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Philosophy, Science, and the Unexplained

Discussion in 'General Freewheeling Chit-Chat' started by USI Calgary, Oct 27, 2013.



  1. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    You really ought to do some deep reading in phenomenology before you make such an ambitious and empty claim, Randall.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  2. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Hurrah, at last a comprehensively reasoned admission. :)

    But not really, since you continue to cling to the promissory notes of physicists still limited by the presuppositions of the materialist/physicalist/objectivist paradigm:


    Well, then, let us know when all those guesses turn out to fit together in a total explanation of the being of the world's Being at large and of the evolution of consciousness and mind within it. Looking forward to that.
     
  3. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    I've read it. No answers there concerning the nature and experience of consciousness. And rest assured that I too do not wish to pursue any further discussions with you on this subject.
     
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  4. marduk

    marduk quelling chaos since 2352BC

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    Yes Constance you’re right. There’s things we don’t know, so therefore let’s invent a new universe to answer these questions. That’s an entirely reasonable position to take, even though it doesn’t answer anything at all.

    Insert several dozen links to philosophy articles that push the problem around syntactically because that solves everything.

    Have I introduced you to the magical unicorn that only I can see and hear?

    Sigh.
     
  5. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Sorry, that's a genuinely absurd response. A well reasoned position on the nature of What-Is could not fail to investigate the existence of consciousness and mind as they have appeared in our own local world. What 'other universe' do you think is necessary to account for what we experience in this one and what we learn about the nature of reality as a result?
     
  6. marduk

    marduk quelling chaos since 2352BC

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    Fair enough, it was meant to be absurd.

    In a sentence, where do you think consciousness comes from?
     
  7. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    I need three sentences. I think consciousness emerges within the evolution of species of life a) beginning with inchoate awareness in primordial organisms [see Maturana and Varela re: autopoiesis in primordial cells] and b) developing through instinctual seeking behavior in organisms and animals within and beyond their environmental niches [read Jaak Pansepp].

    In mammalian evolution (and perhaps in one or more other evolutionary lines), lived experience in/of the environing world grounds the development of emotional as well as cognitive responses of types continued into our own species [see Panksepp and his colleagues' work in the discipline of Affective Neuroscience].

    In protohumans and humans (and perhaps in other 'higher' species), consciousness develops pre-reflectively long before the recognition we experience of our own reflective consciousness, which grounds the development in human history of what we recognize as 'mind' in (most) representatives of our species.
     
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  8. marduk

    marduk quelling chaos since 2352BC

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    Hey, I have to tell you, that's the most succinct thing I've read from you, thanks for this. Sincerely.

    I'm not going to read up on Maturana and Varela, but I'm with you so far, at least in concept. Organisms begin with rudimentary sense of awareness, or knowledge - of itself or environment - through instinctive behaviours that have evolved naturally.

    So what you're saying (I think) is that mammals got smart and developed more complex emotions. Still with you.

    And this is what I don't understand at all.

    You're saying that consciousness (self-awareness) occurs before rational thought. Which we then become aware of once we become rational.

    To which I say I think these are the same things, and we're now just playing with words thinking we're solving problems. Why do you think the sequence of events solves a problem?
     
  9. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    No. Self-awareness is first experienced not thetically but pre-thetically in an animal's sensing of the self-referentiality [the mine-ness] of its experiences.

    I'm not talking about a 'sequence of events' but a gradual evolution and development of capacities for thinking that are grounded in pre-thetic lived experience. If you want to understand why phenomenology does not 'play with words' you'll need to read Merleau-Ponty. It's well worth the effort.
     
  10. marduk

    marduk quelling chaos since 2352BC

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    I don't know what that sentence means.

    No, I won't read anything. That is shifting the burden of your argument to me. I am listening to you try to explain it to me though.

    Phenomenology is a syntactic attempt to deal with a non-syntactic problem. It's literally playing with words and their meanings to attempt to describe reality.

