Philosophy and the rise of science

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jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 06:03 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;160285 wrote:
As I said, I'm most interested in why people desire to believe in the spiritual. If you don't mind sharing, why do you desire this? Why do you find it important to believe in something you can't even articulate?


actually I articulate it pretty well, I think.

It is not really a matter of belief as far as I am concerned. I think the whole of our religious nature has been shoved into the straightjacket of belief, mainly by protestantism. This way of thinking strictly circumscribes the way you are allowed to think about the sacred. You are only allowed to think about it in certain ways, via scripture and belief, and so on. As a result, most atheists are actually protestant atheists. They are very specific about what it is they don't believe. They have a strong belief in the non-existence of God. It has been defined in a certain way, and this is what they doubt. It is very important to understand this. It is certainly true for most of the atheists I encounter.

So when you ask me why I believe, my answer is I actually try not to believe, I don't want to see myself as a believer in the conventional sense. I didn't start out believing, or even being religious. Many of us 60's people came into the general area via altered states and the spiritual experiences that came out of them. This gave rise to (among other things) an understanding that reality as most people understand it and live it is actually something of a masquerade. There were moments of awakening to a much larger reality, indescribably vast. So it became the search for the real self/real experience/true nature of reality, an attempt to realise in real life those elusive moments that you could no longer have by those means. Now it is very hard to share those experiences with those who haven't had them, and I really don't mean that to sound patronising when I say that.

For me and many others this co-incided with the discovery of Zen and Indian spirituality, EST, awareness training, and so on. This is actually not very religious at all, in many ways, in fact there is an interesting book on it all called The Religion of No Religion, about Californian spirituality, and the like. In any case, at bottom of it was an intention to understand the nature of experience, and especially what it was that you saw at the very best moments when you were tripping (to be blunt about it). But for some it also involved encounters with genuine spiritual masters, whether via books or in person, and sometimes these encounters can completely change your outlook in a New York minute.

Much water has gone under the bridge, and a whole generation has been born since then to whom none of this means anything much, and they just associate it with religion in the downtown or old-fashioned sense and say 'why do you believe that?' Well the answer is, I don't.

But in a roundabout way I have come back to many aspects of the religious traditions which I otherwise would never have understood. (And I did a degree in comparative religion, NOT 'divinity'.) After some time I began to get taught proper eastern-style meditation. There is a particular type of intelligence which comes out of meditation. It is impossible to describe in the third person. And also I don't want to sensationalise it, because it is very ordinary. It is not like 'a trip' or anything. But it did teach me a lot of things, and changed my outlook. In hindsight, it was like a kind of conversion, although not in a born-again evangelical way.

But cutting a long story short, in my case, what began to make a lot of sense to me is a particular type of spiritual teaching which is common to various religions of the West and East, called the apophatic teaching, or the way of negation.

Basically this means that you begin to understand that the clever thinking mind, and the verbal personality, really is a construct, it is like the bubble on the top of a stream. For most of us, that is life, and what goes on underneath it all is a bit of a mystery. So to penetrate that, rather than try and come up with a 'theory of what God is' in all of this, you realize you need to learn to shut up and listen, so to speak. And that is what meditation is about. It is a hard path. Also my unique understanding of negation, sunyata, the meaning of Zen, and many other things I have learned through all of it, is very much my own. But that is why it is 'beyond language' and 'impossible to articulate' etc. It is about part of your being which is much more simple than the verbal part.

It's still a real struggle, the main obstacle being myself. But anyway, that is an honest account of about where I am and how I got here. It is a work in progress.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 06:09 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;160262 wrote:
What fascinates me the most is why people want to believe so badly!


But that is an ambiguous question. And, in one sense (at least) it begs the question.

---------- Post added 05-05-2010 at 08:20 AM ----------

attano;160102 wrote:
madman would question the sacred truth of Science...)




This is more debatable. (You are trying to synthesize here and I apologize to you if I look like exploiting the inevitable approximations - actually I am going to make some rough approximations too).
Indeed, philosophically speaking, there was a change. The principa prima, that were unquestionable in pre-scientific age philosophy, relied on religious-metaphysical elements. The rational mechanics eventually managed to give a proved account of the universe without those principia.
The success of Science led to the assumption that everything that we sense (in some way) is real and can be scientifically explained. Hence the claim that Science is the only true knowledge of the being, or that the scientific method is the only way to proceed to achieve knowledge, extended its hegemony over large parts of the West - and notably over the Anglosphere.

