Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 12, 2013 - 04:00pm PT
Base said "This whole zen thing hasn't been thoroughly explained, or explained at all.

Since we acknowledge experts, let's get the down low on Zen. From our two experts."

Base just substitute zen with climbing in your sentence and you will get an idea how absurd it is. Explaining zen is like explaining climbing it doesn't get you the actual experience. If you truly are interrested in meditation /zen just go do it the same way you do with climbing and then report back what your experience was. Please do it with a teacher so you are not inventing your own practice.

But maybe you are more interested in talking about it? If so then carry on.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 12, 2013 - 04:17pm PT
new-age psycho-postmodern zen BS


New age? Zen has been around for hundreds of years. BS? What, exactly, are you selecting out from Zen that you are labeling BS?

This should be good because Zen has no content.

Meditation is an illusion? Explain, Fort, keeping in mind that there are no beliefs involved. What's more, the idea that yoy have to be discursively working for consciousness to be anything but idle is another wild guess not based on anything real or experiential.

Fort is also conflating mind with objective processing, believing as he does that mind IS processing and only so. Any wisdom tradition will tell you that mind is "empty." But Fort has no idea what that is, and calls it New Age psycho wuwu etc. another word for, "I have no idea. Show me the proof."

Can I get a witness. . .

Fort wants Zen and the esoteric arts to present a product, some proof that he can evaluate. The idea that this is not the approach is lost on him. But his native stubborness to look elsewhere, to switch course, to possibly learn something new, precludes anything but spinning in place.

But his take on all of this is dishonest because he implies he knows what he's talking about, based on no experience whatsoever, in a field that is first and foremost experiential, when in fact he is totally guessing based on evaluations from without.

JL
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Nov 12, 2013 - 04:35pm PT
This should be good because Zen has no content.

I should perhaps rephrase that to your interpretation of Zen is BS. The above nonsense being additional proof. No chants? No scriptures? No priests? No heirarchies of learning? No temples? No legends? No stories? No internal divisions? No factions?

No content indeed.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Nov 12, 2013 - 04:37pm PT
In linguistics it's well proven that one can't even discuss certain ideas in certain languages due to the very structure of the language, which does however, suit the culture which evolved it within a traditional setting. The Chinese sentence Ma ma ma ma, Why is the woman beating the horse?, would not be able to carry on a discussion such as this with all its nuances. That's why the Chinese are learning English in order to advance technologically

This is pretty funny, Jan.

Why would the sentence "Ma ma ma ma?" preclude having a discussion on linguistics or philosophy in Chinese?

The philosopher Heidegger was of the opinion that philosophy could only be done in German or ancient Greek.

(Incidentally, the Chinese should read more as: is the mother cursing the horse?)
WBraun

climber
Nov 12, 2013 - 04:41pm PT
If I devote a year of study to learning Farsi, I will finish with a basic ability to speak with a Persian.
If I devote a year of study to learning Small Business Accounting, I will (might) be able to balance my books.
If I devote a year of study to playing the guitar, I will finish with playing Stairway to Heaven.

All those will be lost at the time of death.

If I devote a year of study to learning meditation, what do I finish with?

That will carry over to your next life and is a permanent action when done correctly.

Stupid people who think they know what's going on make stupid assumptions like the backwards mental case, FortMentäl.
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 12, 2013 - 04:45pm PT
Zen Master Ummon said Buddha is dry sh#t on a stick! almost the same answer as fort mental. Does that make things clearer for you Base? lol
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 12, 2013 - 05:21pm PT
The above nonsense being additional proof. No chants? No scriptures? No priests? No heirarchies of learning? No temples? No legends? No stories? No internal divisions? No factions?
---


This laundry list of stuff is evident in many Zen centers, especially those offering Dharma transmission. But these, dear Fort, are simply the human trappings routinely found in most any human institution, in this case, a Zen center.

If you looked at the same list of things in terms of a university, where I have also fooled away many years, we would see college fight songs (chants), scriptures (text books), teachers and professors (priests), division of undergraduate and graduate programs (heirarchies of learning), laboratories and class rooms (temples), school traditions (legends), and of course there are internal divisions and factions within any human organization.

However these evident forms do not describe Zen nor yet the content you believe are implied by same. There are merely organizational tools by which groups of people may practice with order and traditional boundaries, the point of practice being to release attachments to every damn thing, including the chants, the priests, the legends, etc. and especially ideas of being spiritual or wise. It is always said that if you meet the Buddha in practice, kill him. That is, whatever stands in your way, kill it, let it go, move on.

