• ssu
    1.4k
    Sure we can't use the laws of physics to derive how elephants behave in groups or what it's like to watch a sunset, but materialists would claim that in principle, it is possible.leo
    And how would it be possible by only looking at physics, the movement of particles to derive how elephants behave in groups?

    You are simply dismissing issues like entropy, randomness and quantum mechanics or that not everything in the phenotype is explained with the genotype. And with social sciences it's totally obvious that things simply don't get explained by movements of particles. Nobody would believe such reductionist crap.

    I would assume that many (scientists also) see the evident danger of oversimplification and simply losing crucial issues through abstraction in reductionism. What we can say is that reductionism works sometimes and in some occasions it doesn't. That would be the more compelling case.

    The problem is that many believe that science shows materialism to be true, including many scientists, while this is not the case, and that's what the article in the OP is about.leo
    Actually what many scientist don't believe is the existence of God and spirits. That's for sure. But that is simply is not what you make then to be: that they have to believe in the most simplistic reductionism and materialism that basically was the scientific paradigm in the era of Newton.

    Descartes claimed that non-human animals could be explained reductively as automata; meaning essentially as more mechanically complex version of clock-works, which were the hyped up computers of the time. If you ask present day atheist biologists, I presume that nobody will go with Descarte's view on animals being automata similar to the automata we have built around us.

    And I would argue that many scientists understand that we don't know everything about consciousness, yet that doesn't have make them be either a) believe in reductionism or b) be religious. Those aren't the two only views scientist can hold.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.8k
    materialism . . . neglects lived experience, which in the words of David Bohm leads "people who want to hold onto spirituality to be incoherent in various aspects of their lives" and to a loss of meaning.

    Materialism tells us we are nothing more than a bunch of particles moving according to unchanging laws, which implies that choice and will are an illusion and which leaves no place to spirituality. The problem is that many believe that science shows materialism to be true, including many scientists, while this is not the case, and that's what the article in the OP is about.
    leo

    Strawman, strawman, strawman.

    And can we stop saying "lived experience"? What other sort of experience is there?
  • mcdoodle
    1k
    How I feel about this at the moment is that ideas that separate 'consciousness' or 'lived experience' from our other endeavours like this are not going to address such a question in the right way. Our science is saturated with lived experience: without experience there is no science. Our own preoccupations are reflected back at us by the structure and content of our science. If you talk to practising scientists about their practices, in my experience, they are fantastically preoccupied with their equipment and the danger that their observations are wrongly influenced by themselves or their machinery.

    Social science is quite accustomed to accommodating the presence of the observer, it's only some areas of 'natural' science that are in question. Any science that claims to look at other living creatures or phenomena is also informed by our prejudices; consider how our knowledge of the ways of the animal kingdom have shifted as our views of how to live within that kingdom have shifted.

    I have wondered lately if part of what's at issue is our sense of responsibility for scientific work. I'm not a panpsychist but I feel that every time we talk about atoms, say, we remind, or ought to remind ourselves of atomic bombs. Our curiosity is inseparable from the uses we make of our curiosity's conclusions, but we try artificially to separate them so that the 'discovery' of sub-atomic particles and how they interact, say, is somehow heroic, and somehow separable from the villanous mass destruction that only became possible with its discovery.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    It is clear that he considered reductive materialism a widespread view among scientists, and that he too saw it as a problem.leo
    I agree with Bohm on that, and note that widespread could mean as little as 10%. The gulf between a belief being widespread and being universal and a necessary part of engaging in science as claimed by the article in the OP is unfathomably wide.

    There is nothing wrong with complaining about reductive materialism, or about any other metaphysical belief. There is everything wrong with claiming that it is an integral part of science. That sort of nonsense leads to the cancerous anti-science mantra that has taken over politics in the USA and is gradually destroying it.