This claim is no longer Science, it is something else. (And, philosophically, it is questionable; Hume and Kant gave some reasons for questioning it - and both were not exactly metaphysical thinkers).
"Going analytic" means not to question this claim.
But one philosophy can be equally concerned with Science moving from different beliefs. And indeed the first problem arise with the question: what is Science, what is the scientific method? Do we really know what Science is?
We are clearly impressed by the power of Science, by the power to control and subdue forces and elements. Is this awe in front of the power of Science still scientific? Or is it something else?

Having said the above, that's not yet the reason why I dislike - or bemoan, if you prefer - analytic philosophy.
But this is a matter of taste and as I believe that my taste is not of general interest, I'll refrain from getting into it.



Yes that is the issue, and not, how do science and philosophy differ (a related issue, of course, but different). And you are right. That was the view I expressed. Although, of course, I know that is not the only response that has been made. Continental Philosophy has tossed out the baby with the bathwater. Exposition of text is not philosophizing, and continental philosophy has tried to replace philosophy with exposition of text. Doing that is what has been called, "failure of nerve". We cannot compete with science in its home territory (true) therefore, let us abandon philosophy and turn to literary criticism of philosophers. Absurd.

This claim is no longer Science, it is something else. (And, philosophically, it is questionable; Hume and Kant gave some reasons for questioning it - and both were not exactly metaphysical thinkers).

What a peculiar, and in Kant's case especially, even a perverse thing to say!
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 06:20 am
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;160292 wrote:
There are two questions there.

Oops! Sorry, I unintentionally intercepted two questions intended for jeeprs, not me. It wasn't entirely my fault: the forum software only quotes the first level of text in the article you are replying to, and cuts out even the attributions of quotations within the article. Still, I should have noticed.
 
attano
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 07:34 am
@kennethamy,
(Sorry if I hurted your feelings on Moore, I did not mean that - but, as Martin Luther said, that's my opinion and I can't help it).

kennethamy;160302 wrote:
Continental Philosophy has tossed out the baby with the bathwater. Exposition of text is not philosophizing, and continental philosophy has tried to replace philosophy with exposition of text. Doing that is what has been called, "failure of nerve". We cannot compete with science in its home territory (true) therefore, let us abandon philosophy and turn to literary criticism of philosophers. Absurd.



I guess that you mean an approach to philosophy that is focusing only on the literary quality of the philosopher's work.
(I can't explain why, but I have the feeling that you do not refer to all continental philosophers, but only targeting a very specific person).
I would even agree with you for some authors, notably in the post-Heidegger area, but not in general. I can hardly see Hegel or Marx as literary reviewers.

kennethamy;160302 wrote:


What a peculiar, and in Kant's case especially, even a perverse thing to say!


Of course you do not have to believe me, but it's still quite possible not to view Kant as a realist. And this opinion is not confined to myself - Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer (and others) shared this idea. Maybe they got everything wrong, but I hope you will allow some people like me to have a different opinion from yours, without belittling their intelligence.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 08:16 am
@attano,
attano;160344 wrote:
(Sorry if I hurted your feelings on Moore, I did not mean that - but, as Martin Luther said, that's my opinion and I can't help it).




I guess that you mean an approach to philosophy that is focusing only on the literary quality of the philosopher's work.
(I can't explain why, but I have the feeling that you do not refer to all continental philosophers, but only targeting a very specific person).
I would even agree with you for some authors, notably in the post-Heidegger area, but not in general. I can hardly see Hegel or Marx as literary reviewers.



Of course you do not have to believe me, but it's still quite possible not to view Kant as a realist. And this opinion is not confined to myself - Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer (and others) shared this idea. Maybe they got everything wrong, but I hope you will allow some people like me to have a different opinion from yours, without belittling their intelligence.


You did not hurt my feelings about Moore. I think you are very wrong about him, but it has nothing to do with my feelings. (Luther said, "Here I stand. I can do no other").

I did not say that exposition du texte concerns only the literary quality of the text (although it may do that too). But the idea does not primarily concern literally quality. It concerns what it says it concerns: the meaning of the text regardless of its literary quality. In any case, it involves philosophizing only very peripherally. No, I am not targeting anyone in particular. If I am targeting anything it is continental philosophy (as it is known).

I didn't say that Kant was a Realist. In fact, he is often thought of as a (transcendental) Ideaism. But Realism is a metaphysics, isn't it? As is transcendental idealism. So why would not Kant be a metaphysician? You don't think that only Idealists are metaphysicians, do you? Why would you think that?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 08:45 am
@kennethamy,
Twirlip wrote:
But are you saying that it is I who am diverting the argument, and failing to pay proper attention to what you mean, and only seizing on some minor or irrelevant part of it?


No, don't worry about it. I'll cease the initial discussion, as you're right, I would just be forcing the discussion off-topic. However, I do want to touch on this which may prove to be relevant:

Quote:
I did ask, "do you mean whatever you can learn by empirical observation and detached logical reasoning?", and as far as I can see, you didn't confirm, until now, that that was (more or less) what you meant.


