Are we here?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
Eduk
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Eduk » March 5th, 2018, 5:37 am

That is a lot of text Karpel. But for me you are making some key errors.
Let us take a proposition. X is true.
For example it is not the case that if you prove that the scientific consensus has changed then that means X is true. It does not even mean X might be true.
The scientific method has change built in. Evidence is king and overall and over time the scientific method has been a huge boon to humans who are doing their best to muddle through. Proving that not all science is known is the foundation of science.
X must be considered on its individual merits.
By the way maybe we can dial in to one of your examples. Regarding evolution. What was Lamarckian inheritance and what is now considered cutting edge?

Gertie
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Gertie » March 5th, 2018, 6:51 am

Many people, under religious, spiritual, existential, or other similar regards consistently refer to a "soul." This is most often defined vaguely as a center of experience, somewhere inside the skin and for the most part experienced as tension between the ears and behind the eyes (though the location differs for many cultures).
I think a better word for what you describe here is consciousness, experiential states, as the word 'soul' has a lot of other baggage.
Many religions believe our souls use the body as a vehicle and that upon birth our soul is "sent" to our body from some repituior of souls that reside outside of what can be referred to as, "material existence."

Is there any path of reasoning or logic that can be used to establish this or is it a reliance on faith? Is it merely the way our brains have happened to develop that allows the reverberation of thoughts and experience to build on themselves, similar to how a stringed instrument uses an empty space to reverberate sound and create further enhancement of tune?
Well we don't currently have an agreed scientific explanation for consciousness, so it's pretty much open season.

But we do have a history of religious belief which the term 'soul' is rooted in, and which hasn't held up too well in the face of growing knowledge, the shrinking 'god of the gaps' phenomenon. Which should caution us against assuming religious or 'supernatural' explanations should be treated any less skeptically than other explanations.

And we do have some clues about the 'source' of consciousness, or rather its necessary and sufficient conditions, in that we've identified it in particular types of physical systems - beings with brains. And neural correlation seems key.

So if we follow the evidence and use reason, we can infer there's something about physical neural processes which 'result in' particular experiential states. And when those processes cease, experiential states seem to cease. So from the little we know, it seems less likely that consciousness can manifest independently of a physical substrate.
Is "self-aware" simply a term referring to our supposedly unique capability to create fundamentally unnessecary abstractions? Is awareness required for intelligence? Is a creatively shaped flower more intelligent than an insect because the insect uses its own effort whereas the flower uses the wind to get from place to place?
You'd need to define self-aware, it can be quite hard to pin down. But if we follow the evidence we have it seems experiential states evolved based on utility, so I wouldn't say ''unnecessary'' (assuming something akin to mental causation/will is real). So for example I can imagine different scenarios in which I make different choices and then think through which decision is best - that's obviously useful. And I don't know to what extent other species have self-awareness, again a matter of definitions I suspect.

As for the questions about intelligence, I think the answers depend on how you define intelligence.

