Do Life and Living Forms Present a Problem for Materialism

#3
I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing. The idea of inverting reductionism is new to me and I'll have to play around with that for a while and try it out. :)

My latest approach to the problem of reductionism and abstract boundaries is to consider all of empirical reality to be a patterned alternation of boundaries and spaces. And the boundaries we choose to pay attention to are a matter of our zoom level and the context of our thoughts which is chosen either for practical or arbitrary reasons. Playing with this zoom level is the origin of many mystical experiences where a person either expands or contracts the boundary around his own identity to see himself as either nothing or everything or both at the same time.

The fact that we can mentally reduce or break up this singular fluid reality into bounded parts and stitch them back together with logical relationships in a mental model that very closely resembles empirical reality says to me that all reality is constructed in this manner. It is all a big idea.. A patterned alternation of boundaries and spaces.
 
#4
I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing. The idea of inverting reductionism is new to me and I'll have to play around with that for a while and try it out. :)

My latest approach to the problem of reductionism and abstract boundaries is to consider all of empirical reality to be a patterned alternation of boundaries and spaces. And the boundaries we choose to pay attention to are a matter of our zoom level and the context of our thoughts which is chosen either for practical or arbitrary reasons. Playing with this zoom level is the origin of many mystical experiences where a person either expands or contracts the boundary around his own identity to see himself as either nothing or everything or both at the same time.

The fact that we can mentally reduce or break up this singular fluid reality into bounded parts and stitch them back together with logical relationships in a mental model that very closely resembles empirical reality says to me that all reality is constructed in this manner. It is all a big idea.. A patterned alternation of boundaries and spaces.
Good post.

Yeah, one of my first criticisms of science, before being aware of anyone else's or even the term "reductionism," was, well, reductionism. All boundaries seem, on some level, infinitely arbitrary. How do you say the earth isn't part of, the foundation of, the tree? Or that the atmosphere isn't part?

I've said it before, but it ultimately leads to saying that "everything causes everything."
 
#7
He is, and I thought the title of one of his books, "Gödel's mistake" was extremely arrogant. Gödel was exploring the limits of fully axiomatised (i.e. mechanical) maths, and if the author had indeed found a mistake in his work, he would be in-line for the Fields Medal!

However, let's get back to the original link.

I found that essay interesting, but not very easy to follow - a few examples might have made things clearer, or maybe I need a better brain, or even a spell outside my brain :)

Part of the argument seemed to relate to something I have commented on many times - if you decide that thought is deterministic, with or without a random component, there is no reason to assume that its conclusions in science or maths are meaningful.

I'd be interested to know what others got from that essay.

David
 
#8
Part of the argument seemed to relate to something I have commented on many times - if you decide that thought is deterministic, with or without a random component, there is no reason to assume that its conclusions in science or maths are meaningful.
You have stated it before, but unless I missed it, you haven't really set out how you get there (ie: set out your premises and show how they lead to the conclusion). I've tried in previous posts to set out why I disagree with that reasoning and where I think you're off here (though it may be me who is off of course!).

I think I've said before is that I think you are confusing lack of freewill with the something along the lines of we are following some kind of pre-written script. There isn't a script. It's a chain of events, which include our thought processes, will, intentions, analysis, etc. What is it in scientific research in particular that you think depends on some kind of will that is neither based on previous inputs or random?

What about the plethora of examples we can come up with where we probably agree we find meaning without a conscious "free" will being exerted?

(sorry if this is a hijack for this thread, we can move this over to the freewill thread)
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#9
Part of the argument seemed to relate to something I have commented on many times - if you decide that thought is deterministic, with or without a random component, there is no reason to assume that its conclusions in science or maths are meaningful.
I don't see how tossing in some indeterministic oracle helps. Why would you now assume that our conclusions are correct?

At least with determinism, incorrect conclusions lead to technology that doesn't work. So you have some serious feedback.

~~ Paul
 
#10
You have stated it before, but unless I missed it, you haven't really set out how you get there (ie: set out your premises and show how they lead to the conclusion). I've tried in previous posts to set out why I disagree with that reasoning and where I think you're off here (though it may be me who is off of course!).
The essential point is that under conventional assumptions, we are machines - including our brains - and our minds are simply a product of our brains. This whole system evolved to stay alive and reproduce, and nothing more!

Now we live in a society that doesn't test our core skills - staying alive and reproducing - that much, so we spend time on other things such as science. However based on those assumptions there is absolutely no reason to trust our science or maths - they are just pastimes until we need to save ourselves from death or injury, or reproduce! The brain/mind can't have evolved for any other purpose.

