3 of 4
3
'Self' is a social construct
Posted: 29 August 2007 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

I think we pretty well line up in the same philosophical domain Nhoj, of course I came at it from a background in philosophy and that has made me more vigilant in the words I use and the ways that I use them.  If a word like “ghost” came up in a scientific discussion of the “nature of mind” a person would simply be ignored as a raving catholic, so I have been careful to avoid those kind of “painting myself in a corner” situations.  Of course being that I understand ‘mind’ to be a fiction itself, leaves me little room to operate in the domains of “the philosophy of mind” and even “the philosophy of language” for similar reasons.

Yes, the Velocity Argument, as you put, is an excellent choice of words.  Also, I happen to share your assessment about the speed of conscious operations and the great effect that has on how we formulate a reality.  On this V.A. it would seem that language use itself is always and necessarily a bit late to capture the real reality, in which case all those who depend on language to formulate their world (including me) are living in a world slightly removed from the true reality.  In fact, in order to experience the “real world” one would have to remove all the fictions (ghosts) that inhabit and serve to construct one’s world view.  So even scientists are momentarily “living in a fantasy” for much of the time.  But theists, well their grasp of reality is so far behind what is actually happening that it is sadly pathological to get that grossly out of synch with what is real.

Of course, the only way to “get back to” the immediacy of the real world is to strip off one’s clothes and run into the forest and survive feeding on mushrooms, berries, small rodents, and the occasional clam.  That would certainly be an experience of the immediate realness.  However, we humans have fictionalized our world to such an extent as to make it all but impossible to ever know what is actually happening in the real world.  This is one of the reasons I live in the country, quite secluded from the bustle of the “normal” human world.

I’m also glad that you mentioned morality, because obviously in order to make a real moral judgement one must be able to anticipate the different consequences of various actions. This matter of anticipating puts one into a future realm of limitless possibilites and from that formulated future we must choose an action for the present moment.  Perhaps this surf into the imaginary is what makes morality such a difficult subject to capture in a discursive way, and no doubt a reason why we admire those who are able to “do the right thing” on the spur of the moment when such action is required?

Anyway, Nhoj, we can work on this Velocity Argument in many interesting ways . . . new formulations are always exciting, especially when they self-consciously admit their own limiations right from the start.  In this sense we are perhaps weeding out many assumptions before we start out on our journey, and that must be good, don’t you think so?

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 August 2007 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  496
Joined  2005-02-22

[quote author=“CanZen”] If a word like “ghost” came up in a scientific discussion of the “nature of mind” a person would simply be ignored as a raving catholic, so I have been careful to avoid those kind of “painting myself in a corner” situations.

But now you’ve painted yourself into the other corner of the nave. Right where they want us. We can’t talk about subjects that shape the lives of the majority of people on the planet- what people feel, what they know in their gut, the experience of connections one cannot explain. The religious don’t own the subject. They’ve kidnapped it, seized it by force.
Personally, I am fed up with having to be careful to avoid using any kind of words in any situation because the black curse of religiosity hangs over them. I am careful of course, but I am fed up. Back off, Jehovah, I wasn’t talking to you!

the Velocity Argument, as you put, is an excellent choice of words.

You coined it in an earlier post. You’ll get royalties.

all those who depend on language to formulate their world (including me) are living in a world slightly removed from the true reality. In fact, in order to experience the “real world” one would have to remove all the fictions (ghosts) that inhabit and serve to construct one’s world view. So even scientists are momentarily “living in a fantasy” for much of the time. But theists, well their grasp of reality is so far behind what is actually happening that it is sadly pathological to get that grossly out of synch with what is real.

Try taking it a little further. Not so slightly removed. We don’t do that much business in the real world.
In order to experience “Chicago”, one better be well armed with a head of full fictions.
The mechanism of fantastic living is the same for the scientist and the theist. The World of Science and The Kingdom of God can only be perceived by #3. It’s all in how we use the capacity. Or are used by it. 

Of course, the only way to “get back to” the immediacy of the real world is to strip off one’s clothes and run into the forest

That would be the original home of #1 and #2.
#3 would atrophy back into god.

in order to make a real moral judgement one must be able to anticipate the different consequences of various actions. This matter of anticipating puts one into a future realm of limitless possibilites and from that formulated future we must choose an action for the present moment.

