Religous debates and questions [2]

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:20 am

I suppose its how far down the animal chain you associate cognitive rationale.
Grooming is mutually beneficial in lots of animal groups for example without the need for either a God or a moral framework for it to work.
I have three cats they all seem to respect each other positions in the scheme of things, and as when boundaries are tested there will often be repercussions the long term choice my cats take is 90% of the time to cooperate and respect each others boundaries.


Last edited by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:22 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by azriel Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:21 am

Ere, are these blokes swearing again  scratch 

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:22 am

That depends Azriel which God you ask!

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Post by richardbrucebaxter Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:51 am

I suppose its how far down the animal chain you associate cognitive rationale. - Petty

That is an interesting question. Given our beliefs in cognition are encoded (although they may of course be nurtured), and that they are highly connected to our emotional systems, I wouldn't be surprised if they exist in some form in less developed species. My usual argument is that not even a monkey would wish to deny its existence (although it is perhaps difficult to make this call without a language whose syntax extends beyond "noun-verb-noun"). [Although a variety of social mammals are able to demonstrate an important marker of self-awareness, a more conservative estimate would associate such cognitive rationale with the development of theory of mind; the ability to make/explicate judgements based on cognitive models].

The sentience of a monkey is of course an unrelated philosophical question that has no bearing on this dilemma. It is subject to a somewhat arbitrary extension of the accepted mapping between physical-extraphysical mind in the human species, although may be enlightened by research into similarities in brain structure and functioning between species. Note that if we accept our own conviction in our existence as being generated by (represented in) our brain, ie physicalism, then we have no less reason to believe in the existence of another human being whose brain contains similar such representations. The ability to extend this logic to dissimilar organisms is however open to speculation.
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Post by Orwell Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:09 pm

If this means (basically) do I believe other humans exist, then I have to say, I do. If you ask, does God exist - whether for just humans or for ALL and Everything including or not including monkeys - then I would say, well, not in a Superstitionist sense, no.

A Superstitionist (to me) is someone who believes Someone - other than ourselves - made up lots of Universal Moral Laws and imparted them on us Historically (possibly on Mountain tops in writing on stones, or on brass plates iin America, or similar) or through direct Revelation via Chosen Peoples or Chosen Individuals (who had it dictated to them by an Ultimate Being).  

Richard, you must know of course that Scientific arguments are quite out of place on a Religous Thread, no matter what Religious Modernists or Apologists might say. Religion has nothing to do with actual Science because it's First Premise (Cause?) is Faith. Faith is always the Religious fall back position and always will be. You can't argue with Faith and can never do anything but waste your time 'discussing' the pros and cons of actual Reality with a Religiously motivated person - though doing it for fun is okay, of course. Like discussing Ents. That's fun. (More fun, I'd say).

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Post by halfwise Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:07 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Surely moral actions comes out of need and success?

If I kill my neighbour and steal all his grain I get more grain and thats good, for a bit.
If I strike a deal with my neighbour and I get some grain all the time in return for some eggs I can afford to go without then I benefit much, much more for a longer period of time and  so does make my neighbour, making my neighbour less likely to view me as a threat or someone to kill to steal the eggs.
Nothing supernatural about it.
Its not thats its immoral from on High to kill my neighbour, its that its a stupid strategy.
Morality is a result and product of evolution.

I don't think this really cuts it, Petty. This means if you see someone dying in the street of a disease that has no cure, you have no reason to help make the remaining days of his life more comfortable because there is no way he can help you. Maybe you can help him and advertise what a nice guy you are and maybe we should strike a deal to help each other, but why should someone keep such a deal except to keep the whole system dissolving in a rash of backstabbing? Would it be pointless to help the person without advertising that such a system needs to be put in place? It just becomes too complicated, and it doesn't fit with our inner feeling that we should help one another, even if there is no benefit to ourselves.

Maybe morality is a set of simple rules to help such mutual backscratching systems develop, but that feels somewhat unsatisfying to me.

For me, I think human beings are fascinating, and deserve to be treated with respect. This may not be much better, but it does bring in an almost mystical feeling that all people should help one another, and animals in pain, and fix works of art that have been marred by graffiti even if nobody will ever see it.

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Post by Orwell Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:58 pm

We either recognize other humans or we don't. If we are in immediate competiion (either for food or ideas) then we can treat each other badly (or practically - like the other animals do). If we are not in competition our broader tribal instincts may click in. We are the same tribal animal and usually recognize that. We are generally more often cooperative by nature than we are competitive.  We also have developed psychologies that can be mutually benefical. Which I think is Petty's point, Halfy.  Very Happy

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Post by halfwise Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:11 am

We can say we have this inbuilt morality because it's beneficial to the species, but I think the glory of humanity is we can step beyond that. A system built purely on mutual support may be logical but it's not fundamentally inspiring. I think morality should have a nodding relationship with logic, but also push us beyond that to be truly effective.

