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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 >  
BWE



Posts: 1901
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,04:55   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2007,01:13)
BWE, you missed my point.  "When God says..." can be replaced by revelation, meditation, whatever, but it's an external source.  Once knowledge comes from that external source there is no need for reason if you accept the source.  Is reason required to accept the authority of the source?  In some cases, maybe, but not always and hence the knowledge can come externally without the use of reason.  This is all predicated on the assumption that you believe in the source, in this case God.  If you believe in God then this makes perfect sense and if you don't then it appears that I'm out to lunch.

I don't think I missed your point Skeptic. "When God says" can't be replaced by those things. Without the bible (which is quantifiable, falsifiable and subject to rational investigation) you have no way to find out about "GOD ™". God declines all personal invitations to speak with those who failed to first meet a Christian or read the bible.

Spirit, or cosmic awareness or general woo however, is accessible through all kinds of delightful means- none of which provide any clue whatsoever to jesus' existence or teachings. Neither you nor any living Christian discovered christianity through any means other than another human. I'd say that pretty well negates the "external source" line of reasoning.

Louis,
Quote
The other thing is meditation, from what I understand from Bill and BWE is not an external source of knowledge but a different internal process of generating knowledge to the set of internal processes we use to interact with the universe around us. I'm sure they'll correct me if I messed that up!

Sort of. More like an internal process of generating knowledge of the relationship between the organism and the world. Actually, while it is certainly fascinating, it only bears a tangential relationship to the main idea of the thread. At some point Lenny melted down over something and it looked to me like he objected to the idea that all knowledge comes from rational investigation. Because he somehow equated subjective positive declarations with that idea, he went down the frustration path rather than understanding  your argument.

Faith gets you almost nowhere. There is a rift between science and religion because religion makes up stories and scientists don't get to. I think they're just jealous. As soon as someone makes a positive statement based on faith, that statement is surely subject to quantification. But through a process of taming the mind, knowledge can occur.

We will soon know a whole lot more about it though. My uncle (in Law) is currently involved in a 3 month (yes you read that right, 3 month) meditation research project-big budget, big names, prestigious universities etc. I lost my address card so I can't remember the name of the retreat center nor who the researchers are. I know that's a cop out but it's over at the end of dec. so I'll definitely be posting about it when he gets back. The researchers assembled a fairly large group it seemed of hardcore meditators, buddhist monks, yogis and others and brought them up to some retreat center on a mountain I think where they are literally trying to meditate for several hours a day every day and they are subject to a multitude of tests and scans.

I'm not sure of very many details but I'll have them in January.

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



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,05:19   

BWE,

Ok I just scratched the long and slightly naughty Devil's advocate post I was doing as I saw your reply.

So meditation helps you to intellectually/conceptually clarify the nature of the interaction between you as a conscious organism and your environment?

The more I read from you both about this the more fascinating it sounds, however, I'm forced to agree that the more I read the more tangential it seems, as you note. However, I'm more than happy to chalk that up to something I'm missing. As Bill notes, when we're talking about experience etc, then we are really talking about brain states, the mechanisms of memory etc. I can definitely see how an understanding of neuroscience, perhaps "future neuroscience" might provide complications to a simplistic "train of logic" type approach.

Whenever I read this stuff about meditation though I keep getting a nagging feeling that it's all to do with things like qualia. It strikes me that this uncommunicable knowledge you've gained is indistinguishable from a variety of other epiphenomena, for example a claim of revelation or intuition that refuses to put itself to examination. Could it be that meditation is like an exercise in that rather than granting you new knowledge it grants you new abilities?

More than that I am concerned that there is some reification of presumed internal states. The fact that this new knowledge has been generated for you is incommunicable flashes a little warning light in my head! That's probably my problem though! I understand the limitations of language in communicating internal states and I understand the difference between what Bill describes as the "idiot monologue" and different modes of cognition. I'm just concerned we are granting too much reality to something very anecdotal and possibly a greater reflection of the model building behaviour of the brain rather than something actually epistemologically useful. If you see what I mean.

Sorry if I'm making obvious blunders, neuroscience is not my field of expertise by a long margin!

Louis

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Bye.

  
BWE



Posts: 1901
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,06:29   

Quote
Sorry if I'm making obvious blunders, neuroscience is not my field of expertise by a long margin!

Louis

And since I've actually read a science news article or two I feel that I am qualified to preach the doctrines of neuroscience. However, this part of todays lesson doesn't involve neuroscience because it's fucking complicated and everything's always an appeal to some authority.

Quote
So meditation helps you to intellectually/conceptually clarify the nature of the interaction between you as a conscious organism and your environment?

The more I read from you both about this the more fascinating it sounds, however, I'm forced to agree that the more I read the more tangential it seems, as you note. However, I'm more than happy to chalk that up to something I'm missing. As Bill notes, when we're talking about experience etc, then we are really talking about brain states, the mechanisms of memory etc. I can definitely see how an understanding of neuroscience, perhaps "future neuroscience" might provide complications to a simplistic "train of logic" type approach.

It may be that we can imagine the science that brings the experience into the realm of quantification. I think you'd have a hard time explaining what you quantified. :) Anyway, we weren't going to talk about neuroscience, remember?

Quote
Whenever I read this stuff about meditation though I keep getting a nagging feeling that it's all to do with things like qualia. It strikes me that this uncommunicable knowledge you've gained is indistinguishable from a variety of other epiphenomena, for example a claim of revelation or intuition that refuses to put itself to examination. Could it be that meditation is like an exercise in that rather than granting you new knowledge it grants you new abilities?
I get that nagging feeling sometimes too. But there are some pretty stark differences between meditation and intuition. First, meditation or that quality that defies description doesn't translate. Any good revelation immediately starts a war or two or at least gets someone killed. You can't really share quiet. You can teach people how to find it but it doesn't convey any kind of imperative. They might say "thanks" and walk off. You can get rich fleecing the rubes with any kind of claim of spiritual superiority but sitting doesn't give that power very easily.  Once you add trappings, well, ... then you've got religion.

