• Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    Such adaptive, purposive behavior cannot be entirely reduced to physical interactions because it involves a level of complexity and coordination that physical laws alone do not account for. That suggests that the principles governing biological systems include emergent properties and processes that arise from, but are not reducible to, their physical and chemical constituents.Wayfarer

    I have a question or two about this. By "reducible to" do you mean 'explainable in terms of' or 'has its origin in'? Do you count global or environmental conditions as physical interactions? Do you claim there is "something more" metaphysically speaking than the physical world with its global and local conditions and interactions? If you do want to claim that, then what could that "something more" be in your opinion?
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    Organisms not only react to stimuli but often do so in ways that are adaptive and goal-directed, suggesting a form of intentionality. This is seen in behaviors that enhance survival and reproduction, such as finding food, avoiding predators, and seeking mates.Wayfarer

    You're talking about "higher" organisms, and I've already agreed that some of those display purposive behavior. It seems to me you are stretching the meaning of intentional.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    How is it not clear? That every organism acts intentionally (although not with the conscious self-awareness that characterises higher organisms.)Wayfarer

    It's not clear because you won't proffer a clear definition of intentionality which is different than acting "with the conscious self-awareness that characterizes higher organisms". Yes, "lower" organisms obviously respond to their environments, but I don't see how that equates to intentional behavior.
    Just address that question or we will be unable to proceed.

    Other than nothing you've written above addresses any of the questions i posed to you, so I find nothing else there to respond to.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    I agree, but think there is another related connection between dialectic and wisdom. The art of making and evaluating opinion. In a word, the art of the enthymeme.

    In the thread on Aristotle's Metaphysics I argued that Aristotle's arguments are dialectical. He says:

    Thus it is clear that Wisdom is knowledge of certain principles and causes.


    Since we are investigating this kind of knowledge, we must consider what these causes and principles are whose knowledge is Wisdom.

    Do you think he is referring specifically to practical wisdom (phronesis) rather than some kind of metaphysical or transcendent wisdom. I'm not trying to imply anything about a correct answer to this question, as I'm not that much familiar with Aristotle's works.

    If Aristotle is wise can he teach us to be wise, to know the causes and principles? Now we all learn that Aristotle said there are four causes. It would be unwise to think that knowing this makes us wise. He does not teach us the causes and principles are whose knowledge is wisdom. He can, however, teach us to think dialectically about opinions and their claims and premises.Fooloso4

    I wonder whether Aristotle's wise man is a generic or universal wise man or whether he rather refers to those who are wise in various contexts or fields.

    It seems right to think that the important lesson from Aristotle would be to understand the dialectical mode of thinking rather than to hold any particular beliefs.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    The 'literal' question is as to whether evolution is directed and driven by an end goal or goals. If it would have this kind of purpose then the question becomes 'Whose purpose?" and of course the only intelligible answer would seem to be 'God's".
    — Janus

    But this illustrates the very point I was making. The way we have to see it is that it must be either psychological - in the mind - or then it's theistic - as the agency of God. I'm attempting to deconstruct the worldview which makes it seem that these are the only choices. I think (and MU agrees in the above) that 'intentionality' is manifest at every level of organic life, and that it is purposeful.

    First, what exactly do you mean by saying that intentionality is active at every level of organic life? Second, even if intentionality were "active at every level of organic life" in the way you mean it (presuming that you actually have a good grasp on what you mean by that), how could you test in a way that could demonstrate that? And even if you could demonstrate it, what significance could it have to how we should live our lives?

    I am not going to deny that intentionality is "active at every level of life", because I don't really even know what that could mean. I think I understand to some degree human and even some higher animal intentionality, and I can see how that understanding might help my own living self-cultivation, but I can't see how a belief like, for example, the intentionality of cells could be of any relevance to that cultivation, because I find no familiarity in the idea.

