• Athena
    807
    European anti-racist movement, which has existed for a long time, is not the same as the North American one. For example, to a semi-slaved worker in the fields of Almeria, the problem of police violence seems secondary and she does not see that her struggle can be the same. She doesn't care much about the fact that statues of slave traders are being knocked down.
    The Black Lives Matter movement has been a mere media product in Europe that has brought about a flash on other forms of racism and will not have much impact on the real battle being waged by European anti-racist organizations. Incidentally, I am sorry to be pessimistic, but these organizations are not at their best at present. Neither with BLM nor without BLM. We should examine why this is the case.

    If I mention it, it is because you mentioned it as an indicator of progress towards the enlightenment. For the reasons I just explained, it is not.
    David Mo

    Why of course that racism is natural and nothing has changed in a thousand years, except today when a police office kneels a man's neck, the whole world can watch it happening as it happens and if people are bombed in another country we know about it. This is nothing new compared to the beginning of the 21 century right? Technology hasn't changed our lives that much, right? I mean we can compare today with 1900 and see we are not at all in a new age.
  • Athena
    807
    I'll break up this little shindig and say that I've come to think the solution lies in an analysis of the past, giving objectivity a cogent historical dimension. I think this is what can disrupt the toxic inclination of instrumentalist culture to neglect its influence upon human nature. The deconstructionists were probably pioneers in this regard, but the analyticity of it all got diluted by wishywashy extreme relativism arising from unphilosophical science, as in history from my distinct personal perspective as a b.s. elective, unintegrated with an accounting of technical causality. Some great books about the history of science have come out recently that describe its social context, and that I think is the best approach, factually showing the motivational dynamics associated with modern knowledge's development and how actualizing responsible humanism and paradigmal consciousness-raising can be, a kind of positivistic cultural narrative.Enrique

    You made an excellent point. I am really blown away by how differently history is being presented today compared to 60 years ago. Now, this has to lead to a new age precisely for the reason you say. This is such a dramatic change in consciousness, if nothing else changed, the new way of presenting history would lead to a New Age.

    A public boarding channel keeps telling us knowledge of African American history is knowledge of America's history. What?! To say our history is about those who were slaves or those who came from Irland and those who were pioneers or those who labored in the mines and put their lives on the line to get better wages and working conditions is shocking to those of us who grew up HIS-STORY.

    This change in consciousness is a long time coming. I remember my father explaining to me, the top person is the one who is given the credit for what is done, and my little child mind struggling with that concept and a strong sense of injustice. I was thinking when it takes 50 people to achieve something all of them should be acknowledged for what was achieved. Until recently I thought I was the only one thinking like that. I am very excited about that is now how we are telling history as the effort of everyone. That thinking goes with Social Security, food stamps, everyone getting $1200 to support the economy. Today's reality is a new age but I think some have not lived long enough to be aware of dramatic changes.

    And those who appear to be arguing against the notion of a New Age seem to me too young to remember when life was different. And that is another huge change! Never in the history of man have so many people lived so long and with the technology of the internet been able to do so much as today's living fossils of history. We change so much as we age and that there are so many of us old fossils still living and voting and communicating is a strong changing force.
  • Gnomon
    817


    [2] Man is the highest of beings known to science, and his power and convenience should be promoted at all costs. [3] Spiritual and magical forces cannot influence events, and life after death may be disregarded, because it is unproven by scientific methods.
    Item [2] was indeed a common belief prior to the European "enlightenment". and during the following centuries, until the advent of Darwinism. But, I suspect that most scientists in the 21st century would not subscribe to that human-centric belief. Some even entertain the notion that flesh & blood humans will be superseded by more highly-evolved mechanical & digital ubermensch. Yet, as illustrated in the movie, The Matrix, those ego-less super-intelligent machines may still view themselves as the pinnacle of evolution. Personally, I won't even try to predict the future of non-human-nature.

    Item [3] is still the opinion of most scientists, since "spiritual and magical" forces are completely subjective, and not amenable to empirical verification. Like gods & ghosts, they are "true" to the extent that you believe in them. :cool:
  • Gnomon
    817
    We are experiencing a very different reality and I will stand on the idea that is a New Age and we are just beginning to adjust to the ability to feed everyone, educate everyone, provide medical care for everyone.Athena
    The New Age you refer to seems to be what we now call "Market Socialism". :smile:

    Market Socialism : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_socialism
  • David Mo
    729
    n the West, a large number of philosophers discarded the basic presuppositions of the "perennial philosophy," and developed by contrast what for want of a better term we may call a "sciential" [we would say 'scientistic'] philosophy.

