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Friday, March 27, 2020

Projections of infinity

Tom Wolfe anticipated the failure of modern neuroscientists to discover the soul in his 1996 essay "Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died".
If I were a college student today, I don't think I could resist going into neuroscience. Here we have the two most fascinating riddles of the twenty–first century: the riddle of the human mind and the riddle of what happens to the human mind when it comes to know itself absolutely. In any case, we live in an age in which it is impossible and pointless to avert your eyes from the truth.

Ironically, said Nietzsche, this unflinching eye for truth, this zest for skepticism, is the legacy of Christianity (for complicated reasons that needn't detain us here). Then he added one final and perhaps ultimate piece of irony in a fragmentary passage in a notebook shortly before he lost his mind (to the late–nineteenth–century's great venereal scourge, syphilis). He predicted that eventually modern science would turn its juggernaut of skepticism upon itself, question the validity of its own foundations, tear them apart, and self–destruct. I thought about that in the summer of 1994 when a group of mathematicians and computer scientists held a conference at the Santa Fe Institute on "Limits to Scientific Knowledge." The consensus was that since the human mind is, after all, an entirely physical apparatus, a form of computer, the product of a particular genetic history, it is finite in its capabilities. Being finite, hardwired, it will probably never have the power to comprehend human existence in any complete way. It would be as if a group of dogs were to call a conference to try to understand The Dog. They could try as hard as they wanted, but they wouldn't get very far. Dogs can communicate only about forty notions, all of them primitive, and they can't record anything. The project would be doomed from the start. The human brain is far superior to the dog's, but it is limited nonetheless. So any hope of human beings arriving at some final, complete, self–enclosed theory of human existence is doomed, too.

This, science's Ultimate Skepticism, has been spreading ever since then. Over the past two years even Darwinism, a sacred tenet among American scientists for the past seventy years, has been beset by...doubts. Scientists—not religiosi—notably the mathematician David Berlinski ("The Deniable Darwin," Commentary, June 1996) and the biochemist Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box, 1996), have begun attacking Darwinism as a mere theory, not a scientific discovery, a theory woefully unsupported by fossil evidence and featuring, at the core of its logic, sheer mush. (Dennett and Dawkins, for whom Darwin is the Only Begotten, the Messiah, are already screaming. They're beside themselves, utterly apoplectic. Wilson, the giant, keeping his cool, has remained above the battle.) By 1990 the physicist Petr Beckmann of the University of Colorado had already begun going after Einstein. He greatly admired Einstein for his famous equation of matter and energy, E=mc2, but called his theory of relativity mostly absurd and grotesquely untestable. Beckmann died in 1993. His Fool Killer's cudgel has been taken up by Howard Hayden of the University of Connecticut, who has many admirers among the upcoming generation of Ultimately Skeptical young physicists. The scorn the new breed heaps upon quantum mechanics ("has no real–world applications"..."depends entirely on fairies sprinkling goofball equations in your eyes"), Unified Field Theory ("Nobel worm bait"), and the Big Bang Theory ("creationism for nerds") has become withering. If only Nietzsche were alive! He would have relished every minute of it!

Recently I happened to be talking to a prominent California geologist, and she told me: "When I first went into geology, we all thought that in science you create a solid layer of findings, through experiment and careful investigation, and then you add a second layer, like a second layer of bricks, all very carefully, and so on. Occasionally some adventurous scientist stacks the bricks up in towers, and these towers turn out to be insubstantial and they get torn down, and you proceed again with the careful layers. But we now realize that the very first layers aren't even resting on solid ground. They are balanced on bubbles, on concepts that are full of air, and those bubbles are being burst today, one after the other."

I suddenly had a picture of the entire astonishing edifice collapsing and modern man plunging headlong back into the primordial ooze. He's floundering, sloshing about, gulping for air, frantically treading ooze, when he feels something huge and smooth swim beneath him and boost him up, like some almighty dolphin. He can't see it, but he's much impressed. He names it God.
It's one of his better essays. Read the whole thing. What it eventually comes down to is the obvious and incontrovertible fact that science cannot explain that which falls outside its conceptual limits. As human souls, we are projections of the infinite into material reality, which is why both physics and neuroscience have been unable to quantify, or even meaningfully describe, the phenomena of life and consciousness. Scientists will only ever be able to wrestle with the materially observable effects of those phenomena, because they lack the ability to directly observe the infinite.

And one of the primary goals of the Deceiver is to convince those projections that they have no connection to the infinite, and by doing so, eliminate it.

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79 Comments:

Blogger JovianStorm March 27, 2020 11:15 AM  

In the academic world we usually joke about neuroscience as a money pit. Kill 2000 mice , report nothing of mechanistic value then when you're asked how things really work, say you need 2000 more mice.

It's a sad joke... But tons of tax money is frittered away on it every year.

Blogger Al K. Annossow March 27, 2020 11:24 AM  

"And one of the primary goals of the Deceiver is to convince those projections that they have no connection to the infinite"
It doesn't take much convincing for many. Lucifer himself perceived the infinite and rejected it because of the obligations involved. No convincing needed. Just tun off whatever sense of "the image and likeness of God" that is within and do as thou wilt.

Blogger MDN March 27, 2020 11:31 AM  

Vox - this is a question out of 100% genuine curiosity, not looking to start an argument or anything: Why aren't haven't you become a Catholic? Do you positively think that's not the true Church or that denomination doesn't really matter in the end?

