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post #76 of 150
Quote:

Originally Posted by eucariote View Post

 

I *love* music- it's what got into this headphone endeavor.  You probably saw this coming, but I really like the pragmatist theory of beauty.  To quote John Dewey (Art as Experience, p.15):

 
"..when an organism shares in the ordered relations of its environment does it secure the stability essential to living.  And when the participation comes after a phase of disruption and conflict, it bears within itself the germs of consummation akin to the esthetic.  The rhythm and loss of integration with environment and recovery not only persists in man but becomes conscious with him"
 
I would add to that in the brain, memories co-exist together in the same network of synapses and are actively organized and unified while not becoming too disrupted (some speculate these are the roles of slow wave sleep and paradoxical sleep).  And in my own 5 cent addition to Dewey, I think some part of aesthetic arises in this created wholeness of experiences.  For example, temporal lobe epileptics (where all these organized memories are activated at once) report an intense feeling of oneness, beauty and understanding.  These are the sorts of connections I think that good music can help bring about.  


I remember something about experiments with infants which seemed to indicate that already at that tender age we have a sense of aesthetic appreciation. So it seems to be hardwired in our DNA.

However, I feel that Existentialism (being from Sweden, I prefer that name to Pragmatism) fails to focus on what creates our concept of the world - language. Without language and the level of abstraction we can attain through it, I cannot see it possible to do anything but lead a basic existence. But mankind does so much more than this besides basically being an animal.

 

I found an interesting parallel between Ludwig Wittgenstein and Laozi (Lao Tsu), the mythical figure who supposedly created taoism who supposedly lived in the 6th century BC. I find them both very interesting since they both talk about language itself. We take it for granted that language is an exact tool, but it is really very vague and has no connection with what can be called a "reality". Unfortunately I cannot see our intellect being able to work without the use of language.

Wittgenstein thought that language works when it comes to a strictly practical level, but as soon as we come into the realm of abstract concepts ("truth" and so on), we are lost. His solution in the preface of his work Tractatus is simply this:

Quote:
what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.

 

 

It is fascinating to me that is basically mirrors what Laozi wrote about 2500 years earlier in Tao te ching:

 

Quote:

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things

 

and

 

Quote:
When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other
 

 

 

Laozi points out that language and our thoughts functions through opposites.

Now, this is a modern translation of a 2500 year old Chinese work, so we are again faced with the inexactness that language gives us.

 

I write this since my impression is that this thread is basically just a matter of different people using abstractions as something absolute. While people think they are discussing actual things they are just arguing about the words and concepts themselves.

Our thoughts are chained to our language...


Edited by Danneq - 5/29/10 at 8:50am
post #77 of 150

Without the scientific method plus a healthy dose of skepticism and objectivity, we still would be in the dark ages.

post #78 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by gilency View Post

Without the scientific method plus a healthy dose of skepticism and objectivity, we still would be in the dark ages.


 

While I do agree with you in principle, it might be a bit more complicated than this. However it is interesting that while Europe were under the yoke of the Roman Catholic church and everything opposing its teachings was destroyed, the middle east was a center of science and knowledge. It is for example thanks to Arabic scholars that we have access to many works by Greek philosophers which in Europe were burned for being heretic, but in a middle eastern society at that time with a much more open religion compared to now, those works were studied and preserved.

Just a side note when we look at islam in the middle east now. Ok, enough about religion from me.

post #79 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0dhi View Post

 

 

 "The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly
  teaches me to suspect that my own is also."

- Mark Twain

 

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism.

 


There is no 1:1 correspondence between a wavelength of light and a perceived colour (Magenta for example). Light is not even required for the perception of colour (dreams, the perception of "black", etc). Moreover, you've missed the point the above poster was trying to make, which is that the perception of colour, as a form of qualia, has nothing to do with light. It is an experience, and only the observer has direct experience of it. External observers can only measure and affect that experience through its physical correlates, i.e., neural activity, but the nature of the experience itself cannot be communicated externally or between experiencers.


I do not see myself as a follower of scientism, unless scientism is self critical and accepts it makes mistakes and should be prepared to revise its position as new evidence comes to the fore, in which case I am.

