Are we born atheists?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by aaqucnaona, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    You'll need to show that.

    When a group of atheist / non-religious philosophers discusses the problem of causal interaction, where do you think they got their topic from?
     
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  3. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    I circled a fictional Pixie in a graphical representation of a brain cell, and referenced an attack a philosopher once made on a scientific theory of consciousness in a way that was clearly tongue-in-cheek, followed by an exclamation that my suspicions concerning the existence of said fictional Pixies and their covert operations inside the human brain had been founded all along. Clearly humour (or at least attempted humour, anyway). And then someone comes a long and interprets it all as an attack on religious claims about the nature of consciousness. How is that not a display of some particular sensitivity?

    It was more of a deduction than a projection, although I will admit that the slight amount of irritation I felt at not being able to make a simple joke that wasn't inherently controversial without someone turning it into a religious debate no doubt crept into the shaping of my response somewhat.

    I agree that the nature of consciousness remains elusive, and that Penrose et al don't really appear to have solved the mystery, sure. But that wasn't what I set out to discuss. In fact I didn't really set out to discuss anything.
     
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  5. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Dualism (philosophy of mind)


    Sometimes they 'get their topic' merely from a consideration of the apparent unphysical nature of consciousness.
     
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  7. Devils avocado Registered Member

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    This was addressed by psychologist Paul Vitz in his Faith of the Fatherless.
     
  8. Devils avocado Registered Member

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    Can you give an example of anyone who was born an atheist, any more than being born, for example, a Christian? A person must be baptized into the Christian faith, not born into it. A person learns from others the concept of God, as well as the concept of no-god, it is not something present at birth.
     
  9. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    lightgigantic

    It was the Industrial Revolution that eliminated the need for slavery, a system that existed in one form or another(as my referenced post showed)until the 20s in the US. And your math skills really suck, one hundred years from 1865 is 1965, not 1910. The tractors used prior to WW1 were moved from one farm to another much like combines are used today. Where the individual farmer could not afford one, he could afford to hire them for plowing and harvesting on an as needed basis, hiring the travelling tractors when they came to their area(the formation of farming co-ops during this era had much to do with coordinating the communal hiring of these tractors). The economic failure of early tractors for individual farmer's use had nothing to do with the use of tractors in the fields. It's like claiming there was no form of powered transportation available for travelers until the Model T became an economic success, ignoring the cars, busses, trains, cable cars and steamships(all of which were uneconomical for almost all individual travelers)that existed more than half a century before that.

    Your whole "one hundred years" BS is just a big pile, you are absolutely full of it. There was exactly ZERO years between slavery and the start of mechanized farming, with several decades of overlap when both existed after 1865(or, in Tennessee's case, nearly exactly one hundred years).

    But the Industrial Revolution was well underway by 1800 and agriculture was changing long before the tractor replaced horses and cattle(which have huge infrastructure costs that tractors don't). Slavery hung on in the South mainly because the South concentrated on cash crops like cotton, hemp and tobacco which were labor intensive, their economic model required slavery or virtual slavery to make a profit for the plantation owners. But even with cotton, the Cotton Gin of Eli Whitney cut labor needs almost in half, ditto the hemp break, bottom plow, McCormack's Reaper and Thresher. The cotton gin allowed a switch from "long" cotton varieties(easy to seperate but low yeild per acre)to scruffier but higher yeilding "short" cotton varieties, increasing yeild per acre by almost three times, the hemp break(often water powered)reduced a month or more of back breaking labor by all hands to a few days of labor by a small crew. Harvesters cleared an acre of wheat or hay in an afternoon even if it was pulled by horse, instead of requiring many man hours of labor, replacing the horses with a steam tractor just meant that the hay being harvested wasn't required to feed the horses and could instead feed a money making herd of beef.

    Grumpy

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  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    There is an "apparent unphysical nature of consciousness"?

    Viewed from what perspective does that appear so?
     