    Science has no metaphysical dogmas. Plenty of scientists do, but for almost any metaphysical position you can think of, you'll be able to find good scientists that hold it. Even if 95% of scientists were reductive materialists - which I very much doubt to be the case - it would say nothing at all about whether reductive materialism was an integral part of science.
  • fdrake
    2.3k
    There is nothing wrong with complaining about reductive materialism, or about any other metaphysical belief. There is everything wrong with claiming that it is an integral part of science. That sort of nonsense leads to the cancerous anti-science mantra that has taken over politics in the USA and is gradually destroying it.andrewk

    The nonsense is particularly easy to see when you look at the social sciences. They're certainly not in the habit of believing what they study doesn't exist at all!
  • Andrew M
    653
    "But these tests never give us nature as it is in itself, outside our ways of seeing and acting on things." - AeonWayfarer

    This seems to be the crux of it. By blindspot, they really mean that we can't see the road that we're driving on. Plato's Cave redux. That's a philosophical problem, not a scientific one.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    I must be stupid because I am constantly shocked by the stupidity of others.
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    The article is lazy, arrogant click-bait.andrewk

    On the contrary, Adam Frank, Marcelo Gleiser, Evan Thompson, and Michel Bitbol, are dedicated academics, writers, philosophers and scientists, They have many peer-reviewed articles and books to their names, and they are neither hacks nor charlatans.

    The subject is not about the usefulness of physics, it is about the belief of materialism that permeates the natural sciences, schools, and society, and how it neglects lived experience, which in the words of David Bohm leads "people who want to hold onto spirituality to be incoherent in various aspects of their lives" and to a loss of meaning.leo

    Right, well stated. And what’s important about it is that scientists themselves are starting to see that.

    It seems to me that if the authors took this seriously they would not argue about whether there is more than physical reality because, by their own admission, we do not understand what physical reality meansFooloso4

    Nobody who advocates physicalism would admit this, would they? The whole point of physicalism is specifically to deny such a claim.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    On the contrary, Adam Frank, Marcelo Gleiser, Evan Thompson, and Michel Bitbol, are dedicated academics, writers, philosophers and scientists, They have many peer-reviewed articles and books to their names, and they are neither hacks nor charlatans.Wayfarer
    'On the contrary'?

    What does your comment about peer-reviewed journal papers they have written on different subjects have to do with this non-peer-reviewed magazine piece on this subject? Are you seriously suggesting that nobody that ever did diligent, clever work in one part of their life was ever sloppy and lazy in another part of their life?
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    How I feel about this at the moment is that ideas that separate 'consciousness' or 'lived experience' from our other endeavours like this are not going to address such a question in the right way.mcdoodle

    Well the irony is that one point of this approach is to heal the ‘Cartesian split’ which has given rise to this sense of ‘otherness’. The whole point of emphasizing ‘lived experience’ is to draw attention to the fact that science is a human enterprise, and that perspective is an ineliminable part of it. Whereas the whole gist of Galilean science has been that ‘what can be quantified’ is what most truly exists.

    They are credible authors. They’re not hacks or charlatans turning out click bait.
  • StreetlightX
    3.7k
    Hacks most certaintly like to appeal to authority rather than actually address objections raised though, that's for sure.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    They are credible authors. They’re not hacks or charlatans turning out click bait.Wayfarer
    Did you not read my response? What you wrote has nothing to do with what I wrote. You seem to just dodge or ignore the points made against you and then rebut some argument that nobody made.

    As regards 'credible authors', Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss have all published serious, academic, peer-reviewed scientific papers that are widely respected. Are you suggesting we should therefore give the same deferential respect to 'The God Delusion', 'A universe from nothing' and 'Brief answers to big questions' - all reductive materialist polemic works - as is given to their peer-reviewed papers?

    Or does your preference for treating academics as unimpeachable founts of wisdom on everything only apply to those that are theists or at least are making arguments favourable to theists?
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    I should also add, i’m completely aware that most scientists themselves are wholly dedicated to their work and would not themselves make sweeping claims about science, culture and philosophy. But the fact remains that science now occupies a kind of normative role for all manner of truth-claims beyond the scope of its activities. That’s what articles like this are concerned with, not with ‘attacking science’. :roll:
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    Did you not read my response?andrewk

    It didn’t warrant comment.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    Then why bother responding with an irrelevancy?

    Forgive me for being blunt, but it seems necessary. That magazine article makes claims about science that would be true if you replaced the word 'science' by 'scientism' but, as the authors did not do that, the claims are patently false. It seeks to imply that a metaphysical worldview of scientism - aka reductive materialism - is built into science, an integral part of it. That claim that is palpable nonsense. A disproof of the claim lies in every one of the hundreds of thousands of scientists that are religious, spiritual or just not reductive materialists - scientists whose existence you choose to ignore.

    This has been pointed out by numerous people, and you have just ignored it, instead responding with irrelevant inanities like 'these authors are serious academics that have published peer-reviewed papers' - as if that had any relevance to what they have written in this non-peer-reviewed, non-academic context.

    If you want to make a thread about why you dislike reductive materialism, go ahead. I'd agree with its sentiments but it'll probably be a little dull, because it's been discussed many times before. But if you make a thread that accuses science of being the same as reductive materialism, it's just dishonest and plays directly into the hands of the Trumps and Tea Parties of the world that would like us to distrust science because it implies that there may be a need to place some constraints around what capitalism can do.
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    This statement:

    It is a blind spot of science in the same way that the inability to provide a good observation of Jupiter is a blind spot of a microscope.andrewk

    Is a misrepresentation of the argument they present, it's not even a remotely accurate interpretation. They're making a serious point, using the analogy of the blind spot, which you misunderstand, and then rest of your response was blatant ad hominem, how it's crappy writing, click bait, or whatever. So I responded, this is not junk journalism, I believe they are serious and credible authors.

    The point of the analogy is that it conceals or occludes 'the role of the observer' which science until recently always believed was entirely irrelevant, as if science really did have an ideal view. But this is what is being criticized by this analogy, and I think it's a valid criticism.
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    It seeks to imply that a metaphysical worldview of scientism - aka reductive materialism - is built into science, an integral part of it.andrewk

    It is indubitably foundational to the scientific-secular attitude. That is the context in which I refer to Daniel Dennett. Daniel Dennett is not a straw man, right? Living, breathing, publishing academic and 'public intellectual', routinely cited not only in learned journals, but also in the popular media as 'leading philosopher of mind'. And what is his basic tenet? 'Mind doesn't exist, it is unreal. The sense you have of being a person, a free agent, is really the cumulative result of millions of blind cellular automata, going about their routines in the service of the selfish gene'. Now, when you spell it out, it sounds preposterous, but it is still the default position of the secular intelligentsia, those who are conscientiously opposed to the idea of anything spiritual (and 'spiritual' is very lame word here, but our lexicon doesn't provide many alternatives) - as it must be. You might have your beliefs about noble, religious or spiritual ideals but ultimately we're 'apes on a rock', right? That's the bottom line.

    Observation = measurement = interaction, where our interaction - that of a bunch of moderately clever apes on a small watery rock in the middle of nowhere - is the same as all interaction, everywhere.StreetlightX
  • leo
    367
    And these people have a powerful influence on the way society moves and changes and interpersonally are often quite harsh and dismissive. I honestly can't believe that this is being denied by people in this thread. The fact that they are like this does not mean science is bad or should be overthrown. It means what it means. There is a closemindedness and oversimplification by this culture or significant subculture - and one that is really quite philosophically illiterate despite their intelligence - and this is problematic.Coben

    Exactly. And this is also the case with the scientifically illiterate who are otherwise well-versed in philosophy, they can't philosophize well about science.

    The naive view is seeing science as this great enterprise that brings comfort and technology and maybe gives access to truth, so they don't like seeing it be attacked, but they don't realize that what is attacked is not the tools that science provides, it is things that people and scientists say and do in the name of Science, things that have a great negative influence on the lives of many, while these things are not accurate theories of the world that have demonstrated their practical usefulness, they are beliefs that are disguised as scientific and pushed and imposed onto others.
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    Dennett! The singular representative of all known positions on ToM! D-d-DEeeeeeeer!

