• Outer View, Inner View, and Pure Consciousness
    Thanks for the comments.

    Acting from within without intention or rational consideration. I think it would be reasonable to call that acting without ego.T Clark
    Reasonable point. But I think if there was any indication of danger, the ego would take over with the intention of survival.

    Seems to me this probably isn't true, although I'm not self-aware enough to be sure. For me, awareness is just awareness. I'm aware of whatever is there to be aware of.T Clark
    Some Eastern traditions say that pure awareness is the goal of meditation. Usually, our awareness is filled with sensations. I'm trying to reach sustained episodes of pure awareness. Not there yet.
  • Against “is”
    Bylaw: “I think it is very hard to separate perceiving - subjective experience - from interpretation.”

    Agree. As optical illusions demonstrate, for instance, the Adelson's Checker-Shadow Illusion.

    Bylaw: “So, what we are claiming is that there are these perceptions about what are outside us, and these can be fallible but what is inside us, our subjective experiencing, that we can be sure of. And we can be sure that we are not fallible introspectors, that we are not interpreting incorrectly our perceptions of our internal reactions and so on.”

    I’d say we are fallible as to interpretation but infallible as to our input sensations: I may wrongly think I see water but if I am experiencing light then I am experiencing light. Even if I am hallucinating the light, I am still experiencing and can’t be wrong about the fact that I am experiencing. It’s like if I say my arm hurts (and I’m not lying) then I can’t be wrong about the fact that I am experiencing sensations of pain that seem to be originating in my arm. I’ve read that amputees sometimes have “phantom pain” in lost limbs. So I may be wrong that my ARM hurts (if, for example, I’ve lost that arm) but I can be wrong about the experience of pain I feel.

    Bylaw: “Desirable to whom? How do you find it this way? What was your process for determining it is more desirable and cannot this process also be fallible?”

    If it is agreed that changing our language more accurately represents the world (an idea you may reject), then changing language is desirable if we are concerned about accuracy. However, I don’t mean to claim that we become infallible if we change our language.
  • On Thoughts as Pre-Existent
    I can see how “pre-existent” is controversial but do you agree Macbeth is a sequence of thoughts and images? If not, then what is it? A sequence of sentences on paper? But Macbeth can be translated into French. Besides, if every paper copy of Macbeth were destroyed, the play would still exist? Agree? Then, still exist as what? A sequence of thoughts and images is the only answer I can find.

    As to whether thoughts pre-exist, that’s the question posed in the original post.
  • On Thoughts as Pre-Existent
    Mathematical Platonism refers to the entities of mathematics: groups, ring, fields, vector spaces, topologies, p-adic numbers, etc., etc., not merely to quantities and ratios.

    It is the phenomena that are discovered; the thoughts are responses by a human mind.Vera Mont
    No. For instance, non-Euclidean spaces were discovered decades before they were used in the general theory of relativity. And I'm aware of no phenomena corresponding to the fact that the square root of 2 is not equal to a fraction.

    Then why do not all the people with similar reception equipment apprehend all these thoughts, the same as they would all feel heat or wetness? A fair percentage of the human population thinks no more about the square root of 2 than do sharks, and hardly any pluck Macbeth out of the ether.Vera Mont
    For the same reason, some people travel to Rome but many do not. The landscape and mindscape are vast; people only live in a small part of each.
  • On Thoughts as Pre-Existent
    In a nutshell, this view says just as the physical world is given, the mental and emotional worlds are given. We choose to go to places in the physical world (New York, Rome, etc.) and we can choose to go to places in the mental world (calculus, group theory, etc.). Einstein was like an explorer who first found his way to the part of the mental universe where the thoughts that constitute the theory of relativity reside. Now, graduate students routinely travel to the same place.

    Vera Mont: If the notion that thoughts exist independently of minds is defensible, I have not seen or heard it credibly defended.
    Most mathematicians subscribe to Mathematical Platonism, which says math is discovered, not invented. I’d say math consists of thoughts, thoughts such as there is no largest prime number, the square root of two cannot be expressed as a fraction, etc. For something to be discovered, it must pre-exist. So, arguments for Mathematical Platonism implicitly argue that math thoughts are pre-existent.

    Vera Mont: What/who generated it?
    Unknown. Just as what/who generated the big bang is unknown or what/who made it so that there is no largest prime number.

