Sorry, I go through these phases where I just cant' discuss anything.. this is one of them. plus I'm packing to go back to Canada and don't have time to reply. Buuuut:
The problem of induction is an extremely famous philosophical problem, which science basically ignores. It is the problem that inductive reasoning is a huge assumption and that any justification of induction requires induction (circular).
The problem is that just because something has happened a million times before does not mean it ought to happen again. Inductive reasoning, as opposed to deductive reasoning, takes particulars and makes them into generalities.
So, for instance, using inductive reasoning, if you were born on an island and had no knowledge of other life, you would think to yourself: I have been alive every day so far, therefore I will be alive tomorrow.
But of course, one day you die.
Then you could say: "Well we have seen other people die, we know we will die" but you have used inductive reasoning to justify inductive reasoning.
So inductive reasoning clearly has problems, mostly elaborated on by Hume, but philosophers whom the West doesn't care about have talked about it before him too.
The thing is, we need inductive reasoning, but the point is that prediction requires inductive reasoning. So it's a bit of a necessary assumption.
Famously, people had only ever seen white swans -- "All swans are white" via induction -- and then one day they espied a black swan. Poosh! went their inductive reasoning. Hence the name "The Black Swan" of Nicholas Taleb's popular book.
This is in response to your free will post :) Sorry about making you wait.. please don't respond to this till I respond to your other post! I don't like.. like... untideness. LOL. :D
a) It's very interesting you say this, because one of the things I remember CollinF (theist) telling TheKing (atheist) was that if we e.volved without divine will, then we have no way of knowing that what we think is true, only that it is evolutionarily advantageous. TheKing, in turn, said that what is evolutionarily advantageous must be true (a uniquely unfalsifiable claim, to be sure) because if there's a volcano and we don't know it's there, we die. However, it is a self-refuting position, because reason should surely fall under those things that are 'evolutionary advantageous and possibly untrue' OR you should, like TheKing, say that survival requires truth.
But I agree that pure e.volution results in incoherence, including with believing evolution itself :)
When you say 'objectively', I think you are trying to imply that any form of human knowledge is outside of human interpretation. But it isn't. We are interpreting all the data we have, including in science. Everything is subjective to differing degrees. There is the individual subjectivity (beauty) which can become widespread (a beautiful scene), and then when it can be analysed and peer-reviewed (like artwork and science), it is called "objective". But, as I am sure quantum physics has made clear, observations themselves have subjectified the object in view.
Our intuition can be wrong, I agree. But I would argue there is a fundamental difference between what is literally all about subjectivity -- intentions and thoughts -- and that which is, at least at a theoretical level, "outside of us". If someone says that they are depressed, and you look at their brain scan and say that they are not because so-and-so brain area isn't activated, they are still depressed, regardless of what you say. Psychology is all about human perception of oneself.
I would like to point out that "it would make a lot of sense that we have an illusion of free will" i.e. evolutionary psychology (especially on TI) is very very speculative. Other things would make infinitely more sense, if we are just going based on what makes sense for survival, for instance being like ants (social and efficient beings) and not needing any illusion whatsoever.
b) I would disagree. What objective results? This is based on the assumption that humans are mechanisms. Also, please note that there is a difference between conscious will and free will, which I hope to elaborate on when I talk to Stuntddude :)
c) I would say that the experience of free will is the ULTIMATE conflict to pure mathematical determinism, but unfortunately, like I was saying, scientific materialism reduces non-deterministic experiences to determinism because of its very premise. How can anyone convince me of anything if I will reinterpret their proof based on my prior beliefs? Do you see my point? :/ I hope I'm making sense.
If you are talking about random motion as something not following deterministic mathematical laws, btw, there is Brownian motion which is by definition random.
Second post woot :) And thank you. :) I am enjoying this discussion too. It helps me criticise the scientismic worldview I have unfortunately internalised.
a) Firstly: Thank you for the book recommendation :) I actually saw the Dalai Lama live when he came to Toronto. I was super-excited, but after watching him talk for an hour, I realised that everything he said was supremely obvious. :) LOL. Sorry, but I think I'll pass for now. XD Maybe later? The blurb on Amazon seemed relevant to our discussion though.
Moving on XD: I think that subjectivity in terms of biases ought to be reduced and obviously takes away from objectivity, but to treat subjectivity itself as a totally impossible way to
I agree that we can apply science to subjective humans, but only if we reduce them to something science can understand. The best analogy I can think of (okay, can't credit it to myself; I recommend "Islam Between East and West" by Alija Izetbegovic -- it literally doesn't mention Islam for the first 150 pages, more or less discussing being human) is to reduce art to technique. If you are into any sort of art, you will agree that the experience of creating an artistic masterpiece (at least I hope it's a masterpiece) is definitely not about the technique. There are really bad technical paintings that are still really good, and really excellent and accurate technical art pieces that are still lacking. You can study art based on technique, but that would be missing the point, I think. Does that make sense?
I think science can study actions, and perhaps even feelings and thoughts, but not intentions. There is a whole lot of subjectivity in this field, obviously, as the person has to voice what they are feeling, and then you compare that to their brain, for instance. You can imagine however giving someone obvious pain and then measuring their brains -- no communication needed. But for intentions, they are inherently subjective. There is no way to know someone's intention without them telling you. Time will tell though. :) It's a field I am very interested in. What I am studying in uni, in fact. :)
(i) But I am not saying to use unprovable methods to learn about how the universe works. I am saying to use 'unprovable' methods to learn about other aspects of existence beyond hows. The example I can give (I came up with it this time! :D ) is imagine that a child has lost her father, and she asks you, "How did he die?" and you can tell her, "He died in a car crash". Okay, certainly important. But if she asks you, "Why did he die?" and you tell her, "He died in a car crash", then obviously you are missing the entire point of her question. If you tell her, "We do not know "why"s, we have no way of knowing", then the answer is still a claim because any answer will be a non-falsifiable one. You will agree that it is impossible to mechanistically prove any answer as wrong or right, correct? So unlike in science, where saying "We can't know right now" isn't a claim, since that is the default position in science (to not know, and then try to find out -- getting closer to the truth), in something non-"objective" (using your terms), any statement is a claim. So if I say, "He died because God wanted him to" OR if I say "We can't know why he died", both are claims. Does that make sense? Thinking of "we can't know if there is a why to the universe" as a neutral position doesn't work. It is a position, since anything resembling philosophy or theology stops being falsifiable, and "knowledge" changes definitions in this new territory. That having been said, I don't think people usually "guess" in this territory. We have some vague notion of what the correct ans can be. Hard to elucidate on, but I'll try God willing in another response.