Quote
More than that I am concerned that there is some reification of presumed internal states. The fact that this new knowledge has been generated for you is incommunicable flashes a little warning light in my head! That's probably my problem though! I understand the limitations of language in communicating internal states and I understand the difference between what Bill describes as the "idiot monologue" and different modes of cognition. I'm just concerned we are granting too much reality to something very anecdotal and possibly a greater reflection of the model building behaviour of the brain rather than something actually epistemologically useful. If you see what I mean.

I'm a skeptical SOB Louis. All I can say is that there is an awareness outside of reason that I have experienced through practice and I like it. When I learned to do it reasonably well I was in art school. I think it was a required extracurricular activity. That might have something to do with it. I suppose I could be indoctrinated but I have never heard anyone use that word relating to me before. I'm pretty far outside mainstream.

You asked earlier about hallucinogens. I don't think they are the same thing. 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.

Even if you could understand the brain functioning, I'm not sure you could understand the experience.

God damn this post reads like a fucking telegram. stop.
Cheers. Stop.

BWE

--------------
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. 04 2007,06:45   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2007,02:13)
BWE, you missed my point.  "When God says..." can be replaced by revelation, meditation, whatever, but it's an external source.  Once knowledge comes from that external source there is no need for reason if you accept the source.  Is reason required to accept the authority of the source?  In some cases, maybe, but not always and hence the knowledge can come externally without the use of reason.  

The process I have described doesn't refer to any external source.
   
Quote
This is all predicated on the assumption that you believe in the source, in this case God. If you believe in God then this makes perfect sense and if you don't then it appears that I'm out to lunch.

What you are stating is that you started with your conclusion. Which is fine - but don't claim you got there by means of a process of reasoning. Reasoning backward from a "predicated" conclusion doesn't count.

Here you've just declared your conclusion, again and again. And declared lots of things that follow from your conclusion. Again and again. This is what has got Louis way up in his tree and I'm not even sure we can get him down again. I don't even think he should come down, because he is playing chess, and you are jumping rope.

--------------
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. 04 2007,07:03   

BWE,

Ok there are three some (!) things that spring to mind:

1) The "is it new knowledge or is it new abilities?" is a very key issue that needs to be addressed.

2) I think we might be using "reason" in different ways. Remember I'm not restricting this issue to just science or crude empiricism, and also remember as with the analogy about "catching a ball" I'm not merely referring to consciously worked out things or processes as reason. I've used a very bare, epistemological definition of reason that I took some pains to elucidate early on.

3) The "experience". This falls foul of comments I've already made about how you and I might (for example) see the colour purple differently. It seems with the "experience" of meditation you are retreating ever backwards to a similar situation. I cannot ever know what the colour purple looks like to you, and vice versa. Similarly I cannot know what knowledge (if any) you've gained by meditation What I CAN do is set up series of scenarios by which we can come to some agreement about what purple is and isn't and what things are purple and what are not. These are explicitly reasoned processes and are the only things that can tell us anything about the issue of "seeing purple". I've explained this all before a couple of times. Remember I am not claiming that everything is knowable, and thus everything is knowable by reason alone. I AM claiming that, as far as anyone can tell, verything that is knowable is knowable only through processes of reason.

The meditation stuff thus far doesn't seem to be an un-reasoned process. They seem to be an internal reasoned process, i.e. training a conscious process of the brain to examine other (perhaps normally unconscious) operating brain processes and to ignore other conscious processes.  They seem to be reason/observation based interactions with the multifarious workings of the brain.

To use a "lady's area" analogy, it's like exercising the pelvic floor muscles. The lady is not doing pull ups on a bar or lifting weights but she is training an ability that is certainly not immediately apparent to all and sundry, i.e it produces subtle but detectable results. The brain is a mutable, trainable organ, this sounds to me very much like what you are doing with meditation. Perhaps the analogy doesn't work too well because pelvic floor exercises yield results verifiable by {ahem} observation of various kinds, and perhaps meditation does too but I think from what Bill and you are saying that isn't the controversial aspect.

Did I just compare your brain to a lady's special area? I think I did, but I seriously didn't mean to insult any party by it! ;-) In the words of Jo Brand "Oi! You've gone very lady's area early on!". My reply is the same as Jimmy Carr's "Why thank you!".

But I digress! Now for the really controversial, deliberately Devil's Adcocate bit I left out earlier:

4) Maybe I'm wrong but despite the vast diffferences in the nature of the claims being made by Skeptic and yourselves there is a common element, correct me if I'm wrong on this btw. That common element is an appeal to an unobservable. Skeptic KNOWS god exists, just like you KNOW meditation has done something for you, both seem to be a reification of an undemonstrable, undemonstrated quantity. I'm not saying it's the SAME process, or feels the same, I'm saying it appears to have that similarity. The question then becomes why is your anecdote better than his? What seperates your unsupportable claim from his, other than their relative sophistication of course?

That last bit is deliberately provocative btw. The reason I'm asking those questions is because I'm trying to tease out what is novel and unique about meditation and its results.

Cheers

Louis

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

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

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

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Dec. 04 2007,12:45)
Here you've just declared your conclusion, again and again. And declared lots of things that follow from your conclusion. Again and again. This is what has got Louis way up in his tree and I'm not even sure we can get him down again. I don't even think he should come down, because he is playing chess, and you are jumping rope.

I'm always happy to climb down from my tree. I confess to amazingly rapid climbing skills, especially in the upward direction! ;-)

I'm also happy to jump a little rope, but I'm not keen to pretend it makes me a grandmaster.