Blogger Uncle John's Band March 27, 2020 11:31 AM  

That human finitude limits human knowledge is somehow radical shows how functionally retarded the whole post-Enlightenment myth of "progress" -with Science! as the keystone - has been. That technical refinements somehow offer access to transcendental Truth. The whole rancid system is structured like a religion without any semblance of metaphysical coherence. And the dumber people get, the more mindlessly cult-like the invocations.

As the whole reeking tower of vanity collapses under the weight of accumulated lies, the historical pattern of self-serving elite manipulation comes into clearer view.

Blogger KPKinSunnyPhiladelphia March 27, 2020 11:46 AM  

VD wrote
What it eventually comes down to is the obvious and incontrovertible fact that science cannot explain that which falls outside its conceptual limits. As human souls, we are projections of the infinite into material reality, which is why both physics and neuroscience have been unable to quantify, or even meaningfully describe, the phenomena of life and consciousness. Scientists will only ever be able to wrestle with the materially observable effects of those phenomena, because they lack the ability to directly observe the infinite.

Now, this paragraph is some of the best shit you've written since I've been hanging around here.

Seriously.

Our "conceptual" limits are reasonably large, but they are indeed finite. It's why the aforementioned David Berlinski in the Wolfe passage has said the question of what is and why there is "consciousness" is an uninteresting scientific question.

Physics is considered by some the purest and most elegant of scientific disciplines in that at its best if did deal with observable reality. Newton, Maxwell, and yes, even Einstein in some of his work.

But theoretical physics is coming to its inevitable dead end. String theory is untestable, "elegant" though the equations may be. So too is the "many worlds" theory that is the rage now among some quantum mechanics theoreticians, like Sean Carroll. It's the equivalent of undergraduate bull sessions, but with tougher equations.

There are many more interesting and potentially useful areas of scientific endeavor -- genetics, including population genetics; immunology (the most exciting and potentially game changing field in the biological sciences; and physics at the manageable scale, like quantum computers, fluid mechanics, and small scale nuclear reactors.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer March 27, 2020 11:50 AM  

I was under the impression that neuroscientists had determined that consciousness and free will were illusions, that humans are meat robots.

Blogger VD March 27, 2020 11:51 AM  

Vox - this is a question out of 100% genuine curiosity, not looking to start an argument or anything: Why aren't haven't you become a Catholic?

What possible business could that be of yours? And what part of "I don't answer personal questions" is hard to understand?

Blogger VD March 27, 2020 11:54 AM  

I was under the impression that neuroscientists had determined that consciousness and free will were illusions, that humans are meat robots.

You're totally incorrect. To the extent any such hypotheses were tested, they were falsified.

Blogger Grooveware March 27, 2020 11:57 AM  

I've only heard mainstream science being honest once they said they only know 5% of the universe how it works and seem quite proud of that pathetic figure don't ask them what matter is or what dark energy is all about.

Blogger HoosierHillbilly March 27, 2020 11:57 AM  

Fantastic stuff. The collapse of confidence in the base assumptions of modern science is akin to the collapse it wrought on mainstream Christianity in the 1860s to 1920s. Abandonment takes place not from being bested in open debate, but on a silent retreat of assurance in quiet nights and dark bedrooms.

It has yet to be seen what belief will take the place of Science! for the academics and then the masses...but as some have predicted and seen for years here... "look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest".

Blogger Mathias March 27, 2020 11:58 AM  

Vox - Do you have any links to records of such falsifications? Going over that data sounds like a fascinating use of a Saturday.

Blogger Krymneth March 27, 2020 12:06 PM  

Ron Winkleheimer wrote:I was under the impression that neuroscientists had determined that consciousness and free will were illusions, that humans are meat robots.

I assume you're being sarcastic, but it's still worth mentioning that it is difficult for someone working in the reductionist mindframe to claim they've conclusively eliminated "consciousness" and "free will" when they literally can't even define them.

They manage it anyhow, because they step out of science to do so and hope you don't notice. But they aren't justified in attaching their scientific imprimatur (such as it may be) to their claims until they can at least produce a definition of the terms. Until then, their claims that they've disproved consciousness and free will are equivalent to claims they've disproved misconventianessianism and haptometricnicklessness.

The idea is absurd anyhow. We struggle to fully understand the interactions of single-digit numbers of subatomic particles as they behave in our own mathematical theories, which are themselves known to have to be false somehow (although we don't know how). The claim that we've got the most complicated known structure in the physical universe understood well enough to make complicated pronouncements on undefinable terms is hubris a cut above normal-grade human hubris, which is already pretty up-there.

Fun thing to do on the internet next time this comes up somewhere; find a group of people who agree that free will and consciousness effectively don't exist, and ask them nicely to please would they define the terms of the things they claim don't exist? Then step back and watch the fireworks fly. They thought they were agreeing with each other, but it inevitably turns out the agreement is illusory, hidden in the fuzziness of the terms they were using.

Blogger Pratisara March 27, 2020 12:09 PM  

>>What it eventually comes down to is the obvious and incontrovertible fact that science cannot explain that which falls outside its conceptual limits

Especially neuroscience. Because one is using the brain to study the brain. Will never work.

Only in deep states of meditation can one transcend the brain and study it from a higher vantage point.

Blogger Unknown March 27, 2020 12:21 PM  

Trying to construct an entirely material metaphysics via inference from observations is pure Babel civil engineering.