I hope that makes sense :) I look forward to your critique/response to it.
I am glad you agree that historical knowledge isn't testable. It is possible for stuff to occur and it not be testable. So we have to use other means to find out about it.
If all we are disagreeing about is that we need science to learn about how the natural universe works, then we are not disagreeing at all :)
"Whys are human creations" -- So is the entire domain of logic and reason. :) I still think you are reducing reality to mechanisms of how the universe works by dismissing everything else as subjective -- important but not truth. (Sorry, I really don't mean it in a bad way.)
Another analogy! Imagine if someone asked me "How does the Earth spin arund the Sun" and I said "God made it do so". Possibly a correct answer, but not a satisfactory one. That answer requires experimental investigation, right? I can't just reduce everything to "God made it so". That's how I feel when I ask someone about, say, the significance of beauty, and then they tell me about how the human awareness of beauty evolved. Do you kinda see what I'm getting at? Two different domains, and you can't reduce one to the other. (Or at least, I don't think it is fair not to acknowledge that it is a bias to do so.)
(ii) Thanks for the summary :) I think I addressed most of this stuff above, but if I didn't, feel free to call me out on it :) Sorry if I am misunderstanding you or ignoring anything you said. :)
Peace and cheers :)
Oops cut off a sentence above:
Moving on XD: I think that subjectivity in terms of biases ought to be reduced and obviously takes away from objectivity, but to treat subjectivity itself as a totally impossible way to learn anything isn't right, since it is treating subjectivity as a giant bias.
Destinee: Here' s my response to post 1.
a) First, I do disagree with TheKing's position (isn't he proving religious ideas to be true and defeating his whole atheistic stance).
And yes, reason does fall under the "evolutionarily advantageous and possibly untrue" category. However, I think it holds a special place in that it is impossible to understand the world around us without assuming this is true. No matter your worldview you must use reason. We can't avoid assuming it to be true. All the other stuff - not so much.
I do think objectivity is possible. A measurement of some quantity is not subjective. It has some value or it doesn't. A mathematical equation either works or it doesn't. And science is simply the combination of the two. Obviously, subjectivity can be brought into play when science is done poorly, but in theory good science is totally objective (minus the required assumption that reason is real).
"Our intuition can be wrong, I agree. But I would argue there is a fundamental difference between what is literally all about subjectivity -- intentions and thoughts -- and that which is, at least at a theoretical level, "outside of us"."
True. I do, however, think that intentions and thoughts, and even subjectivity at least have potential to be described using objective methods.
"If someone says that they are depressed, and you look at their brain scan and say that they are not because so-and-so brain area isn't activated, they are still depressed, regardless of what you say. Psychology is all about human perception of oneself."
I agree here, but if this happens it means that the measurement equipment or our knowledge about how depression looks in the brain is wrong. I don't think it has much to do with the point.
"evolutionary psychology (especially on TI) is very very speculative"
True. I admit I'm just making at best an educated guess (which is as good as anyone can do right now in regard to consciousness)
"Other things would make infinitely more sense, if we are just going based on what makes sense for survival, for instance being like ants (social and efficient beings) and not needing any illusion whatsoever. "
True. Many things would make more sense. This more than anything is good evidence for us being products of evolution and not the product of some divine being. Anyone could probably design a better creature.
But evolution works with what came before and works to adapt a species to its environment. Ants are suited to their environment and humans to ours. And a product of having a large brain is clearly consciousness and quite possibly the illusion of free will. Once again, however, we know very little about consciousness, so this is just speculation.
b) My point is that nothing has been measured or detected that suggests something outside of scientific determinism. It may be wrong, but we have no precisely determined evidence otherwise at the moment. Likewise, there is no good evidence from our current study of the mind that we are anything other than mechanisms. I may be wrong about this of course.
Also, this makes me think of something else that I'll get back to you on: "Could we disprove scientific determinism using scientific methods?" What do you think? If not...it may be time for some reevaluation of some of my opinions...
"please note that there is a difference between conscious will and free will"
What is the difference?
c) You make a fair point and one I'll have to think about, but I don't think you can prove free will, so I'm not reinterpreting any proof at all. Your only evidence is your own subjective intuition which has a history of being severely flawed.
Lastly, Brownian motion can be described using a mathematical model.
a) I see your point. As you say time will tell, but I believe that feelings, thoughts, and even intentions at least have the potential to be explained using science.
Btw, where are you at college? And what exactly are you studying? Psycology? Neuroscience?
i)You're right. We're not disagreeing at all. However, many other people (literal creationists!) make this mistake a lot. Great analogy by the way. :)
""Whys are human creations" -- So is the entire domain of logic and reason. :)"
Maybe. (The universe is quite possibly inherently logical, but of course being subjective creatures we can't know for sure.) However, to understand anything we must assume this to be inherently true. All the other "human creations" we don't.
"Another analogy! Imagine if someone asked me "How does the Earth spin arund the Sun" and I said "God made it do so". Possibly a correct answer, but not a satisfactory one. That answer requires experimental investigation, right? I can't just reduce everything to "God made it so". That's how I feel when I ask someone about, say, the significance of beauty, and then they tell me about how the human awareness of beauty evolved. Do you kinda see what I'm getting at? Two different domains, and you can't reduce one to the other. (Or at least, I don't think it is fair not to acknowledge that it is a bias to do so.) "
Very good point.
Anyway, thanks for the reply. This discussion is really making me think hard. Its certainly making me question my worldview, which is quite difficult, but very good for me (and kinda fun). I'll continue to think about it and will post again soon.
a) I don't want to misrepresent him, but I am pretty sure that his reasons for a.theism are more, I guess, moral than anything.
