Joined: Jan. 2006
|Quote (Louis @ Dec. 03 2007,11:28)|
I do not claim any monological view that is the only route to truth. I claim that thus far reason, in all its very varied forms, is the only working mechanism of acquiring knowledge about the universe we can demonstrate we have. That's a bit different, and doesn't involve "truth" which is an awfully slippery concept.
And I know Lenny didn't 100% agree with Skeptic, but he had to quote mine me to disagree with me on the bits he disagreed with me on. I'd say Skeptic would have quote mined me too, but that would mean he'd have actually had to read what I have written and done so for some modicum of comprehension. He hasn't. You can't quote mine something you have neither read nor understood. The similarities in their arguments lie on precisely that line: they both accused me of making a claim I'm not making, admittedly for different reasons. That claim being that science can do anything and tell us everything. Never said that. Never will.
I've made the distinctions pretty clearly several times. Skeptic and Lenny both had to work pretty hard in their own individual ways to miss them. THAT, incidentally, is what annoys me. I may have mentioned it.
Louis, I know you didn't claim the only route to truth. I used the word sloppily to illustrate the problem lenny was trying to address. Truth in fact is something you addressed head on between p.1 and 3 and between p.15 and 22.
That is the part that both of them missed. Like I said, Lenny actually agreed with you on your point (knowledge rather than truth) but wanted you to be far more explicit (and thus precise-possibly too precise) about excluding truth from your point:
|What I DO mean is that the mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe advocated by science and religion are very different and give different results. They are absolutely anathema to each other, and this is where the very real, very valid conflict between science and religion has its basis.|
What I was getting at is summed up (sort of) in this summary of another work (oh the irony) which I linked to earlier:
| Hierarchically ordered structures and emergents (properties or capacities that emerge de novo at certain levels of hierarchy) cannot be interpreted simply in terms of, nor considered as parts of, lower order phenomena. For example, when atoms of hydrogen and oxygen combine, the result is a molecule of water with novel emergent properties, such as wetness. These emergent properties are totally unpredictable from the properties of its constituent atoms and cannot be described in terms of atoms--and, of course, the water molecule is not contained within its atoms.|
So too life, or the biosphere, is not simply contained in, reducible to, or explicable simply in terms of, the physiosphere: the realm of pure matter. Life has emergent properties not found in the properties of its chemical constituents. Life, in other words, has properties and capacities that seem to defy description in terms of the movements of the mere molecules. Likewise, the noosphere (the realm of sentient life) emerges from and is not simply in the biosphere. That is, the noosphere is not a component of the larger whole called biosphere but is an emergent that in some sense transcends it. Ontologically, the noosphere thus cannot be reduced to, or considered merely as, a strand of the biosphere. And humans are compound individuals comprised of all three "spheres" or levels; we cannot be regarded simply as strands of the biosphere which comprises only the physical and biological levels.
This is a difficult but important argument which can only be sketched briefly here. It appears to resolve a number of puzzles that have plagued ecological thinking such as how one can accord greater value to some forms of life, including humans, than others while simultaneously honoring all life. Wilber argues at length that this perspective is not antiecological, as it might appear at first glance. Rather, he insists that it naturally results in an enhanced concern for life and the environment which are now recognized as parts of one's own compound individuality.
The Four Quadrants
The schemes and hierarchies considered so far all deal exclusively with exteriors since general systems theories try to be empirical. Hence they almost entirely overlook interiority or subjectivity. Systems theories are essentially theories of surfaces or exteriors.
To understand interiors--subjectivity, experience and consciousness--requires another approach, namely empathy, introspection and interpretation. In short, systems theories have given us a very valuable but very partial view of systems and evolution. This in itself is not bad. However, major troubles ensue when systems scientists claim, as all too many of them do, to be mapping, or at least capable of mapping, all domains of reality.
Wilber wants to expand this view. He argues that comprehensive approaches need to include objective studies not only of the external behavior of individual holons but also of social or group holons and, in addition, the interior or subjectivity of both individuals and groups. He therefore introduces what he calls "the four quadrants" model, with individual and social holons in the upper and lower halves respectively, and exterior and interior in the right and left halves respectively.
Reductionism can seem reasonable since all holons do in fact have both left- and right-hand quadrants and empirical data can be so obvious. However no quadrant is wholly reducible to another and both gross and subtle reductionism can be destructive. This can be insidious in the case of systems theorists, for example, because these people believe that they are truly embracing all reality in a holistic manner and seem quite unaware of just how much, and how much of value, is often missing from their worldview.
And, while this has both a WTF? and a Woo element, it is summarily supported and speaks to lenny's issue (ithink). Skeptic's issue on the other hand, appears to be the assertion that religion has value. (That period at the end of the last sentence denotes finality)
|Religion, on the other, does not rely upon empirical data. In fact, actual sources of knowledge are varied and open to interpretation. Appropriately enough so are the questions that religion attempts to answer. How do I treat others? What is goodness? What is the purpose of my life? The answer to any of these questions can hardly be "42" or some other hard answer. Whether through inspiration or revelation the answers given still must be digested individually and implemented personally. This again is in contrast to science as each answer is technically universal. It is not for religion to say how the heavens work just where Heaven is and how to get there. This leaves open the question concerning the existence of God and which discipline should claim superiority. We'll get back to that question later.|
|There are of course others, for example your repeated use of the falsehood that religion is about telling people how to live their lives/morals etc. Morality does not derive from religion...but this is an issue I'll get to later. My point here is that ethics, morals, social behaviour and so on ARE things that are precisely within the remit of reasoned, rational, observational study, i.e. science.|
Be clear about this, religion is the specific use of faith and revelation as mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe, science is the most refined use of reason and observation as such a mechanism. So whilst we won't perhaps get a "grand unified theory of morals" in the same sense as we would say a physical or biological (or even sociological) theory, we CAN get reasoned and rational theories of social behviours, derivations of ethics and so on that are based on the evidence (for example).
So to head off a strawman before it comes, I am not saying that the religions of the world have nothing useful to say, but that the useful things they have to say are those based on reason, rational thought and observation. Or at least those things that turn out to be supported by reason, rational thought and observation (if you see the distinction).
Using faith or relevation to decide an issue is a total non starter. Appeals to faith and revelation alone can be used to justify ANYTHING. Where an article of faith or revelation coincides with reality it is not faith or revelation that determines or decides this, it is reason, rational thought and observation. I.e. an appeal to the evidence.
Which is the point that skeptic and Lenny both seem to have stopped cold with. They set up the strawman to use Louis' words.
I'm going to guess that Lenny's objection flows from his meditation training. Being someone who practices some zen meditation techniques I can attest to the claim that zen practitioners make that there is something actually learned by meditation, purely experiential and which is exactly impossible to describe. This thing eludes quantification. It also has nothing whatsoever to do with faith. Lenny either actually achieved this knowledge or at least got close enough to see it through the only means available: meditation. This objection I wholeheartedly agree with but couldn't defend in any perfect way other than to teach you to meditate.
I said it differs from faith. It is actually more like a tool or instrument to record a previously unseen spectrum. The trick is to learn to see your brain work. It takes a fair bit of practice and leads to an experiential understanding of the difference between the words we use to describe and the things we describe.
Skeptic wants to piggyback "meditation on a mythology until it becomes true" on that notion. Not the same thing.
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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