    This is a bit of a mess. I don't think the alternative to scientism is perennial philosophy. I don't think the Enlightened philosophes were thinking about the mysticism of perennial philosophy.

    It seems to me that to confuse enlightenment with spiritualistic irrationalism is to confuse things. Although the Enlightenment was a movement that allowed many variations, there were things that were common. Especially the defense of reason against superstition and irrationalism.

    I think that mixing philosophy with religion, even if you say it's secular (?), is very anti-enlightenment. Even when the Elightened spoke of God it was the God of Reason, the God of philosophes (see Rousseau).

    In my opinion.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Especially the defense of reason against superstition and irrationalism.David Mo

    Notice your presuppositions here. They are exactly those of 'Enlightenment rationalism'. Which is not surprising, as it remains the de facto philosophy of secular culture.

    Item [2] was indeed a common belief prior to the European "enlightenment". and during the following centuries, until the advent of Darwinism. But, I suspect that most scientists in the 21st century would not subscribe to that human-centric belief.Gnomon

    They might say that, but by holding everything to the standards of 'what can be proven by science' they're still operating under anthopocentrism, albeit a concealed form of it. Why? Because the 'scientific thinker' believes that the scientific picture is completely devoid of the subject, or subjectivity, that it is a picture of what is 'truly there' independent of any perceiver. This is the dogma of the 'mind-independent' nature of reality according to scientific realism. But this is precisely what has been thrown into doubt by the 'observer problem' in quantum physics. It is the main philosophical basis of the debates between Bohr and Einstein. So scientific realism claims to reveal a 'view from nowhere', that is, an understanding from which all traces of subjectivity have been purged, but this looses sight of the role of the mind in organising perception through observation and deduction.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    They might say that, but by holding everything to the standards of 'what can be proven by science' they're still operating under anthopocentrism, albeit a concealed form of it. Why? Because the 'scientific thinker' believes that the scientific picture is completely devoid of the subject, or subjectivity, that it is a picture of what is 'truly there' independent of any perceiver.Wayfarer

    This seems quite wrong to me. All views are human views. The salient distinction is between those views which are subjectively and passionately (i.e. wanting to believe such and such) motivated and those which are inter-subjectively and dispassionately motivated.

    Science attempts to understand the world as it is perceived inter-subjectively free of any bias or faith-based beliefs. This is not anthropocentrism, quite the opposite, unless you take the word to refer to any and every human perspective, in which case the term would be trivial, and hence redundant.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    I had
    ↪Isaac :lol:Janus

    in mind - referring to Steve Pinker, who is an articulate and well-intentioned advocate of scientism.

    And besides, it is indubitably the case that the debate between Bohr and Einstein was precisely about the concept of 'mind-independent realism'. Einstein was a staunch scientific realist, he was convinced that the real world was just so, regardless of any act of observation on the scientist's part. That is why he asked the rhetorical question 'does the moon continue to exist when nobody's looking at it?' His answer was, of course it does, stop being silly! But Heisenberg, for one, would say things like “What we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning." That is what Einstein couldn't abide.

    And that is why I argue that 'modernity' extends from the publication of Newton's pricipia, to the publication of Einstein's theory of relativity. That marks the end of 'modernism' and the beginning of 'post-modernism', which is where we are now, like it or not.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    Sorry, you lost me there...what do you want to say...please spell it out.

    Edit: Oh, I see you have written some more now...
  • Janus
    9.2k
    Einstein was a staunch scientific realist, he was convinced that the real world was just so, regardless of any act of observation on the scientist's part. That is why he asked the rhetorical question 'does the moon continue to exist when nobody's looking at it?' His answer was, of course it does, stop being silly! But Heisenberg, for one, would say things like “What we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning." That is what Einstein couldn't abide.Wayfarer

    I don't take Einstein to be claiming that the moon is, in itself and exhaustively, just how it appears to us. I take him to be saying that what appears to us as the moon, exists regardless of its appearing but, I think he would agree, obviously does not in that sense exist as an appearance, because to say that would be incoherent. Have you a quote from Einstein that shows that he couldn't abide the idea that perception is a collaborative process?