(i) Funny that, because it reminds me of what DrBug said about the preclude to intelligibility. I understand what you are saying -- reason appears to be very fundamental to understanding, and refuting reason requires reason itself, but here we encounter a dilemma which I think is fairly important. Because, for thought to work (reason being a form of thought), it requires that the thought not be determined. Or rather, the evaluation of the thought not be determined. So for instance, if I think I am reasoning that something is moral because I was determined to believe that, that is clearly rendering my moral thought to be meaningless. The opposite is necessary, i.e. that my evaluations have some ability to reflect reality, and for this, reason cannot be determined. So we already have something that needs to be outside of determinism to make sense. So, freedom of thought is needed for a coherent worldview.
(ii) You would think, but measurement affects what you are measuring, right? You are far better at Physics than I am :) but I was under the impression that, ugh, can't remember the name of it right now, but that observation appears to be affecting reality.
(iii) If we describe intentions as 'someone having an intent', there is an inherently subjective aspect of it -- the someone having. You cannot have an intention without the someone having it, perceiving it. Compare this to, say, orbits described as satellites moving around one another due to gravity etc etc. Conceivably no-one could exist and orbits would still exist. But intentions are different -- they need the someone. Even when an action appears to be voluntary, if the person says it is not, that is enough to cast a reasonable doubt on if they are voluntary (in fact, we ought to be assuming the person isn't lying, and then prove the contrary). So, for instance, during sleepwalking you can appear to be doing something voluntarily and not be doing it voluntarily at all. So is it possible to study that objectively? Perhaps. But there will always be a subjective aspect to it, rendering them diff from orbits, and the only way science can deal with it is to deny the subjective aspect as an illusion.
(iv) About the depression/brain scan thing, my point was that if someone says they are depressed, and current technology can't handle it, then you don't say "Dude you're not really depressed, it's an illusion". You say: "Okay here's a phenomenon we can't explain right now, but you are depressed so there's something missing from our side, not from yours. You are understanding your own emotions correctly". Does that kinda make more sense? (This analogy is limited since of course the underlying assumption is still that depression is materialistically based, but I think you get the point.)
(v) Re: ants -- I disagree wholeheartedly. :) God, if you follow the usual Abrahamic version of events, created both ants and humans. There is a clear difference in the former: socially efficient and lower level of consciousness, amoral, etc'; vs the latter. Again, God wanted us to have free will and morals for growth and whatever else. So an ant is not a better design than us. It serves a different purpose.
b)/c) Well, there's parapsychology, a field with growing interest. Not that I personally subscribe to it, but given that the scientific community has been deterministic for so long, sometimes skeptics' criticisms of things can be that they do not show "a viable mechanism".
Pretend for a moment that we have free will. Genuine free will, which I am sure you can imagine since you probably spend most of your day under the illusion :P How do you propose someone would scientifically detect it?
"Could we disprove scientific determinism using scientific methods?" --> Hm if under controlled conditions you could somehow (don't see how) show something to be non-deterministic, then ya. (Oh ought to mention: loads of religious people have been determinstic. Martin Luther, for instance.) Anyway, but I think anything non-deterministic is bound to be subjective, and I also think scientific determinism is a philosophical position, so you probably can't use its own philosophical results to disprove itself? I don't know if that makes sense haha XD But even if you could show non-determinism, I have a feeling that mechanistic materialists would deny it and claim that we will be able to explain it later using a mechanism. So I guess I think theoretically it's possible, but practically scientific methods = mechanistic methods, and anything involving natural mechanisms is deterministic (I suppose).
As for the diff b/w free and conscious will -- I'll save it for stuntddude's reply God willing, if you don't mind. XD it'll just be easier for me :/ Sorry.
Lastly: Brownian motion: ah I see. XD I had misunderstood it I suppose. Thanks. :) I'll look more into it. That having been said, I am curious as to why determinism or order will lead you more towards agnostic atheism, and randomness towards theism/deism. Order usually implies non-entropy, or a living being.
Second post :)
a) I sent you an email. :) Both Neuroscience and Psych actually, God willing.
(i) Thank you!! :D I like compliments :D
"However to understand anything we must assume this to be inherently true; all other human creations we don't" --> I did touch on this above (my version of "touching on things" is to write a long paragraph about them haha). but another thing: To understand morality and responsibility we need freedom of will. (I would argue a divine being too, or some sort of non-material aspect.) To understand identity and personhood and rights we need other similar non-reason things. I understand that these claims require reason, so reason is clearly fundamental, but it also leads me to believe that it is not all there is. This is what I meant from way back when when I said that you could minimise your assumptions, but still not end up explaining a large part of existence. You can minimize yourself to 1 assumption of reason leading to truth, but if you are reasoning your way to illusion of free will or something else, then you have limited your infinite circle, so to speak: you have denied every other experience. Whereas I find it far more reasonable to accept our experiences unless we have a good reason not to (free will, like dreams, is subjective but also widespread enough to be objective), and accept that perhaps we do not know how it occurs right now.
What do you think of the following: "Reason cannot comprehend freedom." I think it can lead us to freedom, but once we have entered through freedom's doors, we have to deal with the fact that freedom (theoretically, since you don't believe in it) does not have causality. It has agency, but not causality. And how can logic deal with what isn't causal? It becomes experential at that point. Freedom is only understood through experience I think. I have a hard time believing that we can understand the notion of freedom without having it.
Personally, I believe (without much reason, I admit; this is a conjecture of mine) that free will exists and it is perhaps a result of various parts of our brain interacting to result in something that can control itself. If that is possible, then the consciousness is outside of causality, but it is still a result of a causal mechanism. That having been said, this is a very sketchy sorta hypothesis, since usually physico-chemical interactions result in something else of the same nature (e.g. Na + Cl leads to salt, which has certain physical and chemical properties explained by Na-Cl's interactions). I suppose that is why people believe in the spirit.
Lastly, I forgot to mention above: Assuming God does exist, and assuming He has at least given everyone the chance to believe in Him, we should acknowledge that not everyone is of the same intelligence. So intelligence cannot be the sole method of finding Him (in this worldview), correct? Nor can a temporal knowledge, or something that can be falsified, because then certainty in God will be impossible. If God exists, free will (universal and personal) is perhaps the perfect "indication" of the existence of the spirit, or something non-material. A series of simple observations (order, purpose etc), none of which are falsifiable (which would make them forever open to doubt), but all of which are at least reasonable, and so fundamental and essential that they are not usually doubted, can lead to God. For any man or woman who "contemplates the creation" (to quote the Qur'an). Would you say that's a fair assessment?