Louis

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

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,07:21   

Quote (Louis @ Dec. 04 2007,06:19)
Whenever I read this stuff about meditation though I keep getting a nagging feeling that it's all to do with things like qualia. It strikes me that this uncommunicable knowledge you've gained is indistinguishable from a variety of other epiphenomena, for example a claim of revelation or intuition that refuses to put itself to examination. Could it be that meditation is like an exercise in that rather than granting you new knowledge it grants you new abilities?

That's probably my problem though! I understand the limitations of language in communicating internal states and I understand the difference between what Bill describes as the "idiot monologue" and different modes of cognition. I'm just concerned we are granting too much reality to something very anecdotal and possibly a greater reflection of the model building behaviour of the brain rather than something actually epistemologically useful. If you see what I mean.

Ultimately, the only response to that is not to "argue" these points vis meditation, but to suggest that one practice it. Perhaps the sorts of experience that emerge are better disclosed in language that is more like poetry than scientific discourse - NOT particularly epistemologically (or politically) "useful," not intended to compete with scientific discourse, and difficult to express discursively. One can't build a science upon this practice. One CAN build a practice upon it, however. And neuroscientific disclosures certainly shed light upon the experiences.

But I think "epiphenomenal" takes you the wrong direction; the experiences I am describing are no further away than the feel of the weight of my body in this chair at this moment, and no more epiphenomenal. Actually, "epiphenomenal" is probably a category error with reference to these experiences - unless you are asserting that all conscious experience is epiphenomenal, and that in upon having disclosed a complete description of the physical substrates of consciousness one has described consciousness. This goes to your question of qualia - and calls to mind Jackson's "Mary's room" thought experiment:
       
Quote
Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal chords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’. [...] What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not?

[Edit] I say she does.

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

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,07:46   

You guys are getting caught up in the details.  I know the God-concept puts your skirts up but look past that for a minute.  It makes no difference what the external source is be it God, Devil, Little Green Men.  The "if" is a big if but if you believe then that problem goes away.  I'm not trying to justify that God exists what I'm saying is if he exists then knowledge given by God is external and not generated by reason AND if one accepts this knowledge then their not exercising a reasoned process but accepting revelation.

  
BWE



Posts: 1901
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,07:53   

Quote (Louis @ Dec. 04 2007,07:03)
BWE,

Ok there are three some (!) things that spring to mind:

1) The "is it new knowledge or is it new abilities?" is a very key issue that needs to be addressed.

I'm not sure. Meditation bears some more than passing resemblance to certain kinds of athletic training. The process is absolutely one of training the mind. The hard part about it is that you are training it to stop doing something so you can see? experience? whatever you want to call it, so you can become aware of what the noise is blocking out. Does that make sense? I'll think about it some more.

   
Quote
2) I think we might be using "reason" in different ways. Remember I'm not restricting this issue to just science or crude empiricism, and also remember as with the analogy about "catching a ball" I'm not merely referring to consciously worked out things or processes as reason. I've used a very bare, epistemological definition of reason that I took some pains to elucidate early on.
That's the problem I'm having. I suspect it's the problem Lenny encountered. You aren't learning to "do" something. You learn to stop doing something. Specifically you learn to quiet the background noise of your mind. I think reason is a part of the noise. That's the interesting part; the fact that you quiet logic and reason to experience meditation suggests that they inhibit the process. You may end up in a semantic game where two different phrasings of the statement give two opposing correct answers.

In one sense you acquire new knowledge in that you gain awareness of something which previously eluded you. In another you develop an ability to do just that. Mmmm. I might have to go back to read a couple of your posts again.

   
Quote
3) The "experience". This falls foul of comments I've already made about how you and I might (for example) see the colour purple differently. It seems with the "experience" of meditation you are retreating ever backwards to a similar situation. I cannot ever know what the colour purple looks like to you, and vice versa. Similarly I cannot know what knowledge (if any) you've gained by meditation What I CAN do is set up series of scenarios by which we can come to some agreement about what purple is and isn't and what things are purple and what are not. These are explicitly reasoned processes and are the only things that can tell us anything about the issue of "seeing purple". I've explained this all before a couple of times. Remember I am not claiming that everything is knowable, and thus everything is knowable by reason alone. I AM claiming that, as far as anyone can tell, verything that is knowable is knowable only through processes of reason.

I don't think so. I may not be able to know exactly what you are feeling when you experience some particular kind of happiness but I can deduce an awful lot. When someone figures out what the noise  blocks out they appear to have the same reactions.

   
Quote
The meditation stuff thus far doesn't seem to be an un-reasoned process. They seem to be an internal reasoned process, i.e. training a conscious process of the brain to examine other (perhaps normally unconscious) operating brain processes and to ignore other conscious processes.  They seem to be reason/observation based interactions with the multifarious workings of the brain.

Well, we can train ourselves to have perfect pitch for example. The process makes sense and the requirements are similar enough between people to treat as identical. Since perfect pitch can be mathematically expressed or described, the training follows all your stipulations easily. But what if you are training yourself to experience a place removed from language and actually placed so firmly at the nose of the shuttle of time that it can't be recorded? Like you can't stay in front of a photon. It may just be far enough outside our lexicon that it feels more removed than it is. Again I don't know.

   
Quote
To use a "lady's area" analogy, it's like exercising the pelvic floor muscles. The lady is not doing pull ups on a bar or lifting weights but she is training an ability that is certainly not immediately apparent to all and sundry, i.e it produces subtle but detectable results. The brain is a mutable, trainable organ, this sounds to me very much like what you are doing with meditation. Perhaps the analogy doesn't work too well because pelvic floor exercises yield results verifiable by {ahem} observation of various kinds, and perhaps meditation does too but I think from what Bill and you are saying that isn't the controversial aspect.