    I doubt he would be so lacking in intellectual subtlety; after all he read Kant when he was 13 if I remember right.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    I greatly admire Einstein and frequently refer to him, but I really don’t think he ‘got’ Emmanuel Kant. It’s not so much a matter of subtlety but of temperament. He was a convinced philosophical and scientific realist. I’m not saying that he’s wrong on that account, not by any means, but it is an issue which is right at the centre of many of the cultural dynamics of modernity. If you haven’t come across it, Manjit Kumar’s book Quantum is really good on that. Or Adam Becker’s book or David Lindley’s, all of which touch on these ideas.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    I greatly admire Einstein and frequently refer to him, but I really don’t think he ‘got’ Emmanuel Kant.Wayfarer

    You're dodging @Janus's question. The point was made that enlightenment principles are simply presented as a 'better' way of dealing with the shared assumptions about the external world. It's a better way of engaging in cooperative enterprises by arriving at a kind of 'averaged out', or unbiased perception we can then share and use to build bridges, improve medicine, hopefully reduce wars (over different religious outlooks)...

    Every time anything like this is mentioned, you try to paint enlightenment thinkers a dull naive realists who just haven't read enough, when hardly any are actually like that. We're well aware of the role the mind plays in perception, well aware of the role culture and upbringing play in biasing our understanding of the world. We're trying to find 'the least biased' version so we can better cooperate. So your interventions are blunt. You don't present a better alternative, just whine about some straw-man version of the one we have.

    So what if the moon is determined by our subjective minds? What are we going to do about that? Try to find the best, most reliable inter-subjective model for it so we can predict tides and produce green-energy from it, or throw our hands up and say "well if it's all subjective we might as well just ask the archbishop to pray for greener energy"?
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Every time anything like this is mentioned, you try to paint enlightenment thinkers a dull naive realists who just haven't read enough, when hardly any are actually like that.Isaac

    No, not true. I vastly appreciate Enlightenment values, living in a pluralist culture, technological progress and democracy. The only reason you think I'm talking about straw men is because you don't understand what I'm talking about. Conversely, I think I have a pretty accurate grasp of your overall view. I think you're highly educated scientifically, and indeed I agree with a lot of what you say in respect of managing or dealing with many kinds of issues.

    But this is a philosophy forum, and my critique is a philosophical one.

    It surprised me you took such a dim view of Steven Pinker, I thought his 'Enlightenment Now' would be right up your street. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to your criticisms of him?
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    I think I have a pretty accurate grasp of your overall view.Wayfarer

    Seems in contrast with...

    It surprised me you took such a dim view of Steven Pinker, I thought his 'Enlightenment Now' would be right up your street.Wayfarer

    Perhaps your straw man versions of what you think I think are not quite so robust as you'd like to believe? Perhaps this is...

    because you don't understand what I'm talking about.Wayfarer
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Maybe it is, but so far, I haven’t seen reason to categorise your contributions under any heading apart from ‘generally positivist in orientation’. Am I wrong about that?
  • Isaac
    2.8k


    It depends what you mean by positivism. I've written quite extensively about model-dependent realism, which (if you take positivism to be naively realist) is in direct opposition to it. If, however, you take positivism to simply be the assertion that there is something unique about the fact that we act as if we share a world of sensory perceptions where we do not with other beliefs, then yes I agree that this special feature makes information gained from sensory perceptions of a completely different kind, such that it is universalisable.

    I don't believe in an external 'truth' at all. I do believe in an external world, but it's state is hidden from us as we can only detect it's effects on our senses. So we make inferences about it's state from those. I do think that there being an external world which we share is the best explanation for the similarity and effectiveness of the models we build. There is no such similarity nor effectiveness in models of non-physical beliefs and so no good reason to assume their source is a shared external one. This makes questions about the universal 'truth' of such propositions pointless. We have no reason to believe in an external shared source in the first place, and so we have no good reason to investigate it's state.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Thanks, helpful.

    As for definitions of positivism, the web definition is:

    Positivism: a philosophical system recognizing only that which can be scientifically verified or which is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and therefore rejecting metaphysics and theism.

    As a rule of thumb or heuristic, I think it’s a reasonable definition.

    I think of it in terms of ‘the attitude of science applied to the problems of philosophy’. Positivism harks back to Auguste Comte who as you know founded the modern conception of the social sciences, and is still one of the dominant currents of thought in the secular west, in my view. It is predominantly practical or outward looking in orientation.

