Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
May 17, 2013 - 08:21pm PT
Math is part of the fabric of the universe. Everything is part of the fabric of the Universe. It is just there, and I don't want to get involved in a number theory pissing match.

Don't you see? Sure, our senses bias us heavily towards the subjective. If you want to understand the mind and intelligence, you must consider the subjective nature of our minds. It is everywhere in our thought and belief.

This subjective nature is a problem. You can pass some information orally through generations, but a point is reached where you must write things down so that you can pass this knowledge on without error. Take the Bible or the Principia as examples. It is easy to see that written language is an advantage, and we have adapted to this by improving language in order to convey ideas or information with greater precision. Although the symbols used in math and physics may be unfamiliar to those who don't understand it, It is a perfect example of how we can get around that problem of subjective experience. Our written language that we are all using right now is another example, but it has its limitations. Some are better at it than others.

I don't think that this is entirely natural. The symbolic language of math and physics is a very new thing in the history of our species. You can use symbols for many things, but we use them primarily to communicate between individuals. If you took a boy raised by wolves, he would be very limited in his ability to communicate, both orally and written.

This is obvious, but in the context of this discussion it is important to understand. Written language is also a symbolic way to share information between individuals, and even cave paintings were used in this way. They carry meaning. The only problem is that you need to be taught how to use symbolic language. We aren't born with this ability.

Humans and other animals learn a lot from each other. Language is probably a good indicator of intelligence.

You can refute this, but in doing so, you are using language in a written form, as a post on the internet. Language itself is very useful, and many creatures use this ability as an evolutionary advantage. It has been shown that some animals can count, for instance.

I don't really care about the is-ness of math or other symbolic language. I could waste my entire life trying to re-invent the wheel.

Sh#t, Even the poor editing of my posts amazes me sometimes. When I do that, I fail in communicating an idea.

What is an idea, anyway? Does it come as a message from God, or is it just a part of the emergence of intelligence in our species from millions of years of evolution?

I am strongly in the emergence camp. Intelligence is an emerged quality which we have simply acquired through adaptation. Evolution. To concentrate on our species is a little foolish. If you consider intelligence, you must compare it to anatomy, and you must use this anatomy to compare us to other species.

If you refuse to acknowledge the brain, then there really isn't much to discuss. You have straight jacketed yourself in a very foolish way.

I'm damn proud of my meat brain.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 17, 2013 - 08:30pm PT
No

Language comes from the soul.

Without the soul there is no brain.

The soul controls the brain.

The soul is the seat of consciousness, intelligence and the source of all the material bodies activities.

The brain is just a lump of flesh that the soul works thru to operate the material body ........


I concur with the sage here, and Largo.

Math is based on our perception of logic. Logic comes from where? Right vs wrong, truth vs. false. The whole grey area thing is liberal bullshit trying to mince words to obtain an agenda.

Right and wrong are absolute. Nuance is a politician BSing you. Repub or Dem.

I guess we have wrought what we have sown. A muddy political system that is just too big and too vague, self-perpetuating it's own existence.

The Founders of this great idea in history are doing face-plants in disgust.
MH2

climber
May 17, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
The criteria for math is that it originally corresponded to things out there in a tangible, one to one relationship.

Glad to hear that you think so. You can show MikeL the number 1.




What you are ascribing as a fundamental aspect of reality that was discovered whole and en tact by various differing folk across the globe is in fact an example of people learning how their discursive minds work.

If so, I would say that it is impressive that people growing up in different cultures at different times find that their discursive minds work alike in such a way.




Because music and literature is not originally constrained by a numerical relationship to things, but rather to the much more amorphous and ever shifting realms of feelings, intuitions, and so forth, we don't see Hamlet appearing in whole cloth in New Guinea as it first appeared in England.

So you agree that math is a more concrete (less shifting) shared reality than music and literature?





If you like coincidence then you'll Love Joseph Campbell's recognition that the myth of virgin birth occurred in different times and places across the globe unconnected.

Just like mathematics!

