Radar's Apologia Pro Vita Sua

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by radarmark, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    I am no philosopher or metaphysician or theologian. Nor a real scientist or mathematician or physicist. But I "do" those things.

    What is meant by that is I think I live an examined life; but am not academically qualified to pass judgment on it. Questioning politics, ideologies, philosophies, the nature of reality, the nature of the D!vine, sciences, mathematical viewpoints, and the underlying ideas of various physics.

    However, I can (and too often do according to my shrink) pass judgment on my life and my choices and my beliefs.

    So forgive the following thread and try to have empathy for why it exists.
     
  2. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Oh no! Westernspeak! :eek:

    My rough guess at translation: Radar's written defense of his personal pro life position? (Is that correct? I really need grammar lessons for Westernspeak.) :eek:
     
  3. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Wait, I think I saw this movie. Weren't you played by Albert Brooks? :)
     
  4. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    "A Defense of His Life". I think Oliver Hardy played me (perhaps Orson Wells?).:eek:
     
  5. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    The view from a 50kft (strategic) level


    There are certain tasks a human being (or any other macroscopic entity) must accomplish to continue the existence of the group or oneself. If some predator launches a club or war-hammer or hatchet in our direction, we can duck out of the way given sufficient warning and fast twitch nerve reaction (a fly or gnat has an advantage here). For the species to propagate we (or even the shortest lived Mayfly) must plan, get in shape, woo, consummate, and (to some extent) provide care for offspring.


    While simplified, this is pretty much the fabric of life, the warp of survival and the woof of propagation. The case can be made for physics to be a kind of application of survival skills (in the example escaping the club or swatter, in the case of a gnat). Similarly the act of doing philosophy may be seen as an application of the sills of propagation in service of metaphysics.

    In the case of a thrown club the data must be gathered (seeing the threat), integrated with prior experience (how quickly it is moving and where it will be at later times), a hypothesis must be made (plotting how to move), and action taken (duck and roll, perhaps). In this the knowledge of nature (φύσις pronounced physis in the Greek, whence comes our term "physics") is used to survive.


    Similarly to propagate a metaphysics (from the Greek combination of μετά, pronounced meta, meaning “after”, "beyond", or "upon" and φυσικά, pronounced physiká, meaning physics) of, say, the notion of strict scientific material monism, a philosophy—from the Greek φιλοσοφία pronounced philosophia, meaning "love of wisdom”—is used to plan, woo, consummate, and care for the replicant version (ensuring the continuation of the metaphysics or "that which is beyond physics").
     
  6. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    I was thinking "Defending Your Life" with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.
     
  7. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    I know, I was type-casting the part. Even though I lost 150 pounds in high school, and then lost 200 recently (2006-2009 or so)... I identify with Messers Hardy and Wells.
     
  8. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Ah, I see. So if I may ask, what really needs to be defended here? What I mean is , do you feel the need to explain or defend a personal view?
     
  9. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Defense is built into our very being: it is a primal thing.
     
  10. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    No, it is a rather oblique and old-fashioned way to state "this is what I believe".
     
  11. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Ah, I see. And by posting this here, are you inviting discussion or just sharing your perspective? I only ask so as not to interfere with your intent by discussing what you've written.
     
  12. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    The view from a Brigadier’s (operational) level


    Okay, so much for the strategic (what it would be like if I ruled the world); let us bring it down to a contemporary (at least XXth Century) view.

    Physics passed beyond the Newtonian-Cartesian Realm with the advent of General Relativity (GR) and Quantum Mechanics (QM). In my previous post I likened physics to simple dynamics (like playing baseball… not that I can do that). As human beings, we look out into what is actually happening and formulate well-formed formulae to predict the parabolic flight of a Texas Leaguer or the percentages of hitting an inside ball. But that all changed after Einstein (who was, really the last serious classical physicist; as Newton was the last serious alchemist).

    "Die Feldgleichungen der Gravitation” (The Field Equations of Gravitation, Einstein, 1915; see http://www.god-does-not-play-dice.net/energy.html) wherein Einstein laid down his theory of General Relativity, stands as one of the truly original works of physics ( see also Wikipedia’s pretty good coverage at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_relativity). In the nearly 100 years since then, however, the Situation has changed (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternatives_to_general_relativity or http://arxiv.org/pdf/0811.4132v1.pdf Footnotes 1 or 2). Einstein’s original equations are just incorrect and have to be modified (which is all that “Dark Energy” or “Dark Matter” or “String Theory” does). But so be it, Newton and Leibnitz were not right 100% of the time either.
    The real roadblock (IMHO) to the paradigm of modernism in science and physics was QM. Sorry, unless you want to believe in a “Garden of Forking Paths” the assumptions of causality and determinism just disappear. The reference to Borges is merely indicative of the snobbery I feel towards Everett “many worlds theory” and all its imitators.