Consider that in history people have not often denied that there is a purpose to life -- we have always fought over what it was, not that it existed. Same with many religious bases -- we disagree over what they are, not if they occur. Atheism is actually fairly new (I mean, of course old atheists existed, but as a widespread "belief system" it is fairly new). If nothing else, this at least indicates that people do not often doubt human experiences as being illusory.
"(iii) If we describe intentions as 'someone having an intent', there is an inherently subjective aspect of it -- the someone having. You cannot have an intention without the someone having it, perceiving it. Compare this to, say, orbits described as satellites moving around one another due to gravity etc etc. Conceivably no-one could exist and orbits would still exist. But intentions are different -- they need the someone. Even when an action appears to be voluntary, if the person says it is not, that is enough to cast a reasonable doubt on if they are voluntary (in fact, we ought to be assuming the person isn't lying, and then prove the contrary). So, for instance, during sleepwalking you can appear to be doing something voluntarily and not be doing it voluntarily at all. So is it possible to study that objectively? Perhaps. But there will always be a subjective aspect to it, rendering them diff from orbits, and the only way science can deal with it is to deny the subjective aspect as an illusion."
Correction: The only way scientific materialism can deal with it...
(i) I don't really see why reason requires free will to be honest. You say it makes morality meaningless and I agree that in a sense it does, but that's not an argument against it - the universe doesn't have to make us happy. Obviously, because it can make things meaningless in many ways, it is best to assume for everyday life that free will isn't an illusion and it does exist.
(ii) Good point - I believe you're talking about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (at least it applies to what you're talking about). However, observation in quantum mechanics doesn't depend on a subjective consciousness. For example, one particle can "observe" another. So, yes, observation has an effect on reality, but it doesn't require subjective observation.
(iii) I'm not entirely convinced of this to be honest. You may be right, but I feel that science at least has the chance of describing even subjectivity objectively.
(iv) Got it. I totally agree with the point you bring up with the depression analogy.
(v) Re: ants - I wasn't meaning to argue that ants have a better design than us. Both humans and ants have been shaped ideally for their environments by evolution. My point was that they could be designed better, as you said that it wouldn't make much sense if we don't have free will for us even to become conscious and then have the illusion of such. I was agreeing and pointing out that evolution isn't perfect - it works with what came before. Make sense?
b/c) I'll have to think about the using deterministic science to prove determinsim wrong some more, but I think it would be possible...I'll get back to you.
"That having been said, I am curious as to why determinism or order will lead you more towards agnostic atheism, and randomness towards theism/deism. Order usually implies non-entropy, or a living being."
1. God isn't living per say. Besides He's outside of the Universe, so entropy of the Universe doesn't really apply to Him.
2. Determinism doesn't require anything outside of matter to explain how the world works whereas randomness does.
"It is the problem that inductive reasoning is a huge assumption and that any justification of induction requires induction (circular)."
You are sort of right, but not in the way you intended. You're correct it's an assumption, but really it's only a part of an assumption, specifically #3, "Our reasoning can be applied to the world." Induction is a way of human reasoning.
Your argument rests on me having said that one can derive total certainty from induction, when actually I have gone on profusely about how we can *never* be absolutely certain about anything outside our own conscious thoughts and experiences at the present moment. No, we can only technically say "probably" based on inductive reason, but the more a pattern occurs, the stronger our certainty becomes.
For instance, in your example about swans, you should know that people at the time had not explored the whole world or even anywhere close, and when people did explore they tended to find new species and variations in species, so actually by inductive reasoning the best conclusion a person could come to is that they should expect lots more variation to be out in the world they hadn't explored, not that there would only ever be white swans. The problem there falls, as you will note, with bad reasoning, not with induction itself.
And further, the simple fact that you use inductive reasoning pretty much all day every day makes it highly impractical for you to reject its validity, upon which you depend.
Quantum: I will respond when, God willing, you post your 2nd reply (this isn't like, a taunt to make you post faster XD LOL. Just sayin').
stuntddude: why are there 3 ds in your name again?
"You are sort of right, but not in the way you intended" HAHAHAAHA that's funny.
"your argument rests on me having said.." Okay firstly, I started off with induction to explain to Jade what I meant by "assumptions". So really there isn't a need to bring your own personal assumption into the list, as it isn't really relevant? I mean, we all know you're a fan of science, soo.. ya.. :P
My argument is that the very much practical scientific assumption of the regularity of nature rests on induction. this is a pretty worldwide assumption... What you are saying isn't really relevant... I don't really know how to explain it but here goes..
Imagine there is a counterinductivist named Stuntdude (with 2 ds, you will note). Stuntdude (or Bob) says that anytime he encounters a maple leaf that is exactly like every single maple leaf he has seen before (he's a failed botanist), he will believe that the next maple leaf is exactly the opposite (now you see why he failed at botany). So, the more maple leaves he sees that are exactly the same (in system), the stronger is the probability for him that the next will NOT be the same. If you, Stuntddude with 3 Ds, saw several thousand maple leaves of the same type, you would consider the probability to be increased that the next will be the same. Bob, simply because of his difference in inductive reasoning (or perhaps because of the lack of the D in his name -- we shall never know), has the exact opposite conclusion. Hence, probability is itself based on some sort of principle, which is at least tied to induction. Part of the two-part problem of induction is how to know that Billy's stubbornness is more rationally justified than your widely-accepted principle.
I don't think I explained that very well, so I'll try again in hopes I do :) (or just so that you can see a flaw in my argument more lucidly and point it out): You said: Ithe more a pattern occurs, the stronger our certainty becomes. Ignoring my pedantic contention at certainty becoming "stronger" (perhaps you meant the less doubt we will hold) -- what I am trying to say is that patterns are based on some sort of inductivist principle. Consider the case of a string of 9s:
First you see one: 9.
You say: the next can be any number
But it is this: 9999999999
You say: Okay now the chances of the next number of being 9 are relatively high
It is this: 99999999999999999999999999999
You say: Okay I'm pretty sure the next number will be 9.
But, of course, it ends up being a 6.
