Knowledge vs Faith

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Eric F. Magnuson, Apr 21, 2003.

  1. Halcyon Guest

    Canute,
    There is not one single thing in the entire history of the universe that can be proven to be true. Science cannot empirically prove anything. But look what all we have to show for it. We have ideas and technology that work. We are able to learn more about the world around and within us with each step we take because we use these things that work. None of it can be ever proven to be ultimately true, but it does work. Now, I don't need reading suggestions, Consciousness has been the focal point of my research(Yes, research) for years now. Sure, our understanding is still evolving and changing with each step, and perhaps the ideas I posted may get corrected somewhere down the line, but for now, that is what we KNOW about experience, and it works.

    Wes, that is exactly what I was talking about.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    Halcyon

    I take your point about ultimate truth. However let's assume the current scientific model is true. Even in this case it has nothing fundamental to say about the relationship between brain and consciousness. Science does not claim to understand consciousness. This is not a criticism of science, it is just the case. We have no scientific proof that it exists, and no proof that it doesn't. Neither has freewill yet been disproved. Your opinion is a very marginal one even within science, based on belief rather than observation. Even Dan Dennett, most prominent among those who take your view, can’t make a convincing case.

    You say that consciousness is the focus of your research. I suspect you assume that consciousness is epiphenomenal and non-causal and start researching accordingly.


    Wes

    Haven’t you mis-defined experience above and substituted thinking instead? Thinking is considered causal, ‘experiencing’ is not.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    Halcyon

    I take your point about ultimate truth. However let's assume the current scientific model is true. Even in this case it has nothing fundamental to say about the relationship between brain and consciousness. Science does not claim to understand consciousness. This is not a criticism of science, it is just the case. We have no scientific proof that it exists, and no proof that it doesn't. Neither has freewill yet been disproved. Your opinion is a very marginal one even within science, based on belief rather than observation. Even Dan Dennett, most prominent among those who take your view, can’t make a convincing case.

    You say that consciousness is the focus of your research. I suspect you assume that consciousness is epiphenomenal and non-causal and start researching accordingly.


    Wes

    Haven’t you mis-defined experience above and substituted thinking instead? Thinking is considered causal by science, ‘experiencing’ is not.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,844
    I don't think so, no. Experience is different that experiencing. Experience implies that you have abstracted input into your conceptual inter-relationship. That conceptual inter-relationship is in effect, your mind.

    'experiencing' is part of the act of abstraction. it could be considered the whole of abstraction. Once you're done experiencing, you have an experience. Experience is as I said above.
     
  8. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    Sorry, I don't get that.
     
  9. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,844
    I'm sure you can be more specific.
     
  10. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    Ok. It's probably just the words.

    'Conceptual inter-relationship'?

    'Abstraction'?

    That seems to be self-contradictory.
     
  11. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,844
    /Conceptual inter-relationship'?

    Yes. The relationships of the concepts you've constructed (via your experience) to themselves. How they are oriented with one another. How they interact when you think. It's all a form of geometry IMO. Further as I previously stated, I believe that this relationship basically comprises the essence of mind.

    /'Abstraction'?

    There is a dictionary definition that fits my meaning perfectly. I basically mean "taking input and making it into concepts" or "taking our common medium and changing into my thoughts.

    /That seems to be self-contradictory.

    It's just tense. I experienced something so I can now refer to my experience? Dig? If I'm now experiencing something, later I can refer to the experience I had before. I might even be having an experience right now that I could later refer to as an experience. Just showing what I meant with the orginal statement.
     
  12. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    Wes

    Thanks. I go along with all that. But I don't think you're describing what experience is.
     
  13. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,844
    Well, I stated it before: "the ability to remember events in one's environment over time". What more are you looking for? I mean, it's technically merely the structural arrangement of a bunch of nuerons (how they relate to one another) in a particular brain. That arrangement manifests itself in a number of ways, the most significant of which is the arrangement of your mind (the conceptual inter-relationships).
     
  14. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923

    I assume that here an 'event' is an experience (otherwise there's nothing to remember). In this case the memory of the experience is something different to the experience itself.

    I don't disagree with what you say about mind, but you seem to be overlooking the actual experience.
     
  15. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,844
    /I assume that here an 'event' is an experience (otherwise there's nothing to remember).

    Well, I'd say an event is an event. It isn't an experience until it is abstracted don't you think?

    /In this case the memory of the experience is something different to the experience itself.

    We were discussing the evolutionary purpose of experience. To me, this context dictates that you're talking about "someone's experience" as in "something they experienced".

    /I don't disagree with what you say about mind, but you seem to be overlooking the actual experience.

    I don't think so. It seems to me that you're simply confusing what that experience actually is. Observation of events generate an experience subjectively by definition. Until it is experienced, it is not and experience.
     
  16. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923

    Maybe. But according to current theory experience has no effect on evolution whatsoever. I agree with you that it does, but we're in a very non-scientific minority.