Blogger Manuel March 27, 2020 12:32 PM  

we simply know less than we think. A lot less.

Blogger Christopher Chantrill March 27, 2020 12:33 PM  

Of course that's the point of "Ender's Game." What if we humans were up against some critters we couldn't understand?

Blogger pyrrhus March 27, 2020 12:34 PM  

The fact that the soul exists outside the brain has been evident to the unbiased for some time due to the reports of patients on the operating table with heart stopped and no brain function being able to describe events that occurred during that time period, even events that occurred in adjacent rooms of the hospital...A Harvard doctor wrote a book on some of these events, and a Harvard neurosurgeon wrote a book on his near death experience while unconscious with lethal meningitis, but many other such incidents have been reported...

Blogger Ingot9455 March 27, 2020 12:39 PM  

@6 There's some nifty experiments out there about 'decisions' that show that the 'you' that makes a decision is not the same process that watches you make the decision.

These are the experiments which monitor your brain and tell you, "Sometime in the next minute, we want you to decide to move this lever left or right. The instant you have decided, say, 'Hello!' and move the lever." And they can detect whether you have chosen left or right about 7-10 seconds before you yourself 'know' that you have made the decision and chosen to take the action.

This result will be familiar to any martial artist, who will have had the experience of their so-called 'muscle memory' fighting for them, while they make strategic-level decisions about the fight.

But this is far away from 'eliminating consciousness.' It simply speaks to the fact that there are multiple processes at work making up a whole.

Blogger TRP1C March 27, 2020 12:39 PM  

Consciousness will without question be solved by science, although not by the current iteration. In fact a working model already exists. Consciousness is like an engine - you need various components working together to have an engine although individually the components are not much use. Same with consciousness, only by assembling the various subsystems (memory, sensation, motor cortex, etc) together will you get a self-aware working brain. This means that all the AI research into the topic is just a waste of time. Likewise the talk about "projections of the infinite into material reality" is just senseless babble. Consciousness is material. However that doesn't mean that there is no infinite or that there aren't gods, etc.

Blogger Barbarossa March 27, 2020 12:55 PM  

They thought they were agreeing with each other, but it inevitably turns out the agreement is illusory, hidden in the fuzziness of the terms they were using.

Recalling the observation: The only thing a non-conformist hates more than a conformist is another non-conformist who refuses to conform to his standard of non-conformity.

When one worships at the altar of oneself, no other deities can be tolerated.

Blogger VD March 27, 2020 1:17 PM  

But this is far away from 'eliminating consciousness.' It simply speaks to the fact that there are multiple processes at work making up a whole.

Exactly. It's merely one technological step up from the medieval proto-scientists weighing the body pre- and post-mortem to discover how much the soul weighed.

Blogger VD March 27, 2020 1:18 PM  

Consciousness will without question be solved by science, although not by the current iteration.

No, it won't. Your faith in something that is observably less reliable than a coin-flip is touching, though.

Blogger Emmett Fitz-Hume March 27, 2020 1:42 PM  

KPKinSunnyPhiladelphia wrote:VD wrote

What it eventually comes down to is the obvious and incontrovertible fact that science cannot explain that which falls outside its conceptual limits. As human souls, we are projections of the infinite into material reality, which is why both physics and neuroscience have been unable to quantify, or even meaningfully describe, the phenomena of life and consciousness. Scientists will only ever be able to wrestle with the materially observable effects of those phenomena, because they lack the ability to directly observe the infinite.

Now, this paragraph is some of the best shit you've written since I've been hanging around here.

Seriously.


Couldn't agree with this more.

Blogger OK March 27, 2020 1:49 PM  

"science cannot explain that which falls outside its conceptual limits"

More than that, per Godel, et al., science--reason, even--is unable to explain all that is generally understood to fall within its conceptual limits. Even the purely physical universe is not entirely understandable in its own terms.

Blogger Krymneth March 27, 2020 1:50 PM  

Ingot9455 wrote:But this is far away from 'eliminating consciousness.' It simply speaks to the fact that there are multiple processes at work making up a whole.

I am that which decides.

If anyone is mistaken about that which decides, including me, then they are simply mistaken about what was making decisions. It does not mean I am not me.

This is one of those "can't unsee" sorts of things for philosophy argumentation used far too often even by trained philosophers who ought to know better:

1. I think X is defined as Y.
2. Y is incorrect/impossible/etc.
3. Therefore, X does not exist {by any definition}.

The logic is valid if we switch out what is in the braces with "by the definition I gave in #1", but invalid as written. This is technically a form of equivocation, but a common enough one it's worth filing away with its own mental entry to identify on sight.

Another even-more specific one that is also worth keeping an eye out for:

1. I define X as Y, which is an atomic, indivisible entity.
2. But X is not atomic because I can demonstrate it has divisible parts.
3. Therefore X does not exist.

The marker for this argument is the word "illusion". In general, the fact X something is not an atomic, indivisible entity does not mean we can not treat it as some X. We may need to be careful in the real world because our abstractions can fail us, but that doesn't make them useless or worthless.

I've lost count of the the sophomoric essays I click through, briefly scan the first paragraph, and bail out of because the author clearly thinks spending 20 pages to make that argument means they're profound.

Blogger MDN March 27, 2020 1:52 PM  

Sorry. Didn't realize you didn't answer any personal questions. My apologies!