Gertie
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Gertie » March 5th, 2018, 7:55 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 4:41 am
If the assumption is that scientific methodology is THE route to knowledge, then the ruling out of certain phenomena because they seem illogical is unscientific. Or, at least, can be in many instances.
Yes, scientists choose lines of research based on current models, more than they would choose other lines of research. IOW they let current models prioritize which hypotheses to investigate. But this is different from using models to draw conclusions and to consider them scientifically demonstrated.
Within the history of science itself we have repeated instance where very well supported models would seem to indicate that something was illogical/impossible/not real/incorrectly interpreted by observers and then it turned out later to be the case. Something being both a particle and a wave was illogical, and then it was not. That quantum processes could be informing, via senses, the decisions/movements of large creatures like birds, would have been considered a scale category error, and then it wasn’t. That experiences of organisms could affect the genetic expression of the children of these organisms was considered illogical, since it did not fit with Darwinian models and derogatorily called Lamarkian, until it was considered the case. Elephants could not possibly be communicating over long distances, despite indigenous testimony and even some European testimony based on observation and in some cases, direct hearing. Take a look at Propps’ work with photons and intra-organismal communications, see how the scientific community reaction, based on their models, and then how this changed. Look at the way ether comes and goes and comes in astrophysics.
There is a rush to decide based on ‘we can logically rule that out given current models’ and that rush to decide is not scientific.
None of this means that skeptics here or elsewhere should accept the interpretations various believers have. There is always that third option.
Once you decide that everything that seems illogical, given current models and knowledge, cannot be the case, you are spitting in the face not only in the face of the history of science itself, but in the face of logic. Our models are incomplete, they are models, unless we are finished. We have a TOE that is not going to change in any way and is also correct. I see no reason to conclude that 2018 is that year. Nor do I think we can simply, now, just start using deduction from current models and give up experimentation, for example.
If two people or two groups of people have significantly different experiences, they may arrive at different conclusions rationally. Absolute certainty is problematic, in these kinds of situations, for both parties, but as working models, both can be rational to move forward from their conclusions. And which of them is right may not be determined in their lifetimes.
Most people assume, I would guess because it seems logical, that if two people are both being rational they must necessarily reach the same conclusions. I think that not only is this illogical, because we are creatures, in situ, with limited knowledge, but damaging and often rude. That believers of all kinds can also be rude is also absolutely the case, I certainly know that one.
It is generally considered that souls must mean there is a dualism. I don’t think this is the case. It could be a polarization, that we are referring to one of the same substance. Given my own experiences, I have no idea if it is a dualism or polarization. When I saw my aunt’s ghost, I did not know yet she was dead. I was staying in her house with family and I got her bed for the night. I was awakened in the middle of the night by a humanish, not clearly contoured ‘light’ that felt like my aunt. She seemed upset I was in her bed. I was at first scared, since it was weird, then I noticed this X, because confused. It seemed like it realized something was going on that it did not understand, then it withdrew. I put light in citation marks because it was not like light I am used to. I don’t really know what the seeing was. Two things made me take this experience as something other than a mere dream. We got a call in the morning and found out my aunt died in her sleep that night and two, that her reaction to me was not what I would have expected. That she was irritated someone was in her bed, well that fit somehow, that she would realize that something was off and that a ghost would become confused, surprised me in the extreme. Why does my surprise matter to me? It did not seem like my creation.
Would that be enough for me to believe in ghosts and souls? No, hardly. It is one of hundreds of experiences I have had that make the word ‘soul’ a good working concept for me. Anomalies, when looked at from current scientific models. Of course, this is not evidence for you. You don’t have these experiences, or yours were easily explained away. You have your models which do not support this. But I have so many experiences, just as animal trainers and pet owners had many experiences indicating things then considered irrational anthropomorphism by scientists were actually the case. The experiencers of rogue waves also had experiences different from those scientists who dismissed their estimates of wave size as irrational emotion distorted interpretations. Of course, what happened in those cases does not mean it will happen in mind. I am just saying that the argument from illogical is weak because it assumes one knows enough to list all the only possible reasons a phenomenon like this might exist and also know we can eliminate all these and rule it out AND because current models are just that.
That many believers think you should be convinced by their experiences is also illogical.
There’s a lot of rage on all sides in these kinds of debates, but not in all individuals, and fears of slippery slopes and memories of the damage caused, primarily by Abrahamic Monotheists ironically enough, lead to urges to rush to conclusion. I think there is also an urge to not have anything up in the air, to settle everything now. IOW to logically rule out rather than simply being skeptical or extremely skeptical. Close it off, no change, you are irrational, period, end of story.
If you cannot demonstrate it is true to me now, then it is irrational of you to believe it.
Nah.
You make good points about science being an ongoing process, and people's own individual world models being heavily influenced by their experience (including learning about science of course).

So there are innumerable private models of the world (the poster Karpel has just entered mine - hello!), but alongside we have a public or shared model, where we roughly agree on the shared ground rules of Reason and Facts, which we tentatively treat as Objectively True For Now.

However some things don't feel like an easy fit with Reason and Facts, and consciousness with its essentially subjective and qualiative nature, is perhaps the most striking. It doesn't fit into our scientific model of the world, there's just a big gap where it should be, and it's the realm of Value, right and wrong, meaning, mattering. Dualism seems instinctively credible, as stuff and experience don't seem to have a meeting place, and as you say there are many people who have had apparently inexplicable experiences like yours.

Put against that, we have the clues I mentioned in the above post. We may not have a Theory of Consciousness, but we have noted significant similarities in where we recognise it occurs - living critters with working brains. This is part of our Shared/Objective Model, and the sort of evidence which can help us draw some tentative shared inferences, some best guesses for now, while admitting we're still mostly ignorant.