    The culture of ignorance is better viewed as human culture. We are what we are :D
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    Dennett! The singular representative of all known positions on ToM!I like sushi

    The point about Dennett, is that his work most consistently and completely exemplifies the consequences of materialism in philosophy of mind. If you think his work is preposterous - as I do - then you have to come up with a notion of the sense in which 'mind' is *not* something which is amenable to scientific analysis. And I think that's what the article in question does! Not by positing some 'unknowable mind-stuff', but by pointing out the reflexive nature of the question 'what is mind'. Get it?
  • StreetlightX
    3.7k
    It's funny how the opposite of human exceptionalism is the boogeyman of reductionism. How fragile those are who are denied their special little place in the universe, that the entirety of the universe itself must be deflated so as to elevate their small, terrified, egos.
  • Wayfarer
    7.6k
    What is being discussed is the sense in which the mind creates the canvas or the stage against which scientific judgement is made. This is something which was not noticed for a long while, but is now starting to become evident as a consequence of the discoveries of science itself. Nothing to do with ego.
  • Coben
    82
    Exactly. And this is also the case with the scientifically illiterate who are otherwise well-versed in philosophy, they can't philosophize well about science.leo
    Sure, but then isn't this like when the hall monitor teacher in school catches a kid running and the kids says 'but I saw other kids running'? IOW why are we treating the issue as a team issue, rather than a criticism issue. If I say Trump is bad for X, the response that Obama was bad about Y, is a confused response. First there are people are critical of both. Trump's policy/statement/action is not defended by poor actions of others. I don't have to choose between people who are illiterate about science and those who are illiterate about philosophy.

    And then how powerful is this group of scientifically illiterate philosophy interested people? I do get that religious people who are skeptical about science as a whole, at least in arguments, has a decent amount of power, but these are not people who are interested xin philosophy - for the most part.

    But that's a secondary issue. A very important one. My main reaction is 'so what?' if there is a problem as brought up in the OP, then the fact that there are scientifically illierate people who focus on philosophy is not relevant. If there is no problem as presented in the OP, then it is still not relevent. So the issue is: is that problem there?
  • leo
    367
    And how would it be possible by only looking at physics, the movement of particles to derive how elephants behave in groups?ssu

    If elephants are made solely of particles, and the motion of these particles is completely determined by fundamental laws of physics, then in principle knowing the state of these particles at a given time would allow to predict the future behavior of these particles, and so the behavior of these elephants. Now materialists do not claim that the current laws of physics are complete (they might say they are almost complete), but they would claim that complete fundamental laws of physics would allow to do that in principle, and that the only practical obstacle would be that of knowing the state of the particles that make up an elephant at a given time.

    You are simply dismissing issues like entropy, randomness and quantum mechanics or that not everything in the phenotype is explained with the genotype. And with social sciences it's totally obvious that things simply don't get explained by movements of particles. Nobody would believe such reductionist crap.ssu

    There are misconceptions there. Entropy is not a fundamental law of physics, well it was two centuries ago, entropy is not a force that causes things to move, it is a high-level description that is a consequence of fundamental laws of physics, the increase in entropy can be explained as a consequence of fundamental laws of physics. Same goes with randomness, the apparent randomness of the motion of a leaf falling down a tree can be explained as a consequence of fundamental laws of physics, with air molecules interacting with the particles that make up the leaf, and predicting the trajectory of the leaf would be a matter of knowing initially the position/velocity of the particles that make up the air and the leaf.

    Quantum mechanics has some randomness built-in, but even if you assume that complete fundamental laws of physics include some fundamental randomness, that does not imply that you couldn't predict in principle the behavior of elephants. Because there are regularities in the behavior of elephants, their behavior is not random, and so these regularities could be predicted in principle from a complete fundamental law of physics even if it has some built-in randomness.