    And the final point I want to make is that even if we could know and show that there is an intentionality that we could understand as such at every level of life what could that demonstrate or prove about anything transcendent (which I think is where you are wanting to go with this. perhaps in order to justify some of your cherished personal beliefs)?

    Perhaps there was a good reason that Gotama refused to answer metaphysical questions; not just because he thought that such preoccupations would distract people from practice, but perhaps also because he realized that such question are inherently unanswerable. Surely if he could have given empirically demonstrable or somehow self-evident once heard, and hence convincing, propositional answers to such questions, then that would have settled the matter in his disciples' minds and then they could have got on with the important thing: practice, no longer distracted by the perplexity that being obsessed with such questions would create.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    Until I have read more into these issues, I will have nothing worthwhile to contribute (and maybe not even then). In the meantime, I'll continue to follow along with interest.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    I think this is tricky because some regard dialectic as a method of establishing the truth rather than as a search for the truth. My impression is that Platonists regard the search as something that has reached a successful conclusion. Socratic philosophy, including both Plato and Aristotle, is about being wise in the face of ignorance, keeping our ignorance alive rather than eliminating it.Fooloso4

    Is it a different sense of truth? It could be said that finding wisdom is finding truth, even though nothing in the propositional mode of truth might be possible to say about the wisdom that is found. Perhaps dialectic is a process of error elimination that enables the gaining of wisdom even if the wisdom gained is only to realize that one does not know what one thought one knew.

    This is where I distinguish between Plato and Platonism. Plato is a Socratic, Platonists are not.Fooloso4

    Right, Socrates seems far from being an ideologue or purveyor of doctrines.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    as our culture is individualist, we tend to conceive of purpose and intentionality in terms of something an agent does. Purposes are enacted by agents. This is why, if the idea of purpose as being something inherent in nature is posited, it tends to be seen in terms of God or gods, which is then associated with an outmoded religious or animistic way of thought. I think something like that is at the nub of many of the arguments about evolution, design and intentionality, and the arguments over whether the Universe is or is not animated by purpose.Wayfarer

    This is more of a psychological thesis than a philosophical treatment of the idea of purpose. Biologists may speak in terms of purpose in evolution, but they generally acknowledge this is a kind of metaphor. The 'literal' question is as to whether evolution is directed and driven by an end goal or goals. If it would have this kind of purpose then the question becomes 'Whose purpose?" and of course the only intelligible answer would seem to be 'God's".

    You say purpose and intentionality are conceived in terms of something an agent does. What is an alternative way of framing it? That's the question you haven't addressed. The arguments over whether or not the Universe is animated by purpose, just are the arguments over whether or not a God exists. What else could they be?

    As for the purpose of ‘nature as a whole’, I think that indeed frames the question in such a way that we could never discern an answer. We don’t know ‘the whole’, but only participate in and enact our roles and purposes within that larger context. But as Victor Frankl observed, those with the conviction that there is meaning and purpose in life generally do better than those without it. Call it faith, if you will, but I resist the facile claim that this amounts to ‘belief without evidence’.Wayfarer

    But the question just is about the purpose of nature as a whole. No one denies that humans and other animals have their purposes. And Frankl is indeed correct that those who find purpose in their lives do better than those who don't, but that says nothing about the existence or non-existence of purpose in nature as a whole. Some people need to believe in an overarching purpose in order to find purpose in their own lives, and others don't. Humans are diverse. I would say the most general purpose for humans would be to actualize, to realize, one's potential. Not everyone requires a "greater authority" in order to be concerned with the question of their own potential. Of course some do, and it is those who trun to religion. You agreed before that everyone does not need to think the same way.