And that evidence suggests consciousness manifests in discrete individual fields of experience, correlating with beings with working brains. And that as brains evolved for utility, sometimes prioritising quick and dirty kludges, they're limited and not always reliable, as you say. So while experiences like yours might be totally real experiences, and be very meaningful to you, they don't necessarily mean anything existed beyond the experience itself. It's an open question, but there explanations which are a better fit with the evidence out there in the Shared Model of how the world works. And while personal beliefs should be one's own biz, I take the view that public policy is best generally be rooted in our shared ground rules. So teach the science, in the context of the caveats you mention, teach critical thinking skills, and allow people to think through the open questions for themselves.

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Greta
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Greta » March 5th, 2018, 6:43 pm

Karrpel, an interesting and thought provoking post. I don't think any ghost would dare go near me lest it induced a heart attack. Life is challenging enough without having to deal with all that.
We have a TOE that is not going to change in any way and is also correct.
I am not sure why you said this because a TOE - the successful and accepted reconciling of GR and QM - famously continues to elude us. Apparently there are attempts to reconcile string theory with quantum loop gravity to resolve the issues in each, but my understanding is that this reconciling of theories is a work in progress.

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Atreyu
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Atreyu » March 5th, 2018, 6:55 pm

Eduk wrote:
February 27th, 2018, 4:00 am
Atreyu it is possible to grow organs in a lab. Fully functionally and not rotting. Do they have souls?
There is 'soul' associated with all living tissue, yes. Otherwise, it wouldn't be said to be 'alive'.

If you say "it is alive", that is because 'soul' is in it. If you say "it is not alive", that is because 'soul' is not present in it.

Not complicated, but I notice that many people don't like this idea....

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Greta
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Greta » March 5th, 2018, 11:55 pm

Atreyu wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 6:55 pm
Eduk wrote:
February 27th, 2018, 4:00 am
Atreyu it is possible to grow organs in a lab. Fully functionally and not rotting. Do they have souls?
There is 'soul' associated with all living tissue, yes. Otherwise, it wouldn't be said to be 'alive'.

If you say "it is alive", that is because 'soul' is in it. If you say "it is not alive", that is because 'soul' is not present in it.

Not complicated, but I notice that many people don't like this idea....
The law of averages suggests that some won't like it, At.

Many others might note that the idea is terribly ambiguous or even nebulous and would need a fair bit more clarification than tends to be given before being taken seriously. I am reminded of the movie, The Castle, where a novice lawyer's justification to a judge was, "It's the vibe of the thing". Yes ... and?

Personally, I think you are a tad life-ist :) What of poor old underestimated geological life? What of the Earth before the wet organics on its surface started to systematise into biology?

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Atreyu
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Atreyu » March 13th, 2018, 7:22 pm

Greta wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 11:55 pm
Many others might note that the idea is terribly ambiguous or even nebulous and would need a fair bit more clarification than tends to be given before being taken seriously. I am reminded of the movie, The Castle, where a novice lawyer's justification to a judge was, "It's the vibe of the thing". Yes ... and?

Personally, I think you are a tad life-ist :) What of poor old underestimated geological life? What of the Earth before the wet organics on its surface started to systematise into biology?
My definition stands and is complete. If you feel the Earth, or a mountain, is 'alive', and you trust your senses, then you would assert that the Earth or the mountain has a soul. You would say that you feel it. Another man, however, may take my same definition and not feel any life in the Earth, a mountain, or a winding stream. Then he would assert that there is no soul present in those things, also being true to his senses.

The point is that, whether or not our senses are more or less correct, the soul is the name the ancients gave to the matter/energy which must necessarily be present in that which we perceive to be 'life'. And it's necessary because the idea is that if there was no such matter/energy then we would not sense any difference in the first place. If we sense a difference between something being 'alive' and something else merely being 'dead matter', then we have every reason to think that there must be some kind of matter/energy present in that which is 'alive' which is not in that which is 'dead', otherwise why in the world would we recognize such a difference in the first place?

This idea of the soul completely jibes with the idea in ordinary science that there must be some kind of material and/or energetic reason for our perceptions. If we consistently and universally perceive some things as being 'alive' and other things as being 'dead', as we do with dogs and rocks for example, then this implies that the underlying matter and energy of the two things in question cannot be the same. There has to be some reason why we have this dualistic perception of 'life' and 'non-life', and in science we explain different phenomena by finding and defining different underlying matter and energy in those phenomena.

