Intellect and Faith

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by kx000, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    "Intellect needs to be believed in". You are ascribing a societal value "believed in" to an individual quality "intellect". Intellect may exist independent of a society, just as community belief may be rendered for things like unicorns or midichlorians, with or without the support of even a scrap of intellect. Intellect needs only a functional model on a smaller scale on which to operate, not an entire system of beliefs and / or values. Truth for a finite mind is not absolute, even for a community of finite minds working independently of each other with minds attuned to investigating any truth that may be vital to their short term survival. Even if they knew for certain what those truths were, which they don't.

    Falsity is easier both to come by and to grasp for us, and others who are like us. In fact, this is the underlying principle on which the scientific method itself is based. Take a guess. Test it. If the result was false, discard it. If it was true, fine tune your guess and then test deeper.

    But you can never have all of the truth. It wouldn't all fit in your tiny minds, collectively or otherwise. Symbols are the tools of finite minds. Even if you knew the whole truth, there isn't enough paper or computer memory to write it all down, even if a finite mind with a finite lifespan could find enough time to read it.

    If it's recorded using symbols, it came from a finite mind. Ponder that as you are reading and re-reading your 2000 year old inspired religious texts to try and find even a scrap of absolute moral truth. It's not there. The number of pages is a clue. So is the size of your head.

    This much philosophy from this thread is useful,
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
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  3. CHRIS.Q Registered Senior Member

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    Why is there a great relationship with the map? Wisdom has light
     
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I think that 'intellect' refers to cognitive capacity, to the ability to reason well. It's difficult to define that more precisely. It isn't the same thing as formal logic.

    I'm not sure what 'believing in intellect' means. Perhaps confidence in one's ability to reason well and by extension trust in the truth-value of the conclusions of one's reasoning. The latter is more of a stretch, since most real-life reasoning takes place in conditions of insufficient information, uncertainty about the information that we do have and doesn't take the form of logical proofs.

    But again in real life, we do have to have enough confidence in the truth of what we believe to be willing to act on it.

    I don't understand what you mean there.

    I guess that a being with perfect cognition and totally complete and perfect information about everything would still have to be convinced that was so. A philosophical theologian might want to try arguing that the former would imply and hence justify the latter. A more acute philosophical theologian might ask whether an omniscient being could have any understanding of what it's like to live a life in conditions of uncertainty. That suggests an epistemological paradox.

    You've completely lost me. What's a midi-chlorian?

    In our lives, we are more or less forced to rely on the testimony and authority of others. I've never been to France, but I'm told by other people that it's a European nation with a great deal of history. Whenever I think about European history, France usually plays a role in my thinking. But obviously many of the things that people tell us aren't true. We can't just credulously believe everything that we are told.

    So I find myself assigning credibility-weights to things that people tell me. That isn't a precise formal process, it's more a matter of gut instinct. And that's going to be dependent on lots of things, ranging from my existing beliefs to my intuitive assessment of probabilities.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
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  7. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Read the third post, which is mine.
     
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I agree. Every time we take a step, we do so in faith that our intuitive understanding of gravity still holds (even if we're less sure that Newton's or Einstein's formalizations are correct).

    I don't think that any of us are in a position to start again at the beginning and reconstruct all of human knowledge over again for ourselves. We have to be willing to believe (albeit provisionally) much of what we are told.

    But given the state of the contemporary university, student skepticism and good-judgement can be very healthy. Universities talk a lot about 'critical thinking', but that applies inside the classroom as much as anywhere else. When I take university classes, I typically think of the professor as a resource-person, somebody who has had more education in and knows more about the subject of the class than I do. I'm inclined to respect that. If I didn't in a particular instance (it's happened), I wouldn't enroll in that professor's class or I would drop it. I'm in class to exploit the professor for my purposes (not the other way around), I'm there to pick the professor's brain, to see what use he or she can be to me in my own intellectual development.

    But if the professor goes off-topic and starts expressing opinions on subjects distant from his or her field of expertise, often views about philosophy, politics or religion, I remember that my own opinions on those subjects are probably just as good and perhaps even better informed than the professor's.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
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  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Conclusion and decision making, the distinguishing and evaluation of received stimuli and summoned memories, and creativity simply happen, regardless. To later invent a cognitive orientation of "I do believe in intellect or intellective processes" or "I do not believe in intellect or intellective processes" itself depends upon intellect or intellective processes to output it. (Even in the case of a tenet being handed down by mindless rote or tradition, it still required formulation at some point in the past).

    Just as the experiences of an external environment and one's own personal events won't go away till consciousness is disabled (or one was fortunate enough be born in a vegetable state), so the manifestations of either feral or systematic reflective thought likewise relentlessly persist. Since they're part of the content exhibited by those sensations and introspective phantoms.