    Shift gears at least, and come at me from a sentential logical perspective, maybe?
     
  11. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    What makes it difficult for you to understand that sentence? Did you look up the word 'thetic'? The rest should be easy. Think of the experiences of your children in their earliest years. Did they feel and understand nothing about the world they were living in until they'd been taught categories with which to sort it out?


    Actually it seems you just want to 'argue', and only within the terms of your own presuppositions.


     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  12. marduk

    marduk quelling chaos since 2352BC

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    Try explaining it in simpler ways without referencing other people’s work.
     
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  13. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    What you ought to try more often is to provide responses based your own thinking that addresses the points being made rather than the people who make them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  14. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    It's sort of like that, but not exactly. When we ask what something is made of, there are lots of ways to answer that question for many things, and only one way to answer that question for the fundamental things. That's the whole point of what is meant by being fundamental. EM is fundamental. I don't know of any physics book that says otherwise. The problem is that I'm not getting the idea of what fundament means across as compared to things that aren't fundamental. Perhaps an easier analogy would be to consider the difference between elements and alloys. Alloys can be explained by the combination of more fundamental components we call elements.

    Elements in turn can be explained by things we call atoms, that are in-turn composed of even more basic things we refer to as particles or strings, and those are finally explained by the forces they're associated with, and EM is one of those forces. EM cannot be explained by a combination of simpler things. For example it isn't accurate to call electrons or photons or virtual photons, or strings "simpler things" because those are going the other direction up the ladder in the hierarchy. That is why we say those are the "carriers" of the force. Not to mention that they're only abstract representations that serve the purpose of providing a conceptual framework to associate EM with.


    Chalmers figures that consciousness is fundamental in a similar way because it cannot be explained by the mere parts involved with the things that are associated with it. This is not to say that consciousness is EM any more than to say EM is gravity. It's pointing out that consciousness appears to be as fundamental as either EM or gravity. Personally I tend to agree with this evaluation, and am of the opinion that it cannot manifest in a meaningful way without certain conditions being met. Such conditions I propose require the right amount, configuration and type of materials combined with the right physical forces.

    On the surface that sounds a lot like consciousness can be explained by simpler things, but it's not quite like that. Magnetism exists on a fundamental level in all atoms, but doesn't manifest in a meaningful way without the right amount, configuration and type of materials combined with the right physical forces. However that begs the question: What then would we call this theoretical carrier of consciousness? Is it a wave? A particle? A field? At this point I favor a virtual field theory much like virtual photons are sometimes invoked to explain magnetic fields. Except for postulating alternate universes as the underlying causal factor, that's about as deep down that rabbit hole as I go.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  15. Han

    Han piscator ψ

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    I looked up the word 'thetic' and didn't really understand it, then I looked up 'pre-thetic' and read this page from a book I found on google:

    Selfhood and Authenticity

    Whilst I still don't exactly understand what thetic means, I did read something about that which I am painfully familiar:

    The difference between 'thinking' language and 'speaking' language....

    There is probably a term for somebody that thinks like me, but I am not sure what it is:

    I don't think you can always solve problems by reducing them, big questions need big answers, or maybe a better way to say it, is to ask:
    Can you find a mans soul by cutting him up?

    Now whether or not we have 'souls' (and all the baggage that comes with) is debatable, but I think we can agree that careful observation is more likely to get an answer than an autopsy.

    What I am trying to say is that 'language' is just a way of describing 'communication' and that before there was 'language' there was communication.

    In other words: I am asking myself about things like this:

    Is a light switch 'conscious'?
    Does it have/use a 'language'?

    upload_2018-3-13_12-11-43.jpeg

    I think it does because:

    It 'tells' us (communicates) whether it is on or off.
    If the switch is in the on position, and the light is off, it tells us there is a fault in the 'circuit'. (but not 'where' in the circuit the fault is).

