• Enrique
    148


    I'm going to gadfly you regarding the notion of "normative natural laws". lol

    I can't think of a single supposed "natural" principle that isn't anthropic, essentially perceptual. Mechanistic laws are a higher type of concept that human cognition seems uniquely capable of creating, enabling our species to change its environment of perceptions in some extremely practical, groundbreaking ways, but I would argue that these shouldn't be considered normative. Norms do not determine the course of evolutionary transition, they are a symptom of arbitrarily stifled evolution as the product of forces exacted on organisms by their conditions. The only parameters to evolution are imposed by environment, and the concept of a "natural law" can become one of those parameters.

    Prehistorically, prior to human rationality, we get equilibriums in stable environments, and in fluctuating environments, we get punctuated rapid diversification in a non-directional process that quickly reaches stasis again. The human situation is unique because we imagine and put on display non-existent, largely non-normative causality to such an extent that we can purposefully and collectively change our conditions in extreme ways, including human nature, and thus exert substantial control of selection pressures on the form of our own perceptions.

    But as soon as human cognition becomes normativeness, it has the same effect as we find in non-cognitive environments, arbitrarily forcing a non-evolving equilibrium. It is completely possible for human evolution to be stagnated by culture based on an essentialist paradigm. Similarly, an AI technology may have no inclination or capacity to progressively reinvent natural laws, no matter how perceptive or intelligent it is, bringing mutation as self-enhancement to a halt. AI has much greater chance of being a stasis than progressive.

    Of course we need a baseline of cultural competence to make creativity even possible, so normativity is necessary, but technical concepts rendered as essences amount in my view to mechanistic causality reified for enforcement as norms with no real benefit but thought-control, and I think this is counterproductive. Human rationality has a dual nature, the spontaneous transgression of norms by thought and the transmission of thoughts for the sake of modifying norms. The conditioning of principles should be restrained, getting us into politics and ethics.

    I should add that at any particular moment a system of concepts is going to have finite structure. Its coercion that's a problem, not commitment.

    My blurb on norms and essentialism anyways, disagreements welcome.
  • Siti
    72
    Bula Gnomon!

    I am struggling to see how you can have both of these:

    ...the final outcome is unknown.Gnomon

    and...

    ...the current form of human nature is ... a step in the direction of the intended goal ("original idea").Gnomon

    If the first is correct then the "original idea" and "intended goal" must presumably have been "no idea" - which, it seems to me, is probably exactly right...

    Anyway, let me go back a step or two and see if I can grasp at least one of the terms. I take it from the definition you linked to, you intend "entention" in the sense of Terrence Deacon's coinage (?) where, if I read him correctly, "ententions" or maybe "ententionalities", are equivalent to what might be called "aboutnesses" - i.e. they are phenomena (such as 'intentionality', 'purpose', 'function'...etc.) that are (obviously) not themselves physical realities but nevertheless really exist because they are "about" some reality or another?

    So if that's a fair reading of "entention", then I can live with that...and it can go from bottom to top of the entire process of reality. Electrons, elephants and ecosystems all have a "physical being-ness" and "mental about-ness" (some kind of functionality at the very least). These, I think, are equivalent (in a broad sense) to the "physical and mental poles" of Whitehead's "occasions of experience" (except that "objects" such as electrons and elephants etc. are themselves abstractions that don't truly exist - now that for sure is counter-intuitive but please bear with me - the true reality of an elephant is a process of continual change composed of uncountably many "occasions of experience" (of "elephant-ness"?) which the are the true actualities in Whitehead's scheme).

    So "entention", as far as I can make out, is essentially equivalent to the "mentality" of a real thing that goes together with its "physicality". But I don't see how these could ever be separated from one another...an "elephant" with no "elephant-about-ness" (no elephant functionality, no elephant intentionality...etc.) is just not an "elephant"...

    Entention, it seems to me must, of necessity, emerge together with the emerging reality - hand in glove - inseparably intertwined, or what? Do we have ideas floating around waiting for the opportunity to attach to some emerging reality that they somehow happen to correspond to?

    As usual, I find myself wanting to take the exact opposite view to what seems to be the "norm" (another "entention" at a more holsitic/communal level?) - I want to say that what we normally conceive of as abstractions (ideas "drawn out" of reality) are really "entractions" ("pulled in" to reality from a genuinely infinite array of non-existing unrealities that are, apart (i.e. separated from) from the reality that entracted them, entirely devoid of meaning or efficacy, whilst "ententions" are really "abtentions" - that is, "mental" "aboutnesses" drawn out of the process of emerging realities.

    And looking at it that way, I cannot imagine the primordial "IDEA" having been anything other than "no idea at all" - or rather - "every possible idea no matter how ridiculously improbable" - which is exactly equivalent to "no idea at all" because it tells you precisely nothing about what might actually eventuate. But I'm guessing even evolutionary programmers don't start off with "no idea at all" - or if they do, I think I might just have discovered my perfect career choice!
  • Enrique
    148


    I will absolutely abstain from abhorrently abbreviating your abstractions about "aboutness". lol I agree that an infinite fund of abstentioned ideas is absurd, no idea at all.
  • Gnomon
    470
    I'm going to gadfly you regarding the notion of "normative natural laws".Enrique
    Following the Socratic method I assume. :smile:

    I can't think of a single supposed "natural" principle that isn't anthropic, essentially perceptual.Enrique
    You may have misinterpreted my use of "normative". What I had in mind is that in Evolution, natural laws are limitations (norms) on the freedom of randomness. Those laws provide criteria for Natural Selection to choose from the options thrown up by mutations. And mutations that go outside the norms will be judged unfit. If a mutant mouse is physically too large for its mouse-scale niche it will be deselected in the next round of reproduction. But, over time, descendants of slightly larger than normal mice might eventually be fit for the Capybara niche. The principles that lead to humans and Capybras are the same. Only the environmental niches are different. There are "anthropic" niches and "rodent" niches.

