Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What is Now?

 Blü wrote:
If time is an illusion then how can you age?

If only the moment exists, why can't you put yourself in any part of the moment at will, so that you can be in the part of the moment when you're 7, and when you're 77, just as you wish?
I can remember an incident over 50 years ago that had a profound effect on many aspects of my life as if it were happening now.  I can replay it in my mind as if it were a video.  Is the replay happening now, or 50 years ago?  Since the major protagonist is now deceased, what is her status in the memory? The store which was the setting is now a library, what is the status of the main foyer containing the roped off piano?  There are others. One when I was in fact 7 that I can be and have been many times in that moment. 
Blü wrote:
I can remember an incident over 50 years ago that had a profound effect on many aspects of my life as if it were happening now.
It's called memory. Surely to cripes it demonstrates, rather than debunks, the notion that time exists?
I can replay it in my mind as if it were a video.
Except that the video will be more accurate, and remain a record even when all the participants in the scene have died.
Is the replay happening now, or 50 years ago?
The replay is happening at the time you recall the memory / rewatch the video.
Since the major protagonist is now deceased, what is her status in the memory?
She's dead. She's remembered. Photos (and videos?) of her continue to exist, showing her at different times / ages of her life.  Same with the piano and the foyer.
Yet you were asking about a personal now, not an abstract now.  In my personal now the alive, vibrant, virtuoso is in that foyer at the piano any time I choose to recall the incident.  It is not happening in the past although in another sense it is clear that the eclectic time frame is the '50s.

A photo or even a video is merely a mnemonic to stimulate a live memory if not of a live event, a memory of a story told.  My great grandmother died when I was a child, but she had an important influence on her society.  I can read her books and sing her songs, but they are just ink on paper.  It is the stories told by those who knew her that make her live in my now. 

I am not sure I can draw a bright line at where now ends and history begins.  In a real sense what is in my mind now is all there is for me.  I am not solipsistic to think that what is in the now of others is unreal. All have their own reality that is now for them.  I agree with John Dobbs "The world began on the day that I was born. On the day I die the world will end." It is not the only world there is.  I am aware that I have affected others and my society and I am content that those effects will survive my demise.  But for me "now" will end.

Yet if now, the memory tracks in my brain aka the world began on the day that I was born, now is all that is there.  Duration is measured by interaction with the now of others.
If there is a God, per Iwanta, with a longer and richer now, its relevance to my now is unclear.  Either I am a puppet, which offends me.  Or I am a contributor to that now.  Either way my contribution ends in the foreseeable future and the existence of God will be moot.    

 Blü wrote:

Yet if now, the memory tracks in my brain aka the world began on the day that I was born, now is all that is there.

Subjectively that has to be true, but it's only one way of looking at it. One of my assumptions is that a world exists external to the self, and the external world has a past, some of which I can recall and some of which I've learnt about; and as we presently understand it, it will have a future of hundreds of billions of years, unless and until at some stage after the decay of the last proton the Big Rip robs it of identity.
I have no argument with the idea that there is a world external to the self.  Indeed much of what I do is aimed at affecting that world.  Its past is a useful resource and affects much of what I do.  There is a future as well, that those that follow me (and those that don't) will deal with. 

In fact most of my now is dealing with that external world,  trying to insure that it will be a better place for those that follow and even those that don't follow.  I can see evidence that it will be but at some point it will no longer matter.  Which is as it should be.  I see people who have grown far beyond my capabilities.  It is their now that matters. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Natural and Supernatural

Skeptic wrote:
I think that the difference between nature and supernature is similar to the difference between

Normal and Paranormal

Physics and Metaphysics

Medicine and Alternative Medicine

Astronomy and Astrology

History and Mythology

Philosophy and Religion

Science and Pseudo-Science

Knowing and Believing

In a sense I agree with you, except the Knowing and Believing part which I will get to later.  But it seems that your implication is the first in the pair is true and the second false.  The first generally has a consensus, but time after time parts of all have been shown to be incorrect.  Occasionally by investigation of aspects of the second in the pair. 

A few are laughable.  History and mythology are both tales told by people that weren't there purporting to be knowledgeable.  Personally I find more truth in mythology and fiction than history which is always reported by those at the top of the pile to support their position there. 

