For the Skeptics

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by doobers, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. doobers Registered Member

    First post. Here goes nothin.

    I'm amazed at the amount of skeptics here. I ask this question: is it possible to give reasons that we shouldn't put trust in reason?

    Reason is the ONLY thing we have as a means to knowledge and it is even more clear that reason is primarily responsible for being conscious. I'm talking human consciousness here people, not making any claim about existence of non-rational consciousness. Without reason we wouldn't be even close to human, period, is what I am saying.

    I'd also like to ask what people think intuition is? ESP? Many of you probably view intuition as ESP since it doesn't seem like you've done much philosophy. Clearly it is unconscious reason. Of course intuitions are largely false due to improper reasoning, but the point is that there is a rational foundation for intuitive judgements. The zombie in our minds does the reasoning work for intuition just as it drives the car most of the time.

    Thoughts welcome.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Panjabster Registered Member

    Most people already use reason: applying algorithms that produce the results we want. I know that if I were to push the words "hello" on my keyboard, it will result in the screen showing the words 'hello," therefore I will always push these same keys when i want to say hello to someone. everyone uses reason.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    I would agree with most of that. And intuition is nothing more than a guess based of previously learned knowledge, some of which is nearly forgotten. ESP, since it's nothing but a fallacy, has nothing to do with intuition or anything else beyond self-delusion.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Panjabster Registered Member

    So like dis: lets say you got an Amaeba. Okey, now, let's say a human wants to talk to it. But, the amaeba ain't got the senses that can pick up on the communication methods humans use, not the brain to even process the input and be aware of it. So then, what if some super-aliens or "gods" in space have no way to communicate with humans. well, actually, the aliens should be smart enough to stimulate our senses in meaningful ways. but, what if they don't care to stimulate us, and we then lack the senses to detect them.
  8. doobers Registered Member

    I am confused. That sounded like Ali G.

    And as far as everyone using reason, which Ali G made clear in his first post - that was kind of my point. But I addressed it to the skeptics that question the reliability of reason when they lack an alternative way of knowing things. And especially those that give me reasons why reasoning is deceiving. How clever.

    And of course we shouldn't be dogmatic about science and other facts but keeping an open mind does not mean anything is worth investigating. Keeping an open mind is just considering other hypotheses to put to the test of reason. And we should make those hypotheses rationally as well.

    This really boils down to the current state of philosophy of science. On one hand you have theories being outdated and thrown out. So how can we know when we are right the skeptics ask. Well there is a big difference between saying we know the right answers and saying we know the best answers. Clearly reason is the path to the best answers we are ever going to find.
    And the practical advancements as a result of science seem to support this. Thus, if nothing more, science is the best(maybe only?) and most practical way of learning.
  9. Panjabster Registered Member

    science is practical, but not totally, for science has yet to fill man's desire for religious contentment, a feeling of eternal security. science tells man the truth, that once you die, you are eternally f**ked. it's scary for most. so religion is invented to keep mankind emotionally sane and functional. man needs religion to give him a purpose to struggle for existence.
  10. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    I agree with your idea of intuition as unconscious reason, but I don't agree that it is usually wrong. Quite the contrary. I'd say it's usually correct.

    The concious mind is like the RAM in a computer. It's much weaker than the main computer. Have you ever heard that your first impression is usually correct? It's true. Your unconcious mind makes an instant assessment of whatever, then your concious mind comes in and convinces you that you're wrong.

    I see it all the time when patients read the eye chart. They'll say, T, no wait, F (of course it's T), Then Z er um no it's 2 (wrong again!). On they go, substituting incorrect answers for correct ones as they go.

    While I was in college I took note of all the answers I changed on a few tests I took. 99% of the time, my original answer was correct. After that, I stopped changing them and did much better.

    My wife is very intuitive. She'll instantly see the answer to a math problem while I'm reasoning my way thru it. And she's usually right. She, of course, always had trouble with teachers who demanded you "show your work".
  11. doobers Registered Member

    Panjabster :

    I am sorry that you live a tortured life. Have you ever considered the fact that the truth is more comforting than faith? Personally the fact of knowing there is no afterlife and accepting that idea should fill those gaps you have in your life.