    The environment is a physical limit, while laws are metaphysical norms. For example, evolutionary programmers allowed their program to design an antenna for a specific communication niche. The "environment" was an unusual kind of radiation pattern. And the metaphysical "norm" (program parameters) was established by programmers as a narrow range of fitness scores that would be acceptable for their intended purpose. Ultimately, the parameters (laws) were "anthropic" in the sense that they were selected to suit human needs. But the final physical shape of the antenna was not predictable by the programmers. Only the anthropic metaphysical function was predetermined; the weird shape was formed to fit its designated niche.

    But perhaps you think that natural laws evolved accidentally. In which case they are simply 'habits" of evolution. Yet if so, our universe seems to be addicted to those mathematical norms.

    Norms do not determine the course of evolutionary transition, they are a symptom of arbitrarily stifled evolution as the product of forces exacted on organisms by their conditions. The only parameters to evolution are imposed by environment, and the concept of a "natural law" can become one of those parameters.Enrique
    Perhaps you are talking about human imposed norms, which are limited in power. But Natural norms are so "stifling" that they were called "laws" to reflect the absolute life-or-death power of human kings. So, Natural Norms do indeed determine the course of evolutionary change, but only to the extent that Natural Selection enforces them. But who is the law-maker, and whose standards are normative?


    Capybara Niche : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capybara

    Ecological Niche : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_niche

    Evolved Antenna Design : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolved_antenna

    Normative : human laws are artificial norms, while laws of Nature are natural norms
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative

    Habits of Nature : https://www.sheldrake.org/research/most-of-the-so-called-laws-of-nature-are-more-like-habits
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    Can you refer me to the "pagan philosophy" that argued for a transcendent rational soul on "impeccable rational grounds"?Gnomon

    There are plenty of examples. Of course, ancient philosophy was in some ways much more naturally religious, so their reasoning takes into account ideas which we would nowadays categorise as being religious in some ways.

    our severely limited reasoning ability is compromised by the emotional needs of the evolved human body.Gnomon

    That would roughly correspond to the Doctrine of the Fall, then.

    Reasoning ability may be the defining quality of homo sapiens, but it's a quality that we share to some degree with other intelligent creatures.Gnomon

    Tell it to your dog :razz:
  • David Mo
    193
    I don't think it's abstract at all; we see it throughout history.BitconnectCarlos

    That feature is so broad that it would only rule out utopias. But even utopian thinkers knew that their kingdoms were fantastic. "Task for the gods," says Glaucon to Socrates in The Republic.

    Human nature is like the rainbow. As soon as one comes down to it, fades away. (I swear I have made up this phrase myself alone).
  • David Mo
    193
    The point about understanding the nature of the essential is not to arrive at a simple answer. Essence is not a formula.Wayfarer

    Right. But we'll have to specify what it consists of or leave it to poetry.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    235


    That feature is so broad that it would only rule out utopias. But even utopian thinkers knew that their kingdoms were fantastic. "Task for the gods," says Glaucon to Socrates in The Republic.

    Human nature is like the rainbow. As soon as one comes down to it, fades away. (I swear I have made up this phrase myself alone).

    I'm actually thrilled with your first statement and I do agree. I wasn't seeking to lay out an entire political system based solely on this premise about men not being angels. All I was aiming for was to provide Siti an example when he asked for one stable feature of human nature. I'm happy with that limited "victory." We don't need to then go from there and be like "oh well that's not really saying all that much in reality...." because I wasn't really aiming for that.

    The rainbow metaphor is cute but I think as long as we can agree on that premise of human nature we need to concede to some permanence even if it is "broad" which it is obviously is as I was seeking to describe the entirety of humanity.
  • Gnomon
    470
    I am struggling to see how you can have both of these:Siti
    Don't overthink it. The intended goal may be general, but the final outcome will be specific. That's the case in any learning endeavor. You begin with a desire or intention to learn something new, but you can't say exactly what that will be. For example, deity A might create Adam in his own image, in which case the result will be predictable : a Mini Me. But deity B might create a creative process just to see what will happen if the evolutionary "mechanism" has an element of freedom (chaos; randomness) built into it. In that case the final state will be unpredictable, and deity B will ultimately learn something new.

    Perhaps you are assuming that both deity A and B are omniscient. But an omnipotent deity can create a system with uncertainty (freedom) as a major factor. That would be like creating a stone that even the most powerful deity can't lift. Yet it's not a paradox, or a logical contradiction, if the limitation is ententional (necessary for the venture). Of course, the uncertainty would only be temporary. When the time-limited experiment has run its course, deity B will know the answer, and will have learned something in the process (dynamic omniscience).

    But I don't see how these could ever be separated from one another...an "elephant" with no "elephant-about-ness"Siti
    That example misses the point of "aboutness". The term refers not to Self but to Other. Elephant A can have an idea (representation) about elephant B, or even about a future state of elephant A (other point in time). Likewise, Intentionality is inherently about something that is not here & now. It is a motivation toward something desired but not yet possessed. For example, eternal deity B wants to know how a hypothetical space-time process will turn-out, but the only way to know for sure is to run the experiment.

    Aboutness : Are representations of the world part of the world they represent?
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intentionality/


    Entention, it seems to me must, of necessity, emerge together with the emerging realitySiti
    No. Entention (aim, purpose, motivation) must come before Completion (conclusion, resolution, realization). If intent and goal coexist, then there's no need to move toward the target. In humans, the best intentions often fail to be realized.


    I want to say that what we normally conceive of as abstractions (ideas "drawn out" of reality) are really "entractions" ("pulled in" to reality from a genuinely infinite array of non-existing unrealitiesSiti
    What you describe is exactly how I imagine Creation Ex Nihilo. Your "array of non-existing unrealities" sounds like what I call primordial Chaos. Eternity/Infinity is equivalent to Omnipotential. Without space-time limits all things are possible. But if an abstract Platonic Form is "entracted" from potential to actual it becomes real. It is converted from "non-existing unrealities" (Platonic Ideals) to existing realities (physical things).