    But this is why the question has assumed urgency in biology, in particular, as all living organisms obviously act purposefully. Of course, in physics, there is no question of purpose - it’s all action and reaction, describable according to mathematical laws. As that became a paradigm for knowledge generally, namely ‘physicalism’, then it was simply assumed that life itself was also purposeless, as physicalism assumes that physics is the master paradigm, of which organisms are but one instantiation. But this is just what is being challenged in this debate over whether and how organisms and evolutionary processes are purposeful.Wayfarer

    Yes,organisms act purposefully—I haven't denied that. It isn't assumed on account of physics that life is purposeless (in the overarching sense)—it is only in the life sciences that purposeful behavior is observed. It follows that there is no evidence of purpose outside the context of life, and there it is only the purposes of individuals and collectives of individuals (animal and human communities) which are manifest. I don't think your psychological explanation holds water. There is no debate within evolutionary biology about whether evolution is purposeful—such a question is outside the scope of science as it is a theological question.

    The other question I would ask is how such an unanswerable (if not coherently unaskable) question could have any bearing on the philosophical issues around the human situation and human potential.
    — Janus

    But this is exactly an instance of the kind of positivism that I keep saying you seem to advocate. Remember the exchange yesterday, about Wittgenstein’s complaint that modern culture seems to say that something either has a scientific solution, or no solution at all? Isn’t this what you’re implying? That if science can’t adjudicate the question, then there can’t be an answer to it?

    When you find you cannot counter what I say with rational argument you resort to framing me as one of your favorite bogeymen—as a positivist. How many times do I have to remind you that I don't think science is capable of answering anywhere near all the questions that are inherent in the human condition? Those questions have to be grappled with and answered, in their different ways, by individuals.

    The point is that there can be no one general definitive answer to such questions, and that whatever "answers" are found cannot be rigorously tested as scientific answers can ("answers" in inverted commas because the experiences in which the sense of encountering them are generally ineffable). The one general truth that comes out of creative and spiritual pursuits is that people are capable of transformative altered states of consciousness. This is amply and perhaps most vividly demonstrated by the use and study of psychedelics, but I think meditative practices, mystical experiences and the arts also show this human potential for experiential transformation.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    In fact, the question of purpose, whether it is real or whether it is just imputed, seems to me a philosophical question par excellence. The fact that it’s *not* a scientific question, and why it’s not, is also a very interesting question.Wayfarer

    The reality of human and animal purpose is not in question. The question as to whether nature itself exists to fulfill an overarching purpose ("overarching" because such a purpose would necessarily be beyond nature itself) seems to be an impossible question to frame coherently outside the context of the assumption of theism.

    Apart from the idea that there could be a designer who created nature for a purpose, what other possibility is there for an overall purpose for nature as a whole? If you are able to frame the question in another way, I would be happy to consider it.

    Science doesn't deal in anything which is either unobservable or has no observable effects, so I don't find it surprising that it is not a scientific question. If it cannot be coherently formulated as a question (outside the presumption of theism) then I can't see how it is a philosophical question either.

    The other question I would ask is how such an unanswerable (if not coherently unaskable) question could have any bearing on the philosophical issues around the human situation and human potential.

    and also to indicate that the question is a live issue and subject of debate, especially in biology.Wayfarer

    Now you seem to be contradicting yourself: saying that the question of purpose is "a live issue and subject of debate, especially in biology" while also saying it is not a scientific question.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    Would you say that Gerson's thesis is a tempest in a teapot regarding the limit of philosophy? Or is there something in his either/or that resonates with you?Paine

    I think the fact that thoughtful people all seek to live well, meaning that we all in that sense pursue the good and aim to be rationally self-governing rather than being slaves to our impulses, received opinions, addictions and so on, and that we thus participate in the dialectical search for the truth of the general human condition and of our own conditions in particular exemplifies what is best in Platonism.

    I am no scholar of Plato, but I have read with interest what you and @Fooloso4, as much closer readers of Plato than I am, are having to say about seeing Platonism as being less a matter of fixed doctrine than it is of searching for what is good and beautiful and true and flourishing engendering while acknowledging that there can be no definitive answers to those questions.