I have noticed you and others who fail to see the sticking point with the Turing experiment commonly mistake output or external manifestation to be proof of the whole shooting match. That's why Fort old boy you keep insisting that the outward form is the all and everything. Knowing nothing whatsoever about Zen save for the cultural trappings, you surmise this is the essence of the whole business in order to shine the light of sage and sober reason on all those snake charmers and call BS on the deluded.

So long as you are looking at Zen and meditation as having a product knowable from the outside, and continue to call that product bullsh#t, you will be correct - but not for the reasons you are proposing. Rather because there is no product. As they say, "Whatever arises is not it."

But what the man said is probably the best advice so far. If you are really interested in knowing one true thing about any of this, just go and find out yourself. And get a teacher "so you are not inventing your own practice." And if you are instead interested in just talking about it - like some gumby who keeps yammering about climbs he will never attempt - then carry on. But kindly leave off labeling what you do no understand, at all, because so far you've been an embarassment to your own self.

JL
MH2

climber
Nov 12, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
I have noticed you and others who fail to see the sticking point with the Turing experiment commonly mistake output or external manifestation to be proof of the whole shooting match.


What is meant here by "the whole shooting match?"
jstan

climber
Nov 12, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
Jstan: What we do is the expression of us.

Mikel:It might be the expression of one, but it IS not one. Duchamp's "Nudes Descending A Staircase" provides an expression, but the painting is not Duchamp. The map is not the territory. What one does, does not define one's essence (apologies to Sartre and Camus).

You're about to fall into an ethical trap with this approach. It would be that the value or worth of people is what they do, productivity, "value creation," making X, doing. So to be of value, one must do. Folks who can't get jobs or gainful employment would be worth not the same as those who do or can.

We are called "human beings," not "human doings."

Doing, if it really matters, comes from being. (Even "what you are is what you are" needs some circumspection.)

This should take the conversation back to pure being, pure awareness. What is that? What is that for you?

Take a close look.
It might be the expression of one, but it IS not one

The one is important only to the one. The one will die, in time, and will disappear. The larger can be affected by the expression of one. The larger lives on. Historians may wonder about an essence of the one, provided the one actually did something. But the one will be long dead before the first historian appears.

Did Thomas Edison think long and hard on "the one". No. He was sleeping on his desk so that he might be able to return to work more quickly. His work? The electrification of America. Something he thought might be needed.

Time spent wondering about the one, is time wasted. Look at your schedule. That is who you are.


So to be of value, one must do. Folks who can't get jobs or gainful employment would be worth not the same as those who do or can.

Mike, it is you who fell into a trap. By your lights, money has to be involved for there to be "worth". A parent urges their child to take learning seriously. If that is to have worth, must the child pay the parent?

These discussion are entirely divorced from consequence. No lasting purpose.


Doing, if it really matters, comes from being. (Even "what you are is what you are" needs some circumspection.)

This should take the conversation back to pure being, pure awareness. What is that? What is that for you?

I have never thought on "pure being". Wait a bit and I won't be, so why waste time. I will know the pure being has ended - when I no longer can do. Till then I am busy expressing what I think needs to be expressed.


A couple weeks ago I was asked to help on a clean-up of Copper Mountain Mesa. I went out there for the first time. It is an ocean of sand with abandoned cabins built by long dead people who could barely afford to build even what they did. But they had a dream. The people I tried to help were tough, living as they do in an implacable ocean of sand. They too, have a dream.
How can one not help people who have a dream?

I was cleaning the area around a house on the road to the National Park. A lady came out and insisted I take a twenty dollar bill. Money is brutally hard to get here. People here desperately want to live without trash all around them. She had to want this very badly to part with that much money. She will receive that which she needs. I cleared every piece of land she sees from her house. But there is more.

When the government was shut down merchants in Joshua Tree lost 60% of their income.The National Park is an entirely new economic engine. It will have consequences. There is a new flow of resources and the people want very much to have a more beautiful desert. Seven different volunteer organizations have formed in just this area to achieve this.

It's coming. It's bloody well coming.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Nov 12, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
You do of course understand, FM, that in JL's eyes you are a treasure.
MH2

climber
Nov 12, 2013 - 08:52pm PT
We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.


Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 12, 2013 - 09:10pm PT

What is meant here by "the whole shooting match?"


If we look at the Turing experiment, one question (beyond the "intelligence" question) is: Can we tell my means of symbolic output (written words on a computer screen) if there is a sentient being generating these symbols in real time, or a fantastically creative machine downloaded with many things human per communication etc.