    Okay, while it is logically possible that Reality subdivides micro-instant-by-micro-instant and it is , again, logically possible, that I do not feel or experience these transitions… does it really make sense that the Universe or Reality or the D!vine to be so arbitrary and, let us face it, so mean? When my bride was 3 or 4 she remembers that her father put her on his thigh while he was sitting down to give her a pony ride, and then let her slide down all the way off his foot to fall on the floor. Why? To “teach her never to trust anyone that much”. I believe that cruel and just plain mean; and very parallel to the D!vine choosing to impose either “Many Worlds Theory” or “solipsism” (the possibility that we are the only mind in existence and that everything else is merely trickery a la the Wizard of Oz. If the Universe (or the D!vine) is really so petty and cruel, I really prefer to choose some alternative.

    I am not the world’s greatest thinker, but I (unlike Feynman) can at least accept QM and Bell’s Theorem (BT) as literally true in all instances. Not that hard if you are well-versed in probability theory. I realize not everyone is; but that is a different subject.

    The bottom line for XXth Century physics is QM (via BT) trumps GR and we just have to figure out a way to deal with that.

    That physics-based-opinion (as a probability theorist I really do not think much more than tautologies are certain, so everything and every statement about anything has some fuzz on it… and Mother Nature does not trim or shave or wax) leads me to a “philosophy of physics” and a “philosophy of science” (see Philosophy_of_physics and Philosophy_of_science) a little aberrant or off center or unexpected. I truly believe in Reality but do not believe in locality, determinism, or hard causality locality ,determinism, or causality (in any hard sense). Which, in turn, makes it easy for me to see XXth century philosophy (or “modernism ” up to and including “post-structuralism”) as something to be avoided for the most part (the exceptions being Process Philosophy and the Popperians). This philosophy of physics is very close to the Stapp-Penrose-Heller school of GR as a subset of the Copenhagen Interpretation. And the philosophy of science very close to that of Callender, Kitada, Tanaka, and Whitehead (obviously centered on the problem of time and proof).
    That brings us to my focus: metaphysics. Which I shall use two donann-type references to expalin:
    “It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject matter: metaphysics was the “science” that studied “being as such” or “the first causes of things” or “things that do not change.” It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way, and for two reasons. First, a philosopher who denied the existence of those things that had once been seen as constituting the subject-matter of metaphysics—first causes or unchanging things—would now be considered to be making thereby a metaphysical assertion. Secondly, there are many philosophical problems that are now considered to be metaphysical problems (or at least partly metaphysical problems) that are in no way related to first causes or unchanging things; the problem of free will, for example, or the problem of the mental and the physical.”

    From Peter van Inwagen

    “Speculative philosophy” for Whitehead is a phrase he uses interchangeably with “metaphysics.” However, what Whitehead means is a speculative program in the most scientifically honorific sense of the term. Rejecting any form of dogmatism, Whitehead states that his purpose is to, “frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted” (PR 3).

    From Gary L. Herstein

    With that I close the strategic synopsis and the operational overview. Expect my tactical details to be in “common-sense language” (colloquial English).
     
  13. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    By all means, Paladin, weigh in, I am not speaking to myself here. Otherwise this would be in my dream journal!
     
  14. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Gunwale to Gunwale (Tactical) level

    What, really is reality? Is it possible everything I see and think and smell is an illusion? A Dream? Well... not really. I know what I mean by "dream", I have dreampt (just to mention one... Queen Latifah dressed and as large as she was in Chicago and Madeline Kahn in the last scene of Young Frankenstein--and me in the middle). And most (over two-thirds) does not fit with what I call "dream". Nor is it illusion, again, as I have experienced illusion (Gestalt images and a very good Magician). Ditto for hallucination (from 104 temperature or not sleeping for three days).

    What reality is (for me) is the sum total of particular things, be they physically or mentally sensible. Actualities, if you will. Today I experienced the actuality of a long day mowing. Yesterday I experienced the actualities of reading a good book. If course there are other actual things I also experienced each day.