    I think it doesn't because:
    well its a light switch......... :rolleyes:

    Obviously I am well out of my depth here, but I have magic gills, so I thought I would chance the waters :)
    I find the whole thing immensely confusing and inexplicable, but maybe that is the point about the 'unknown': you can not know it.

    And from what I have seen, there are too many spanners in the works in terms of 'intelligence' and who/what has it and vice versa (who/what doesn't have it).
    I don't think we can at this point in time 'see' what is really going on because we have not yet developed the necessary 'optics' (as in looking machines like microscopes) I am not saying we can't see 'small' enough, just that we can't yet* 'display' thoughts.

    Also we know that certain things or circumstances can have strange effects on 'sensors' leading to false readings or interpretations, our very eyes included, which is equally troubling. And I say troubling because it means that we can be 'led' to the water and even made to drink........

    Also, also: when I say intelligence I mean conscious because I think they are the same:

    "conscious" definition:

    #1 aware of and responding to one's surroundings.

    #2 having knowledge of something.


    Intelligence definition:

    #1 The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

    #1.1 A person or being with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.


    We are human beings, being human, which means asking questions is second nature to us:

    Second Nature definition:

    late 14c., from Latin secundum naturam "according to nature" (Augustine, Macrobius, etc.), literally "following nature;" from medieval Aristotelian philosophy, contrasted to phenomena that were super naturam ("above nature," such as God's grace), extra naturam ("outside nature"), supra naturam("beyond nature," such as miracles), contra naturam "against nature," etc.

    I think it is interesting that we say 'second' as that implies a first....

    Then again the people that laid the foundations of this discussion believed in deity/ies....
    :confused:




    *I like to think we will one day be able to, but then again that is an extremely scary prospect too.
     
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  16. marduk

    marduk quelling chaos since 2352BC

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    Let me give you a tip from one of my wise philosophy profs: You know a philosopher is in trouble when they start to invent new words, or change the meaning of existing ones.

    If you can't speak reasonably simply about something, you don't actually understand it, or it doesn't actually make sense.

    Listen to a random science teacher try to explain QM, and then go watch a Feynman lecture. One has lots of hand waiving and kinda-sorta-generalizations and metaphors, the other is just what it is.

    Here's him explaining the uncertainty principle:
    That is a pretty freaking straightforward way of describing it.

    Here's Britannica's way of describing it:
    Which while technically correct, is needlessly convoluted and actually may hide it's true meaning.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  17. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    Hmm. The statement above depends on who the philosopher is and who "they" are. If "they' who are inventing the new words are not the philosopher, then the philosopher may or may not be in trouble depending on whether or not the words are relevant to what the philosopher has to say. If "they" is a reference to the philosopher as the one making the new words, then the philosopher again may or may not be in trouble depending on how well the new words convey the ideas of the philosopher. So the statement has ambiguity.

    In looking up the word "thetic" I ran across this paper: http://semarch.linguistics.fas.nyu.edu/Archive/2ExNzlkZ/ladusaw.salt4.pdf
    Maybe one of the first things some people should admit in the first place is that they don't actually have the one and only true answer or viewpoint to a given issue. People can all be talking about the same thing but "talking past one another". In other words they're not relating to the subject under discussion in the same context as each other. When this happens and someone insists that they are right and others are wrong, then you know that they aren't seeing the communication problem.

    It's also possible for everyone to agree on something and be perfectly happy about being in agreement, but not actually be in agreement at all because they're thinking in a different contexts. Your initial statement above is one example of how we might interpret something two different ways. These unexpected sorts of ambiguities aren't always easy to spot.
    Yes. I've seen people go on at some length trying to explain something they have in mind, when what they're really doing more than explaining it to someone else, is trying to explain it to themselves. Mind you, some people are prone to overthinking things. I ran into that when attempting to nail down a definition for UFOs. Here are two examples of rather long and convoluted technical definitions for the word UFO followed by the one we use at USI:


    Hynek:

    "We can define the UFO simply as the reported perception of an object or light seen in the sky or upon land the appearance, trajectory, and general dynamic and luminescent behavior of which do not suggest a logical, conventional explanation and which is not only mystifying to the original percipients but remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making a common sense identification, if one is possible."