    Chaos : In ancient Greek creation myths Chaos was the void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos. It literally means "emptiness", but can also refer to a random undefined unformed state that was changed into the orderly law-defined enformed Cosmos. In modern Cosmology, Chaos can represent the eternal/infinite state from which the Big Bang created space/time. In that sense of infinite Potential, it is an attribute of G*D, whose power of EnFormAction converts possibilities (Platonic Forms) into actualities (physical things).
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page12.html


    I cannot imagine the primordial "IDEA" having been anything other than "no idea at all" - or rather - "every possible idea no matter how ridiculously improbable"Siti
    Again, that describes eternal Chaos, but not the ententional IDEA of space-time reality. It seems that your basic problem with my Enformationism worldview is the necessity for Transcendence, for something prior-to space-time reality. You can't imagine an infinite dimension space. But that may be due to your commitment to the worldview of physical Science. Yet, even pragmatic Science is baffled by paradoxes at the extremes of physical reality.

    For example, when a sub-atomic particle makes a quantum leap into super-position, it can't be found here or there --- it can't be defined in space-time measures. So where is it? Likewise, when matter is sucked into a Black Hole, it is presumed to be converted back into energy, and then into pure information. But scientists still debate where that information goes. Some posit that it disappears down the funnel into an alternate reality. But, besides being un-grounded speculation, that notion contradicts the Law of Thermodynamics, which asserts that energy (information) cannot be created or destroyed within a closed system. It implies that our system has sprung a leak. A logical, but not physical, solution to these paradoxes is that the disappearing matter transcends space-time by returning to infinity-eternity (non-locality) from whence it originally came. "Ridiculously impossible"! Perhaps, but that's true of all paradoxes. :nerd:

    Escape from a black hole : https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/escape-from-a-black-hole/
  • Enrique
    148


    But Natural norms are so "stifling" that they were called "laws" to reflect the absolute life-or-death power of human kings. So, Natural Norms do indeed determine the course of evolutionary change, but only to the extent that Natural Selection enforces them. But who is the law-maker, and whose standards are normative? — Gnomon

    A difficult metaphysical subject. I don't think we can consider natural phenomena "normative principles", but rather accidents of local conditions, with the qualities of "local" varying at least slightly in each observational case. We see the universe as law-abiding because we are extremely well-adapted to one of these localized environments, and we incline to interpret everything from our own frame of reference. That's not to say we can't very easily simplify the properties of particular local conditions into a conceptual "essence" for the sake of technological understanding and application, but analogy between theoretical generalization and metaphysical reality is false. An alien species might develop a completely different kind of evolutionarily programmed antenna because their perception is different, even while on earth. This technology might be so divergent that calling it an antenna at all could be a stretch, a suspect analogy to our own experience. If a being doesn't die or reproduce, no natural selection. If an organism isn't composed of organic molecules, no perception of the environment as solid objects perhaps. Lacking enough particularity in its perception, math might be non-descriptive and meaningless. The existence of a reason for something, a predictable causality, doesn't imply that metaphysical principles exist, and never could. This idea I think is very similar to what Hume or a more critically thinking Kant might argue.

    But radical skepticism is refutable because all the life forms on this planet are related and adapted to a relatively similar environment. Metaphysical principles do not obtain, but we're still all in this together. The more we recognize our mutuality relative to the total universe, the more ethical we become, unless we get abused and manipulated to the point of not trusting someone else's professed beliefs. Its not an uncompromising thirst for pain that drives large-scale human conflict, as if we enjoy our own self-destruction, its a lack of trust and a failure to acknowledge the mutuality I mentioned, along with some minor lapses in self-control thrown into the mix that basic conditioning can usually teach us to regulate well enough. Personal turmoil can be increased to huge, institutional proportions by our problem-solving acumen.

    All reasoning, including moral reasoning, is solipsistic and no less universalizable for being so. Essentialist reasoning can interfere with moral/practical reasoning by rendering our solipsism non-adapting. Supposed essences are ideally temporary illusions on the path to better concepts, and at their worst are a means of brainwashing populations. Achieving that balance between adaptivity and realizing the fullest possibility for beliefs is rationality's challenge, and science is vital to moderating this effort. Rationality creates values. Some sub-cultures apply these discovered/invented values disingenuously, refusing to act in accordance with the universality and uncertainty that rationality really and luckily implies.

    Step away from the soapbox with your hands up. — Thought Police
    lol

    Should add that I doubt this is really in contradiction to your basic view, merely a clarification.
  • Gnomon
    470
    There are plenty of examples.Wayfarer
    Please give me a reference to one of those examples. I'm not concerned with the religious implications; just the philosophical reasoning.

    That would roughly correspond to the Doctrine of the Fall, then.Wayfarer
    Actually, I view the limits to human reasoning as a feature, not a design defect, or a malfunction. The experiment in space-time & uncertainty would be pointless if humans were eternal omniscient gods.

    Tell it to your dog :razz:Wayfarer
    People communicate with their dogs via behavior not language. But the reasoning behind the behavior is basically the same. If the dog food is kept in a cabinet, and the dog sniffs around and scratches, then it ain't hard to read the canine mind. :cool:
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    The point about understanding the nature of the essential is not to arrive at a simple answer. Essence is not a formula.
    — Wayfarer

    Right. But we'll have to specify what it consists of or leave it to poetry.
    David Mo

    And ‘specifying what it consists of’ was precisely the task of classical metaphysics. That is why I made mention of metaphysics and its decline in a previous post but I don't think you got it - which I understand, because these ideas are hardly taught any more, you have to dig for them.

    Which is not to say that classical metaphysics has or is the answer either. But what is essential to understand what was rejected and why. That kind of analysis is more characteristic of European philosophy.