  11. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    lightgigantic



    Whether you call them slaves, tennant farmers, peons, peasants or whatever, the need for plentiful, cheap labor just to keep a civilization from starving was universal before the mechanization of agriculture during the Industrial Revolution that flowed out of the Enlightenment. The history you base your view on was written by the froth on the deep pool of humanity from their priviledged position in the sun. The vast majority of that humanity, whatever they were called, were slaves to that priviledged class and to the necessity of feeding themselves. Or do you think tithes and taxes were voluntary? Or that starving to death isn't possible(and, in those times, common)? Who owned the land and everything on it? Who had a goon squad to ensure compliance?

    Whose statement looks idiotic now?

    Grumpy

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  12. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Do you really, honestly, not see the difficulty in trying to reconcile the existence of the inner dimension of experience with physicalism?

    Even if you don't (which I sincerely doubt), the problem certainly does exist.
     
  13. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    Are we born christians, muslims, hindus, agnostics, etc... ?


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  14. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I cited a similar map in another thread. It goes a long way to showing that our faith is to a large extent determined by where we're from, and shows any argument that one is a follower of the "true" faith to be of no other basis than being the one they happen to already believe.
     
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Richard Dawkins doesn't seem to have any such difficulty, for example.
    Everything can be explained via genes, and if you have any difficulty with that, well, that's just your genes, no higher power, no inner dimension, nothing of that sort. We're insignificant in the Universe, remember?

    There are several posters here who, quite vocally, also don't have any such difficulty with the mind-body dualism, and who express that those who do have such difficulty, are simply mistaken.
    According to them, the only thing that is hard about the problem of consciousness is the hard pride of those who refuse to accept that we are merely biochemical machines.


    Problems don't exist on their own somehow.
    It is only a person who can have a problem.

    So it's down to how come that some people have a problem with the mind-body dualism etc.


    (As I am not much of a holder of views, my problems are of a different nature.)
     
  16. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    You're wrong about that. On the topic of consciousness, Dawkins has said:

    "it clearly has something to do with brains, and it's something that emerges from brains. When brains get sufficiently big, presumably, as human brains have, consciousness seems to emerge. As to what it is, that's a philosophically very difficult question, which biologists are no more equipped to deal with than anybody else."

    A lot of those people probably believe that consciousness can, in principle, be accounted for in naturalistic terms. But I doubt that you'd find many who believe that it already has been, therefore it follows that there is still a recognition of the fact that it remains something of a mystery.
     
  17. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Rav, is to account for changes in consciousness dependent on the structural health of the brain the same as ascribing a naturalistic explanation for consciousness? What I mean is, since we know that an injury to the brain can cause a person to forget names, the names of places, how to do simple math, or even dramatically change their personality (presumably the thing that makes you "You") depending on where the injury occurs, do we then know that consciousness is a byproduct of the brain? Or is this an entirely different issue than what you're discussing now?
     
  18. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    already not only explained but provided evidence that, at least as far as agriculture is concerned, it wasn't thoroughly mechanized (ie draft horses and the like made totally obsolete) until post ww2 - almost 100 years after the abolition of slavery.

    What do you think they were doing during that time?
    Letting fields run fallow while waiting for tractor technology to become more practical and economical?

    your reading skills must really suck.

    Already explained how tractor manufacture was an economic failure until post WW1

    You boof head.

    the economic failure was for the tractor manufacturers

    Meanwhile we are looking at agriculture ... which didn't really begin to even show the signs of becoming largely dependent on industry until well past the 1930's ...

    I don't see what any of this has to do with your ideas that the first prototypes for tractors in the late 1800's/early 1900's suddenly and instantaneously replaced agricultural labour that was traditionally performed in a non-mechanistic manner.

    Although one can't help but notice how you don't address any of the links that explain precisely why this isn't the case.