If by dint of the symbolic output, we cannot tell the difference between man and machine, some would saw that this is "proof" that a sufficiently sophisticated machine and a sentient being are much the same things in terms of manifestations. And since manifestations are the means by which science "knows" things, in the case of the Turing experiment, to know the machine is to know the sentient being, since their measurable output is essentially indistinguishable from each other.

Put differently, as John S. was saying earlier, a person is essentially what they do, and what they do can largely be described and measured or quantified in some way and in turn, can be known. Perhaps imperfectly, but known in the round at least. This is the promise of the strict materialists: That the product or output or measurable physical workings of
any person, place or thing tells the entire story per what is real. If it does not tell the entire story, it is only because of missing data (facts and figures) per the physical output.

Of course the glaring and obvious problem with this belief is that we can analyze the output of the Truing experiment till the cows come home and nothing in that symbolic output on the computer screen will ever suggest first person subjective experience. Not because the machine at the other end of the experiment has no such experience, but rather because no analysis of output can vouchsafe subjective experience, even if, or especially if it was a sentient being generating the symbols in the Turing experiment.


IOWs, "the whole shooting match" includes what is not betrayed by mere output: subjective experience, which is the fundamental reality for every living human.

Trying to understand things by working surface layers is destined to end up short changing the analyst, sometimes vastly. When Fort Mental tried to access Zen by way of the organizational trappings he read about on the internet (chants, priests, doctrine, etc.), he entirely missed the essence, which is not in the trappings, but in the experiential component. Evaluating the external output can no more betray the core of Zen than the Turing experiment can imply subjective experience.

And yet as self-evident as these examples are to some, the simple and universal fact that a book cannot be know by it's cover, so to speak, is lost on some. Likewise, that subjective and objective vantages are both required to encounter the full glory of reality, is also lost on some who insist that the objective holds all keys to all shooting matches. Of course this is a bald-faced mythology for anyone who looks closer, and avoids the materialst default position of conflating objective and subjective, whereby subjective is itself seen as output - except it can never be grasped as such. Bu anyone. At any time. All we can ever grasp from the outside is output.

JL
MH2

climber
Nov 12, 2013 - 09:24pm PT
Of course the glaring and obvious problem with this belief is that we can analyze the output of the Truing experiment till the cows come home and nothing in that symbolic output on the computer screen will ever suggest first person subjective experience. Not because the machine at the other end of the experiment has no such experience, but rather because no analysis of output can vouchsafe subjective experience, even if, or especially if it was a sentient being generating the symbols in the Turing experiment.


So according to you a human could not pass the Turing test?

From my reading, Turing was trying to isolate a part of human behavior called intelligence. His test was not about human experience in its totality.

His paper has much of interest:

http://www.loebner.net/Prizef/TuringArticle.html
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 13, 2013 - 11:31am PT
So according to you a human could not pass the Turing test?

From my reading, Turing was trying to isolate a part of human behavior called intelligence. His test was not about human experience in its totality.

His paper has much of interest:
-

Like most students of mind, we had to deconstruct Turnings material for ages. While Turing had one thing in mind, his thought experiment opened up discussion about many other topics, one of which I mentioned in my post. That was in refernce to your question: What is the whole shooting match?

Did you forget your question? Did the post answer it for you? Or was your question a "faux question," meaning you already had the "right" answer in you head? Never know the degree of sincerity on this thread. I'm serious only about a quarter of the time.

Lastly, it is an interesting question per intelligence if symbolic (numbers, words) output is the best earmark of same.

For those curious about the Objective/Subjective question, this is an interesting take from the hardcore science camp.



Subjective versus Objective

People have long debated the value of thoughts and ideas by the nature of approach to their investigation. It would seem that the validity of concepts, ideas and information is often judged by our notion of which of these classifications it is deemed to fit—Subjective or Objective. To attempt any understanding of these attitudes or arguments, it is first necessary to find a suitable definition of these terms. Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary provides some interesting insights into the vast diversity of what our language has come to signify by these terms.

Subjective: relating to or determined by the mind as the subject of experience; characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind; phenomenal; arising out of or identified by means of one’s awareness.

Objective: existing independent of mind; belonging to the sensible world and being observable or verifiable especially by scientific methods; expressing or involving the use of facts; derived from sense perception.

If you find it difficult to define exactly where sensory observation ends and individual awareness of that observation begins, you understand the problems of addressing this area of controversy. Even those who chose to selectively define the underlying terms must depend on another’s perception of that definition to have a meaningful discourse. The very nature of the argument, it seems, is one of definitions.