    My own philosophy, as you have probably discerned, tends more towards the idealist side of the ledger, or maybe the kind described as ‘spiritual if not religious’. One of the useful passages I often quote is from a blog post about Josiah Royce, an American philosopher from the so-called Golden Age of American Philosophy (younger contemporary of Pierce and William James):

    The religious person perceives our present life, or our natural life, as radically deficient, deficient from the root (radix) up, as fundamentally unsatisfactory; he feels it to be, not a mere condition, but a predicament; it strikes him as vain or empty if taken as an end in itself; he sees himself as homo viator, as a wayfarer or pilgrim treading a via dolorosa (path of sorrows) through a vale that cannot possibly be a final and fitting resting place; he senses or glimpses from time to time the possibility of a Higher Life; he feels himself in danger of missing out on this Higher Life of true happiness. If this doesn't strike a chord in you, then I suggest you do not have a religious disposition. Some people don't, and it cannot be helped. One cannot discuss religion with them, for it cannot be real to them

    Plainly that is not something that can be proven, or at least not according to the standards of empirical science. But on the other hand, those of this persuasion see modern culture and empiricism as being founded on a kind of ‘consensus reality’ which is very much a product of the historical circumstances which gave rise to the European Enlightenment and today’s technocratic culture. As I said, though, I am appreciative of many aspects of modern culture, but I feel my task, as it were, is to use the freedom that it brings to discover that kind of higher life. But as the quote says, to those for whom it means nothing, there is nothing to discuss.
  • Hippyhead
    122
    I think what Buddhism teaches is 'the limits of knowledge' as a mode of understanding.Wayfarer

    If you know, does any aspect of Buddhism continue further down that road to also teach the limits of understanding?
  • Gnomon
    817
    They might say that, but by holding everything to the standards of 'what can be proven by science' they're still operating under anthopocentrism, albeit a concealed form of it. Why? Because the 'scientific thinker' believes that the scientific picture is completely devoid of the subject, or subjectivity, that it is a picture of what is 'truly there' independent of any perceiver.Wayfarer
    Science is practiced by Humans, so it is naturally Anthropocentric. And it is practiced by Subjects, so it is inherently subjective. But the Scientific Method is motivated by the ideal goal of Objective Truth. Would you prefer that "scientific thinkers" adopt the perspective of Crows or Bonobos or Aliens? Is there a viable alternative to the imperfect objectivity of self-critical Science --- such as divine revelation? Perhaps meditation practices could improve on biased worldviews by offering a "view from nowhere"?

    Do you know of some arrogant scientists who claim to be "devoid of subjectivity"? The detrimental effects of subjective bias on scientific theories prompted Karl Popper to turn the focus from "proof" of concept to "falsifiability". Since, unlike religious "truths", scientific "facts must be corroborated by skeptical experts before being accepted as provisional true, errant subjectivity is supposed to be cancelled-out by the critical objectivity of peers. Of course, some prejudices, such as Atheism, may be common among practicing scientists, but that merely rules-out unfalsifiable miracles. Do you know of some Alternative Science that is devoid of subjective bias, or the perspective of human perception ?

    The Buddha offered his own method of gaining useful knowledge : i.e. subjective Self-Knowledge. But the post-enlightenment Scientific Method was primarily concerned with objective knowledge of the outside world. A combination of the two might allow us to construct a worldview with reliable knowledge of both inside and outside "truths". That is, in fact, the idealistic goal of the Enformationism thesis, and the BothAnd philosophy.



    Scientific Objectivity : The ideal of objectivity has been criticized repeatedly in philosophy of science, questioning both its value and its attainability. . . . The prospects for a science providing a non-perspectival “view from nowhere” or for proceeding in a way uninformed by human goals and values are fairly slim, . . .
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-objectivity/

    BothAnd : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page2.html
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Do you know of some arrogant scientists who claim to be "devoid of subjectivity"?Gnomon

    Not personally! And no, it's not something that is usually spelled out - it's more of an implicit assumption. And there's a lot of truth in it - but only up to a point. It's seeing that point, or understanding that dividing line, which is the hard part.

    Do you know of some Alternative Science that is devoid of subjective bias, or the perspective of human perception ?Gnomon

    I think the classical idea of the virtue of detachment can be found in both science and other areas of philosophy. However the way it became interpreted in science in the modern period relegates much of what is otherwise philosophically significant to the role of the subjective.

    I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously. — Erwin Schrodinger

    Except for when we do.
  • Gnomon
    817
    Not personally! And no, it's not something that is usually spelled out - it's more of an implicit assumption.Wayfarer
    Yes. It's like Implicit Racism, subconscious biases are common among humans-in-general, not just scientists. That's the point of our various attempts at consciousness raising over the centuries since the Enlightenment revealed some of our explicit biases.

