Why are We Individuals? A Philosophical Question

  • Thread starter Kerrie
  • Start date
In summary: Originally posted by Kerrie ...I think all the different species I’ve ever watched for any length of time showed differences in personality, and I mean even spiders too, having raised several different types in a terrarium years ago. Often, especially in regards to cloning a complete human being, I hear that the clone will be different due to its environment (recall the Adolf Hitler cloned type movies). But what about family members that grew up very close to one another and shared many similar experiences. Don’t their personalities often differ radically from one to the other all the same? I’m half-suspecting that even if two people share the exact same influences they may still end up with
  • #36
Zero:

I think that when Kerrie asks a question like this, she is looking at it from a very '5 year old' sort of perspective, and those are the sort of answers she is looking for.

I'm sorry, I'm not a 5 year old. Perhaps she should ask a 5 year old. I'm not trying to be a wise-ass, but that's not really what philosophy is - that's "musings". I think the Hallmark store in the mall has a lot of that kind of stuff in it. Sorry if I misunderstood her approach.

This is the Philosophy Board...she's looking for you to look at things with a sort of childlike sense of wonder, instead of cold hard scientific facts. In teh Other Sciences forum, you give mechanistic answers. Here, you go for the more speculative answers.

Wrong.

I look at science with a sense of wonder and awe because the things we discover in science, and how we do it, are awe inspiring. I'm saddened when I hear people describe science as "cold and hard".

Furthermore, science is a branch of philosophy, which is why there's a section for it on a science website. And, as I've said now many times, modern philosophy of any meaning must take the conclusions of science in consideration when speculating. Speculation while ignoring science is redundant and likely irrelevant. Instead, philosophy should act to take what we know scientifically (your cold hard facts), and speculate FROM THAT POINT, bringing together the facts to form a whole perspective. From that, finding ways to cope with our world and find meaning in our lives.

But philosophy that is just an excuse to ignore science and say fluffy things that sound pretty is not philosophy at all. The philosophy of Plato and Socrates was analytic. It was exploratory. It sought to glean new insights to our existence. And, in doing so, it embraced the physical understanding of the natural world, as it was known in its time.
 
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  • #37
Originally posted by Tiberius
Well I respect your take on that. But I honestly can't see the difference. Both are a question of body function. I suppose if you ignore everything learned about the brain in the last two centuries you could talk about it in terms of "souls" or something, but what would be the point and what could possibly get answered that way? It might have been better to just say "lets talk about individuality". I'm not trying to split semantic hairs here as Fliption suggested, but I'm being forced to because people are parsing out science and philosophy and trying to make the thread a "no science" zone. My point is that this would also by default make it an "anti-philosophy" zone.

Let me put it to you this way. The government wants to know "why are we individuals" and wants to grant funds toward answering that question. I go to them an give my "neuron specialization" answer and you give them your "because it makes us special" answer and see who gets the funds for further exploration of the issue. On the other hand, if the government (for some reason) wanted to know what the meaning of life was, then a completely philosophical approach would probably get the funds. Now, I know there's lots of ways to look at an issue, but this should at least show that this particular question itself has, at its core, a physiological component that MUST be addressed in any meaningful search for the answer. To not do so just because technical-sounding lingo makes us uncomfortable betrays everything philosophy has been about since it's beginning.


I think we're past splitting hairs. We're down to the quark level at this point. But again it's all about perspective of the understanding of the question. Sure, if you take the question at face value, then yes a straight-forward scientific answer will do. I choose to look beyond that to a deeper meaning. And for me the question "why are we individuals?" is an extension of the question "what is the meaning of life?" It can be thought of as an inferrence of the meaning of life. And to answer that question you'd have to go back a few billion years to the point where microscopic goo was forming life. I admit I'm extending the question out a bit, but That is the path that leads to my answer. I don't really see this topic going anywhere at this point, it's just semantics, so I'll just leave it at this:

Philosophy has to take science into account, but it is not the foundation of it. It addresses issues which science cannot or won't.
Those are just my "mussings", and opinions.
 
  • #38
Originally posted by Zantra
...I admit I'm extending the question out a bit, but That is the path that leads to my answer...

That's completely ok with me if you want to do that. But I don't appreciate all the posts here suggesting my mentioning of the physical answers to the question were somehow out of place or not-to-be-spoken-of in a philosophy thread. When someone starts a thread with one simple sentence and nothing more, they should expect all sorts of takes on it (and even cross assessment between those takes).

Philosophy has to take science into account, but it is not the foundation of it. It addresses issues which science cannot or won't.

I completely agree 100%.
:)
 
  • #39
tiberius,
i find it ironic that you use the yoda avatar, but have such an attitude...yoda was a meek character..


Again, speculation is fun and a wonderful thing, but there's no use speculating about physical matters that have a physical reason behind them that's already understood.

what does that have to do with my harmless question of why are we individuals?

Now, I'm not trying to be a board-police or anything

that's exactly what you are doing...leave that to the mentor of this forum, which is me...