The only difference between philosophy and religion is that religion has been around a lot longer and therefore is more robust. 

The difference between knowing and believing is the amount of self-delusion involved.  If one knows something the self-delusion is complete.  A believer at least understands that some of the BS requires faith and therefore further adjustments to the belief may be considered.

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Nietzsche


I have never been a Nietzschean, atheist or otherwise. That said, Nietzsche was one of the first to articulate the fact that if God is dead atheists are going to have to step up to the plate and create a godless world worth living in. As I see the world by and large atheists are doing just that. Theistic solutions just don't work any more, and the frantic political activity in the US is a desperate denial of that fact. Prominent atheists are almost irrelevant in the remaking of a modern world, it is the ordinary atheists quietly doing what is necessary to remake the world that are the Ubermenschen.

It is not incidental that the religious destruction of the ideal of an educated population has opened the way for the Chinese and Indians to leapfrog with the example the US provided. Fortuantely there is still a large part of the population that values education, and the religious can always work in the service industries these people use to support their educated life style. The fact that these are minimum wage jobs at best is God's will.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Solving Existential Nihilism


Welcome to existential nihilism. You must solve this problem for yourself or you will fall prey to the first religion that provides the response that Unitarian Universalist minister Forrest Church noted that religion is: quite simply, "our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die."

Hint: on the wall of my shower I have the fossil of an invertebrate fossilized ~half a billion years ago. It ingested and excreted and died. Probably reproduced but we can't know that. Once you can explain that creature's contribution to a child's sand castle you can possibly be immune to the attraction of God. Otherwise enjoy the pie in the sky after you die. It will help you get through the day.

I have found the unique solution that works for me to avoid the trap of existential nihilism. It may not work for all others, but in fact others have found my solution useful in avoiding that trap without resorting to Pascal's wager. But it is not "the solution" to how to live life. It may not even be the best solution to how to live life. But for someone with my training and background or a similar background it may help them avoid existential nihilism and Pascal's wager assuming they find neither useful to live life.

No matter, if everyone in my tribe of educated rational humans finds meaning in doing whatever they can to improve the lives of all those in their chosen tribe that they can and improve their own lives in a way that others look to them for help, comfort, love and inspiration, the world would become a much better place in spite of the nihilists and the fundamentalists total lack of contribution to the welfare of the human tribe.

How much each achieves is really irrelevant. Some will be able to do more than others, some will be in the right place at the right time to make a huge difference in someone's life that will enable that person to go on to be a major player in the community. But like the invertebrates on my shower wall, by surviving they provide the foundation for something better than they are.

Objectively it might be better for the human race if all existential nihilists chose the Glock solution to their problem and those who chose to bet on Pascal spent their entire life on their knees begging for salvation. I am convinced that neither is better for the human race, or for the universe, than some solution that avoids both. Objectively it might well be better for the universe or at least the earth if no humans existed. I don't buy that argument but I cannot prove it wrong, objectively or subjectively.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Observer Bias

Perspectivism - Beliefnet

Observer bias is not neutralized, simply accounted for by the interpreter. Nietzsche was biased against a God based view of life, and it was easy to read his conclusions with that in mind. Some here are bigoted against atheists and all things atheistic and again it is easy to compensate for that bigotry. Some here have a religious, God based bias, and again it is easy and reasonable, with a little knowledge about their beliefs to account for and compensate for that bias. In most reasonable situations this is done almost intuitively by observers, and frequently by participants in a discussion, but some are incapable of getting past their own bias to reasonably account for the bias of others.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Phenomenology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Phenomenology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):

# Ontology is the study of beings or their being — what is.
# Epistemology is the study of knowledge — how we know.
# Logic is the study of valid reasoning — how to reason.
# Ethics is the study of right and wrong — how we should act.
# Phenomenology is the study of our experience — how we experience.

Fiction, Imagination and Reality.

Phenomenology - Beliefnet:

A child at about 6 or 7 begins to sort out the imaginary and fiction from the real quite naturally. Herm imaginary friend is identified as different from herm real friends. Santa and the tooth fairy are identified as myth (fiction) that may be fun to learn from and play with but are clearly not reality. This process is normally encouraged by care providers as normal progress in learning. It can be subverted by establishing some myths as reality, usually for social conditioning and safety. In a religious community the God myth is strongly promoted as reality, and obedience intentionality toward God as a real 'supercop' is encouraged.

