Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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MH2

climber
Jun 8, 2013 - 02:01am PT
Not so fast, MH2. In a technical, scientific sense, someone has to come up with a transduction system whereby the perceptual system of sensations gets translated into linguistic and knowledge representation systems.


That "transduction system?" Sounds like your average human. Don't we translate perceived sensations into linguistic and knowledge representation systems? Don't we have several billion such transduction systems up and operating?


The paper that Ed linked to is a good summary of what the properties of formal systems have to say about the mechanistic nature of the human mind, and what they can't tell us. It is interesting to see that Gödel thought about such questions:

Eitherthe human mind (even within the realm of pure mathematics) infinitely surpasses the powers of any finite machine, or else there exist absolutely unsolvable diophantine problems



Roger Penrose has company. J.R. Lucas also thinks that the logic of formal systems shows us that the human mind cannot be mechanistic in the sense that a Turing machine is.


What his arguments do not countenance is the possibility of obtaining fully convincing empirical support for the mechanist thesis, namely that eventually all evidence points to mind being mechanical though we cannot ever hope to supply a complete perfect description of a formal system which accounts for its workings.5

5
That would be analogous to obtaining fully convincing empirical support for the thesis that the workings of, say, the human auditory and visual systems are fully explicable in neurological and physical terms, though one will never be able to produce a complete perfect description of how those operate. I presume that we are in fact in such a position.


last 2 quotes from Solomon Feferman
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jun 8, 2013 - 02:02am PT
Jan
I think Ed has been dissed on a couple of threads, and he may be fed up.
It's really a shame. I hope he can let it roll off his back.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 8, 2013 - 07:29am PT
OK, I'll reply to Dr. F. then as the issues are somewhat the same.

Could these mental (religious) practices be just a way to activate the physical brain to release more dopamine, or other psychoactive molecules?


I think it's progress, that someone like Dr. F. could phrase the question in this manner. For a long time the esoteric nature of yoga was disbelieved. Now of course, we have an increasing number of scientific studies being done (the most complete being the book recommended by Ed, The Science of Yoga by William J. Broad) so this will be at least one new paradigm for such experiences and certainly in keeping with a materialist world view. We seem to have gotten beyond the yogi or shaman as schizophrenic.

This Kundalini, it sounds more like a manic mental state, activated by normal brain pathways.

Meditation sickness and the initial complete rising of the kundalini could be mistaken for a manic mental state but it calms down after that, or at least can be directed toward a choice of calm or active, depending on one's goal. The point is that one does learn to tolerate and then use it constructively.

I suppose we can say that it is activated by normal brain pathways in the sense that all of us have the same brain hardware more or less and it does involve biochemical and seemingly electrical properties of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system. It is not normal in that most people will never experience it and those that do, generally have to put in considerable effort before it happens.

It has been written of as the evolutionary potential in all humankind by a number of eastern writers. This could lead to another paradigm which is that life evolves to a level where its apparatus is sufficient to tune into other dimensions/intelligences/energies in the universe which of course goes beyond the material. The Science of Yoga book states that the author believes it will be several centuries before we know for sure.

If I personally have any original contribution to make some day, it will be along the lines of comparative religious mysticism, showing in detail that the mystics of all religions go through the same stages using different vocabulary and that the symbolism of various religions can be understood as emanating from these internal experiences and that the symbols are very similar in many ways. That alone will be enough to upset a lot of religious people but a next step in religious evolution I believe, along with the attempt by the Dalai Lama and others to develop an encyclopedia of these various experiences and a common vocabulary across all religions.

I feel but won't live to see the answer one way or the other, that the most common paradigm of the future will be one that ties together the science of yoga, a belief in a metaphysical connection, and a new understanding of traditional religions. Scientists if they get involved in yoga at all, will of course stick with the materialist understanding. I can imagine a whole range of approaches from Chakras for Christians, to Universal Chakras, to Kundalini for Atheists.

jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 8, 2013 - 09:51am PT
This could lead to another paradigm which is that life evolves to a level where its apparatus is sufficient to tune into other dimensions/intelligences/energies in the universe which of course goes beyond the material

Interesting conjecture. This might be achievable along several different pathways, including abstract mathematics and meditation. I've mentioned the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis before.