Perhaps this is just pushing an inbuilt biological tripwire, but if so, it's a tripwire that has resonance. Don't think it's just confined to us: your dog will stand by you even if it means starvation, and there's something transcendent in that.

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Post by Orwell Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:16 am

halfwise wrote:Perhaps this is just pushing an inbuilt biological tripwire, but if so, it's a tripwire that has resonance.  Don't think it's just confined to us: your dog will stand by you even if it means starvation, and there's something transcendent in that.

But if he gets hungry enough, he may yet eat you. I know of no documented cases of a dog starving rather than being forced by circumtances to eat what's available. Even if there are documented cases, I wonder if that's one of those exceptions proving the rule situations? I'd like to know of a documented case or two just the same.  Shrugging

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Post by halfwise Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:30 am

Well, a dog will act like he'll starve with you, even if he'll make good use of you once your gone.  That's got to count for something...

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Post by Orwell Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:38 am

So you were meaing your dog won't eat you if you're still alive. That's quite a different peckle of pickles if you ask me. Laughing

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Post by richardbrucebaxter Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:55 am

There could be more than one sentient being per human body. One might only have access to specific sense data (a dumb mind). Another might have access (strict mapping) to the awareness of the cognitive agent (the core program running in the CNS) in which case it would be/experience the "I". And another could experience exactly the same internal stimuli and make exactly the same decisions...
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:25 am

Clustering- very shamanistic.
Humans as not one entity but a collection bound together in a cluster.

There is certainly some basic truth in it- a single human being contains more than human dna- there are bacteria that live on and in us that we have become symbiotic with it. Hell ever single cell in our body gets its power from a foreign lifeform.

In that respect collective conciousness already exists in each one of us.

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Post by richardbrucebaxter Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:22 pm

Of course no one is suggesting that we should believe in multiple observers (physicalism for example denies their existence by definition); it is just a philosophical possibility. Yet it provides an example of the intellectual integrity of practically every spiritualism in history, including those adopted by mainstream religion. Faith in axioms (including those regarding the observer) provide the basis of any world view, including philosophical naturalism. Not only are they implicitly taken for granted in everyday life, relationships, and morality.

Without a framework to explain the existence of mind (given the physical world as presently conceived functions perfectly fine without it), assertions of rationality need to be checked. Our brain contains and has evolved a representation of the mind; its cognitive model of an internal observer so happens to map to mental existence itself. We are programmed to believe this (or have an innate capacity to develop theory of mind), but it doesn't mean the relationship is necessitated by us believing it to be so. This is where people start to offer up arguments for why we are here.

The problem with applying the anthropic principle to this problem is that;
a) there is no (metaphysical) evolutionary mechanism considered for the alignment of mental properties to arbitrary subsets of the physical world (the CNS of developed human brains) - as the coevolution of a mental world as distinct from the physical world would deny physicalism and require interactionism. The philosophical naturalist is usually the last person to consider these claims seriously. 
b) Likewise selection effects only operate for necessary states - the reality of mental existence is under physicalism redundant (overdetermined and unnecessary). While the tautological anthropic principle demands the existence of the observer, and hence mental properties, they are not necessary from the physical universe's perspective (as presently conceived) and they remain an anomaly. A philosophical multiverse has no reason to facilitate such systems alignment.

The best and only attempts as far as I am aware to construct an explanatory philosophical naturalism involve panpsychism.
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Post by azriel Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:24 pm

Pardon ?

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Post by azriel Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:26 pm

Actually I agree with the 1st part...... let me read on, back in a mo.

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Post by azriel Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:28 pm

Statement A I agree with on a personal basis......

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Post by azriel Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:32 pm

panpsychism. Are you saying my carrots have some sort of consciousness.?
Im not being sarcastic here but, I have wondered in the past, that, due to lack of verbal contact & mental understanding & a clear cohesive framework of speech, can items of living structure actually FEEL ? sap pours from a tree so, can it feel pain ?

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Post by David H Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:56 pm

Hi Richard,
I was following your thoughts for a while, but then you lost me on terminology,
{{{sort of like when the Fjordlanders start speaking in that barbaric tongue of theirs.  Rolling Eyes }}}

I'm not complaining, but I'd suggest that if you want a discussion, it would help if you translated some of the terms.
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Post by azriel Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:37 pm

(I had to google some of the text he chose )
Not saying Im thick tho !
Im not COMPLETELY thick
I dont think
 scratch 

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Post by richardbrucebaxter Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:44 pm

Oh yeah Azriel, I dont adhere to philosophical naturalism; this is just laying out the requirements and limitations of attempts to explain nature with nature.

