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Will science render life meaningless?
Posted: 03 April 2009 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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burt - 02 April 2009 11:00 PM
McCreason - 02 April 2009 03:27 PM

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.

Notice the lack of an answer to your direct question, McCreason? Burt has been a professor for quite a while, I’m guessing. If so, he’s no doubt accustomed to repeating himself quite a bit during the courses he teaches. Then he takes a summer or winter break and again repeats his talking points. It’s a necessary part of his job, and his students benefit from his willingness to repeat himself over and over again, semester after semester. I used to teach, too, but left the work, partly because I dislike repeating myself.

Perhaps as a result of his role as a repeater of information, which is a necessary part of his job, benefiting those who need to learn the material in his courses, he seems to have picked up a nasty habit of repeating himself while talking to people who are not his students. Did I mention that repetition is a necessary part of his job, and that his students really do benefit from his willingness to repeat himself over and over and fucking over again and again?

Just ribbing you, burt. I hope you take it in that “spirit.” But really, how many semesters have passed on this forum since you’ve first made your point? I have a feeling that the regulars around here see you as being either slightly addled or just under-confident of our ability to read your words and remember your points—especially those points that have no documented validity whatsoever.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 03 April 2009 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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uz. Could you repeat that explanation please. grin

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Posted: 03 April 2009 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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unknown zone - 03 April 2009 12:38 PM
burt - 02 April 2009 11:00 PM
McCreason - 02 April 2009 03:27 PM

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.

Notice the lack of an answer to your direct question, McCreason?

Didn’t give a direct answer because I like people to work out the connections for themselves.  I consider it insulting to students to actually tell them the answer, it means I don’t think they’re smart enough to work from a few hints.  (Would have put in a devil smiley but didn’t find any.)  As you say, I’ve been at the professor business for a while and habits die hard.

unknown zone - 03 April 2009 12:38 PM

Burt has been a professor for quite a while, I’m guessing. If so, he’s no doubt accustomed to repeating himself quite a bit during the courses he teaches. Then he takes a summer or winter break and again repeats his talking points. It’s a necessary part of his job, and his students benefit from his willingness to repeat himself over and over again, semester after semester. I used to teach, too, but left the work, partly because I dislike repeating myself.

Perhaps as a result of his role as a repeater of information, which is a necessary part of his job, benefiting those who need to learn the material in his courses, he seems to have picked up a nasty habit of repeating himself while talking to people who are not his students. Did I mention that repetition is a necessary part of his job, and that his students really do benefit from his willingness to repeat himself over and over and fucking over again and again?

Actually, I haven’t done any face to face teaching since 1982 so have not trudged down the repetition rut other than doing course revisions every 4 - 5 years.  But old habits do die hard.  I think I said that but it’s worth repeating.

unknown zone - 03 April 2009 12:38 PM

Just ribbing you, burt.

You’d best be careful about that, look at all the trouble we got into when Adam got “ribbed.”

unknown zone - 03 April 2009 12:38 PM

But really, how many semesters have passed on this forum since you’ve first made your point? I have a feeling that the regulars around here see you as being either slightly addled or just under-confident of our ability to read your words and remember your points—especially those points that have no documented validity whatsoever.

Well, there is a Nasruddin story about this:

Nasruddin was a friend of the Sultan and often attended banquets at the palace.  After dinner, however, he would fall asleep.  The sultan found it disturbing that one of his guests would sleep at the table and decided to teach Nasruddin a lesson.  At the next banquet, dinner finished and scintillating conversations began.  Nasruddin nodded off.  The sultan had two of his attendants pick up Nasruddin’s chair and carry it (with him in it) to another room in the palace.  After an hour he had it brought back and had Nasruddin woken up.  “How can you be so rude as to sleep at my table?”  He asked.  Nasruddin replied that he was as aware as necessary, and proceeded to give a complete repetition of what had passed at the table over the past hour.  “Amazing!” said the sultan, “What psychic powers you must have.”  Nasruddin said: “No, I just heard you starting to tell that same old story again.” 

In the case here, however, it isn’t that I think people don’t remember my points, just that they don’t get them,  which is fine, but leads to repetition when the same topics come up again (there is much repetition here, Salty has made a profession of it, now that he has deigned to return; after all, how many gumballs are there in the world).

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Posted: 03 April 2009 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Zzzz zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz zz Huh? Wha? Did someone say something?

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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: 03 April 2009 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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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?

Those definitions refer to what I would call self-consciousness.  They are going with the late 19th century idea of intentionality which claims that consciousness is always consciousness of something.  But there is also the idea of consciousness-without-an-object.

I’m thinking of consciousness as what the Buddhists point to when referring to that having no components.  The old Greek Parmenides had the same idea, defining “what is” as having no distinctions.  So it is more of a potential for self-recognition than the recognition itself.  In neo-Platonism this shows up as a “vertical dimension” parameterized by the “chain of being.” 