Did I just compare your brain to a lady's special area? I think I did, but I seriously didn't mean to insult any party by it! ;-) In the words of Jo Brand "Oi! You've gone very lady's area early on!". My reply is the same as Jimmy Carr's "Why thank you!".

:) gave me a beautiful mental image there Louis. If I weren't busy damning you for making me think* I'd thank you.

   
Quote
But I digress! Now for the really controversial, deliberately Devil's Adcocate bit I left out earlier:

4) Maybe I'm wrong but despite the vast diffferences in the nature of the claims being made by Skeptic and yourselves there is a common element, correct me if I'm wrong on this btw. That common element is an appeal to an unobservable. Skeptic KNOWS god exists, just like you KNOW meditation has done something for you, both seem to be a reification of an undemonstrable, undemonstrated quantity. I'm not saying it's the SAME process, or feels the same, I'm saying it appears to have that similarity. The question then becomes why is your anecdote better than his? What seperates your unsupportable claim from his, other than their relative sophistication of course?

Well, for one I can offer a means of falsification. I could support my claim by teaching you a few concentration techniques. Remember, I've made no positive claims other than that there is a knowledge gained through a mental workout regimen that presents itself as not-reason. I don't have to ask you to take anything on faith. Nothing at all.

   
Quote
That last bit is deliberately provocative btw. The reason I'm asking those questions is because I'm trying to tease out what is novel and unique about meditation and its results.

Cheers

Louis


I'm not particularly provoked because I don't particularly care about the outcome. It's like, once you've discovered masturbation, no one can take it away.

With religion, or any rigid view of the cosmos, learning threatens to take it away. In fact learning succeeds in taking it away. Always. That puts the religious apologist in a deucedly awkward position in a conversation like this one.


*this is a joke. I am not actually damning Louis nor would I ever intentionally condemn any sentient being to an everlasting lake of hellfire and other sundry torments.

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



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,07:54   

Bill,

Ok, epiphenomena is the wrong direction. Good! That's one thing knocked off the list! I certainly would not claim that states of mind have no influence on the body by the way, one of the most counterfactual aspects of epiphenomenalism IMO.

I'm glad you brought up Mary's Room because this example is precisely why I brought up the notion of "ability rather than knowledge".

In fact your opening paragraph is really convincing that this is a trained ability rather than a gain in knowledge. It really "sounds like" to me a marathon runner describing a runner's high after 26 miles of gruelling race. There's only one way to get the runner's high and that's to run the race. To experience the same (or similar or analogous) runner's high you have to actually train yourself to be able to run 26 miles at sufficent pace to cause this phenomenon. You have to train yourself to be able to experience it.

I'm afraid that (as I've read Consciousness Explained) I'm going to have to plumb with Dennett on the Mary's Room thing (i.e. it's a flawed example to certain extents etc). However the response to qualia that interests me the most is the "knowledge that" and "knowledge how" (i.e. ability) distinction made by David Lewis. I honestly don't know enough about it to go beyond that because I only read about David Lewis' work last night, unless I'm forgetting I read about it earlier which is always a possibility!

I'd argue the same way as Dennett, at least initially, that if Mary had perfect knowledge of the "science of seeing red" that would include data about the internal states of the human brain when it sees red. If, as in the RoboMary example, Mary could duplicate those states then she'd know what seeing red feels like without ever having seen it. So the answer I'd give to the problem when Mary has complete knowledge is Dennett's, BUT the answer I'd give if Mary has incomplete knowledge is Lewis'. The distinction I'm making is the same one I made before: i.e. does meditation grant you novel information (know that) OR a novel way of dealing with information (know how).

I think that's a very key distinction.

This again relates back to the "purple problem" I mentioned before. We're edging remarkably close to what is knowable by any means.

Louis

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Bye.

  
BWE



Posts: 1901
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,07:55   

Damn. Happened again. Bill beat me to it and said it better and Skeptic posted 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

The Daily Wingnut

   
BWE



Posts: 1901
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,08:03   

Quote
BUT the answer I'd give if Mary has incomplete knowledge is Lewis'. The distinction I'm making is the same one I made before: i.e. does meditation grant you novel information (know that) OR a novel way of dealing with information (know how).
I think it grants novel information. But Louis, one thing about me is that I'm far more lyrical than rational. I do rational shit all day long (well, er, you know what I mean) and it's humdrum. I get a deeper truth out of a reread of the Illiad than I do out of the lastest scientific paper. Don't get me wrong, I'm fascinated by the latest issue of "Transactions of the American Fisheries Society" but it's the icing rather than the cake.

Edit: oops, deleted this part when I posted:

You already defined a problem that became only academically interesting with your definition.

Sing O muse of the anger of Louis Achilles.

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



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,08:05   

Quote (BWE @ Dec. 04 2007,13:53)
Quote
3) The "experience". This falls foul of comments I've already made about how you and I might (for example) see the colour purple differently. It seems with the "experience" of meditation you are retreating ever backwards to a similar situation. I cannot ever know what the colour purple looks like to you, and vice versa. Similarly I cannot know what knowledge (if any) you've gained by meditation What I CAN do is set up series of scenarios by which we can come to some agreement about what purple is and isn't and what things are purple and what are not. These are explicitly reasoned processes and are the only things that can tell us anything about the issue of "seeing purple". I've explained this all before a couple of times. Remember I am not claiming that everything is knowable, and thus everything is knowable by reason alone. I AM claiming that, as far as anyone can tell, verything that is knowable is knowable only through processes of reason.

I don't think so. I may not be able to know exactly what you are feeling when you experience some particular kind of happiness but I can deduce an awful lot. When someone figures out what the noise  blocks out they appear to have the same reactions.

