difficulties associated with Lenny's questions that were never addressed, some stylistic and some vis content. Stylistically, I was put off by the declamatory voice in which he repeated his assertion, and his lack of engagement with objections that were well taken. There were also formal problems with his argument (which varied dependent upon which question is considered) that flowed from the fact that while his questions were permissible English, they were logically ill-formed in one respect or other. The result was that his questions weren't answerable not because they pointed to domains over which science/reason can make no claims, but rather they were not questions at all. "Are blonds hotter than Brunettes," standing alone in space free of context is not simply subjective, and hence undecidable, but it really isn't a question at all. Louis strove to make this point in various ways, but Lenny persisted with his blank declarations that, in his unwillingness to engage, read as unwarrantedly dismissive. Other questions were problematic not because they are subjective, but rather because they are normative. It doesn't follow from these defects that science/reason can address all domains, but Lenny's examples were inadequate demonstrations that it cannot.  

But I say it's all good. This is a VERY difficult medium in which to accomplish anything, and here I think some interesting things were accomplished, especially recently. Props to the participants.

[edit for clarity]

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Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 07 2007,15:05   

Dang. I meant to say what you said Bill. Maybe I should just filter my posts through you before I post them. They seem to come out better after you get a hold of them.

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Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
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