    Vera Mont: What is it made of?
    What is thought made of? I don’t know.

    Vera Mont: How does it differ from sensory input and experience?
    Under this view, thought (and emotion) is sensory input and experience.
    The body processes physical sensation.
    The mind processes mental sensation.
    Another faculty (let’s call it “the heart”) processes emotional sensation.
  • On Thoughts as Pre-Existent
    I'd say our experience of a thought is transitory, as is our experience of a tree. But I think the view that the thought existed before it entered our mind and exists after it leaves our mind is defensible and may in fact be true.
  • On Thoughts as Pre-Existent

    I used Macbeth as an example of a thought (or rather a collection of related thoughts).
    My question is really: does it make sense to regard thoughts a pre-existing? - just as we regard things in the landscape (rocks, trees, etc.) as pre-existing.
  • Against “is”
    We often think that seem makes less of a claim than an is statement. But it is and is statement. It claims that something appears to be the case, but we don't know. That's also an is claim, while a subjective one. It's a claim about a subjective experience - and we can be wrong about those.Bylaw
    I'd say we cannot be wrong about subjective experience but we can be wrong about how we interpret it. For example, "I see water" may be an erroneous interpretation of a mirage. We can be certain of our experience (phenomena) but we cannot be certain as to its cause (noumena).

    Telling a kid he is behaving 'unharmoniously' may seem to avoid the kinds or moral judgment that he is naughty includes. But I suspect that the kid called the former feels pretty much the same. (this was not an example of replacing is with seems, but rather using a different kind of language shift that (in my opinion) fails because the humans means, in the end, the same thing at root, despite the surface change.Bylaw
    I believe we habitually use "is" language. Changing language and the way we think about "is" may or may not have any practical benefit but I find more accurate language desirable in any case.
  • The Futility of the idea of “True Christian Doctrine”
    Yeah, and you can see the same kind of discussions about quantum mechanics and what is the “true” interpretation, or is “realism”or “idealism” and which is the right metaphysical view, etc…..Richard B
    I expected this objection. The math of Quantum Mechanics works; it can describe phenomena within the accuracy equal to describing the distance from New York to San Francisco within the width of a human hair. Physicists argue about what the math means, not the math itself.

    Besides, if Jesus/Bible/St. Paul didn't do any better than scientists then why should anyone believe they are teaching divine truth?
  • The Futility of the idea of “True Christian Doctrine”
    Jesus. The Bible. St. Paul. Take your pick. They all failed.
  • A merit-based immigration policy vs. a voluntary eugenics policy in regards to reproduction?
    It just seems strange for people to say "Oh, how exactly can we trust the government to decide what desirable traits we want in our future citizenry?" while at the same time being willing to do just this in regards to merit-based immigration.Xanatos

    I'd say an important difference is that merit-based immigration (ideally) would look at present, demonstrated needs and try to fill them. "There are not enough doctors so let's expand medical education and fill all the seats, even if we need to let bright immigrants in our medical schools."

    Desirable traits for people is a much deeper question. Should the state try to engineer people? If so, what traits should be re-enforced and what traits should be discouraged? Much tougher questions.
  • Sentient AI and black boxes
    Functionally, these algorithms calculate the same thing, only one of them in a more convoluted way than the other. In practice, this would make for two black boxes with different internal wiring, but we would have no way of telling from the outside. From an outsider's perspective, they are the same system and there is no way to distinguish them.

    So this brings me to a theorem:
    Theorem 1: Given two black boxes, A and B, if inputs and corresponding outputs for both are the same, then either the internal wiring of A and B are the same, or one is a more efficient version of the other.

    You'll need to define efficiency. Also, cos(x-pi/4) = sin(x+pi/4) but which is more efficient?
  • Pre-science and scientific mentality
    I like your two suggestions for column labels.

    "Intuitive, Mythical" vs. "Empirical, Rational" refer to epistemological methods, which may be the fundamental issues underlying the two columns.

    "Subjective Metaphorical Personal Religion" vs. "Objective Abstract Mechanical Science" also refer to epistemological methods, though I'd drop "Mechanical" and replace it with "Public." Also, "Realistic" is an antonym of "Metaphorical". Thus,

    "Subjective, Metaphorical, Personal Religion" vs. "Objective, Realistic, Public Science"

    When (if) I add the table to my "Universal Theology" article, I'll probably use one (or maybe both). Thanks.