Which of course was entirely my point in previous posts. What we can learn about each other's experiences is precisely due to reason.

BTW, masturbation analogy: good work. Lady's area and wnaking in a discussion of neuroscience and meditation. We both get a gold star.

Serious point though, the more you and Bill explain this the more it seems to me like an ability you are training. Obviously it goes without saying that this does not in any way diminish it, but it is a reasoned process: you are training one part of your brain to observe another part of your brain and gather information based on those observations. That is an explicitly reasoned process (again using the definition of reason I laid out carefully before).

When you say "not-reason" and things like it, I'm struck by the impression that you think I mean "reason as a conscious working out of something". Please correct me if I'm wrong, because if you DO think that then that's really not what I've been saying.

Cheers

Louis

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

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,08:11   

Quote (BWE @ Dec. 04 2007,14:03)
Quote
BUT the answer I'd give if Mary has incomplete knowledge is Lewis'. The distinction I'm making is the same one I made before: i.e. does meditation grant you novel information (know that) OR a novel way of dealing with information (know how).
I think it grants novel information. But Louis, one thing about me is that I'm far more lyrical than rational. I do rational shit all day long (well, er, you know what I mean) and it's humdrum. I get a deeper truth out of a reread of the Illiad than I do out of the lastest scientific paper. Don't get me wrong, I'm fascinated by the latest issue of "Transactions of the American Fisheries Society" but it's the icing rather than the cake.

Edit: oops, deleted this part when I posted:

You already defined a problem that became only academically interesting with your definition.

Sing O muse of the anger of Louis Achilles.

I think this is a difference of style rather than substance.

Do you remember the distinction I've been banging on about to do with reason and science?

Your reading of the Illiad and the thoughts you generate from doing so are certainly not scientific, but they certainly are reasoned (in the manner I've been describing). At the very crudest most basic level you are reacting to a stimulus. At a slightly more sophisticated level you are interacting with the Illiad, thinking about the ideas communicated in it, relating those ideas to ideas, memories and experiences of your own etc. This isn't science, and of course you won't find me claiming it is, but it IS based on reason, observation, rational enquiry. Again, I've explained this before.

Cheers

Louis

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,08:14   

Quote (BWE @ Dec. 04 2007,14:03)
Quote
BUT the answer I'd give if Mary has incomplete knowledge is Lewis'. The distinction I'm making is the same one I made before: i.e. does meditation grant you novel information (know that) OR a novel way of dealing with information (know how).
I think it grants novel information. But Louis, one thing about me is that I'm far more lyrical than rational. I do rational shit all day long (well, er, you know what I mean) and it's humdrum. I get a deeper truth out of a reread of the Illiad than I do out of the lastest scientific paper. Don't get me wrong, I'm fascinated by the latest issue of "Transactions of the American Fisheries Society" but it's the icing rather than the cake.

Edit: oops, deleted this part when I posted:

You already defined a problem that became only academically interesting with your definition.

Sing O muse of the anger of Louis Achilles.

What you're telling me is it's more fun for you to catch a ball than do the calculus to predict its position on a parabola.

Again, I'm not decrying or reducing the experience or preference, I'm simply saying that simply because something is unconscious does not mean it is not derived from reason, observation/interaction etc.

Louis

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,08:17   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2007,13:46)
You guys are getting caught up in the details.  I know the God-concept puts your skirts up but look past that for a minute.  It makes no difference what the external source is be it God, Devil, Little Green Men.  The "if" is a big if but if you believe then that problem goes away.  I'm not trying to justify that God exists what I'm saying is if he exists then knowledge given by God is external and not generated by reason AND if one accepts this knowledge then their not exercising a reasoned process but accepting revelation.

The god concept does not put anyone's skirts up.

What annoys people (very different from skirts up) is the continual referral to it as a valid concept when it isn't. Even if you believe god exists, the problem of revelation doesn't go away, even for you as an individual, and certainly not as a genuinely extendable issue relevant to epistemology.

How do you know your revelation is from god?

You seem curiously unwilling to address the question. I've only been asking it for the majority of 34 pages in one form or another. Shall I go back and resurrect that short list of questions I have for you?

Louis

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BWE



Posts: 1901
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,08:40   

Well, here are some of what I'm going by:

Quote
Epistemiology: Very briefly and roughly speaking science at its core is the acquisition of knowledge by the application of reason and observation. Religion at its core claims to garner knowledge by faith and relevation. These mechanisms (faith/revelation and reason/observation) are diametrically opposed.
At this point I would track because of your use of the word observation. But then you go on to this which muddies things a bit for me:

Quote
The argument was based on your claim that there exist things that are in principle unexamineable by the use of reason and that where reason fails faith/revelation succeed. I am not asking you to prove things to me personally (my assent or dissent is irrelevant) I am asking you to justify the claims you make on some basis other than "Because I say so".
so how do you examine the state of being? Endorphins? Alpha waves? I don't think it's the same as a runners high. That's just a cool feeling. You can't know what it feels like until you have it but you know what it is. Then your ball analogy:

Quote
Of course if you sit down and do the calculus required to catch the ball by hand the ball is on the fround before you've written the first equation, but this doesn't deny the fact that sound mathematical calculation underpins your ability to catch (either balls or blondes!). Simply put: like it or not these things are products of reason, conscious or unconscious, not any other mysteriosu mechanism.
What if you could learn to experience the ball differently? I think this goes to the root of the issue. Is that new experience knowledge? You had to learn to do this so by your reasoning :) you employed reason to acquire the knowledge but that misses the crucial step- you have to learn how to stop analyzing the ball in order to gain the knowledge. You don't learn the altered experience, you learn the ability to experience differently. That ability, whether the product of reason or training, is the ability to know something new through a skill. I'm getting loopy now. I might have just negated my position. I'll have to find out after I sleep tonight.

