Joined: Jan. 2006
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.
|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.
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.
–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.)
<philosophical terminology> the intellectual ability to apprehend the truth cognitively, either immediately in intuition, or by means of a process of inference
–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.
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.
–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:
<logic, epistemology> respecting logical principles of
validity and consistency and answering to the evidence
–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.
–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.
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!