Speculative, but intriguing.
go-B

climber
Hebrews 1:3
Jun 8, 2013 - 09:55am PT
How about a little peace of MIND with God's help...

God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren <br/>
God's Answers to Life's Difficult Question by Rick Warren

Credit: go-B

...from,"God's Answers to Life's Difficult Questions" by Rick Warren
http://www.amazon.com/Answers-Difficult-Questions-Living-Purpose/dp/0310273021/ref=la_B000APD9C6_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1370698787&sr=1-4

http://www.rickwarren.org/


...my head hurts!
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 8, 2013 - 10:25am PT
That "transduction system?" Sounds like your average human. Don't we translate perceived sensations into linguistic and knowledge representation systems? Don't we have several billion such transduction systems up and operating?

Who knows? No one has found them. Such a process is unclear even theoretically (Barsalou and Prinz). I don't think you're reading very closely or you don't understand the cognitive issues.

Your post is unresponsive. You're such an optimist: "in time, everything will be known." It's not dissimilar to cave men thinking that one day men will fly just like birds. Your overly ebullient enthusiasm reaches far beyond your grasp. Werner's right about speculating materialists. You and others complain here that spiritualists haven't a leg to stand on because spirit cannot be measured. On the other hand, you are so far ahead of what you know without a doubt (not statistically, not theoretically, not through social consensus), that you're already making claims of achievement before the fact. In fact, you know almost nothing but your experience, and even that you're confused about.


Problems of transduction is yet another example of the broad problem of incommensurability that Kuhn and Feyerabend pointed at, and it's a problem for anyone who claims that only one view is the right view.

On the one hand, different disciplines and domains appear to give rise to unique or highly specialized knowledge, variables, models, and language. The metrics in domains are idiosyncratic as well. (So far, so good.)

On the other hand, different knowledge, variables, models, and language of different domains means that people who work in different domains cannot talk and work with each other very well. Usually, people in different scientific communities kludge that problem between each other with impromptu and ad hoc interfaces, but it becomes painfully obvious in no time that there are no one-to-one seamless translation / transduction systems. In organizations, different functions or disciplines simply throw their work over chinese walls to other groups and hope for the best. In any organizing efforts, incommensurability is where most of the problems of functionality emerge.

You say that there must be billions of transduction systems up and running for "the human machine" to be working, but you can't seem to cite one. I'm pointing you to the only two researchers I'm aware of who have offered conceptual systems of how that problem can be solved between only two systems (perception and cognition).

Your declaration that one day all will be solved is a bit overly optimistic.

I think Largo has been here all along. He's been requesting someone to show how the objective gets translated into the subjective. No one's been able to do that for him, and I suspect there's a reason for that. Objective does not lead to subjective. It's the other way around (see Prinz and Barsalou, again). That means (OMG) that objectivity would be a dependent variable to subjectivity as the independent variable. Can you see that?

This encourages me to go further than that. I question the entire idea that reality could have different different systems up and running functionally with each other. Reality must be just one thing, and it must be all-inclusive. If there are different systems running together seamlessly, then what is The Fundamental system that supports those? What is the big operating system in the sky that's supporting all of the applications we call "disciplines," "domains," "fields of study?"

I suppose someone brings up the idea of multiple parallel universes that somehow co-exist within the same basic space. I say, "whoa . . . just how does that happen?" You say, "well, mathematically, it could be!" I say, "sure, . . . anything COULD be, but you're off into your imagination (and as long as you're there, bring back God with you when you return to this reality)."

The only answer I can find to that question of "the basic operating system that supports everything" that is consistent with all that I know and understand IS Consciousness. Again, we have things backwards. Consciousness is not some little tiny dot in the middle of the big beautiful picture we call the universe. The big beautiful picture is in consciousness. It's the only way all problems (e.g., tractability, incommensurability, paradoxes, transductions, metaphysical, ontological, epistemological, scientific, etc.) get resolved.