Many of your questions I did not understand, and that is why I did not respond to them directly. First, like I mentioned before, I am unsure what you mean by "personal knowledge". Maybe you mean knowledge about something personal? Like that I only put on deodorant every other day? I don't know what else you would mean, since I thought all my knowledge was personal in the sense that it was in fact my knowledge.

Also, I was not only referring to a posteriori knowledge (empirical observation), and I don't know why you would think that. Lastly, if you could please clarify "detached logical reasoning", that would help.

Sorry, it seems as though we're not on the same wavelength here.

jeeprs wrote:
actually I articulate it pretty well, I think.


Ah, thanks for what you have written. I do have a better understanding of your position now.

kennethamy wrote:
But that is an ambiguous question. And, in one sense (at least) it begs the question.


I am assuming it to be true, you're right. But I do think I have justification. Or at least I think I do. I may not. Anyway, sorry for taking your conversation off-track.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:39 am
@Twirlip,
jeeprs wrote:
If we are considering 'truths about our concepts' or the reality of our subjective experience, then we are already in a difficult position. We are already considering questions of a different order to questions about the nature of objects. Why? Because in order to validate a concept, we presumably ascertain whether it corresponds to an objective reality. But consider the following:

In order to make the comparison between the conceptual and the objective, we must know what it is that we are comparing, namely, the belief on the one hand and the reality on the other. But if we already know the reality, why do we need to make a comparison? And if we don't know the reality, how can we make a comparison?
I don't see where you are going with this. We can take a concept, "courage", and talk about it philosophically. People do things in the real world, and since we make the definitions of words and create concepts, we can talk about which of these actions in the real world are courageous. I suggested that you are agree that we could do this, but suggested that there was something more, a different kind of thinking.

You have suggested a number of questions that require this different kind of thinking--the nature of god, levels of existence, human nature, "who am I". But how do those questions not deal with either our knowledge of the world, or our ideas about the world? What else can we deal with?

For example, it is said that meditators come to the realization that the ego is something of an illusion. How is that a different order of thinking? Aren't they philosophically examining our concepts the self?

Twirlip;160258 wrote:

I don't know if I am making some silly mistake (if I am, no doubt someone will tell me right away), but it seems to me that the answer to this question is very simple. I alluded to it the day before yesterday, in post #7 of another thread:
http://www.philosophyforum.com/philosophy-forums/branches-philosophy/metaphysics/5088-universal-game-hypothesis-kevin-thomson.html
There are a great many ways to talk about this. Whether Heidegger writes about it successfully, I don't know, but at least in simple, commonsense English, we are in the world, not outside it, and our being in the world is a way of knowing it. Presumably Schopenhauer also wrote about this. But you don't have to know anything about philosophy (I certainly don't know much!) to know it - and to be right about it, in a way of which even G. E. Moore might have approved. This "knowledge" is not always in competition with scientific "knowledge" (scare quotes because of ambiguity), but it sometimes is. When the two forms of knowledge compete, the issue is not always decided in advance, either way. And we simply can't dispense with either. We need both, we can't avoid either of them, and we have to endure the occasional tension between them.


But in this very conversation what were are talking about is our experiences of the world (internal and external) and our concepts about what knowledge and science are. Psychology is a science. Some things aren't explicitly studied by science (at this time) because there is not an easy way to do so. But that doesn't make them a "different kind of thinking".
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 11:08 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;160438 wrote:
But in this very conversation what were are talking about is our experiences of the world (internal and external) and our concepts about what knowledge and science are. Psychology is a science. Some things aren't explicitly studied by science (at this time) because there is not an easy way to do so. But that doesn't make them a "different kind of thinking".

We've been here before, you and I. See posts #23--#29 on page 3 of this thread (3 March):
http://www.philosophyforum.com/lounge/general-discussion/7799-what-order-study-philosophy-3.html
My post #29 appears to suggest that the whole of Buddhist philosophy might come under your heading of "Psychology", which makes it a rather elastic category! At any rate, I have to ask you again about my syllogism in post #24.

---------- Post added 05-05-2010 at 06:44 PM ----------

Zetherin;160375 wrote:
Many of your questions I did not understand, and that is why I did not respond to them directly. First, like I mentioned before, I am unsure what you mean by "personal knowledge". Maybe you mean knowledge about something personal? Like that I only put on deodorant every other day? I don't know what else you would mean, since I thought all my knowledge was personal in the sense that it was in fact my knowledge.

