Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
Post Reply
User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 126
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Papus79 » October 7th, 2017, 5:24 pm

Steve3007 wrote:Another way of using an onion metaphor is to say that we are adding layers. Each theory, when it is superseded, doesn't get removed, but becomes a special case, for a narrower range of all possible observations, of the newer theory. If the total volume of the onion represents all possible observations at all possible levels of accuracy, then the onion gets bigger and bigger. But the limited set of observations, with their limited accuracy, represented by the middle of the onion, are still accurately described by the old theory.

So Newton's law of gravitation sits inside Einstein's General Relativity, for example.
Actually I would say I disagree on this one and it might lend an interesting avenue to explore the difference of opinion.

IMHO every theory we come up with is a fiction. Our reiterations, fine-tuning, exceptions, etc.. is an attempt to line up our fictional (ranging from severely oversimplified to distinctly wrong in some areas) theories and even laws to some extent into an ever-closer and more accurate approximation of reality. That's why I wouldn't say adding layers. While its true that observations and measurements cause entanglement it would be far fetched to suggest that we're adding anything to universe that wasn't there before by our theorizing.

Steve3007 wrote:Anyway, as I said the idea of "something coming from nothing" only seems strange if the type of "thing" being considered is something that we already know from experience is conserved. Like matter. If it's letters on a computer screen we have no problem believing that they can be created ex nihilo.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

(No 'x's were removed from elsewhere to do this.)
Except that they're not coming from nothing. The GUI you're using is a representation of strong and week electrical charges, ie. states. Your fingers are sending impulses through the keyboard and causing microscopic transistors in your RAM to switch on and off (at least this is the really simplified version of the story). Creating an x on a screen is pretty close to writing an x on paper or drawing it on the ground. The x is a pattern that can get wiped away and the substance that housed that pattern rearranges into some other pattern, either a pattern that means something to a human being or doesn't but either way indifferent.

I also don't know how that analogy would come to bear on consciousness. Maybe with patterns in nature if we see something odd enough we can assume that it was made by another biological life form, like a footprint on the ground or some kind of pattern or structure that comes as mating behavior. We could probably also ask ourselves - of the patterns we see in nature - how much of it is directly meaningful and how much of it is Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich or the resemblance of a dog face from knots on a board.

Eduk
Posts: 983
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Eduk » October 7th, 2017, 6:35 pm

When a tree falls over in a forest near you it makes a frightening sound.
It also hits particles into one another. Those particles vibrate parts of your ear. This is turned into a signal which is sent to the brain. The brain does some processing. And finally presents a scary sound to your consciousness.
Now there is a lot of material things going on here. But is there a scary particle? Or is this down to subjective interpretation. Could it be said that scary sounds are invented seemingly from nothing?
Of course I don't know where or how mechanical particles can create a sensation of fear. But what conclusions do I draw? That something non material creates fear? That something material but not of my body creates fear? Both ideas have no evidence or reason to think they might. If I remove parts of my brain which process sound into emotion then I stop feeling scared at trees falling nearby. This much I know to be factual.

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 126
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Papus79 » October 7th, 2017, 6:57 pm

There was a lot of 'I' in that.

-- Updated October 7th, 2017, 9:24 pm to add the following --
Speedyj1992 wrote: Well said, even if I couldn't help but think of Shrek when you mentioned the onion. And honestly, most intelligent Christians will tell you that God did create rules in the universe that it follows.
If we're not enjoying the laws of the whole totality of being right now we're at least exploring one particularly well-organized bend in the scheme of things. For a system to be stable within these tolerances it's probably fed by a great deal of cross-talk, perhaps enough to recognize itself with a solidified I experience that we're all subsidiary to. If we want to go Kabbalistic/Qabalistic on that we're looking at a wisp of the Ancient of Day/Macroposopus/Vast Countenance's beard when we look up at a clear night sky.
Speedyj1992 wrote:I think of it as setting something into motion like a clock, but obviously many times more complex, and clearly there's more complexity in the creation process as well.
That's probably more standoffish than I'd go for. To really walk out on a limb I'd say the will of Christ Logos shows up in every act of volition, the love of Mary/Isis/Sophia in every act of care and nurturing, and that zero became two for the chance of union. That last part might just be yet another emergent wave on the oceans of the Ain Soph but wow is it ever central to eukaryotic life and beyond on this planet.

Eduk
Posts: 983
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Eduk » October 8th, 2017, 3:11 am

There is very little you in what you say. Are you sure you aren't a Deepak Chopra style quote machine?