You see, at the core of all of these conversations here on this thread is that we aren't very far apart from one another, MH2. You have some pretty fantastic ideas about reality that you can't prove, and I do, too.

But there is a difference, to my mind, between us. I start from the starting point that I know almost absolutely nothing but my direct experience (which I cannot describe or grasp, but which I know), and you start from abstractions and say you know or can readily know everything.

To you and others here, I should think that my view is completely fantastic. To me and maybe two others here, I think that your view is even more fantastic the more I look closely at the details. You say prediction is the final arbiter. I say that prediction is non-operative in any dream.


If I personally have any original contribution to make some day, it will be along the lines of comparative religious mysticism, showing in detail that the mystics of all religions go through the same stages using different vocabulary and that the symbolism of various religions can be understood as emanating from these internal experiences and that the symbols are very similar in many ways.

This would be a very interesting study, Jan--and useful to help to resolve some of the inter-religious misunderstanding in the world.
MH2

climber
Jun 8, 2013 - 12:06pm PT



You say that there must be billions of transduction systems up and running for "the human machine" to be working, but you can't seem to cite one.

Me. You. That's two.


Barsalou works within conventional neuroscience. Instead of looking at parts of the brain in isolation of others, as is done to answer certain questions, he looks at cognition as a whole. One of the things that makes study of the brain challenging is that everything is connected to everything else, whether directly or through a chain. Barsalou steps up to that challenge. The neuroscience tradition I worked in is not so ambitious. Personally speaking, I am not sure we have good enough information on how the parts work to start looking at how they all work together, but Barsalou is making guesses about this higher-order functioning and testing them in thought and experiment like any other scientist.

I remember being here, before:

http://psychology.emory.edu/cognition/barsalou/papers/Hasenkamp_Barsalou-Frontiers_NS_2012-meditation_connectivity.pdf

I wonder which of my sense modalities are involved?

Note to Jan and JL: the paper linked to above compares fMRI done on people with various degrees of experience in meditation and finds changes in "attentional" areas of the brain. This is what a physical basis for experience would predict. The brain is not only highly interconnected, it changes physically with each new experience. Some of the changes persist.


I am fine with spiritualists. I do not think they need legs to stand on, metaphorically speaking. They may say there are things beyond what we now know and measure. I do not care unless they insist I spend my time looking.

I do not claim that we will eventually know and understand everything. I only claim that we can learn more than we know, now.

WBraun

climber
Jun 8, 2013 - 12:17pm PT
I do not care unless they insist I spend my time looking.

But you are looking, even subconsciously you are looking and searching regardless.

This is why you are a fine human being that remains equipoise ......
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jun 8, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
German man locked up in a psychiatric hospital seven years - for telling the truth:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/28/gustl-mollath-hsv-claims-fraud

"A German man committed to a high-security psychiatric hospital after being accused of fabricating a story of money-laundering activities at a major bank is to have his case reviewed after evidence has emerged proving the validity of his claims.

In a plot worthy of a crime blockbuster, Gustl Mollath, 56, was submitted to the secure unit of a psychiatric hospital seven years ago after court experts diagnosed him with paranoid personality disorder following his claims that staff at the Hypo Vereinsbank (HVB) – including his wife, then an assets consultant at HVB – had been illegally smuggling large sums of money into Switzerland."
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 8, 2013 - 12:42pm PT
Roger Penrose has company. J.R. Lucas also thinks that the logic of formal systems shows us that the human mind cannot be mechanistic in the sense that a Turing machine is.
---


What gets lost here, as often happens in these discussions, is that the whole mechanistic/physicalist crowd is basically talking about the brain's capacity to process and register stimulai, and the objective and knowable biological processes they believe are associated with it. The wildcard in all of this, which gets no PT (playing time) in this crowd, is the self-awareness of what the brain is said to generate (sensations, thoughts, etc.). In a word: sentience.

MH2 is giving us fine and solid examples of the objctive side of what arises in Mind, be it measurable temperature etc. This constitutes the content or qualia of a subject's experience. The shortfall of this objectifying is that perforce it excludes the subject who is sentient, who "has the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity and the content passing through his or her experience."