    But nowadays, the usual approach is 'well, we evolved that way' or 'it's the result of evolution'. Almost everyone presumes that. But biological theory does not necessarily amount to philosophical analysis; the way it plays out is that 'evolutionary materialism' declares a good deal of philosophy irrelevant or antiquated without really understanding it at all.

    Please give me a reference to one of those examples. I'm not concerned with the religious implications; just the philosophical reasoning.Gnomon

    I think the most famous example is Aristotle’s passage on the active intellect. It is as the article notes, a debated passage, but contains many aspects of Aristotle’s hylomorphic (matter-form) dualism - for which read this brief blog post.

    . Achieving that balance between adaptivity and realizing the fullest possibility for beliefs is rationality's challenge, and science is vital to moderating this effort. Rationality creates values. Some sub-cultures apply these discovered/invented values disingenuously, refusing to act in accordance with the universality and uncertainty that rationality really and luckily implies.Enrique

    But science is not the arbiter of value. And ideally, philosophy seeks to establish a vision which reconciles what is of value with 'what is'. This is why in classical philosophy, the sage was also said to be a 'seer' - not necessarily a seer in the sense of clairvoyance, but of being able to see what is of the essence, what is essential. Our worldview is fragmented, principally due to egotism, 'the individual' being in effect an autonomous source of values, buttressed by science. But this apparent rationality actually conceals the sense in which modernity sees a world that is ultimately devoid of reason, save that projected into it by the human mind.
  • Enrique
    148


    But science is not the arbiter of value. And ideally, philosophy seeks to establish a vision which reconciles what is of value with 'what is'. — Wayfarer

    I agree that a non-historical science should not be the arbiter of value, although some like using it propagandistically in sometimes ingenious ways to make themselves the arbiters. What I think the persistence of philosophy does, even consideration of the old guys, is nurture knowledge's historical dimension, so that precedents are much more cogent and cumulative. Philosophy studies the wide range of thought forms that led to modern institutions, and thus gives us a broader context for evaluating the direction of those thought forms. Science without philosophy is theory without a cultural purpose that we have troubled to intelligently justify, beyond I'll help you if I like you I suppose. Most science gets philosophical at some stage, but as you allude to, this becomes dogmatic essentialisms such as evolutionary materialism in the absence of rational historicity. Knowledge can become subservient to self-promotional benefit and coercing masses of citizens instead of empowering humans to progress culturally. Its too bad "philosophy" or what I might venture to call non-scientific naturalism is made so difficult to understand sometimes, but once we grasp it we're capable of thinking more deeply.

    So I would gingerly claim that philosophical science with a sense for the historical origins of both thought forms and their related valuations should be the arbiter of modern values. I don't think civilized ethics can even exist apart from intellectual exertions. We see what a horrific effect sole reliance on negative reinforcement has on human behavior, and I think its clear that intellectualizing citizens is preferable. Affect doesn't even become emotion let alone empathy without a mind that is allowed to reflect and grow safely and independently. I wish information weren't put to such predatory uses. When our intellectual leaders who everyone knows should know better commit to pervasive strategies of negative reinforcement, serious problems.
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    So I would gingerly claim that philosophical science with a sense for the historical origins of both thought forms and their related valuations should be the arbiter of modern values. I don't think civilized ethics can even exist apart from intellectual exertions.Enrique

    Hey I agree. (And you're a terrific writer, by the way.) But that is much more characteristic of what in German is called 'Geisteswissenschaft', translated as 'science of spirit'. European culture and philosophy seems to have far higher appreciation of this perspective than the Anglosphere. Most of my critiques are aimed in that direction, as it seems to have the most sway in English-speaking cultures, including Australia, where I am.
  • David Mo
    193
    And ‘specifying what it consists of’ was precisely the task of classical metaphysics. That is why I made mention of metaphysics and its decline in a previous post but I don't think you got it - which I understand, because these ideas are hardly taught any more, you have to dig for them.Wayfarer

    I'm sorry I can't comment on all the posts. They are very interesting, but very long. As for understanding them, maybe it's presumption for my part, but my knowledge of metaphysics seems to me sufficient.

    I believe that classical metaphysics has little to say in matters such as anthropology or ontology. I stand corrected: it can be a source of inspiration. This was the case with Heisenberg, Einstein and other relevant scientists, who were more than just lab rats. I believe that reality cannot be understood without sufficient knowledge of science. That's why ontology is becoming more and more like philosophy of science.

    But I agree with you that it is also not acceptable for some to pretend to make science a substitute for philosophy (Sam Harris). You have to stay in the middle, which is not always the middle position.

    From that perspective I believe that what Darwinism can teach us is that human beings are the only species that have created an artificial nature in the form of culture. We know that primates can use occasional tools, devise solutions to simple problems. But none of them have ever thought of creating themselves as a species capable of destroying their natural bases to the point of sending the whole planet to hell. And us along with it.

    So the question is not what is innate within us. The question is what we do with what we are to counter the destructive impulses that are proving dominant today. We are not angels, as Bit--Carlos said, it means that we are contradictory. Not that we are demons.
    Whether innate or not, we know that our impulses can be countered on an individual level. But we don't seem to know how to do it collectively.

    I'm afraid the issue is political. It looks bad.

    NOTE: Steven Pinker seems to me awfully naive on this subject.
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    This was the case with Heisenberg, Einstein and other relevant scientists, who were more than just lab rats. I believe that reality cannot be understood without sufficient knowledge of science. That's why ontology is becoming more and more like the philosophy of science.David Mo

    Do you know about the Bohr-Einstein debates, and the Copenhagen interpretation of physics? That Einstein was a staunch scientific realist, and that Heisenberg tended towards a form of idealism? If you’re interested, look into a book called Quantum by Manjit Kumar, and also (the much earlier) Heisenberg’s Philosophy and Physics. (The latter is the definitive statement of the Copenhagen interpretation.).