I meant the kind of knowledge you have of yourself and other persons, on which you depend every day of your life, to decide whom to trust, whom to spend time with, whom to argue with, whom to walk carefully away from without making eye contact, etc.

I am betting you have much reliable knowledge of this kind, which, however, it seems to me - my questions are partly designed to see if I'm mistaken on this point - your own philosophy will not admit to be trustworthy, even though neither science nor anything else provides any substitute for it, and it is vital to your existence.
Zetherin;160375 wrote:

Also, I was not only referring to a posteriori knowledge (empirical observation), and I don't know why you would think that.

If anything, a literal interpretation of some of your words would make you appear to be a rationalist, so, no, I certainly wasn't accusing you of ignoring a priori knowledge.

I don't think the discussion is yet precise enough for such distinctions even to matter. I'm trying to get the broad brush strokes right first. That's hard enough! I hope we don't get bogged down in details, not prematurely, anyway. (Eventually, no doubt, we will get so bogged down, if only because of my ignorance of philosophy.)
Zetherin;160375 wrote:
Lastly, if you could please clarify "detached logical reasoning", that would help.

That's a hard one (but fair, of course, since I used the phrase, and I did not intend the adjective "detached" to be otiose).

It may take me some time to give an adequate answer (or to discover that I did not really have anything clear in mind at all). To begin with, I think I meant "detached" in two ways, but these two forms of detachment are connected:

(1) Reason understood as if it could be completely detached from emotion.

There are many possible confusions here, some of them no doubt my own. One possible confusion, I think, comes from the fact that the specific content of one's emotions is irrelevant to the validity or invalidity of an argument in science or mathematics: from this, however, it does not follow that one can, let alone should, reason in the absence of any emotion. The attempt to divorce reason from emotion probably has a conscious or unconscious emotional cast of its own, and probably a very angry and/or despairing one. I think one can learn something from the mythology of the Vulcan race in Star Trek! Very Happy

(2) Reasoning about objects, entities, and even other persons, even ourselves, as if they existed in a universe from which we are detached, viewing it dispassionately (hence the connection with (1)) from the outside (wherever that could possibly be! - the mind of God, or else some scientistic, narcissistic, Bizarro-Superman, Frankenstein-monster, irreparable Humpty-Dumpty substitute for it?).

It's a deep subject, and one which I obviously don't yet know how to write about coherently.

I think I have to suggest (however unconvincingly) that emotion is a faculty of the mind which has something to to with the mind's essential and inescapable embodied operation within the world (even when it appears, to itself and others, to be operating from somewhere outside the world).

On a much more practical note, I think we can gain some sort of "experimental" (but of course not scientific, public, systematic, or logically verifiable or falsifiable) understanding of reason in its natural habitat by observing ourselves and other people in interaction, especially when our emotions are deeply involved. Does rationality in communication coincide with an unemotional application of the laws of logic (whether Aristotle's or Frege's or those of Buddhist logicians)?

I have no idea how to make this question clearer, at the moment; I can only say that questions of rationality and realism in the world of the mind keep coming up, not as concepts familiar and already well-understood, but as mysteries, outside the purview of science (or rather, not wholly within it, therefore overlapping it).

My daughter, who thinks very differently from me, nevertheless seems to know what I mean about this, and has thoughts of her own on the topic, but I don't know if I can manage to get into conversation with anyone else about it! So please bear with me if I am not clear - but don't let me off the hook, of course, because I would not be rational if I did not acknowledge that I am obliged to explain myself.
Zetherin;160375 wrote:
Sorry, it seems as though we're not on the same wavelength here.

I'm used to that! I always feel as if I've been placed on the wrong planet by mistake. ****-up on the incarnation front. (Reggie Perrin reference! Wrong wavelength again?) (Oh come on, forum software! I was not being obscene!)

---------- Post added 05-05-2010 at 07:15 PM ----------

kennethamy;159354 wrote:
The next step was that of analytic philosophy (or at least some analytic philosophy since there were important exceptions). The step was to distinguish between science as a first-order discipline, and philosophy as a second-order discipline. Science was about the world, and it tried to discover empirical truths about the world. Philosophy, on the other hand, was not about the world (or not, at leas, directly). Rather is concerned the concepts we used to think and talk about the world, including, of course, the concepts science uses to talk and think about the world. For example, the concept of causation. So here was a division of labor, and the reduction, if not the complete elimination, of the original competition between science and philosophy. Science is talk about the world, and philosophy is, as Gilbert Ryle (one of the most prominent of the analytic philosophers) talk about talk. Philosophy was not an empirical discipline about the the world, but it was a conceptual discipline about our concepts about the world.

That may not be quite right. Important philosophers like Bertrand Russell, and W.V. Quine refused (for different reasons) to distinguish so sharply between science and philosophy. But even it it is not quite right, it seems clearly on the right track. Or so it seems to me, anyway.