Definitions are fundamental to any enquiry as you point out David. Note I have covered most of this material already in less technical terms, but hopefully these summaries will help in its clarification.

The second paragraph basically says the physical laws of the universe (as presently conceived) do not necessitate mind - the universe can be described to function perfectly without it. (Interpretations of QM have suggested the observer may play some role in nature, but I have omitted this here as the laws still do not describe the observer, certainly not in anything but physical properties). Furthermore the fact our belief in mind is innate (it may be evolutionarily adaptive) cannot be used as a basis for accepting this belief. Any account of nature must therefore offer explanation for its existence.

The third paragraph part A highlights what we might expect if the complexity of mental existence were produced by a selection effect. As the laws and conditions of biological evolution are believed to be constrained by the multiverse (in philosophical naturalism), so too might we expect mind and its relationship to the physical universe to have a similar capacity to evolve based on natural law (which can in turn be selected for in a multiverse). There is absolutely no evidence that mind evolves independently (this would require substance dualism and mutually beneficial interaction between mind and matter, cf substance causal models of free will). It is almost always considered a property of the material world.

The third paragraph part B assumes a material basis of mind, and highlights the difficulty of developing a selection mechanism in a multiverse that facilitates the development of redundant mental properties. They are unnecessary to the material world, and there is no reason for them being aligned (irrospective of the number of candidate universes available). Ie why an organism's belief in (its brain's model of) the non-physical should correspond to the non-physical.

If one does a comparison of the dominant elemental abundances of the universe and a human being they will discover a fascinating correspondence (our universe has been selected for to generate the exact materials required to construct carbon based life; H, C, O, N, the exception being He). But we already know the laws of our universe are fine tuned for life. They must be, otherwise we wouldn't be here to talk about it. Fine tuned for stable nuclei, molecules, the genetic code, and its ability to evolve based on incremental mutations (providing seamless transitions from one viable organism to the next through the modification of minute fractions of the data file). Our universe must even possess the ability for mental existence to emerge from the arrangement or function of these inevitable complex physical structures (life), even if there is not and may never be a physical explanation for this coincidence. So what does the anthropic principle say about the nature of creation? Nothing, it is a tautology. There is no question the universe was made for us (no culture has ever doubted it), the only question is by what.
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Post by azriel Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:08 pm

I do understand what you are saying, I can absorb it , I think our vocabulary is different  Smile  Dont ask me to define or fine tune the contents tho !  Very Happy  I think the last sentence sums up what people want to ask, but, will we ever gain the answer ? And thats what pees people off maybe ?

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Post by David H Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:52 pm

Thanks for the clarification Richard. Thumbs Up 
I'll happily confess to being philosophically out of my depth here, but it seems to me that the underlying arguments in the 3rd paragraph seem to have an "absence of evidence => evidence of absence" quality to them. I'm I missing something?

Also, were you responding to somebody in particular when you brought anthropic principles into the discussion?

One of the things that confused me on first reading was that you referred to "the tautological anthropic principle" as if that were the name of a single principle. I think I see now that you were referring to all anthropic principles as fundamentally tautological. Do I have that right?
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Post by halfwise Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 pm

azriel wrote:panpsychism. Are you saying my carrots have some sort of consciousness.?
Im not being sarcastic here but, I have wondered in the past, that, due to lack of verbal contact & mental understanding & a clear cohesive framework of speech, can items of living structure actually FEEL ? sap pours from a tree so, can it feel pain ?

I'm kind of fond of the idea of carrots being conscious, but trapped in their little orange bodies, desperate to communicate as we go one blithely yanking them out, chopping them up... A whole microcosm of living hell going on right below our noses that we are totally unaware of.  No 

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Post by David H Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:51 pm

halfwise wrote:
azriel wrote:panpsychism. Are you saying my carrots have some sort of consciousness.?
Im not being sarcastic here but, I have wondered in the past, that, due to lack of verbal contact & mental understanding & a clear cohesive framework of speech, can items of living structure actually FEEL ? sap pours from a tree so, can it feel pain ?

I'm kind of fond of the idea of carrots being conscious, but trapped in their little orange bodies, desperate to communicate as we go one blithely yanking them out, chopping them up...  A whole microcosm of living hell going on right below our noses that we are totally unaware of.  No 

Speaking as a farmer, I can tell you that plants regularly behave in ways that are easy to model as "purposeful", especially when you look at large populations collectively. Moving toward the sun, seeking water or particular soil types, growing symbiotically or competing ruthlessly with their neighbors (ya see, I just said "neighbors" Embarassed ).  

It's very useful to a farmer to anthropomorphize plants. As a matter of fact, I'd say you'd be at a significant disadvantage if you DIDN'T anthropomorphize them.  
It's how we humans understand natural models best.  :carrot:  Nod  :carrot:
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