Blogger Yossarian March 27, 2020 1:58 PM  

TRP1C wrote:Consciousness will without question be solved by science, although not by the current iteration. In fact a working model already exists. Consciousness is like an engine - you need various components working together to have an engine although individually the components are not much use. Same with consciousness, only by assembling the various subsystems (memory, sensation, motor cortex, etc) together will you get a self-aware working brain. This means that all the AI research into the topic is just a waste of time. Likewise the talk about "projections of the infinite into material reality" is just senseless babble. Consciousness is material. However that doesn't mean that there is no infinite or that there aren't gods, etc.

Read "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins. It's an open and shut case on what intelligence is, how to use it, what AI is, and so on. By the end he is left puzzled on what consciousness is. He makes the metaphor that the brain is like an orchestra (all the functions of the brain) who gives rise to its own Conductor (consciousness). The presence of this Conductor is not needed because if each player follows the sheet music the orchestra will still perform which is why human level AI will never be self-aware. Removing a player from the orchestra will not cause the conductor to disappear which is why you can remove parts from the brain bit by bit without them losing consciousness. The only way to get rid of the Conductor is to kill the brain entirely.

So if consciousness is not the sum of the parts of the brain, or an essential part of the brain, what is it?

Blogger S. F. Griffin March 27, 2020 2:00 PM  

The consensus was that since the human mind is, after all, an entirely physical apparatus, a form of computer, the product of a particular genetic history, it is finite in its capabilities.

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms." J. B. S. Haldane

See also: C. S. Lewis, Miracles; and, Alvin Platinga, Evolutionary argument against naturalism.

Blogger Homesteader March 27, 2020 2:32 PM  

A friend had a near-drowning experience at the age of five.
His grandfather saved him.

Later, at poolside, he remembers telling his grandfather,"I looked DOWN and saw you jump in, Grandpa." He described the classic out-of-body experience, floating above the pool.

Anecdotes are not evidence; granted.

But I'm dubious he'd make that up, and what five year-old would think to do so?

There are countless such reports- out of body experiences- many in the OR, under general anesthesia- where consciousness has left its cranial confines.

If Mind is not corporeal, then what is its source?

As for Darwin- how do the complicated structures that characterize life evolve at all?

The flagellum, the eye, the Krebs cycle- advantangeous random mutation is categorically inadequate, mathematically, in explaining their existence. Far too many complicated processes in need of perfect coordination, simultaneously, the FIRST time.



Blogger Up from the pond March 27, 2020 2:35 PM  

The trouble starts when physics gets confused with metaphysics.

We can improve rubber tires. We can't determine the purpose of the universe.

Blogger Unknown March 27, 2020 2:54 PM  

It's always very stressful for atheists whenever thinkers start looking at foundations and really understand what is required and what is lacking. Hopefully science will get to the point that mathematics got to in the early 1900s with Godels incompleteness theorem. I have a bad feeling that most scientists wouldn't even realize if they did reach that point.

Blogger Russell Snow March 27, 2020 3:07 PM  

Science in the gaps.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 27, 2020 3:15 PM  

"I was under the impression that neuroscientists had determined that consciousness and free will were illusions, that humans are meat robots."

That is the limit of what neuroscientists are able to know. For them to say that all they can know is all that is is dishonest. It is a fundamental refusal to admit that they are not God.

There is a natural tautology that goes like this: "Whoever accepts lies will be easily lied to/Whoever lies to himself will be easily lied to."

Atheists necessarily inform themselves that they belong to whatever set best approximates "God", and tell others the same thing, and are therefore subject to all according lies. Because effects are produced that can be readily applied directly to their faces, this results in a cargo-cult and proto-gnostic view of science, because they will not accept that the foundations of the discipline proceed from the divine. When scientists accept this acclaim as priests, they place themselves as the best connections of man to capital T Truth, and are therefore subject to all according lies.

"Consciousness will without question be solved by science"

Your statement is of this form: "Human mind can contain knowledge which can simultaneously contain human mind." I must therefore conclude that you have no knowledge of any sort of engineering beyond pure magical belief.

"In fact a working model already exists. Consciousness is like an engine - you need various components working together to have an engine although individually the components are not much use."

I would be giving you too much credit by assuming that you are even trying to describe a gestalt.

"Same with consciousness, only by assembling the various subsystems (memory, sensation, motor cortex, etc) together will you get a self-aware working brain."

No. You assume that in order to support your pre-existing wishes rather than because it is evident.

"Consciousness is material."

It is in the most fundamental philosophical and immediately apparent senses not material. It can emulate material in some senses, however if it were entirely material then the things it thinks of would also necessarily be entirely material, and not only that, but in the same location and time and scale that it conceives of them. In order to think of a dog there would have to be a dog exactly where you are thinking of it, doing exactly what you imagine it is doing, in which case you would not be thinking at all, but merely seeing the dog, or else causing it to be.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 27, 2020 3:27 PM  

TRP1C wrote:Consciousness will without question be solved by science, although not by the current iteration.
The only solution Science offers to consciousness is cranial lead injection.
Science doesn't have the tools, the concepts, even the language to understand consciousness, and materialists like you flat-out reject the tools offered by philosophy and theology.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 27, 2020 3:36 PM  

"It has yet to be seen what belief will take the place of Science! for the academics and then the masses..."