    As for science and knowledge of reality, there is, in my view, a subtle but profound issue at the heart of this. Which is that modern science, since Galileo, has generally operated within the paradigm of reality being something apart from or outside the observer; that here is the scientist, the observing intelligence, observing the workings of nature, through the Galilean paradigm of ‘a book written in mathematics’. However, it is being realised that in the final analysis, man is really not apart from or outside of nature, and that science itself forever has a subjective pole, comprising the mind of the observer, which has been ‘bracketed out’ of the reckoning of science by the Galilean method. This, however, is precisely what the ‘observer problem’ in quantum physics has called into question. And it’s also at the heart of the Bohr-Einstein debates.
  • David Mo
    193
    However, it is being realised that in the final analysis, man is really not apart from or outside of nature, and that science itself forever has a subjective pole, comprising the mind of the observer, which has been ‘bracketed out’ of the reckoning of science by the Galilean method. This, however, is precisely what the ‘observer problem’ in quantum physics has called into question.Wayfarer

    Thanks for the references. I've read a few chapters of Heisenberg's book.

    As for the problem of interpenetration between the subjective and the objective, quantum mechanics has raised it in a heated way, as you say. However, it seems that contemporary physics has taken Bohr's side. But I think that Kant had understood the problem much earlier, declaring the thing in itself unknowable. Critical Kant, of course. It's surprising that Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and others often mentioned Plato, Berkeley, Hume or Mach and none of them remembered Kant. I suspect that they had not read many philosophical works.
  • Gnomon
    470
    I don't think we can consider natural phenomena "normative principles", but rather accidents of local conditionsEnrique
    So you're saying that the regularities of Nature, that Science depends on, are not universal laws, but merely conditional habits? I suspect that position is derived from rejection of the concept of a lawmaker. The difference between a "law" and a "habit" is that laws are imposed from above, while habits are accidental due to local conditions. "Norms" are imposed values rather than free choices. That's why the early scientists labeled their observed consistencies in physics with a term that implied a moral right/wrong distinction mandated by an absolute ruler. "Habits" are regular tendencies that have no moral justification. So a habitual world would be amoral, with no clear good or bad, no right or wrong. In that case, every man (or particle of matter) is a law unto himself.

    Normative Law : In law, as an academic discipline, the term "normative" is used to describe the way something ought to be done according to a value position.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative


    But radical skepticism is refutable because all the life forms on this planet are related and adapted to a relatively similar environment. Metaphysical principles do not obtain, but we're still all in this together.Enrique
    If "principles do not obtain" in Nature, it's because there is no "prince", no ultimate authority. So cultural laws are the only rules that do obtain. That is the Atheist/Humanist position. And it's also half of my own BothAnd position. The other side of my consilient morality is the understanding that Natural Laws (not habits) were ruling the world for eons before humans came along. The eventual emergence of Life and Mind are due, either to the harmonious organizing principles of Nature, or to the erratic accidents of randomness. I view Natural Selection as an imposed set of values on physical evolution, and Cultural Selection is the application of human values to meta-physical evolution.

    BothAnd Principle : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page10.html

    Meta-physical : mental phenomena as contrasted to physical
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page14.html


    Rationality creates valuesEnrique
    Yes. If Evolution was dependent on randomness alone, there would be no values, and no progress, no reason. But the addition of Natural Selection (choices based on fitness criteria) converts random change to directional change. I view that as a sign of Rationality in the evolutionary process. So Evolution is characterized by both Freedom and Fate; both Law and Autonomy.

    Selection : adj. -- chosen in preference to another or others; selected. choice; of special value or excellence. careful or fastidious in selecting; discriminating. carefully or fastidiously chosen; exclusive
    https://www.dictionary.com/browse/select

    Should add that I doubt this is really in contradiction to your basic view, merely a clarification.Enrique
    Your post is in agreement with half of my view, but this post is a clarification of the other half. Specifically, my worldview is deistic, in that the world is being created via evolution, but without divine intervention in the process.
  • Gnomon
    470
    I think the most famous example is Aristotle’s passage on the active intellect. It is as the article notes, a debated passage, but contains many aspects of Aristotle’s hylomorphic (matter-form) dualism - for which read this brief blog post.Wayfarer
    I knew that Aristotle had some vague concept of a Soul, but was not aware of the term "active intellect" or "agent intellect". I can see that these terms could be referring to some human essence, which distinguishes us from animals, but may not imply an immortal soul in the Christian sense.

    "EVERYTHING in the cosmic universe is composed of matter and form." ___Aquinas
    Aquinas more specifically equates the essence of human nature with the immortal Soul. But I go a step further, to assert that even matter is a form of Plato's timeless Forms, So I could say that everything in the universe is composed of "Information", which I define as the creative power to Enform, (aka EnFormAction).

    EnFormAction : As the holistic expression of the human Self (Soul), it is the essence or pattern that defines you as a person
    Note : If you find this definition hard to imagine, just remember how the Star Trek Transporter read the information (data describing a person's mind & body) into a pattern of bits that could be transmitted to another location.
  • Enrique
    148


    If "principles do not obtain" in Nature, it's because there is no "prince", no ultimate authority. So cultural laws are the only rules that do obtain. That is the Atheist/Humanist position. — Gnomon

    I'm not an atheist, I think all beings have a spiritual nature, but I'm also a critical thinker, and all public accounting for this spirituality has thus far been at its best respectably inadequate to explain the reality, and at its worst employed as malicious deception, in science, philosophy and elsewhere. I place my own spirituality in the realm of personal experience, not unempirical or irrational, but not a justifiably collective value to be culturally binding either.

    My opinion is that we should in general incline towards basing culture on human agreement by way of reasoned collaboration rather than dictatorial authority. Being opposed to the unrelenting infliction and threat of harm, a major cause of unending and currently escalating divisiveness in society, rationality is an ideal to gradually work towards in complex ways that respect the individual, utilizing nuanced education, careful institutional reform and, however possible, positive reinforcement that encourages personal growth. This is very similar to views of the European Enlightenment, probably the origin of social progressiveness in politics, an inheritance of well-reasoned cultural strategies that I think is declining in influence, to our undeniable detriment.