For coincidence I prefer the way math was used to land vehicles on the Moon and Mars, if in fact the number one does not exist. Given taboos prevalent on Earth, virgin birth stories are not so hard to believe.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 17, 2013 - 08:43pm PT
Verily BASE, what is math? And if math is a thing, and all things are by nature physical, where does said math exist independent of things and consciousness?

Oh my God . . . here we go.


Hey, hold on, John. You can't out that on me. It is BASE and others who are insisting that MATH itself, a numerical representational model, is something that exists as a fundamental aspect of the universe, that it is not a man made representation of physical reality and potentialities, but that the very notation of math existed, and does exist, independent of the minds that produced it.

That is, people didn't discover that physical reality interacted in certain systematic ways that could be modeled by numbers, but rather, physical reality and numbers are the same. Numbers are not derived from the relations of things existing independent of mind, rather numbers themselves EXIST separate from mind. really?

It's only fitting to ask: Where. Where are the stand-alone numbers that all the different races discovered "out there." Not the things the numbers represent, but the numbers themselves.

If the question is absurd, then you have to then look back at the original claim, which I did NOT make.

Lastly, if number were not a language, people would have fashioned the very same names for numbers all over the world, but instead we have a zillion different words for the very same "three," which is how language works.

JL
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 17, 2013 - 09:22pm PT
Hey, hold on, John. You can't out that on me.

My comment had more to do with the continuance of the discussion than with your view, John. But you're a big boy, provocative, a splendid climber, and a gifted writer and as such an appealing target! ;>)

At least once in a career a mathematician ponders the question: Is math discovered (Platonic, out there independent of human thought) or created (a product primarily of mind)?

After a little cogitating most put the question behind them and move on to more important material. I've never dwelled on this conundrum, sensing it has so little to do with anything tangible. Nevertheless, in the process of math research the mathematician frequently creates definitions of abstract mathematical ideas and relationships as he recognizes them. He then investigates them as they open up new areas of understanding. This is both creating and discovering. As to whether these "discoveries" existed before classification and investigation, I rather think they did not but that they come into being as a result of the researcher pulling together various results and analyzing them, recognizing commonalities and reformating the thinking of the particular subject. Calculus developed in bits and pieces, beginning with the ancient Greeks, but it was (the genius of) Newton and Leibnitz - and others - who assembled and packaged these results in a unified format. This pulling together scattered results and seeing their commonalities is immensly important in math research.

And this is what makes math so exciting, like exploring virgin rock towers and faces, discovering/creating new routes, piecing together holds here and there until the whole thing hangs together. The result is a route that has been "proven" true.

And it's this "proven" business that separates math - the queen of the sciences - from other experimental sciences. Ed uses math that "works" but that has not necessarily been proven true according to strict mathematical logic. For instance, Feynman's path integrals.

Sorry about the rambling. Hiked at the lake today in 90 degrees and I'm feeling a little bushed.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 17, 2013 - 10:21pm PT
Can anyone tell me what mathematical ideas the Chinese invented that the Greeks and Hindus did not?
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 17, 2013 - 10:27pm PT
And regarding Werner's assertion that language comes from the soul. I believe this is connected to the idea in India that Sanskrit is the language of God and the mother tongue of all other human languages. This is a religious belief not a linguistic fact.

it is commonly believed in many religions however, that a particular language is sacred - Catholics and Latin, Arabs and the Koran, some Protestants and the King James version etc. In India, it is claimed that only mantras pronounced in Sanskrit will have certain meditation effects yet these are completely mispronounced by Chinese and Japanese who still manage to get enlightened. Likewise writing systems. I have been told in India you have to visualize Sanskrit letters for certain meditational effects and in Japan certain kanji for the same effects.

Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 17, 2013 - 10:44pm PT
John, I agree that piddling about whether numbers existed a priori to us being alive here is in itself a kind of closed loop, but oddly enough it is related to a whole slew of other ideas and notions that are significant existential questions - all having to do with "the map in the territory" stuff. There's also issues so broad that they are hard to get hold of, and yet they are exactly what we'd likely ask if we had some distance and wondered, Hey, what the hell is REALLY going on here?