The entire edifice is going to collapse under its own weight. Science was only useful for them as a system that they were able to claim was divorced from God, while still providing cargo-cult goodies. The eventual adulteration and dissipation of the mechanisms providing such goodies was an inevitable consequence from the beginning.

Both good and evil develop hierarchies. The evil hierarchy requires false priests, which we currently often conflate with scientists. It is ironic that science cultists hold religion to be about the control, manipulation, and oppression of the masses. They hold it so because those things are exactly what they themselves would and do practice.

All this said, there will be new false priests and their new willing masses, whatever names they go by.

Blogger Joe Smith March 27, 2020 3:37 PM  

@6 It's not that neuroscience determined that consciousness and free will don't exist. Neuroscience assumes materialism just like every other science currently, so neuroscientists just assume consciousness and free will don't exist a priori.

I remember in the Devil's Advocate when the Satan character says the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist. But of course that's a lie: the greatest trick Satan ever pulled was convincing large chunks of the world God doesn't exist. It just has the nice side benefit of also convincing everyone that therefore evil doesn't exist either.

Blogger Al K. Annossow March 27, 2020 3:42 PM  

In case you might find this helpful when dealing with atheists...

I've noticed that when atheists argue, they often only use their own assumptions of no God and nothing spiritual exists. And they use those assumptions as the only valid ones. In such arguments it helps to state my own assumptions so I can speak on my own terms. For example, make it clear that I believe in a God who can design the laws of physics (which people still haven't figured out) and create the universe out of nothing. That means such a God can accomplish anything He wants, both extraordinary things (miracles) and ordinary occurrences. And if they complain that the non existence of something cannot be proven, you'll sound smarter than them if you point out that logical inconsistencies and exhaustive searches can exclude the existence of some things in some cases, though that obviously does not pertain to God. Don't let their arrogance get the upper hand. I have also used the point that belief in God requires more abstract thinking and not believing in God is more like chimp thinking. Put atheists on the defense. Also, most people want to believe the Correspondence Theory of Truth, but even atheistic philosophers say that without something like God to guide you, only a Coherent Theory of Truth is possible. Atheists don't like that because it sounds unscientific. They think objective science, excuse me Science!, is on their side.

Blogger Newscaper312 March 27, 2020 4:04 PM  

I vaguely remember reading Dennett wrestling with Free Will. Basically working from the bottom up he did not think, strictly speaking, that it existed. However he also acknowledged the apparent paradox of people believing in Free Will enabled more agency in them in a given situation than you might otherwise expect. So maybe it was still functional if not technically true. Dont know what he's said on the subject since then.

Blogger weka March 27, 2020 4:06 PM  

FFS, the fight is between those of Christ and those of Satan. The division is not along the classic branchlines of prot, papist and orthodox, but those who seek the approval of God or the approval of men.

In this crisis, the prot will cover the back of his papist brother. Sola Dei Gloria, Deus Vult.

Blogger Krymneth March 27, 2020 4:30 PM  

Al K. Annossow wrote:exhaustive searches can exclude the existence of some things in some cases,

"Considering the observable universe as a 4D volume of spacetime, please write down the percentage of it you have had under a microscope in your lifetime. Do not use scientific notation."

This really highlights the absurdity of grandly pronouncing God doesn't exist on the basis of our examination of the universe. It's a loooooooot of zeros.

Blogger Terrific March 27, 2020 4:56 PM  

Now get ready for some True Reason:

“The people in the country we have just left have seen that your love for the Island [your love and longing for the spiritual and eternal] is very like your love for the brown girls [lustful longing]. Therefore they say that one is a copy of the other. They would also say that you have followed me because I am like your mother, and that your trust in me is a copy of your love for your mother. And then they would say again that your love for your mother is a copy of your love for the brown girls; and so they would come full circle.”
“And what should I answer them?’
‘You would say, perhaps one is a copy of the other. But which is the copy of which?’
‘I never thought of that.’
‘You are not yet of an age to have thought much,’ said Reason. ‘But you must see that if two things are alike, then it is a further question whether the first is copied from the second, or the second from the first, or both from a third?’
‘What would the third be?’
‘Some have thought that all these loves were copies of our love for the Landlord.’
‘But surely they have considered that and rejected it. Their sciences have disproved it.’
‘They could not have, for their sciences are not concerned at all with the general relations of this country to anything that may lie East of it or West of it. They indeed will tell you that their researches have proved that if two things are similar, the fair one is always the copy of the foul one. But their only reason to say so is that they have already decided that the fairest things of all—that is the Landlord, and, if you like, the mountains and the Island—are a mere copy of this country. They pretend that their researches lead to that doctrine: but in fact they assume that doctrine first and interpret their researches by it.’
‘But they have reasons for assuming it.’
‘They have none, for they have ceased to listen to the only people who can tell them anything about it.’
‘Who are they?’
‘They are younger sisters of mine, and their names are Philosophy and Theology.’
‘Sisters! Who is your father?’
“You will know sooner than you wish.’

[As will each of them, as will we all.]

Excerpt From: C. S. Lewis. “The Pilgrim's Regress.”

Blogger Joe Smith March 27, 2020 5:04 PM  

@40 That objection misses the entire point. It accepts the materialist premise. There's no reason to accept their premise.

Blogger Matthew Hopkins (MHN) / Sam Smith March 27, 2020 5:05 PM  

@Pyrrhus @VD

Pyrrhus wrote:

"The fact that the soul exists outside the brain has been evident to the unbiased [...]"