Eduk
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Eduk » March 13th, 2018, 8:09 pm

Science would like to kindly ask you to stop taking it's name in vain Atreyu.

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Atreyu
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Re: Are we here?

Post by Atreyu » March 19th, 2018, 4:08 pm

The idea that there is matter/energy behind all phenomenon is a quite established principle in science....

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Re: Are we here?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » April 6th, 2018, 7:36 am

Greta wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 6:43 pm
Karrpel, an interesting and thought provoking post. I don't think any ghost would dare go near me lest it induced a heart attack. Life is challenging enough without having to deal with all that.
We have a TOE that is not going to change in any way and is also correct.
I am not sure why you said this because a TOE - the successful and accepted reconciling of GR and QM - famously continues to elude us. Apparently there are attempts to reconcile string theory with quantum loop gravity to resolve the issues in each, but my understanding is that this reconciling of theories is a work in progress.
I agree. I am not saying there is a TOE. I am saying that in discussions like this, arguments are made AS IF we pretty much know the whole range of phenomena and possible phenomena, so we can rule our the possible existence of phenomena using deduction. Well, ghosts can't be neutrinos becase of X, can't be fields, because of Y, can't be [fill in the blank] because of Z, and those are the only possible substances or so far uncharted areas or [fill in the blank category] so we can rule out that phenomenon. Which is precisely what has been done repeatedly in the history of science and sometimes, with decent regularity, been incorrect. It is fine as speculation. It is lovely as - Jeez, I can't imagine what it might be, given that X is not possible...etc. I certainly understand the skepticism of people who have no experiences or a few that seem to them best explainable through current scientific metaphysics. But when it is presented as not speculative, I think it is 1) not scientific 2) hubristic. I mean, it's not than long ago all universe stuff was though to be baryonic. Now that's a minority amount of stuff because of dark matter and energy. AND at the same time there has been NO direct detection of this matter and I think even indirect detection is not conclusive yet. BIG NOTE: I am not suggesting ghosts or souls are dark matter or energy. Just pointing out that we know have fairly strong consensus about stuff existing that we still cannot directly detect and which we fairly recently only decided was there AND it is most of the universe. My point is merely that there may be other stuff going on we also don't know about.

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Re: Are we here?

Post by Greta » April 6th, 2018, 9:39 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 7:36 am
Greta wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 6:43 pm
Karrpel, an interesting and thought provoking post. I don't think any ghost would dare go near me lest it induced a heart attack. Life is challenging enough without having to deal with all that.



I am not sure why you said this because a TOE - the successful and accepted reconciling of GR and QM - famously continues to elude us. Apparently there are attempts to reconcile string theory with quantum loop gravity to resolve the issues in each, but my understanding is that this reconciling of theories is a work in progress.
I agree. I am not saying there is a TOE. I am saying that in discussions like this, arguments are made AS IF we pretty much know the whole range of phenomena and possible phenomena, so we can rule our the possible existence of phenomena using deduction. Well, ghosts can't be neutrinos because of X, can't be fields, because of Y, can't be [fill in the blank] because of Z, and those are the only possible substances or so far uncharted areas or [fill in the blank category] so we can rule out that phenomenon. Which is precisely what has been done repeatedly in the history of science and sometimes, with decent regularity, been incorrect. It is fine as speculation. It is lovely as - Jeez, I can't imagine what it might be, given that X is not possible...etc. I certainly understand the skepticism of people who have no experiences or a few that seem to them best explainable through current scientific metaphysics. But when it is presented as not speculative, I think it is 1) not scientific 2) hubristic. I mean, it's not than long ago all universe stuff was though to be baryonic. Now that's a minority amount of stuff because of dark matter and energy. AND at the same time there has been NO direct detection of this matter and I think even indirect detection is not conclusive yet. BIG NOTE: I am not suggesting ghosts or souls are dark matter or energy. Just pointing out that we know have fairly strong consensus about stuff existing that we still cannot directly detect and which we fairly recently only decided was there AND it is most of the universe. My point is merely that there may be other stuff going on we also don't know about.
Your point is well made. While scientists' guesses will tend to be easily the most educated, we are stuck with the limits of scale. How can we ever be sure about the very smallest and largest scales of reality?

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