    I guess you are just up to your usual tricks

    :shrug:

    History speaks plainly and vividly of agriculture having no essential need for either slaves or machinery.
    And why speak of history .... Jeez you could even go down to your nearest organic community farm and see for yourself

    :shrug:
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  19. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Wow. I stumbled into this conversation when there was a superposition of two dialogues: consciousness and tractors. That may be a first. I'm just going to kick back and let 'er rip.
     
  20. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    At this point wynn and I are engaged in a discussion about whether or not a consideration of a particular religious ontology is the only time that the problem of casual interaction legitimately crops up. I am arguing that consciousness is an ostensibly mysterious enough phenomenon, all by itself, to ensure that the interaction problem is certain to crop up in discussions about what it (consciousness) is, even in the absence of any religious considerations.

    But what you're talking about certainly seems related to the last point I made in my previous post. The fact that so much evidence (such as that which you've mentioned) points towards consciousness being inextricably linked to it's physical substrate is what makes some people bold enough to declare that it must be a naturalistic phenomenon. But that still leaves room for the possibility that while consciousness is dependent upon it's physical substrate, it may be an emergent phenomenon that is not reducible to that physical substrate. If this is so, then how do we observe it? How do we measure it? How do we qualify it? If we can't do any of those things, can we ever really say we have a naturalistic explanation for it? I don't know. I guess it depends on what you mean by naturalistic explanation.

    If, on the other hand, consciousness is reducible to it's physical substrate, then I don't see how that can mean anything other than the discovery of new fundamental properties of matter. The 'seeds' of qualia, so to speak. This is the idea that I favour, not that I necessarily really know what the fuck I am talking about though. All I really know is that I do in fact like to talk about such things. But even if there is some truth to such speculations, I still don't think that we would have a naturalistic explanation until we could actually detect these new properties somehow, however indirectly.

    There are of course other perspectives on this issue, but I'm too tired to crap on anymore. I hope the opinions I have shared on the matter can at least serve to stimulate some further discussion

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  21. Balerion Banned Banned

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    So you're not even going to attempt to marry the two?
     
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Wynn's an odd duck. She likes to attribute everything in modern society to religion, but climbs out of the nearest window when, as demonstrated above, that one's religious belief can be predicted to a great degree of accuracy with no other information than where the person was born. The combination of these two phenomena leads me to believe that Wynn is more interested in attributing a correctness to religious belief than having an actual discussion; this is why she won't follow you down this path of religion-free causal discussions, because it does not interest her. All that interests her is the idea that those discussions originated in religious ontology.

    Her purpose here is to paint a picture of religion "being on to something," and of modern society as merely an obfuscation of the truths we were much closer to in antiquity. For this purpose, I try to avoid discussions with her. She's proselytizing in her own, subtle way. Did you notice that she called herself "not a holder of view" earlier?

    What other alternative is there? A supernatural explanation? In this sense, I think you and Wynn are talking about different problems; while secular philosophers are looking for ways--not necessarily naturalistic ones, but again, what else is there?--to explain consciousness, religious ontological discussions are looking for ways to explain how the apparent gap between the material and the immaterial proves the existence of God.

    At any rate, neuroscience is still in it's infancy. In time I'm sure it will tell us what we want to know--or at least tell us if it's possible to know, which it may very well not be.

    I think this is true, but if there can be no naturalistic explanation, does this mean that there can be another kind?
     
  23. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

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    @Rav: My take: Consciouness is a natural phenomenon. Any other conclusion flies in the face of anything that is verifiable. Is consciousness present within the synapses and molecules of the mind, in the atoms, or maybe even patternations held down at a quantum level, interacting with quantum-genetical structures? Who knows. Only once we can simulate/emulate the human brain's macro functioning will we truly know whether we have got to the source. If consciousness is deeper it could take centuries more to get down to the truth. I would presciently assert that the macro can explain consciousness, but possibly not the chaos/quantum elements of it. How much the functioning of the mind is impinged by quantum or smaller processes, and therefore reliant on them, will be knowledge that is truly enlightening.

    Will we be able to look deep enough is the real worry . . ?
     

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