The last chance a child has to reallocate myths to the fiction category is the post pubescent rebellion when the child 'leaves his parents' and 'cleaves' to a new society historically by exogamy, but a recent development (by evolutionary standards) is the leaving home for apprenticeship or scholarship. The myths of the parents are challenged and compared to the myths of the new society and assigned to the appropriate fiction/real categories.

Again this process can be subverted by religious prohibitions to leaving the 'presence of God' for any reason, and a strong endogamy bias.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Science of Meaning.

The Rosetta Stone, information is material, meaning is not - Beliefnet:

I will admit that in the limited world of the study of consciousness there are no tools for studying emergent properties of the working of the brain. And by the way I am not arguing the mind is an immaterial thing, it is an overlay on the brain and depends on a working brain for its existence. But until your scholars of consciousness can provide a reasonable ontological link between brain action and self, other, and fiction, and reliably distinguish between them as a child of 7 or 8 does quite reliably and naturally, we are in the realm of metaphysics not science.

Perhaps self generated dualism is the best way to think about the relationship between the brain and the mind. It is true that the mind "app" can be reduced to material actions of neuron activity, just as any app can be reduced to the the material changes in the state of silicon switches. But the meaning of the app is not found in the relationship of silicon switches, it is found in the usefulness of the app to the mind "app" using it for whatever useful or useless thing the mind finds to do with the app.

The meaning of Facebook is not found in the material state of some server farm somewhere, it is found in the way real people can use it to stay connected to people who they may have no material connection with. I have never met in person several friends on Facebook, due to geographic limitations, but I would have no qualms about sharing an extended visit with any of them. Indeed, I have done so on a couple of occasions. (I will admit to be very selective in my friends list.)

Similarly the meaningful connection between you and me is not found in the state of the switches at the Silicon Valley and the Minneapolis ends of the fiber optic network, it is the way each of our minds works with the data represented by the states of those switches. Please note that the state of our brains is no more relevant than the state of those switches.

I don't think scientists can think about the issues of mind and meaning as scientists. They just don't have the scientific tools.

I can't prove, but suspect, that the brain processes the information about self, other in the real sense of a known other real person, and a fictional character like God made, after all, in the image of self in much the same way neurologically. All have faces, bodies, emotions, needs, likes, dislikes, etc, that I suspect are processed in the same brain spaces dedicated to tracking those things. But somehow a healthy rational mind can keep the differences sorted out correctly and is able to process information derived from each stored source in an appropriate manner. I am skeptical that the scientists will ever be able to distinguish the stored information about, for example God in a believer, from the stored information about self. Yet the mind does this quite reliably most of the time. Although some of the people posting here make one wonder about how reliable the mind is in this function.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Is is is?

Valid Criticism or Projection? - Beliefnet

I have no problem at all with existence. It needs no modifier, it needs no definition, it is observable wherever we look, or touch, or listen, or use any of the other senses, augmented as necessary by scientific tools to experience it. I have no problem experiencing the awe, wonder, and even transcendence that existence provides free and uninterpreted to anyone not blinded by God beliefs. If you [a theist] wish to interpolate a necessary something between you and existence, again be my guest. Since you can't even begin to describe this "necessary" something it seems to me like you are simply placing an opacity between you and existence that requires that little tinhorn in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony to tell you when you can experience existence. Thank you. I can do without herm and herm God, and go direct to the source.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Religion, Philosophy and Science

What Do Atheist Believe In? - Beliefnet

Religions are not an expression of the principle [of rational investigation.] While religion, science and philosophy are based on inquiry, it's the nature of that inquiry that separates them. Religion is based on faith. Questions asked are answered by some prophetic source, which is relied on as authority. Philosophy is based on reason. Questions asked are answered by persons who claim no special authority other than the weight of reason. Their answers are then scrutinized by a community of peers, each of whom has the same opportunity to question or criticize the answers given.

Philosophy recognizes no authority figures, per se, just the power of reason to find errors in logic. Unlike religion, which not only privileges faith but divides communities by allegiance to one prophetic source or another, philosophy is a bit more cannibalistic. Philosophical communities are built on analyzing and criticizing the answers put forth, even by the most respected figures. This process, which is more critical and competitive, tends to produce lines of thought that don't build so much as evolve toward more sophisticated ways of addressing a given issue.