I'm actually not emotional about this at all - I find it very entertaining to talk about (which is why I'm here). But there's no way philosophy is going to have any meaning, usefulness, or relevancy without acknowledging what scientific consensus of the day suggests and working from there. Otherwise it's just poetry and pretty-talk (which is fine but philosophy can be so much more).

our current scientific understanding doesn't necessarily answer all questions we ask...i think you need to remember that...

I don't appreciate all the posts here suggesting my mentioning of the physical answers to the question were somehow out of place or not-to-be-spoken-of in a philosophy thread.

perhaps you need to re-word what you are really trying to say, as you have a tone that is rubbing a few of us the wrong way...

Speculation while ignoring science is redundant and likely irrelevant.

again, a matter of your opinion...i asked this question with the intent of having the reader reach deeper within them and give a philosophical reason-their philosophy...not to have someone toss an attitude of ridicule towards their opinions...physicsforums.com does not endorse such an attitude...
 
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  • #40
Originally posted by Zero
Some people are trying to make the point that a 'why' question can have two meanings. One is 'by what process does this occur?' and teh other is 'what purpose does it have'...I don't think physical-based questions have to have a 'purpose' answer.
Really? When an "individual" comes up with an idea, through the process of "abstract thought," the mechanics (i.e., what process) aren't usually addressed until after the idea is proposed (what purpose). Meaning something doesn't arise out of nothing, not without a design or intent ... even if that design only entails "reaching further" beyond our "current ability" to reach. In other words the act of "reaching" is none other than an act of intent, and implies also that evolution has a "sense of purpose."

For without purpose we would have no being, and without being there would be "nothing" to observe. So I personally choose to "worship" (have my being) from the "abstract wonder" of things.
 
  • #41
Originally posted by Kerrie
...perhaps you need to re-word what you are really trying to say, as you have a tone that is rubbing a few of us the wrong way...
As one who was "rubbed the wrong way" on another thread -- then engaged with others in a Tiberius Bashing Party...let me say where I am on the subject at the moment.

Tiberius serves a purpose -- he certainly serves MY purpose for participating here, which is to clear up any fuzzy thinking...or accept that I'm as focused as I'm going to get.

I have to tell you, that he has sent me into a bit of a tailspin ...which I trust I'll pull out of over time.

You see in my world -- that is, among the people in my life (not just in my head) I'm held in high regard. In this place, I'm a borderline IDIOT! (I have occasionally wondered if idiots know that they're idiots...and apparently, we do!)

In "my world" I'm Tiberius...and it's hard to be humble. Yet, I've served the purpose of getting people to be more rigorous in their thinking.

Perhaps others are here to "see themselves talk" then be patted on the head. I'm here to be "slapped out of my hysteria"!

I've been following this thread, and all I detect from Tiberius here is an attempt to make a contribution. Perhaps it is because I have no "investment" in this topic -- or that he hasn't called anyone a "mystic" -- but I no longer see the "attitude"...just the information.

So I trust he will not be squelched by those of us who get our feelings hurt while we "search for truth" in the briar patch of these threads.

And, to stay "on topic"...guess that's what makes us "individuals".





again, a matter of your opinion...i asked this question with the intent of having the reader reach deeper within them and give a philosophical reason-their philosophy...not to have someone toss an attitude of ridicule towards their opinions...physicsforums.com does not endorse such an attitude... [/B][/QUOTE]
 
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  • #42
Originally posted by M. Gaspar
As one who was "rubbed the wrong way" on another thread -- then engaged with others in a Tiberius Bashing Party...let me say where I am on the subject at the moment.

Tiberius serves a purpose -- he certainly serves MY purpose for participating here, which is to clear up any fuzzy thinking...or accept that I'm as focused as I'm going to get.

I have to tell you, that he has sent me into a bit of a tailspin ...which I trust I'll pull out of over time.

You see in my world -- that is, among the people in my life (not just in my head) I'm held in high regard. In this place, I'm a borderline IDIOT! (I have occasionally wondered if idiots know that they're idiots...and apparently, we do!)

In "my world" I'm Tiberius...and it's hard to be humble. Yet, I've served the purpose of getting people to be more rigorous in their thinking.

Perhaps others are here to "see themselves talk" then be patted on the head. I'm here to be "slapped out of my hysteria"!

I've been following this thread, and all I detect from Tiberius here is an attempt to make a contribution. Perhaps it is because I have no "investment" in this topic -- or that he hasn't called anyone a "mystic" -- but I no longer see the "attitude"...just the information.

So I trust he will not be squelched by those of us who get our feelings hurt while we "search for truth" in the briar patch of these threads.

And, to stay "on topic"...guess that's what makes us "individuals".





again, a matter of your opinion...i asked this question with the intent of having the reader reach deeper within them and give a philosophical reason-their philosophy...not to have someone toss an attitude of ridicule towards their opinions...physicsforums.com does not endorse such an attitude...