If you really, really dumb down what you're saying, I think you'd agree that there isn't a logical justification for believing that the next number will be 9 any more than it may be 2. And if you are lowering your doubt that the next number will be 2 or 5 or 3 based on more 9s being added, you are operating on the assumption that a pattern leads to more patterns, which is a bit of an induction (or something like it; in fact, I believe you are using Bayes' Law).
Secondly, practically speaking, to make predictions, one needs induction. So just practically in science you need induction to choose b/w theories. Would you rather test out a more well-corrobated theory's predictions, or a less-corrobated theory's predictions? The former, obviously, but why? Because the theory has in the past held better to attempts at falsifying it, obviously. In the past being the inductive part of it.
Incidentally, Popper believed we should seek out scientific theories that have the most ways of being false (so probably most false) but that have been falsified the most.
Thirdly, what you are essentially saying is what Popper said i.e. he never answered the problem of induction, he basically just side-stepped it by saying science use falsifiability. So while I agree that philosophically you can get around the problem of induction (not answer it, mind, but ignore it), practically it isn't possible.
My last criticism is that while it is all very well and good to say that science does not hold stuff to be 100% true, like you said, in practical life, yes people do. And since science is not some abstract theory but the scientific method carried out by real people, it is a failing regardless of the falsiifiability principle. (Consider that a large part of biology rests on evolution, and no serious biologist doubts it -- at least, not without ridicule.)
"white swan stuff"
Ah, but no, because you have told us nothing new about the world. If there may be non-white swans, and there may all be white swans, we have literally learned nothing. We might as well never have seen a swan in our life, if the case is basically "there might be non-white swans, and so far all we have seen is white swans". The point is that probabilistically there is reason to believe that the next swan I will see is white; but realistically it may not be. (This is a v. simple failing of induction.)
"the simple fact that you use inductive reasoning pretty much everyday..."
Ya well I did say it was necessary, but one should be aware of it as an assumption. Pretty sure this was Hume's justification of induction too -- natural and kinda unavoidable, so just deal with it. Byatches. :P
Also, a few factual corrections, many of which don't pertain to the argument but which are bothering me none the less,
"Theory ought to explain experiences, not negate them."
To be sure, no scientific theory (at least not thus far in neuroscience, maybe one day) can deny that a person has had an experience, it can only deny what a person thinks has caused that experience, so they do only explain experiences, they do not negate them. In any case, good to see you at least agree with the scientific method on what theories ought to do.
"It is conceivable that any new discovery can overturn a whole accepted system of thought (which happened with Newtonian mechanics due to Einstein)."
Newtonian mechanics as a whole were not overturned, only his theory of gravity, which presented clear problems even as he was discovering it, for instance that the universe was not collapsing in on itself as Newtonian gravity predicted it would, causing Newton himself to doubt how complete the theory really was. Also before Einstein's relativity, the orbit of Mercury was measured to be different from what was predicted by Newtonian gravity.
"If anything, testing is the worst way to find knowledge"
...Is there even any other way, other than perhaps guesswork (which I think we can all agree is less reliable than testing)?
"But I agree that pure e.volution results in incoherence, including with believing evolution itself"
To be sure, biological evolution is one of the most coherent theories ever proposed, and one of the most thoroughly verified.
"But, as I am sure quantum physics has made clear, observations themselves have subjectified the object in view."
This is one of many interpretations of quantum mechanics (and would hardly support your position anyway as, at least how I understand it, it only considers the probabilities of the wave function to be subjective and not the underlying reality behind it).
"If someone says that they are depressed, and you look at their brain scan and say that they are not because so-and-so brain area isn't activated, they are still depressed, regardless of what you say."
Firstly, people can lie about their own emotions and mental states (and have been known to do so in pursuit of dr.ugs). Secondly, depression is a mental illness, and people are notoriously bad at self-diagnosing their mental health, so it's very much possible they *are* wrong about being depressed.
"if we are just going based on what makes sense for survival, for instance being like ants (social and efficient beings) and not needing any illusion whatsoever."
Ants are a niche species -- any other species that tried to occupy that niche would likely fail because ants hold a monopoly on it and are great at what they do, so other ways of living are necessary for the survival of other species, one of the better ways being to evolve good cognition, something that humans do that gives them a clear advantage over ants in terms of adapting to their environment. Neither can be reasonably said to be "better" than the other because they are both niche roles.
"If you are talking about random motion as something not following deterministic mathematical laws, btw, there is Brownian motion which is by definition random."
Brownian motion is not random motion.
"You can study art based on technique, but that would be missing the point, I think."
Artistic technique, for instance music theory, is a set of tools and guidelines for making good art, not a set of rules as you seem to be implying.
"I think science can study actions, and perhaps even feelings and thoughts, but not intentions."
Intentions are a subset of feelings/thoughts.
"then the answer is still a claim because any answer will be a non-falsifiable one."
Non-falsifiability is not what makes something a claim, and "I don't know" is falsifiable.
"So for instance, if I think I am reasoning that something is moral because I was determined to believe that, that is clearly rendering my moral thought to be meaningless."
All you are saying here is that for us to have free thought, we must have free thought.
"Compare this to, say, orbits described as satellites moving around one another due to gravity"
Satellites don't orbit "each other," they orbit moons, planets, etc., things that are much larger than themselves.
"the only way science can deal with it is to deny the subjective aspect as an illusion."
Subjectivity and objectivity do not have to be mutually exclusive.
"so you probably can't use its own philosophical results to disprove itself?"
Didn't you just try to do this a little ways down-thread? :P If a position refutes itself, than it must be false, so I think you definitely can.
"I mean, of course old atheists existed, but as a widespread "belief system" it is fairly new"
Atheism is not a system of belief, it is a single belief, or rather a single disbelief.
"I have a hard time believing that we can understand the notion of freedom without having it."
Can you understand the notion of weightlessness? Have you ever been in orbit in space?
"Hence, probability is itself based on some sort of principle, which is at least tied to induction."
Just something I noted - your leaf example if Bayesian, not statistical probability, which ties into that new interpretation of quantum mechanics I posted about a few weeks ago.
Destinee: I'll get to part 2 soon...
Quantum: No worries, take your time :) Also pretty sure the maple leaf was my example.. I did meniton Bayes' Law though.