    Intuitive, Mythical vs Empirical, Rational
    Subjective, Metaphorical, Personal Religion vs Objective, Realist, Public Science

    P.S. For anyone interested, current draft of article is at:
  • Pre-science and scientific mentality
    Is this Binary classification intended to be an idealized snapshot of pluralistic reality, or to refer to an historical watershed like the Enlightenment? Does it apply now, or at some future time? Is the division innate or learned? How is it different from any other binary catalogue of human types (e.g. introvert/extrovert)? Are we stuck, or can we change classes? The table could be interpreted as contrasting open-mind Liberals vs closed-mind Conservatives.Gnomon
    Applies now. Probably a bit of both innate and learned. Education can help change from left column to right. Open-mind Liberals vs closed-mind Conservatives is one interpretation.Thinking of adding to my Universal Theology article.
  • Pre-science and scientific mentality
    I think the binary categorization of people itself runs against some of the values I would guess it is promoting. Specifically those on the right side of Xenophobia, Punishment and Knowledge.
    There's a difference between describing two types of people and a binary categorization which assumes every person belongs to one of the two types.

    Example: there are two types of people: those who like mangoes and those who don't. This is not binary as there are plenty of people who've never tasted a mango and therefore don't like or dislike it.
  • Pre-science and scientific mentality
    I'm more interested in the rows, the contrasts, than the column titles.
    With hindsight, I wish I had named the columns "Type 1" and "Type 2" so that more comments would have addressed the rows.
  • How Objective Morality Disproves An All-Good God
    I've generally held that theists have no objective basis for morality - all they can do is express personal preferences about what they think god wants. Ususally by subjectively cherry picking or interpreting scripture. Even within one religion morality is all over the place. Theists do not agree on morality.Tom Storm
    Quite true.

    The cost of freedom is evil.Agent Smith
    Are people in heaven free?
  • How Objective Morality Disproves An All-Good God
    I'd say that there are good arguments against the idea of moral realism and moral facts, but introducing God in this question just muddies the waters
    The OP concerns the claim that objective moral values prove Gods existence.
    So, God is part of the claim I'm addressing.
  • Pre-science and scientific mentality
    should there also be a "Post-Scientific" column representing an even more mature stage of development that some people already embrace?Pantagruel
    I don't know how to describe a post-scientific column. Do you have any ideas?
  • How Objective Morality Disproves An All-Good God
    We would still have the free-will to follow or ignore god's advice, so he can't use that as an excuse.Down The Rabbit Hole
    Correct. One of the Ten Commandments could have been "Thou Shalt Not Enslave."
    Or, thinking outside the box, there could have been eleven commandments.
  • Pre-science and scientific mentality
    Most of the rest though are not really science vs non-science,PhilosophyRunner
    I'm not 100% happy with the labels.
    Progressive vs traditional is good but I'd need to resist the temptation to make it progressive vs regressive.
  • Pre-science and scientific mentality
    Why call the christian side of your table "pre-science"?Banno
    I take science as we know it today as beginning about the time of Newton.
    Christianity originated before modern science.
  • Question about Free Will and Predestination
    My first thought is that in the real world, the sand never gets blown off the parking lot. We never really have to face convincing evidence that our behavior is strictly constrained. We can only speculate.T Clark
    Yes, the sand never gets blown away. We know what we did but were we free to do something else? I feel I was free, but that's not the same as knowing.
  • Question about Free Will and Predestination
    I disagree. I think the issue revolves around "know".

    I mean "know" with absolute certainty.

    In your example, you "know" with high probability but not with certainty. The person may have had a stroke and be insane and chose the knife. The person may be suffering from deep depression. The person may think his suffering will somehow pay for his sins and send him to heaven rather than hell. Etc.

    The question is: If it is KNOWN WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that you will have bacon and eggs tomorrow for breakfast, then tomorrow are you nonetheless free to choose corn flakes?