Take this quote, for instance:

"I would say that it is impressive that people growing up in different cultures at different times find that their discursive minds work alike in such a way."

The person who said that is an avowed materialist and I believe an MD. Therefore he would naturally believe that thinking and consciousness itself was entirely biological artifact. Now isn't it strange that an MD (and most of my family are MDs) who knows perfectly well the uniformity of human bio functionjs (blood pressure, temp., heart beat, etc) can be "impressed" that the human brain would work basically the same across the board? Wouldn't it be odd, say, if the Chinaman reasoned entirely different than the Belgium?
Humans, in the broad stroke, share a lot of continuity, otherwise fields like medicine would have no norms.

Or this: So you agree that math is a more concrete (less shifting) shared reality than music and literature?

It is interesting to ponder the idea that something "less shifting" is therefore more concrete? What I think he means is that something quantifiable feels more real to the discursive mind. But in terms of what is more concrete, it's hard to get more real or immediate than through the experience of terror or joy or sadness or anger, which are all feelings.
This underscores the fact that "real" in terms of our mind is one thing, bit in terms of our direct experience, numbers, say, are as abstract as the moon.

JL
MH2

climber
May 18, 2013 - 12:01am PT
Whether mathematics is discovered or created is probably too simple a question. I remember that there was a good brief discussion of the issue in the book The Mathematical Experience by Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh. Some mathematicians have a sense that they discover objects in a pre-existing mathematical terrain. Others don't give a hoot as long as they get good ideas. I like jogill's view that new mathematics comes from finding new connections and commonalities.

I see that Wikipedia has an entry on the history of mathematics. That entry states that, "it took human beings at least 45,000 years from the attainment of behavioral modernity and language (generally thought to be a long time before that) to develop mathematics as such."

'Behavioral modernity' is said to be a term used by anthropologists?



If language and the human brain preceded mathematics by that length of time, it took humans awfully long to learn how their discursive minds work:

The criteria for math is that it originally corresponded to things out there in a tangible, one to one relationship. In that sense, the original math, was constrained to work along lines just as proscribed in China as they were in Fort Worth. Plus we humans are predisposed to organize discrete elements in certain ways, just as water runs down hill. What you are ascribing as a fundamental aspect of reality that was discovered whole and en tact by various differing folk across the globe is in fact an example of people learning how their discursive minds work.

Or it took a long time for the water to run down hill.

Numbers and counting are not mathematics.




On early Chinese mathematics:

We have to depend on written records and math probably goes back before the accounts that remain. In China there was a burning of books in 212 BC which may have destroyed important Chinese writings on math. Wikipedia gives the Chinese credit for first use of negative numbers, algebraic geometry, and decimals.

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



Another good synopsis of what is known about early developments in mathematics in various locations:

http://fabpedigree.com/james/grmatm1.htm




edit for the post above:

Wouldn't it be odd, say, if the Chinaman reasoned entirely different than the Belgium?
Humans, in the broad stroke, share a lot of continuity, otherwise fields like medicine would have no norms.


Or turn that around. Would it be strange if the Chinaman reasoned exactly as the Belgian did? Ask Jan. Would it be strange if the same spoken or written language developed in early China and Belgium? It seems that you agree that the question of similarities and their degree is relevant. How much difference does it make to you if the similarities are mathematical or biological?
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
May 18, 2013 - 12:29am PT
But if I were to look up in the sky and see one of those suckers coming at me I would take the precaution of seeking cover - just in case!

I forgot to say, Jogill, . . . so would I--and not just in case!


As I re-read your and others' post in response to mine and some of Largo's, what I think I see is something akin to: "if something is just an image or an illusion or has a suspect existence, then nothing matters."

Whoa. Slow down there, cowboy. Don't you think that's a rather large jump to an irrelevant conclusion?