You might find this article from the New Scientist interesting. There is evidence of some people with almost completely destroyed brain tissue living normal lives. The case study is of a man whose brain was literally destroyed. Look at the scans. How is he living a normal life? What is he thinking with? Yet his modest IQ is above the disability range and he holds down a job.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brain-tiny/tiny-brain-no-obstacle-to-french-civil-servant-idUSN1930510020070720

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12301-man-with-tiny-brain-shocks-doctors/

Blogger HoosierHillbilly March 27, 2020 5:21 PM  

@35. No argument here, but that is the fun part. They have tried faith in technocrats and psychology, tried to sprinkle nature worship with some Eastern mystycism, full on nature worship with global warming, and tried some brotherhood of man. None of which have worked to capture the public like it did with Science!

Perhaps the pre-millenialism of the late 1800 American psyche provided a uniquely fertile loam for the promise of Science and Reason to plant their evil seeds.

The failures give me a hope of a turn back to God...but man's depravity knows no bounds. We'll see.

Blogger RobertDWood March 27, 2020 5:24 PM  

You must be new here

Blogger Newscaper312 March 27, 2020 5:38 PM  

@Joe Smith
If that was in reference to me @40, can't see post numbers on phone, I was sliding with Dennett, ccx rather pointing out even he couldn't compleyely dismiss something like Free Will out of hand.

Blogger RMH in StL March 27, 2020 5:38 PM  

Newscaper312 wrote:I vaguely remember reading Dennett wrestling with Free Will. Basically working from the bottom up he did not think, strictly speaking, that it existed. However he also acknowledged the apparent paradox of people believing in Free Will enabled more agency in them in a given situation than you might otherwise expect. So maybe it was still functional if not technically true. Dont know what he's said on the subject since then.


What ever he wrote or didn't about freewill is irrelevant. He had no choice in the matter.

Blogger Up from the pond March 27, 2020 5:45 PM  

Too many monists clutter up such discussions.

Consciousness and matter both exist; no necessity exists to reduce one to the other.

There are people who have trouble with the subject/object distinction, but this says nothing about necessity.

Blogger Bobiojimbo March 27, 2020 6:13 PM  

Thanks for sharing this.

Blogger OvergrownHobbit March 27, 2020 6:30 PM  

From old Uncle Screwtape:

"...The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present — either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present."

C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters

Blogger Newscaper312 March 27, 2020 6:37 PM  

Sigh, "was NOT siding w Dennett"

Blogger tublecane March 27, 2020 6:57 PM  

I wish physicists were more skeptical. Quantum mechanics actually does have real-world applications, but too few scoff at unifying fields and expanding universes. Though there are some who do. Especially when they notice Godly people taking any comfort in their theories.

However, how did particle physics ever go so crazy or string theory happen at all without outrageous credulity?

For all his vaunted skepticism--if you want to call outright Truth-denial by that name--Nietzsche believed in a lot of silly things. Beliefs which could be switched at a moment's notice, perhaps.

Blogger tublecane March 27, 2020 6:59 PM  

@4- It's worse when you realize the scientific "revolution" started before the Enlightenment. Because then it may occur to you the Enlightenment and scientific progress (such as we get) aren't necessarily connected or even helped by one-another.

Blogger tublecane March 27, 2020 7:05 PM  

@35- God-denial and Science! didn't start really delivering on the goodies until the previous century, with electricity and the internal combustion engine. The prior century+ under Enlightened rule did not deliver a living much materially different than the Old Regime.

I imagine the New Unhappy Lords have plans for when they can't provide Plenty anymore. They have persisted through short periods of material disaster before. However, it might have benefited them to not hang their legitimacy on fulfilling bottomless earthly human desire.

Blogger Joe Smith March 27, 2020 7:19 PM  

@Newscaper312 My comment wasn't directed at you. But to address your post, of course Dennett can't find a reason to believe in free will working from the ground up. The "ground" he works up from is materialism. He begs the question. In fact he does dismiss free will out of hand, but then he can't square that with how he actually operates in the world. Compatibilism is ridiculous nonsense on its face.

Blogger RMH in StL March 27, 2020 7:32 PM  

I realize you weren't siding with Dennett. Mine was a stale attempt to mock him.

Blogger Akulkis March 27, 2020 7:53 PM  

"Only in deep states of meditation can one transcend the brain and study it from a higher vantage point."

Not even then.

Blogger SATOR March 27, 2020 8:11 PM  

I always remember Colin Wilson's take: that life (spirit) was invading matter.

Perhaps consciousness is the awareness of awareness and we instead should be asking what awareness is? Information cannot exist without the awareness of it, it's not data otherwise. Yes, it's unknown to humans but still exists, is still sustained as a data point.

I really don't see how it isn't obvious that there is a mind under everything. Yes, the fish and water argument, I know but, we aren't all alone deep in our hearts and minds.

It seems to me that the brain is the antenna for energy/information, the better it is at picking it up, the more aware. Awareness and consciousness in themselves do not give a moral code but, conveniently they give you the tools to choose truth.

You have the ability to discover and recognize truth, and the choice of what to do with it.