    And the claim that religion is necessary to keep man sane? Amusing. Quite the contrary.

    Once again I am sorry that you are avoiding the truth and wishing and hoping for what you want rather than taking life for what it is. When your brain ceases to function, you die. Period. Modern neuroscience is taking over philosophy of consciousness and the self. It is pretty clear that the self is not one thing but the result of many faculties that we call our brain.


    You are correct to an extent. Yes in trivial situations that we have experienced countless times intuition works for the most part. I don't deny this. I was kind of suggesting that intuition is largely wrong in deep philosophical matters.

    Many skeptics will argue that reason cannot give us knowledge of deep truths. They then claim that they know truth through intuition. I think it is clear that while intuition IS reason, when it comes to big questions we have largely been wrong.

    Such as in the case of dualism - it seems quite clear there is a soul - but we know there isn't. The case of the world being flat - intuitively it makes great sense. The sun rotating around the earth - intuitively wrong again.
  12. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    "Believe nothing", as if you believe in something you'll stop asking the right (critical) questions. With no critique someones mislead belief, even indisputably false will still be presumed true and potentially add to belief's of other people without any testing.
  13. doobers Registered Member

    Kind of confused. Not sure if you are suggesting not to ever take anything as true? Pure skepticism? That is impossible. And in order to make progress in science we must assume some things to be true.

    That is the whole idea of novel discoveries in science. By assuming things to be true we end up with great results and evidence in favor of completely new truths derived from the assumed truth.

    This also gives a lot of support towards some sense of scientific realism - our assumptions yield new truths - thus suggesting that we are discovering something real and true in the world.
  14. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    'Assuming truth' is in essence 'theory'.
    'Absoluting truth' is Non-practitionary science. In essence science is a practice, therefore there is no absolute truth for those practicing it.
  15. Misanthropist Registered Member

    I believe you have misunderstood the Indian: he seems to be saying that just like how Windows XP has various system modules where if one is missing, the whole system becomes unstable, a human brain has various modules as well that work in harmony. One of these modules is the religion/irrationality/spirituality brain module. Evolution selected for this module because it provided an impetus for humans to fight hard in the struggle for reproductive success. Religion gave humans motivation and purpose to reproduce and care for your youngs, and to be willing to struggle in harsh environments to grow and collect food to feed your family, and the willingness to fight in wars and die to ensure the reproductive success of your children and your tribe.

    On the other hand, existential genes were weeded out because people who believe there is no purpose to life hardly reproduce to pass on their existential genes. Atheists have below replacement levels of offspring, while highly religlious people like Mormons and Orthodox Jews have multiple offspring because they believe it's their religious duty to do so.

    So, the issue is not whether deities really exist or not, but rather the fact that most humans have innate mental programmings that predispose them towards supernatural thinking, see
  16. doobers Registered Member


    I said that you have to assume absolute truth while practicing normal science. And that when we do assume that we have found absolute truth, we develop science out of that assumption that leads to novel discoveries which supports approximate truth. And of course science can never be sure it has found absolute truth and it doesn't aim at that. Science aims at approximate truth and the success of science vindicates the fact that we have discovered some approximate truth.

    First of all, a genetic basis for theism/spirituality has no impact on the truth of the claims. But I'm not sure if you're making that claim.

    And I would even suggest that humans will to live and reproduce is fear of the unknown - and that doesn't mean we continued to live because we thought there was a greater purpose after this life. It means that we don't want to die because we don't know what happens after.

    Now we know. The computer shuts down and we don't exist. No need for religion.
  17. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Intuition, like any other form of reason, is not always correct. Intuition is generally good, as you said, in familiar situations.

    But let's not forget how many times revelations have come to people in a dream, or just popped into your head. Where do you think those ideas come from? Your unconcious mind is mulling over problems while the concious mind is doing something else.