Suspecting that the emperor (whatever) is wearing no clothes tends to force us into a conundrum, and rather than working our way through the conundrum, we have a tendency to hold tight to our beliefs all the more fiercely. (In organizational behavior, we call it "escalated commitment.") We just Can't be groundless or tolerant of ambiguity. Doing so could end up negating all that we've done and all that we are.

Some of us work 8-5 jobs that are deadening. Some of us do things that we feel bad about doing. Some of us have made not the best choices, and now it seems we have to live with them. But better that than to have to admit that we made errors to others--and even to ourselves. We have found ourselves in a place in life, and for one reason or another, we sense doubts as to our meaning and purpose. We're in a quandary.

Think of poor Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. He looks out on two great armies who are about destroy one another, and he wants to give up. He doesn't want to fight or lead his army. Everything looks completely hopeless to him. Nihilism would be an understatement. The Lord Krishna, on the other hand, says: "pick up your bow and lead your people to victory (even though most of your people will be lost). Arjuna, it's your destiny. Be who and what you are."

In the illusion or the drama of your life, you're faced with the same challenge. The world seems to be an imperfect place, there are not enough resources to go around, things don't quite make sense, much of the ground under your feet is unstable and even questionable.

So what? BFD. Get on with it. Be all you are and can be. Touch the core of your heart, mind, and soul, and be authentic, truthful, courageous, and follow your bliss.

You can do all of those things whether you're in the material world or a world of illusion. You never give up on those things that are important.

What things remain whether you are in an illusion or not?


. . . And, there you go, my friends. Now you have a glimpse of what transcends time, space, and consciousness--and certainly objects.


Don't go jumping off the deep end at the first sign of uncertainty or ambiguity. Believe it or not, it's not the end of the world. It might be the end of YOUR world, but that's another story.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
May 18, 2013 - 01:08am PT
Mike, I sure wish that some of that would rub off on Largo! I have tried to be open minded about all of this, and don't want to act pompous, but at some point I have to make a stand.

As for mathematics being a part of the fabric of the universe, what I mean is that nature is just nature. It is the way it is. Don't tear your hair out over it.

Being a curious species, it was probably inevitable that we would start poking around. As it turns out, math is a great way to study nature. On one hand it is great at describing nature in a thoroughly objective way, and on the other hand it has a great language with little ambiguity.

Look at geometry, which is filled with proofs. Is the relationship of a circle to its diameter willy nilly and in some way dependent on the observer? No. This is the number Pi, and it just is. To think that Pi did not exist before there was some person to understand it is a very narrow minded and untenable position. Of course there are circles throughout nature. I am quite sure that a tree falling in the forest does make a sound, whether or not there is an observer. Come on. Do you really think that sound is in some way independent from the observer?

If you want to have fun, look at Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Are these real properties or are they properties that we cannot observe because of scale?

Am I composed of mostly dark matter and dark energy? I want to know. Are these problems with our current best theories, or are these actually new and fundamental parts of nature that we are just now able to observe, but not explain.

Even a frog understands gravity in its own way, and you can go to Mars using Newton's laws of motion and gravity. We know that they aren't precise when dealing with large mass or high velocity, but for a quieter environment, relativity isn't necessary and Newton's laws are much easier to use.

If you ever take physics, you will notice right away that calculus is so tied up with physics that it is freaky.

This is an exciting time. We have some real scientific problems to solve.

Of course this has nothing to do with happiness. On that note I am willing to listen to MikeL until the cows come home. He has common sense, or seems to.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 18, 2013 - 01:47am PT
Numbers and counting are not mathematics.


I'd like to see the math that your are talking about that has no numerical or quantitative symbology or scale, which are all basically the same things. the first math was counting on our fingers. The rest issued from that genius.

It rather amazes me that you can't get hold of the correlation of how your brain works and how those inherent patters leads us to see "out there" things like "mathematical terrain." Believe it - these are just so many models. If you removed the stuff in which the math applies, from the very beginning, it is incontrovertible that you have no such "mathematical terrain."