That ability belongs to #3. Ironic, huh?

we admire those who are able to “do the right thing” on the spur of the moment when such action is required

Spur of the moment actions reveal the true nature and attributes of #1 and #2, the original organic self. Actions that weren’t planned in advance. That’s when you see what someone is made of.

we are perhaps weeding out many assumptions before we start out on our journey, and that must be good, don’t you think so?

I think we should leave a steady trail of exhaust the whole way.

Cheers.

 Signature 

Delude responsibly.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 August 2007 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]We can’t talk about subjects that shape the lives of the majority of people on the planet- what people feel, what they know in their gut, the experience of connections one cannot explain.

One word you never hear these people using is “contingent”. Now there’s a concept. Listen to the sound of it, a little like the shattering of a crystal wine glass., or if you tap it gently with your flatware before proposing a toast.

Now listen to the sound of “woo woo”. That’s the sound you get when you rub a moist finger around the rim of the glass, in a, um, circular motion.

I think we should leave a steady trail of exhaust the whole way.

Arrrghh. Chemtrails. Ghost writers in the sky.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 August 2007 12:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  496
Joined  2005-02-22

[quote author=“Salt Creek”]One word you never hear these people using is “contingent”. Now there’s a concept. Listen to the sound of it, a little like the shattering of a crystal wine glass., or if you tap it gently with your flatware before proposing a toast.

Now listen to the sound of “woo woo”. That’s the sound you get when you rub a moist finger around the rim of the glass, in a, um, circular motion.

Be careful not to cut yourself on those metaphors.

Always brush and floss after such biting sarcasm.

Arrrghh. Chemtrails. Ghost writers in the sky.

Gee. I wonder what process of nature put that little pattern of pixels on my screen.

Same destination as what?

 Signature 

Delude responsibly.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 August 2007 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]Same destination as what?

Don’t ask me, ask Bob. He came up with the subject line. I just ran with it, with no particular place to go. I sensed a bear chasing me.

But since you’re asking, people like us insist on beginning wherever we are. We’re always at our destination. Any place where the bear is not.

Isn’t that the essence of “be here now”?

As for the cheaper fares, well, you know what Einstein said:

Time is money.

Or maybe it was J. P. Morgan who said that.

I don’t know what people are after with the afterlife. Or with self as a social construct. A self-repaying loan would suit me just fine.

My concept of the “self” is “that which pays off the mortgage.”

My concept of the “bear” is “the bear market”.

Mysticism is just a stance one adopts in a volatile market.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 August 2007 05:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

I made the contribution of the “journey” talk a few posts back, the destination of which I really did not think needed specification . . . now I’m not sure if a destination is the desired point of the excercise anyway?

The original notion of ‘self’ that was thrown into question is the mundane idea of what we answer when someone asks, “Who are you?”  Any answer to that question is a socially constructed one no matter what words come to the “rescue.”  I guess the real ‘self’ worth examining is in a first-person sense and that comes more in doing than in saying, so to speak (although ‘saying’ is a kind of ‘doing’ - damn it!).  Maybe the destination is when you find yourself under the shade of a grove of jack pines, crawling along through the mosses and lichens, dead leaves and centipedes, eating cranberries one by one as you find them.  You look up as you are startled by the sound of another creature in your vicinity, if it’s a bear - you’ll run, if it’s another human being, you’ll wonder, “who does she think I am crawling along the forest floor like an ovesized slug?”

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 August 2007 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

A sucinct expression from Dennett:

“A self, according to my theory… [is] an abstraction defined by the myriad’s of attributions and interpretations (including self-attributions and self-interpretations) that have composed the biography of the living body whose Center of Narrative Gravity it is.”  (pp. 426-427)

And further, this abstract self is assumed to be a conscious self:

  “Our tales are spun, but for the most part we don’t spin them; they spin us.  Our human consciousness, and our narrative selfhood, is their product, not their source.”  (p. 418)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 September 2007 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  496
Joined  2005-02-22

I was checking my chapter one for typos and noticed that I had used the word contingent twice on the first page.

Ting-ting.

I propose a begrudging toast to the ghost in whatever form or non-form you see him. For we are going to need him for at least a little while longer. Telling people that the universe doesn’t have a watchful and conniving deity that gave us a religious path to immortality is going to be hard. Telling them they don’t have a soul is going to be much, much harder.
Religion is the real threat. The ghost will wait.