Simply put, minus the subject and their sentience, the objective "sensations" and mechanical productions of the brain exist only as measurable electrtochemical phenomenon, not as subjective experience themselves. Saying these are the same thing is basically saying that a subject is no more the object observed or experienced. Science is doing a fine job of describing the process by which objects, sensations, thoughts and so forth are being generated in the brain, but the key component in experience, the experiencer/subject, is being left out of the equation.

JL

MH2

climber
Jun 8, 2013 - 12:42pm PT
But you are looking


You are a good pointer, Werner. I am pretty sure there is more going on than I am aware of.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 8, 2013 - 02:43pm PT
In a plot worthy of a crime blockbuster, Gustl Mollath, 56, was submitted to the secure unit of a psychiatric hospital seven years ago after court experts diagnosed him with paranoid personality disorder following his claims that staff at the Hypo Vereinsbank (HVB) – including his wife, then an assets consultant at HVB – had been illegally smuggling large sums of money into Switzerland.

On first reading this I immediately suspected some degree of collusion between the banking authorities , the court, and the state-run psychiatric institution to have this guy committed and therefore gotten out of the way.
Further reading in the link has confirmed my suspicions. It appears this thing has the potential to mushroom into a major scandal in the state of Bavaria.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 8, 2013 - 02:53pm PT
For those interested in the topic of determinism, you might find the following excerpt interesting:

Determinism

I could hold against it that you are not making any free choice at all, but that your choices are already determined by the time you make it. They are determined by the present conditions; that is outer conditions, such as environmental factors, events in your world, external necessities and inner conditions such as your genes, mental state, preferences, habits, and so on. I can also argue from a physicalist point of view:

All decisions happen in your brain. Your brain is a physical object and the processes inside your brain are ultimately physical processes which have causal relationships. This means that a decision can be viewed as a volitional impulse, or a certain brain state T' at a time t' preceded by another brain state T at a time t, and which is explained by the causal relationship T--> T'.

This view is called determinism. If you prefer a less abstract account, you could say that determinism views the universe as a giant machine. Every event in the universe is caused by antecedent events, which are themselves caused by other events, which are again caused by other events. Every event or phenomenon has thus infinite causal tentacles attached to it and each of these tentacles reach endlessly into the spacetime
history of the universe. Human beings including me and you are simply parts of this machine. Whatever you do, whether you sit down on a chair, scratch your head, or blow your nose, is fully determined by antecedent causes and could therefore not have happened otherwise. Hence, free will is an illusion.

Causal determinism argues from the premise that the future is determined by the past. This view is anchored in a mechanistic world view that understands the universe in terms of causal relations. It is illustrated most clearly in the thought experiment of “Laplace's demon” which is named after the 19th century French scientist Marquis de Laplace. The Marquis said in his Essai philosophique sur les probabilités, “We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all
forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.” More recent developments of chaos theory and statistical randomness are said to posit causal factors in the chain that preclude us knowing the future in any fixed way, but in retrospect, once said factors (all objective) were known and understood, the past could nonetheless be explained mechanically.


Libertarianism

Although Laplace's idea of an “iron block universe” is now obsolete, the determinist argument is still compelling. It is difficult to evade the logic of a linked chain of causes. Yet, a clever debater may juxtapose the causal chains of determinism with chains of free decisions and construct a history of free will. To illustrate this, let's consider the so-called restaurant example. I could say that my choice of lunch is completely free,
except for the limitations given by the menu. For example, I would not be able to order a pizza in a sushi restaurant. The limiting factor can be attributed to my antecedent free choice, namely the choice of the restaurant. Yet, this choice was also partly determined by external factors, such as the proximity of the restaurant and the opening hours.

Again, I could argue that I have previously chosen my location as well
as the time to appear at the location, and so on. What I am doing here, is viewing the same events from a perspective that emphasises volition rather than the external circumstances. I am implying that decisions emanate from me, rather than me being caused to act in a certain way. In other words, my premise is that my decisions are self-caused. Causality cannot be traced back beyond my inner world. The buck stops here. This view is called libertarianism, or rather metaphysical libertarianism in order to distinguish it from political libertarianism.

