• Agustino
    8.4k
    That also explains why teleology of the Aristotelian/Platonic kind has been jettisoned in modernity.
  • Galuchat
    300
    Though mumbo jumbo to some, it can further be noted that base natures of people are (overly) selfish and elevated natures of people are (relatively speaking) selfless. This singular geometric point example is, in so many other words, a perfectly selfless being: the pinnacle of elevated nature as viewed from within space and time. — javra

    And as viewed apart from space and time. Both immanent and transcendent. Perhaps immanently perfect because also transcendent?
  • Harry Hindu
    749
    Hoffman has his interpretation of the behavior of the beetle and I have a different one. The beetle is just expressing its sexual orientation, rejecting females for a bottle. Who are we to judge its sexual preferences? The beetle knows full well what it is doing, just as gays know what they are doing and we don't say that they are misinterpreting their sensory data. They are simply behaving as they were made.

    Since Hoffman and I have different interpretations, neither one of us could point to the beetles behavior as supporting our argument. And to say that there is a consensus of interpreting the beetles behavior is to reject Hoffman's argument that we construct reality. How is it that so many different perspectives come up with the same interpretation if there wasn't an objective world that we all come from and perceive similarly? Is Hoffman constructing your reality by explaining the beetles behavior as a result of his interpretation?

    If you laugh or scoff at my interpretation, then you are rejecting Hoffman's argument. Why else would you laugh or scoff at my interpretation if there is no objective world where a real beetle is mating with a real bottle and there is real misinterpretaion happening and that we perceive as the truth? If reality is what we construct, then my reality is just as real as yours and the beetle's.

    Yet another problem is Hoffman rejecting the beetle's construction of reality. Who is to say that we aren't misinterpreting the bottle? Who is the one with a misinterpretation - us or the beetle? And to even say that there is misinterpretation going on is to say that there is a reality outside that we aren't perceiving correctly - that there really is a bottle instead of a female there that beetle is mating with and the beetle is the one misinterpreting, not us.

    Hoffman, and those supporting his argument, don't even seem to realize their own contradictions. The fact that intelligent people can debate this for 16 pages is ridiculous.
  • praxis
    383
    I'm not sure; you'd have to unpack that [we inherently (by virtue of our genes) value life].Noble Dust

    We, like all living things, have inherent values or primal drives encoded in our genes. We might label these drives 'evolutionary hacks', as Hoffman does with the jewel beetle. If it's anthropomorphic to say that the male jewel beetle values things that are dimpled, glossy, and brown, it's because we're applying our evolutionary hack (ability to form abstract concepts, use language, plan and make long range goals, etc.) to them. Beetles don't appear to have a concept of value, though they must have some kind of non-linguistic concept for dimpled, glossy, and brown. Significantly, they also don't appear to have concepts for life, death, self, and suffering. So as far as I can tell it would be just as false to say that jewel beetles value life as it would be to say that a clock values time, neither possessing a self-concept, if nothing else, to reflect meaning. By avoiding danger, maintaining their health by eating and drinking, mating, etc., from our perspective beetles appear to value life, but it may be more accurate to say that they're simply attracted to things that, for example, are what we would distinguish as 'dimpled, glossy, and brown'.

    Reflecting on it now I suppose it may be going too far to say that we inherently value life because I don't know if it's possible for a human to be raised in such a way as to not develop concepts for life, death, self, and suffering. These concepts appear to be embedded in every culture that I know of.

    I believe that our evolutionary hack or ability to form concepts like life, death, self, and suffering is the fundamental cause of our existential anxiety.

    Now to what renunciation actually meant in the context of the cultures that practiced it. In ancient India, where Buddhism originated, there had always been a 'culture of renunciation', whereby individuals leave home and village life for life in the forests as 'sanyasi', or renunciates. The Buddha was an example of the 'forest-dwelling recluse' and is often described as such in the early Buddhist scriptures. The aim of the renunciate life was to escape from endless re-birth in the 'wheel of birth and death' (samsara or maya) and realise the state known as mokṣa (Hinduism) or Nirvāṇa (Buddhism).Wayfarer

    Archetypally speaking, a hero with a thousand faces, the journey ending with the hero's return and a benefit to the community. The benefit, in my opinion, can have both practical value, in strengthening community bonds and unifying goals (increasing odds for survival and gene propagation), and transcendent value by relieving existential anxiety, which we may owe to our 'evolutionary hack'.

    if you really think through the philosophical implications of evolutionary theory there is no over-arching raison d'être for human existence.Wayfarer

    Why must there be? Is our predicting, goal seeking minds compelling us to find purpose and meaning in things that exceed our current ability to understand? We can just not know. We can just 'chop wood and carry water'. To paraphrase Alan Watts, life is not a journey, it's a dance.

    So Dawkins, here, actually grasps the futility and uselessness of his 'selfish gene' metaphor as a guiding philosophy, and seems to pine for something else - namely, 'pure and disinterested altruism'. But he has spent the whole latter part of his career bollocking religion, which is supposed to embody that very quality!Wayfarer

    My bolding of the keywords "supposed to."