 

I understand about the perception of colour, but to say the observer only has experience which cannot be communicated, not sure about that one. If phone someone and they tell me they have a new car and it is a silvery blue colour, I have a very good perception of what colour it is.

post #80 of 150

"I believe that eugenics is unscientific because it sets out to change something as opposed to observe and create theories which can be falsified by additional testing. Or have I misunderstood eugenics again? What is your definition of eugenics?"

 

Eugenics does not automatically mean ignoring observations and theories of what desirable traits are. Imo, for eugenics to actually contribute to the quality of genes, would require much understanding of human ecology, social and natural. When you look at how some primitives have selectively bred livestock, they can do so with incredible wisdom, and compare that to the way modern cows and chicken are bred, which is completely devoid of common sense, and I would bet any eugenics practiced by people today would be just as stupid.

 

"And what is your definition of science?"

 

Science is an attempt to understand something, and also being able to admit the limitations of your methods, perceptions, and measurements. There's no reason we have to handicap the term eugenics so that it can no longer be flexible as to how it determines "desirable traits". Like Karl Marx once said he wasn't a Marxist, someone regarded as a founder of eugenics might say he's not a eugenicist. It's not the fault of science, it's the fault of people being unscientific.

post #81 of 150


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post

"I believe that eugenics is unscientific because it sets out to change something as opposed to observe and create theories which can be falsified by additional testing. Or have I misunderstood eugenics again? What is your definition of eugenics?"

 

Eugenics does not automatically mean ignoring observations and theories of what desirable traits are. Imo, for eugenics to actually contribute to the quality of genes, would require much understanding of human ecology, social and natural. When you look at how some primitives have selectively bred livestock, they can do so with incredible wisdom, and compare that to the way modern cows and chicken are bred, which is completely devoid of common sense, and I would bet any eugenics practiced by people today would be just as stupid.

 

"And what is your definition of science?"

 

Science is an attempt to understand something, and also being able to admit the limitations of your methods, perceptions, and measurements. There's no reason we have to handicap the term eugenics so that it can no longer be flexible as to how it determines "desirable traits". Like Karl Marx once said he wasn't a Marxist, someone regarded as a founder of eugenics might say he's not a eugenicist. It's not the fault of science, it's the fault of people being unscientific.


I have to agree with your view of moderns breeding of cows and chickens. The modern "slaughterhouse industry" is one of the reasons I am a vegetarian.

 

Anyway, we are just doing the semantics dance. I for one does not see any value or even any point in improving the quality of genes. Not for any particular moral reasons, but more like "what is the point"?

Sure, when mankind started farming instead of hunting/gathering, she used wild plants that would produce crops and then by selecting good plants to use for seeds the once wild plants that did not produce much crop would produce more. My explanation shows that I am not familiar with farming... Anyway, this was more "farmer's wisdom" just as the primitive's breed livestock in your example. Not anywhere near either any established definition of the concept "science", nor your own definition.

 

"Science is an attempt to understand something", you write. You admit that eugenics sets out to change something. Does science set out to change what it is trying to understand? If that is the case, I admit to having misunderstood the concept of science.

post #82 of 150

 

 

Quote:
I understand about the perception of colour, but to say the observer only has experience which cannot be communicated, not sure about that one. If phone someone and they tell me they have a new car and it is a silvery blue colour, I have a very good perception of what colour it is.

 

 

 

 

I think "communicated" is a little vague. The quaila of a subjective experience is can only be comprehended through a direct experience. For example, if you have never tasted Champagne before, and somebody describes to you in detail his/ her experience of drinking Champagne. Using the descriptions, you can imagine a an glass of golden, aromatic, bubbly beverage. You can even imagine the taste of Champagne, Supposedly, you can create all the details in your consciousness that listening to a good description should give you the same experience as actually tasting the drink. Of course, that doesn't work in reality. None of the mental images allow you to experience the qualia of drinking Champagne. You can only do that by drinking Champagne yourself.

 

A more common example is the colour red or any other colour for that matter. If you have never seen colour red before. No amount of description will tell you what it really feels like to see red. I can only feel that by experience the colour yourself.


Edited by transient orca - 5/29/10 at 10:45am
post #83 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by eucariote View Post




Agreed.  As a professional scientist, we are continually adapting a framework of ideas that is consistent with a vast and growing body of findings and data.  Nobody would claim to find an irrefutable 'truth', just the best explanation available.  That being said, some theories seem pretty darned good.  For example the periodic table and elements such as oxygen are also just theories, but all data to date reinforce that theory, and those theories make specific empirical predictions that have are consistently borne out in experiments.