Metaphysical libertarianism is founded on two assumptions: (1) that human beings are rational agents who posses the capacity of freely choosing one action among various alternatives; (2) that human beings are either exempted from causal determinism, or that causal determinism is not applicable to the mind. There are a few things which speak in favour of this position. For example, it assigns the capabilities of deliberation, self-control, self-moderation, self-guidance, and even self-mastery to human beings. Without these capabilities, human beings would be
pretty much like mindless buoys who believe they can swim, while they are really just bobbing up and down in a deterministic ocean. Most importantly, libertarianism assigns moral responsibility for their actions to human beings. Without moral responsibility, there would be no point in punishing or praising people for their actions. There would be no need for laws. Thus libertarians often defend their position by deconstructing determinism:

Hard determinism, which rejects free will altogether, results in several absurdities. First, the absence of free will contradicts our direct experience. We experience the act of making choices as exercising control over future events. Rationality would be impossible without the capacity of choice. Second, the deterministic view invalidates moral quality of actions and ethical choices, since humans follow a plot and are
therefore not more responsible for their acts as a machine is responsible for processing a program. A compassionate human being is then simply a compassion machine, while a murderer is a murder machine. Third, the deterministic view does not accommodate recursion well, such as self-awareness and reflection. For example, if we act following a causal behaviour pattern, we can say we are trapped in this pattern until we become aware of it. Once we become aware of the cause and effect of
our own behaviour, however, this awareness influences our behaviour, and possibly even changes it persistently. Determinism does not account for this phenomenon. It cannot explain the quantum leap in consciousness required for self-awareness. More generally, it cannot account for the phenomenon of awareness itself.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Jun 8, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
You guys may be interested in this:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/is-denial-the-secret-of-humanitys-success/article12428138/
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jun 8, 2013 - 04:26pm PT

I can imagine a whole range of approaches from Chakras for Christians, to Universal Chakras, to Kundalini for Atheists.

Jan, i have dipped into the realm of chakras through my back, back when I was rowing at UCSB. It REALLY had an energizing and straighting effect in my back and shoulders!
All physical, though it did make me feel really good!

But as a Christian praying in The Spirit and Interceeding with the Holy Ghost, there is NOTHING more profound and moving in my conscious. IME. No chakras to me are a lot like
the experiences I have practicing Tai Chi, and the Iron Lung breathing techniques that open
up blocked energy pathways. It is very exhilarating once you regain flow. The hard part is
keeping unblocked especially in the torturous work of construction.

Praying in The Spirit is somewhat similar to the above description in that Im not always able to connect because of some sorta blockage in my consciousness. Then I must search my mind
and my heart and discover where I am holding onto to some sortof hate or malice or envy
towards my brother or sister and purge this affliction into the Light. And go to my brother
to seek forgiveness. Then repent. And Gods Spirit is ALWAYS standing there with open arms.
And the rejoicing begins. This is the type of Energy release that can entirely change the direction of ones life. Amen.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 8, 2013 - 05:01pm PT
Me. You. That's two.

You're being obtuse and clever. It's non-responsive.

Barsalou's work I tried to point you to (more than one) was more germane to problems of transduction.

I know it doesn't matter.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 8, 2013 - 09:05pm PT

As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

— Max Planck, 'Das Wesen der Materie', 1944

Can't imagine Max getting much screen time these days with such ideas.

JL
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Jun 8, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
Seems to sum up everything you've been trying to say all along. Could've saved yourself a lot of time by just posting it right off the bat.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 8, 2013 - 09:30pm PT
We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter

God? Intelligent design? Apparently not our individual minds unless you construe them to be part of a cosmic mind.

Even the great masters wax metaphysical.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Jun 8, 2013 - 09:30pm PT
We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind

finally

after asking multiple times I have the answer of exactly what JL ultimately "believes'

thanks for posting that, it explains a lot to me
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