 Signature 

Delude responsibly.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 September 2007 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

Nhoj, you appear to be bound to the ghost with just as much conviction as I am intent on breaking those bonds.  But you helped me to think about the bigger picture.  I seemed to be indicating with most of my scribblings here that real reality is to be experienced when man is found naked in the tangles of natures webs.  So then I thought . . . what about man dressed to the nines on the Strip in Las Vegas . . . isn’t that just as much an experience of the real?  Isn’t Vegas just as real as Iguazu Falls? 

Maybe there are different ghosts that inhabit both places . . . I’m obsessed with the pure, natural ghost (of life and motion) and I want to avoid the cynical ghost of human intervention (language and technology)?  Sure Vegas is real, but from a purely aesthetic sense, it’s a complete assault on the senses.  Iguazu Falls is a natural assault that inspires awe and respect for the forces that made human life possible, while Las Vegas is an unnatural assault that confronts us with a different effect.  Las Vegas instructs us to bow down to the forces in nature that humans have remodelled into their own image, it’s all flash and glare. 

In order to be able to appreciate the reality of Vegas, one has to know a whole lot of the background of human life on this planet.  The most seductive and the most outrageous aspects of human endeavour are on display here, but someone who is unfamiliar with the power of money, who has no knowledge of other civilizations, who has no clue as to the role of superstition in people’s lives, to such a person the reality of Vegas is all glitz and glamour set into a man-made jewel in the middle of nowhere.  There is indeed a ghost that pervades every aspect of Las Vegas life, the ghost is real, but it is also an illusion.  How much does anyone want to live in a fantasy?

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 September 2007 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  496
Joined  2005-02-22

Hi, Bob

I would not say that I have embraced the ghost, but I have set up a cot in the spare room. Frankly, I can’t remember the last time I checked to see if it was slept in.
I have never had a reputation as a defender of the human soul. I’ve always advised others to be very skeptical about it, especially as defined by religion, but I also advise that one first be unbound by religion before grappling with issues of the soul and all that. Some of the stuff here on the forum gets me going off on it a lot. I disagree with your point about believing in a self softening one up for believing in God. I think it was the other way around. The sense that something else was in our heads preceded the sense that we were in our heads.

I’ll have a quick go at the Las Vegas argument, and then enough about the damn ghost.

In order to appreciate the physical reality of Vegas, one simply has to be a human being. Just look at the structures themselves for what they physically are; stone, wood and plastic and steel formed by human manipulation into shapes and patterns with photons whizzing around everywhere. What’s the gut reaction? Is it awe and wonder at the dazzling scale and impressive control of the forces of nature? Does it feel cold and sterile? Overwhelming? Boring?
You don’t need a physical self to experience disgust in Vegas. But it will be your physical self that remembers hating it and will not want to go there again.
The buildings and the feelings are real. If everyone’s memory were blanked, they would still be there.

In order to appreciate the conscious reality of Vegas, one must be loaded with information about things like how to dress to the nines and what’s a hip way to carry on, and all the meanings of things in Vegas. All the unreal things that would cease to be if everyone’s memory were blanked. You’ll need a conscious self to be the one who is planning to be dressed to the nines and make all the appropriate moves. This self can hate Vegas for what it means.

How much does anyone want to live in a fantasy?

It depends on how much we desire to lead the sort of life made possible only by fantasy. Civilization is fantasy. If you have a conscious self, it has no where else to go. It can’t leave the holodeck. Your physical self can. It doesn’t see the holodeck, just the stuff.

Dealing with the self is hard. Especially because it is an illusion, and because we have three of them. The non-existent self has nothing to do with the ghost.

If self is an illusion, it’s the ghost who is fooled.
If there is no ghost, what difference does it make what is real or illusion? And to whom?

 Signature 

Delude responsibly.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2007 02:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  496
Joined  2005-02-22

[quote author=“Yahunyahti”] What causes energy to form matter?

It tires of carrying around all that weight.

Side Note: The identity is not entirely a social construct. A great portion of it is genetic.

Do you have a pie chart?

 Signature 

Delude responsibly.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 September 2007 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

In one of Salt Creek’s flowing sarcasms mixed with critique he appeared to imply that my contributions in this post are mystical . . . I am a bit uncomfortable with that.  After all, I am not introducing anything new to the conversation about the nature of the self (or the nature of anything else), but I am simply taking existing and legitimate scientific formulations and applying these century-old explanations to the general discussion about the nature of reality.