Me personally, I come to this board to:
1.learn
2.reflect
3.pose ideas and question that may warrant some thought for me.

As for our debate on this topic, I would say that I agree with his view to a point, but beyond that it's just a matter of opinion. I can say I'm the Tiberius among certain circles of friends, but among others as peers, as I tend to seek out equally if not more intelligent people, because I see it as an opportunity to grow. But I have a wide range of people I consider to be friends.

I don't pretend to be egotistical. As several have pointed out, there are many mental giants on this board, and I'm sure they could no doubt make mincemeat out of me:wink: No matter how good you are, there's always someone better. But there are certain characteristics among highly intelligent people, one of which is egotism. And if you get enough big egos in one room, you breed competition, and inevitably feelings get hurt. For myself, I concede that Tiberius had some valid points(which I believe I did in an earlier post) Again, I can't speak for others, but I believe Tiberius has helped me to better define for me a subject that I admit I hadn't given a ton of thought until this point in my life.

And I quote:

"Do not compare yourself to others, for always there will be persons greater and lesser than you"

-Maximus
 
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  • #43
It seems to me that this whole discussion was almost resolved, but that everyone kept dancing all around the problem. In addition to many things said that I agree with, on both sides of this issue, it seems to me that what has been ignored is the implicit argument made by Tiberius. If I have read all of this correctly, Tiberius is arguing that there is no purpose to life. Granted, two points of view can be found if we assume that life has purpose. But, just as Tiberius apparently fails to recognize this implicit philosophical argument within his position, I did cringe at what sounded to me like fundamentally inconsistent logic from Zantra.

Tiberius, I for one found your explanation most interesting and personality building; . However, is it your philosophical position that God and philosophical purpose are only mental constructs? If so, you couldn’t possibly relate to the other points of view. But neither can you logically invalidate alternative points that are logically consistent, and that the premise of which does not violate established scientific facts. Surely you don’t mean to argue that science has proven that life has no other purpose but to exist?
 
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  • #44
Surely you don’t mean to argue that science has proven that life has no other purpose but to exist?

i think this is a hope that most of us have...which has some connection to my question of why are we individuals...

M. Gaspar~please re-read my comment below:

again, a matter of your opinion...i asked this question with the intent of having the reader reach deeper within them and give a philosophical reason-their philosophy...not to have someone toss an attitude of ridicule towards their opinions...physicsforums.com does not endorse such an attitude...

not the opinion itself i am pointing out, but the attitude behind it...
 
  • #45
Originally posted by Kerrie
M. Gaspar~please re-read my comment below:

...not the opinion itself i am pointing out, but the attitude behind it...

I have spent the last three days immersed in the subject of his "attitude" -- and my reaction to it -- and have done a complete 180 in the process !

Not only do I find FINALLY find his attitude "acceptable"...I find it --periodically -- unavoidable .

Who among us does not get exasperated with people who just don't "get it"...but pretend they do? Let this person cast the first stone at Tiberius.

Meanwhile, I'm picking up the 10-or-so I've left behind on another thread ...to perhaps build a little shrine to uncompromised reason.
 
  • #46
Originally posted by Kerrie
i think this is a hope that most of us have...which has some connection to my question of why are we individuals...

M. Gaspar~please re-read my comment below:



not the opinion itself i am pointing out, but the attitude behind it...
Well which is more important? The fact that life exists and we're all participants? Or, the "observed" fact that life exists? Indeed it seems like Mother Nature pretty much had the whole thing down pat long before science ever came along.

Does it really behoove us to look at everything "objectively" down to the "nth degree?" Especially since we were mythological creatures in the first place?
 
  • #47
It is one thing to be philosophical...it is another thing entirely to spout complete nonsense in the attempt to feign depth.
 
  • #48
Originally posted by M. Gaspar
I have spent the last three days immersed in the subject of his "attitude" -- and my reaction to it -- and have done a complete 180 in the process !

Not only do I find FINALLY find his attitude "acceptable"...I find it --periodically -- unavoidable .

Who among us does not get exasperated with people who just don't "get it"...but pretend they do? Let this person cast the first stone at Tiberius.

Meanwhile, I'm picking up the 10-or-so I've left behind on another thread ...to perhaps build a little shrine to uncompromised reason.

Now I'm reduced to responding to MYSELF!

M. Gaspar:

I think it's your "attitude" that's showing now. I just want to remind you -- while we're on the subject of "individuals" -- that we are each making our way on our respective paths.

We each have different perspectives, different interests and different capacities...and we can each make a contribution to the whole.

The only way we will NOT make a contribution is if we are STOPPED by others ...or our own insecurities

This is why -- IMO -- we should each be about "empowering" one another to self-express ...without coming down too hard on them if their ideas seem half-baked.

Your last post seems to be giving license to those who are better informed or more cerebrally endowed to point out others' shortcomings with impunity.

I agree with those who believe that there is "more" to life than that which can be "observed" ...that there is -- or at least MAY be -- a "spiritual" component that MAY be "evolving"...and that it MAY be that the acquisition of COMPASSION is the measure of the evolution of a soul.