 

Been gone a while but back again. And I gotta say, I love this discussion. I have to catch up on some of the posts but I also agree that many of the theories are pretty darn good.

 

post #84 of 150

What I don't understand is why so many say you can not define truth. If I don't know the truth about something I set out to understand it. I may not be completely satisfied when I come to an understanding of what the truth about something is but I can certainly attest to the conclusion I have come up with as truth Someone here has to give me examples of why truth is so vague to them.

To be honest, if I didn't believe there was any truth to things in this life I would leave it, (life that is). I suppose that's what you call Nihilism. But it makes no sense that we are here by mere chance. The actual chance of that is so far removed it can't even be called chance.

post #85 of 150

"Anyway, we are just doing the semantics dance. I for one does not see any value or even any point in improving the quality of genes. Not for any particular moral reasons, but more like "what is the point"?"

 

There's many possible reasons we may want to practice eugenics. For example, you don't like eugenicists, correct? Should we not be proactive in sterilizing eugenicists? Or should we leave things to chance? Sterilize the thinkers and the thoughts you dislike will soon disappear.

 

"Sure, when mankind started farming instead of hunting/gathering, she used wild plants that would produce crops and then by selecting good plants to use for seeds the once wild plants that did not produce much crop would produce more. My explanation shows that I am not familiar with farming... Anyway, this was more "farmer's wisdom" just as the primitive's breed livestock in your example. Not anywhere near either any established definition of the concept "science", nor your own definition."

 

Just for example, the primitive Masai selected a cow for breeding by how many minutes it would take its newborn calves to stand and run, whereas it usually takes modern cows many hours or some days before they can even stand. Such a practice is instinctual, or intuitive knowledge, maybe founded on theories on health, but who are you to make the demarcation that it is not science just because it is not following formal science? You say it is not science as if anything that does not follow a strict scientific method can in no way be accurate, actual, or adequate. Sorry, but animal and plant breeding are sciences, with scientists and stuff, and some of the best plant and animal stocks we have were created by people ten times nuttier than primitives.

 

""Science is an attempt to understand something", you write. You admit that eugenics sets out to change something. Does science set out to change what it is trying to understand? If that is the case, I admit to having misunderstood the concept of science."

 

the theory of eugenics would be science. The practice of eugenics would be science in practice. Primitives breeding plants and animals is science, albeit using logic that may be flawed. Just because something has a probability of being wrong does not mean it is no longer in the realm of science. Science is also making mistakes, experimenting and refining your methods, blah blah. Surely you see you are just playing word games with me? This isn't much fun now.

post #86 of 150
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hcjung10 View Post




Are you a scientist? Since I have learned in my high school that Science is very much based on belief. You decide to believe the leading theories, you decide to believe data cited by other scientists, you decide to believe if you are comfortable with the facts that are being presented. Don't generalize science. As long as nothing in this world is perfect and absolutely true, you ALWAYS have to believe.

Professionally I am not yet; I just a physics major and have only completed two years. I have made a few contributions to science,  from laser research to planetary science.  In science, we almost certainly believe that things are true in a certain frame of reference, the more general or specific we get with a frame of reference the worse our theories get. This will always be the case until our reference frame is the entire universe. That is something that seems to be impossible. In reality, belief is a word a scientist would not use, it would be more like, "from these facts I can conclude that..." which is different because a belief can come out of nothing. I can say I believe there is a parallel universe without any evidence.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcrawford777 View Post

What I don't understand is why so many say you can not define truth. If I don't know the truth about something I set out to understand it. I may not be completely satisfied when I come to an understanding of what the truth about something is but I can certainly attest to the conclusion I have come up with as truth Someone here has to give me examples of why truth is so vague to them.

To be honest, if I didn't believe there was any truth to things in this life I would leave it, (life that is). I suppose that's what you call Nihilism. But it makes no sense that we are here by mere chance. The actual chance of that is so far removed it can't even be called chance.

I have defined truth in our reference frame, which are ideas that you believe to be correct.Unless things are absolute, truth must be relative. You can only believe in absolute truth because evidence actually supports the contrary, and there really is no valid argument for absolute truth just like there is no valid argument for god. Do not confuse truth and validity. A valid argument can be false.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post


The cable does nothing different for an individual. The cable does the exact same thing for everyone who uses it, because it works based on scientific principles. Gravity works the same for everyone, so no matter how hard we believe we will not float away. Or like the photon of green light, which has the same wavelength for everyone. The wavelength is a truth, because it's constant and testable. What the cable does to a signal is a truth, because it's constant and testable.

