Difference between science and religion

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  • #1
heusdens
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The important difference between science and religion is that religion comes with ABSOLUTE statements, that neither can be proved or disproved, and science evolves from relative truths and statements, that can be testified and proven false (which means: science has to develop, in order to replace (partly) untrue theories, and replace them with better ones).
Science does not claim it has absolute knowledge on anything. Religion claims it has.

All scientific theories are in principle disprovable, and in the end all theories will be disproven (at least it can be shown there is a limiiting case in which the theory does not work).

Religion can in principle not be disproven. Which does not contribute either to it's proof. It is also unprovable.

if something is neither provable nor disprovable, then it is useless.
It can only have value to people who prefer to be ignorant, and don't want to get into complicated knowledge, and prefer to believe in something that is disprovable.

Science is for people that realize that in order to aquire knowledge, some work (sometimes a LOT) has to be done! And even despite you put in a LOT oif work, someone else my disproof all (or part) of your work! That is : you have to try even harder!

Religion is for people who claim to know EVERYTHING ABSOLUTELY ("God created the world", for instance ) without having done any work to get to that opinion, and for which nobody can give any disproof. So it is a very safe position. You don't have to do WORK for entitling yourself an opinion on matters that seem important, and nobovy can force you to do some work for finding a better opinion, cause there lacks the ability to disproof you.

What a comfortable position!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Fliption
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Originally posted by heusdens

if something is neither provable nor disprovable, then it is useless.
It can only have value to people who prefer to be ignorant, and don't want to get into complicated knowledge, and prefer to believe in something that is disprovable.


Science is for people that realize that in order to aquire knowledge, some work (sometimes a LOT) has to be done! And even despite you put in a LOT oif work, someone else my disproof all (or part) of your work! That is : you have to try even harder!

Religion is for people who claim to know EVERYTHING ABSOLUTELY ("God created the world", for instance ) without having done any work to get to that opinion, and for which nobody can give any disproof. So it is a very safe position. You don't have to do WORK for entitling yourself an opinion on matters that seem important, and nobovy can force you to do some work for finding a better opinion, cause there lacks the ability to disproof you.

What a comfortable position!

I don't see these 2 things as competitors like you apparently do. There is a difference, but pointing them out is like pointing out the differences between an automobile and an orange. It's NOT like comparing an automobile and airplane as you seem to think. I also think that you can post this type of definitional thread as information without insulting people. Calling religious people ignorant based on a competitive comparison(an automobile is better than an Orange) to science is just meant to inflame people.

And BTW, according to your definition, you are religious. Because materialism cannot be proven or disproven and you clearly "believe" it to be true. So I guess that makes you ignorant.

Actually, all kidding aside, as you say Science deals with what can be disproven. Religion can attempt to answer the questions that science does not. So the 2 don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive or contradicting. Some people can drive an automobile and eat an orange at the same time.
 
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  • #3
heusdens
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Originally posted by Fliption
I don't see these 2 things as competitors like you apparently do. There is a difference, but pointing them out is like pointing out the differences between an automobile and an orange. It's NOT like comparing an automobile and airplane as you seem to think. I also think that you can post this type of definitional thread as information without insulting people. Calling religious people ignorant based on a competitive comparison(an automobile is better than an Orange) to science is just meant to inflame people.

Now you are insulting and impying things I did not say.

I just said in order to get knowledge through science, you actually have to workout your brains, and hands (do measurements), for religion, all you have to do is 'belief'.

You are making moral judgements here.

Who claims that working is morally better, and having instantanious absolute knowledge through belief, without the hard work, is worse? It costs terribly less energy to be a believer then to aquire knowledge through science, I can tell you that!

I just suppose that a religious person is in fact more clever, having all knowledge, without having to do anything for it! I can see the sense of that! Science aquires through hard labour only a relative truth. Religion on the contrary finds the instantanious and absolute truth of all times! Just a matter of belief!
It must be science people, must be crazy, and very uneconomical!

NB. The fact that these are competitive strategies, follows from the undoubted fact that there is only one world, the one we live in. nevertheless there are two different and distinguishable approached to it: science or religion.

And BTW, according to your definition, you are religious. Because materialism cannot be proven or disproven and you clearly "believe" it to be true. So I guess that makes you ignorant.

Yeah I know. I have to convince myself everytime that the chair I sit on, is realy there, and not a figment of my mind. I even preach for it's existence, as for the rest of the world.

You mean that I belief in matter like that?

You are ridiculous.

As a matter of fact, for the existence of God there is none, zero, nada proof. It's just a matter of 'belief'. And the fact one cannot 'disproof' religion does not mean that this contributes to only the slightest fraction of a bit to it's proof.

Matter on the other hand (for which there is btw neither a disproof)has overwhelming evidence for it's existence, not only from direct perception (the things we can see, touch, smell, hear), but also from scientific investigations, the hard labour we have developed in last centuries to actually figure out how the material world works.
We know for instance that the sun is not a red disk above the horizon, but a gaseous sphere, in which nuclear fusion processes occur, causing the heat and energy.

Now, I know. All this what science has found, ain't nothing, compared to religion. Just theories which are approximately right, and which all will be disproven one day. Religion has an instantanious and absolute answer to everything, and is incomparable better then any science. And think of how much more economical it is to belief something, then to actually find things out through hard labour, which might be wrong!

Purely thought on economical terms, religion far outdates science!

And to reflect to the world of reality, outside of our minds and moral judgements, just investigate the number of people who are believers and the number of people that are non-believers.

It can be shown, that there is a majority of people that took the more economical approach!

We can't have moral judgements on issues like this. Neither as we can have moral judgements on issues like what is better: a dinosaur or a mamal? Allmost all dinosaur gone extinct, and mamals survived and ultimately formed into a species called Home Sapiens.

Let nature provide it's own judgements on things.

Actually, all kidding aside, as you say Science deals with what can be disproven. Religion can attempt to answer the questions that science does not. So the 2 don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive or contradicting. Some people can drive an automobile and eat an orange at the same time.

Right! You just said it. Science deals with things that can be known, and for which there can be proof and disproof. Religion deals with 'things' outside of that. Because there is no proof or disproof possible, it urges one to belief, cause there is nothing you can base yourself on.
We also think of things, which are outside any evidence, perception or observation, as non-sensical.

Sometimes abreviated as: non-sense!
 
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  • #4
Mentat
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Heusdens,
First off, I want to warn against getting to deep into either of the fields (Science and Religion) when discussing them from an "outside" (broadly Philosophical) stanpoint. Inspite of my warning in advance, it will probably still happen, but at least I can say "I told you so", when it does .

Now, I'd like to clear up that Science and Religion are not definitely at odds with each other, as you claim. Yes, all Religions are based on an "absolute" premise, but so is Science. Science is based on the "absolute premise" that the objective universe can be understood by man. Of course, this is the assumption that one makes, when undertaking any branch of Philosophy, but I'm just explaining that the two have the same basic premise.
 
  • #5
Fliption
1,081
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Now you are insulting and impying things I did not say.

No. I didn't. Allow me to demonstrate.

I just said in order to get knowledge through science, you actually have to workout your brains, and hands (do measurements), for religion, all you have to do is 'belief'.

Well thats just pointing out the difference between the two and I can agree with that but here is what you actually said....
if something is neither provable nor disprovable, then it is useless.
It can only have value to people who prefer to be ignorant, and don't want to get into complicated knowledge, and prefer to believe in something that is disprovable.
This is clearly attempting to compare the 2 to say that one is better than the other. And even insults people in the process.

Who claims that working is morally better, and having instantanious absolute knowledge through belief, without the hard work, is worse?

You do. See above.

I just suppose that a religious person is in fact more clever, having all knowledge, without having to do anything for it! I can see the sense of that! Science aquires through hard labour only a relative truth. Religion on the contrary finds the instantanious and absolute truth of all times! Just a matter of belief!

Now this is just down right contradictory. Are they clever or are they ignorant? What exactly is your point?


NB. The fact that these are competitive strategies, follows from the undoubted fact that there is only one world, the one we live in. nevertheless there are two different and distinguishable approached to it: science or religion.

They do not have to be competitive strategies. There is only one world but science and religion have their own scope for application in that world. You have said that science is about what can be disproven. That's its scope. So every question that can be asked in which the answer cannot be disproven is NOT IN SCOPE for science. You keep implying that there is some hard work to be done. And that these religious people just don't want to do it. But there is no work that can be done. That is the scope of religion. The two things do not necessarily have to overlap or compete. So if you are asked a question that has no scientific answer, the only thing you can do is form a belief.

Yeah I know. I have to convince myself everytime that the chair I sit on, is realy there, and not a figment of my mind. I even preach for it's existence, as for the rest of the world.

You mean that I belief in matter like that?

You are ridiculous.
It amazes me that for someone who's apparent day job is to post pages and pages of "stuff" about materialism that you have absolutely no conception of the real philosophical issue.

You can call me ridiculous based on common sense if you want. I might do the same. But common sense is not sufficient in philosophy or science (it once believed the world was flat). I'll say this to you one more time...YOU CANNOT PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF THE MATERIAL WORLD YOU ARE PERCEIVING. It cannot be done. The counter argument to materialism is that every thing is just in your perception. Since every single bit of "evidence" you mention has to be gained through perception, then this evidence is nothing of the sort.

You cannot take your eyeballs out to see what they look like because as soon as you do, you have nothing to see them with. I do not understand why you cannot get this. I don't want to get into this particular debate with you. The main point is that to hold the belief in an external world is a belief. Not knowledge. Thus makes one ignorant by your standards.

As a matter of fact, for the existence of God there is none, zero, nada proof. It's just a matter of 'belief'. And the fact one cannot 'disproof' religion does not mean that this contributes to only the slightest fraction of a bit to it's proof.

Ditto on materialism.

Matter on the other hand (for which there is btw neither a disproof)has overwhelming evidence for it's existence, not only from direct perception (the things we can see, touch, smell, hear), but also from scientific investigations, the hard labour we have developed in last centuries to actually figure out how the material world works.
We know for instance that the sun is not a red disk above the horizon, but a gaseous sphere, in which nuclear fusion processes occur, causing the heat and energy.

All of this evidence was gathered through the senses. So it doesn't provide credibility to anything. Think.

It can be shown, that there is a majority of people that took the more economical approach!

So is this the 1% telling the 99% that they are wrong? lol

We can't have moral judgements on issues like this. Neither as we can have moral judgements on issues like what is better: a dinosaur or a mamal? Allmost all dinosaur gone extinct, and mamals survived and ultimately formed into a species called Home Sapiens.

Let nature provide it's own judgements on things.

This post of yours is littered with judgements. It is difficult to deny.

Another example:

Right! You just said it. Science deals with things that can be known, and for which there can be proof and disproof. Religion deals with 'things' outside of that. Because there is no proof or disproof possible, it urges one to belief, cause there is nothing you can base yourself on.

This I can accept. But then here is the judgement that followed....
We also think of things, which are outside any evidence, perception or observation, as non-sensical.
Sometimes abreviated as: non-sense!


So are you judging or not?
 
  • #6
heusdens
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Originally posted by Fliption
This is clearly attempting to compare the 2 to say that one is better than the other. And even insults people in the process.

That is your interpretation. And I don't mind that you interpret it like that. But I did not say that one is better as the other. I can not be a judge on that.

Now this is just down right contradictory. Are they clever or are they ignorant? What exactly is your point?

You seem to think that there is a sharp contradiction between being clever and being ignorant. Can't it be that being ignorant can sometimes coincide with being clever?



They do not have to be competitive strategies. There is only one world but science and religion have their own scope for application in that world. You have said that science is about what can be disproven. That's its scope. So every question that can be asked in which the answer cannot be disproven is NOT IN SCOPE for science. You keep implying that there is some hard work to be done. And that these religious people just don't want to do it. But there is no work that can be done. That is the scope of religion. The two things do not necessarily have to overlap or compete. So if you are asked a question that has no scientific answer, the only thing you can do is form a belief.

You seem to think that I have moral judgements on religion, and that I would have implied that 'having a field of occupation' that implies one 'not to have to work', is morally wrong. Again, this moral judgement, I did not make.

Are dinosaurs better as mamals? I behold from a moral judgement of that, I just reflect that Nature caused almost all dinosaurs to go extinct, while mamals developed further into for instance humans.

If two people each find a profession, and one of them has to do hard labour for little money, and the other finds a good paying job, requiring very little hard work to be done, which one is 'better'?

You make to hasten conclusions about things, and imply a moral judgement in things, on which perhaps no moral judgements should be made.

It amazes me that for someone who's apparent day job is to post pages and pages of "stuff" about materialism that you have absolutely no conception of the real philosophical issue.

Yeah. Hard work for little money....

But now I can accuse you of making moral judgements, or so it seems...

You can call me ridiculous based on common sense if you want. I might do the same. But common sense is not sufficient in philosophy or science (it once believed the world was flat). I'll say this to you one more time...YOU CANNOT PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF THE MATERIAL WORLD YOU ARE PERCEIVING. It cannot be done. The counter argument to materialism is that every thing is just in your perception. Since every single bit of "evidence" you mention has to be gained through perception, then this evidence is nothing of the sort.

The field of knowledge that deals with the real existing material world, is called science. For science, we can actual get out behind our desk, and investigate the natural world, perform tests on it and so forth. The same can not be done with religion. For religion to be true, one has to acknowledge two 'facts' : one, an actual material world, existing independendly and outside of our mind does not exist. two, an absolute idea, deity or whatever higher concept, does exist, and which existence is outside of any observational evidence or perception.

It's not just from common sense that I acknowledge the fact that an actual world, outside of my own mind and independend of it, realy exists. It is not just naive realism (the world is what I perceive it to be) that makes me urge to conclude that a material world, has existence of it's own.
Instead the gradual built up system of knowledge through science, is the main form of evidence for this, cause it presents a coherent picture of the real world. The investigations are too profound and too coherent, to just form substantial or coincidental evidence, wouldn't you think? Which is not an absolute statement, but is all built up from relative knowledge, which gradually comes closer to truth.


You cannot take your eyeballs out to see what they look like because as soon as you do, you have nothing to see them with. I do not understand why you cannot get this. I don't want to get into this particular debate with you. The main point is that to hold the belief in an external world is a belief. Not knowledge. Thus makes one ignorant by your standards.

There exists mirrors, by the way, so I can see myself in a less painfull way. But perhaps you never saw yourself in the mirror?

Ignorance, as I used it, is the rejection of the long and hard work of scientific knowledge, and replacement of that with a thought system which is either indefinate in regard to wether or not a world outside our perceptions of one, realy exists, or ends up in solpisism (the 'belief' that outside of own's own mind, nothing is realy existing).

All of this evidence was gathered through the senses. So it doesn't provide credibility to anything. Think.

Science gathers also evidence outside of the human senses, and does that in a repeatable and controlable manner. Just way too coherent, to be dropped as 'coincidental'. The investigation of the material world, is very structural and profound. The knowledge that ultimately comes out, is very profound, not to be thought of lightheartedly.
And besides, we don't have any better means of aquiring knowledge.



This post of yours is littered with judgements. It is difficult to deny.

I tried to present just plain facts. Any moral judgement is within the beholder. There is no 'moral judgement' outside of that, is it?
It's all happening there in between your ears, don't accuse me for what happens between your ears. If your point of view is that there is no certainty that anything outside of one's own head/mind, can not be stated with certainty, how come you be so sure of what my mental state of mind would or would not be? Seems you are contradicting yourself here.

So are you judging or not?

Are you?

I just made a point about the fact that something, that is not observable to one's senses, is non-sensory. In the flow of time, this concept has lead to the very common term: non-sense. It indicates a phenomena that is beyond the senses.
Apart from these facts, I did not make judgements, but you seem to belief I did. Again you contradict yourself, cause it seems to imply you can state with some certainty, you know my state of mind, while somewhere else you state, you are not absolutely sure that something outside one's own mind, has any existence at all.

You said this: "YOU CANNOT PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF THE MATERIAL WORLD YOU ARE PERCEIVING".

Now, in all reasonability, you cannot know about me physically, neither my state of mind, since they do not belong to your own internal state of mind. Still it seems to me, purely based on your speculation that I even exist, and have a state of mind, that you know what kind of state of mind I have! A clear contradiction!
You are PURELY SPECULATIVE on that!
 
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  • #7
Science and religion both help us with a degree of practical understanding about the world and are fallible. Science tends to believe what is provable through numbers, expirimentation, and observation-seeing is believing, whereas religion requires only faith that following the principle will lead to a first hand understanding of their truthfulness-experience.
I choose both- I need all the help I can get.
 
  • #8
heusdens
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Originally posted by jammieg
Science and religion both help us with a degree of practical understanding about the world and are fallible. Science tends to believe what is provable through numbers, expirimentation, and observation-seeing is believing, whereas religion requires only faith that following the principle will lead to a first hand understanding of their truthfulness-experience.
I choose both- I need all the help I can get.

That is something else, as you base yourself on previous knowledge, and extrapolate from that. We have "experience" in how scientific theories evolve, so we can have some thoughts (with lots of uncertainty) where a scientific theory evolves into.
 
  • #9
Science and religion clearly logically contradict each other.

Science does not accept existence of things contradicting facts (like Adam from clay, Eve from rib, 6000 year old universe (and Earth), biblical miracles (like Moses holding Sun to prolong daylight, Jesus walking over water, moving lake mass at will, resurrection, etc), hell, heaven, life after end of life, etc.

But religion does. It says: trust us and ACCEPT all we say to you WITHOUT proof and CONTRARY to facts.

In brief, science deals with FACTS, religion - with NO FACTS.

Because criteria of thuth is observed fact (by Marx), then science is more true than religion. In reality - way way way more.

Also, you may notice than science works (see various objects around you - car, TV, phone, computer, videogame, medical devices, drugs, food, cloth, houses, etc) while religion does not (no prayer saved life or created/built anything). Even prayers of millions ("God help the king") can't help more than a little tiny (but scientifically engineered) pill.
 
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  • #10
Fliption
1,081
1


OMG. This is an awful attempt to try to change mid course Heusdens.

Originally posted by heusdens
That is your interpretation. And I don't mind that you interpret it like that. But I did not say that one is better as the other. I can not be a judge on that.

You seem to think that there is a sharp contradiction between being clever and being ignorant. Can't it be that being ignorant can sometimes coincide with being clever?

You seem to think that I have moral judgements on religion, and that I would have implied that 'having a field of occupation' that implies one 'not to have to work', is morally wrong. Again, this moral judgement, I did not make.

You make to hasten conclusions about things, and imply a moral judgement in things, on which perhaps no moral judgements should be made.

But now I can accuse you of making moral judgements, or so it seems...

The field of knowledge that deals with the real existing material world, is called science. For science, we can actual get out behind our desk, and investigate the natural world, perform tests on it and so forth. The same can not be done with religion. For religion to be true, one has to acknowledge two 'facts' : one, an actual material world, existing independendly and outside of our mind does not exist. two, an absolute idea, deity or whatever higher concept, does exist, and which existence is outside of any observational evidence or perception.

It's not just from common sense that I acknowledge the fact that an actual world, outside of my own mind and independend of it, realy exists. It is not just naive realism (the world is what I perceive it to be) that makes me urge to conclude that a material world, has existence of it's own.
Instead the gradual built up system of knowledge through science, is the main form of evidence for this, cause it presents a coherent picture of the real world. The investigations are too profound and too coherent, to just form substantial or coincidental evidence, wouldn't you think? Which is not an absolute statement, but is all built up from relative knowledge, which gradually comes closer to truth.


All of this is just back tracking. To be honest, If I actually try to believe that this was the real message of this posts then the post becomes a "gee whiz" worthless post. What was the point if not to make a comparison and a judgement?

There exists mirrors, by the way, so I can see myself in a less painfull way. But perhaps you never saw yourself in the mirror?

I knew you were going to say that. Just goes to show that you don't understand the use of analogies. Just so you can get the point let the analogy be "you can't take your eyes out to see what they look like when they are not in use because you have nothing to see them with." It still gets the point across. Try to think about this. The whole point is to be able to acquire knowledge about the eye without the help of the eye. A mirror cannot be used for this. This is what makes the analogy work for perception and the external world issue. The question is how do you gain knowledge of the external world without the use of perception?

Ignorance, as I used it, is the rejection of the long and hard work of scientific knowledge, and replacement of that with a thought system which is either indefinate in regard to wether or not a world outside our perceptions of one, realy exists, or ends up in solpisism (the 'belief' that outside of own's own mind, nothing is realy existing).

But see thats just the point. You say

" Ignorance is the rejection of the long and hard work of scientific knowledge, and replacement of that with a thought system"

And what I've been trying to tell you is, that is not what religion is necessarily about. Religion doesn't have to say anything about scientific knowledge because the questions that religion answer cannot be answered by science. You're use of the term religion is a very narrow one that is not completely accurate.

Science gathers also evidence outside of the human senses, and does that in a repeatable and controlable manner. Just way too coherent, to be dropped as 'coincidental'. The investigation of the material world, is very structural and profound. The knowledge that ultimately comes out, is very profound, not to be thought of lightheartedly.

It is impossible to acquire evidence outside the human senses. How about an example?

I tried to present just plain facts. Any moral judgement is within the beholder. There is no 'moral judgement' outside of that, is it?
It's all happening there in between your ears, don't accuse me for what happens between your ears.

If this is true then this thread has no point.

I just made a point about the fact that something, that is not observable to one's senses, is non-sensory. In the flow of time, this concept has lead to the very common term: non-sense. It indicates a phenomena that is beyond the senses.

LOL. Come on Heusdens. At least live up to the intent of the post even if you can't defend it. The words "ignorant" and "non-sense" have very specific uses in communication regardless of where their roots are from. And the point of a forum is to communicate.

Now, in all reasonability, you cannot know about me physically, neither my state of mind, since they do not belong to your own internal state of mind. Still it seems to me, purely based on your speculation that I even exist, and have a state of mind, that you know what kind of state of mind I have! A clear contradiction!
You are PURELY SPECULATIVE on that!

Statements like this just convince be further that you aren't thinking about anything I'm saying and my initial interpretation of this post is correct. It just makes me question your sincerity of open-minded discussion.

I never said I believed that there was no material existence. I only said that you cannot prove it. Big difference! Unlike yourself, I don't have a problem admiting that I hold certain beliefs. I believe that you do exists in material form and I also believe your intent for this thread was to ridicule religion.

If I may, let me say that perhaps if you posted less and concentrated more on trying to understand others and working on making your own posts more cohesive then these issues could be resolved.
 
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  • #11
Fliption
1,081
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Originally posted by Alexander
Science and religion clearly logically contradict each other.

Alexander, let's forget for a moment that Heusdens didn't intend this thread to be a judgement thread on religion because it seems he fooled you to. Let's just go with it as if he did intend it that way. Otherwise I'm not sure there's anything to say. It's basically a pointless post.

I understand everything you're saying. Let me just back up and try to provide a little context to my thinking. I'm tired of seeing post like this in the philosophy forum. There really is not alot that the concept of religion has to do with philosophy. So what I am trying to do is put it into it's proper place. Religion does not belong in a thread titled "Science vs religion". The two cannot be compared. The approaches that you mention are true but the reason they cannot be compared is because science and religion answer different questions.

If Science says that the earth is round and religion says that the earth is flat, then I would agree with everything you said. But religion doesn't have to address anything about the shape of the earth. Religion can focus on things that science does not. If you're going to understand what I'm saying, you first have to admit that certain questions are not in the scope of science. Like the existence of a god. Science says "nothing" about the existence of god. God is out of scope. Most people here would agree with this. But I'm not so sure about you since I've noticed your understanding of common terms has differed in the past.

Comparing science and religion is much like comparing an Automobile and an Orange. The two things have entirely different objectives. You guys seems to be comparing the two as if they are a Honda and a Toyota.
 
  • #12
quantumdude
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Originally posted by Fliption
There really is not alot that the concept of religion has to do with philosophy. So what I am trying to do is put it into it's proper place. Religion does not belong in a thread titled "Science vs religion". The two cannot be compared.

They cannot be compared globally, but they certainly can be compared locally. Science and religion come head-to-head in their attempts to explain natural phenomena. To "put it into it's proper place", it would seem, one should seek to narrow the scope of the thread only to those questions which science and religion attempt to answer, and on which they disagree.
 
  • #13
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
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Greetings !

I agree with heusdens' original post.
Originally posted by Mentat
Yes, all Religions are based on an "absolute"
premise, but so is Science. Science is based
on the "absolute premise" that the objective
universe can be understood by man. Of course,
this is the assumption that one makes, when
undertaking any branch of Philosophy,
but I'm just explaining that the two have the
same basic premise.
Who told you that !?
Science TRIES to explain, it doesn't say it CAN
and MUST be able to. In fact, so far it says
it is most likely that it CAN NOT explain all
things to mankind, because science uses reasoning
systems the common thing about which is the
fact that they seemingly can not fully explain
the Universe.

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #14
Fliption
1,081
1
Originally posted by Tom
They cannot be compared globally, but they certainly can be compared locally. Science and religion come head-to-head in their attempts to explain natural phenomena. To "put it into it's proper place", it would seem, one should seek to narrow the scope of the thread only to those questions which science and religion attempt to answer, and on which they disagree.

I agree with this completely Tom. It's good when someone takes the time to understand.
 
  • #15
drag
Science Advisor
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Tom, does science (ideally) include
ANY apparently absolute assumptions,
in your opinion ?

Thanks.
 
  • #16
quantumdude
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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Originally posted by drag
Tom, does science (ideally) include
ANY apparently absolute assumptions,
in your opinion ?

As to assumptions, science assumes that the laws of nature are the same everywhere and everywhen, and that that we can determine better and better approximations to them by the hypothetico-deductive method.
 
  • #17
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Originally posted by Tom
As to assumptions, science assumes that the
laws of nature are the same everywhere and
everywhen, and that that we can determine
better and better approximations to them by
the hypothetico-deductive method.
Intresting.

But, would it be wrong to say that these
assumptions appear to be indicated to us
by the data input we have and hence we
accept them in a probablistic manner
rather than having them as an enitial
absolute perspective ?

What I mean is, science assumes a great deal
of things, but it does not appear to
assume things that can not possibly be altered
or appear wrong according to the data input,
does it ?

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #18
Fliption
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Originally posted by Tom
As to assumptions, science assumes that the laws of nature are the same everywhere and everywhen, and that that we can determine better and better approximations to them by the hypothetico-deductive method.

Notice Heusdens, that there is no mention of assuming materialism.
 
  • #19
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
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Originally posted by Fliption
Notice Heusdens, that there is no mention of
assuming materialism.
Could someone explain to me once and for
all what materialism is in your opinion ?!
I see it mentioned here all the time by
those who support religion to indicate
the opposite view. What's your STRICT
definition for it ? Or is that supposed to
be vague too like religion itself ?
What's a "material" world ? I never saw
a single scientific definition of a "material"
object.

Peace and long life.
 
  • #20
Originally posted by Fliption

...Religion can focus on things that science does not. If you're going to understand what I'm saying, you first have to admit that certain questions are not in the scope of science. Like the existence of a god. Science says "nothing" about the existence of god. God is out of scope.


What are you talking about? Science says ALL it is about Gods. About their origin, their creation, their existence in ancient and modern time, and their deaths. All there is about them.

Indeed, if you open 4-th grade school textbook "Introduction into nature study", you'll read in the very first chapter that ancient people, who did not know what propels Sun across sky, hypotized that it is God and they named him Ra (I think, but I can be mistaken - it was long ago when I read this textbook), then phenomenon of thunderstorm was hypotized to be God's Zeus hands activity (beating ghong and somehow making big static sparks by friction) and so on. There were whole manuscripts about various Gods explaining how things works (say, modern Maya explain day-time phenomena by 70 gods and night-time - by another 200 gods). With time as people learned more about nature these mythical creatures were retired. But manuscripts are still there (Iliada, Bible, Quran, etc) and some people who do not know or do not understand why Sun crosses sky still believe in various superstitions like gods.

So, science explained psychological phenomenon of gods (as being just personal ignorance causing various superstitions and myths) long long ago, and moved on to work on useful issues.

What to discuss about superstitions?
 
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  • #21
Fliption
1,081
1
Originally posted by Alexander
What are you talking about? Science says ALL it is about Gods. About their origin, their creation, their existence in ancient and modern time, and their deaths. All there is about them.

Indeed, if you open 4-th grade school textbook "Introduction into nature study", you'll read in the very first chapter that ancient people, who did not know what propels Sun across sky, hypotized that it is God and they named him Ra (I think, but I can be mistaken - it was long ago when I read this textbook), then phenomenon of thunderstorm was hypotized to be God's Zeus hands activity (beating ghong and somehow making big static sparks by friction) and so on. There were whole manuscripts about various Gods explaining how things works (say, modern Maya explain day-time phenomena by 70 gods and night-time - by another 200 gods). With time as people learned more about nature these mythical creatures were retired. But manuscripts are still there (Iliada, Bible, Quran, etc) and some people who do not know or do not understand why Sun crosses sky still believe in various superstitions like gods.

So, science explained psychological phenomenon of gods (as being just personal ignorance causing various superstitions and myths) long long ago, and moved on to work on useful issues.

What to discuss about superstitions?

OK. we have a diagreement of terminology then and we will never agree on this topic until that is resolved. I would encourage you to read Tom's last post and participate in that discussion if you can. I think you will find that you're understanding is very differeent from others.
 
  • #22
quantumdude
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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Originally posted by drag
But, would it be wrong to say that these
assumptions appear to be indicated to us
by the data input we have and hence we
accept them in a probablistic manner
rather than having them as an enitial
absolute perspective ?

No, it would not be wrong to say that. What happens is many, many controlled experiments are performed, and when the same result obtains for the same initial conditions (within experimental error), we say that there is an underlying law of nature governing the result. We then extend this to extraterrestrial observations. For instance, on Earth we can observe hydrogen spectra, and we can independently determine that the substance under study is in fact hydrogen. When we observe the same spectral lines in stars, we assume that the substance in those stars obeys the same quantum mechanics as substances on Earth, and so we conclude that that is also hydrogen.

What I mean is, science assumes a great deal
of things, but it does not appear to
assume things that can not possibly be altered
or appear wrong according to the data input,
does it ?

I suppose the assumption could be falsified by taking a sample from a distant star, observing the spectra in a lab, and finding hydrogen spectra from something other than hydrogen. This would indicate that there are different physical laws for different spacetime points. We assume that this is not the case because it is more plausible, and because we could never get anywhere otherwise.

Since it seems to work, we stick with it.
 
  • #23
quantumdude
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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Originally posted by drag
Could someone explain to me once and for
all what materialism is in your opinion ?!

From my limited exposure to the subject, it seems that there is not one definition that is universally agreed upon. Here is what I have read on the subject:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/physicalism

I have also printed out a couple of articles from Cog Prints (a cognitive science preprint archive). It seems to me that the main showdown between materialism and idealism (or dualism) is going to be in the realm of cognitive science, since the two schools of thought contradict each other specifically on the nature of the mind.
 
  • #24
Originally posted by Fliption
OK. we have a diagreement of terminology then and we will never agree on this topic until that is resolved. I would encourage you to read Tom's last post and participate in that discussion if you can. I think you will find that you're understanding is very differeent from others.

This is not about terminology. Science explained God(s) and other superstitions long long ago (see psychology, sociology, mythology), and moved on forward to solve more useful problems. But if some people prefer to live in darkness, what can science do about it? Nothing.

It is like trying to help someone who likes to smoke opium because opium shows him not harsh real life but sweet nice dreams.
 
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  • #25
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
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Originally posted by Tom
It seems to me that the main showdown between
materialism and idealism (or dualism) is going
to be in the realm of cognitive science, since
the two schools of thought contradict each other
specifically on the nature of the mind.
I agree. It would further be intresting to see
if this is at all a conclusive subject, because
currently I don't think there is a generally
reasonable assumption that this is at all possible
to do - as science sees it for now. As for the
other side, it is probably worthy to note that
even if an apparently conclusive reason and
proof did appear there is no conclusive certainty
that it will be accepted by that side, as many
things aren't, despite its apparent proof. :wink:
(Thanks for the link.)

Alexander, I do not believe that even implied
personal insults are an efficient way of
communication here. Even if you think very lowly
about various opinions I believe that disrespect
of their owners will not get you far. :wink:

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #26
heusdens
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Originally posted by drag
Could someone explain to me once and for
all what materialism is in your opinion ?!
I see it mentioned here all the time by
those who support religion to indicate
the opposite view. What's your STRICT
definition for it ? Or is that supposed to
be vague too like religion itself ?
What's a "material" world ? I never saw
a single scientific definition of a "material"
object.

Peace and long life.

You just have to look it up anywhere on the web or the dictionary.

Matter is a philosophical category, denoting the outside world (outside of our perceptions of it), which is independend of our mind.
It therefore denotes an objective reality which exists on it's own and outside of our mind, and is not dependend of our awareness or mind. This objective reality is reflected within our mind through our perceptions.


Materialism, in contrast to Idealism, states that matter is primary, and consciousness is secondary.

Matter is not distinguishable from motion/change. Nowhere and at no time can matter exits without motion or change, and motion or change can not exist without matter. Motion/change is the way in which matter exists.


Note:
Please distinguish the philosphical term 'matter' from the physical term 'matter'. In physics, matter is to be thought of as particles, which behave like point-masses, in contrast to light or radiation (photons and neutrinos). The philosophical term matter covers all forms of physical entities, including massive particles, energy, radiation, fields, etc.
 
  • #27
Originally posted by drag

Alexander, I do not believe that even implied
personal insults are an efficient way of
communication here. Even if you think very lowly
about various opinions I believe that disrespect
of their owners will not get you far. :wink:

Live long and prosper. [/B]

In no way I try to isult someone, you misunderstood. I just explain origin of Gods.
 
  • #28
heusdens
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§Matter

Matter is a philosophical category denoting all that which exists outside of and independently of thought — objective reality. As a philosophical category, “matter” must be distinguished from any particular theory of matter developed by natural science and from its meaning in physics as mass as opposed to radiation.

See Hegel's http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/sl/slbeing.htm#SL98n1_2" on this question.



§Materialism

Those philosophical trends which assert the material world (the world outside of consciousness) to be primary to thought, especially in relation to the question of the origin of knowledge. For materialism of all kinds, thoughts are pictures or http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/glossary.htm#reflection" in his critique of Empiricism.
See http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1913/mar/x01.htm" [Broken][/i].
See also http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/mean09.htm" [Broken]
See also http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/mean08.htm#04"
 
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  • #29
heusdens
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Originally posted by Fliption
Notice Heusdens, that there is no mention of assuming materialism.

Science as a human activity goes about implicitly assuming that
1) There is an objective outside world, which exists on itself, and independend of one's mind.
2) Nowhere in the whole course of history, there ware actors or forces outside of nature that influenced the course of history.
3) Science assumes that the objective world, outside of our mind, can be known.

That is why science can be thought of to have adapted the assumptions of materialism.
 
  • #30
heusdens
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Materialism and Idealism

Materialism and Idealism

Philosophical idealism and philosophical materialism are opposite camps in relation to the fundamental question in philosophy the relation of being and thinking. Does thinking reflect a material world which exists independently and outside consciousness, or contrariwise, is the objective world a product of thought or altogether a fiction?

Marxists, in common with other materialists, answer this question unambiguously in the affirmative, but that is by no means the end of the problem of knowledge, the problem of the correspondence between thought and the material world. Can thought adequately apprehend the material world - the material world may exist, but is it knowable? Further, what are the respective roles of reason and experience in knowing? Do intuition and faith have a necessary role in knowing?

Materialism and idealism have quite definite meanings in relation to epistemology (the study of the nature and validity of knowledge). Materialism is the correct standpoint and most people will have no hesitation in affirming the materialist position. However, maintaining a consistent materialist position proves to be no easy matter. Whenever we turn to reflect on things we will find it almost impossible to avoid momentarily reasoning along a line which, if looked at in isolation or if extended beyond a certain point, will show itself to be consistent with idealism, not materialism.

Most of us, when surprised by a turn of events will choose to revisit our ideas, rather than deny reality and do not have any doubt about the priority of the objective world. Even the philosophical pedant who denies the objectivity of experience looks before crossing the road.

Idealism shows itself usually in such presumptions as assuming that people do as they say, for example, or in extending a principle beyond the domain in which it is known to be true or failing to subject to criticism a belief that has in fact long out-lived its validity, believing that a person's social position is a matter of their personal choice, that social movement express "new ideas" rather than social interests, etc..

In fact, 99 per cent of the time we operate within a particular system of concepts and the materialist or idealist content of our thinking and practice is determined by the content of this system of concepts. Most of the time we do not question the concepts with which we operate, but it is a merit of Hegel that he directed us to criticise the content of our concepts, rather than limiting ourselves simply to what follows from what.

In other words, our capacity to act consistently as materialists is to a great extent limited by the philosophical content of the concepts we use in our practice. For example, if we only know the concept of "capitalism" as meaning "accumulating wealth", or "job" as some thing which is offered as some kind of gift by employers, or believe that "money makes money", then we cannot get close to a materialist understanding of day-to-day events and changes in capitalist life. To revolutionise your understanding of "capitalism" you are either the one person in a century who creates a new concept of capitalism, or you acquire a new concept of capitalism through Marxist education.

Furthermore, materialism is limited by the level of development of scientific knowledge. If we unable to subject a given proposition to criticism, simply because we have no knowledge of the relevant subject matter or there exists no established body of scientific knowledge about the subject, we will have no choice but to reason idealistically, on the basis of guesswork! [Until we have the opportunity to scientifically investigate the matter]. If we deny ourselves the luxury of reasoning from unproven facts, presumptions and principles and guesses, we will be unable to reason at all.

Thus it is that until the middle of last century, by which time the mass of scientific knowledge had built up to a certain level, idealism was the dominant "camp" in philosophy. The thousands of years of human culture before the middle of last century is proof that idealism is perfectly capable of producing valid knowledge. Or more accurately, the rigorous idealist line is even more difficult to adhere to than is the consistent materialist line. Despite the idealists' epistemological belief, objective reality enters into his/her thinking! And Hegel is the supreme example of this phenomenon.

Attempting to adhere to consistent materialism means to continuously direct our attention to the source of knowledge in the material world, to be continuously aware of the genesis of our ideas from material life and to continuously subject the concepts with which we grasp the world to criticism. For this latter task, Hegel has given us the most powerful instrument.

Subjective Idealism and Objective Idealism

Subjective idealism is the variety of idealism which places individual consciousness as primary to the objective world. In its purest form, subjective idealism regards nature, society and history as nothing more real than one's fantasies and dreams. For instance, quantum physics gave rise to an upsurge of "physical idealism" at the turn of the century, a form of subjective idealism which asserted that the behaviour of sub-atomic wave-particles is dependent upon the consciousness of a human observer. It is also found in that line of thinking which says, too insistently, that "everyone has their own reality", and so on.

Objective idealism sees the objective world as a product or expression of some entity of an ideal nature, but not the individual's own subjective consciousness rather an entity specifically greater than the human individual, be it named God, Gaia, The Supreme Being, Progress, Nature or some other product of human imagination.

Hegel is perfectly correct in ascribing an objective existence to Logic, to insisting that thought has an objective content. But logic is but one abstract aspect of the objective world (even Hegel's wonderful version of logic); Hegel deifies logic, he makes it the governor and driving force of everything. Just as the capitalist who believes that "money makes money", the engineer who sees the world as a giant machine, the priest whose God is a Wise Old Man, the professional logician Hegel has elevated the object of his own interest into the Lord presiding over all.

"Spirit"

The material world is indeed "law governed", or "systematic". If we conceive any finite state of knowledge of the laws and properties of the objective world as something existing outside of human consciousness and give to it an independent, i.e. supra-natural, "governing" existence, then we have an apparently reasonable "objective idealism". And such a standpoint is closer to materialism (if we could say such a thing) than for example, the point of view of Kant, in which human knowledge is knowledge only of "phenomena" (i.e. the world as it is manifested to us in experience) while the world "in-itself" is unknowable. For example, to this line of thinking, even if we believe we have a theory to explain why the Sun rises every morning, in fact we have only a theory which reliably predicts that we will see and feel what we call Sunlight, but no knowledge of thing we choose to call "Sun". As materialists we must assert that these laws and forms which are known to us do indeed exist in the material world, and come to consciousness only because they exist objectively, although we must remind ourselves that these laws and forms are only a part or aspect of the material world. Never but never will human beings attain exhaustive (infinite) knowledge of the world. But we rightly believe that we have knowledge of the objective world which is adequate, more or less, to practice.

Hegel wrote in the first decades of the nineteenth century a particularly marvelous summation of human knowledge as it existed at the time. There can be no argument but that human knowledge has rolled forward with immense speed and breadth ever since. Our collective knowledge of these most general laws let alone their "detail" is obviously far more profound than was available to Hegel.

"Just as the dialectical conception of nature makes all natural philosophy both unnecessary and impossible, it is no longer a question anywhere of inventing interconnections from out of our brains, but of discovering them in the facts. For philosophy, which has been expelled from nature and history, there remains only the realm of pure thought, so far as it is left: the theory of the laws of the thought process itself, logic and dialectics." [Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach etc, Part IV]

Just so long as we recognise that human knowledge is relative, so long as we do not elevate any particular and partial truth to an absolute, then we have no need of a God in any form.

{to be continued}
 
  • #31
heusdens
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Materialism and Idealism [part 2]

Materialist Dialectics

In 1873, Marx summed up his difference with Hegel as follows:

My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of "the Idea", he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of "the Idea". With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought. [The Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital]

"it's direct opposite"! No small difference.

Like Hegel, Marx and Engels understood very well that their theoretical achievements were the outcome of a long period of social development. It is possible to understand these achievements only on the basis of an understanding of how the problems of philosophy have been posed and resolved in the history of philosophy. In this history, opposite tendencies in relation to different aspects of the problem of knowledge have interacted over long periods: idealism and materialism (the question of priority of matter or thought), rationalism and empiricism (the question of the priority of reason or experience), dualism and monism (whether the ideal and material are two different substances or two aspects of one and the same substance), etc.

During this time, the development of human society, in particular the forces of production and the production relations resting upon these forces of production, not to mention the countless effects of warfare, conquest, language, exploration, etc., etc, etc., has radically transformed our relation to Nature.

An approach to understanding what Engels meant when he said that: "The dialectic of Hegel was placed upon its head; or rather, turned off its head, on which it was standing, and placed upon its feet" [Ludwig Feuerbach, etc, Part IV], is to follow the development of the materialist thread in the history of science and philosophy in its main outlines up to Marx. This I will attempt to do, very schematically, in the next section, but for now we need to summarise why it is we call Hegel an idealist.

Hegel's Objective Idealism

In talking of the history of philosophy, in §13 of the Shorter Logic, Hegel says:

For these thousands of years the same Architect has directed the work: and that Architect is the one living Mind whose nature is to think, to bring to self-consciousness what it is, and, with its being thus set as object before it, to be at the same time raised above it, and so to reach a higher stage of its own being. [Shorter Logic]

This is a fairly explicitly idealist statement. The last words of The Shorter Logic are: "this Idea which has Being is Nature". Almost the last words of The Science of Logic are: "The Idea, in positing itself as absolute unity of the pure Notion and its reality and thus contracting itself into the immediacy of being, is the totality in this form - Nature".

This is not a lot different from the Moslem's belief that every movement of every particle in the Universe is at the command of Allah, and an Islamic physicist is as capable as his atheist counterpart of elaborating the laws by which these movements may be described. The Christian Isaac Newton was able to create an enormously powerful mechanistic description of the world requiring only God to set the world into motion at some long ago time for the world to continue its state of motion forever after.

In a sense, Marx's "turning of Hegel upon his feet" is just a small "correction", a matter of detail. The whole of natural science, Marxist political economy and any body of genuine knowledge can be asserted without bothering about this little matter of detail. The problem comes when our knowledge proves inadequate in the face of experience or otherwise when we have to create new concepts or new sciences - to make a new tool, rather than purchase one from the hardware shop.

When Marx set about building a scientific theory of socialism he looked in the direction of the relations of production, not politics, law, morality or religion. This was a choice made on the basis of philosophical materialism.

Hegel's logic was of great value in assisting Marx in arriving at a concept of capitalism as "generalised commodity production" and the commodity as a unity of exchange value and use value. But only Marx's consistent search for the roots of social, political and legal relations or concepts in the relations of production allowed this scientific discovery. Likewise, Marx drew not upon the history of the "idea of Socialism", but upon the actual history of people producing and reproducing themselves as the source material for his research.

Karl Marx, The German Ideology

The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way. The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature. Of course we cannot here go either into the actual physical nature of man, or into the natural conditions in which man finds himself - geological, orohydrographical, climatic and so on. The writing of history must always set out from these natural bases and their modification in the course of history through the action of people. People can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence ...[First Premises of Materialist Method]
 
  • #32
heusdens
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Brief history of Materialism

A Very Brief History of Materialism

I include this very brief, schematic summary of the history of materialist philosophy for two reasons:

it is not possible to understand the objective idealism in Hegel's philosophy without following to some extent the problems with which materialism was wrestling in the period leading up to Hegel, and
the understanding of this history is thus also necessary in order to understand how to approach Hegel's Logic as a materialist.
As remarked above, the essence of philosophy is the relation between being and consciousness. In what follows, I have attempted to highlight the contradictions manifested in the development of this essence. Hegel's philosophy thus arises as the synthesis of these contradictions, itself a concrete Notion, expressing the history of its genesis in the history of Western philosophy up to his time.

Galileo, Bacon and Descartes

In the early sixteenth century, Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes both came to similar conclusions in relation to the state of the science and philosophy of their time. Bacon is quite clear:

Since it seems to me that people do not keep strictly to the straight and narrow when forming their opinions or putting things to the test, I have decided to use all the means at my disposal to remedy this misfortune. For in nothing else does the aspiration to deserve well show itself than it things are so arranged that people, freed both from the hobgoblins of belief and blindness of experiments, may enter into a more reliable and sound partnership with things by, as it were, a certain literate experience. For in this way the intellect is both set up in safety and in its best state, and it will besides be at the ready and then come upon harvests of useful things.

Now the beginnings of this enterprise must in general he drawn from natural history; for the whole body of Greek philosophy with its sects of all kinds, and all the other philosophy we possess seem to me to be founded on too narrow a natural-historical basis, and thus to have delivered its conclusions on the authority of fewer data than was appropriate. For having snatched certain things from experience and tradition, things sometimes not carefully examined or ideas nor securely established, they leave the rest to meditation and intellectual agitation, employing Dialectic to inspire greater confidence in the matter.

But the chemists and the whole pack of mechanics and empirics, should they have the temerity to attempt contemplation and philosophy, being accustomed to meticulous subtlety in a few things, they twist by extraordinary means all the rest into conformity with them and promote opinions more odious and unnatural than those advanced by the very rationalists. For the latter take for the matter of philosophy very little out of many things, the former a great deal out of a few, but in truth those courses are weak and past cure. But the Natural History which has been accumulated hitherto may seem abundant on casual inspection, while in reality it is sketchy and useless, and not even of the kind I am seeking. For it has not been stripped of fables and ravings, and it rushes into antiquity, philology and superfluous narratives, neglectful and high-handed in matters of weight, over-scrupulous and immoderate in matters of no importance. [opening lines of the Preface to Natural History etc., Francis Bacon, 1609]

Bacon proposes a systematic investigation of Nature, particularly mechanics, since "nature of its own accord, free and shifting, disperses the intellect and confuses it with its variety", and:

In general I assign the leading roles in shedding light on nature to artificial things, not only because they are most useful in themselves, but because they are the most trustworthy interpreters of natural things. Can it be said that anyone had just happened to explain the nature of lightning or a rainbow as clearly before the principles of each had been demonstrated by artillery or the artificial simulacra of rainbows on a wall? But if they are trustworthy interpreters of causes, they will also be sure and fertile indicators of effects and of works. [op cit]

and Bacon urged

"Experiments of Fruit not ones of Light", "meticulous care and hand-picked trials, not to mention funding and the utmost patience besides".

Already the great Galilei Galileo had begun on this project, timing the speed with which balls rolled down a ramp with an egg-timer, extracting from the mass of measurements the underlying principle exhibited in the motion, and thereby laying the basis for modern experimental science, mechanics and astronomy.

Thus began the empirical trend of natural science which indeed laid the bass "for the building up of Philosophy", laying the greatest emphasis on experience as the source of knowledge.

Hegel commented on this trend:

Under these circumstances a double want began to be felt. Partly it was the need of a concrete subject-matter, as a counterpoise to the abstract theories of the understanding, which is unable to advance unaided from its generalities to specialisation and determination. Partly, too, it was the demand for something fixed and secure, so as to exclude the possibility of proving anything and everything in the sphere, and according to the method of the finite formulae of thought. Such was the genesis of Empirical philosophy, which abandons the search for truth in thought itself, and goes to fetch it from Experience, the outward and the inward present.

The rise of Empiricism is due to the need thus stated of concrete contents, and a firm footing - needs which the abstract metaphysic of the understanding failed to satisfy. ...

When it thus appeared that abstract metaphysical thinking was inadequate, it was felt that resource must be had to empirical psychology. The same happened in the case of Rational Physics. The current phrases there were, for instance, that space is infinite, that Nature makes no leap, etc. Evidently this phraseology was wholly unsatisfactory in presence of the plenitude and life of nature. [Shorter Logic, §37: Empiricism]

Rene Descartes, on the other hand, shared Bacon's contempt for the reliability of the science of the day:

I shall not say anything about Philosophy, but that, seeing that it has been cultivated for many centuries by the best minds that have ever lived, and that nevertheless no single thing is to be found in it which is not subject of dispute, and in consequence which is not dubious I had not enough presumption to hope to fare better there than other men had done. And also, considering how many conflicting opinions there may be regarding the self-same matter, all supported by learned people, while there can never be more than one which is true, I esteemed as well-nigh false all that only went as far as being probable.

Then as to the other sciences, inasmuch as they derive their principles from Philosophy, I judged that one could have built nothing solid on foundations so far from firm. And neither the honour nor the promised gain was sufficient to persuade me to cultivate them, for, thanks be to God, I did not find myself in a condition which obliged me to make a merchandise of science for the improvement of my fortune; and, although I did not pretend to scorn all glory like the Cynics, I yet had very small esteem for what I could not hope to acquire, excepting through fictitious titles. And, finally, as to false doctrines, I thought that I already knew well enough what they were worth to be subject to deception neither by the promises of an alchemist, the predictions of an astrologer, the impostures of a magician, the artifices or the empty boastings of any of those who make a profession of knowing that of which they are ignorant. [Discourse on Method, Rene Descartes, 1632]

{to be continued}
 
  • #33
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
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Originally posted by heusdens
Matter is a philosophical category, denoting the
outside world (outside of our perceptions of it),
which is independend of our mind.

It therefore denotes an objective reality which
exists on it's own and outside of our mind, and is not
dependend of our awareness or mind. This objective
reality is reflected within our mind through our
perceptions.
Well, I'd like to point out that since science
currently reasons about all things being
interconnected directly (or at least reasons that
there is an inability of proving the opposite),
there is no real objective reality.
Thus, at least this aspect of the definition
appears to be kin'na self-referential and
vague. I mean, if you can not draw a distinct
line between your mind and the Universe then
the above definition, at least, gets a bit
scrambled. Wouldn't you agree ?

P.S. An intresting sidenote:
If you, for example, consider the Universe in
a microscopic time period then from QM's conclusion
of lack of identity you might say our mind is
possibly the entire Universe on this time scale.
Fascinating ! :smile:

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #34
heusdens
1,736
0
brief history of Materialism [part 2]

Moreover, Descartes asserted that experience cannot provide valid knowledge without the aid of understanding which cannot in principle be attained through reliance on sense perception:

... even the philosophers in the Schools hold it as a maxim that there is nothing in the understanding which has not first of all been in the senses,.... while neither our imagination nor our senses can ever assure us of anything, if our understanding does not intervene.

To establish that foundation of certainty upon which knowledge could begin to be built, Descartes asked himself what he knew for certain. From this enquiry he was led to his famous maxim "I think, therefore I am". That is, I must absolutely doubt everything that is given to me by sense perception and every argument of Reason which calls upon prior principles, but as I think on this, I at least know that someone is thinking.

Descartes approach considered on the one side Mind, and on the other matter. Confronted with the mystery as to how the mind, which was utterly without extension or any corporeal form, could apprehend the objective world, which had extension and other physical properties, Descartes was led to conclude that there existed a special organ somewhere in the skull, which connected mind with matter!

Descartes' somewhat idiosyncratic solution to the problem of the correspondence of mind and matter, is typical of his speculations on Nature - filled with brilliant insights, but lacking the very solid basis which he sought through the rigorous application of Reason. Descartes himself contributed brilliantly to the future of natural science through his invention of Cartesian Geometry, in which spatial forms are identified with algebraic formulae - the single most important tool for theoretical representation of the material world in almost all branches of natural science ever since.

Descartes is thus described as a Dualist because he begins with a dichotomy between consciousness and matter, as two essentially different substances, whose correspondence must then be brought about "externally". Experience shows that consciousness corresponds to the objective world - and not just the consciousness of immediate sense perception, but Reason itself. But how is this possible?

Descartes is a Materialist because he does not doubt the independent existence of the material world outside of consciousness, and accepts that this material world is given in sense perception. However, as a Rationalist, Descartes holds that the world beyond senses is knowable only through the activity of Reason. While Descartes pays his respects to the accumulated knowledge of his Age, his method is very much one which appeals to the reasoning activity of the individual thinker.

Bacon, on the other hand, calls for a whole program of collective accumulation of knowledge. Clearly Bacon lays the emphasis upon Experience as the source of knowledge, and he does not question the capacity of Reason to arrive at truth through analysis of the data of experience, provided only that there is a patient, systematic and critical analysis of that material. For this reason he is known as an Empiricist.

Thus, this period of the beginning of materialism at the beginning of the seventeenth century, is characterised by the contradiction between Rationalism and Empiricism. Galileo, Bacon and Descartes have laid the basis in materialist philosophy for the revolution in natural science, industry and social development.



Spinoza, Hobbes and Locke

Descartes' Discourse on Method had been published in 1637 at Leiden in the Dutch Republic, where there was a measure of religious freedom. The young Jew, Benedicto Spinoza was 5 years old at this time, born in Leiden from parents who had fled to the Republic to escape religious persecution. By the age of 27, Spinoza had been expelled from the Jewish community for his heresy.

Spinoza had worked over Descartes' system, rendering it into the form of "geometrical" axioms and theorems, and then developed his own system which overcame Descartes' dualism. For Spinoza, God did not create the world (far less intervene in it), God is Nature. Nature is composed of substances which have attributes; Thought and extension are not two different substances, but attributes of one and the same substance. The conscious person manifests God in their thought and actions, their free will being that of Nature or God.

By this device, Spinoza has done away with Descartes' dualism; his "geometric" exposition attempts to set for philosophy a foundation as rational and exact as that of geometry. However, despite Spinoza's solution of the problem of Free Will, Spinoza's Universe is totally determined, the is no Chance. Furthermore, while Spinoza has brilliantly resolved the problem of dualism, he has not provided any real method for the elaboration of knowledge. His system of axioms, like Descartes' supposedly "clear and distinct ideas given immediately to Reason:

If any one should say, then, that he has a clear and distinct, that is a true, idea of substance, and should nevertheless doubt whether such substance existed, he would indeed be like one who should say that he had a true idea and yet should wonder whether it were false (as will be manifest to any one who regards it carefully); or if any one should say that substance was created, he would state at the same time that a false idea had been made true, than which it is difficult to conceive anything more absurd. And therefore it must necessarily be acknowledged that the existence of substance, like its essence, is an eternal truth. [Ethics, Spinoza, 1677]

And Spinoza's "clear and distinct, that is true" axioms are put forth boldly from line-one of his Ethics, and made the basis of a series of theorems, lemmas and corollaries building up an entire system. But to the reader, they may as well have been pulled out of his back-pocket. Spinoza's Rational, Materialist, Monism had little influence until the mid-eighteenth century when he was one of many sources underlying the blossoming of "classical German philosophy". Subsequently however, figures such as Goethe, Haeckel and Einstein embraced Spinoza's materialist monism.

Meanwhile in England, Thomas Hobbes set about working Bacon's doctrine of Experience into a philosophical system. Hobbes narrows the concept of experience as the source of knowledge:

Concerning the Thoughts of man, .. they are every one a Representation or Appearance of some quality, or other Attribute of a body without us; which is commonly called an Object. Which Object worketh on the Eyes, Ears, and other parts of mans body; and by diversity of working, produceth diversity of Apparences.

The Origin of them all, is that which we call SENSE; (For there is no conception in a mans mind, which hath not at first, totally, or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of Sense.) The rest are derived from that origin.

To know the natural cause of Sense, is not very necessary to the business now in hand; ... Nevertheless, ...

The cause of Sense, is the External Body, or Object, which presseth the organ proper to each Sense, either immediately, as in the Taste and Touch; or mediately, as in Seeing, Hearing, and Smelling: which pressure, by the mediation of Nerves, and other strings, and membranes of the body, continued inwards to the Brain, and Heart, causeth there a resistance, or counter-pressure, or endeavour of the heart, to deliver itself: which endeavour because Outward, seemeth to be some matter without. And this seeming, or fancy, is that which men call Sense; ... All which qualities called Sensible, are in the object that causeth them, but so many several motions of the matter, by which it presseth our organs diversly. Neither in us that are pressed, are they any thing else, but divers motions; (for motion, produceth nothing but motion.) But their appearance to us is Fancy, the same waking, that dreaming.

And as pressing, rubbing, or striking the Eye, makes us fancy a light; ... [etc] and very object seem invested with the fancy it begets in us; Yet still the object is one thing, the image or fancy is another. So that Sense in all cases, is nothing else but original fancy, caused (as I have said) by the pressure, that is, by the motion, of externall things upon our Eyes, Ears, and other organs thereunto ordained. [Leviathan, Hobbes, 1650]

{to be continued}
 
  • #35
drag
Science Advisor
1,100
1
Hmm... heusdens, would it be terribly self-insulting
of me to note that these people, not at all due
to their intellectual level but due to
the times they lived in and the experiences
they had, were very confused in my opinion. :wink:
 

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