More abstractly, even if we forget about evolution (because it might be wrong :) ), if our mind/brains are simply machines whose normal domain is not science, what reason have we to believe anything they produce in science? I could, for example, write a program (effectively a machine) that would spew out an endless stream of wrong equations!

David
 
#11
I don't see how tossing in some indeterministic oracle helps. Why would you now assume that our conclusions are correct?
A lot of people reporting on mystical states, NDE's etc., do report some sort of vast store of knowledge to which we have access. Maybe one thing that many people have access to, is the rules of logical argument.

The important question, is whether the conventional view of the mind can make sense, not whether a particular alternative represents a complete solution.
At least with determinism, incorrect conclusions lead to technology that doesn't work. So you have some serious feedback.
Well we only have our mind/brains to assess that technology. However you argue, we end up assessing the capabilities and products of our brains with our brains!

David
 
#12
The essential point is that under conventional assumptions, we are machines - including our brains - and our minds are simply a product of our brains. This whole system evolved to stay alive and reproduce, and nothing more!
I don't think I've mentioned any of those things in this discussion. I've tried to set out my premises and conclusions. Each may be up for debate, but not because I've relied on "conventional assumptions". Put those assumptions aside. Build the argument up from scratch. How do you get from A to B?

Now we live in a society that doesn't test our core skills - staying alive and reproducing - that much, so we spend time on other things such as science. However based on those assumptions there is absolutely no reason to trust our science or maths - they are just pastimes until we need to save ourselves from death or injury, or reproduce! The brain/mind can't have evolved for any other purpose.
I'm not sure any of that follows, or where these premises are coming from. Certainly not from me. Not from anything I've seen in any scientific text on evolution that I've read. It seems to be a caricature to me, but I could be wrong.

In any event. It is yours and my argument that we're discussing here. Your argument is that will must be free in order for science to have meaning. I'm not sure, but you might even be arguing that you need free will in order to have any meaning at all (why single out scientific reasoning otherwise?). I've explained why I think this is incorrect. I've made my own arguments, which I'm happy to discuss further.

More abstractly, even if we forget about evolution (because it might be wrong :) ), if our mind/brains are simply machines whose normal domain is not science, what reason have we to believe anything they produce in science? I could, for example, write a program (effectively a machine) that would spew out an endless stream of wrong equations!
You're arguing from metaphor here (or is it simile?). I've written so much on this. Throw away the "biological robot" meme. It's far to vague to be of any help in this discussion. Take it back to first principles here. What are we talking about? Why do we rely on science, or anything? What processes are involved? What do we think should be different if our will is based on previous inputs/randomness or not? More importantly: why do we think it should be different. How do we get there?
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#13
A lot of people reporting on mystical states, NDE's etc., do report some sort of vast store of knowledge to which we have access. Maybe one thing that many people have access to, is the rules of logical argument.
And once that oracle is discovered, we might have some way to test it to see whether it produces consistent and complete results. Meanwhile, I don't think we should get too excited.

The important question, is whether the conventional view of the mind can make sense, not whether a particular alternative represents a complete solution.
I see no reason to believe that humans are consistent or complete. But that is no reason to assume that all our knowledge is garbage.

Well we only have our mind/brains to assess that technology. However you argue, we end up assessing the capabilities and products of our brains with our brains!
True enough.

May I suggest this for a good read:

http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes/Pub/LaforteHayesFord.pdf

~~ Paul
 
#14
I see no reason to believe that humans are consistent or complete. But that is no reason to assume that all our knowledge is garbage.
I didn't even mention Gödel's theorem except to criticise a book title in an earlier post!

The problem really is that science and maths do seem to involve some access to ideas that lie outside the mind. A calculation hasn't got to just look pretty, it has to be right. People strive for consistency. Why do we care about consistency - we almost certainly aren't completely consistent in everyday matters, and yet we see that it is vital in maths.

These ideas could be garbage - created by our machine minds running on problems that aren't within their specification, but neither of us believe that.

David
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#15
The problem really is that science and maths do seem to involve some access to ideas that lie outside the mind. A calculation hasn't got to just look pretty, it has to be right. People strive for consistency. Why do we care about consistency - we almost certainly aren't completely consistent in everyday matters, and yet we see that it is vital in maths.
I don't see why you think it involves access to ideas outside of mind. It's vital to be complete and consistent in math, yet we know we cannot be.

~~ Paul
 
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