I think I can go some way with you on this. (I'm not sure. I'm not sure of anything! But this is a dialogue, and I hope to learn something, and maybe convey a thing or two I already know - but mainly I hope not to lose track of my own questions.)

I can't completely agree with the "talk about talk" characterisation of philosophy. On that understanding, Robinson Crusoe would not be able to lie on his back on the sand of his desert island and look up at the gently swaying palm fronds and the stars in the sky and muse upon his predicament. At least, not until Man Friday came along. And then when Man Friday did come along, even the pair's most trivial attempt to reach a common understanding of the word for "coconut" would have to be counted as philosophy, which does not seem right, either.

But that is just a quibble (one which occurred to me before, but which I did not think worth posting on its own).

I might be able to agree about philosophy being a second-order discipline, and it being about the concepts we use in first-order disciplines (including the case of disciplines which have not yet come into being, i.e. are not yet very disciplined at all); but only after registering a disagreement with you about what constitutes "the world", i.e. the subject matter of first-order disciplines.

As I have laboured clumsily to explain in another post [perhaps attached to this one, if everyone is having tea or coffee while I'm typing this], for me (and I think really for everybody, whether they admit it or not), the world is something in which we are all immersed, along with one another.

(We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same ocean; and sometimes it is even calm enough to get out of the boat and swim, although you have to keep an eye open for sharks.)

In view of our immersion in the world, perhaps it is necessary to have some conception of God, or at any rate some kind of transpersonal psychology, in order to recover the tidy separation you (and indeed I) so desire, between "first-order" and "second-order" thinking.

If you try to maintain such a separation on a wholly individualistic view of psychology, I think you run the risk either of being swamped, or else distorting all your thinking, except (to some extent) your thinking about objects, entities, and processes from which you can realistically maintain a personal distance.

(I don't know what Heidegger's terminology for this would be. Something to do with objects or things being "at hand", perhaps? I still haven't even really got started on H.)

And even then there are the baffling conceptual problems of quantum mechanics to contend with (and even the cleverest people admit that no-one understands quantum mechanics).

I'm jumping the gun dreadfully here, I know! It is still no more than a suspicion in my mind that, far from 'God' being an incoherent and irrational notion, it is the individualist conception of psychology, current among most atheists, that is truly intellectually incoherent, in the last analysis. Needless to say, I am very far from being able to make this jibe even faintly plausible to anyone but myself (and perhaps also jeeprs, if I'm lucky). Very Happy

I feel I'm on rather firmer ground if I merely insist that, in one way or another (the way is probably yet to be found, although there are surely already those who point towards it), we have to reconstruct philosophy along lines similar to what you describe, but with a revised conception of "the world", not as something observed from the outside (wherever that could be! - as I remarked before), but as something (or rather, some Being) participated in.

There is still room, I think, for rigorous conceptual thinking about "the world", along these lines; but let no-one underestimate what a radical, almost literally earth-shaking, transformation of philosophy (Western philosophy, at least) is required.

(Bold words for a beginner, I know. But I'm an old beginner, and I probably don't have much time!)
 
attano
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 12:58 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;160366 wrote:
I did not say that exposition du texte concerns only the literary quality of the text (although it may do that too). But the idea does not primarily concern literally quality. It concerns what it says it concerns: the meaning of the text regardless of its literary quality. In any case, it involves philosophizing only very peripherally. No, I am not targeting anyone in particular. If I am targeting anything it is continental philosophy (as it is known).


It's not yet clear to me. Do you mean that continentals gave away all inquiry about reality because that was taken over by science?
I can see why you say that... but I disagree.
I believe it's very difficult to summarize all continental modern to contemporary philosophy in this way. Your view could frame Marx, Kierkegaard, maybe Feuerbach and someone else, but not everybody.
Idealists (and not only them) meant to deal with absolutely everything, not only because of the "system" approach, but also inasmuch they aimed to inquiry the exact nature of the being of which Science is a (partial) description.
This is probably what you called "distinguish between different kinds of truth and different kinds of reality" and if it is like that, I understand your point, though I don't make it mine.


kennethamy;160366 wrote:
I didn't say that Kant was a Realist. In fact, he is often thought of as a (transcendental) Idealism. But Realism is a metaphysics, isn't it? As is transcendental idealism. So why would not Kant be a metaphysician? You don't think that only Idealists are metaphysicians, do you? Why would you think that?
scientific method scientific method (at least sub specie of judgments synthetic a priori) is the only way to know the world, to extend knowledge.
But as we know, Idealism (and Schopenhauer and Nietzsche) took his doctrine well beyond his original design, and I have meant to refer to this use of Kant's philosophy.