Science, on the other hand, is based on the empirical method. Just as Moses and Isaiah would have made lousy philosophers, Aristotle would have made a poor scientist. That's because Aristotle - who did a decent job of analyzing the different constitutions of Greece - was too much of an armchair 'scientist' to engage in the scientific method. He asked questions, came up with reasoned answers and usually left it at that. Science, on the other hand, relies on empirical testing. A question is posed. A hypothesis is formed. A carefully constructed experiment is then used to test the hypothesis. The test results are then reviewed. If the experiment is a failure, the hypothesis is adjusted and further tests are devised. If the experiment is a success, test results are published so that the test may be replicated by peers.

Not every philosophical question makes a good fit for the scientific method. Some philosophical questions are basically definitional. ('What is Justice? What is truth?') The kinds of questions appropriate to science are those which can be empirically tested. Religion, on the other hand, is neither open to reason or testing. It is something taken on faith. Even where religious disputes involve reason, it's more a question of interpretation of a text that is taken, on faith, as authoritative. The role of reason is limited to a dispute over textual interpretation. In certain instances, reason is employed to propagate or defend the faith, but this is called scholasticism. It's really the rhetorical use of reason, reason as a weapon of propaganda. It's not about answering questions through reason.

A brilliant analysis of the differences I just couldn't ignore. Thanks Bill.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Philosophy, Science and Religion

Beliefnet Community > Thread - Epistomology issues.:

Philosophy is no more incompatible with science than it is with religion.
Agreed - but, as with religion, letting one's philosophy restrict what science one will accept as valid is not good for the science.

"It is even worse for the philosophy. As we can see here in the defense of an indefensible philosophy. Philosophy even epistemology must accommodate the knowledge of the real world if it is going to remain viable and not cause the philosopher to be a fool."

I used fool with malice aforethought. Anyone who thinks philosophers cannot be fools probably thinks that little tinhorn in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony has a direct line to God.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is a story a message?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? - : "If the message in art or storytelling seems more important than the story or the art the package will fail. However, a story without a message is destined to the dustbin of pulp fiction, read once and discarded without a thought. It is no wonder that the function of pulp fiction, that is mindless escape from the real world has been taken over by Video and UTube. Before you beat me with that dolly again, there are Videos with important messages behind the storyboard, and maybe there is even an important UTube out there, but you can bet it is entertaining as well as meaningful. The very few that are willing to think about the meaning behind the entertainment will keep it circulating in blogspace or the next big thing for people who can and do think."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Literature or Philosophy?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? : "One of the best and most popular courses in my brief stint as a philosophy major was a course entitled 'Philosophy in Literature.' The premise was that perhaps Shakespeare, Aquinas, Homer, Milton, Sartre, and Joyce were telling us more about the philosophy of their time than the academics, either historians or philosophers. One of the reasons I quit Philosophy as a major was the isolation from real life of the philosophers I was studying. I found myself going to the literature and music of the time to find out what was really going on. If you think about it, a novelist or other artist that wants to survive on herm art had better have a pretty good handle on the prevailing philosophy of the time. Not incidentally it is much more interesting studying philosophy in the context of a rollicking good story, than plowing through paragraph long sentences of meaningless words."

J'C: I find it much the same in music. The academics were pushing the cerebral envelope with studies of atonality, noise and silence, while the tenor of the times was being expressed in the movie scores and advert music. I find it amusing that modern "Classical" music is almost entirely movie scores. Of course Tchaikovsky only wrote popular music of his time also.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I have been reading Heinlein most of my life, and have always appreciated how he manages to create interesting, meaningful, purposeful and moral societies in his stories without God. I don't necessarily agree with all of the details in all of them, but in general I can say that Heinlein speaks for me as an atheist exposing the lie that meaning, purpose and morality come only from God.

I appreciate the fact that Heinlein preferred the liveliness of the market place rather than the halls of academia for his philosophical musings. Maybe all the best philosophers are good story tellers.

He was, and is, an influential social arbitrator, in spite of all the efforts to ban his books from our libraries and schools. The God Squad recognizes the danger. But the books still sell and are discussed in intelligent circles."