One of the differentiating factors of objective evaluation is its basis in scientific method. Although relatively recent in its definition, the methods used to investigate and evaluate "scientific" data have been agreed on as a means of determining what is real from what is just thought to be—the objective as contrasted to the subjective. Scientific method relies heavily on observation (sensory input), reproducibility (observing the same output from the same input repeatedly) and consensus (agreement by others on what is a correct observation). Even within the scientific method, there is heavy reliance on interpretation of sensory data, a function of the mind, to prove that a phenomenon (subjective) actually exists (objective) separately from the individual’s perception of it. It is a plain fact that at its most essential level, many objective "facts" are recognized through repeated subjective experience by enough concurring individuals for them to be accepted and designated as facts. There are many examples throughout scientific history of accepted "facts" that changed dramatically when enough persons experienced a conflicting phenomenon or perceived the old phenomenon in a different context. Copernicus changed what we know of science forever with his introspective insights into celestial observations, which had been interpreted differently and accepted as facts and laws for many years.

Even Popper’s "World 3" suffers this shortcoming of the objectivity test in that the contents of books, scientific theory or critical arguments change from century to century as our experience and perception of the phenomenological world change. Examine his example of proof for the existence and value of World 3 with a slight change. Imagine that all machines and tools are destroyed, and all our subjective learning, including our subjective knowledge of machines and tools and how to use them. Further imagine that all the books written since 1000 AD were also destroyed. Our ability to reestablish our civilization would be severely impacted by the inaccuracy and distortion of how the remaining information defines reality. We would, in effect, adopt the shared reality of that millennium as the basis for our facts, until the subjective experience of enough individuals and their interpretation of those experiences brought about another shift in our "scientific" awareness. We can quickly see that factual information is not, of itself, objective, but is a consensual description of subjective experiences.

British physicist-mathematician-astronomer Sir James Jeans cogently defined science as "the earnest attempt to set in order the facts of experience." He later observed that "Reality is in some sense constructed by the mind, not simply perceived by it, and many such constructions are possible, none necessarily sovereign."

Albert Einstein was abundantly aware of this aspect of scientific method. He observed that "our theories are inventions of our minds that we use for practical purposes, and that allow us to make comprehensible what is sensorily given. Fundamentally, in theory building we invent, and from our inventions infer, and then test for accuracy, economy, logical coherence, and scope." It then follows that "theoretical systems," an important inmate of Popper’s World 3, is actually a product of mind, and is inherently subjective by its very nature.

Seminal physicists like Niels Bohr and Nick Herbert, who leapfrogged over Einstein to develop the concepts of quantum mechanics, proposed that the distinction between subjective and objective is functionally non-existent. In The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot explains that "there is compelling evidence that the only time quanta ever manifest as particles is when we are looking at them. For instance, when an electron isn’t being looked at, experimental findings suggest that it is always a wave."

Herbert comments that this interpretation has sometimes caused him to imagine that behind his back the world is always "a radically ambiguous and ceaselessly flowing quantum soup."

Reality, that ultimate test of objectivity, may only be an individual subjective experience created by our participation and observation. Our collective reality may be constructed and rearranged by our thoughts, intentions and expectations. In the light of this "new science," the relative value of subjectivity versus objectivity, especially for the purpose of scientific investigation, seems to be as meaningless as the pre-Columbian debates over whether there were monsters at the edge of the known world, or just a bottomless pit.


Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Nov 13, 2013 - 11:53am PT
Fort Mental

I'm an anthropologist and I'm telling you that no academic makes definitive statements about the use of archaeological artifacts. We use phrases like..... it would seem that..., it appears that.... logical deduction based on other finds infers that....


Randisi-

Of course you can discuss philosophy and linguistics in Chinese but not with the same precision as you can in an inflective language like those in the Indo-European language family. There's a reason we developed Heideggar and they developed Taoism and Zen.

I've translated French to English enough to know that you can't even discuss philosophy in English with the same precision as French because French (and Latin) carry an even higher degree of inflection. It is common to have sentences in French that are a paragraph long and never mistake the subjects of the various subclauses because of the intricate rules of subject- verb and pronoun -verb etc. agreement, an impossibility in English.

However, describing an intricate bit of technology like a particular light on the large control panel at NASA is better done in English because of our use of prepositions and the possessive apostrophe.