Blogger Doktor Jeep March 27, 2020 8:21 PM  

I see an effect with science that I see with gunfighting.
People who do not know the ways of the gun end up seeing guns as the magical end all be all implement of instant death and doom.
But those who are well-trained in the gun know the limitations of them, and are less inclined to see them having such a wide bandwidth of problem solving.
Science, it seems, mystifies a lot of people, and somewhere along the line someone said the guys in white coats were superior to the guys with funny hats. So they sent out the guys with funny hats and replaced them with guys in white coats, and for over 120 years, we have seen eugenics, total "bomb the civilians" wars, mass taxation and suffrage, infanticide, and I could go all day making a list.
But the actual scientists cannot run from the reality of it, just like the most uber-tactical operator with the 5000 dollar rifle still has to learn game.
On a side note, I'm left wondering if people who commit suicide have more eye on the infinite than those who are miserable but too afraid to hero.

Blogger Newscaper312 March 27, 2020 8:35 PM  

@Unkown, it was actually pretty good.

Blogger Akulkis March 27, 2020 8:45 PM  

@20

"Recalling the observation: The only thing a non-conformist hates more than a conformist is another non-conformist who refuses to conform to his standard of non-conformity."

Those in the counter-culture always demand even stricter conformity than the conformists.

See also:

MAD Magazine on Conformists, Non-Conformists (simply conforming to Column B), and MAD Non-Conformists (true non-conformists).

https://magiccarpetburn.blogspot.com/2010/06/mad-47-june-59-how-to-be-mad-non.html

Blogger Terrific March 27, 2020 10:43 PM  

The truth is, if you travel down its reasoning road long enough and far enough you eventually discover you've been reasoning in a circle. The "truths" upon which all science is based are unprovable axioms. An axiom being a postulate which must be ASSUMED to be true before any "scientific reasoning" can begin.

From "The Big Bang Theory":

"Amy Farrah Fowler: It's very impressive...for theoretical work.
Sheldon: Do I detect a note of condescension?
Amy: I'm sorry. Was I being too subtle? I meant compared to the real world applications of neurobiology, theoretical physics is, what's the word I'm looking for? Hmm?... Cute.
Sheldon: Are you suggesting the work of a neurobiologist, such as Babinski, could ever rise to the significance of a physicist like Clerk Maxwell or Durac?
Amy: I'm stating it outright. Babinski eats Durac for breakfast and defecates Clerk Maxwell.
Sheldon: You take that back!
Amy: Absolutely not. My colleagues and I are mapping the neurological substrates that subserve global information processing which is required for all cognitive reasoning, including scientific inquiry, making my research ipso facto prior in the ordo cognoscendi. That means it's better than his research, and by extension, of course, yours.
Leonard: I'm sorry. I'm still trying to work on "defecating Clerk Maxwell."

Oh, ,the vanity and hubris of the scientist.

Blogger TheMaleRei March 28, 2020 1:27 AM  

Terrific wrote:The truth is, if you travel down its reasoning road long enough and far enough you eventually discover you've been reasoning in a circle. The "truths" upon which all science is based are unprovable axioms. An axiom being a postulate which must be ASSUMED to be true before any "scientific reasoning" can begin.

From "The Big Bang Theory":

"Amy Farrah Fowler: It's very impressive...for theoretical work.

Sheldon: Do I detect a note of condescension?

Amy: I'm sorry. Was I being too subtle? I meant compared to the real world applications of neurobiology, theoretical physics is, what's the word I'm looking for? Hmm?... Cute.

Sheldon: Are you suggesting the work of a neurobiologist, such as Babinski, could ever rise to the significance of a physicist like Clerk Maxwell or Durac?

Amy: I'm stating it outright. Babinski eats Durac for breakfast and defecates Clerk Maxwell.

Sheldon: You take that back!

Amy: Absolutely not. My colleagues and I are mapping the neurological substrates that subserve global information processing which is required for all cognitive reasoning, including scientific inquiry, making my research ipso facto prior in the ordo cognoscendi. That means it's better than his research, and by extension, of course, yours.

Leonard: I'm sorry. I'm still trying to work on "defecating Clerk Maxwell."

Oh, ,the vanity and hubris of the scientist.


And people find this show funny?

Blogger tublecane March 28, 2020 1:46 AM  

@55- Too-strict materialism is one answer. However, don't disregard the possibility that Dennett prefers to treat everyone who isn't himself as if they were a zombie instead of men possessed with souls. Makes it easier to...do things to them. Even if just in your mind.

Dennett chasing his tail vis-a-vis consciousness I wish I could say is amusing, but it's too pathetic. He wants to deny its existence, and does. Explicitly. But that makes one look like a crazy person. So he settles--at least in one book--upon consciousness being a sort of trick.

There's a machine (your brain) and the parts of the machine somehow move so as to create the illusion of self-awareness in an observer within the machine. But where did that observer come from? And what is the difference between being tricked into awareness and actually being aware? Should we dig up Descartes to answer?

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 28, 2020 3:43 AM  

"For all his vaunted skepticism--if you want to call outright Truth-denial by that name--Nietzsche believed in a lot of silly things. Beliefs which could be switched at a moment's notice, perhaps."

I still consider Nietzsche's to be the most coherent and honest of the atheist philosophies I am aware of. Not saying much, but still, there it is.

"It's worse when you realize the scientific "revolution" started before the Enlightenment. Because then it may occur to you the Enlightenment and scientific progress (such as we get) aren't necessarily connected or even helped by one-another."