    I haven't read enough Gerson to form a clear opinion, but what I have read in the passages quoted in these forums make him look somewhat like a thinker with a predetermined agenda.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    That’s the question posed in the original post. I feel that article I linked at least addresses it.Wayfarer

    I'd prefer if you would speak for yourself rather than asking me to read linked articles. Otherwise, I'll be left guessing as to what your own thoughts are, and I really don't have the time for that.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    But doesn't it reduce it to a matter of opinion? The assumption of Greek philosophy, generally, was that reason, logos, animated the universe but was also the animating principle of the individual soul/psyche. Not that there's anything wrong with what you're saying - it's not meant as a personal criticism, but insofar as this is typically how us moderns view the world, in terms of our individual search for meaning.Wayfarer

    So, you think it would be better if everyone thought the same and all find the same meaning in, and purpose for, life? I don't see it that way—it's like aesthetics where I think there are real qualities, and real differences of quality, but as with altered states of consciousness, the truth as to which works are the best is impossible to determine definitively.

    The kind of knowing involved in the arts, just as with self-cultivation, is participatory, not propositional. And what really matters is that you find purpose and, meaning in your own life. This is not to say that there are not general principles—so it is still wrong, and not merely " a matter of opinion" if someone finds their purpose in being a serial killer, pedophile or rapist.

    I saw an account recently of the meaning of a teleological explanation: it is an explanation in terms of what something is for, rather than what conditions caused it. It doesn't sound like much, but really a lot hinges on that distinction.

    Humans design things for particular purposes and even some animals can do that, I don't see how it follows that leaves were designed for the purpose of photosynthesis, stomachs for digestion, teeth for processing food or killing prey, claws for digging or killing and so on

    For instance in Aristotle's fourfold causation, the final cause of a particular thing is its end goal or purpose. A mundane example is that the final cause of a match is fire, as the lighting of fires is the purpose of a match. But notice that in this case, the final cause comes after the striking of the match, being the reason for the existence of the match.

    Yes I have been long familiar with Aristotle's four types of causes. Final causes are certainly relevant to human life because things are designed with particular purposes in mind. I don't see any reason to think that is the case with nature, although the question is one of those imponderables which cannot be definitively answered. The idea would only make sense in a theistic context—if you were one of those who believe in a God who has a plan then of course final cause would make sese in the context of that belief or assumption.

    The efficient and material causes are the composition of the matchhead and the act of striking it. That is very much how science since the scientific revolution has tended to view causality: what causes something to happen, in terms of the antecedent combination of causes giving rise to an effect. Cause in the Aristotelian sense has largely been dropped. That's where a lot of the controversy about the so-called meaninglessness of the scientific worldview originates. It's also what is addressed in the Forbes Magazine article I linked above - and it's a bitter controversy, indeed, with a lot of heavyweights slugging it out. So trivial, it isn't.

    I see no place for formal or final cause in the context of science. Material cause just means the set of conditions and constraints that operate globally as distinct from efficient or proximal causes which consist in local actions generally thought to involve energetic interactions.

    Why should we project thinking in terms of formal and final causes beyond the human context? I'm not impressed by academic "heavy weights" but prefer to assess what they say on its own merits. I'm not impressed by arguments from authority, no matter who the purported authority might be.

    That said I don't weigh in subjects I am not at least competent in, but when it comes to metaphysics there are no real experts. I agree with Wittgenstein that philosophy is not a matter of theory, but of practice, not of explanation but of description and conceptual clarity—I say leave the theories to the scientists, since so-called theories which cannot be tested don't really qualify as theories at all in my book.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    I read that book many years ago but cannot recall much in the way of the impressions it left on me. I still have it on my shelves, so I may take a fresh look at it.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    I think naturalism is right, but I also think science forces upon us a very disillusioned “take” on reality. It forces us to say ‘No’ in response to many questions to which most everyone hopes the answers are ‘Yes.’ These are the questions about purpose in nature, the meaning of life, the grounds of morality, the significance of consciousness, the character of thought, the freedom of the will, the limits of human self-understanding, and the trajectory of human history.