"We are what we DO" is your signature for a reason: because we can choose to DO something other than what we FEEL like doing in the moment...which means we can ACT with compassion even when we're feeling sort of smug.

But even here I'm going to "give one up for Tiberius" because, in my opinion, he has already modulated his style.

And this is the LAST THING I intend to say about Tiberius in this lifetime!

And please forgive me, Kerrie, for using this thread to "get complete".
 
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  • #49
Originally posted by Zero
It is one thing to be philosophical...it is another thing entirely to spout complete nonsense in the attempt to feign depth.
You just don't get it do you? No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to break free from our "subjective shells."

What does that mean? We always have, and always will be, "creatures of faith."

What was that you say? The emperor has no clothes? ... By God! :wink:
 
  • #50
Originally posted by Iacchus32
..We always have, and always will be, "creatures of faith."

I'd rather be known as a "creature of speculations".
 
  • #51
Originally posted by M. Gaspar
I'd rather be known as a "creature of speculations".
Hey I don't have a problem with science per se', I just think it's about time it realized that humanity has "a soul."
 
  • #52
I'll admit that my initial explanation had not bearing in logic, and that it was ineed almost "poetic". Of course I never expected it to go on for 4 pages either.lol. I was being intuitive, and gave Kerrie the answer I thought she was looking for. I never said it was the logical or ultimate answer. If you read back, several people posted more logical, and consistent explanations of why we are individuals, and that did not satisfy her.

Let's then put it to rest then, shall we? Tiberius argues that the question has to be based alone on fact and scientific principle, and if you start from a scientfic understanding that you have to concede that we are not individual due to fate, or any type of "deeper meaning" He is correct. It wasn't my intention for 1 sentence to evolve into a discussion of the entire foundation and principles of Philosophy, And for such an argument I'm not well equipped.

However I'm not quite sure what you mean by "inconsistent logic" Basically my main argument was to the interpretation of the question. What did I do? I used my imagination, tried to look at the question from the perpective of what I thought Kerrie was, and that's what came out.

All of Tiberius assertions were correct. However humans can't be satisfied with "just because" We seek a deeper, spiritual understanding, and to accept less is to loose hope. It goes to the very foundation of our personalities and deeper believes. There are religious intonnations even in Philosophy. To basically insinuate that there's no god is to invite chaos among the vast population, of which approximately 89 percent (not absolutely sure on that figure) believe in a higher power.
 
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  • #53
Originally posted by Iacchus32
Hey I don't have a problem with science per se', I just think it's about time it realized that humanity has "a soul."
It ain't going to happen. Even "consciousness" -- which surely exists -- is eschewed by hard-core materialists.

If it can't be detected, measured, tested, predicted and proven ...forget about it!

But I think we're off topic...so I'm going to unsubscribe and find another.
 
  • #54
If science were a complete system and all that is knowable was known completely then I would have to agree with Tiberius et al. Science however is not complete.

Science got where it is today by asking and speculating about the unknown and the testing the various hypotheses to see it it matched observation.

Philosophy, IMO, is where we do this asking and speculating, whether it be poetically put, based in mystism or spiritually. This is the Philosophy Forum.
Whether one is a mental giant or a modest thinker is totally irrelevant. If one has the mental where-with-all to ask a question and speculate about an answer s/he belongs here.

If their logic is not sound and in error then that error should be pointed out to them; but, logic does not, cannot and will not ever concern itself about the varifiablity of a statement or it relation to reality. Logic only addresses the method and soundness of reasoning.
That one may be an arrogant egotistical mental giant with no patients or toleance with the ramblings of lesser mortals or a street sweeper idlely musing over some obscure question in his mind, should make no difference here. None of us KNOW, we all assume and speculate and that is why we are here and what IMHO is what this forum is all about. It is also what this thread is about. Why are there overbearing intolerant people and then wonderful, patient, understanding saints like myself?
 
  • #55
Humanity doesn't have a soul eh? Prove it! But of course first you have to define it, because "soul" has many connotations. People take abstract terms such as "soul" and poetic descriptions and label them mysticism because it's an abstract term that they can't logically define.

While I may not be a "mental giant" (relatively in comparison to this board), I stand by my stance there there is a humanistic side of things based in emotion that science cannot calculate or define. From the purely scientific perspective things like love, empathy, intuition, and jealousy are incalculable. And I challenge anyone to define these terms mathmatically. But that is my point, and the whole point of this post. And some would say that these things have no place in philosophy. Well I say without these things there would be no philosophy. Yes, I'm speaking of CURIOSITY. Because without it, there would be no discovery. And I hate to break it to you folks, but however people want to label it, it is still a human emotion.

Philosophy has to use human emotion as a guide or it flounders at the very outset.To illustrate my point, Tell me how much you love your parents. Give me a figure, a number. I want quantitative logic.