Again, this is a point worth understanding because it is tied up with how our discursive minds project their own structures and propensities onto so-called external reality. But of course we can never remove the subject from any human enterprise without removing the content of the subject, be it numbers or music or (fill in the qualia).

JL
splitter

Trad climber
SoCal Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
May 18, 2013 - 02:48am PT
All this talk about math, i've often wondered how analytical reasoning factors into the grand scheme of things. When I was an undergrad, I took this upper division statistics class. During the first week the professor gave us this analytical reasoning IQ test. it was the standard one at the time. Sixty questions, one hour. It was an internationally used test (no words, just problems). each question had 4 squares/boxes, inside each square were 4 more squares, a total 16 squares. You started with one square (whatever was in it) and decide what would be the next logical square, which would lead to the next up to the 16th, which would be your answer. The problem was, you had to remember the sequence, run the whole sequence through your head each time to get the next square. For instance, if you had just figured out which one was 9, to get 10, you would have to recall/rerun 1-9 from the beginning again to arrive at 10. And, finally, to arrive at 15, you would have to go back run through the whole sequence 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14.

Anyway, around 32 or 33, when i had just about solved it, this student sneezed and it broke my concentration. I would have had to start all over at square one, and I was somewhat pissed at myself for letting my concentration be broken, so i decided to just come back to it later. Each question gets consecutively more difficult. By the time I had finished the 60th question, it was so much more intense and difficult in nature, that I new I could have easily answered the one I had skipped , so I didn't go back. It wasn't a graded test, don't recall why she had given it to us, I think it was for either a paper or study she was doing.

Anyway, I got 59 out of sixty right, since i didn't answer that one question. The prof was really blown away, she mentioned something about my frontal lobes, and said that I was in the top 1% in the nation. I had plenty of time to go back and do the one I had skipped, and wondered where I would have been considered then, probably still top 1%. I ended dropping out of business as a major, found it to boring. And doing well on that analytical reasoning IQ test proved to be more frustrating than anything else for a long time, since I couldn't decide what to do with my life. Ended up going into the health services, but perhaps I should have majored in math, something that I had always found very stimulating / challenging. Have always wondered how I could have applied or utilized that type of skill?

The speed of light has always fascinated me. I recall there being only one other time in which I have concentrated as hard as I did when I took that test. It was when I was 18 years old and was thinking about the speed of light 186,202 mps! that's over 7 times around he planet in 1 second, and light years and the distance between stars and across our galaxy, relativity theory, etc! I was interested in astronomy back then.

edit: i meant miles per second/not mph! 186,202 miles per second (700M mph)... fascinating!!

in the mid 80's i was living & working in LA and a friend (animal art from mammoth) and i and our two gf's at the time went up to the griffith observatory one saturday evening. they had opened up their telescope to the public and had it focused on this far away star or galaxy that had just been discovered (or perhaps it was a newly discovered planet of some far away star/i fergit). the line was about 1.5 hours long, seemed like half of LA had shown up. and when your turn came up, you only were allotted 60 sec to view it. i found it so fascinating that i tried to talk them (art and the gals) into waiting in line again, another whole hour and a half, just for 60 seconds of viewing. they weren't about to, and i was pretty disappointed, but understood. like i said, "I was interested in astronomy back then." there was just something about looking at something in real time (rather than a pic), or at least the light it had created that was extremely fascinating, imo! i could have sat there all night long looking at it, pondering it and the grand scale of the universe, etc! ...i guess that is what i find "stimulating and challenging", lol!
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 18, 2013 - 03:53am PT
And regarding Werner's assertion that language comes from the soul. I believe this is connected to the idea in India that Sanskrit is the language of God and the mother tongue of all other human languages. This is a religious belief not a linguistic fact.

it is commonly believed in many religions however, that a particular language is sacred - Catholics and Latin, Arabs and the Koran, some Protestants and the King James version etc. In India, it is claimed that only mantras pronounced in Sanskrit will have certain meditation effects yet these are completely mispronounced by Chinese and Japanese who still manage to get enlightened. Likewise writing systems. I have been told in India you have to visualize Sanskrit letters for certain meditational effects and in Japan certain kanji for the same effects.