    That precisely outlines what science cannot provide and certainly cannot be described as "Platonist." But the statement is not "anti-philosophical" because it recognizes we have questions beyond what science tries to answer

    My understanding is that human beings and other animals demonstrate purposiveness, but that science cannot show there to be any general or overarching purpose in nature. I don't see why a lack of overarching purpose and meaning should diminish the importance of general human and particular individual purpose and meaning.

    The question as to how best to live, or to put it in Platonist terms the search for the Good, concerns us, or at least should concern us, all. I think it's not a question of what we specifically believe, but how we practice, when it comes to the "questions beyond what science tries to answer".

    For example, in regard to the question of free will, I can be a full-blown determinist and still think it important for humans to be rationally self-governing.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    The first thing we find out is that the best way for us is not identical with the best way for me.unenlightened

    I agree, when it comes to considering the details. There would seem to be general principles as to what is most conducive to human flourishing and rational self-government, but since we are not only beings of a certain kind but are also each unique individuals, knowing what is best for me must also come from direct self-knowledge and insight as well as grasping general principles and practices.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    I don't believe I have ever said or even insinuated that science could replace everything else. If you think I have then you have somehow managed to misinterpret what I have said.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    But he did not oppose the practice of science, only the claim it replaced everything else.Paine

    The claim that science could replace "everything else" is so patently absurd that I could never understand why anyone would believe it or bother to expend any energy opposing it.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    :lol: :cool:


    I must respectfully disagree with the passage from Derrida, which I find to be 'nonsense on stilts.' Identity, or what things are, is a fundamental constituent of rational thought and cognition. Even the simplest animals must identify kinds and types to navigate their environments.Wayfarer

  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    It comes back to the issue of identity. Same kind is not identical kind.Joshs

    Kind is an abstraction from natural regularities, and as such is a fixed or static identity. Abstractions, like number, are static, although obviously their instantiations are not.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    Exactly. We invented the concept of ‘same kind’ in order to count, but same kind doesn’t exist in nature.Joshs

    Something must exist in nature that would support the judgement of 'kind' otherwise how would we have arrived at the idea? Animals generally associate with their own kinds, and for that matter 'animal' is a different kind than 'plant', and 'human' is a kind of animal. Then we have the biological and non-biological kinds of substances and even the different kinds of microphysical "particles".

    So, I am not convinced we are entitled to say that kind does not exist in nature, I think the evidence points rather to the conclusion that kind does exist in nature, on every level of being.
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    I happen to agree with you on that, but just to make sure we’re on the same page, do think that any of the following cognitive assessments can be rationally justified, and if so , which ones and on what rational basis?Joshs

    When I spoke of rational justification I was referring to "pure' rational justification, I think the examples you offered may be cases of practical rational justification. The difference is that practical rational justification does not issue from the nature of the thing as pure rational justification does, but from the nature of the effect the thing has, or the nature of the effect that holding the judgement has.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    Recognition does involve difference and similarity, but number requires the concept of identity , the repetition of the exact same.Joshs

    Kind and generality consist in identity. Each particular is unique, so there is no identicality of particulars. Things are counted as being of the same kind, so there is identicality of kind.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    I don't see the question you are asking— that is, simply put, "how is abstraction possible" as being capable of an answer. I tend to think that questions that cannot be answered are, discursively speaking, non-questions. however interesting or inspiring they may otherwise be.

    So, I agree with you that science cannot answer such a question, however I don't think there is any other way to answer it either (which is not to say there are not various ways to think about it).
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    Right. And it's a difference that makes a difference!Wayfarer

    Yes, I agree it most certainly is. There is no rational requirement to deny that what is real for humans in general is "really real" on the basis that we don't think it is real in itself. I'd go even further and say that what is experienced by any individual is what is most real for that individual and that what is experienced by all individuals is what is most real for humanity.