One more consideration. Even acknowledging that both Idealism and Realism are metaphysics, I have to admit, , that Realism seems more complying with Occam's razor, and that's probably why physics generally looks more underpinned by Realism than by Idealism - but this is debatable.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 02:46 pm
@kennethamy,
Twirilip,

I think it might help if we go back to the beginning. I'm going to start by going back to your very first reply, and this time I will try to be more explanatory.

Twirlip wrote:
Can you enlarge on what "this" is? By "what you see is what you get", you obviously don't mean literally just "see", but do you mean whatever you can learn by empirical observation and detached logical reasoning?


All I meant by "what you see is what you get" is simply that which can be explained, that which logic applies. This was a poor choice of words, you're right. However, the point was to highlight those who desire to believe in the unexplainable, those who desire to believe in things which have a metaphysical nature and which hold a sense of unverifiable mystery.

Quote:
What is your position on the status of scientific knowledge in relation to knowledge in general?


I don't know what is being asked here.

Quote:
If it excludes what might be called "personal" knowledge, then it's easy enough to understand why it would consequently exclude knowledge of any god or gods; however, it might be that you are quite willing to grant some sort of respectable status to informal, unscientific, unverifiable, unfalsifiable personal knowledge, yet still be an atheist.


It seems to me you wished to make a dichotomy here - A.) Scientific knowledge B.) Personal knowledge - but I think this might be a false dichotomy. Knowledge of something scientific, is of course the same "sort" of knowledge of knowledge as knowledge of any of those things you noted. If a god exists, then it makes sense that one could in fact have knowledge of such a thing. However, let's clear something up - all knowledge is true, by definition. It is justified, true belief. And with that said, I don't really even know how falsifiability applies, like you use here "unfalsifiable personal knowledge, yet still be an atheist". How would knowledge be unfalsifiable or falsifiable? If said belief is not true, it cannot be knowledge by definition.

Quote:
(That has been my own position for most of my life, although in recent years I have been shifting towards a baffled, reluctant, and tormented theism - feeling pretty much like Job, and not at all comfortable!)


What has your position been for most of your life? Did you mean that your position has been that you don't question or approach people about their meandering evangelism simply because the subject matter about which they speak is unverifiable? You just grant them that "respectable status", and allow them to go their merry spiritual way? Well, that's definitely better than my position, I'll tell you that. I actually question these people, and it usually turns into one mighty shitstorm, let me tell you. But yes, I can't lie, I think these spiritualists are grasping for straws, and I think many of them willfully choose to be mystified, much like one can choose to become immersed in a hollywood fantasy movie.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 03:13 pm
@Zetherin,
[I'm doing some tedious and error-prone manual editing, keeping two tabs open in my browser, and copying and pasting between them, just to ensure that nested quotes are left in. Can the forum software be fixed or tweaked or configured to do this by default? Am I not using it properly?]
Zetherin;160585 wrote:

Twirlip;160264 wrote:
Can you enlarge on what "this" is? By "what you see is what you get", you obviously don't mean literally just "see", but do you mean whatever you can learn by empirical observation and detached logical reasoning?

I don't know what is being asked here.

I'm trying to discern what real world it is that those whom you see as escaping from the real world are escaping from; specifically, is it the real world as described by science? Are you saying that what science sees is all that there is? If not, what are you saying?

Is that any clearer? If not, I don't want to persist too long with this subthread.
Zetherin;160585 wrote:

Twirlip;160264 wrote:
If it excludes what might be called "personal" knowledge, then it's easy enough to understand why it would consequently exclude knowledge of any god or gods; however, it might be that you are quite willing to grant some sort of respectable status to informal, unscientific, unverifiable, unfalsifiable personal knowledge, yet still be an atheist.

It seems to me you wished to make a dichotomy here - A.) Scientific knowledge B.) Personal knowledge - but I think this might be a false dichotomy. Knowledge of something scientific, is of course the same "sort" of knowledge of knowledge as knowledge of any of those things you noted. If a god exists, then it makes sense that one could in fact have knowledge of such a thing.

I know I am not writing with perfect clarity about these difficult matters, but I hope you will forgive me if I say that you seem to be bending over backwards, sometimes, not to understand what I mean!

[P.S. I already feel that this mildly insulting remark of mine was unwarranted. You are being quite reasonable. I was just feeling rather frustrated. Sorry.]

I have tried several times now, in different words, to ask you whether your ground for rejecting religious or spiritual beliefs is a rejection of a larger category of beliefs, which I have described - loosely, but surely adequately for present purposes - as beliefs about persons (including oneself).