    Of course, it may be argued it is impossible to know the future with absolute certainty. But that's beside the point as this is a thought experiment and one premise is that is it possible.
  • Christianity’s Perpetual Support of War
    Surely the best account for this is that this is what happens when humans try to manufacture truth out of an old book that says a bunch of contradictory things.Tom Storm

    I'd say the best account is that people use the Bible to give themselves support for whatever they wish to believe. People will claim they are merely following the Bible when they, for example, kick their child out of their home for being gay or refusing to bake a wedding cake. But show them Matthew 5:33-36 where Jesus clearly says not to take oaths and it rolls off like water on a duck. They couldn't care less what the Bible says. They merely use it when convenient, when it serves their self-interest.
  • Christianity’s Perpetual Support of War
    It seems more likely that they are sincere and that the Bible is like a Rorschach test - people see whatever is in them in itTom Storm
    Of course, that's possible in some cases, especially if the person is naive and simply takes their preachers word as to what the bible says. But sincere belief is rare in my experience compared to self-serving belief.
  • Christianity’s Perpetual Support of War
    Christians have a long history of taking scripture out of context and deluding themselves into believing that it supports whatever self-serving belief they may have.ThinkOfOne

    Christians have a long history of taking scripture out of context and deluding themselves into believing that it supports using scripture to support whatever self-serving belief they may have.

    Context is the apologist's "get out of jail free" card, but they also use speaking figuratively and other devices.
  • Western Classical v Eastern Mystical
    Let’s consider the phrase “purpose of living.” A definition of purpose is “an object or end to be attained.” So, it seems asking “what is the purpose of living?” assumes there is something we lack, some goal, object, end to be attained by living.

    For example, some Christians believe that the purpose of living, the goal, is to get into heaven; salvation is what we lack, and it is life’s purpose to attain it, to get saved. Some people say life’s goal is to progress towards enlightenment; after many lives, many reincarnations, the ultimate goal of enlightenment is reach; a goal which may involve dissolving back into union with the One. Both types of people put life’s ultimate goal beyond this human life. Other people place life’s ultimate goal within this life: to learn, to grow, in Maslow’s hierarchy to become self-actualized.

    So, possible goals for living are to attain heaven, a better reincarnation, and self-actualization. Other goals are to find love, fame, wealth, etc. Some people say we should have a certain goal, salvation, for instance. Existentialists believe it is up to us to freely choose what goal(s) we want to pursue, to choose what purpose we want our life to be about.

    Some people are suspicious of an overarching life goal and advocate living in the moment (which, in itself, can be a life goal). “Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans,” said John Lennon. This may seem to say, “Don’t waste time on religious, pie-in-the-sky goals. Live for today.” “Image there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try.” begins Lennon’s song Imagine.

    Ironically, a religious/spiritual argument can be made for living in the moment, for mindfulness. God or ultimate reality, says the argument, exists for us only in the present because the past and future do not exist at this moment, on the present exists. When we remember the past or think about the future, we are in our own thoughts. But when we are in the present, in reality, we have the possibility of more intimate contact and experience of the Real. With this view, we lack nothing expect awareness of what already exists, of that in which we “live and move and have our being.”
  • If Death is the End (some thoughts)
    how do you explain the desire to kill one's enemies and the pleasure one experiences when/after doing so? If the dead go to heaven, why would anyone want to murder one's foe?Agent Smith
    I'd say that many people really don't believe in heaven and merely want to destroy someone they hate.
    But having never killed anyone, I don't speak from experience. :)
  • If Death is the End (some thoughts)
    Why do people cry when their near and dear ones die? It can't be because the deceased is going to a, ahem, "better place". Ergo ... either nothing or hell awaits us ... postmortem.Agent Smith
    I agree that many religious people have enough doubts about heaven that they fear dying.
    But your quote neglects the possibility that the crying is due to leaving loved ones, even if only for a while (i.e., reuniting in heaven)
  • Thought Detox
    Are we addicted to thought? Are we amateur “philosophers” steeping ourselves in excess?
    Therefore, is what is needed for better philosophy actually a fasting and detoxification of thought?
    This brings to my mind Sherlock Holmes who would sometimes turn to playing the violin. For what purpose? To put thinking aside, to still the mind? To allow the subconscious to process the question? Of course, Holmes is fictional but temporarily abstaining from discursive thought may have concrete benefits.
  • Universal Mind/Consciousness?
    T Clark: Yes, I think they are relevant, too. And then there's Plotinus and others.
  • The Mold Theory of Person Gods
    I like the metaphor of a god-mold, filled with locally-available god-stuff. Which historically, has been mostly based on personal experience with physical human people in political positions of near-absolute power. And, it seems to be a novel take on on old "god shaped hole in the heart" argument.Gnomon
    Yes, the OP can be taken as describing the origin of the "god shaped hole in the heart"
  • The Mold Theory of Person Gods
    I think a direct experience of transcendent phenomena is common, although obviously not universal. What does that mean? For me it is a sense that I belong in the universe. That we grew up together. That the world is a welcoming place. A sense of gratitude. I think that could be called a god, although not a personal one.T Clark
    The experiences may well be common. Do you have any idea how an experience of a non-person God could translate into accepting a religion with person Gods?
  • Jesus Christ: A Lunatic, Liar, or Lord? The Logic of Lewis's Trilemma
    I would like to know what people think of C.S. Lewis's argument for the divinity of Christ. I personally enjoy it but there are much better arguments in my opinion; Justin Martyr provided an argument steeped in the Logos.Dermot Griffin