Well, I think Werner would tell you that you're looking too deep. The truth is right in front of you, yet you want to put a microscope on it.

Language is not the key, wisdom and knowledge are. Language is the vessel of knowledge.

I guess the question becomes, what is the fundamental wisdom? Life? If so then what defines life?

See where I'm going here?
slayton

Trad climber
Here and There
May 18, 2013 - 05:25am PT
Words all to often are used to obfuscate reality. But what is reality? Is it what is happening right now as you perceive it or has it already happened and not quite legitimate because you're only perceiving it? And by your perception you're one step away and by your words in trying to describe it you're at least two steps away?

Reality is this and perception of that reality is something else. The rock still hurts when it hits me in the head. The body still starves when deprived of nutrients.

If I change my perception ,my understanding, or anything else, at all, will either of those change?
splitter

Trad climber
SoCal Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
May 18, 2013 - 08:09am PT
bluering - Language is not the key, wisdom and knowledge are.

Knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

Knowledge is the basis for the other two, understanding and wisdom. In the most basic form, knowledge is the accumulation of facts. A fact represents a statement of truth. Knowledge is the accumulation of both explicit and implicit facts. Understanding is the correct organization and ordering of associated facts and truths. To get wisdom we need to achieve understanding by first gaining accumulating facts. And wisdom is the practical application of correct knowledge and understanding. Knowing what to do, when to do it, and with whom to do it, is the revealed ability to make wise choices.

It's a basic biblical principal. "Wisdom is the principle thing; therefor get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding." "My people perish for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I have rejected thee,..." etc.
MH2

climber
May 18, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
It rather amazes me that you can't get hold of the correlation of how your brain works and how those inherent patters leads us to see "out there" things like "mathematical terrain." Believe it - these are just so many models. If you removed the stuff in which the math applies, from the very beginning, it is incontrovertible that you have no such "mathematical terrain."


I'd like to hear more about how my brain works and the inherent patterns that lead me to see mathematics. What do you know?

When you talk about removing the stuff in which the math applies, are you talking about removing my brain? That would leave me at a handicap for math and a few other things.

Whole numbers and counting are not mathematics. Mathematics begins where nature leaves off. Mathematics concerns such things as the Pythagorean theorem and the relation between the circumference and diameter of a circle. No matter how much experience you have with nature and how many measurements you make you will only get approximate answers in those cases. Mathematics extends your understanding beyond what you see and gives you certainty.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
May 18, 2013 - 02:47pm PT
My point is pretty simple. One person gains knowledge and then that knowledge dies with that person if it is not shared with others before he dies.

You can hand stories down orally, and no doubt this was the way things were done for a couple of million years, but written language is far more precise.

Written language is a great tool for this. Without it, we would be a far less capable species. The symbolic written language of mathematics is just a great example of this.

That is all that I am saying, and to try to draw some conclusion from it about the is-ness or whatever is a fools errand unless you study this specific topic for a living.

This written language, and all written language for that matter, is a handy way to improve the knowledge of others that were not present or do not understand a specific problem.

I know that Jan loves illiterate cultures, but those cultures now come into contact with those who aren't illiterate and change. You don't have to understand physics to turn on your TV, for instance.

A great saying is this: "You don't need to understand how a watch works to tell what time it is."

That is mainly used as a joke on people who yap too much (like me). "Hey Mark, you don't need to tell me how a watch works when I ask what time it is." Pretty funny.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
May 18, 2013 - 03:22pm PT


http://gizmodo.com/why-your-brain-thinks-these-dots-are-a-dog-506703504

Probably far too mundane for those concerned with The Deeper Issues™ but kinda cool anyway.

Also, uh, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moons_of_Pluto
go-B

climber
Hebrews 1:3
May 18, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
That was spot on!
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