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Will science render life meaningless?
Posted: 01 April 2009 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Discovery is exciting. Or should be anyway.
Knowledge and understanding raises our level of consciousness, and that gives meaning to life, for me anyway.

Every time a new fossil is found, a new genetic interaction is deciphered or a new black hole is seen, it brings a smile to my face.

There is just so so much that we have yet to learn.

Precisely. If this life is a way station, or worse, a test - then its inherent value is diminished. If we get only these brief moments to be aware, wonder and learn - than how much more precious they are.

”...and I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around…
...lucky me, lucky mud…”  -K. Vonnegut

I always consider McKibben’s train of thought to be be just effing lazy. Do the work, find your own purpose and meaning.


Exactly, so….

It is for all of us to ensure that the few do not use science to make life meaningless for the many. (Good luck with that)

 

How it it that science could possibly render life meaningless?

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...it has to put into the equation: the possibility that there is no God and nothing works for the best. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that view, but I don’t know what I do subscribe to. Why do I have to have a world view? I mean, when I wrote Cujo, I wasn’t even old enough to be president. Maybe when I’m frty or forty-five, but I don’t now. I’m just trying on all these hats.
-Stephen King

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Posted: 01 April 2009 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 01 April 2009 02:05 PM

mathmagical burt: it could well be that there are deep patterns of meaning that the universe has imposed on us. All of our personal meaning constructions would then rest on universal foundations…

How is the above not:

... [a] personal idiosyncratic beliefs and assumptions.

I second jefe’s “Woo.” But you do have a bit o’ magic in ye, don’t ye burt?

Not personal and idiosyncratic because they would be universally human.  In fact, one might argue that there are basic fundamentals necessary for any sentient being and these provide a foundation for meaning.  The construction of meaning on those foundations would involve personal stuff.  For example, one fundamental would have to do with self-preservation.  How that was interpreted, however, the sort of meanings draped onto that, would be personally and culturally influenced.

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Posted: 01 April 2009 09:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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My English is terrible or I’m parsing things too much. Science produces data and we create meaning from it. Science does not perform experiments. We do. Okay, nature is like a big experiment.

Discovery is exciting. Or should be anyway.

Discovery is always exciting and wonderful for us but not so much for the beakers and Bunsen burners. Doesn’t meaning come just after the moment of excitement (eureka, aha, epiphany, etc.), which comes just microseconds after the science part has finished? Okay, discovering where the fruit flies were coming from was not wonderful.

What kind of meaning would our lives have today if there was no age of science and reason and no enlightenment?

It would be different but we would still have one. Am I suggesting that all meaningification of any kind is delusional whether nobly based on science or not? Would I do that?

the whole point of… mak(ing) sense…(or more specifically, knowledge) has inherent meaning does it not?

Is there an experiment that could demonstrate that postulate?

How is it that science could possibly render life meaningless?

It can’t, of course. However, there are some delusional but clever primates out there who would use science to create technology that if used most efficiently, could render life meaningless for many other less clever or less delusional primates in their general vicinity. I’m thinking of mid-19th century London or the Hebrews under Pharaoh or the Borg Collective or xbox fans. I should have said that.

On a brighter and more meaningful note, faked or not, someone has finally told Lenin to go blow it out his ass.

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Delude responsibly.

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Posted: 02 April 2009 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Nhoj: On a brighter and more meaningful note, faked or not, someone has finally told Lenin to go blow it out his ass.

Indeed.
Although the article that I read after gently swigging my coffee yesterday said that they didn’t know what the motive was for exploding Lenin’s ass.  LOL “Don’t know” my ass.

ii:And of things theoretical… the whole point is to make sense and sense (or more specifically, knowledge) has inherent meaning does it not?

uu: Is there an experiment that could demonstrate that postulate?

Not all postulates require experiments to “prove” them.  What I was blunderingly trying to rhetorically ask was: isn’t the search for meaning (or sense or knowledge) inherently meaningful; that is, meaningful in and of itself? As opposed to, say, meaning-neutral…

burt: Not personal and idiosyncratic because they would be universally human.  In fact, one might argue that there are basic fundamentals necessary for any sentient being and these provide a foundation for meaning.  The construction of meaning on those foundations would involve personal stuff.  For example, one fundamental would have to do with self-preservation.  How that was interpreted, however, the sort of meanings draped onto that, would be personally and culturally influenced.

No. Say it isn’t so…
Did you just buttress your woo with more woo?
I’m not being obtuse here burt, you just spent a paragraph not really saying anything except woo-wishes.

burt,
I’m so sorry. I really am, but I just got this image of you in my head as a little leprechaun bouncing down the university halls with a copy of the Idries Shah under ye wee arm, tippin’ yer ‘at and winkin’, screamin’: “Reading is fundamental to your universal foundations!”

[ Edited: 02 April 2009 06:35 AM by isocratic infidel]
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Posted: 02 April 2009 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 02 April 2009 10:26 AM

Did you just buttress your woo with more woo?

Woo woo woo woo!

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Real honesty is accepting the theories that best explain the actual data even if those explanations contradict our cherished beliefs.-Scotty

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Posted: 02 April 2009 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 02 April 2009 10:26 AM

burt: Not personal and idiosyncratic because they would be universally human.  In fact, one might argue that there are basic fundamentals necessary for any sentient being and these provide a foundation for meaning.  The construction of meaning on those foundations would involve personal stuff.  For example, one fundamental would have to do with self-preservation.  How that was interpreted, however, the sort of meanings draped onto that, would be personally and culturally influenced.

No. Say it isn’t so…
Did you just buttress your woo with more woo?
I’m not being obtuse here burt, you just spent a paragraph not really saying anything except woo-wishes.

burt,
I’m so sorry. I really am, but I just got this image of you in my head as a little leprechaun bouncing down the university halls with a copy of the Idries Shah under ye wee arm, tippin’ yer ‘at and winkin’, screamin’: “Reading is fundamental to your universal foundations!”

I’ll try to be more precise: whether or not one thinks that consciousness emerges from suitably complex arrangements of neurons (or their equivalent), or pre-exists and manifests across suitably complex arrangements of neurons (or their equivalent); there are certain conditions that have to be satisfied and the organic entities that carry those arrangements of neurons will have, of necessity, evolved in environments that allow for that satisfaction.  That means that those organic entities will have some hardwired imperatives, let’s call them genetically programmed instincts.  I can think of three right now: self-preservation, social relations, and adaptation to the environment.  That is, a sentient being has to be able to survive, to relate to other sentient beings, and to orientate itself in its environment.  Satisfaction of those instincts is a universal issue for any conscious being and, I’ll suggest, this provides the foundation for all meaning constructs and for the intrinsic meaning of things in the world.  For us humans, we have all sorts of cultural projections that are layered on top of these basic biological imperatives, and these are culturally subjective, just as our personally projected meanings are in part constructs of our own subjectivity. For example, what is the “meaning” of the Mona Lisa?  For Leonardo it was a paycheck and a way of expressing his artistic vision (self-preservation); for his patron, it was a way of showing off his social status (social relations) and (perhaps) flattering a woman in his life (self-preservation via potential propagation of genes); for us today, it is a haunting expression of great art (maintaining a culture, preservation; allowing us to have a center of cultural agreement, social relations; and the culture itself is part of our means of adaptation).

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Posted: 02 April 2009 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Tad Trenton’s Ghost - 01 April 2009 02:03 AM

if we engineer humans to be immortal in the future, life will lose all meaning.

That would be pretty fucking bad, wouldn’t it? I think the whole top of my head might come off, exposing the pink.

burt - 02 April 2009 01:08 PM

I’ll try to be more precise…

Do you think you succeeded? I don’t.

whether or not one thinks that consciousness emerges from suitably complex arrangements of neurons (or their equivalent), or pre-exists and manifests across suitably complex arrangements of neurons

Manifests across? Across? WTF??

[ Edited: 02 April 2009 10:28 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 02 April 2009 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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‘or pre-exists and manifests across suitably complex arrangements of neurons’

burt, if consciousness pre-existed, why after the fact would it need to manifest itself across (or throughout) arrangements of neurons? Is this a certain view of some people? Seems confusing to me.

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Posted: 02 April 2009 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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McCreason - 02 April 2009 03:27 PM

‘or pre-exists and manifests across suitably complex arrangements of neurons’

burt, if consciousness pre-existed, why after the fact would it need to manifest itself across (or throughout) arrangements of neurons? Is this a certain view of some people? Seems confusing to me.