"Science" at its worst is held aloft by gnostics. The "Enlightenment" was nearly straigt Luciferianism, similar to, if only somewhat more occulted than Cainism, yet less occulted than the Babylonian Mysticism. Gnostic "science" is a drug that appeals primarily to the vainglorious. Luciferianism is what crawls up from down in the dark with vainglory as nothing more than an illuminated lure at the top of its head, placed there to blind you against seeing the festering corpse underneath.

Blogger Kiwi March 28, 2020 5:34 AM  

I spent a couple of years kicking around in the neuroscience dept.

I put quite a few people through fMRI. The machine was very expensive and cost a ridiculous amount per person to run, but we had secured decent funding as people throw money at that sort of research. Should they? No.

I still chuckle at how it looks like something NASA has built but all it can really tell you is a bit of someones brain lit up. As far as scientific validity, there is none. Sadly, those in neuroscience don't realise that it's rubbish, they are genuinely science blind somehow.

What I did find surprising, other than a hilarious story about an artificial leg, is that part of the research grant came from a religious group. I remember being puzzled and asking, why would they be interested? I was told, because we might find evidence of god.

Blogger Josh Brown March 28, 2020 6:29 AM  

"As human souls ...". A sublime sentence.

Blogger michimartini March 28, 2020 8:12 AM  

It is called a spirit.

Blogger TRP1C March 28, 2020 8:30 AM  

Proper science is far more reliable than a coin flip. In fact it has a reliability approaching 100%.

Yes consciousness is an emulation. No thar does not mean that the emulations have to exist materially, that's just a naive

The analogy of the orchestra is accurate. Just as a symphony is created from all the instruments playing together, so does consciousness arise from all the brain subsystems working together. It is an emergent property (most people misunderstand this terms - it does not mean more than the sum of parts).

Of course this means that there is no consciousness without brains and no life after death, the way most people understand it

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Blogger Newscaper312 March 28, 2020 8:43 AM  

@TRP1C
"so does consciousness arise from all the brain subsystems working together. It is an emergent property"
Not unreasonable on its face... but the materialists still can't exactly explain *how*.

Blogger VD March 28, 2020 11:12 AM  

Proper science is far more reliable than a coin flip. In fact it has a reliability approaching 100%.

Resorting to tautologies is pure sophistry. You have no way of distinguishing "proper" science from "improper" science. And professionally published peer-reviewed science is less reliable than a coin flip.

This is the wrong place to play definitional word games.

Blogger Akulkis March 28, 2020 12:04 PM  

"I still consider Nietzsche's to be the most coherent and honest of the atheist philosophies I am aware of. Not saying much, but still, there it is."

Never trust a man whose entire life experience was limited to a chunk of land 10 miles in diameter.

Blogger Al K. Annossow March 28, 2020 3:02 PM  

A carefully crafted science experiment once proved that spontaneous generation of flies occurs on a hunk of meat. Unlike many other science experiments, it would be easy to replicate. But someone will be tempted to tell me that the experiment was not crafted well enough. They would be right. Here's a rhetorical question: Can they also tell me which other science experiments were crafted well enough and would they be right?

Blogger Pathfinderlight March 28, 2020 6:59 PM  

@MDN

Vox has at least one major theological disagreement with Catholic theology documented on this blog. He also has released opinions about several aspects of Catholic tradition, some positive, some negative.

Blogger Up from the pond March 28, 2020 8:36 PM  

Nietzsche's restlessness, his hatred of his countrymen, his loathing for Christ, his gamma-ish reverence for the anti-Christ type of Jew, his ressentiment, his laughable bombast about "real aristocracy," his angry unhappiness - all of it triggers my gentilic snobbery. Though at least his father's side of the family seems to have been comprised of standard-issue Lutheran Germans, Nietzsche's life story and work give many indications that he was a self-hating mischling.

Seriously, read him without the baggage associated with his name. Especially read the private notes collected posthumously as _The Will to Power_. The man had the soul of a ragpicker. Once you see it, you won't be able to read him again nor respect people who claim that they founded their understanding of life on him.

All this apart from debating the content of his ideas. I object to the man. He stinks on the page.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 28, 2020 8:58 PM  

"It is an emergent property"

Read: "It just happens".

No, you don't get to handwave.

"No thar does not mean that the emulations have to exist materially, that's just a naive.

If consciousness and thought are material, yes it does. You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what material is. Energy, for example, is not material.

Blogger Salden March 28, 2020 10:03 PM  

You just threw in the same talking points we hear from Danny Den and Dick Dawkins.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 28, 2020 10:31 PM  

TRP1C wrote:Of course this means that there is no consciousness without brains and no life after death, the way most people understand it



The problem is that you start with your conclusions and then attempt to interpret reality to be consonant with it.
Science is definitionally UNABLE to even ascertain facts, Science at best can falsify a bad theory, to a limited extent. at which point, scientists will modify their extant theory to explain away the inconsistency.
Science annot even begin to answer the question of "why". The answer to "how", when given by science, always starts with "perhaps". This of the essence of the scientific method and cannot be overcome by science.
Science as currently constituted simply hand-waves away every question it cannot answer,a s with your "orchestra" analogy. Can you provide even a scintilla of evidence in support of it? Or course not. But since your premises exclude even being able to think about the problem, you make up a just-so story and pretend it explains everything.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 28, 2020 11:17 PM  

"Never trust a man"

Didn't say I did. He has one fundamental lie and doesn't deviate from it. Most of them have stacked layers of lies that contradict each other at each layer.

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