    Lewis omits an obvious alternative: legend. Not necessarily that Jesus is entirely legend but that what has come down to us is mostly legend. Just as even if a man named Clark Kent once existed who was exceptionally strong and worked for a newspaper, Superman would still be a legend. The Romans may have executed someone named Jesus who preached. They may have executed 100 men named Jesus who preached. This alternative says it doesn't matter, the picture of Jesus in the gospels is mostly legend.

    P.S. Justin Martyr also wrote: "And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter." Justin lived from 100 to 165, and the quote is from chapter twenty-one of his First Apology.

    Jesus = the Roman "son of Jupiter" who became the figurehead of Rome's official religion?

    P.P.S. "Jesus" is a Roman name like Marcus, Brutus, etc. Hm.
  • The Mold Theory of Person Gods
    As noted earlier by myself and others, no evidence has been provided that this is really the way things work. It doesn't seem likely to me.T Clark
    The OP is my attempt to understand a phenomena I've witnessed many times. It contains the example of King David's census, but multiple similar examples could be given. The OP presents a thesis, a possible explanation, but doesn't not present a proof.

    Question: can you offer a better explanation?
  • Interested in mentoring a finitist?
    If you are experienced and trained in this area and would be up for helping me out through paid mentoring, please let me know.keystone
    There's an Australian mathematician, Norman Wildberger, on YouTube who doesn't accept infinities.
    Here's a link to one of his videos.
    Difficulties with real numbers as infinite decimals
    You might try contacting him.
  • Cracks in the Matrix
    In a nutshell, I'm wondering if anyone on the forum knows about instances of either psychic abilities and or paranormal where investigated which may have supported (or not supported) the claims that such things exists. While it is almost a given that the majority of such instance where merely tricks and/or something other than psychic abilities/paranormal, I believe it is at least plausible a very small fraction of them could be real.dclements
    I agree that it's plausible; we can't prove psychic/paranormal abilities are impossible. On the other hand, we've had centuries to uncover positive proof and what do we have so far? No much. So I'm skeptical.
  • The Mold Theory of Person Gods
    To argue, as Tillich and Hart seem to do, that God is being itself but not a being leads us where? For me the notion that God is not personal but 'the ground of all being' is where you end up when the mainstream 'fairytale' no longer has traction.Tom Storm

    I don't claim to know what Tillich or Hart have in mind, but "God is being itself but not a being" suggests to me that God, like the Hindu Brahman, is existence itself, the ultimate ground of all existent beings, not a "being" in the sense of a separate, individual entity.
  • The Mold Theory of Person Gods
    Overall I think to pillory the Bible for being taken as some kind of positivist text is too easy and for atheists, highlighting the absurdity of fundamentalist's beliefs and interpretations is also undemanding work. This is the shallow end of the pool. There is much more sophisticated theology by people like Paul Tillich or David Bentley Hart one could consider.Tom Storm

    I agree. But the “shallow end of the pool” is occupied by, let’s say, 100 million people whereas the Tillich and Hart end is occupied by, let’s say, 100,000 people (using arbitrary numbers to make a point). I’d say addressing the shallow end is worthwhile, especially because such people vote.