    I think scientific skepticism is the foundation for furthering human quality of life by way of strategic theoretical and technological progress, but involves some extremely difficult issues. These complications will be much easier to deal with if everyone has access to all the relevant information, can recognize when a source of information is legitimate, is provided with enough basic competence to obtain any relevant information independently, has some level of protected license to discuss the information publicly, and isn't being so scrooged by manipulative information distribution in general that all of this is impossible.

    I'm perhaps much less prone to think the universe is intrinsically intelligible than some. My interest in philosophy is mostly driven by a desire to continually assimilate the unintuitive, figure out all the enigmas, and engage in insightful communication.

    I regard your philosophy as a cool thought experiment, a nice attempt at stretching common intuitions and growing intellectually, what I wish everyone had the opportunity to do. Thinking with you guys has given me the seeds of some new ideas that are bouncing around in the back of my mind to eventually edify me.
  • Gnomon
    470
    I'm not an atheist, I think all beings have a spiritual nature, but I'm also a critical thinker, and all public accounting for this spirituality has thus far been at its best respectably inadequate to explain the reality, and at its worst employed as malicious deception, in science, philosophy and elsewhere.Enrique
    That's also why I am a Deist. All religions of the world are based on philosophical attempts to explain both the regularities and the vagaries of Nature, of Reality. Typically, pre-scientific societies took the predictable aspects of nature for granted. But the unpredictable or disorderly behaviors of nature were attributed to magical beings (gods, principalities), who as haughty nobles of the imaginary spiritual realm, were easily offended by insignificant inferior humans who were disrespectful of their power and position.

    Unfortunately, their notion of spirituality was tainted by fear of those invisible magicians, who could, for no apparent reason, punish humans who were insufficiently slavish and sycophantic. So, while they expressed their common spirituality toward equals as morality, toward their betters they prostrated their unworthy selves in worship, just as they would suck-up to their human kings who were above the law of morality. Their attempts to explain natural processes in terms of magical spirituality made allowances for divine deception (maya) and for priests who felt licensed to use magic tricks of their own to keep the masses in a state of fearful awe. That is the tradition of authoritarian religion that Deists rejected, as they turned to human science instead of divine revelation for understanding of mundane reality, including its spiritual aspects that I call "Metaphysics" to contrast with mundane Physics.

    Metaphysics : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page14.html

    My opinion is that we should in general incline towards basing culture on human agreement by way of reasoned collaboration rather than dictatorial authority.Enrique
    That is also the inclination of Deism, which is not a religion, but a philosophical attitude toward spirituality (metaphysics), which was ignored by materialistic scientists.

    I think scientific skepticism is the foundation for furthering human quality of life by way of strategic theoretical and technological progress,Enrique
    Yes. Skepticism is necessary for any philosopher who wants to avoid being deceived by the smoke & mirrors of religions. And Science is the best method we have developed for understanding physical reality. But it has never been able to replace Religion as the source of information on metaphysical reality.

    regard your philosophy as a cool thought experiment,Enrique
    My Enformationism thesis is, as you say, a thought experiment intended to inform my personal worldview as a replacement for the religion of my youth. It attempts to avoid the magical obfuscation of occult mythology, and instead find a more accessible understanding of how the world works on both physical and metaphysical levels. Unfortunately, it is counter-intuitive for both materialistic scientists and religious mystics. So, I have found that philosophers are more amenable to metaphysics, and more likely to grasp the common ground of Enformation as the universal "substance" of the real world, that bridges the gap between Mind & Matter, Soul & Body, Religion & Science.

    Enformation : 1. When spelled with an “I”, Information is a noun, referring to data & things. When spelled with an “E”, Enformation is a verb, referring to energy and processes.
    2. the Enformationism thesis . . . says that mental Information is the new fundamental principle of science, and the key to a new/old way of thinking about reality.
    http://bothandblog5.enformationism.info/page36.html
  • David Mo
    193
    I am not in the habit of discussing human nature with spiritualists, but I suppose that if you believe that human nature exists, you can describe a series of natural or spiritual laws that apply to human beings. Can you give an example? Even if it's from Aristotle.
  • Enrique
    148


    Education gave me an ultra-rational personality that aims for consistency and integrity as basic guidelines, a means to generally avoid diminishing pleasure, my own or anyone else's. This works well in rational situations, but lucid dreams, visions, miracles, paranormal experiences, and subordination of human will to spiritual forces taught me that the world is full of the supernatural, and within the total psychological/spiritual/material ecosystem humans are almost ants, regardless of how much self-control we have.

    As far as the implications for human nature, I've learned that vengeance is like masochism, though in some conditions damaging conflict unfortunately becomes inevitable. From a long-term perspective, getting revenge for a wrong can have a similar psychological effect to committing the wrong in the first place, it usually ends up collaterally hurting those who aren't involved in the dispute, and it destabilizes the situation spiritually so that we lose more rational control of consequences. I'm not saying that punishment is totally to be dispensed with, but infliction of harm has serious supernatural repercussions that are nearly impossible to contain once set in motion. I think we're all influenced by the negative spiritual effects of systemic revenge every moment of every day, much more than we ever recognize.

    My personal view, I'm certainly not going to claim its at all sacred.
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    I can't think of a single supposed "natural" principle that isn't anthropic, essentially perceptual. Mechanistic laws are a higher type of concept that human cognition seems uniquely capable of creating, enabling our species to change its environment of perceptions in some extremely practical, groundbreaking ways, but I would argue that these shouldn't be considered normative.Enrique

    Whether or not they're 'normative', they are at the very least natural principles. They're 'laws' in the sense of 'natural laws', which is the term used to describe scientific principles, such as Newton's laws of motion. But nowadays the sense in which there really are 'laws' is itself called into question. It's been pointed out that the origin of 'laws' was the supposed 'divine laws' of Christian philosophy and therefore the sense of the term 'law' is lost when there is nothing to underwrite it; laws generally compel, but what natural law compels an inanimate object? Thorny question, but suffice to say, I think the ontological status of natural laws, and also natural numbers, both of which science assumes in order to make any statement at all, are not themselves explained by science, and won't ever be, as they're both epistemically and ontologically prior to 'the special sciences' which are built on them; which is why metaphysics is described as ‘first philosophy’.