    Still doesn't mean 'number is invented'.Wayfarer

    I agree—recognition and thus the workability of cognition itself entails difference and similarity, which in turn entails diversity and kind and thus generalities and number.
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    No, I haven't pared down the concept of blame, but made a distinction between blame which can be rationally justified and blame which is merely affectively driven.

    I say that blame is not any more rationally justifiable in cases where harm is caused by humans than it is in cases where harm is caused by other animals or natural events.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    This perspective suggests that universals have a kind of reality that is both independent of individual human minds and intimately connected to the rational structure of the universe.Wayfarer

    I'd say universals are inherent to cognition because cognitively enabled organisms could not survive without re-cognition, which involves pattern discernment and of course memory. If any sentient being's umwelt was a play of unrelated and unrelatable particulars (James' "buzzing, blooming confusion") no orientation would be possible; the animal would not be able to recognize food, water, prey, predator, shelter, and so on.

    So, recognition is the seed of generality, of universals; an essential aspect of cognitive apprehension of anything. Symbolic language of course enables this implicit recognition to be explicitly elaborated into the conception of universals.
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    I disagree with everything you've written there, or at least find it all irrelevant to the question. I remain convinced that whether determinism or indeterminism is the case, that there is no sui generis will and that therefore no one is, in any purely rationally defensible sense, blameworthy or praiseworthy for their actions. Of course, people will continue to praise and blame if they cannot refrain from, or see no reason to refrain from, doing so.

    On the other hand, it seems obvious to me that some individuals can deliberately cultivate their freedom from culturally acquired and genetically determined compulsions, but whether or not a particular individual is capable of this and the degree to which they are capable of it is down to what they are constitutionally equipped to be capable of. Blame is not pragmatically necessary but of course restraint is necessary in cases where individuals are a threat to others.
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    I disagree; blame is attendant upon the idea that the person really could have done otherwise; it is based on a libertarian notion of free will which is entrenched in the western psyche. Perhaps it is inextricably linked to the libertarian notions of intent and responsibility, but those are not the only conceptions of intent and responsibility.
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    Perhaps we are talking at cross-purposes. Of course, as I already acknowledged, for perhaps most people intent and responsibility may be inextricably linked, by mere affect, to blame (and praise). My point was that there is no indissoluble logical or rational connection between intent, responsibility and blame.

    For example, the man-eating tiger intends to kill; do we blame her? She is certainly responsible for the killing, but do we hold her morally responsible? Of course, some people, so enraged by their loss may even seeks revenge on the tiger, but this would not be rationally driven.
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    But are concepts like murder, hate, deceit, exploitation, cowardice, cruelty and evil at all intelligible without the implication of blame? We only blame persons for actions that they performed deliberately, with intent. Is it possible to be an accidental, unintentional murderer, coward, deceiver or hater?Joshs

    Of course they are intelligible without the implication of blame. We can say as Jesus reportedly did: "forgive them for they know not what they do". The idea of intent and responsibility may be inherent to those ideas, but the imputation of intent and responsibility is not indissolubly linked with the idea of deserving blame.

    This is not to say that the great majority of people do not think in terms of blame and the concomitant terms of punishment and vengeance, but perhaps the great majority have not thought deeply enough about the connection of intent and responsibility with blame.
  • Concept of no-self in Buddhism
    It seems to be "stuff-ing" all the way down, but then that's the nature of thought I guess. Maybe it's really "nuff-ing" all the way down, and really no way down to boot.

    To be serious, though, I think the realest things in human life are those things that are universally valued; love, freedom. knowledge, wisdom, creativity...
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'

    I think Kafka gave this some thought. In his Reflections, [a collection of aphorisms]. this one is an affirmation through negation of a sort:

    There are questions which we could never get over if we were not delivered from them by the operation of nature.
    — Kafka, Reflections, 54

    Right, it is not productive, healthy or even tenable to focus too exclusively on the obvious plethora of evils that seem to be an integral (or dis-integral) part of human life.

    But perhaps the true antipode to the gnostics is Walt Whitman:

    These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands.
    they are not original with me,
    If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or
    next to nothing,
    If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they
    are nothing,
    If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.
    This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the
    water is,
    This is the common air that bathes the globe.
    — Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 17

    Nice! Whitman is one of my favorite poets and is also a fitting "antipode" to postmodern relativism. Some see modernism as the elimination of all but subjective values and postmodernism as the radical relativization of all value.
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    I assume you mean the almost universal agreement concerns when to assign blame and culpability?Joshs

    No, not addressing the question of blame. but rather of value and disvalue. Love is generally preferred over hate, courage over cowardice, selflessness over selfishness, kindness over cruelty, help over harm and so on. Murder, rape, torture, theft, deceit, exploitation and the like are universally (perhaps sociopaths excepted) condemned as being evil acts. As far as I can tell these facts about people are the only viable basis for moral realism, not some imagined transcendent "object" or whatever.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    Thanks, I'll have a look. I hadn't thought of the Gnostics considering matter as such to be evil, but rather the forms it takes and their activities in this world.

    From the Wiki article:

    Plotinus, at least in his texts against the Gnostics, portrayed God as a separate entity that human souls needed to go towards, whereas Gnostics believed that in every human soul there was a divine spark of God already. However, Gnostics did not disagree with the neoplatonist notion of getting closer to the source.

    This it seems. if true, would place the Gnostics closer to Plato than Plotinus would be. As far as I understand the Gnostics did not believe that God is the source of this world, and nor, on the other hand, did they believe that the Demiurge was the source of matter, but was rather a "craftsmen god" (as Plato's Timaeus tells it) who shaped the world out of pre-existent chaotic matter. The difference being that the Gnostics did not think the Demiurge, or the resultant world, is in accordance with the Good, as Plato apparently did.
  • Concept of no-self in Buddhism
    Fair enough but I have settled upon the belief that the "stuff" of minding is neither the stuff of the body (as in organic matter) nor even of its nature or being.ENOAH

    Now, I would say there's no "stuff" of mind or minding, because it is an activity, and as such is merely conceptual unless it is equated with brain processes. That said, there is a sense in which the same could be said not only of mental, but also physical processes, and also of all entities whatsoever, including the body, since this is all notional.

    I'm pressed for time right now but intend to return to address some of your other thoughts.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    Cheers, whenever you find both the time and inclination...
  • A Case for Moral Anti-realism
    That it is easier to reach agreement in physics than in ethics is not an argument for ethical statements not having a truth value.Banno

    It seems that there is almost universal agreement about the most serious ethical issues. Physics on the other hand is rife with disagreement (regarding its metaphysical implications at least) and is in any case accessible only to the very few (which doesn't stop the many from pontificating about its purported metaphysical implications).
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    I tender Plotinus' objections to the Gnostics as evidence for this view. The conflict between views of a natural good and a flawed creation concern the expectations of the future, for all who live.Paine

    This is a very interesting comment. I've recently been reading Cormac McCarthy's works and a book, A Bloody and Barbarous God the Metaphysics of Cormac McCarthy by Petra Mundik, which aligns McCarthy's philosophy with the Gnostics, with the idea that this world was created by a flawed deity. It does seem that the natural human demand for Justice and search for the Good cannot be realized, or at least not comprehensively, on a societal scale.