    I'm going to keep disagreeing with you on this one. It's not experience by any dictionary definition, it is the remembering of past experiences. Experiences are things that you have, not just things you look back on.
     
  17. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,844
    /Maybe. But according to current theory experience has no effect on evolution whatsoever. I agree with you that it does, but we're in a very non-scientific minority.

    I'd say that long-term memory and abstract thinking (that which comes with experience) are directly contributable to the dominance/success of the humans, but it'd probably difficult test it. Seems obvious but yeah, the obvious isn't necessarily eh? Hehe.

    /I'm going to keep disagreeing with you on this one. It's not experience by any dictionary definition, it is the remembering of past experiences. Experiences are things that you have, not just things you look back on.

    Certainly you can have an experience. Technically though, I don't see how it can be considered experience until it is had. You can say "i'm looking forward to this experience" but that really translates into that you're looking forward to remembering, or the actual act of the abstraction itself (e.g. rollercoasters, sex, whatever). You can keep disgreeing if you'd like though!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    I'm just calling it how I see it. Doesn't mean much in the long run I suppose.
     
  18. Watcher Just another old creaker Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    365
    The only choices?

    scientific rationalism
    or
    biblical fairy tales

    We toss these phrases around like concrete blocks... so cleanly and clearly defined, and so distinctly different! The defender of each choice seems so cozily confident in his arguments...

    But remember as we go forward that even scientific rationalism (which I rely on every day as an engineer) is based on our PERCEPTION of the universe around us; and recognize that our communications are based on murky cerebral constructs called "words"...

    When you look at it more closely, even scientific rationalism is not particularly reliable. The scientific method requires MEASUREMENT of the world around us, through perception; and perception takes place through the transducers that we call our senses; and that information is interpreted through the data acquisition unit of our brain. We take all this for granted, since we ONLY have this pathetically crude set of anthropoid sensors with which to comprehend the universe.

    Which brings me to my point. Aren't we more than a bit arrogant to think that we as humans have any clue regarding the origins of our existence, to even begin to grasp the true nature of being or conciousness? Simply because we can cobble together a digital computer, pump out a few second-order differential equations, or engineer a crude space-vehicle?
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2003
  19. Halcyon Guest

    I may have been a bit too hasty to post, I seem to have a bad habit of playing devils advocate. I personally don't have any idea on the nature of consciousness, and I would never be so bold to say that anyone knows the nature of such. I do think, however, think that Dennet made a decent argument for it's epiphenomenal nature, granted, I haven't heard very many arguments to the contrary. I understand your point about burden of proof and testability. I was under the impression that epiphenomena, as opposed to cartesian duality, was the majority among scientific thinkers. I suppose, like everything, it's all relative to where you stand.
     
  20. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    Halcyon

    You're probably right about this bit. Dennett never makes an obviously weak case, and epiphenomenalism of some variety or other is probably the most popular view in scientific circles.

    However the case for it has not been proved. It is a scientifically undisturbing hypothesis, but philosophers, less quick to jump to convenient conclusions, are less sure, and many argue that the hypothesis is illogical and incapable of being true.

    You may have read all there is to read about all this, I can't tell, but in case not then it's worth looking into. The issues aren't all that complicated when you get down to basics, (something Dennett is less good at doing), yet it's a fundamental scientific problem, one that has the potential, in principle, to make us rethink the whole structure of science. It's actually possible to take the experts on on this issue without being one. Nobody can figure it, and some argue that it's not a scientific topic at all.

    Every argument is available is on this site somewhere. (Chalmers' 'The Problem of Consciousness' is brilliant (seminal some would call it. It outlines all the key problems). http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/online.html

    Bon voyage
    Canute
     
  21. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    I agree about memory and experience. But experience, which depends on consciousness, is not an evolutionary factor in neo-Darwinism, however insane that seems. In current evolutionary theory human beings are technically zombies. This is so weird that when I say it I find that people don't always believe it, but try asking a biologist.

    But surely the experience is the having of the experience. You can't have an experience before or after the experience, you've got to have it at the time.

    You may be right that you can't think about an experience at the precise moment that you're having it, (I can't figure that one at the moment) but I don't see how the the experience and the memory of the experience can be the same thing, there'd be nothing to have a memory of.

    I agree that we abstract experiences into our 'conceptual geometry' (nice phrase) as a result of having them, perhaps even as part of having them. But when you stick a pin in your foot you feel the pain before you remember it.

    Canute
     
  22. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,844
    /I agree about memory and experience. But experience, which depends on consciousness, is not an evolutionary factor in neo-Darwinism, however insane that seems. In current evolutionary theory human beings are technically zombies. This is so weird that when I say it I find that people don't always believe it, but try asking a biologist.