I did admit that I was shown a different point of view and another way of understanding philosophy, but that doesn't mean I'm backing off the premise that philosophy is not steeped wholly in logic. The very question "why are we individuals?" is an illogical one. We just are because that is the way things are. That's the wholly scientific and completely uninspiring answer.

Now let's pose a scenario. You're searching for a deeper meaning, seeking truth and understanding of self, so you ask "why are we individuals?" One person tells you "Because the uniqueness is makes us who we are" and another one says "you just are.. deal with numnuts"..

Now which one would you want to hear ?

EDIT: I know I'm fighting a loosing battle, but I just love a challenge
 
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  • #56
Kerri,

1) You said you thought I was complaining about the relevancy of the topic to the forum. This is incorrect. If you go back and reread the order of the posts you will find that I never once stated anything about whether or not this topic was in the right place, until others said that MY physiological explanation does not belong in the philosophy section. In Defence of, and in response to the claim that I had "forgotten what forum I was in", I said that the question is a material one and so it was not I who had forgotten. This is the first time, and the only comments I made in this regard were in response to being accused of ME not being in the right forum.

2) What do you mean by "attitude"? How am I to phrase the assersions that I made? I submit that there was no possible way to make the claims that I did on this thread in a way that wouldn't get me accused of having an attitude. If you can find some incident where I called someone a name or attacked them personally on this thread then I'd be suprised. Otherwise, I think this is just a case of not liking the position I am taking and taking it personally that I disagree, and I can't do anything about that. Everything I have stated has been about the topic and in response to comments directed at me. These responses have been plainly factual and addressed the ideas - not the people.

3) Science isn't complete. But what there is of it should be acknowledged in philosophy - and there is a lot of it concerning "why we are individuals". Then, from that point, further speculation would be highly entertaining to read. That is my point in a nutshell and my response to the claim that my scientific explanation is out of place on this thread. I don't see what is so controversial or threatening about that, or what should invoke the attitude that claims of scientific completness have been made. That is a "straw man" argument and therefore irrelevant.

I would make a comment here about not meaning to be rude, but I tried that earlier in this thread and it was answered with "but you are" so I'll not waste time with that again.
 
  • #57
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
It seems to me that this whole discussion was almost resolved, but that everyone kept dancing all around the problem. In addition to many things said that I agree with, on both sides of this issue, it seems to me that what has been ignored is the implicit argument made by Tiberius. If I have read all of this correctly, Tiberius is arguing that there is no purpose to life. Granted, two points of view can be found if we assume that life has purpose. But, just as Tiberius apparently fails to recognize this implicit philosophical argument within his position, I did cringe at what sounded to me like fundamentally inconsistent logic from Zantra.

Tiberius, I for one found your explanation most interesting and personality building; . However, is it your philosophical position that God and philosophical purpose are only mental constructs? If so, you couldn’t possibly relate to the other points of view. But neither can you logically invalidate alternative points that are logically consistent, and that the premise of which does not violate established scientific facts. Surely you don’t mean to argue that science has proven that life has no other purpose but to exist?

Wow, now that's an interesting reponse Ivan, though I'm not sure how on-topic we are anymore. I'll try to answer though because I think some of what you summarized needs addressing...

...it seems to me that what has been ignored is the implicit argument made by Tiberius. If I have read all of this correctly, Tiberius is arguing that there is no purpose to life. Granted, two points of view can be found if we assume that life has purpose. But, just as Tiberius apparently fails to recognize this implicit philosophical argument within his position, I did cringe at what sounded to me like fundamentally inconsistent logic from Zantra.

I'm not sure I saw anything illogical from Zantra - just not really addressing the question in a way I thought was philosophically constructive. But you say here that, implicit in my argument, is that life has no purpose. Well, I have two responses to this...

1) You Granted that "the two points of view can be found if we assume that life has a purpose". Since you granted this, I will claim it! Yes, indeed, I see no implication that a physical explanation robs life of purpose. Even in the more traditional ideas of life purpose, such as the religious, all of the physical explanations would no doubt be a part of god's creation (or whatever myths are appropriate to the religion of the day). So, the natural does not rule out the supernatural because the supernatural is alleged to exist "outside" and "in addition to" the natural.

2) But of course, most have probably figured out that I am a naturalist (or materialist as some call it). But my personal beliefs on the supernatural do not happen to be held up or supported in any way by the physical understanding of brain function. I have other reasons for these beliefs. So I stand by #1, that the supernatural is still a possibility if looking at the physicality of the brain. However, even in MY view, I do not see life as "lacking purpose". In fact, I see great meaning and purpose to life. But (and I believe this is good news), the idea that there seems to be no "objective" or "outside" purpose and meaning to life means that we, as individuals, are free to CHOOSE our own meaning in life. I decide what the meaning of MY life will be, and you YOURS. To me, this is much superior to being handed our purpose on a platter. But this is all my personal preference. To others the idea may seem frightening, but I don't think that need be the case.

Tiberius, I for one found your explanation most interesting and personality building; . However, is it your philosophical position that God and philosophical purpose are only mental constructs?