 

What differs from person to person is the brain and how it perceives the truth. This is where everyone differs. Some people's brains trick them into thinking there's more to the truth than there really is. That does not make their perception true. Hallucinations aren't truths, they're just perceptions.

 

I think your argument would be a lot less ridiculous sounding if you replaced "truth" with something else. Then I would agree with it more.

 

Almost what I have been saying all along. Our "truths" are perception. Absolute truth is a different matter.
 

post #87 of 150

You can define truth and we all have a very good idea about how truth applies and works in our lives. The problem only arises when philosophers get in on the act.

 

With regards to eugenics and the gene pool, with modern day health and safety and the blame culture where people just do not want to accept responsibility for their own actions, we are diluting it at a dramatic rate as more and more survive who in the past would have died for not being the fittest. At least there are the Darwin Awards for those people who manage to remove themselves from the gene pool by their own actions

 

http://www.darwinawards.com/

post #88 of 150

Hmm, just letting it be known, I don't have as masochistic a view of evolution and eugenics as Prog Rock Man :) I think more along the lines of ideal physiology for different environments, like eskimos in the frosty north. I think humans are mentally the most malleable creatures on the planet, and physical degeneration can easily be traced to faulty diets etc, so I don't believe in eugenic intervention for such things.

post #89 of 150

Hehe, this is certainly deep for a Sound Science thread ^^

post #90 of 150

Rule number 1 when you are arguing: don't be too tired. My arguments in my last post weren't the best since it was late and I was tired, but my main points still got through.

 

You do contradict your own definition of science. And now, it is NOT only a play of words. It has been my main point all this time. For a discussion to be meaningful, the concepts discussed have to be clearly defined. Language works great for concrete, practical things, but not very well for abstraction since two persons can have different understandings of a concept.

 

You are correct that I do not really like eugenics. People are free to think what they will and it would be boring if everyone thought the same. Politically, I dislike authority and I am inclined towards anarchism as defined by Piotr Kropotkin. So however much I might disagree with someone, I would not want to quiet them.

However I prefer to leave things to chance and make the best of what happens.

 

Even after a good night's sleep, I think that however wise such intuitive knowledge is, it does not agree with my definition of science. I use a more narrow and excluding definition and you use a more wide and including one. We cannot even agree on the basic definition of the concept. I do not want to use cheap rhetoric tricks, but there might be logical fallacies coming if a definition is too wide.

 

Are the following practices science:

Astrology - the apparent positions of celestial objects are the basis for psychology (actually astronomy and astrology was the same discipline until into the 17th century)

Creation science - attempt to provide scientific support for the creation story in the book of genesis

Hollow earth - the earth is a hollow sphere

Cooking - being able to put ingredients together in a skilled way to cook good food is akin to science

 

Perhaps I should use the concept "formal science" as you suggested? I do not want to fight strawmen again, but when someone does not want to clearly define the concepts he use, it is difficult to discuss.


In that case it only becomes a game of words. A bit like if an atheist and a deeply religious person discusses "truth". Two persons cannot discuss meaningfully since their definitions of the concept are completely different. You see in posts above that even members here who are using the word "truth" cannot agree on it.

So with language being so inexact when it comes to abstraction, caution and clarification is needed so that the basic concepts can be agreed upon. Otherwise it is not even an argumentation, it is just two parties speaking past each other.

 

Still for me, eugenics is not a formal science in my definition of the word. It might use the scientific method and white lab coats. But it is based on a value judgment - something needs to be improved, the subject in question - be it crops, livestock or humans - can be changed from its current state to get properties that are in some way desired. If you do not desire some special traits, why is there even something such a eugenics?

Spiritually, I see man on a veeeeeeeeeery slow upward slope. It takes time, and sometimes she takes a step back, but by learning from her past mistakes and gaining more and more understanding of herself and the world around her, she will grow. To me things such as eugenics is something best left behind, as it might lure man into selfish and destructive thinking. Also, nature has got its wisdom and instead of manipulating it might be more wise to try to make the best of what is.

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