    The ancient version of rationalists who believed their choice of the two was what was associated with something more fundamental and eternal and real or less illusory, would nary have had evidence to begin with that they were philosophically pondering, without the choice of the future empiricists. (Or their contemporary Heraclitean rivals, who held there was only the presented "flux of becoming", not an intellectual governance or realm of principles underlying experience or its sensible world that made it possible).

    The situation was a tangled hierarchy chasing itself round and round perpetually in human argument: Intellect claims Intuition needs a regulator for the order and procession of its manifestations. Intuition claims Intellect lacks evidence of itself or its activities without the Given (i.e., anything that seems "immediately there" without requiring reflective thought to reach it or for it to fall out of eventually, such as a visual percept of a tree or aural declarations of each of the symbols making up 2+2=4).
     
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  10. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    I have an example: Two years ago my cousin and his family sent me a Christmas "letter", describing all the good works they had done that year. Danny is a Baptist minister in the Bible Belt, and dumb as a bag of hammers. They closed the atrociously misspelled, grammatically horrifying, and pukingly self-serving "letter" with the sentence, "We live by Faith, not by reason."

    And they are proud of that. If there were a God, he died laughing a long time ago...
     
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  11. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

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    Or he fell into a severe depression and ate too many pills.
     
  12. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    And they probably went right outside and changed their signs too:

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  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Around here (Silicon Valley) private schools (sometimes church-related) typically outperform public schools (which in some cases are pretty bad).

    Why do you suggest that Wellwisher dropped out of university or didn't attend an "areal" college?

    Many university classes in subjects like mathematics and history don't have lab sections.

    And what precisely do school lab experiments have to do with "proving" universally applicable laws of nature? At best, all they seem to do is provide examples of such laws holding true. The experiments don't demonstrate that the "laws" must always hold true in every instance, let alone explain why.

    Students have a choice whether to faithfully believe that their lab experiments are "proof", or whether to inquire more deeply into what's actually happening by addressing problems such as confirmation and induction, and by trying to understand what the underlying logic of experimentation is.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/physics-experiment/

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/conf-ind/

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/biology-experiment/

    What Wellwisher was talking about was that students have the choice whether to simply accept what their teachers tell them, or whether to inquire into why whatever it is should be believed.

    A student of beginning calculus has the choice whether to accept differentiation as a cook-book procedure, or whether to inquire more deeply into ideas like the definition of limits (or alternatively the idea of infinitesimals) in hopes of understanding the motivation and justification for what's being taught. That's often the distinction between the 'calculus for business students' and 'calculus for math and science majors' classes that universities typically offer. The cook-book approach serves practical needs while the mathematical approach is more difficult and introduces confusing complication that many students simply won't need. But while it's more difficult, it's more intellectually satisfying to know why the cook-book procedures work and the additional material provides a useful ground-work for the more advanced 'analysis' classes that math majors take later in their undergraduate careers.

    We see similar distinctions in how students approach history classes. One way for students to approach history classes is to simply believe whatever the history professor tells them about a particular historical period. That's the quickest and easiest way to pile up lots of information with minimal effort. But the brighter students, those who may be destined to become historians themselves, will be thinking about more difficult and advanced questions of historiography such as: How do historians know these supposed facts? What historical sources do we have and what are their nature and biases? What scholarly controversies concern the material being taught? And what justifies the particular interpretations that this professor is giving the material and the conclusions he/she is drawing?
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  14. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    We wouldn't believe a fool, or a liar.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
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  15. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Trust is the subjects honesty and apptitude.
     
  16. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Those are both examples of societal values. A fool or a liar (or both) evidently cares not what society thinks of him.

    So, why should intellect be any different? Whole societies have been known to be both (fools and liars) also. Don't pretend it isn't so. I have seen it. Most of us have.

    Galileo was neither. Did the society of which he was a part listen to the force of his intellect?
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  17. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Some Christian schools such as Catholic schools can be quite good. I was referring to crazy Christian schools.
    Because I have read his posts. I left a space out between 'a' and 'real', I hope I didn't blow you mind.
    Gee, do you think that might have been why I specifically mentioned science courses?

    Do you think PV=nRT is not true on the moon or mars? Do you think an atomic bomb wouldn't work in the Vega system?
    True.

    True.

    The bottom line is quite simply that wellwisher is a pseudoscience crank that does not know what he is talking about.
     
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  18. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    21,647
    That's certainly what the evidence points to in many threads that wellwisher has popped in offering his 2c worth.
     
  19. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    intellect/reason and faith
    like apples and oranges
    It is possible to have the sweetest and most delicious apple and also have the sweetest most delicious orange.
    Having one does not negate the other.