    And there's a bit of an irony in your deployment of the term 'anthropic' in this context, as the status of the so-called 'anthropic principle', the discovery that the Universe is characterised by a very small number of very precisely defined ratios, in the absence of which there would be neither matter nor living beings, is also an open question. Some of the scientists who first discovered this (for example Freeman Dyson and Fred Hoyle) made statements to the effect that 'the universe knew we were coming'. Hoyle said something like 'the fix was in'.

    And you have to wonder, how we acquired the necessary intelligence to approximately measure the age and extent of the physical universe, if the successful propogation of the genome provides the sole rationale for our capabilities.

    So to critiize the human grasp of natural principles as ‘anthropic’ is perhaps unintentionally ironic.

    But I go a step further, to assert that even matter is a form of Plato's timeless Forms,Gnomon

    I don’t think you comprehend hylomorphic dualism - and that’s OK, as it is an arcane subject, and one that I also don’t claim any expertise in, not having studied 'the Classics' in any depth.

    But there’s a deep principle in Platonism, also found in Aristotle, about the nature of the knowable, what it is 'to really know'. Recall that when the Greek philosophers say that ‘the senses betray us’, they mean that quite literally. Matter itself, they would say, is intrinsically unintelligible, and the sensory domain, which naturalism takes for granted as the only reality, is only a shadow or simulcra of actuality. Only the forms are knowable because they’re knowable in the same sense that arithmetic proofs are known - immediately and apodicticly, by direct insight into necessarily truth.

    So according to hylomorphic dualism
    Intellectual knowledge (which here means 'knowledge of intelligible reality') is analogous to sense knowledge inasmuch as it demands the reception of the form of the thing which is known. But it differs from sense knowledge so far as it consists in the apprehension of things, not in their individuality, but in their universality.

    Which points to the fundamental importance of universals in the Platonic epistemology; which is something that modern philosophy has abandoned or rejected.
  • Gnomon
    470
    I don’t think you comprehend hylomorphic dualismWayfarer
    Aristotle asserted that physical objects are compounds of Matter and Form. My understanding is that he was making a distinction between the physical properties that our senses detect, and the metaphysical properties (the design pattern) that are known via our extra sense of Reason. That kind of dualistic either/or analysis is amenable to my BothAnd philosophy. But the BA principle is ultimately monistic, because it unites space-time Physics and Metaphysics into a single eternal principle : the creative power to enform, to create --- which I call EnFormAction.

    So, my worldview agrees with Aristotle that what we perceive with the physical senses is Matter, and what we conceive with metaphysical Reason is Form (information; essence). Matter is the unique substance of individual things, but Form is the common substance of all things (EnFormAction). This is similar to Einstein's equation of tangible Matter (stuff) with intangible Energy (causation).

    So, when I said, "even matter is a form of Plato's timeless Forms", I was agreeing with Aristotle's hylomorphic analysis, while adding my own synthesis of space-time Dualism into eternal-infinite Monism.



    Hylomorphism : A thing’s form is its definition or essence—what it is to be a human being, for example.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/form-matter/

    Forms : Platonic Forms are Archetypes : the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies. Eternal metaphysical Forms are distinguished from temporal physical Things. These perfect models are like imaginary designs from which real Things can be built.
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page13.html

    EnFormAction : Metaphorically, it's the Will-power of G*D, which is the First Cause of everything in creation. Aquinas called the Omnipotence of God the "Primary Cause", so EFA is the general cause of every-thing in the world. Energy, Matter, Gravity, Life, Mind are secondary creative causes, each with limited application.
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page8.html

    BothAnd Principle : The Enformationism worldview entails the principles of Complementarity, Reciprocity & Holism, which are necessary to offset the negative effects of Fragmentation, Isolation & Reductionism. Analysis into parts is necessary for knowledge of the mechanics of the world, but synthesis of those parts into a whole system is required for the wisdom to integrate the self into the larger system. In a philosophical sense, all opposites in this world (e.g. space/time, good/evil) are ultimately reconciled in Enfernity (eternity & infinity).
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page10.html
  • Gnomon
    470
    I am not in the habit of discussing human nature with spiritualists, but I suppose that if you believe that human nature exists, you can describe a series of natural or spiritual laws that apply to human beings. Can you give an example? Even if it's from Aristotle.David Mo
    I'm not a Spiritualist in the sense you intend. Instead, I am an Enformationist, in the sense that reality is not haunted by spooky spirits, but caused & motivated by the natural power to enform (commonly known as energy). From my perspective, the "natural or spiritual laws that apply to human beings" are all various forms of Information, which is the fundamental force & substance of the universe.


    Information = Energy = Matter : One of the more radical theories suggests that information is the most basic element of the cosmos.
    https://bigthink.com/philip-perry/the-basis-of-the-universe-may-not-be-energy-or-matter-but-information

    Information : Knowledge and the ability to know. Technically, it's the ratio of order to disorder, of positive to negative, of knowledge to ignorance. It's measured in degrees of uncertainty. Those ratios are also called "differences". So Gregory Bateson* defined Information as "the difference that makes a difference". The latter distinction refers to "value" or "meaning". Babbage called his prototype computer a "difference engine". Difference is the cause or agent of Change. In Physics it’s called "Thermodynamics" or "Energy". In Sociology it’s called "Conflict".
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page11.html
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    What can be said to one who is all-knowing?
  • Enrique
    148


    Rattling the anthrocentric (not anthropic oops) cage.