There is also the ancient skeptic argument against the possibility of complete self-knowledge.  They argued that the self that knows is separate from the self that is known, setting up an infinite regress (because to know an aspect of oneself is to objectify it and that places it outside of the self that knows).  But today we know that infinite regressions can have limit points, which goes with the Buddhist exercise of nyte nyte—saying “not that, not that” to every impression, thought, identification, etc., which in turn connects to the Zeno paradox of Achilles and the tortoise when taken as a koen indicating the need for a jump to the limit (and one resolution of the paradox is that with each step Achilles becomes more tenuous so at the point where he would catch the tortoise he has also vanished from existence). 

But perhaps I’m slathering it on too thick.  wink

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Posted: 03 April 2009 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Beam - 03 April 2009 01:17 PM

Zzzz zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz zz Huh? Wha? Did someone say something?

Careful. Someone will rap your knuckles with a ruler. Or a Ruler. Maybe the Rapper will be Nasruddin. He just wants you to figure it out for yourself. If it’s the last thing he does. Never ask why he cares.

About the moustache, yes, I think so. All froth and no coffee.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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Ok then, in my own words Prof burt…are you a woo boy?  cheese

Slather that one as long as you would like.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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burt: 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.

But… but… but burt… I tried and I tried, and I can’t get no satisfaction. This little ditty from 1966 did, however, put a smile on my face:

http://www.videoplayer.hu/videos/play/30427

I don’t recall seeing the Stones in 1966… I was a fresh biological organism containing a suitable double hemispherical organ in my noggin with the potential to develop complex arrangements of neurons—unless of course, I don’t have neurons, merely their equivalent—but my pre-existing consciousness hadn’t arrived.

That means that those organic entities will have some hardwired imperatives, let’s call them genetically programmed instincts.

No, let’s not. Let’s call “them” what “they” are: human beings with mammalian brains.

“Hardwired imperatives”? Mixin’ the mechanistic with the philosophical aye?

I’d like to hard wire someone’s imperative right now. wink

I don’t think what you’re talking about are instincts at all. But here’s what you labeled “genetically programmed instincts”:

I can think of three right now: self-preservation, social relations, and adaptation to the environment.

Huh?
Are those instincts or learned behaviours? I think they’re the latter. There’s an instinct to suckle, not an instinct to self-preserve or adapt to the environment. Now while suckling is considered an element of social relations in some settings, it wouldn’t be considered instinctual under this environmental condition. And while there is a common, developmental need—not an instinct—in primates to bond with one’s offspring, it’s up to the parent(s) whether or not this condition is met. In burteze: there’s nothing a newborn infant can do to “satisfy” the infant’s complex neuronal arrangement’s genetically programmed need. Again, the instinct is to suckle, not to self-preserve; self-preservation is the consequence of the suckling behaviour. (They have places in Scottsdale AZ where one can get preserved… I’ll give you the address if you like.)

You know burt, I’m fairly certain you’re aware of Freud’s notion of a “death instinct.” What say you of this instinct?

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

I’m having difficulty orientating to this environment… oh nooo!  big surprise

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.

Okee dokee.

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);

And I thought DaVinci painted because he loved painting and ended up being recognized by his peers…

*nice to see you manifesting Salt.  cool smile

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Posted: 03 April 2009 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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McCreason - 03 April 2009 01:44 PM

Slather that one as long as you would like.

This will date me, but WTF: It’s not how long you make it; it’s how you make it long.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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McCreason - 03 April 2009 01:44 PM

Ok then, in my own words Prof burt…are you a woo boy?  cheese

Slather that one as long as you would like.

What do you mean by woo?  I think that the way to go is science, but that science itself is still evolving and needs to develop new methods and validity criteria to address current issues that come up in consciousness studies and other “soft” areas.  I do have a bad habit of trying to push people to think outside whatever box they’re in though.  The walls of Salt’s box are reinforced concrete with lead lining so no movement there but it’s fun to provoke him, plus the opportunity he provides of learning new forms of insult.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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burt

Do you believe there is a supernatural realm? Magic? Anything outside the known laws of physics? Is there anything other than natural phenomena? Come on, you know what woo is, especially on this forum.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 03 April 2009 01:47 PM

They have places in Scottsdale AZ where one can get preserved… I’ll give you the address if you like.

Burt prefers Tucson. That’s where die wissenmeister (connoisseur-regisseurs?) assemble.

*nice to see you manifesting Salt.  cool smile

I’m not so much manifesting as festering, mano-a-mano.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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‘This will date me, but WTF: It’s not how long you make it; it’s how you make it long.’

Of course ‘long’ can be a measurement of time or distance so….
Some people might prefer one over the other. Some might prefer both. Trouble is, most of us, most of the time only have control over one of those.

That is the thing about age though. What we once did all night, now takes us all night to do.

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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 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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I don’t know much about innuendo; but thinking of ii and suckling is activating thoughts of protein synthesis and flagella motility. This thread is rendering meaning to my sigh-ence.

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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: 03 April 2009 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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It’s a Burt. It’s too plain. It’s sprmn.

McCreason - 03 April 2009 03:44 PM

What we once did all night, now takes us all night to do.

This is not the worst thing that has ever happened to a person. Do you see the dark at the end of the tunnel?

[ Edited: 03 April 2009 01:17 PM by Traces Elk]
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