    (as/re post #29---------I was once thrown out of an army chapel by a redneck red faced baptist chaplain)
     
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    4,662
    Frankly, I don't know whether anyone on Sciforums has any higher education, or where they received it if they do. (People sometimes boast about having attended the most prestigious universities, but I'm skeptical about that.) I don't know whether anyone graduated, what degrees they earned or what their major subjects were.

    As far as I'm concerned, none of that is really important. What matters is the quality of the posts that people make. I have the greatest respect for people who seem thoughtful and humane, those who regularly post interesting and original ideas and refrain from insults. Some of the wisest and most astute people that I've ever met never graduated from university at all. I have no interest in putting them down.

    I'm also interested in your distinction between "real colleges" and whatever you are contrasting them with. How would you characterize that distinction? Can you provide examples?

    Wellwisher's remarks that you were sarcastically responding to weren't restricted to science courses.

    His observation that students have a choice whether to accept what they are taught on faith or whether to try to justify things for themselves applies in science just as it does in other subjects. It might be even more applicable in science, since the partisans of science wear the idea that all of its beliefs are soundly justified on their sleeves.

    In an earlier post you wrote:

    My reply was:

    Stop thinking like a fundie. The issue here isn't dividing believers from heathens.

    The question is whether you can explain how school laboratory experiments supposedly "prove" (your word) that the so-called "laws of nature" hold true on the Moon or Mars, or on exoplanets in the Vega system. Or for that matter, that they will continue to hold true a minute from now, just because they seemingly have in the past.

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/conf-ind/

    If you can't explain how school lab exercises justify belief in the universal applicability of physical laws, then you would seem to be illustrating Wellwisher's point about our accepting some things that we are taught on faith, without suitable justification.

    As for me, I have a high degree of confidence that the "laws of nature" hold true throughout time and space. I can't really justify that confidence though, it's something of an article of faith. All of my experience has been consistent with it. What I know of astrophysical observation is consistent with it. But piling up examples doesn't really address the fundamental problem, which is how finite data sets can justify universal conclusions without circularity (assuming the regularities that one is supposedly justifying).

    He seems to have made a good observation in this instance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
  21. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, that's nice, and I am sure if you are a caucasian conservative male wellwisher is a swell guy.

    He says he is a chemical engineer, I do not know his particulars but he clearly did not get a degree in ChemE. I find that annoying. He continually makes up things and presents them as fact. You know, dishonest and low quality posts. That's annoying too.

    His observation is based on ignorance or dishonesty. Science at the college level is not taught by rote.

    He is one of the heathens as you call them. He doesn't know science yet disagrees with it and makes up his own illogical science.

    I am not sure why you feel like you need come to his defense. Blind leading the blind I suppose.
     
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    4,662
    I already understand that you don't like Wellwisher's politics. That (and your low opinion of white males) has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

    I don't know whether he did or didn't. (Neither do you.) As I said before, I'm skeptical about most of the grandiose educational claims made here on Sciforums. I don't fully believe any of them. Which leaves me with the thoughts expressed in people's posts. That's how I form my impressions of board participants.

    The fact that you disagree with somebody doesn't make them dishonest. That idea is just foolish. He posts his opinions, just as you do. I'm not prepared to flame somebody just because I disagree with something they say. That's one of Sciforums' biggest defects. Even the moderators do it.

    His observation was rather astute.

    It must really annoy you that your insulting response was an unwitting illustration of precisely what he was talking about. It is much easier for students to simply have faith that their school laboratory exercises somehow "prove" (your word) universally applicable physical principles, as opposed to merely exemplifying them. Unfortunately, despite confidence that the exercises are 'proof', no elucidation of the proof, its logical steps and its initial assumptions is ever forthcoming. That's probably inevitable, since deep and difficult issues such as induction and confirmation arise when trying to understand the logic of experimentation. It's much easier to ignore those kind of things, and most students seemingly do. Which neatly illustrates Wellwisher's point.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  23. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    9,994
    I guess that is true, he could have gotten a degree in ChemE and now simply be suffering from dementia for instance and have forgotten everything he learned.
    I concede your point and withdraw my accusation of dishonesty, it is probably simply a case of ignorance.
    LOL - good one.
    The comment I made about 'proving' is in the context of proving the science to themselves as opposed to taking the science on 'faith'.
    Wellwishers point was wrong. He stated that science students must take the science on faith - which is not true. Experimentations and mathematical proofs are done to demonstrate the accuracy of the science being taught. This is apparently not something you are familiar with since you seem to think a college degree is some amazing accomplishment.

    I am sure wellwisher is thrilled that his white knight is defending his honor but this is really stupid, if wellwisher wants to discuss it he can, I am bored with going over the same ground again and again.

    Have a great day.
     

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