    However the way it became interpreted in science in the modern period relegates much of what is otherwise philosophically significant to the role of the subjective.Wayfarer
    Many scientists are not concerned with what is "philosophically significant", because their job is to dissect the world into easily comprehensible, mathematically rigorous, and objectively factual chunks. "Alternative" scientists (pseudo-scientists) tend to accept more holistic evidence (e.g. subjective, anecdotal; common beliefs) from which to draw inferences. That may be acceptable to philosophical Theologists, but not to pragmatic Psychologists. :smile:

    Implicit Racism : . . . includes unconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aversive_racism
  • Janus
    9.2k
    he feels himself in danger of missing out on this Higher Life of true happiness. If this doesn't strike a chord in you, then I suggest you do not have a religious disposition. Some people don't, and it cannot be helped. One cannot discuss religion with them, for it cannot be real to them

    I thank the Lord (nature) that I grew out of this state of self-obsession that is referred to as the "religious disposition". I was raised in a secular family, but I fell into "seeking for enlightenment" thanks to psychedelics and other experiences and neuroses.

    As the old Zen saying goes (roughly paraphrased): "Before I became a seeker mountains were mountains and rivers were rivers, when I became a seeker mountains were no longer mountains and rivers were no longer rivers, when I came to see that there was nothing to seek mountains were again mountains and rivers were again rivers".
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    It's like Implicit Racism, subconscious biases are common among humans-in-general, not just scientists.Gnomon

    I would be really uncomfortable comparing the scientific slant of modern thinking to ‘racism’. Not least because, unlike racism, the scientific mindset has provided innumerable benefits for mankind.

    The bottom line is simply that methodological naturalism is a perfectly sound methodological principle, but when it becomes a metaphysical stance it becomes problematical.

    Also there are many mainstream, orthodox, well-respected scientists who hold non-materialist views.


    As the old Zen saying goes...Janus

    It is a Zen Koan, spoken by a monk, and thereafter becoming part of the monastic curriculum. It reflects a revolution in consciousness, not the casual disregard of anything religious.

    (I have been long interested in Zen, but I also came to realise that it’s a very demanding and austere discipline, and that I don’t necessarily have the personal attributes to successfully pursue it. For this reason, I’ve lately been attending a Pure Land service.)
  • Janus
    9.2k
    I'm not saying that all religious practice is neurotic, but I do think that the New Age prosperous upper middle class phenomenon of "spiritual seeking" generally is. For those embedded in the cultures where those traditions are still alive it is a natural part of life.
  • David Mo
    729
    Notice your presuppositions here. They are exactly those of 'Enlightenment rationalism'.Wayfarer

    What assumptions? I am simply describing the position of enlightened philosophers.
    It's another thing if you want us to discuss them.
  • Gnomon
    817
    The bottom line is simply that methodological naturalism is a perfectly sound methodological principle, but when it becomes a metaphysical stance it becomes problematical.Wayfarer
    Yes. It was their "implicit prejudice" against non-empirical Metaphysics, not Race, that I was implicitly referring to. For quantitative empirical scientists, it's a useful stance. But for qualitative theoretical scientists & philosophers, those unstated beliefs may be obstacles to their search for fair & balanced truth.

    Everybody has "presumptions" that serve as shorthand values to allow for quicker judgments of true/false & good/bad questions. Only when they analyze their own sub-conscious feelings do they realize that they their belief systems have been unfairly slanted toward certain classes of Epistemology, Ontology & Humanity. That's one reason for my late-in-life hobby of philosophy : to clean-up some misunderstandings that have affected my reasoning in the past. :halo:


    A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. – William James.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    :up:

    //ps// I would hate to be thought of as ‘anti-science’. The chief manifestations of ‘anti-science’ are anti-climate-science and anti-vaccination (along with the other grab-bags of conspiracy theory nonsense.) All that is complete rubbish, and science is absolutely essential for medicines, vaccines, climate mitigation, new energy sources, and countless other vital functions without which the planet will not survive. Just don’t want that point to get lost.//
  • Tzeentch
    725
    It is somewhat ironic that in my personal search for happiness and wisdom I've had to unlearn pretty much everything 'modern society' had taught me. I struggle to think of anything about modern society that can be considered 'enlightened'. It claims to hold some noble ideals, but when push comes to shove it seems very few are actually willing to act in accordance with those ideals unless it suits their agenda (agendas which usually involve money). It provides a whole lot of physical wealth, that much cannot be denied. Materialism and consumerism; those are the core ideals that modern society acts upon, and I find very little enlightenment in that.
12Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment