The Metaphysical and the Physical

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Originally posted by Tiberius
...The mystics remain pretty much on their own and have been saying the same things for thousands of years - none of which have affected humanity's ability to control it's environment (for better or worse) anywhere near as reliably as science. This efficacy is proof that science is a good method for obtaining knowledge. If any other methods worked as well then they might have an argument to make. So far, ALL other methods fail miserably at obtaining facts.

Other branches of philosophy may be great at giving us insights into living a good life, ethics, and self improvement, but as far as gathering new information about our environment - they must all fall into, within, and in-line with scientific consensus on these matters or else they are utterly useless (not to mention "looney").
So might I conclude that -- with regard to functionality to the human race ...and despite your nod to ontology -- your position is that science is the "wheat" and philosophy the "chaff"?

Also, do you make a distinction between mysticism and metaphysics?
 
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  • #127
Tiberius
Originally posted by M. Gaspar
So might I conclude that -- with regard to functionality to the human race ...and despite your nod to ontology -- your position is that science is the "wheat" and philosophy the "chaff"?

Also, do you make a distinction between mysticism and metaphysics?
No I wouldn't say that at all. I love philosophy and plan to get a PhD in it in the future. I think philosophy is hugely important to humanity and would love to see it back in its proper place as a "way of life" and not merely something you study in college.

But in order for philosophy to be useful to humans TODAY, it needs to be MODERN philosophy. Most people that say they like philosophy and talk about it a lot, merely rephrase plato, kant, or what have you. The are stuck on the language, phrases, and conclusions of ANCIENT philosophy. This would be like trying to teach a doctor with nothing more than Leonardo de vinci drawings.

A living philosophy must be relevant to its time. It must be capable of generating NEW insights and further understanding. To do so, modern philosophy must take into account and be build upon the basis of currently understood science. Philosophy is more flexible and far reaching than science, but it is meaningless if it contradicts it. To be a source of meaning, it must be true - and it has little hope of being true if it ignores or, worse, conflicts with the physical facts established by science. Therefore, a philosopher without a good working knowledge of physics, biology, and cosmology (at the least) is useless to the world.

Socrates would agree with this I believe. When you read the dialogues of Plato, you will find that Socrates relies heavily on the understanding of the physical properties of the world, as they were understood at the time. The philosophic arguments he made were in large part directed and based upon those understandings. In the time since him, many of the physical facts he relied on have been shown to be incorrect. When you follow his line of reasoning at reaching various PHILOSOPHIC conclusions, and you imagine what direction he would have gone, had he known this or that physical fact was different than he stated, you can easily see that he would have arrived at a different philosophic conclusion, had he more accurate scientific data. And that's as it should be. Socrates pulled into our world in a time machine would undoubtedly change many of his conclusions in the light of new scientific data, which he so faithfully followed in his time.

Modern philosophers should do the same. Their philosophy should fit within modern understanding, but also add to it by bringing forth new insights on how to cope in the modern world and how we are to live, as opposed to competing with science by awkwardly claiming to have facts they can't prove. Instead, what I see mostly on boards such as these is a "dogmatization" of ancient philosophers, an insistance on using outdated modes of speech and perspective just to show off how much they've read, a refusal to learn about or speak in scientific terms where relevant, and a rivalry attitude concerning philosophy and science. People have turned philosophy into a fuzzy, poetry-like endeavor so they can sit around talking like someone who lived thousands of years ago, feeling good about their "deep thoughts". And when you bring up relevant scientific concepts they all look at you like you've farted at their tea party.

Now, with respect to mystics...

I use "mystic" an a generic term, for lack of a better word. By this I mean people who believe in the supernatural, paranormal, and/or proclaim other means of obtaining FACTS about reality other than the scientific method. So, this includes a lot of mainstream religious people, new agers, wiccans, scientologists, self-proclaimed psychics and mediums and SOME who claim that things like meditation and accupuncture have mystical, paranormal, or supernatural elements beyond the physical going on. Basically - anyone who's not a "logical positivist" skeptic with a naturalistic worldview.

Having defined them, I should say that some mystics MAY turn out to be right. But they'll need to prove their claims to me before I accept them, and the burden of proof is on those making the claims.

Metaphysics includes mystical stuff, but may also include questions of finding ultimate meaning in life, value systems, ethics, and all sorts of other immaterial yet NOT supernatural/paranormal concepts. So, I don't poopoo all metaphysics - just mystical claims to knowledge.
 
  • #128
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Originally posted by Tiberius
No I wouldn't say that at all. I love philosophy and plan to get a PhD in it in the future. I think philosophy is hugely important to humanity and would love to see it back in its proper place as a "way of life" and not merely something you study in college.

But in order for philosophy to be useful to humans TODAY, it needs to be MODERN philosophy. Most people that say they like philosophy and talk about it a lot, merely rephrase plato, kant, or what have you. The are stuck on the language, phrases, and conclusions of ANCIENT philosophy. This would be like trying to teach a doctor with nothing more than Leonardo de vinci drawings.

A living philosophy must be relevant to its time. It must be capable of generating NEW insights and further understanding. To do so, modern philosophy must take into account and be build upon the basis of currently understood science. Philosophy is more flexible and far reaching than science, but it is meaningless if it contradicts it. To be a source of meaning, it must be true - and it has little hope of being true if it ignores or, worse, conflicts with the physical facts established by science. Therefore, a philosopher without a good working knowledge of physics, biology, and cosmology (at the least) is useless to the world.

Socrates would agree with this I believe. When you read the dialogues of Plato, you will find that Socrates relies heavily on the understanding of the physical properties of the world, as they were understood at the time. The philosophic arguments he made were in large part directed and based upon those understandings. In the time since him, many of the physical facts he relied on have been shown to be incorrect. When you follow his line of reasoning at reaching various PHILOSOPHIC conclusions, and you imagine what direction he would have gone, had he known this or that physical fact was different than he stated, you can easily see that he would have arrived at a different philosophic conclusion, had he more accurate scientific data. And that's as it should be. Socrates pulled into our world in a time machine would undoubtedly change many of his conclusions in the light of new scientific data, which he so faithfully followed in his time.

Modern philosophers should do the same. Their philosophy should fit within modern understanding, but also add to it by bringing forth new insights on how to cope in the modern world and how we are to live, as opposed to competing with science by awkwardly claiming to have facts they can't prove. Instead, what I see mostly on boards such as these is a "dogmatization" of ancient philosophers, an insistance on using outdated modes of speech and perspective just to show off how much they've read, a refusal to learn about or speak in scientific terms where relevant, and a rivalry attitude concerning philosophy and science. People have turned philosophy into a fuzzy, poetry-like endeavor so they can sit around talking like someone who lived thousands of years ago, feeling good about their "deep thoughts". And when you bring up relevant scientific concepts they all look at you like you've farted at their tea party.
Exactly right with regard to those of "us" who seem stuck in the past and unconnected to the present. But it seems that, now and again, you may be lumping many of "us" into that category when, in fact, we are very much interested in -- and drawing from -- current theories, especially in physics and cosmology.

Many of us are "hungry" for information we can "chew" ...and we regret that we must have it "regurgitated" by those with "teeth" that are specialized for the task.

For the purpose of defining my terms-- anticipating future dialogue with you and others -- I like to call science-types and math-heads "left-brainers", and intuitive types that generate endless abstractions as "right-brainers."

Left-brainers observe/study/test the "dots" ...right-brainers connect them.

Now this is not to say that left-brainers cannot be intuitive, abstraction generators who pull ideas together. And it is not to say that right-brainers can't comprehend the complexities and subtleties of science. I'm simply saying that we each have our own ways of doing, thinking and making a contribution.

You, Tiberius, are apparently (from the few things I've read) a well-balanced mix of right-brain/left-brain capacities. And there are others on these threads who seem to be similarly endowed.

Does this mean the rest of us should just pack up our brains and go home?

If my thinking, over the years, has brought me to the speculation that the Universe is conscious, why does this make me a "mystic"?

Per "The American Heritage Dictionary": MYSTIC: Pertaining to religious mysteries or occult rites and practices. MYSTICISM: A spiritual discipline aiming at direct union or communion with ultimate reality or God through deep medication or trancelike contemplation. A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directy accessible by subjective experience, such as intuition.

While I don't mind being associated with the last sentence, I do not like being called a "mystic" -- or being lumped together with people who ARE "mystics" -- because it is a "loaded word" that does not convey who I am.

Likewise, METAPHYSICS: The branch of philosophy that systematically investigates the nature of first principles and problems of ultimate reality, including the study of being (ontology) and, often, the study of the structure of the Universe (my cap.) (cosmology). Or, METAPHPYSICAL: Based on speculative or abstract reasoning.

As you see, these are perfectly respectable pre-occupations. However, the words again are "loaded" and thus, I'd never say I'm "into metaphysics".

Nor do I call myself a "philosopher" for the very reasons you described above.

Recently, I was offered the word "Panpsycist" which, if I've got to be labeled, is the term most acceptable to ME. Panpsychism proposes that consciousness "resides" in everything that is, from elementary particles through large systems like stars, galaxies and the Universe Itself...that consciousness is a FUNDAMENTAL INGREDIENT of the Universe.

Perhaps -- my formidable friend -- you cannot go so far as to accept that. However, I think you'll have to agree that the Universe has consciousness "in" It ...thereby rendering INCOMPLETE any cosmological theory that does NOT include the nature and evolution of consciousness.

...and that right-brain musings are not always coming from "left-field".:wink:
 
  • #129
Tiberius
Originally posted by M. Gaspar
Exactly right with regard to those of "us" who seem stuck in the past and unconnected to the present. But it seems that, now and again, you may be lumping many of "us" into that category when, in fact, we are very much interested in -- and drawing from -- current theories, especially in physics and cosmology.
If that is the case, then I don't mean to do so, as this would be ok by me :)

Many of us are "hungry" for information we can "chew" ...and we regret that we must have it "regurgitated" by those with "teeth" that are specialized for the task.
Yes, I would prefer everyone have their own teeth, but unfortunately I doubt human nature would ever allow us to see large societies with anything more than a minority of "teethed" people.

For the purpose of defining my terms-- anticipating future dialogue with you and others -- I like to call science-types and math-heads "left-brainers", and intuitive types that generate endless abstractions as "right-brainers."

Left-brainers observe/study/test the "dots" ...right-brainers connect them.
Sounds ok to me. But, using your terminologies here, what I am referring to are those who venture to connect the dots without even bothering to find out what dots are already known and where they are. Instead, they are making pictures and ignoring the dots. When you bring up the dots, they get mad because you're interfereing with their "connection lines".

You, Tiberius, are apparently (from the few things I've read) a well-balanced mix of right-brain/left-brain capacities. And there are others on these threads who seem to be similarly endowed.
Thanks. With my interest in science and natualistic worldview, many are suprised to find out that I am an artist with a love of philosophy.

Does this mean the rest of us should just pack up our brains and go home?
Not at all. But it does mean that philosophy should be made to be compatible with the current scientific understanding to be useful and relevant. Lots of people have very good brains, but that doesn't do much good if they are unwilling to spend the time to learn general science or are unwilling to accept it when you tell them there's a dot they should be drawing their lines between instead of going off in some other direction. Such people often say things like, "man can't explain" and then procede to outline some issue that HAS been explained or partially explained but much more than they realize.

I'm no expert on science, but some don't even have the basics covered and they're jumping right into "edge-of-knowledge" speculation. Normally that's fine, as long as you're really at the edge and not just at your own personal edge. It's like Columbus exploring Spain and getting mad at the locals for telling him they've been living there a while.

If my thinking, over the years, has brought me to the speculation that the Universe is conscious, why does this make me a "mystic"?

Per "The American Heritage Dictionary": MYSTIC: Pertaining to religious mysteries or occult rites and practices. MYSTICISM: A spiritual discipline aiming at direct union or communion with ultimate reality or God through deep medication or trancelike contemplation. A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directy accessible by subjective experience, such as intuition.

While I don't mind being associated with the last sentence, I do not like being called a "mystic" -- or being lumped together with people who ARE "mystics" -- because it is a "loaded word" that does not convey who I am.
As I said, I'm using "mystic" for lack of a better word. I don't really care what words are used, as long as the concepts are getting communicated. It's not important that we agree on the "right" word for a meaning - it's only important that we both know what the OTHER means when THEY use the word. If you've got a suggestion for a word that would apply to you, as well as the others in the group I described, that's ok with me.

Likewise, METAPHYSICS: The branch of philosophy that systematically investigates the nature of first principles and problems of ultimate reality, including the study of being (ontology) and, often, the study of the structure of the Universe (my cap.) (cosmology). Or, METAPHPYSICAL: Based on speculative or abstract reasoning.

As you see, these are perfectly respectable pre-occupations. However, the words again are "loaded" and thus, I'd never say I'm "into metaphysics".

Nor do I call myself a "philosopher" for the very reasons you described above.
Nearly all words that have been around for a while that describe complex issues have similar baggage. Which is why I'm not interested in symantic debates - just so long as we understand each other (and unfortunately theirs a constant pull in philosophy trying to drag us into that dark bottomless pit!).

Recently, I was offered the word "Panpsycist" which, if I've got to be labeled, is the term most acceptable to ME. Panpsychism proposes that consciousness "resides" in everything that is, from elementary particles through large systems like stars, galaxies and the Universe Itself...that consciousness is a FUNDAMENTAL INGREDIENT of the Universe.

Perhaps -- my formidable friend -- you cannot go so far as to accept that. However, I think you'll have to agree that the Universe has consciousness "in" It ...thereby rendering INCOMPLETE any cosmological theory that does NOT include the nature and evolution of consciousness.

...and that right-brain musings are not always coming from "left-field".:wink:
A lot of new words come about, not because they are really needed, but just because people don't like the baggage and connotation that's been attached to them over time. This is the same reason the word "agnostic" and "nontheist" was invented. Oh well. :)
 
  • #130
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Originally posted by Tiberius
Well, after step 5 you don't stop. You keep testing and retesting. Over time some theories become stronger and stronger, others weaker, and others are superceded by stronger theories. So, you never really "live happily ever after" per se.
Good point.

Many other branches of philosophy do not deal with learning about your environment or epistemology. Other philosophies that DO deal with this in another way than the scientific method have never been verified as begin a legitimate source of knowledge. So, not all philosophies are equal. The scientific method is the ONLY method for obtaining knwledge which can show accuracy to a degree far greater than random chance.
Actually, I'm going to have to disagree with you, on a Logical basis. Inductive Logic is incomplete, and Science is based on Inductive Logic.
 

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