Steve3007
Posts: 4578
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Steve3007 » October 8th, 2017, 3:58 am

Speedy:
I couldn't help but think of Shrek when you mentioned the onion.
That sprang to my mind too!

Papus:
Actually I would say I disagree on this one and it might lend an interesting avenue to explore the difference of opinion.
Let's hope so!
IMHO every theory we come up with is a fiction. Our reiterations, fine-tuning, exceptions, etc.. is an attempt to line up our fictional (ranging from severely oversimplified to distinctly wrong in some areas) theories and even laws to some extent into an ever-closer and more accurate approximation of reality. That's why I wouldn't say adding layers. While its true that observations and measurements cause entanglement it would be far fetched to suggest that we're adding anything to universe that wasn't there before by our theorizing.
I think I kind of half agree. I agree that our theories are a fiction in the sense that they are made by us in order to describe the patterns in our observations. So the onion is a kind of mental onion (as it were). It can get as big as it likes because we made it. It's an ever more all-encompassing and accurate mental model. The part where I'm not sure I agree is where you say it's an "ever-closer and more accurate approximation of reality". I would stress that this reality thing can only ever be said to be the common factor in all possible observations. I think that there are genuine, concrete reasons that we have to take this approach when we consider some of the discoveries in the 20th Century.
Except that they're not coming from nothing. The GUI you're using is a representation of strong and week electrical charges, ie. states. Your fingers are sending impulses through the keyboard and causing microscopic transistors in your RAM to switch on and off (at least this is the really simplified version of the story). Creating an x on a screen is pretty close to writing an x on paper or drawing it on the ground. The x is a pattern that can get wiped away and the substance that housed that pattern rearranges into some other pattern, either a pattern that means something to a human being or doesn't but either way indifferent.
Yes, and my point was that I wasn't talking about the medium in which the letter 'X' is written. I was talking about the organisation of that medium which leads us to believe that an 'X' is present regardless of the medium on which it is written.

My point was that when we talk about a "thing" we're not always talking about a physical object. We're often talking about something that is not a physical object but which is expressed as the arrangement of physical objects. A thing like that, because it is not a physical object, can be duplicated. So the law "something cannot come from nothing" doesn't apply there. That rule was created by us (one of those "fictions" we talked about) to apply specifically to things like matter. It was later extended to slightly less tangible phenomena like energy. But that doesn't mean it can be extended to every phenomenon that we can think of. If we do that we end up with absurd ideas, such as that the total amount of "happiness" in the world is a constant!

-- Updated Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:16 am to add the following --
I also don't know how that analogy would come to bear on consciousness. Maybe with patterns in nature if we see something odd enough we can assume that it was made by another biological life form, like a footprint on the ground or some kind of pattern or structure that comes as mating behavior. We could probably also ask ourselves - of the patterns we see in nature - how much of it is directly meaningful and how much of it is Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich or the resemblance of a dog face from knots on a board.
Yes, the very, very high importance we attach to human faces and our visual nature means that we can see human faces in almost everything. From clouds, to curtains in a dark bedroom, to rocks on mars to grilled cheese sandwiches.
"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea." - Eric Cantona.

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 126
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Papus79 » October 8th, 2017, 11:35 am

Eduk wrote:There is very little you in what you say. Are you sure you aren't a Deepak Chopra style quote machine?
I guess I gave that quip because I couldn't tell where you were going with it. I don't think any of us in the preceding posts were trying to make a case that the 'scaryness' of a tree falling isn't a self-reference to body frame, that it isn't our instinctual and strategic understanding of the tree falling as either possibly falling toward us or being felled by a large predator, nor the idea that consciousness is operationally tied to the brain. It was either preaching to the choir or it was in remedy of a belief set no one was pursuing.

-- Updated October 8th, 2017, 12:05 pm to add the following --
Steve3007 wrote:I think I kind of half agree. I agree that our theories are a fiction in the sense that they are made by us in order to describe the patterns in our observations. So the onion is a kind of mental onion (as it were). It can get as big as it likes because we made it. It's an ever more all-encompassing and accurate mental model. The part where I'm not sure I agree is where you say it's an "ever-closer and more accurate approximation of reality". I would stress that this reality thing can only ever be said to be the common factor in all possible observations. I think that there are genuine, concrete reasons that we have to take this approach when we consider some of the discoveries in the 20th Century.
Part of why I go in the opposite direction, ie. peeling the onion rather than building the onion, is that I think we're always and ever excavating the reality below our fictions. In that sense I suppose my own onion model is sweeping heuristics (almost completely wrong about the mechanics of the universe) that are just enough not to get killed by predators, the core of it is perfect knowledge of the universe - which I could agree that the common factor in all possible observations could be a way in but also yes, there are some bizarre things which come up some times that lend to very uncommon and unrepeatable events - that's the sort of thing where I have to consider the pool of human experience in aggregate and, for right or wrong, I'd suggest that we're all reflecting back at the same universe even if our brains may be that different that we don't see the same universe contextually or that in particular arrangement of subatomic particles we never at all see the same universe - I do mean 'same' in the context of what's under and around regardless of rearrangement or varying human limitations.
Steve3007 wrote:My point was that when we talk about a "thing" we're not always talking about a physical object. We're often talking about something that is not a physical object but which is expressed as the arrangement of physical objects. A thing like that, because it is not a physical object, can be duplicated. So the law "something cannot come from nothing" doesn't apply there. That rule was created by us (one of those "fictions" we talked about) to apply specifically to things like matter. It was later extended to slightly less tangible phenomena like energy. But that doesn't mean it can be extended to every phenomenon that we can think of. If we do that we end up with absurd ideas, such as that the total amount of "happiness" in the world is a constant!
We have gradations here as well. A character written on something is completely passive. A closer example of man-made or at least man-manipulated stuff made of data that isn't passive would be computer programs. Could there be consciousness going on there in the processing of zeros and ones? While I think Hillary Putnam had some great ideas the only problem I have there is that at the end of the day a desktop computer or iPhone doesn't have to know what it's processing - it just moves a lot of zeros and ones around. At least I'd say that's true for classical computers as such. Deep learning and neural networks could be that ticket but it's hard to say right now whether enough of that could lead signs of genuine deep/rich emotion (which would be about as good a sign as any if it could be parsed as separate from play-acting). Also if they can find a substance that they can train to react to stimulus, get that stimulus to react to increasingly complex problems, and then get it to be rich enough in makeup to start making decisions about its own states on perceived welfare - that would probably be the ticket.

This is sort of why I made the suggestion in the other thread about consciousness, as a force of nature, being an observer and key-holder that attempts to measure the surroundings of its vehicle for what it can apply to its environment in either eating, sleeping, procreating, or avoiding predators. That system has gotten a lot more complex in its employment since the dawn of tribes and then civilization. IMHO it could very well be field-driven but what gets me, and I think this happens to most people who get into practicing mysticism or shamanism, you do occasionally struggle to pull things up from the depths of your being and you find out - below your default mode network - that there is a lot to pull up and rather than just being a few animalistic or sub-human roots of what pieces you together it's often enough the opposite - eg. the sublime and life-changing. That's where I really have to wonder where, when a person reaches into their own subconscious reserves whether they aren't doing the exact inverse of what a scientist does - ie. barking up the intrinsic tree of the universe rather than the extrinsic. If that last intuition proves to be true it would mean that there's a whole other universe (figuratively speaking) to this universe and unfortunately for science it's almost always obscured because - at least at this point - all of our tools are aimed at measuring matter and energy from a third-party perspective. The only hull-breaches physical reality might take on to some degree is the sort of Jacques Vallee Passport to Magonia type of trickster phenomena which the 20th century UFO phenomena just seemed like it was the latest cultural version of.

-- Updated October 8th, 2017, 12:06 pm to add the following --

Oops, I meant to say that the outside of the onion was sweeping heuristics. Meant to put it in but I see it never got keyed.

Eduk
Posts: 983
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Eduk » October 8th, 2017, 12:55 pm

My point was mainly just because you don't understand something doesn't mean that logically Christian God did it. For example a different god or gods could have done it. Or maybe because you don't understand it that means you don't understand it. There may be an explanation that has no god or gods.
Requiring science to have resolved all unknowns is arbitrary and irrelevant.

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 126
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Papus79 » October 8th, 2017, 1:23 pm

Ok. got it. TY for clarifying.

Eduk
Posts: 983
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Eduk » October 8th, 2017, 3:08 pm

Insincere is as insincere does.

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 126
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Papus79 » October 8th, 2017, 3:17 pm

Mmm... no.

-- Updated October 8th, 2017, 3:21 pm to add the following --

I'd try telling you what you're thinking but I don't play that game with people, nor pretend to have such capacities.

Eduk
Posts: 983
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Eduk » October 8th, 2017, 5:47 pm

Well there is a difference between being an insincere person and being insincere. Also I can think in terms of probability and plausibility based off of past experiences and logic. So I could for example think to myself that a sincere quip is a mildly rare thing. I don't have to be a mind reader. I can go further of course. I can think of the mind reader defense from someone who knows the mind of Christ and wonder why the logic does not apply to themselves. Ultimately though it might boil down to your definition of insincerity and how far you might be willing to take it. For example you may sincere in an unexamined belief but then is that really sincere?

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 126
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Papus79 » October 8th, 2017, 5:59 pm

I have no clue what you're talking about. Can you at least ask me whatever question is kicking around the back of your head?

The only thing I can offer, if it's any clarification, is that I'm not a Christian, not even necessarily a theist - closer to the border of pantheism and atheism more than likely.

Eduk
Posts: 983
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Eduk » October 8th, 2017, 6:23 pm

Well depends how you define pantheism.

If it's the worship of many Gods then I would suggest atheism is very much in the not pantheist camp.

But from what you've said and without reading your mind I assume you mean we are made from and are a part of god.

Now of course not all atheists would agree but again it depends how you define god.

If I said we are made from and a part of X. And added no definition of X. Then that is meaningless and I think you need to be agnostic.

If you start adding random properties to X then the atheism kicks in again.

Can you give a layman's version of what you mean?

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 126
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Papus79 » October 8th, 2017, 6:58 pm

I'm agnostic as to whether any perceived or experienced higher forms of being are simply emergent channels, whether they're authentically split off of something complete in and of itself (the way a Neoplatonist/Platonist would think), whether said emergent structures are simply so old - considering the age of the universe, that we simply wouldn't have access to a timeline that would distinguish the first idea from the second, etc... The first is more of an animistic emergence, the second is more traditionally 'The Good', and I'm not sure where I stand - I have fragments that I've gleaned from going within but it seems like while Neoplatonism seems to offer a really easy system of tagging things it doesn't explain the problem of evil particularly well whereas animism and simple emergence seems to solve the problem of evil as expediently as naive physicalism does and for the same reasons - ie. it holds the 'material' (still not sure what that means) world as having primacy. In Epicurean terms that would be the god who would either love to solve the problem of evil but isn't positioned to solve it in a flash, like you might have with a planetary logos, or alternately a super-being with about as much knowledge of our misery as I have about the suffering of yeast somewhere in my intestine.

Part of why I can't do naive materialism is there's just too much loopiness out there, loopiness that holds past the line of bailing people together as nuts, frauds, or well-diggers. We also have some other equally bizarre mysteries we're dealing with such as how nerve, blood vessel, and bronchial bifurcation works without genetic coding, let alone cell-differentiation on its own, and then we have the combination problem of a human body - ie. how a group of cells are held in such straight-jacketed discipline and what holds them there to work as a single unit, especially considering that our bodies are close to 50 percent non-human material such as various bacteria, fungus, etc.. Watching ants you also get the impression that there's something to self-organizing systems. That tends to sell me on Hillary Putnam's concept that consciousness isn't limited to neurons, there's nothing magical about them, and that much in the way my body - as a dynamic system - can captivate and enslave my cells to a weaker and less connected degree groups of insects, animals, and yes people, can be bound by egregores with usually weak and subtle effects albeit heightened when there's a lot of static and emotion in the air (which usually, quite unfortunately, is really stupid and atavistic stuff) - so rather than using Ned Block's China Mind objection to functionalism I tend to embrace it as a clue to some of the stranger things we see that doesn't require us to wave crosses, pentagrams, or Richard Dawkins books at things we don't understand.

On that account I'm somewhere between Jordan Peterson and Manly P Hall on gods, goddesses, etc.. I tend to perhaps take the old European synchretist approach that, like the seven planets, they're repositories for universal activities. It's part of how all of the pantheons seemed to have archetypes that matched one of the seven planets of Ptolemaic astrology. It's true, I might be playing too fast and loose with that, there may very well be such beings who are autonomous rather than simply being human metaphors for vast dynamics in the universe but - so far I have no proof of that and, at least at this point, I find them to be very useful symbol sets.

Eduk
Posts: 983
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post by Eduk » October 9th, 2017, 7:24 am

I'm agnostic as to whether any perceived or experienced higher forms of being
Would you mind if I attempted to break this down one bit at a time. To be honest you have lost me in the first sentence.

What is a 'higher form of being'? Can you give me some real world examples?

Post Reply