If the meaning of my questions is not clear by now, it will never be. Sorry!
[OK, I might try some more, if necessary.]
Zetherin;160585 wrote:
However, let's clear something up - all knowledge is true, by definition. It is justified, true belief. And with that said, I don't really even know how falsifiability applies, like you use here "unfalsifiable personal knowledge, yet still be an atheist". How would knowledge be unfalsifiable or falsifiable? If said belief is not true, it cannot be knowledge by definition.

OK, replace "knowledge" with "belief" in what I wrote, where appropriate. (I sometimes alternated these two words myself, in other posts.)
Zetherin;160585 wrote:

Twirlip;160264 wrote:
(That has been my own position for most of my life, although in recent years I have been shifting towards a baffled, reluctant, and tormented theism - feeling pretty much like Job, and not at all comfortable!)

What has your position been for most of your life? Did you mean that your position has been that you don't question or approach people about their meandering evangelism simply because the subject matter about which they speak is unverifiable? You just grant them that "respectable status", and allow them to go their merry spiritual way? Well, that's definitely better than my position, I'll tell you that. I actually question these people, and it usually turns into one mighty shitstorm, let me tell you. But yes, I can't lie, I think these spiritualists are grasping for straws, and I think many of them willfully choose to be mystified, much like one can choose to become immersed in a hollywood fantasy movie.

I mean simply that I was an atheist who did not believe in scientism.

I don't know if I need to clarify that terse statement. I might be willing to try, if necessary, if we can meet in the middle somewhere.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 03:18 pm
@kennethamy,
Twirlip wrote:
I have tried several times now, in different words, to ask you whether your ground for rejecting religious or spiritual beliefs is a rejection of a larger category of beliefs, which I have described - loosely, but surely adequately for present purposes - as beliefs about persons (including oneself).


My reason for rejecting spiritual beliefs is because I like to have justification for that which I believe. Faith, by definition, is belief without justification (or so I understand it).

I don't know if there's much else worth responding to - this should clarify things.

Quote:
I have tried several times now, in different words, to ask you whether your ground for rejecting religious or spiritual beliefs is a rejection of a larger category of beliefs, which I have described - loosely, but surely adequately for present purposes - as beliefs about persons (including oneself)


Sure, I suppose it is a category. It is the category of beliefs which one has no good reason for believing. For instance, that Captain Crunch is real.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 03:21 pm
@attano,
attano;160533 wrote:
It's not yet clear to me. Do you mean that continentals gave away all inquiry about reality because that was taken over by science?
I can see why you say that... but I disagree.
I believe it's very difficult to summarize all continental modern to contemporary philosophy in this way. Your view could scientific method scientific method (at least sub specie of judgments synthetic a priori) is the only way to know the world, to extend knowledge.
But as we know, Idealism (and Schopenhauer and Nietzsche) took his doctrine well beyond his original design, and I have meant to refer to this use of Kant's philosophy.

One more consideration. Even acknowledging that both Idealism and Realism are metaphysics, I have to admit, , that Realism seems more complying with Occam's razor, and that's probably why physics generally looks more underpinned by Realism than by Idealism - but this is debatable.


I am no expert (heaven be praised!) on continental philosophy. It just seemed to me that one way of avoiding confrontation with the undoubted fact that to compete with empirical science in the discovery and explanation of reality is a loser's game is to turn to expositing text as the continentals have done. It is a plausible explanation of this exposition of text movement. Whether it is true, I really don't know. It is merely speculation.

I don't know whether or not Kant would have said he was a metaphysician. If he did not, it might just have been that like Hume, Kant understood metaphysics in terms of continental rationalism. In fact, Kant was trying to defend metaphysics against Hume's devastating attack on it. Kant wrote that this attempt which surrounded his key question, "how are synthetic a priori judgments possible", was, "a matter of life or death for metaphysics". So, I suppose that he thought that his successful defense made him a metaphysician. But again, this would need more discussion.

It seems to me that analytic philosophy was motivated much as continental philosophy was, but took a different path to preserve philosophy as a going concern. And, of course, you know I think it was a better path. It, at least, was continuous with what philosophers like Socrates and Descartes did (even if not the same thing). But what Derrida, or Foucault did, seemed to me to have very little to do with the great philosophers of the past.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 03:26 pm
@Zetherin,
Jebediah;160438 wrote:
For example, it is said that meditators come to the realization that the ego is something of an illusion. How is that a different order of thinking? Aren't they philosophically examining our concepts the self?.


This is becoming off-topic for this thread (which is solely my fault) but will make a brief remark on it, and I do have a way of bringing it back on topic.