Quote
Similarly for morals and ethics, these things can and have been developed and understood by reason alone. No recourse to faith or what have you. Is our understanding of them perfect? Nope, never said it was. But this doesn't mean that they are somehow inaccessible to rational enquiry which is Skeptic's (and your it would appear) basic claim. Can reason tell us about abortion or wallet finding and keeping being right or wrong? Sure it can! Carefully define the parameters for what constitute right and wrong and BOOM you can reason your way through it. That ethical and moral systems proceed from axioms doesn't mean that they are unreasoned. Nor does it mean that we have to naively appeal to the Is/Ought fallacy to set those axioms. We can agree to a set of axioms for moral/ethical systems.
But quiet IS inaccessible. The only way to know it is to learn how to do it. Hmmm. And again. Am I trying to win or lose here? Am I scoring own goals?

Quote
Also, morals and ethics are situational. Can anything tell you if any act is ultimately, once and for all, independant of all context Right or Wrong? No! Can anything tell you if any act is right or wrong within a given social context, and/or proceeding from certain given axioms? Yes! The abortion example is a great one.
Except this. Quiet or meditation is THE independence of context. I think.

Well Louis, If I ever get in a bar quarrel with Schopenhauer, I know I'll want you on my side. Maybe.

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

   
BWE



Posts: 1901
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,08:46   

Quote (Louis @ Dec. 04 2007,08:14)
What you're telling me is it's more fun for you to catch a ball than do the calculus to predict its position on a parabola.

Well, yeah. I mean, sheesh. I'm just keeping it real here.

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

   
Mr_Christopher



Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,09:14   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2007,07:46)
You guys are getting caught up in the details.   what I'm saying is if [god] exists then knowledge given by God is external and not generated by reason AND if one accepts this knowledge then their not exercising a reasoned process but accepting revelation.

Skeptic, not to sound like a stinker but how can you claim anything when your first premise has not been proven.

If god exists then....

Ok, prove it. You can't because you've never proven your if premise, it's all make believe.

I might as well say if god exists, Elvis lives in my shorts.  And guys, don't get caught up in the details please, my shorts fit tight so this could be true.

My "if then" makes as much sense as yours and  I have as much evidence that you do to prove my point (my shorts do fit tightly).  You're just making shit up and telling us to not get caught up in the details.   I think that's the IDC approach, no?  

Here is our unsupported claim and don't get caught up in the details.

My 4 yo daughter can come up with more interesting if/then fantasies that are grounded in make believe.

Don't get me wrong, I have no issue with you or anyone else making things up because it makes you feel better.  But when you make fantastic claims people are naturally going to want to know the details, especially when it has to do with the supernatural, ghosts, goblins, zombies, etc.

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Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,10:15   

A great deal of the above differences revolve around definitions of terms such as "knowledge" and "reason." At the core of those definitional questions is the question, "Is there such a thing as knowledge that is not propositional." Perhaps "knowledge" isn't the appropriate term - although I think Louis' distinction between "knowlege of" and "knowledge how" is also helpful.

Louis, vis the latter, I found your application of "reasoned" to the sensory motor abilities that underlie catching a ball a bit strange - because I ultimately associate "reasoning" with "justification or warrant" for holding a conclusion or engaging in a behavior. Here is an behavior equivalent to catching a ball; I wonder if you would describe it as the underlying process as entailing "reasoning":

In my old home we had a water problem in an upstairs bathroom that went undetected for awhile and ruined the living room ceiling below. For a time a fairly large hole was opened in the ceiling, exposing the bottom of the bathtub. I had a step ladder leaning on the wall in the living room, which I had used to inspect the damage. The folded ladder leaned against the wall at a point something like four feet below the ceiling, and was resting four feet from a position under the hole in the ceiling. The exposed structure above presented narrow beams and some plumbing.

I found one of my cats trapped in the crawl space behind the tub. To free it, I opened an access door behind the tub on the second floor. Somehow, this cat had climbed the ladder and leapt from the ladder and up into the hole - only to find that the maneuver can't be repeated in reverse.

Would you ascribe the descriptor "reasoning" to the cluster of (amazing) sensory-motor abilities demonstrated by this utterly non-verbal, non-propositional animal? Or are those abilities really more "like" reasoning, in some respects, but missing significant elements?

When people demonstrate similar behaviors, I would assign "reasoning" to the process of selecting and justifying one behavior over another, but not to the operation of the underlying non-propositional neural nets that apparently underlie such accomplishments. We often attach some idiot monologue to the moments during which we make such calculations ("If I run fast enough I can make the leap"), but I doubt that narration increases the likelihood of success. Indeed, it may impede it, and a lot of training in sports is geared toward silencing the narration - much as in the "Zen of Archery" stuff.

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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."
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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,13:10   

I'll have to clarify this for you a bit later. But you're right I need to do so.

See you in the morning!

Louis

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,13:43   

Excellent conversation Bill, BWE, and Louis.  One in which I will only observe because I think it will proceed much better without me in it and I like the direction it's going.

On the other hand, Chris has opened my eyes and I'm ashamed to say that it took this long for me to see the trap I had walked into.  So much for my chess-playing skills.

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.

Here's the situation.  If God or some similar agent exists and imparts knowledge to mankind then my position stands.  If God doesn't exists there may be some other source of knowledge but my position is seriously harmed.  Fortunately, my goal is not to prove that God exists nor should that be required in order to defend my position.  What I offer is an example of how knowledge can come from an external source.  To be honest, I don't know if Moses and Aaron sat down together and worked this out together based upon what made sense to them or if the proverbial Burning Bush spelled it out for Moses.  Funny thing is neither does anyone else.  If you do know then I'd have to ask you to prove it.