Then again, Indo European languages can not do the sorts of puns, double entendres, and word games both oral and written, that the Chinese, Tibetans and Sherpas routinely do, because we do not have the large number of homonyms they do, nor the tone system. We are also babes in the woods when we try to explain tastes or cooking methods in Indo-European (even French) compared to the elaborated vocabulary of the Chinese.

Certainly modern Chinese scholars can discuss linguistics and western philosophy in Chinese (I have attended several bilingual conferences on Sino Tibetan linguistics in China) but only because someone has translated into Chinese all the technical terms necessary. This is normally done through description rather than sound mimicry since European languages unlike Chinese, are multi-syllabic and contain many sounds that do not exist in Chinese. The early versions of this process like electricity as "rope fire" and telephones as "lightning language" are indicative of the problem. Thus, high level scholars in China do graduate work in a western country in a western language, almost always English, to learn a precise vocabulary.

As for the written language, ideagrams like the Chinese characters, which are based on one idea (or more) one symbol, are not at all the same as an alphabetic one based one on sound, one symbol. They use different parts of the brain and each have their strengths and weaknesses, but they are not directly comparable.There is no way one can do a hundred word or hundred character story in Indo-European languages that can have more than one totally different meaning, depending on the interpretation. Yet Chinese literature is full of them.



MH2

climber
Nov 13, 2013 - 06:23pm PT
I'm serious only about a quarter of the time.


Don't worry. I don't take that statement seriously.

My question about "the whole shooting match" was serious. It seemed that you might have thought that the Turing test was proposed as a test of whether a machine was like a human. Turing states that the question is whether a machine could imitate human responses sufficiently well to fool an actual human.


Although the main idea is simple, Turing does address many other facets of the idea. On consciousness, for example:

This argument is very, well expressed in Professor Jefferson's Lister Oration for 1949, from which I quote. "Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain-that is, not only write it but know that it had written it. No mechanism could feel (and not merely artificially signal, an easy contrivance) pleasure at its successes, grief when its valves fuse, be warmed by flattery, be made miserable by its mistakes, be charmed by sex, be angry or depressed when it cannot get what it wants."

This argument appears to be a denial of the validity of our test. According to the most extreme form of this view the only way by which one could be sure that machine thinks is to be the machine and to feel oneself thinking. One could then describe these feelings to the world, but of course no one would be justified in taking any notice. Likewise according to this view the only way to know that a man thinks is to be that particular man. It is in fact the solipsist point of view. It may be the most logical view to hold but it makes communication of ideas difficult. A is liable to believe "A thinks but B does not" whilst B believes "B thinks but A does not." instead of arguing continually over this point it is usual to have the polite convention that everyone thinks.




TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 13, 2013 - 08:02pm PT
To Jan's point look at the page space in the now common multilingual instructions for any piece of technology.

German will usually require the least closely followed in second place by English.

How many great Physicists spoke Spanish natively?

How many great poets German?

I once got into a bit of a discussion with a young school teacher back in the days that "whole language" was the fad of the day.

The argument ended with this;

What kind of alphabet do we use?

"ugh?"

Phoenician!

What's the root word for phonics?

"ugh?"

Why would you teach someone to read English like it's Chinese?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 14, 2013 - 11:41am PT
This argument is very, well expressed in Professor Jefferson's Lister Oration for 1949, from which I quote. "Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain-that is, not only write it but know that it had written it. No mechanism could feel (and not merely artificially signal, an easy contrivance) pleasure at its successes, grief when its valves fuse, be warmed by flattery, be made miserable by its mistakes, be charmed by sex, be angry or depressed when it cannot get what it wants."

This argument appears to be a denial of the validity of our test. According to the most extreme form of this view the only way by which one could be sure that machine thinks is to be the machine and to feel oneself thinking. One could then describe these feelings to the world, but of course no one would be justified in taking any notice. Likewise according to this view the only way to know that a man thinks is to be that particular man.

-


Where Turing lost his way here is in conflating consciousness with what was going on with his test. Thinking to Turin is demonstrated solely by output, in his case, symbolic output on a computer screen. That output does imply thinking, if only from the person who programmed the machine that produced the symbolic output. But what Jefferson Lister is implying in the first graf is that subjective experiences like pleasure, grief, flattery, shame, sexual sensation, depression and so forth are NOT detectable from symbolic output.

JL
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Nov 14, 2013 - 12:30pm PT
Where Turing lost his way here . . . (JL)

Poor simpleton that he was . . .

Sometimes the levels of hubris on this thread are [fill in the blank]!


;>)
MH2

climber
Nov 14, 2013 - 12:37pm PT
Sometimes the levels of hubris on this thread are


Fun
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