God - probably.
Philosophical Purpose - yes.
But "mental constructs" are important and meaningful to US, and since US is who we're talking about, then that's all that matters.

If so, you couldn’t possibly relate to the other points of view. But neither can you logically invalidate alternative points that are logically consistent, and that the premise of which does not violate established scientific facts. Surely you don’t mean to argue that science has proven that life has no other purpose but to exist?

I'm not sure why this is, but there seems to be a rampant, almost obsessive, tendency for people to exclaim that I "Can't prove god doesn't exist", even though I never make such a claim.

True, science cannot, even in principle, EVER prove that the supernatural does not exist. But it can prove many things about the natural. I, for philosophic reasons (not scientific), have determined that it is not rational to hold a belief in something for which you have no evidence. And, that the degree of belief in a proposition should be proportionate to the degree of physical evidence for that proposition. Therefore, no evidence FOR god means no belief IN god. Also, no evidence for NO GOD means no belief that there ISN'T a god.

Let me ask you, do you hold this belief: "there is NOT a quarter in Tiberius' pocket at this moment"?

What about this belief: "there IS a quarter in Tiberius' pocket at this moment"?

Same thing. I have no evidence. But, I can say that "I don't believe in god" because I don't hold that first belief. Furthermore, an "atheist" means "without theism", and "theism" is just a fancy word for "belief god DOES exist". So, being without the belief that god DOES exist, I am technically an atheist.

However, my main point in response to your question of purpose to life, is that I don't see how or why the supernatural need be the only possible source of purpose. To me, the two are separate and distinct. Supernatural? Possible but irrelevant. Purpose? Definitely.
 
  • #58
I think this post got way off track, and would be much more at home in the objective vs subjective post.

Now the way in which I chose to view the question was still rooted in philosophy, it just lacked a more physical discription. I was thinking abstractly, though the more I thought about it, the more I sounded like I was launching into a a "snowflake" analogy, so I withdraw.

I'm a very logical person, but sometimes we need to hear poetry, not facts. We may know the facts, but sometimes the poetry reassures us.
 
  • #59
Originally posted by Zantra
I think this post got way off track, and would be much more at home in the objective vs subjective post.

Now the way in which I chose to view the question was still rooted in philosophy, it just lacked a more physical discription. I was thinking abstractly, though the more I thought about it, the more I sounded like I was launching into a a "snowflake" analogy, so I withdraw.

I'm a very logical person, but sometimes we need to hear poetry, not facts. We may know the facts, but sometimes the poetry reassures us.

Sure, nothing wrong with that :)
I just wasn't aware that this was a call for reassurance. That being the case, then everything you said applies.

To get back on track, I think a philosophic look at "why we are individuals", speculating beyond the physiological, would be so vast a thing that you'd really have to come to terms and agreement on a LOT of other more primal beliefs before the answers to that would make sense between two people.

For example, one might talk about why "god made us individuals" and all of the purpose behind that, but then that answer would only be meaningful to those who believe in a god (and one of the sort described at that). Then there may be other "cosmic" reasons for why human beings are the way they are (spirits, starwars-like force, personna-created reality, etc), but each of those answers would face the same limitations.

Not only would the foundational belief systems have to be established before an answer to such a broad question be answerable, but it would also be helpful if the motivation to the question were stated. For example, is Kerri wanting to know what our "place is" in the universe, and she feels that asking why we are individuals might be a component of determining that? If so, then it would be very interesting to hear the philosophic line of reasoning connecting the concept of individuality to "our place in the universe".

I would venture to say, from my own philosophic perspective, that the "why" questions (the BIG "why" questions that is) are usually a sign of looking in the wrong place for answers. It has been my experience that we cannot ever really know for certain the very basis of existence itself. Such a thing is beyond our abilities as human beings to reliably determine. That is, unless some mystical claims to knowledge are ever proven to be objectively accurate - which could happen but unfortunately hasn't yet. That being the case, I believe that our best answers lie within ourself. If we want to know what our place is, we need only to look at our world and decide who and what we want to be, both s a people and as individuals. Whatever other "higher" things are going on (or not) doesn't really change who we are, what we value, what we find beautiful and good, and what sort of future we wish to build. Everything we need to determine that is within us and around us. All the speculation about otherworldly beings, motives, and purposes seems to me to be entertaining, but ultimately futile and irrelevant to the really important questions facing us.
 
  • #60
Originally posted by Kerrie
a very basic question that i wonder a lot about...here we are on this earth, along with all the other forms of life, we physically must survive in the same manner - requiring sleep, food, adequate health - yet, personality wise, we are unique...why? this question is not limited to human beings either, as my roommate's dog has quite the personality for example...

The CORRECT answer is simple.

Because we are not biological identical. END OF STORY.
 
  • #61
Originally posted by Tiberius
Sure, nothing wrong with that :)
I just wasn't aware that this was a call for reassurance. That being the case, then everything you said applies.