You never answered why you have 3 Ds in your name :(
Okay so I'm gonna reply to stuff that I disagree with you on. If I didn't reply to something it's probably cuz I agree. My apologies if I don't sound fully attentive -- it is because my sentences aren't meant to be diagnosed individually, but as a whole (contextually). e.g. "theory ought to explain experiences, not negate them" is part of a number of examples that I gave... but here goes :)
(i) I did not mean that they negated the experience as in "you didn't have that experience" but they may explain it in a way that doesn't explain it but negates the essence. In my example of an insane person, I said that they can explain everything. I doubt an insane person will say that I did not have the experience of the police coming to my house. But he would explain it thru some extensive (and wrong) conspiracy theory. Insanity of course is an easy example, but the general idea can be applicable when science reduces qualitative to purely quantitative.
(ii) "Is there even any other way, other than perhaps guesswork?" That is what this entire discussion is about :) Perhaps the way through which you have reached the conclusion that the scientific method is the best/only way...
(iii) Firstly, I am not an anti-e.volutionist. Like most things in life, I am agnostic towards, not because it is not internally consistent, but because as a layman I do not find it necessary to judge scientific theories that have no actual bearing on my life. (Medicine has a more direct bearing on my health.) Secondly, I was not saying evoluton isn't coherent in and of itself, only that its logical conclusion would be rather self-refuting. Quantum's claim that we evolve for survival, not truth, makes it very easy to doubt any of our mental faculties. Obviously. That is what I meant by incoherent. I argue the same for determinism of thoughts.
(iv) Quantum mechanics: I am always happy to learn about quantum mechanics, mainly because I suck at physics :) But no, I agree with you. That is precisely what I was saying.
(v) I think you misunderstood the point about the depression thing. The point is that if someone is feeling depressed (yes, people can lie, but clearly not everyone is lying all of the time) -- I am not saying diagnosing themsleves with clinical depression, I am saying they feel "down" -- if you cannot find the part(s) in the brain that are thought to be activated in concurrence with a feeling of depression, then you do not say the person is not feeling depressed. Hypothetically, if I said you had a bulb connected to you that glows everytime you think the word 'cucumber', and you said you thought the word, but no bulb glowed, I would question the bulb, not you. (obviously, I mean a large number of people, not you as an indiviudal.)
(vi) Your ant/human reasoning comes across as weakly ex post facto. Our cognition makes up for our lack of efficiency elsewhere.
(vii) I wasn't implying that about artistic technique.
(viii) Fair enough regarding the intention thing. I meant non-intentional thoughts.
(ix) I think you misunderstood my claim/falsifiability thing. Try to read it again. I was saying that there are realms that prediction does not work in (for instance in historical knowledge). You seem to think the only alternative to falsifiable claims is guesswork, but i disagree. Anyway, I was saying that among the domains where things aren't falsifiable by nature, "We cannot know for certain" is a claim. (Not "I don't know", which is something else entirely.)
(x) I am not saying that at all. I am saying that complex computers (which do not have free thought IMO) operate on a Garbage In, Garbage Out basis. I am saying that for any of your reasoning to make sense, it cannot have been conditioned.
(xi) "Subjectivity and science do not have to be mutually exclusive' --> can you elaborate on that? :)
(xii) "Didn't you just do this a little down thread" Sorry my bad :P i didn't mean what I wrote LOL. I meant the insane man thing - to refute him, you'd have to change his assumption. But I am not sure anyway about Quantum's question in the way he worded it. :)
(xiii) I would argue atheism is a belief. Just like I believe Zeus does not exist. But we don't have to start a long, tedious argument about semantics. This is basically (ix)
(whatever-the-roman-numeral-for-14-is) I would not understand weightlessness if I did not have weight.And freedom is, I think, a bit different, because even expressing it purely theoretically is difficult. Free will has always been an introspective sort of thing. I'd compare it more to colours. I wouldn't know colours if I'd never seen them.
Destinee: Oh yeah...the leaf example was yours. Anyway, on to part 2
a)Cool. I find neuroscience really fascinating (although psych seems a little pseudoscientific to me it also pretty neat).
"To understand morality and responsibility we need freedom of will. (I would argue a divine being too, or some sort of non-material aspect.)"
I agree that practically we must assume that we have free will, but that doesn't mean its necessarily true. Also, even if we don't have free will we can still understand morality and responsibility - they just don't make much sense I suppose (and that may be your only point)
"To understand identity and personhood and rights we need other similar non-reason things."
This I disagree with, Even without free will we are still individuals and we still have rights (but not universal rights, as rights are a human construct)
"You can minimize yourself to 1 assumption of reason leading to truth, but if you are reasoning your way to illusion of free will or something else, then you have limited your infinite circle, so to speak"
I don't think so - I'm not denying free will with no regard to evidence, and I could quite concievably change my position in response to solid data to the contrary. I just don't find our perceptions to be good proof.
"I find it far more reasonable to accept our experiences unless we have a good reason not to (free will, like dreams, is subjective but also widespread enough to be objective), and accept that perhaps we do not know how it occurs right now."
While you are right that our knowledge in this area is limited I disagree that we don't have good reason not to accept our experiences - human perception does not have a good track record. That's why physics is so hard - it doesn't match our perceptions.
On a semi-related note, did you know that if a certain part of the temporal lobe is stimulated people will experience religious experiences.
""Reason cannot comprehend freedom." I think it can lead us to freedom, but once we have entered through freedom's doors, we have to deal with the fact that freedom (theoretically, since you don't believe in it) does not have causality. It has agency, but not causality. And how can logic deal with what isn't causal? It becomes experential at that point. Freedom is only understood through experience I think. I have a hard time believing that we can understand the notion of freedom without having it."
I mean, theoretically I'd agree, but the point is kind of moot without free will.
"Personally, I believe (without much reason, I admit; this is a conjecture of mine) that free will exists and it is perhaps a result of various parts of our brain interacting to result in something that can control itself."
My conjecture is just as shaky to be honest - it is nothing more than an educated guess and we will not know until more is learned about the brain. As for the mechanism you propose for free will it is certainly possible, as I imagine consciousness comes about in a similar sort of way. The other option (in regards to consciousness) is that there is a soul of sorts, which is why consciousness fascinates me so much - I think it holds the key to knowing whether or not there is more to the world than matter (and energy - which is basically the same thing).