It is one thing to understand the ego as a theoretical construct, but to learn not to be egotistical is something else. A good deal of your thinking - and behaviour for that matter - is rooted in pre-conscious or tacit assumptions and ideas about things. And the very reason they can't be rationally analysed and examined is that they are too much part of our thinking, they are too near to us to grasp. The experience of non-self, when the ego realises its own insubstantiality, really is a change of state, because a lot of your subconscious predilections are dissolved by it, and you see the world differently.


Zetherin;160585 wrote:
Twirilip,
It seems to me you wished to make a dichotomy here - A.) Scientific knowledge B.) Personal knowledge - but I think this might be a false dichotomy. Knowledge of something scientific, is of course the same "sort" of knowledge of knowledge as knowledge of any of those things you noted.


I would question that in a very important particular, which is with regards to the idea of 'tacit knowledge' or 'personal knowledge'. There is a domain of knowledge which is completely objectifiable. But Michael Polanyi observers
Quote:
Humans are not separate from the universe, they participate personally in it, with human skills and passions playing a key role in guiding discovery and validation. Polanyi observes that the mark of a great scientist is the ability to identify those questions which are likely to lead to a successful resolution. This ability derives not only from the scientist's ability to perceive patterns and connections, but also from their commitments. These commitments lead scientists to risk their reputation by committing to a hypothesis. He gives the example of Copernicus, who declared that the Earth revolved around the sun. Polanyi claimed that Copernicus arrived at the truth of the Earth's true relation to the sun not by following a method, but via "the greater intellectual satisfaction he derived from the celestial panorama as seen from the sun instead of the earth.
Source

Scientists, and everyone else, act on hunches, intuition, and even faith, which is a sense of how everything hangs together, and is often much deeper than something that can easily by articulated. Some people have faith that God exists, and some that God doesn't. Neither belief is ultimately provable, but it has many consequences, nonetheless.

If you are not familiar with Michael Polanyi, who is a philosopher of science, it is worth reading some abstracts. His best known book is probably 'Personal Knowledge' which addresses this very topic.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 12:54 pm
@prothero,
It seems to me that philosophy works on axioms and the logical clarification of concepts, while science works on empirical scrutiny. However, I believe that both philosophy and science are expressions of the will to truth. With that said, does this mean that philosophers believe that logical clarification, which is non-empirical, amounts to truth in the same way that the empirical method does?
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 02:00 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;160606 wrote:
If you are not familiar with Michael Polanyi, who is a philosopher of science, it is worth reading some abstracts. His best known book is probably 'Personal Knowledge' which addresses this very topic.


Polanyi ... cool.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 05:08 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;161316 wrote:
It seems to me that philosophy works on axioms and the logical clarification of concepts, while science works on empirical scrutiny. However, I believe that both philosophy and science are expressions of the will to truth. With that said, does this mean that philosophers believe that logical clarification, which is non-empirical, amounts to truth in the same way that the empirical method does?


Could you say, scientific investigation proceeds from axioms, while philosophical investigation asks: why do we have the axioms we do?

Which, again, is seeking a different level of explanation.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 8 May, 2010 06:12 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;161413 wrote:
Could you say, scientific investigation proceeds from axioms, while philosophical investigation asks: why do we have the axioms we do?

Which, again, is seeking a different level of explanation.


I don't know what it means that "philosophy proceeds from axioms". When I (or anyone) argues that fatalism is false because it is clearly false that whatever will be will inevitably be, how is that supposed to be "arguing from axioms"? It doesn't seem so to me. But, maybe I don't know what "arguing from axioms" means. In fact, I am pretty sure I don't know what it means.
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Sat 8 May, 2010 06:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;161889 wrote:
I don't know what it means that "philosophy proceeds from axioms". When I (or anyone) argues that fatalism is false because it is clearly false that whatever will be will inevitably be, how is that supposed to be "arguing from axioms"? It doesn't seem so to me. But, maybe I don't know what "arguing from axioms" means. In fact, I am pretty sure I don't know what it means.


Are you sure? It is not unreasonable to suppose the axioms in this case are the laws of nature. If nature is deterministic, then our actions can be complete determined by those laws in conjunction with the initial conditions.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 8 May, 2010 07:31 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;161893 wrote:
Are you sure? It is not unreasonable to suppose the axioms in this case are the laws of nature. If nature is deterministic, then our actions can be complete determined by those laws in conjunction with the initial conditions.


How does the argument that fatalism is false "proceed from axioms"? Fatalism does not argue on the basis of the existence of laws of nature (and what makes you think laws of nature are axioms anyway?). Hard determinism perhaps does, but fatalism doesn't. I think you are confusing fatalism with hard determinism. But, in any case, laws of nature are not axioms.

When I philosophize, I don't do so "on the basis of axioms". Not so far as I can tell.
 
 

 
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