    That IS hard to believe, but then again I always hated biology.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Hehe. It seems like something you have to memorize. Meh. Regardless, and this might seem kind of stupid, but I still think it's true: The problem with every approach to understanding consciousness I've ever seen seems to come from the incorrect perspective in time. Everyone seems to me to be looking at it as a traditional physics problem where t clicks from second to second in step with the atomic clock. The way I see it the very first thing you have to do is abandon that perspective and realize that no other moment actually exists besides the relative now. Unless this the model is built with consideration to this realization, I believe it to be doomed to fall short of the mark. Pardon that rambling.

    It seems to me that you're mixing terms though. If you equate "experience" in terms of "in the moment" (as you do below) then please explain how that differs from conciousness itself. I suppose the problem with the term in the first place is that it can be used in any reference, future, past or present. My original comment was directed at the past - in the context of "I have had many experiences."

    /But surely the experience is the having of the experience.

    You messin with me man?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    What the hell does that mean?? Hehe. Please reword it for me?

    /You can't have an experience before or after the experience, you've got to have it at the time.

    Yes you can refer to it in the three different senses actually. I might even conclude that you technically can't have an "experience" in the present as this is a categorization that can only be applied in the past tense, even if it's "oh this is a cool experience" you are still referring to what just happened and what you might expect to continue happening. There might be a techincality whereby you are categorizing it into an "experience" in short term memory and as such it technically IS an experience in real time, but not consciously. In other words, what sort of classification do you think an "experience" really is? I say you have input and some amount awareness. Are you classifying this combination as experience? If so, how can anyone deny that this "experience" directly effects forthcoming behavior? Bah I need to get my thoughts together on this and put it to a proper post. Pardon.

    /You may be right that you can't think about an experience at the precise moment that you're having it, (I can't figure that one at the moment) but I don't see how the the experience and the memory of the experience can be the same thing, there'd be nothing to have a memory of.

    Isn't this just a syntax thing? Seems we've gotten the word all jumbled up. After hearing your thoughts about it I'll attempt to organize a proper train of thought for you.

    /I agree that we abstract experiences into our 'conceptual geometry' (nice phrase) as a result of having them, perhaps even as part of having them. But when you stick a pin in your foot you feel the pain before you remember it.


    (thanks, did you miss the thread?) Certainly, but you may refer to it as an experience you once had of sticking a pin in your foot. Damn the semantics!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  23. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,923
    Barmy isn't it? I don't think most of science has quite woken up to the real implications of the problem of consciousness yet.

    Bang on the issue imo. Those researching consciousness non-scientifically often argue that time is not what it seems to be, and that intemporality is the real truth. Hence their practice of learning to pay attention to the 'now' (which is in a strange sense outside of time, or requires stepping outside of time).

    It doesn't really. The most common definition of consciousness is that it is experience, aka 'what it is like to be'.

    As you say, we can anticipate an experience and we can remember experiences. But the experience happens in the 'now'. If it didn't then consciousness wouldn't exist in the now.

    Remembering or anticipating is an experience, so remembering an experience is an experience, right now.

    I suppose you're right in one way. If you focus on thinking about experiences rather than having them then it will seem like experiences are in the past, since thinking takes time. But I feel that you're confusing the experience with the event that causes the experience. The causes are in the past, but the experience only becomes an experience at the moment it becomes a conscious experience, and that must happen at the time it happens, if you see what I mean. You can have a memory of a past experience, but it's completely impossible to have an experience in the past.

    I would say that an experience is only an experience to the extent that you're conscious of having it, and that an 'unconscious experience' is an oxymoron. Still, I've heard some scientific thinkers argue something like what you say here. But it leads to contradictions. Scienctific diehards are wriggling on the hook over this one, and even read one published paper that states that what we think of as our experience is not actually our experience. I don't understand how people get stuff like that published.


    I would be ok with defining consciousness as experience, (with provisos). After all if you're not experiencing anything you're not conscious.

    The question of how science can deny that experiences affect behaviour is unanswerable I think. I don't have an answer anyway. It seems to be a desperate move to save science from having to deal with the subjective. Unfortunately the scienctific method is incapable of proving the existence of experiences, so it's in a difficult position on the issue.

    The argument is that when you stick your hand in a fire by accident the signals sent to your brain from your hand cause you to take it out again pretty damn quick for strictly physically deterministic reasons, and that 'pain' has nothing at all to do with your response. That isn't to say that you don't feel pain, but rather that it doesn't make any difference whether you feel it or not.

    The insanity of this argument has been pointed out by many philosophers, but nothing much changes in science, in which consciousness must be non-causal or the whole pack of cards starts to collapse.

    I think I did for some reason.

    Nope, I still don't get it. How can you remember something that didn't happen at the time? As above I think you're mixing up the cause of the experience with the experience itself. If you stick a pin in your foot and don't experience the pain until five minutes later the experience of pain is still in the present moment. Later on, in the present moment, you may experience the memory of the pain, but the experience is always right now, as you said earlier.

    Canute
     

Share This Page