The moral of the story is that I'm offering my opinion and it is based upon my faith.  My faith dictates that knowledge can come from God.  If you don't believe in God or you can prove that God doesn't exist then you have nullified my position; otherwise, the best we can do is understand each other and move on.

  
Assassinator



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,14:18   

Quote
My faith dictates that knowledge can come from God.

It's not about your faith, it's about the world outside your head. Your faith is about the same world you and I live in. Your form of "God" does not exist just because you beleive in it. If so, it has nothing to do with the reality outside your mind.

  
BWE



Posts: 1901
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(Permalink) Posted: 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.

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

   
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,14:48   

"opium makes you sleepy because of its soporific effects"

virtus dormitiva is the technical term.

/delurk

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The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
BWE



Posts: 1901
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,16:00   

Quote (C.J.O'Brien @ Dec. 04 2007,14:48)
"opium makes you sleepy because of its soporific effects"

virtus dormitiva is the technical term.

/delurk

technical is subjective. In this case there can be no a priori knowledge of a reference point from  which to make that assertion because I haven't had enough sleep. The can be no knowledge of the subject without reason but there can be no reason because this is the internet.

Go ahead. I'd like to see you try.

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

   
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2007,16:36   

Me? Heavens no. Wouldn't touch it. Let's let Dr. Pangloss 'ave a go, shall we?

The sleep of reason produces, not monsters, but LOLCats. For the internet surely suggests insomnia, and subjective whingeing is the most tiresome activity to witness. Therefore, your lack of sleep proves that internet bulletin boards are the highest acheivement of man in this, the best of all possible worlds.

/Panglossian nonsense

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The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
Louis



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,13:53   

Morning all....well nearly.

Forgive my lateness, I didn't get a moment's peace today. When I wasn't in the lab tinkering with chemicals I was in meetings with supervisees discussing their rosy futures and how wonderful they've been all year. I haven't had a chance to sneak into the office for a cheeky skive...I mean power relax...and a coffee. I've been on the go since 6 am when I strolled into work. Ahhh I love it when it's like this, office work bores the piss out of me. Give me a busy day in the lab interspersed with a bit of literature reading and developing a new research proposal any day.

So on with the excitement:

Bill and BWE,

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? 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.

For example:

Quote
What you're telling me is it's more fun for you to catch a ball than do the calculus to predict its position on a parabola.

Again, I'm not decrying or reducing the experience or preference, I'm simply saying that simply because something is unconscious does not mean it is not derived from reason, observation/interaction etc.


From here.

But maybe I should take a step back and explain it better. First, to the BatDictionary! (sorry if this is dull, I don't mean to patronise you, that is definitely not my intention, I am just trying to be uber-clear! Apologies in advance)

I'll bold the main usage(s) I've been making, and subsidiary uses that are relevant to the main point I'll italiscise.

Reason

–noun 1. a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war.  
2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.  
3. the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences.  
4. sound judgment; good sense.  
5. normal or sound powers of mind; sanity.  
6. Logic. a premise of an argument.
7. Philosophy. a. the faculty or power of acquiring intellectual knowledge, either by direct understanding of first principles or by argument.
b. the power of intelligent and dispassionate thought, or of conduct influenced by such thought.  
c. Kantianism. the faculty by which the ideas of pure reason are created.  

–verb (used without object) 8. to think or argue in a logical manner.  
9. to form conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.  
10. to urge reasons which should determine belief or action.  
–verb (used with object) 11. to think through logically, as a problem (often fol. by out).  
12. to conclude or infer.  
13. to convince, persuade, etc., by reasoning.  
14. to support with reasons.  
—Idioms15. bring (someone) to reason, to induce a change of opinion in (someone) through presentation of arguments; convince: The mother tried to bring her rebellious daughter to reason.  
16. by reason of, on account of; because of: He was consulted about the problem by reason of his long experience.  
17. in or within reason, in accord with reason; justifiable; proper: She tried to keep her demands in reason.  
18. stand to reason, to be clear, obvious, or logical: With such an upbringing it stands to reason that the child will be spoiled.  
19. with reason, with justification; properly: The government is concerned about the latest crisis, and with reason.  

Fromhere. (sorry but my online OED subscription has expired.)

More precisely:

Reason

<philosophical terminology> the intellectual ability to apprehend the truth cognitively, either immediately in intuition, or by means of a process of inference

From here.

Knowledge    

–noun 1. acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition: knowledge of many things.  
2. familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch of learning: A knowledge of accounting was necessary for the job.  
3. acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report: a knowledge of human nature.  
4. the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension.  
5. awareness, as of a fact or circumstance: He had knowledge of her good fortune.  
6. something that is or may be known; information: He sought knowledge of her activities.  
7. the body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time.
8. the sum of what is known: Knowledge of the true situation is limited.  
9. Archaic. sexual intercourse. Compare carnal knowledge.  
–adjective 10. creating, involving, using, or disseminating special knowledge or information: A computer expert can always find a good job in the knowledge industry.  
—Idiom11. to one's knowledge, according to the information available to one: To my knowledge he hasn't been here before.  

From here.

Knowledge

1. see <epistemology>

2. <artificial intelligence, information science> The objects, concepts and relationships that are assumed to exist in some area of interest. A collection of knowledge, represented using some knowledge representation language is known as a knowledge base and a program for extending and/or querying a knowledge base is a knowledge-based system.

Knowledge differs from data or information in that new knowledge may be created from existing knowledge using logical inference. If information is truthful data plus meaning then knowledge is information plus justification/explanation.

A common form of knowledge, e.g. in a Prolog program, is a collection of facts and rules about some subject.

For example, a knowledge base about a family might contain the facts that John is David's son and Tom is John's son and the rule that the son of someone's son is their grandson. From this knowledge it could infer the new fact that Tom is David's grandson.