    And what are these actualities? Moments of experience... either physical (exterior) or mental (interior). No matter where I look or what I reflect on or what I remember or what I plan, I look at, reflect upon, remember, and plan for things that were, are, or hope-to-be actual. Is there anything else?

    take the biggest actuality... the whole of the Kosmos. I experience it as pictures, sounds, tastes. I can experience the Horsehead Nebula by seeing it as a video or still; with the addition of a set of a set of stabilizing concepts (from cosmology and relativity) I experience it in a slightly different way. I can experience (and have) a quantum event. Again another slightly different set of stabilizing concepts allow the experience to change from an actuality of a quantum event to the actuality of an understood quantum event.

    Buy two sets of cheap polarized sunglasses, take out the lenses. Put two of them at ninety degrees (the long side of one is perpendicular to the long side of the other. Look through them... no light should come through (if any does turn one lens until the light disappears). The trick here is that the first lens absorbs all the photons that wiggle one way and the second absorbs all that wiggle in the opposite direction (this is a very rough explanation). Put a third lens in between the two at forty five degrees to the others. A little light should appear to be transmitted.

    This is a macroscopic quantum event (I can explain it if you want). I have experienced this many times. As I have experience the myriad forms of actualities (hate, fear, love, lust, thought, physical exhaustion, pain).

    Is there anything else to reality but these kinds of actualities? I do not believe so (if I reject solipsism and the thought of being the thought of a greater individual's mind and the notion of a foreign "dream" or "illusion" or "hallucination").

    Much more to come.
     
  15. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Okay so far, but I question the use of the word "actuality" considering the nature of how a human being perceives its reality. I don't necessarily disagree, but considering Kant's idea of not really knowing the thing in and of itself, thinking we are at any time accurately experiencing an objective reality seems unlikely.
     
  16. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    But what I am saying is that what we experience (the actuality) is the reality (rather their sum is). I do agree that the world (per Kant and most philosophers) is divided either between mental and physical or between "real stuff" and "stuff we perceive"). I see and know of no evidence for "real stuff" beyond actualities.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree with Paladin here ...

    I think you can only speak for you. I'm not sure we can say that any two people experience the same thing precisely. My mum and my dad have very different thresholds to heat/cold/pain etc., which we have inherited (my sisters follow my dad, I follow my mum), so we have different experiences of temperature. I can happily rest my hand in water that would have my dad howling ...

    I know what you mean by internal and external, but in the end, everything is internal — it's a construct in the mind fed by the senses.

    The Quantum experiment you mentioned, I as a kid did the same thing with two pairs of polaroid glasses, but never got a fraction of the understanding that you have, it was just fun that the glass went dark — so your actual in that instance is a far greater and far better informed actual than mine.

    I think that's over-stating the case. I think scientists (etc.,) see evidence for further 'real stuff' in the real stuff they look at, where the man in the street sees no evidence of anything beyond the immediate actuality he's looking at.

    I remember listening to a talk by the guy who invested the Fiery RIP for image processing. He got the idea by watching someone making photocopies. He had all the science in his head by the time he got back to the office, and the key was how long it took to scan the image ... Now, I've waited in the queue for a copies, and all I saw was how painfully bloody slow the thing is, when you're in a hurry.

    But my point is Efi Arazi saw a 'real possibility' in a given actuality, whereas most other people just saw a photocopier ... ?

    Surely Quantum Phenomena was not 'real' two hundred years ago?

    Does not science proceed by positing hypothetical 'real stuff' and then working towards proving it?

    Science has opened up vistas of that which was 'unreal' a few generations ago, technologies unlocking the microcosmic and the macrocosmic ...

    Then take that picture of planet earth, taken from Apollo whatever ... many commentators said it has 'changed our reality' about the way we perceive ourselves and the world.

    Good ol' Eriugena, in the 9th century, in his "The Division of Nature" posited that nature is defined as universitas rerum, the 'totality of all things', and that the first division is into those things which are (ea quae sunt) and those which are not (ea quae non sunt).

    The key, and the breakthrough — a full thousand years ahead of its time — was that Eriugena posited the human subject is the perceiving object upon which all our conclusions are based.

    So the first division is between those things that are perceptible and intelligible, and those things that transcend normal perception and intelligibility.

    Surely to say that there can be nothing that transcends the human senses is, I suggest, something of an over-statement?