"Assuming God does exist, and assuming He has at least given everyone the chance to believe in Him, we should acknowledge that not everyone is of the same intelligence. So intelligence cannot be the sole method of finding Him (in this worldview), correct?"
I'd say intelligence is a very poor method of finding Him, as faith is required (and many more academics [intelligent people] are agnostic or atheist than the general population.
"Nor can a temporal knowledge, or something that can be falsified, because then certainty in God will be impossible."
This is a bad argument. If God can't be falsified you can pretend or have faith that you are certain, but it is a false certainty. Disprovable theories are as good as we can get - they can get us very close to the truth. Everything else is just a guess - which is worse not better in terms of certainty. True 100% certainty is impossible.
"If God exists, free will (universal and personal) is perhaps the perfect "indication" of the existence of the spirit, or something non-material."
Very true. This is the main reason consciousness and neuroscience is so interesting to me.
"A series of simple observations (order, purpose etc), none of which are falsifiable (which would make them forever open to doubt), but all of which are at least reasonable, and so fundamental and essential that they are not usually doubted, can lead to God."
Once again, the human mind is not the fool-proof instrument you make it out to be. I have little faith in something for the simple reason - "it seems that way". Anything that isn't falsifiable is nothing more than a guess. So, no, I don't think its very reasonable.
"Atheism is actually fairly new (I mean, of course old atheists existed, but as a widespread "belief system" it is fairly new). If nothing else, this at least indicates that people do not often doubt human experiences as being illusory."
Atheism has become more open recently, but it is definitely not a new phenomenon. I agree there are less atheists than religious people, but once again what "seems right" isn't very reliable.
Also, just to be clear, I find atheism (in the sense that we can be sure God doesn't exist) stupid for basically the same reason I find belief in him stupid - God cannot be disproven.
In conclusion, I suppose we're both just guessing and I wouldn't put too much money on my ideas about free will. However, based on the evidence I find my educated guess pretty reasonable. Time will tell.
stuntddude (or anybody else): Do you believe the wave function is real? (Yes there is a follow up question)
a) :) Psych can be either a science or an arts. I am studying it as a science and in the attempts to make it scientific (like I keep saying :P) they are clearly ruling out any notion of non-causal personalities. But anyway ya :) both are cool.
b) Wow you split my subsections into FURTHER subsections ahaha. Let's abandon this set of (a)/(b)s and make those into (a)/(b)s..
a. Fair enough. We can understand something even if it is not sound.
b. And as a human construct, rights are an elaborate, albeit useful, illusion. Which is yet another thing (along with morality and responsibility) you have to give up with a scientific materialist worldivew. (This list gets longer... )
c. I honestly don't see any evidence that we do not have free will. I am reading an interesting book on it, and while it is interesting, the circular reasoning is a bit mind boggling at times. His evidence consists of two things:
a) That thoughts don't necessarily cause actions
b) That we only experience will when actions succeed thoughts (obviously. This is a truism)
The former is debatable and in the early years, and IMO isn't very relevant, and the second is basically a truism.
So which evidence? Here's my "evidence" (you don't have to take it scientifically. I'd prefer it if you didn't):
Against Free Will:
--> Most of nature has been shown to be mechanical in some way, humans are a part of nature, therefore we are mechanical. Free will cannot operate within a totally material and causal framework, obviously
--> Actions are possibly not caused by thoughts. (Please be aware that his stuies were really preliminary actions, not like, premeditated murder but stuff like lifting a finger. And it was only really 1 study.)
For Free Will:
--> Introspective empiricism of basically everyone (like induction, it's one of those things you have to remind yourself doesn't exist (if it doesn't))
--> Makes other various constructs e.g. agency make sense. Obviously all of these will be human, as free will is a human phenomenon.
--> Humans need not be mechanical, this is an assumption that is denied everyday by our actual human experience.
Now, any experience for free will you will chalk to being an illusion, so you can see the problem with this. and since free will is basically an experience, it's kinda hard for anybody to argue for the possibility of free will with a scientific materialist. I think you can understand my dilemma :P
d. Physics and psychology (or heck, even biology) are vastly different. It is just not fair to expect all domains to have the same precise relationship b/w theory and prediction and reality that physics can give. Biology as it were is usually about making observations, and predictions are usually wrong. Physics is far more mathematical than biology. Physics is also not focussed on life. Biology is. And like I said, there's a diff b/w perceptions and introspection. the depression thing, remember. I don't know how often, in the midst of the deepest anger, I have been wrong about being angry. Not very often as far as I recall :P
Also, yes I know. Although I'd question the causality (is it stimulated then religious experience, or religious experience then stimulated, or both together, etc etc). But that's nt really relevant as religious experiences (by which I assume you mean mystic ones) aren't about the experience, they;re about the stuff you have to do to reach there, i.e. remembering God/theDivine/being a good person/etc. The experience itself is a blessing, not a right or even necessary. You can hate doing good, that doesn't make it any less. I wonder which area of the brain has to be stimulated to make someone become a scientific materialist :P (I kid, but you see my point I hope).
e. "The point is kinda moot without free will" --> Don't really understand. Do you mean since we don't have free will there's no need to discuss this, OR that... I dunno what the alternative is. is that what you mean? :)
f. I think consciousness is very fascinating. It is why I chose the field of study that I did :) I don't think we will ever understand consciousness in purely scientific/materialistic dogma. But I suppose that's my educated guess XD
g. Well, you're operating on the assumption that intelligent people use intelligence to deny God. Intelligence is amoral, first of all. It can be used for good or bad. So while useful, it is not ultimately "religious". Intellect is religious. Intelligence is a gift, but not a worldwide one. Secondly, I am a rude enough person to ask my profs if/why they believe in God. Most do not, and it is never, trust me, never because of science. It is usually agnosticism or emotional, which is a worldview, and one which is prevalent in academia. Also, to be fair, Western academics may be atheist/agnostic, but other regions of the world don't necessarily show the same patterns. And intelligent can and are religious too.
h. You're right. My argument rested on the notion that certainty in God is reasonably possible (Islamically it is, but of course you are not a Muslim). Intellectually certainty is impossible. Which is what I meant and what you'd agree with, I think. Certainty is about belief like you said. Belief ties in knowledge, experience, and attitude.
i. "Anything that isn't falsifiable is nothing more than a guess." History isn't a big guess... XD
f. Sorry I meant that widespread atheism is more common now than it was before. Of course individual atheism has always existed. Mentioned in the Quran for heaven's sakes.
g. "I find my educated guess pretty reasonable" vs. "I have little faith in something for the simple reason - "it seems that way". Anything that isn't falsifiable is a guess." ???