    Maybe human rationality's materialist interpretation of the world as composed of inanimate objects is partially a result of the impact on the human psyche of perceiving and living around technology, though we're far removed from the original circumstances that would prove this. I think organic consciousness' responsivity to motion is typically based on recognizing intention, stimulated affect and/or relatively simple causality, or else somewhat negligible in symbolic meaning. But highly conceptual, structuralizing human consciousness, with its extreme inclination to imaginatively invent integrated symbolical systems, at some point began viewing the world as symbolic of emotive intentions, weaving these modes of interpreting experience together in speculatively fulfilling generalizations until we had ideas of spiritual purpose as essence. The idea of natural laws is probably a result of attempts to synthesize mechanistic causal concepts and predictabilities, a derivation from increasingly technological thinking, with this preexisting sense of purpose as essence from out of the compulsion to continue analogizing and generalizing in pursuit of consistency, coherence, the achievement of comprehensive indisputability in knowledge.

    I think the conceptualized nature of quantities and spontaneous patterns is basically a psychological issue. These are a product of the human mind as comprehended introspectively and by analysis of hypothesized mechanism within progressing sequences of observation.

    As for whether the cosmos is mathematical, I think it is for humans because of the nature of our cognition, not necessarily because of governing determinism, a la Kant's antinomies of reason. I don't think a genome is absolutely required for perception and intention to be possible. Conditions characterizing the existence of earth's carbon-based lifeforms are not necessarily generalizable to the whole cosmos. I think our knowledge of the age and extent of the physical universe is theory or a conceptual system, not precluding complete refutation depending on what further investigation reveals.

    You're probably getting a feel for my anthrocentric viewpoint. I think its crucial to recognize that knowledge (not existence) is fundamentally anthrocentric, because then we can fully acknowledge the pervasiveness of uncertainty and unrestrainedly imagine alternative possibilities. The multiple interpretations of quantum mechanics, theories of parallel universes and such, along with conception of history, empower us to pull ourselves out of restricting mechanistic dogmatisms and reach a malleable balance rather than an uncompromising conflict between perspectives. Seems we're in an era where science can become truly progressive for the human psyche instead of oppressive because of our growing sense for its historical tranformativeness, the way generalizations vary as our frame of reference changes, and our greater cognizance that theory depends on human choices. We simultaneously have to avoid making science oppressive culturally, a big challenge. I think we've got a viable ideal, but attaining it not so much. I can't believe this crazy world.
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    Maybe human rationality's materialist interpretation of the world as composed of inanimate objects is partially a result of the impact on the human psyche of perceiving and living around technology, though we're far removed from the original circumstances that would prove this.Enrique

    I think it's a direct consequence of early modern science in the aftermath of the 'scientific revolution'.

    The modern mind-body problem arose out of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, as a direct result of the concept of objective physical reality that drove that revolution. Galileo and Descartes made the crucial conceptual division by proposing that physical science should provide a mathematically precise quantitative description of an external reality extended in space and time, a description limited to spatiotemporal primary qualities such as shape, size, and motion, and to laws governing the relations among them. Subjective appearances, on the other hand -- how this physical world appears to human perception -- were assigned to the mind, and the secondary qualities like color, sound, and smell were to be analyzed relationally, in terms of the power of physical things, acting on the senses, to produce those appearances in the minds of observers. It was essential to leave out or subtract subjective appearances and the human mind -- as well as human intentions and purposes -- from the physical world in order to permit this powerful but austere spatiotemporal conception of objective physical reality to develop.

    (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos pp. 35-36)

    highly conceptual, structuralizing human consciousness, with its extreme inclination to imaginatively invent integrated symbolical systems, at some point began viewing the world as symbolic of emotive intentions, weaving these modes of interpreting experience together in speculatively fulfilling generalizations until we had ideas of spiritual purpose as essence.Enrique

    That's a naturalistic account. It is simultaneously cynical, patronising and inadequate (not on your part but as a cultural perspective). I think it's more that the ancients, or rather, pre-moderns, did not have a sense of themselves as being separated from or apart from nature in the way that we do. And that sense of separateness in turn comes from viewing humans from an objective perspective. Of course, it is essential to do that for the purposes of the objective sciences and medicine. But the conceit behind it, is that the naturalist account sees reality 'as it truly is', as if from no perspective whatever. And then on the basis of this purported position of objectivity, it creates accounts of those human attributes such as spirituality which don't fit into the procrustean bed picture created by evolutionary biology.

    I think its crucial to recognize that knowledge (not existence) is fundamentally anthrocentric, because then we can fully acknowledge the pervasiveness of uncertainty and unrestrainedly imagine alternative possibilities.Enrique

    I kind of see that, but I see another conceit there. (Not yours, but one of culture.) First, to say 'knowledge' (not existence) is to implicitly differentiate 'what exists' from 'what we know'. But this is where the Kantian critique of reason is relevant. Realism imagines that knowledge is somehow 'in the mind', but that 'the world' exists entirely independently of that - as I think you're saying here. But Kant argues that our knowledge of 'the real world' is always knowledge of how it appears to us. So it already allows for the fact that even so-called objective accounts have a subjective pole or aspect. But this is what is generally forgotten by the naturalist account. But then naturalism assumes 'the mantle (or the white coat) of scientific authority' with respect to the nature of what is real without acknowledging the methodological constraints which are implicit in those statements.

    I contend that we today have an implicit world-picture of ourselves qua intelligent subjects, in a domain of objectively real forces and objects, described by science. What we're not seeing is that the implicit picture within which we operate is also a representation, in the sense described by Schopenhauer as 'vorstellung'. That does not by any means invalidate science or attempts to understand nature scientifically, but it does alert us to the fact that ultimately we are participants as much as we are observers, which brings about a different kind of orientation.
  • Gnomon
    470
    What can be said to one who is all-knowing?Wayfarer
    Actually, Google is all-knowing. What would you like to know?
    What would you like to say? I'm listening. :smile:
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