That was an error on my part for not clarifying myself at the outset of all this.

Not only would the foundational belief systems have to be established before an answer to such a broad question be answerable, but it would also be helpful if the motivation to the question were stated. For example, is Kerri wanting to know what our "place is" in the universe, and she feels that asking why we are individuals might be a component of determining that? If so, then it would be very interesting to hear the philosophic line of reasoning connecting the concept of individuality to "our place in the universe".

If we go on what we factually know and the evidence that is afforded to us at this point in time, then we can say that we are the top of the food chain until we know otherwise. We are the masters of our own fates through free will, and that we grow and develop based on our own choices this, above all else, affects us the most. This is what leads us to be who we are. Through life experiences, and the more highly evolved a species is, the more choices they have available to them. So it would seem, until otherwise proven, the we as humans, have the most opportunity to become individuals through more growth and experience. Now it would be presumptious of us to assume that we are the most advanced in the universe, however we can't know either way, so for now we must assume that we are it. In which case, that puts us in the most favorable position. I've always been a big believer of controlling your own "destiny" as it were, so terms like luck, fate, and chance have no bearing on our lives. We are the masters of our own universe.

I would venture to say, from my own philosophic perspective, that the "why" questions (the BIG "why" questions that is) are usually a sign of looking in the wrong place for answers. It has been my experience that we cannot ever really know for certain the very basis of existence itself. Such a thing is beyond our abilities as human beings to reliably determine. That is, unless some mystical claims to knowledge are ever proven to be objectively accurate - which could happen but unfortunately hasn't yet. That being the case, I believe that our best answers lie within ourself. If we want to know what our place is, we need only to look at our world and decide who and what we want to be, both s a people and as individuals. Whatever other "higher" things are going on (or not) doesn't really change who we are, what we value, what we find beautiful and good, and what sort of future we wish to build. Everything we need to determine that is within us and around us. All the speculation about otherworldly beings, motives, and purposes seems to me to be entertaining, but ultimately futile and irrelevant to the really important questions facing us. [/B]

Again, going on that premise. If we look to ourselves, and our lives to define who we our, then that says that we are indeed the masters of our own lives, and only we can determine who we are, because we are the most directly responsible for the life that we have.

For a second I thought you were going to go off on some rant about solipsism...
 
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  • #62
Originally posted by Tiberius
To get back on track, I think a philosophic look at "why we are individuals", speculating beyond the physiological, would be so vast a thing that you'd really have to come to terms and agreement on a LOT of other more primal beliefs before the answers to that would make sense between two people.
So, are you saying that we should each establish our respective positions on what is "going on" with/within/or outside of the Universe before offering our "answer" to the question?

Then, we'd each be saying something like this: "I'm coming from a paradigm that holds that thus and such is true , and so within that context I believe that we are individuals because..."?

Or, are you saying that -- because of all the diverse perspectives -- our answers would be meaningful only to those who share a similar paradigm ( preaching to the choir) while the rest of us couldn't care less...so why discuss it in the first place?

If it's the former, I'm game.

If it's the latter, I couldn't agree more.

For example, one might talk about why "god made us individuals" and all of the purpose behind that, but then that answer would only be meaningful to those who believe in a god (and one of the sort described at that). Then there may be other "cosmic" reasons for why human beings are the way they are (spirits, starwars-like force, personna-created reality, etc), but each of those answers would face the same limitations.
But who among us could keep from arguing against each others' basic premises (let alone get to their answers) ...arguing as if we were actually going to change somebody's mind!

Not only would the foundational belief systems have to be established before an answer to such a broad question be answerable, but it would also be helpful if the motivation to the question were stated. For example, is Kerri wanting to know what our "place is" in the universe, and she feels that asking why we are individuals might be a component of determining that? If so, then it would be very interesting to hear the philosophic line of reasoning connecting the concept of individuality to "our place in the universe".
Is this true? Are you "very interested" in hearing a "line of reasoning connecting the concept of individuality to our place [ or our FUNCTION?] in the Universe?"

And are you just as interested if you do not relate to the "foundational belief system"?

...It has been my experience that we cannot ever really know for certain the very basis of existence itself. Such a thing is beyond our abilities as human beings to reliably determine. That is, unless some mystical claims to knowledge are ever proven to be objectively accurate - which could happen but unfortunately hasn't yet. That being the case, I believe that our best answers lie within ourself. If we want to know what our place is, we need only to look at our world and decide who and what we want to be, both s a people and as individuals.
I agree completely. My paradigm does not hold that "God" gave me a "purpose" but that I get to choose my own. However, Tiberius, you and I would part company at what comes next: that once we choose our purpose, the natural forces of the non-physical Universe would align with our intentions and actions to create and direct us to "openings" for our purpose to unfold. (Oops. Sorry about that. My paradigm is showing.)

I once read somewhere that "The Meaning of Life is the Meaning We Give It" ...and this works for me.