Now it is an entrenched belief in professional circles that one (especially a layman) should NOT appeal to the concepts of relativity theory in order to talk about everyday events or to otherwise attempt a description of mundane reality in relativistic terms.  I have even been warned by experts to cease and submit, and dismissed as a charlatan for combining explanitory domains that CANNOT be properly combined.  Perhaps Salt Creek is from these professional circles?  The normal tact of such exclusivists (not referring to Salt Creek here)  is to demand that the layman describe the motion of quarks before they proceed with any kind of combinatory discourse. It seems to me that such tactics are a defensive strategy adopted by groups who wish to uphold their own exclusive ranks among the throngs of uninformed and illiterate masses (as they see the rest of us).  The basic strategy involved here is to imply that their understanding of reality via their understanding of scientific method vis-a-vis proper domain departmentalization is of a higher veracity compared to the ramblings of the average schmuck.

For those who still cling to a purely objective metaphysics (pure materialists, for instance), there exists the underlying assumption that apart from the observer, there is a real world out there waiting to be grasped in its unique and paradigmatic veracity.  However, relying on the concepts of space and time in order to frame this apparently graspable world will lead to inevitable conundrums. This is the problem of ‘now.’  The apparent sun that we experience daily is never the real sun as it exists in “objective time.”  At the precise moment that we are appreciating the sun (its effects anyway), the real sun is already 8 minutes and twenty seconds older than the phenomenon we are viewing.  The appearance (as seen by us) of the nearest stars to the earth is the actual sensing of light that is thousands of years old, so that in the ‘now’ of “objective time” that same star might actually not even exist any more.  As we attempt to describe events at the farthest reaches of the universe, we are describing phenomena that happened millions and even billions of “earth years"ago.  Now, if the universe is limitless (in both temporal and spatial senses), then our attempt to get an objective grasp on reality will necessarily fail because of the methodological tools that we are using, namely the relative concepts of space and time as objectively real.  If we are allowed to use only these limited concepts (space and time) we will never be able to grasp an unlimited reality.  This is just a layman’s take on the philosophy of objectivity (I hope SaulDeOhio does not read this because he will respond).

If concepts like spacetime and energyfields are not permissable in discourse on things like living beings and conscious activity, then we are again limiting the horizons of the available explanitory ground.  OF course there is always the danger that nutty professers (people who profess in general) will hijack these scientific terms for their own imaginary babblings.  But all we have to do is to check the metaphysical assumptions of their rhetoric . . . if they believe in the existence of minds in a spatio-temporal sense or if they believe that consciousness is a thing (like phlogiston or ether), then we will simply dismiss their talk as being incoherent.

In order to adapt terms like ‘observer-dependent’ or ‘spacetime’ to descriptions of human perception and conscious activity, certain basic assumptions about the nature of reality must be explicitly demonstrated.  (We must revert to speaking about ‘events’ rather than ‘objects’ when describing the nature of the world around us and of ourselves in it.) I do not have to have an understanding of string theory nor do I need to be able to mathematically determine the motions of quarks or neutrinos, I will let those people who invented those concepts worry about how they operate. 

It seems to me that strict objectivity (materialism in the framework of space and time) will never be able to fully describe living beings and it certainly will fall dramatically short of describing something like conscious activity. Those who are afraid of using legitimate science (like spacetime) to describe reality in a more conclusive and comprehensive way need to look at their own fears about applying these methods.  What are they afraid of?

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 September 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

Good answer Nhoj.

My response (very similar to “it tires of carrying around all that weight”) is

Energy forms matter when it hits the limit of the universe.

If it is possible to speak from a 6-dimensional sense, all of material reality (the atomized world) actually forms the limits of the universe.

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 September 2007 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

A possibly useful reference for some of this discussion is How is Quantum Field Theory Possible? by Sunny Auyang.  It’s pretty heavy going unless one is versed in some philosophy, but speaks directly to the question of what sort of mind do we have to have in order to think about quantum fields.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 September 2007 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“CanZen”]Energy forms matter when it hits the limit of the universe.

Nonsense. Energy and matter are not distinct entities. At least not to human beings.

This is the difference between “physics” and “the ramblings of the average schmuck”.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 4
3
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed