Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 18, 2013 - 04:35am PT
The word reify is very commonly used in journal articles concerning social science. Why this should be so is probably a question worth analysing in itself.

As for not being able to see every blade of grass, I did once have the experience for a few days when I first started meditating, that I could see every blade of grass, every leaf on the trees and every vein in every leaf simultaneously and all were shimmering in beautiful psychedelic colors. I would love to know what got turned on or off in the brain to make that happen.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 18, 2013 - 04:51am PT
Italic TextI know what you are saying, John. I just don't see the point, and I don't see how you can say with so much sincerity that you are right.

The sunrise was pleasant. Qualia. A feeling about something.

The waving flag is real. The description is not. No way could you contain in your mind the exact waving flag.

This is the best I can do with your map and the territory analogy. The map isn't a flag or a pleasant sunrise.

T.S. Eliot had a whole stanza about this in The Hollow Man.

This all reminds me of Baudrillard's Simulacrum. I never did like that book, although it is in The Matrix. I dig The Matrix first episode.

Take the Red Pill...



BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 18, 2013 - 05:15am PT
We don't objectify reality. Our minds automatically objectify the terrain, and in doing so, by formulating objects from the undifferentiated terrain, by creating maps or representation of said terrain, it becomes "real."

If our minds didn't follow this function, I see no way to avoid being run over by a truck when crossing a road.

Seriously. This step you are taking, that between the object and the idea that there is a gap, seems quite natural. I assume it is that way for you as well.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Mar 18, 2013 - 08:54am PT
Largo thanks for the detailed explanation. If two different observers look at the same undifferentiated territory and both describe the same object, that's evidence the object exists independently of the observers. One of the basic ideas of the scientific method is that experiments can be repeated by other people who get the same results. It's not whether anyone believes in science - I'm not convinced of the big bang and cant understand quantum mechanics enough to have an opinion on it - but whether you believe in the scientific method. The worst thing a person can do is start with a conclusion and try to prove it. Not accusing you of that but many people desperately need to believe in their own immortality, because if they are mortal and everything they do will be totally erased in less than a generation (except maybe your dna offspring and your ad choices in google) and it creates a dilemma they are unable resolve any other way.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 18, 2013 - 12:11pm PT
Largo thanks for the detailed explanation. If two different observers look at the same undifferentiated territory and both describe the same object, that's evidence the object exists independently of the observers.
-


I knew going into this that people would not read what I wrote and sit with it but would just fire back an answer without any change in perspective.

The point being missed here, and which I already mentioned to BASE, is that the reason "two different observers look at the same undifferentiated territory and both describe the same object" is because the bio machines that are looking at the territory process and formulate (automatically make discrete objects and things out of the undifferentiated flux out there) said territory in much the same way. Again, this has to do with the way our brains organize the boundless, dynamic flux (territory).

For example, if we were different sentient beings, with vastly different brains that had evolved in a much different place, and had totally different sense organs, meaning our physical bodies were radically different (than humans) as well, the "things" we would "see" out there would, perforce, be vastly different that what humans "see." And what we saw we would consider to be totally "real." But what we see - our maps - are of course real (assumes a specific form) only to like minded people, leading us to believe what is "real" is out there, when in fact it's an inside job, so powerful is consciousness with its map making.

Again, what you "see" is a brain generated map that has made "real" discrete people, places and things drawn from the constantly morphing terrain.

I'm not guessing on this one. And like I said, it is terrifically counterintuitive, and your discursive mind will reject it till you directly experience this process happening in your moment-to-moment life. It's not an idea or a belief or insight.

JL
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Mar 18, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
Sorry if I misunderstood. I was arguing that the world is real and your mental model of it isn't. I thought you were saying the opposite.
MH2

climber
Mar 18, 2013 - 01:16pm PT
The worst thing a person can do is start with a conclusion and try to prove it.




Don't mathematicians often start with what amounts to a conclusion and then try to prove it?

Is there an exception to every rule (including this one)?


In his proofs on geometrical objects Euclid made use of 5 basic postulates he considered self-evident. The idea that parallel lines would never intersect was a bit less self-evident than the others.

Later mathematicians tried proof-by-contradiction, assuming the parallel postulate to be false and then trying to demonstrate that this would lead to an absurd conclusion. By working out the implications of the counter-assumption many weird proofs were constructed but no contradiction appeared. It turned out that the proofs were valid in a different kind of geometry.

Whether "constantly morphing" or not, math and physics each appear to describe an objective reality independent of observer or of observer's brain, and perhaps even independent of observer's universe.

But we have Zen for counter-counterintuitive no-thinkers.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Mar 18, 2013 - 02:13pm PT
Well I can defend the statement by distinguishing conclusions from hypotheses. What I really meant was that if people already know the answer they will find a way to prove it. It may be that math and physics exist outside of the universe but this is the kind of idea that gets me confused. Because in another sense they are inherent in the universe and the most basic properties of it. Even chemistry, those who want there to be life on other planets can be consoled that chemistry is the same over there as it is here. Those are in the realm of universal truths, although our knowledge of them can't be perfect.

What about the concept of whole numbers? The real world is made out of fractals. I think if you had a good intuitive grasp of fractals you'd see them everywhere in nature. Take a tree as an example. Someone can write a fractal program to draw something that looks just like a tree. It's an accurate model for the shape of a tree. Problem is, the model is not of a 3 dimensional object, but of something of a dimension that's not a whole number. That's what'a a fractal is and its pretty weird.

If you wanted to starting counting things to prove the whole number hypothesis, I would first challenge you to find two identical things. Now there is a Zen problem for you. Whole numbers may be a property of the universe, or maybe not. Same with euclidian geometry or newtonian physics, they only describe an ideal world not the real one.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Mar 18, 2013 - 02:38pm PT
For example, if we were different sentient beings, with vastly different brains that had evolved in a much different place, and had totally different sense organs, meaning our physical bodies were radically different (than humans) as well, the "things" we would "see" out there would, perforce, be vastly different that what humans "see."

No need to get exotic imaginary creatures involved. Plenty of (even most) other animals can see, hear, and otherwise sense plenty of things that we can't. It's all real, it's just not all equally accessible. Most of those other creatures, apparently, don't really fret about it like we do, though. No point to it, really, unless you've got the spare time, neurons, and ego to keep kicking it down the road.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 18, 2013 - 04:32pm PT
It's all real, it's just not all equally accessible.


My last comment about this, since it ain't gaining traction.

The above statement contains the fundamental flaw in understanding how human perception works. It assumes that "it," the things in the external world, have one basic, fundamental and "real" form called "X." X does not change, according to this illusion - wonderfully cast by the brain. What changes is the way that a giraffe or a lion or Royal Robbins or a pink alien "sees" X.

In other words, X remains the same, the physical world is composed of solid and stable "things," but our maps, depending on the way we are made, are mutable. This is reassuring to our rational minds - and is totally false.

In fact the exact opposite is true. The very discursive mind that casts the illusion that it's the other way around, stands directly in the way of you seeing how your mind performs it's magic show.

What your "kicking down the road" is not X, but a map, a construct, and as Ed said long ago, the maps relation to the territory is provisional.

Some might find the following quote useful:

Knowing and Seeing

Our tacit assumption that we perceive the world as it is, has become so deeply ingrained that it is very hard indeed to appreciate that our image of reality is a construction within our own mind. Even when we intellectually accept the fact, as eventually we must, it is still extremely difficult not to see the image we have created as "out there".

In fact, we will probably always see it this way. But that is not to say it is not possible to see it otherwise. It may be that those who have made a deep personal investigation into the nature of the mind, explored the workings of their own consciousness, and witnessed the arising of experience, have come to see it that way. History agrees as do the descriptions - from many lands and many various disciplines - that the whole world is within them rather than around them, as most of us experience.

We materialsits might assume that these are the ravings of a mind deranged by too much meditation. It is far more likely that they are coming from people who have experienced first-hand that the entire universe -- everything we know from the cells in our bodies to the distant twinkling stars -- exists within the mind, not the other way around. Such a person might know the phenomenal reality for what it is. It is we who are under an illusion when we believe that the world we see around us is “out there” around us, rather than within us.

It is important that we do not become seduced by our daily experience into false beliefs about the true nature of things. We may still see the sun going down, but we know reality is different, and take this into account in our considerations of the cosmos.

The difference with the Kantian Revolution (let's follow tradition and name it after one its founding fathers) is that the shift in metaparadigm is not yet complete. All the pieces are in place -- just as all the relevant pieces of the Copernican Revolution were in place by the early seventeenth century -- but they have not yet been put together into a coherent model, and the implications have still to sink in.

The foundation stone of the emerging metaparadigm is the distinction between the phenomenon, the reality generated in the mind, and the unknowable reality, or noumenon, that underlies it. When this distinction is clear, many anomalies and apparently intractable problems across a broad spectrum of human endeavor either dissolve or take on an entirely different nature.

Enough said.

JL
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Mar 18, 2013 - 07:25pm PT
Okaaaaay, then, er, good enough. You've seen the entire universe at first-hand and I obviously haven't. Sounds about right. Your version sure does sound like a lot more fun in a number of significant aspects.

:~)
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
Mar 18, 2013 - 07:29pm PT
As I have gotten older, I have become more and more aware and interested in how different people perceive the world so differently and yet often assume that we all see it the same. I want to believe that there is an understandable pattern to these differences and that as I understand this overall pattern of reality, I am better able to communicate and relate to those with different perspectives and experiences. I feel like I am making progress in this regard.

Base, whose posts I always appreciate and enjoy, repeats the idea that we must filter out the vast amount of information coming at us. I prefer a slightly different idea: that, like a radio tuner, we can only detect those aspects of reality to which we can resonate. All kinds of radio waves are passing by at any time, but the radio only detects the band to which it is tuned. Within the radio the tuner resonates with only that one frequency. Yet it can be adjusted to resonate with other frequencies at different times.

It seems to me, that we, people operate similarly. We "tune in" to certain aspects of our surroundings, but we are also constantly changing our tunings to perceive other aspects of our world. There is a physical phenomena that we can fit more discreet information in higher and faster frequencies. We get faster and faster computers to process more information in the same amount of time. People drink coffee and take uppers to keep up with the deluge of information. But as we tune into faster and faster aspects and focus more and more narrowly, we don't perceive the slower information around us.

For me, this has many practical implications. How does my tuner change and adjust with time, over the course of a day or over years? How do my emotions effect what I perceive in myself and in others? If I want to speed myself up, what can I do in my body and mind to effect that. If I want to slow myself down, what can I do?

After a number years dancing and now one and a half years climbing again, mostly in a gym, I am quite amazed at how my perceptions of my body and its movements have changed and continue to change. I can't imagine that I am nearly as strong as I was in my younger days, yet I seem to be able to climb routes easier than ever before, just because I can perceive greater possibilities and more subtle balance. Has reality changed for me? I choose to think that I am seeing and feeling aspects of reality of which I was formerly unaware.

In my singing, I have been pleased to find that rhythms and patterns which were formerly very difficult and even gibberish have gradually become easier and more sensible. Often times the emotion and logic of a song becomes apparent to me, such that even if I have not really memorized it, the next note in a phrase can seem obvious in order to express the particular emotion and logic of the song. It has been quite surprising for me.

Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 18, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Okaaaaay, then, er, good enough. You've seen the entire universe at first-hand and I obviously haven't. Sounds about right.


Imagine busting out this kind of snide, whippersnapper jive on a scientist. As if I could tell John Gill (dr. in math) or Ed (dr. in physics), well, boys, you've seen all the prime numbers and the quarks first hand and I obviously haven't. Sounds about right. Who would ever take this as anything but hot air?

Of course I haven't seen what John or Ed have seen because I haven't done the work. I don't know the Poincaré Conjecture from Silly putty. How would I if I never put the arduous years in getting a grad degree in this stuff and since there is no other way to garner the goods but to study it hard, I don't know much about it.

Notice when we shift focus to the experiential world, the idea of work, or practice, is totally lost on most people. Or they believe that there is no real work that goes on in this realm, other than chasing fuzzy feelings, that discursive reasoning is really what the game is and if I "see the entire universe first hand," and Cintuine does not, that means I am smarter, and have a bigger discursive brain. I can just look and see that kind of sh#t, reality, glimmer out there in a way lost on everyone else.

This is bollocks, of course. If you want to see how perception works on the ground level you're going to have to spend some years sitting in the middle of it. There is no other way, and never will be.

There's a reason why you have to actually climb a route to know what it is about, otherwise you could just glance at a topo, reason out the experience objectively, and know all about it.

If you want to know how perception works BEYOND thing-making, or how our brains process and organize information, you have to sit in the subjective realm long and hard. You have to grind it. Glancing at it from without, noodling it with reason will not bear much fruit from what I have seen. If it did, who wold ever bother doing the work? We could just reason our way through the whole of it. The fact that we can't is why we call it another realm, ie, the experiential.

JL
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Mar 18, 2013 - 09:18pm PT
Aw, dude, chill out. Subjective meta experiences will always be fair game for sophomoric whippersnapper critiques, and nine times out of ten it serves them right. Like I said it all sounds awesome enough, but then so do a lot of articles of faith. To each their own; you get back on those double-digits asap, and I'll keep mucking around on my piddling 5.8 Gs in the range of ultimate truth. This illusion of antipathy is one thing I'd like to do away with if anything. I may be a devil's advocate but I'm really not a hater. So, y'know, na-ma-stay and all.




NEWSFLASH: Roadside-nesting cliff swallows have evolved shorter, more maneuverable wings, which may have helped them to make hasty retreats from oncoming vehicles, according to a study published in Current Biology.
Psilocyborg

climber
Mar 18, 2013 - 10:47pm PT
This is bollocks, of course. If you want to see how perception works on the ground level you're going to have to spend some years sitting in the middle of it. There is no other way, and never will be.

There's a reason why you have to actually climb a route to know what it is about, otherwise you could just glance at a topo, reason out the experience objectively, and know all about it.

I resonate with most of your posts here Largo with the exception of "spending some years sitting". The reason is (I have pointed out before) why see through the illusion? What is the point? I suppose "why not" is a response that I can see the merit of.

I see the human experience and our "settled down" version of reality as a gift, and spending years peering into eternity as sort of missing the point. It is like watching a movie, yet picking apart the horrible acting and the bad effects and props. Why not just let yourself get swept away into the experience? Why peek behind the curtain?
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 18, 2013 - 11:28pm PT
Aww, come off it, JL. You make snide remarks all of the time. Therefore I feel completely allowed to call you a twit or to tell you to go sit in the corner with a pointy hat, which you have done throughout this thread.

I plainly said that when we see a waving flag we cannot digest the detail. We just toss it into the "Waving Flag" bin and don't worry about it. If it were a Nazi flag, we would examine it more closely.

I could also say that if we brought a primitive human and dropped him into Manhattan, or better yet, onto a trading floor with all of the noise and machines and their screens, he may very well be overwhelmed by the experience.

I don't see any practical way to approach what you are saying. That there is a "flagness" beyond our sensory perception. I don't believe that the mind operates this way.

The way that you can absolutely define the "flagness," is either to sit there for a couple of weeks staring at the flag and then having some sort of understanding of "flagness," or examining the dynamics of a flag and what causes it to wave in the first place. Then you will really understand why the flag waves. I do not think that you can define it any better than that, no matter what you keep tossing out.

That is what you seem to be talking about when you use the word reify. To take a subjective experience and then understand it in reality. I'm not sure if this notion is even possible. You could sit in front of a flag for the rest of your life and still be chained up in Plato's cave.

Plato's cave is to artificially change a person's view of what is real through fakery, and it is probably quite true, meaning possible. Our perception is indeed colored by previous experiences of flags, but if we are chained in Plato's cave, our observation can color our vision of reality. If you step back behind the people chained in Plato's cave and look the other way, it is all different.

The other way, which you seem to downright despise, is to actually study the physical flag and learn about it through physical observation and objective analysis.

You might not like it, but that is far more efficient and doesn't miss much. The only way to escape from this subjective experiential realm and share it with other's subjective experience is through quantitative analysis and the scientific method.

I think that, in a practical sense, mathematics is the most precise way to share subjective experience by manufacturing a language so precise that it is impossible to misunderstand between two people who are communicating. The language of Math and much of science is symbolic. The reason for that is that it works better when describing something than to just call up and say that "It is blue." The object reflects blue light because of either its pigment or the wavelength of the energy it emits, like a blue light.

That is how we have succeeded the most. Eliminate the subjective experiential differences, do your best to quantify it, communicate it in a way that no information is lost, as much as is possible at the time, and arrive at an objective solution.

You see the problem. What I see and experience may be quite different than what another human sees and experiences, despite our exposure to the same physical object. My idea of blue could be quite different from your definition of blue. We can get around this in a very precise way by measuring the wavelength of light and telling the other person that this wavelength is blue. You can say that it has "Blueness," but that is stopping far short of really understanding what blue really is.

Blue is a certain wavelenth of energy in the spectrum from far IR to gamma rays.

Let's say that I'm talking to a being who only sees in the x-ray spectrum. That being has never even seen blue. It is not even capable of experiencing blue. The only way to bridge that gap is through mathematics and a knowledge of the spectrum of radiation.

It goes the other way, as well. Although our atmosphere absorbs or reflects most x-ray radiation, I could sit in front of a source emitting x-ray "light." and see nothing. Even your most practiced monks would not understand x-rays. He would look at the source until he died from the harmful damage caused by the high energy of extremely short wavelength radiation.

All x-rays are is light with an incredibly blue color. It is so blue that it is well beyond what we could ever see with our senses. We know about this light through observation and reductionism. That might not be the best way to solve every problem, but it is with this one.

Do you have x-ray vision? There is an incredibly noisy physical world around you that you can't see, feel, or hear.

Yes, experience is subjective, but the best way to get around that, and to describe things that are beyond our physical senses is science. You could call it something else, but somebody had to figure out that there is a hell of a lot more going on out there than we can see or hear, simply because our senses are absolutely incapable of sensing sound and light beyond the small snippet of the wavelenght of both sound and light.

You can even study this with other animals, who have different capabilities in the sensory arena. A deer can see great at night, but it is colorblind during the day. We can now look at an eyeball and tell which part of the spectrum it can see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rods_and_cones

So if I concentrate enough, can I see x-rays like Superman? Can you accomplish this? It seems to me that you are arguing, in a roundabout way, that we can.

With practice, you may be able to stretch your sensory system to "see" more than I can, but I bet that you can't see gamma rays, despite them being electromagnetic radiation just like visible blue.

A turkey is totally blind at night. It has given up its rods in favor of cones. The obverse is the case with a colorblind deer. I've heard that a turkey can see color far better than a human can.

Can you practice and see like a turkey?

We are all trapped into this meat body, as you say, and also trapped into the limitations of our senses, and no matter how much wha wha you suggest, I will not believe you without a demonstration. We all sit in the subjective world, and we have best escaped it is with ways to go beyond our senses. The Chandra X-Ray telescope can measure x-rays and then convert it to data that can be displayed on a visible screen. Then we can actually see with x-rays, although we had to build a special "eye" to do it. The same goes for the infrared and sounds that are either too high or low frequency than we can hear. We know that these sounds exist, because somebody built an artificial ear that could hear these sounds, which are just pressure waves moving through a substance.

Similarly, if I had been around to see 20 or so of Christ's miracles, I might have a differing view of Christianity.

My guess is that what you and I see, no matter how hard we try, is pretty much the same thing. Your senses are typically human, and you can't see x-rays. If we followed your example, we would never even know of x-rays.

If you can escape this meat body, with its limited senses, and see things that I can't, I want a demonstration.


WBraun

climber
Mar 18, 2013 - 11:51pm PT
I want a demonstration.

Just kill yourself, and no more meat body.

But then you'll be forced to get another meat body because you think you are one.

There's no escape for those who are in meat body consciousness ......
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 19, 2013 - 12:14am PT
Werner: Just kill yourself, and no more meat body.

And where would 'he' be then?

P.S. I find it mighty curious that reincarnation appears to depend on time only moving in one direction.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 19, 2013 - 12:21am PT
Killing yourself is against the rules. You will wander around as a ghost.

Seriously, Suicide is terrible. Once it starts in a family or group of freinds, it tends to spread.

My point above was that it is quite easy to see beyond our sense now. Largo hates measuring things, but telescopes, electron microscopes, x-ray diffraction, partical accelerators...

They all extend our senses far beyond their natural range. Hell, we can even see x-rays now. Chandra is the x-ray equivalent of the Hubble.

Infrared telescopes can see through dust clouds, revealing what is beyond them to the other side. Firefighters use similar instruments to see through smoke. With science, we are now able to observe a large portion of the Universe, from the very large to the very small, and although a good IR telescope requires the sensor to be cooled almost to absolute zero, they can see things that eyeball telescopes can't.

We can observe throughout the electromagnetic spectrum.

Seismographs can hear the tiniest noises in the Earth. Ultra low frequency waves, for instance. Not only pressure waves, such as sound, but shear waves as well.

Does anyone care to ask why we know that part of the core of the Earth is molten? Any religious guys curious?
WBraun

climber
Mar 19, 2013 - 12:25am PT
Killing yourself is against the rules. You will wander around as a ghost.

Yes.

There are a few very very rare suicides that are legal.

But those are not to be interpreted by n00bs who have no clue.

But for us n00bs, you are completely correct .....
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