Whatever other "higher" things are going on (or not) doesn't really change who we are, what we value, what we find beautiful and good, and what sort of future we wish to build. Everything we need to determine that is within us and around us. All the speculation about otherworldly beings, motives, and purposes seems to me to be entertaining, but ultimately futile and irrelevant to the really important questions facing us. [/B]
So, what ARE the "really important questions facing us"?
 
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  • #63
Most people have distintly different genes and if that wasn't enough, we all have different enviormental experineces.
 
  • #64
Originally posted by Dave
Most people have distintly different genes and if that wasn't enough, we all have different enviormental experineces.


This thread is a great example of what happens when someone (the original poster) asks such a dammed obvious question, and rather than thinking about it for even a second, they just post it randomly...

...ugh. I am happy that our genes are very different - I am still embarassed of much of my own species.
 
  • #65
Originally posted by PhysicsRocks88
...ugh. I am happy that our genes are very different - I am still embarassed of much of my own species.

Why? What do we do that you don't?
 
  • #66
Originally posted by Tiberius
...So, the natural does not rule out the supernatural because the supernatural is alleged to exist "outside" and "in addition to" the natural.
Not according to my paradigm. IMO, there is NO "supernatural" because, whatever it is that is going on, this is NATURAL to the Universe...so does NOT "exist outside and in addition to" the natural.

...the idea that there seems to be no "objective" or "outside" purpose and meaning to life means that we, as individuals, are free to CHOOSE our own meaning in life. I decide what the meaning of MY life will be, and you YOURS. To me, this is much superior to being handed our purpose on a platter. But this is all my personal preference
I've already agreed with you on this in the above post. However, you said it so well here, I wanted to give it another airing.
 
  • #67
Originally posted by Tiberius
... What do you mean by "attitude"? How am I to phrase the assersions that I made? I submit that there was no possible way to make the claims that I did on this thread in a way that wouldn't get me accused of having an attitude. If you can find some incident where I called someone a name or attacked them personally on this thread then I'd be suprised. Otherwise, I think this is just a case of not liking the position I am taking and taking it personally that I disagree, and I can't do anything about that. Everything I have stated has been about the topic and in response to comments directed at me. These responses have been plainly factual and addressed the ideas - not the people.
Hopefully, the subject of your "attitude" will be put to rest...
but not your attitude itself!

As I said in a prior post, one should not allow themselves to be squelched by others whose feelings get hurt when confronted by opposing views.

On the other hand, if you call me a "mystic" again, we're on!
 
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  • #68
Originally posted by PhysicsRocks88
This thread is a great example of what happens when someone (the original poster) asks such a dammed obvious question, and rather than thinking about it for even a second, they just post it randomly...

...ugh. I am happy that our genes are very different - I am still embarassed of much of my own species.

You Can't post an ambiguous question such this one on these forums and expect a straight-forward answer...that would be like posting like me expecting to "find myself" in the theoretical physics forums:wink:
 
  • #69
Originally posted by PhysicsRocks88
This thread is a great example of what happens when someone (the original poster) asks such a dammed obvious question, and rather than thinking about it for even a second, they just post it randomly...

...ugh. I am happy that our genes are very different - I am still embarassed of much of my own species.
It's not so damned obvious when you take the "we" out of it and replace it with "what." I think this is what "we" have a problem with.

Just think of all the parts and intricate design that goes into building a high quality stereo receiver system. And yet that doesn't even begin to describe the quality of music which is broadcast over its speakers.

So, what's the difference between the music and the apparatus which reproduces it? :wink:

While as far as the difference between us as individuals is concerned, that would probably be best defined as the differences in our "taste of music."

Or, would one's "subjective" taste in music be inadmissable to science as well? ... That makes for a pretty bland world then, if one is not allowed to take into account one's "subjective experience."

Or, how about the "subjective experience" of a nice thick juicy steak? I bet you wouldn't want to give up that now would you!? :wink:

Hmm ... Which will it be? ... the red pill or the blue pill?
 
  • #70
Originally posted by Zantra
That was an error on my part for not clarifying myself at the outset of all this.

No problem - it's been quite interesting :)

...Now it would be presumptious of us to assume that we are the most advanced in the universe, however we can't know either way, so for now we must assume that we are it. In which case, that puts us in the most favorable position. I've always been a big believer of controlling your own "destiny" as it were, so terms like luck, fate, and chance have no bearing on our lives. We are the masters of our own universe.

I'm not sure what it would matter if we were to discover some alien beings that had greater intelligence than ourselves. Are you suggesting we'd have to accept whatever purpose they'd want to suggest we had? It seems to me, that even then, we'd still be the ones to decide what our purpose would be in life, based on our needs and desires (assuming they don't subjugate us, which would suck). If, you mean other entities in a supernatural realm, then I still don't quite see a purpose to be had there. Even with an all powerful, all good creator, it seems to me that the idea of worship itself is immoral, and the idea of creating autonomous individuals, only to enforce your own meaning and purpose on them is evil. So, I would still expect a good god to want us to choose our own meaning and purpose.
 

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