    You say nobody would believe such crap, but materialists do, and many scientists are materialists, if you accept that fundamental physics describe the behavior of the fundamental constituents that make up everything then you're a materialist, and that's the way fundamental physics is presented in school and in the media, and it has all kinds of depressing implications, and this is why people such as the OP and the individuals cited by the OP and David Bohm and myself and others are critical of this state of affairs.
  • leo
    367
    And then how powerful is this group of scientifically illiterate philosophy interested people? I do get that religious people who are skeptical about science as a whole, at least in arguments, has a decent amount of power, but these are not people who are interested xin philosophy - for the most part.

    But that's a secondary issue. A very important one. My main reaction is 'so what?' if there is a problem as brought up in the OP, then the fact that there are scientifically illierate people who focus on philosophy is not relevant. If there is no problem as presented in the OP, then it is still not relevent. So the issue is: is that problem there?
    Coben

    I thought it was relevant because we are on a philosophy forum, and some of the reactions stem from people who know a lot about philosophy but don't seem to know much about science, and so they don't see the problem presented in the OP, and that's part of the problem presented in the OP, if everyone saw this problem then it wouldn't be such a problem, it would have been addressed long ago.

    If we discuss the subject on scientific forums we are met with people who don't see the problem because they are mostly philosophically illiterate, and if we discuss the subject on philosophy forums we are met with people who don't see the problem because they are mostly scientifically illiterate, so it becomes difficult to find a place where this kind of subject can be discussed freely without getting heated reactions from those who don't see the problem, and so it is difficult to address the problem.
  • leo
    367
    can we stop saying "lived experience"? What other sort of experience is there?Terrapin Station

    There is experience in the sense having knowledge or skill about some subject. "Lived experience" puts the focus on the state of experiencing. I never used that term before but I don't see anything wrong with it, no need to be pedantic about it.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.8k
    There is experience in the sense having knowledge or skill about some subject.leo

    That's an abbreviated way of referring to processes one has gone through which were "lived." It just seems like a stupid term, where we're adding words where there's no need to add words--adding words to make it sound more "intellectual"/theoretical. We can't come up with an example where simply "experience," unmodified by a redundant adjective, wouldn't do just as well.

    How about addressing the fact that you're forwarding strawmen?
  • leo
    367
    The gulf between a belief being widespread and being universal and a necessary part of engaging in science as claimed by the article in the OP is unfathomably wide.andrewk

    I don't see the article claiming that materialism is a necessary part of engaging in science.

    Many of us like to think that science can give us a complete, objective description of cosmic history, distinct from us and our perception of it. But this image of science is deeply flawed. In our urge for knowledge and control, we’ve created a vision of science as a series of discoveries about how reality is in itself, a God’s-eye view of nature.

    the belief that physical reality has absolute primacy in human knowledge, a view that can be called scientific materialism. In philosophical terms, it combines scientific objectivism (science tells us about the real, mind-independent world) and physicalism (science tells us that physical reality is all there is)

    Objectivism and physicalism are philosophical ideas, not scientific ones

    Note the focus on how we view science, rather than on science itself. It is not a criticism of science, it is a criticism of a widespread view of science.

    Science has no metaphysical dogmas. Plenty of scientists doandrewk

    If you view science as the attempt to find apparent regularities in what we experience and to tentatively make predictions from them, then I agree. But as soon as you see science as being guided by a specific method, or as approaching truth, or as telling us what things are really like beyond what we experience, or as proving or disproving such or such belief or theory, there are metaphysical dogmas involved, and the problem is applying these dogmas while being unwilling or unable to identify them as such.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    Strawman, strawman, strawman.Terrapin Station

    Yes, I see your point, and acknowledge its validity. But there are some sciencists who really do hold these beliefs, or claim they do in philosophy forums. They are the ones trying to proclaim the death of philosophy, and all forms of structured thought except science. I think the OP opposes this nonsense, doesn't it? :chin:
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