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

    USAF - AFR -200-2 February 05, 1958:

    2. Definitions. To insure proper and uniform usage in UFO screenings, investigations, and reportings, the objects are defined as follows:

    a. Familiar or Known Objects - Aircraft, birds, balloons, kites, searchlights, and astronomical bodies (meteors, planets, stars).
    b. Unknown Aircraft:

    (1) Flying objects determined to be aircraft. These generally appear as a result of ADIZ violations and often prompt the UFO reports submitted by the general public. They are readily identifiable as, or known to be, aircraft, but their type, purpose, origin, and destination are unknown. Air Defense Command is responsible for reports of "unknown" aircraft and they should not be reported as UFO's under this regulation.
    (2) Aircraft flares, jet exhausts, condensation trails, blinking or steady lights observed at night, lights circling or near airports and airways, and other similar phenomena resulting from, or indications of aircraft. These should not be reported under this regulation as they do not fall within the definition of a UFO.
    (3) Pilotless aircraft and missiles.

    c. Unidentified Flying Objects - Any airborne object which, by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to known aircraft or missiles, or which does not correspond to definitions in a. and b. above.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    USI

    UFO or ufo
    Pronunciation: yoo-ef-oh ( plural UFOs ) or yoo-foe ( plural ufos ) noun

    1. A craft of alien origin.
    2. The object or phenomenon that is the focus of a UFO report or investigation.
    Word Origin: [ Mid-20th century (1952) acronym formed from the words unidentified flying object. ]
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Things should not only be simple, but also accurate. So there is a level of complexity that is sometimes needed to make sure most ( if not all ) contingencies are covered. Often I simply refer to UFOs as "alien craft". Those two deceptively simple words convey almost all that is relevant to the core subject matter.
     
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  18. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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  19. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    These are some interesting speculations, @Han, many of which could lead to different topics for discussion. I was particularly interested in the book from which you cited an accessible page [actually a page including extracts from the book responding to your search for the term 'pre-thetic', of which you were limited only to the first]. Anyway, I followed your link and was able to access the second and third extracts/pages responding to your search, and these sections should enable you to understand the pre-thetic as explored in phenomenological philosophy and by now also in other disciplines. Try this link to read them:

    Selfhood and Authenticity

    {Note: you'll need to scroll back from the point in the third extract that I was reading.}

    Getting back to definitions of 'thetic', here is one that should be helpful.

    thetic
    (ˈθɛtɪk)
    adj
    1. (Poetry) (in classical prosody) of, bearing, or relating to a metrical stress
    2. positive and arbitrary; prescriptive

    A synonym for that second meaning would be 'thesis-driven', clearly a type of thinking that might arise with reflective consciousness. By contrast, pre-thetic ruminations on things, structures, others, etc. -- the sensing of solidity and order in what is seen and experienced in prereflective consciousness -- would be merely on the way to reflectively forming thetic propositions about the nature of what-is. It's important to note that prereflective consciousness continues to exist and affect 'thinking' beyond the stage at which a conscious being recognizes and intentionally engages the activities of its own reflective consciousness in describing and exploring the nature of the experienced world in concert with others.

    If we must perpetuate the computational notion of the mind/brain, we might imagine an AI that is capable of experiencing the world we live in (and in which it operates) as also able to enter into the ruminative, unfocused, open-ended prereflective states that we fall into frequently every day, in which our subconscious minds and their memories participate in and inform an open-ended day-dream that encompasses our lived past and present, and our futural ideations -- all funded in our case by the inescapability of our experienced being-in-the-world, presence to the world, that is like a vessel waiting to be filled with the real along with that which can be imagined out of it.
     
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  20. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Not everything can be expressed or understood in the language you happen to be familiar with and comfortable in, Marduk. No wonder your thinking is so rigid.
     
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