From here.

Rational

–adjective 1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development.  
2. having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense: a calm and rational negotiator.  
3. being in or characterized by full possession of one's reason; sane; lucid: The patient appeared perfectly rational.  
4. endowed with the faculty of reason: rational beings.  
5. of, pertaining to, or constituting reasoning powers: the rational faculty.  
6. proceeding or derived from reason or based on reasoning: a rational explanation.
7. Mathematics. a. capable of being expressed exactly by a ratio of two integers.  
b. (of a function) capable of being expressed exactly by a ratio of two polynomials.  

8. Classical Prosody. capable of measurement in terms of the metrical unit or mora.  
–noun 9. Mathematics. rational number.  

Or more precisely:

Rational

<logic, epistemology> respecting logical principles of
validity and consistency and answering to the evidence
of experience.

From
here.

Faith

–noun 1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.  
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.  
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.  
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.  
5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.  
6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.  
7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.  
8. Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.  
—Idiom9. in faith, in truth; indeed: In faith, he is a fine lad.  

From here.

Revelation

–noun 1. the act of revealing or disclosing; disclosure.  
2. something revealed or disclosed, esp. a striking disclosure, as of something not before realized.  
3. Theology. a. God's disclosure of Himself and His will to His creatures.

b. an instance of such communication or disclosure.  
c. something thus communicated or disclosed.

d. something that contains such disclosure, as the Bible.  

4. (initial capital letter) Also called Revelations, The Revelation of St. John the Divine. the last book in the New Testament; the Apocalypse. Abbreviation: Rev.  

From here.

Specifically I have been using "revelation" as a shorthand for "divine revelation" or "supernatural revelation", i.e. the direct revealing of knowledge by a supernatural source to a person.

Ok enough dictionary! Sorry for the length and general turgidness. I included a full definition list in case we need to refer back to it.

If it's not now obvious what I mean by (for example) catching a ball being an unconsciously processed act derived from reason, observation and rational "thought" (in inverted commas because it is an unconscious process intersecting with a set of conscious processes), then allow me to elaborate a touch.

You aren't born able to catch a ball. Your nervous system (i'll use "brain" for shorthand) gradually develops better control over muscles etc, making a consciously controllable motor system. There are obviously unconscious controls over the motor system (for example the stepping reflex in young babies) too. Those unconscious processes do what I call "the hard part", i.e. they calculate how to move parts of the motor system to do consciously directed tasks. The development of this system is a learning process, a process of interacting with one's environment, observing the effects, improving one's interactions based on those observations. This is, using the definition above a process that utilises REASON. Successful interactions with one's environment by use of one's motor system improve one's ability to make those successful interactions, a classic feedback system. The fact that you don't consciously have to sit down and do the calculus necessary to catch a ball as part of your conscious processing does not mean that calculus is not going on at some unconscious level in the brain. It has to be for you to be able to catch the ball. This does not mean some brain cells are sitting down doing the neuronal equivalent of writing dx/dt etc! And that is a crazy way to misunderstand what I am saying.

More than this it is an evolutionary, and highly evolved, system. Very generally: motile organisms over time had to improve their interactions with their environment (selection pressures dictating) and part of that improvement is to develop "subroutines" for rapid processing of motor system tasks. I don't have a sufficiently computer science based background to give a better, more technical explanation than that, but I think the analogy suffices.

The process of ball catching improves by interaction and observation, by better calculating "subroutines", by interacting with one's environment as if it were a consistent, logically coherent system. That is a reason based process. One's conscious control of it, or one's conscious working out of every tiny detail is not the point I was making, and is unneccessary. The brain doesn't believe the ball will be at point X at time T, it doesn't think it will by some faith proposition, it determines the ball will be at point X at time T by a process of observation, experience, reason and calculation.

Is that clearer now?

Please don't confuse "reason" in the sense I am using it (and have clearly and statedly been doing so since post one) with "reason" as in a verb implying conscious thought. I've been very clear about this.

How is this relevant to meditation?

Well, from what you gents have told me, meditation, or rather the insights/knowledge gained from it ,is derived from a series of processes all of which are, like working out a hard sum, forming a coherent argument, catching a ball etc a combination of conscious thought and effort and unconscious "subroutines" based on reason and observation etc.

It seems to me, from what you've said, that meditation is like learning to catch a ball, but for the brain alone! You are training your brain to do a trick it can, but normally wouldn't, do. You are training your brain to seperate out different running processes and get some of those processes to interact with, to observe, other processes. Whether those processes are conscious or unconscious isn't important. The very acts you are committing when meditating are acts of reason and observation, e.g. one process observing another and gaining knowledge from those observations.

Again, correct me if I'm wrong about what your reports of meditation are telling me!

Two final things, ok three final things:

1) BWE, I hope you see how my arguments are definitely not like:

"opium makes you sleepy because of its soporific effects"

2) Bill, cats don't reason? I don't think you'll want to let them hear you say that. Be good to your Feline Overlords. But seriously, cat brains are evolved things, just like our brains are. The same processes underpin each. Your cat's ability to get it's body into that awkward position is a function of the reason and observation based processes of it's brain, they are not a (to use a different definition of reason) a hallmark of a carefully reasoned course of action. Have I clarified the distinction I was making a little better this time?

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!

;-)

Louis

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Bye.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,13:58   

Link 1

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Ok, this is a series of links to the posts that contain my core arguments. Some of them might be repetitions or claifications, but I think I've included everything I need to.

This is really a resource for me to help me remember what I've said and how.

Sorry for the unneccessary space filling!

Louis

P.S. I'm going to go back and edit the link titles when I get a chance, so it's clearer what one to look at.

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Bye.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 05 2007,14:11   

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?

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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

  
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