    Don't know if this helps, just throwing it in there ...

    ... but enjoying the thread so far, so don't let me side-track you.

    Just a closing thought – the problem is, of course, we use science, we use empirical methodology, but as creatures we're way more than that, we seek not only to understand what things are, but what that means, and that goes way beyond the empirical data...
     
  18. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    I will return to this in detail tonight. Suffice it to say I did not say we all experience the same actualities. Coming to grips with what is "really out there" is a matter of intersubjective verifiability.

    Both Thomas and Paladin are focusing on beingness that are out there that cause our perception in time. I am focusing on the becomingness that is our perception without the unceessary step of postulating being.

    And it is precisely because this Western, Cartesian notion of material being causing mental (or in the most exterme cases the epiphenoninal illusion of mental) events that is the problem. The scienfistic, reductionistic paradigm is what must be re-thought. Like Thomas (and likely Paladin, though he does not expressly state it), the world and the individual are complex--that is "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” or physics, I would add.

    Imagine science, philosophy and religion being separate tents staked to the ground. I think to “frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted” is a worthy goal. It fits into a philosophical discussion (this thread) which fits into a discussion of faith (this forum) not because I wish to defend myself.

    Rather, I want help pulling up those tent stakes, sewing in some more sailcloth, and putting down a bigger tent. This is not meant to be a preaching, rather a group metsphysics (in the Aristotelian sense).

    Yes, we are trained to think of things scientifically and logically. Beingness has been the driving notion in the West for over twenty five hundred years. But is it correct? Is there an alternative (from the Western viewpoint and tradition) that can be constructed which addresses the non-scientific nature of the dao and the non-logical nature of Zen and the "we are just all members of one community" of High Sanatana Dharma?

    I wish to discuss it, not convince everyone.
     
  19. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    So then do I understand correctly that your concept of "becomingness" does not presuppose being? And if not, what is there that "becomes"?
    A human being by virtue of its physiology never comes in direct contact with its environment but forms perceptions as a result of signals sent to various parts of the neural structures in the brain. Thus, eyes do not see nor ears hear. Every bit of what we think is actuality, is only a representation created by the brain.
    I do agree that leaning on linear reasoning to apprehend reality is problematic, and fostering or cultivating a view similar to dependent co-arising is probably more accurate when considering functionality. This is still somewhat a scientific view as in the biopsychosocial approach to psychology.
     
  20. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Okay, I just tried to undo a post, blew it. Will answer in detail tomorrow night (and remember to compose in Word). Briefly, I am not denying physicality. I am denying Cartesian Dualism (the "physicalist consensus"). I am not preaching idealistic monism, but empiricism and rationality. Change (see Heraclitus) has been relegated to the back bench for too long (at least sense Aristotle). Being assumes (see platonic notions for an extreme view) non-changingness. Becoming as well as being must be addressed. This means seeing things more like Amit Goswami and less like Isaac Newton.

    We basically postulate the "physicalist consensus" due to four phenomena. First (in the West) it is what we are taught... more importantly the metaphysics of what we are taught. Second, equally important, is the repeatability of interactions. One who burns her hand in a flame the first time wonders. The second time learns. One who keeps putting their hand in a flame is either crazy ("Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" -- thank you Albert), suffering from congenital analgesia, or a real masochist. We make the (appropriate) hypothesis that if we experience some tactile input corresponding to flame, if we put out hand in it we will feel pain. Same with kicking a stone ("thus I refute Bishop Berkeley"-- thanks Samuel). This is the basis of scientific experimentation. Third, we accept the statements of others as "intersubjective objectivity". One perceives someone not a reflection that sounds differently and thinks differently. And when the thunder rolls you go "did you hear that", "yep". We experience actualities we do not control experiencing things in much the same manner as us.

    ASIDE: this is the beauty of Religious Society of Friends' "Silent Worship". The ministry that comes forth can be compared to our own notion of D!vine guidance.

    Finally, we use inductive logic. Logic based on "common sense" experience moving from the particular to the general ("All swans are white"). Notice, like experiment or authority (a kind of intersubjective objectivity) induction can be wrong. On top of that it is unprovable in terms of classic deductive logic (which should not be surprising since deductions that are true are trivial (tautologies) and say nothing about being or reality. Induction does. And it works.

    See, I do not deny physicality, just it's centrality. I do not deny knowledge, just certainty.
     

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