This is the view of some, the physicist Piet Hut and psychologist Roger Shepard published a paper arguing that consciousness had to be taken as a fundamental aspect of the universe in the same way that space and time are.  This goes to the distinction that I make between consciousness and self-consciousness.  Only consciousness pre-exists (in my opinion) and only with the evolved neuronal basis (or, who knows, silicon basis) do we have the possibility of self-consciousness.

[ Edited: 02 April 2009 11:08 PM by burt]
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Posted: 03 April 2009 05:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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burt - 02 April 2009 11:00 PM

This is the view of some, the physicist Piet Hut and psychologist Roger Shepard published a paper arguing that consciousness had to be taken as a fundamental aspect of the universe in the same way that space and time are.  This goes to the distinction that I make between consciousness and self-consciousness.  Only consciousness pre-exists (in my opinion) and only with the evolved neuronal basis (or, who knows, silicon basis) do we have the possibility of self-consciousness.

In keeping with the theme of this thread, all I can do after witnessing this woo for the umpteenth time is to note whimsically that the main result of “consciousnessness” studies is that it becomes visible as an attempt by life to render science meaningless.

Let’s go back to the thrilling days of yesteryear and see how Burt makes this his theme:

http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewreply/145806/

How to incorporate unity of self into biology?  Well, first off it requires developing a connection between psychology and biology.  Every animal has a genetically programmed instinct for self-preservation and when we get to humans, I suggest that this provides at least one foundation for “unity of self,” with the biological instinct to preserve the physical body going over into the psychological imperative to retain the ego self-identity.

Other than the presumed quest for an infinite regress of explanation employed by philosophers, we can entertain the question of how an “instinct for self-preservation” needs to be explained “scientifically”. Perhaps it is not consciousnessness at all which is the fundamental “pre-existing” property of the cosmos, like space and time, but “self-preservation”. A rosebud by any other name will still smell like, er, like…

In other words, if you feel you have to justify (rationally) your own sense of self-preservation, it may only be one of any number of ways to sprinkle that special spice onto people. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people are not out to get you.

It’s another restatement of the existential dilemma of a human being’s awareness of its own mortality. Since there is not a goddam bit of good that all this hand-wringing is ever going to do, wishful thinking about some space into which your consciousnessness is going eventually to ascend is just a comforting fairy tale you whip up against the fall of night. Mi fa schifo.

[ Edited: 03 April 2009 06:21 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 03 April 2009 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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I fail to see a distinction between consciousness and self-consciousness. Can something have consciousness and not be consciousness of itself? How? A sentient being can be conscious of the universe but not be conscious of it’s own self and place in it?

Definitions-

Consciousness-1 a: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself

Self-conscious-1 a: conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself : aware of oneself as an individual

Burt, can I ask for more explanation here?

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Posted: 03 April 2009 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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McCreason - 03 April 2009 10:47 AM

I fail to see a distinction between consciousness and self-consciousness. Can something have consciousness and not be consciousness of itself? How? A sentient being can be conscious of the universe but not be conscious of it’s own self and place in it?

Definitions-

Consciousness-1 a: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself

Self-conscious-1 a: conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself : aware of oneself as an individual

Burt, can I ask for more explanation here?

Derh. As with Cheetos™, you need to “get your own box”.

Keep in mind, McC, that “consciousnessness” can be whatever you want it to be. You have your own version (see above). Try this: Is there a difference between suffering (as from a broken leg) and suffering because you know you’re suffering? Or suffering (perhaps paradoxically) because you’re aware that there is a moment when suffering ends? Maybe that’s the distinction you want.

Why isn’t there a character at this forum named “McConsciousness”. Or even, “McConsciousnessness”? I need to reinvent my self.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Hey Salt thats a good idea.

Maybe I’ll call myself McCconsciousness. Or McCconscious.

Then I can be interpreted anyway I consciously want to be.

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‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

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Posted: 03 April 2009 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Salt Creek - 03 April 2009 09:17 AM

Mi fa schifo.

significate che moustache del Burt non è reale?

Perhaps we shall all be sucked into the black hole of consciousnessness.

Saluto.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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I work with a very nice fellow who’s name is Kenneth Loftnessess. Really. Don’t ask him about the origin of his name though as he gets tired of hearing it and he has no clue. Somebody in his ancestry was lacking some consciousnessness.grin

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‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

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