Peace and cheers XD
So I started reading this a while ago... And then gave up... And then got invited specifically... And then slogged through four pages of novel-length posts that all confused me. :)
Here's the problem- this thread is challenging my assumptions, which are all fairly basic. The bigger problem is that I make these basic assumptions for no other reason than because they allow me to function without having an existencial crises every two or three days. (And, correct me if I'm wrong, but the whole point of an assumption is that it is not/cannot be totally rationalized in one's mind. Once you have a sound enough logical basis for something, it ceases to be an assumption. I have a pretty sound logical basis for thinking that the sun will rise tomorrow; thus I don't consider it an assumption. If I were to think that the sky will turn a particular shade of orange when the sun rises tomorrow, that would be an assumption because I have only a limited basis for that thought.)
Here are the things that I assume:
1. There are things (such as beauty, free will, and emotion) that cannot be explained fully/detected/described by science and math, and yet I can experience them and they are real.
2. Reality exists, I exist, and I exist in reality.
3. Everything we experience is subjective but real. Absolute truth exists, but cannot be perfectly perceived. (In general, though, truth can almost always be percieved.)
From these I derive most of my other beliefs- the existence of God, how to determine fact from falehood, and so on.
In an effort to actually participate in the discussion, I have to say that I agree with Destinee that scientific materialism kind of sucks all the meaning out of things. It also adopts what I think is a very rigid worldview- because a = b, a cannot = c. Which says nothing about the case where c might equal b and a (or, in fact, might say that this case is impossible).
So what if morality is a societal construct? Can't it be important to society and have deeper meaning? So what if religous experiences result from/in stimulating the temporal lobe? Can't they be from God and also stimulate the temporal lobe? It seems to me that many people adopt an impossible attitude- if something is not detectible through science, then they assume it is not real. But then if something is detectible through science, they assume it is nothing more than a natural process. Religion cannot be real because God cannot be detected through science; and religion cannot be real because it consists only of a stimulated temporal lobe (which was detected through science.) I don't think you can have it both ways!
Also, whicle we're nitpicking each others' science, Stuntddude, ants are not a 'species'. They are the insects of the Formicidae family.
Imagine, I shed tears of joy:
"So what if morality is a societal construct? Can't it be important to society and have deeper meaning? So what if religous experiences result from/in stimulating the temporal lobe? Can't they be from God and also stimulate the temporal lobe? It seems to me that many people adopt an impossible attitude- if something is not detectible through science, then they assume it is not real. But then if something is detectible through science, they assume it isnothing more than a natural process. Religion cannot be real because God cannot be detected through science; and religion cannot be real because it consists only of a stimulated temporal lobe (which was detected through science.) I don't think you can have it both ways!"
EXACTLY MY POINT. Imagine, we share the same wavelength. You must be my tulpa! :O
jk. But srsly. XD Exactly. And considering that all thoughts probably (or possibly) associate with some part of the brain, including scientific thoughts, that does that mean science is not real or valid or sound? Scientism is a very odd worldview to hold for prolonged periods of time.
I would disagree that you have a sound logical basis for the sun rising tomorrow. That is induction, and you have a (like you said) pragmatic basis for it, not really logical. But whatever.
I think the real problem is that discussions about psychology from a scientific POV are operational, while when I talk from a non-scientific POV, I mean essentialist definitions. Science uses operationalist definitions, which is all well and good, but when you say things like "The personality does so and so" or "Their consciousness developed this way" or "They have separate identities", you cannot say "personality", "consciousness" and "identity" in purely an operational way since they are so inherently subjective. There is an essentialist portion of them that science, by its nature, cannot grasp. Science terms many things -- personality is a huge one -- and considers that "explaining" them, when it has done nothing but conducted observations about them and how they behave (which people have done with the soul too, whoop de doo). But since personality/whatever are by their very nature subjective, simple objective definitions of personality being "qualities or character" (what is quality, what is character) are not enough. They are good, yes, but not enough. But since everybody has a personality, and we all understand what is meant by it, even if we cannot define it, people get away with "explaining" personality or morality without actually explaining it at all. The problem is that when scientists can define/observe things, for instance 'creativity', they think they have explained them, when they have only explained one aspect. And if you acknowledge that you are explaining one aspect, that is fine, but when people endorse a scientismic worldview that says there IS only one aspect, then we have a problem. Wow okay end rant here I guess.
I think you bring up a fair point about assumptions, but that is what I was saying to Quantum: If an insane person assumes that everybody is lying to him, we call him insane. So there are justified assumptions that can explain MORE and explain BETTER than other assumptions. And you cannot solely reason about them, because if it were just reason, the infinitely reasonable maniac would be able to figure out his own insanity. It clearly has something to do with another portion of the mind, perhaps what you, Imagine, would call the soul, and I call the intellect. (Speaking of this, I should mention that the infinite circle analogy and the beginnings of the insane man analogy I got from G.K. Chesterton's book, Orthodoxy. Collin would be proud.)
In anticipatation of what Quantum will say, how do you get God (Abrahamic notion) from your assumptions?
I think my assumptions are almost exactly yours. I also think it'd be fair that I post my assumptions right now (bear in mind that they are primarily religious -- anything that I need for science et al that does not contribute to my religious worldview I am ignoring):
1. Human freedom exists.
2. Reason is sufficient but not necesary to attain truth. (You can possibly derive this from #1, if you take freedom as a truth and acknowledge that you cannot "reason" how freedom works.)
3. Nature has significance i.e. the intellect/understanding/contemplative mind can ascertain truths that cannot be understood by the purely thinking/intelligent/analytical mind.
4. Reason can give accurate truths. (Meh this may not be a purely religious assumption, but I figure I might as well add it.)
The two major ones are #1 and #3. Another way of terming #1 is that at least some of our introspective experiences are not false, or they hold some validity, but I prefer just talking about freedom.
I'll get back to more of this soon, but for now - Imagine - are you a literal creationist?