    I'd say the unconcious, your intuition if you will, is correct at least as often as your concious mind.
  18. Misanthropist Registered Member

    I disagree. I believe that science discovers perceived truths, not absolute truth. I believe no one can know absolute truth in an absolute sense. To say so would be to claim that human brains, or at least the brains with the highest IQs, have the physical characteristics, along with the senses, to discover and perceive everything that is out there. But there may be things that are out there that we cannot detect or mentally process. I use examples as the Simulation Hypothesis that for all we know, our world could just be a simulation and we would never know it. Or consider the "Brain in a Vat" analogy where if a brain was given stimuli that was exactly identical to a brain in the real world that is using its own senses to perceive the world. The brain in a vat would not know the difference.

    As such, I argue that scientific truth as we know it is simply percieved practical truth that we perceive as working, but it's not proof of absolute truth.

    I am not making that claim.

    If you accept the theory of human evolution, you acknowledge that human traits that go into fixation do so because they are very reproductively advantageous. Religion has existed in all parts of the world and in all chronological times. Race, ethnicity, or culture has had no affect on religion: it has always been there. This indicates a strong innate predisposition to religion.

    So, to say that we now have no need for religion, you are whimsically saying that humans can easily just do away with a deeply ingrained innate behavior. It would be like saying humans can simply flip some switch and do away with sexual desire, or fear, anger, shame/embarassment, and other fixated human behaviors that has taken evolutionary root thousands or millions of years ago.

    You need to put a lot more thought into your suggestion. To do away with religion, you are talking about completely genetically redesigning the human species to compensate for a sudden complete vanishment of religion, a pillar of every society since the first Homo Sapien.

    If it was that easy, it would have worked by now: we would all be atheists. Only a tiny percent of people, generally the brightest and most educated ones can overcome their instincts and give up on religion. But the bulk of humans-the common folk-cannot. You can spend years reciting all the scientific evidence debunking religion to the common folk, and they will simply say that religion lies outside of science: it does not have to be proved: it is just so. The common folk cannot overcome their religion brain module. It would be as difficult as it would be to suppress sexual desire, or shame (walking naked in public), or anger (imagine if all 100 million American Neo-Cons suddenly decided to give up on anger/hate, as if it were as easiy as deciding to give up on green grapes and choose red grapes instead).

    Again, I suggest learning about Evolutionary Psychology from the Human Behavior and Evolution Society at
  19. doobers Registered Member

    First of all, I agreed with the absolute thing and I said we discover approximate truth. You came up with the term 'perceived' truth as if I hadn't mentioned that(approximate). That is what I mean by approximate - all we can do is accept it as true for now.

    And also I said that the fact that we can develop a theory that works and from that we get new theories that also work purely independent of the original. These are called novel theories. If we weren't even close to right with our original theory, no novel ones would follow. That shows that we are at least discovering approximate truth and in some sense getting closer to reality. Doesn't mean we will ever know the absolute truths but we are making progress.

    Second of all, I am always intrigued by the thought of known unknowns. In other words, how can someone know what they don't know. Such as when you said there are things out there we dont know. Well how do you know? And of course we can look at history but that is all we've got. People act like they know exactly what we don't know. Hard to grasp.

    Third, it is the predisposition of fearing death that leads to religious beliefs. Nobody is hardwired to believe in a certain God or even a God with certain qualities - or even a supernatural creator of any sort - or an afterlife. It just so happens that we are mortal and can't deal with that.

    So what do we do, we pretend like we aren't mortal. To say that the idea of immortality is hard wired in us is crazy. Like i said, clearly the hope for immortality results from fear of death but it is fear of death that is more innate than religious belief. And to say that we can't change that fact is bogus. We are at a time where we have a lot of evidence showing there is no afterlife. Soon enough people are going to have to accept this. Reason is contagious we cannot deny it forever - and those that do continue to deny it aren't going to pass genes along in the future because it is going to be a severe intellectual setback that isn't going to get along well in a world that thrives on reason.

Share This Page