    Although this inability to realize the Good seems apparent I'm reluctant to admit it, because it seems defeatist, and I think this might be what you allude to when you say

    concern the expectations of the future, for all who live.Paine

    Do you have a ready reference for Plotinus' objection to the Gnostic vision? If so, I would be interested to look at it.
  • Concept of no-self in Buddhism
    The body is a being in itself. The body feels, senses, has drives, explores, bonds, and acts in present aware-ing of these and the world around it. We can understand all of that fairly well enough. But the intuition which has puzzled philosophy for millennia (not necessarily always expressed in the same way) is never mind all that; how does this lump of flesh "do," in your words, "experiencing/thinking/aspiring/acting"?ENOAH

    Right, the living, aware body is minding, so mind is more of a verb than a noun, an activity rather than an entity. I think the question as to how a "lump of flesh" could do all this is the wrong question and will be endlessly misleading. We simply cannot understand how processes we conceive of as being mechanical could give rise to a mind that reasons and values, and I think this is not simply because we have not found such an explanation, but because such an explanation is impossible insofar as its realization would demand the unifying of categories of understanding which are inherently incompatible.

    Hence (and I'm being presumptuous as hell) your two-fold intuition, both-folds being "right". First, your intuition that when your talking about your real being, you know (in spite of millennia of chatter) it's the body which moves, feels and senses that you're talking about. Second, your intuition that the "experiencing/thinking/aspiring/acting" is not the body itself but is being generated by and in mind. The latter seems like it's doing its own thing, yet the body is real. Thus, ultimately, you turn to "mindbody."ENOAH

    There is no problem with presumption in my view as it is necessary to get the engine of thought moving. I agree that it is the body which moves, feel and senses and that the experiencing/ thinking/ aspiring/ acting processes are not the body itself, but I have no problem with thinking that these are bodily activities generated by the body itself, and the first three we refer to as activities of the mind, but we could just as well, or better refer to them as minding, itself conceived as the central activity of the living body. So, I say 'bodymind' to indicate that I don't believe the mind(ing) is an illusion just on account of its not being a physical object. I find the idea that only physical objects exist absurd simply because objects have no existence in isolation; they are relational and are themselves congeries (although don't take this term to suggest disorder) of processes which are in turn themselves not physical objects, but the activities of such.

    But I think your intuitions (presumably) are right. These goings-on of experiencing/thinking/aspiring/acting (oh, and I'd delete "acting" which is plainly the body; unless you really mean, choosing) are just the stories generated by mind. They are not really happening as mind "depicts" them. Body is affected; but just as body is affected by a sad movie. Images trigger feeling, drives, action.ENOAH

    You are right, acting is most obviously an activity of the body. You say they are stories generated by the mind, but I have no problem with saying they are stories generated by the body, they are also part of the activity of the body. You say they are not really happening as mind "depicts" them, and I would agree insofar as mind's depictions are inherently and inevitably dualistic, whereas I think we have good reason to believe ( dulaistically :wink: ) that there is nothing dualistic about the body and its activities, or about anything else for that matter. I can anticipate an objection to that last statement that says that since human judgment and narrative is inherently and inevitably dualistic that all those mental activities of the body are also dualistic, and that therefore the dualistic nature of those activities being real in human experience, must be an aspect of reality. I don't know how to answer this other than to say that I think this is merely a "seeming" and not a reality, but then this could devolve to being a merely terminological issue, throwing into question what we mean by 'reality'.

    As you say this dualistic 'seeming' "provides a function".

    "I" displace the body in Mind's projections; but the body remains present and real. Though body is attuned to its representation as "I/Me" it never ceases being (body). And from there--from present being; not becoming--there is no self. Not only is there no self; but [for many Buddhists] no Mind.ENOAH

    Yes, we talk about "having bodies" rather than being bodies, and this is again an example of the dualistic nature of our conceptions. In Cartesian fashion the elusive "I" has a body, and it is ultimately more real than the body!

    I'm intrigued by the idea that there are Buddhists who deny the reality of the mind; I haven't encountered anything like that. That said, Buddhism, although I have been peripherally interested in it for many years and have studied it formally to some degree, is not one of my central interests.