Why are we individuals?

  • Thread starter Kerrie
  • Start date
  • #26
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.
 
  • #27
Tiberius
Originally posted by Kerrie
A matter of your opinion, thus it IS a philosophical question...
Well then everything is a philosophical question. If I ask how many quarters are in a dollar I guess 4 is just my opinion.

Honestly I don't believe there is any "right" answer to this question yet because there is much more to learn about why our existence is...
You didn't ask "why our existence is". You asked "Why are we individuals" - completely different. But I guess that's just my opinion too, therefore there's no reason for people to ever communicate with anyone else because it will all just be meaningless opinions bouncing around.

I am not looking for any answers, I am seeking to know what others think...
Zantra: Kerrie was that the answer you were looking for?

Kerrie: Bingo *wink*

When he gets "bingo" and I get "that's just your opinion" then you are looking for a particular pre-decided answer. Please don't lie.

In this forum, it's okay to be philosophical, I think that many people who travel along the scientific path forget that it's okay to wonder...thus we have many members trying to answer philosophical questions with scientific answers...Remember...

SCIENCE IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS... :wink: [/B]
So is philosophy. There is not a "scientific path" and a "philosophic path". The two are compatible, or should be. I am being philosophic, but the philosophic should include scientific conclusions of the day. What Zantra is doing is not philosophy - it's nostalgic philosophic-sounding lingo that sounds pretty but has no bearing on reality and offers no new insight. It's fine if one does this for the same reasons as one does poetry. But I love philosophy too much to use it in such a minimalist way. Philosophy is functional and has a purpose other than entertainment. Philosophy should attempt to find truth and that cannot be done while ignoring science and trying to philosophically address inherently scientific questions. "What is the meaning of life" is a philosophic question - "what does a lung do" and "why are we individuals" is not.
 
  • #28
Zero
Originally posted by 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.

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.
 
  • #29
Kerrie
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
827
15
my "opinion" of your remarks tiberius, is that you need to not get so emotional about what others have to say...you don't mean to sound grouchy, but your choice of words leads others to believe that you are in repsonse to this topic...

this is a thread about other's opinions on why we are individuals...there is no right answer to it and i say that because as you truthfully stated, philosophy and science are both works in progress

i never asked for a scientific answer, you chose to supply it, and you should handle what others have to say about it...if you want to discuss facts and purely scientific answers, i would suggest you post elsewhere...

When he gets "bingo" and I get "that's just your opinion" then you are looking for a particular pre-decided answer. Please don't lie.
yes, he did get my "bingo" because he understands the context of what i am asking because this IS a philosophy forum...

Philosophy is functional and has a purpose other than entertainment. Philosophy should attempt to find truth and that cannot be done while ignoring science and trying to philosophically address inherently scientific questions. "What is the meaning of life" is a philosophic question - "what does a lung do" and "why are we individuals" is not.
again, a matter of opinion...you can answer my question scientifically, but not philosophically...
 
  • #30
1,029
1
Wow. All this bantering from Tiberius on what I consider to be a simple semantic issue and yet real issues over in the "clarifications of QM" remain unaddressed.

I see philosophy as answering different types of questions. And it does so with all the information it can obtain as its tools. This includes scientific information. So science answers HOW it is possible that we are individuals. Not "why". Usually a "why" question has a higher probability of being a philosophical question. Another strong hint for you is that this is the philosophy forum :wink:. So it follows that "why do we sweat?" is different from "how do we sweat?". The first one is asking for purpose/functionality. The 2nd is asking for the scientific explanation for how it works. So I agree that this question for sweat is exactly the same as the question that Kerrie has posed. Why are we individuals is not asking for "how it works" ie genetics etc etc. It is asking for purpose/functionality.

Also, kerrie is not looking for a specific answer, just as she said. But she is looking to see that the right question is being addressed as some people forget which forum they're in. Please note the difference. And certainly try to note it before you call someone a liar.
 
  • #31
740
3
What Zantra is doing is not philosophy - it's nostalgic philosophic-sounding lingo that sounds pretty but has no bearing on reality and offers no new insight. It's fine if one does this for the same reasons as one does poetry. But I love philosophy too much to use it in such a minimalist way. Philosophy is functional and has a purpose other than entertainment. Philosophy should attempt to find truth and that cannot be done while ignoring science and trying to philosophically address inherently scientific questions. "What is the meaning of life" is a philosophic question - "what does a lung do" and "why are we individuals" is not. [/B]
I understand where you're coming from, and I believe this is just a difference of opinion on philisophical approaches. I agree that Philosophy is the search for truth and understanding, as is science. But Philosophy is introspective where science is not. You say that the question is a scienctific one, but I still don't see how "what does a lung do" can be compared to "why are we individuals? Apples and oranges. [/Qoute]
 
  • #32
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.
 
  • #33
740
3
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.
This is not a purely physical based question. That's the point
 
  • #34
Tiberius
Yes, someone DID forget which forum they were in. For example, if I ever wanted to ask, "Why is the moon sometimes full and sometimes not?" I would not post it in the philosophy section. And whether it's "why do we sweat" or "how do we sweat" - I wouldn't expect that to be in the philosophy section either.

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.

Now, I'm not trying to be a board-police or anything - I don't care if it's out of place or not. But when someone asks a question, and there is plainly a scientific answer to it - that should be taken into account, even in philosophy and even in a philosophy forum. Proper philosophy does not ignore scientific understanding - it adds to it. So, my scientific response to the question can be seen as PART OF philosophy - a starting point or a springboard for deeper questions of meaning - but such SHOULD be acknowledged so I stand by the appropriateness of posting it on this thread.

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).

Fliption:
It appeared that the QM post had gone off on a tangent with other people talking about other things. If there was something else asked of me I'll take another look at it.
 
  • #35
Tiberius
Originally posted by Zantra
I understand where you're coming from, and I believe this is just a difference of opinion on philisophical approaches. I agree that Philosophy is the search for truth and understanding, as is science. But Philosophy is introspective where science is not. You say that the question is a scienctific one, but I still don't see how "what does a lung do" can be compared to "why are we individuals? Apples and oranges. [/Qoute]
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.
 
  • #36
Tiberius
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 existance. And, in doing so, it embraced the physical understanding of the natural world, as it was known in its time.
 
  • #37
740
3
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
Tiberius
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
Kerrie
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
827
15
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...
 
Last edited:
  • #40
2,225
0
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
597
0
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]
 
Last edited:
  • #42
740
3
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
 
Last edited:
  • #43
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
177
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?
 
Last edited:
  • #44
Kerrie
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
827
15
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
597
0
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
2,225
0
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
Zero
It is one thing to be philosophical...it is another thing entirely to spout complete nonsense in the attempt to feign depth.
 
  • #48
597
0
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 sorta 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".
 
Last edited:
  • #49
2,225
0
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
597
0
Originally posted by Iacchus32
..We always have, and always will be, "creatures of faith."
I'd rather be known as a "creature of speculations".
 

Related Threads on Why are we individuals?

Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
3K
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
11K
Top