This prominent scientist says life is meaningless… and he’s serious |314|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, May 10, 2016.

  1. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    I know Stephen claims not to be a materialist - but to my perception he is
    He just replaces the word matter with the word information
    The comments about meat and juicy etc imply the belief that he is a biological or meat robot
    as Alex would put it
    I hold to the independent nature of consciousness and the radical subjectivity of human knowing
    whereas Stephen seems to imply an objective monist ontology and epistemology

    I presume you listen to the Skeptiko interviews?
    If you do, you know how discussion with materialists on the matter of consciousness (and thus knowing) generally go
     
  2. EthanT

    EthanT Member

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    Interesting review of Sean Carrol's book from Peter Woit. I believe Peter, like Sean, is an atheist, though of a different variety I suppose, based on his review.

    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=8424

    Some snippets:

     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
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  3. Stephen Wright

    Stephen Wright New

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    Thanks for the position statement!. Your evaluation of what you believe are warranted philosophical issues arrives at a normative worldview among the artsy type. It surely is as good as any; and better than most. Radical subjectivity doesn't sound measurable, so not compatible with my pragmatic cup-o-tea.

    Modern science, which includes science tools to measure formal information and evaluate logical processes, opens-up methods for analysis, not available in the past. I am not pushing a stance, just defining what philosophical stance I have taken to prevent bias. My goal is to present an active viewpoint for the methodology of examining natural processes with data from 2 or more levels of abstraction (LoA). There are levels of math analysis of physical data. What is "new" is the levels of data analysis regarding the presence of formal information and the natural logic with which the universe operates. To understand the hard problem we need the second category of relations to be mapped as well as the first. Science must continue on this path of measuring the empirical nature of information systems as a compliment to physical data analysis.

    Hence, my strong support for G. Tononi et all, in their research on the integration of bio-information.

    That you cannot see IR (informational realism) as a direct contradiction to Materialism, is simply because you have not read about the subject.
    Sean Carroll sees a world of particles and believes they have special "matter category" properties that magically make the world around them orderly. In the context of this intuition about reality, are all arguments for Physicalism.

    I see a world of physical objects of all scales; and in addition, probable informational objects, supporting the meaningful interaction of a Participatory Universe (Wheeler). These categories and entities are MEASURABLE AND PREDICTABLE. Living things naturally interact in all the environments of activity looking for the resources of energy, structure, knowledge and understanding. It's just there are no "energy" sources in the informational environment. or ideas (like memory traces) in the physical environment. This sorting leads away from theory. The method gets down to empirical (or quasi-empriical) explorations revealing how nature weaves mass, force, bytes and deep meaning into the universe's many environments.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
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  4. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    Hi Stephen
    Thank you for your response
    Some queries and reflections from my perspective

    You wrote:
    "Radical subjectivity doesn't sound measurable, so not compatible with my pragmatic cup-o-tea"

    Quite right; the knowing subject is not directly objectifiable or measurable
    However, it is the knowing subject who objectifies and measures and is pragmatic

    You wrote
    "What is "new" is the levels of data analysis regarding the presence of formal information and the natural logic with the universe operates"

    Do you mean to say that formal logic is present in nature itself; and is how nature functions?

    Floridi wrote:
    " The outcome is informational realism, the view that the world is the totality of informational objects dynamically interacting with each other."

    My point is that objects may be construed as information by a knower; ie as having informational significance and function in the knower's system of thinking about and modelling the world of objects
    But I would argue that the world of objects is not ontologically information; in a similar way that I would argue that the sky is not ontologically blue; or that grass is not ontologically green
    Blue and green are subjective experiences of a knower; they are epistemological - not ontological
    Information in its normal use denotes meaning or significance in the experience of a knowing subject

    The problem I see in your philosophy of informational realism is that it projects the informational structure of knowing (epistemology) as the objective ontological structure of the world
    In my view this is a very basic and common error of human thinking
    Mistaking the map for the territory and metaphors for realities is perhaps the most common error in human intellectual endeavour

    You wrote:
    "The method gets down to empirical (or quasi-empirical) explorations revealing how nature weaves mass, force, bytes and deep meaning into the universe's many environments."

    This sentence displays the fundamental confusion I see in your philosophy
    You weave together epistemological and ontological categories as if they are equivalent
     
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  5. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Maybe this is another word for what I think you're getting at, or at least a related critique. Reification: To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence.
     
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  6. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    Yes I think that is the kind of thing I mean
     
  7. steve001

    steve001 Member

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    This topic has seriously irritated people that life has no meaning. Since this is argued to be false, what is the meaning of life?
     
  8. David Eire

    David Eire New

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  9. steve001

    steve001 Member

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    I like a good joke. But really, is this an appropriate response to someting that so many take very seriously here?
     
  10. brooke

    brooke New

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    Anyone claiming to know the meaning of life is incredibly insecure.
     
  11. Stephen Wright

    Stephen Wright New

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    Because the "secure" in life know from science there is no "meaning of life"? I respectfully disagree.

    In fact - the bio-universe that science can observe - is focused on meaningful activity. Away from metaphysical teleology - there is a fascinating biology of life, whereby logical responses to life situations drive survival. This objective activity can be measured and analyzed as teleonomic processes. This activity is well-explored by Bayesian analysis. Sean Carroll has in his vision of a world of particles and he imagines that particles don't care as they are the only source of all meaning.

    I see a universe that had probability waves prior, during and after the big bang. Meaningful probabilities are an ontological building block of reality, as much as the laws of physics, (which themselves are structured information). Living things are more than hip-deep in informational environments, changing real-world probabilities through their understanding of nature.
     
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  12. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    This is just an ad-hominem. It might be worth advancing some serious arguments instead of relying on abuse. It hardly strengthens your position.
     
  13. Alex

    Alex New

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    Nice... but I think he misses the point. Physics can only "stick to it's knitting" if they choose to ignore everything we now know about consciousness. he's just advocating -- shut up and calculate.
     
  14. So, if I understand this correctly, there is potential for individual meaning? This is different than life being meaningless but also not bound to a specific top-down teleological scheme from on high?

    This gets us to an interesting question though - can I have a meaningful life if there is a teleology to the universe? McKenna once said that if we knew the Meaning of Life we'd be enslaved by it, and it would choke our spirits.

    My interest lies in a kind of soil in which everyone can find their own meaning....though perhaps this desire for liberation does require the universe itself be meaningless?

    [​IMG]
     
  15. brooke

    brooke New

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    That was a serious statement. I am a psychiatric social worker and I truly believe that anyone who claims to know the meaning of life is incredibly insecure.
     
  16. brooke

    brooke New

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    Because the secure know that we don't know jack shit about what the meaning of life is, and anyone who tells you they do know is selling you something or is so freakin insecure about their existence that they feel the need to claim stuff that is well above their pay grade.
     
  17. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    It would, at the very least, take all the fun out of the mystery. And would that make us any different than robots? We would have a "spiritual function" to fulfill according to a directive and would strive to meet it. Creativity, independence, exploration... All gone down the drain.
     
  18. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    That knife cuts both ways, you know?
     
  19. brooke

    brooke New

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    Claiming we don't know the meaning of life is no different from claiming we do know the meaning of life? Are you being serious? The meaning of life?
     
  20. brooke

    brooke New

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    You know what, don't bother responding. I'm sure the meaning of life is "love" or something similar, right? I'm not sure why I checked the site again, but it is nothing but frustrating for me. I believe in psi and the afterlife but I don't believe in skeptiko or the direction alex has taken things the past few years and checking in does more harm than good for me. Apologies for anyone I offended. Cheers.
     

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