    So where he thinks the wellsprings of 'pure and disinterested altruism' might actually be sought, I have no idea - maybe through science, although he ought to know that science is primarily concerned with quantitative analysis and measurement, and not with compassion or altruism.Wayfarer

    To name one example, you're not buying Sam Harris's take on human values and science?
  • Wayfarer
    4.6k
    you're not buying Sam Harris's take on human values and science?praxis

    I'm not a Harris fan, he's a dogmatic materialist. Have a read of this blog post - yes it is an anti-atheist site but raises important questions.

    Buddhism or any other religion is concerned with the domain of objective values, that there are real goods, that are not culturally- or socially-conditioned.
  • praxis
    383
    I'm aware that Harris is seen as a hack by many. I'm not a fan and haven't really read any of his work. That was just the first example that came to mind and I thought that you may be aware of his ideas about human values and science. It seems reasonable to me.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2.7k
    The inner void is constitutive of desire - it is desire. Desire just is the inner void trying to affirm itself - make itself actual - and failing to do so. Desire in this conception is not conceived with reference to any external or internal OBJECT. Rather it is conceived only with reference to itself. That is why, according to Spinoza for example, or Nietzsche, will-to-power or the conatus is the essence of man. This vain striving to no end - striving for its own sake.Agustino

    Well sure, to conceive of desire in this way, as if it were a thing in itself, simply "desire", without recognizing the fact that desire always involves something which desires, as well as the desire for something, and does not ever exist as a thing in itself, then you might conclude that it is a vain striving to no end. But that 'is only because you've made a false representation of desire, by separating it from the thing desired, when in reality desire does not exist without a thing desired. So of course it's going to end up looking like a vain striving to no end, because it has been separated from its end in this description. But that's a false description

    \
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2.7k
    Here you illustrate that you're using a different conception of desire.Agustino

    Yes, that's quite correct because the one you've provided is false. We should dismiss yours and examine mine to see if perhaps it is right. If not, we should continue to seek a better one.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    But that 'is only because you've made a false representation of desire, by separating it from the thing desired, when in reality desire does not exist without a thing desired.Metaphysician Undercover
    You do realise that this is one of those 'first principles' which have to be seen, and cannot be deduced, right? If someone lacks the noetic insight into their own desire, then they cannot be 'reasoned to' it. It's disagreement over basic premises. Both Plato and Aristotle struggled with this problem of how to arrive at correct/true first premises.

    But that 'is only because you've made a false representation of desire, by separating it from the thing desired, when in reality desire does not exist without a thing desired. So of course it's going to end up looking like a vain striving to no end, because it has been separated from its end in this description. But that's a false descriptionMetaphysician Undercover
    The more interesting thing to look at, is why does one end up believing such a true falsehood?

    We should dismiss yours and examine mine to see if perhaps it is right. If not, we should continue to seek a better one.Metaphysician Undercover
    I do tend to see desire as something produced in us - or aroused in us - by the object desired. But this is to give power at a distance as it were to the object desired. It is to accept some sort of teleology, where the object desired can orient my being towards it. Not many people today would be willing to accept that.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    2.7k
    You do realise that this is one of those 'first principles' which have to be seen, and cannot be deduced, right? If someone lacks the noetic insight into their own desire, then they cannot be 'reasoned to' it. It's disagreement over basic premises. Both Plato and Aristotle struggled with this problem of how to arrive at correct/true first premises.Agustino

    I believe that all premises must be reasoned, most come from inductive reason. If a "first principle" is not reasoned, then it is most likely random and unreasonable.

    The more interesting thing to look at, is why does one end up believing such a true falsehood?Agustino

    You mean how does someone believe a contradiction? That's what "true falsehood" is, contradiction, and the other description you provided involved contradictory premises. It's actually quite common for people to believe contradictory things. When we just accept the words without properly understanding what the words mean, we can have that problem. In other words, when we simply believe what has been said, without taken the time to properly understand it, we can believe contradiction.

    do tend to see desire as something produced in us - or aroused in us - by the object desired. But this is to give power at a distance as it were to the object desired. It is to accept some sort of teleology, where the object desired can orient my being towards it. Not many people today would be willing to accept that.Agustino

    The "object" desired is always a state of being within the person who desires, so there is no such thing as the power of an external object causing the desire. The perceived external object is just a means to the end, the end being the true object. That's why there is most often many different external objects which will satisfy the same desire, but we focus our desire on an object which appears to be convenient due to habit, proximity or whatever.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    I believe that all premises must be reasoned, most come from inductive reason. If a "first principle" is not reasoned, then it is most likely random and unreasonable.Metaphysician Undercover
    That depends what you mean by "inductive reason". Can you give an example of this, or explain it further?

    That's what "true falsehood" is, contradiction, and the other description you provided involved contradictory premises. It's actually quite common for people to believe contradictory things. When we just accept the words without properly understanding what the words mean, we can have that problem. In other words, when we simply believe what has been said, without taken the time to properly understand it, we can believe contradiction.Metaphysician Undercover
    Wait. No, this isn't it. The "true falsehood" is the one that is actually believed in its meaning. It is the one that would prevent the person who believes it from seeing and apprehending reality as it is. It's not merely the acceptance of words whose meaning isn't fully grasped.

    The "object" desired is always a state of being within the person who desires, so there is no such thing as the power of an external object causing the desire.Metaphysician Undercover
    I disagree. Take the love of God - it is directed towards God. God is the final cause of the whole of creation, thus the whole of creation is "drawn" to God as it were.
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