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The Illusion of the Self, An Interview With Bruce Hood
Posted: 26 May 2012 09:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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kyrani99 - 26 May 2012 03:33 PM

Firstly you appreciate the world of science, so do I. However I also see limitation in the scientific method that cause me to be cautious. I also see value in other areas too. You can’t prove love and hate etc scientifically. You might be able to examine the biochemistry associated with them but that is not what they are. So the world of hocus pocus as you call it is not hocus pocus. It’s just what you don’t like that you call hocus pocus. And yes I do appreciate that things like organized religion is hocus pocus.


insight meditation is not an oxymoron. It is the use of contemplation or reflection to gain perceptions or insights and maybe cannot be proved directly but can be shown indirectly because you can gain insights about something, within the body or remotely that can be shown to be true. I have used it to examine my body AND used the results to formulate mental prescriptions to make my body well again.. without medical intervention of whatever sort.


You are defining the self as the point of awareness and you can do what scientists do and that is to say “by definition” but that is just an opinion, it doesn’t make it self. There is more to us than the physical and awareness is from a non-physical source. We might call it “higher self” but whatever you call it, it is not the personal or ego-self.


That’s a popular area for confusion- that “other areas” are as valuable as science. That’s the kind of thinking you get from religious types, and is known as “false equivalence”. The “limitation[s] in the scientific method” you refer to are not taken up by non-scientific, especially non-logical means. That assertion is false.


You can prove love and hate through scientific means. These are studied at the biochemical level in the human brain, and have been for some time.


http://www.youramazingbrain.org/lovesex/sciencelove.htm


No, defining the self as a point of awareness is not an opinion. It’s an observation. An opinion is “a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty”- this, from Webster’s. An observation, however, is “Facts learned by observing”. In this instance we might refer to that observation as an observational theory. Not a theory as in “A belief that can guide behaviour”, or “supposition”, but rather, “A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena”.


I used to be into this Eastern philosophy stuff too, just like you are. But then the sixties ended and the world moved on.


This is not to say that I didn’t learn a lot of useful things, as I’m sure you have, but I have since learned what the limitations are, and where the boundaries are drawn.


The hardest thing for science enthusiasts to learn is patience and work-ethic. You can’t just jump in and hope to be an expert. You have to work hard and learn, maybe even hit the books. I studied physics at the university level, for example, but that doesn’t qualify me to talk about, say, the doings at CERN in the first-person. I’ve learned a healthy respect for the years of hard work scientists put in, all those years of subsisting on Kraft Dinner and wieners, just so that, maybe once in a career or a lifetime, a person might, just might, further mankind’s ever-growing body of knowledge.


Scientists don’t get a lot of respect these days, but unlike the rest of us who are just talking about it, they’re in there doing it, and have earned far more respect than they’re ever given.

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Posted: 26 May 2012 11:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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The evidence for that is in ESP.

I don’t think ESP has ever been demonstrated. I have seen lots of debunkings however.

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Posted: 26 May 2012 11:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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gsmonks - 26 May 2012 09:57 PM

[quote author=“kyrani99” date=“1338071617”
Scientists don’t get a lot of respect these days, but unlike the rest of us who are just talking about it, they’re in there doing it, and have earned far more respect than they’re ever given.

 

Well I certainly respect science and nothing I said should be taken to mean otherwise. It’s like (or may be exactly) Godel’s Theorem . There MAY be true propositions that science can’t prove are true. But if science proves it , it’s true.  As far as emotion and self and love and hate, I just collectively refer to these things as “awareness or consciousness” . It’s better to leave off the differentiation into emotion and logical thought and intuition and all that stuff since any and all of those things may or may not have an actual reliable referent.


Just for me there are two things to be said. One I’ve already said- there’s no guarantee that the stuff we literally bump up against every day can be comprehended AS IT REALLY AND FULLY IS by us just the same way a bird can get blown away (bump up against as it were ) by a nuclear bomb and have exactly zero hope of forming any concept of what actually happened to it. 


The other is that awareness and forms of mystical “knowledge” cannot be ruled out apriori as illegitimate, unless such knowledge is shown through science to be specifically false, for example claims for ESP are invariably false (yes they are! Sorry!!! )


I don’t accept that science is capable of being wrong in any meaningful way except through human error or limitation. Remember, science is just logic at its foundation, it relies entirely on the fact that a proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time (or it’s not a proposition).


So also with the facts of the world. A unicorn cannot both be real and unreal in the same sense of the word “real”. The only way real science could be in err would be if the universe were fundamentally incomprehensible to the rational human mind , which is some absolute way may be true. It may also be the case that mystical knowledge of this type:


http://www.amazon.com/Mysticism-Study-Anthology-Third-Edition/dp/0140137467


(great read to really get at what REAL mystical knowledge is “like” independent of any specific religion)


is real knowledge about reality aquirable only outside of rationality. That could be true - where “could be” is not a trivial construct like “anything could be true!”  ... oh, and I am not a scientific apostate for mentioning that true fact .

 

But that doesn’t make science wrong and you STILL can’t have the above contradiction or, if such is permitted, then it’s as I said earlier, reality and our minds are just not made for each other - tough cookies, human species!.


I am wondering how many people here think

1) ULTIMATE reality and our minds were made for each other without a doubt ?

2) whether aforementioned mystical experiences are legitimate knowetic experiences, that is, they convey accurate information about a real objective truth to their experiencer?

[ Edited: 28 May 2012 07:34 AM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 27 May 2012 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Well, speaking for myself, I don’t think anything.


In terms of “ultimate” reality, it’s true that we don’t see it, can’t touch it, are only indirectly aware of it, can only infer it.


I often refer to the human brain as something that is largely an orientation mechanism that is built to make sense of our surroundings. It supplies us with spatial orientation (including up and down), the illusion that is depth-perception, sound, colour, our many senses . . .


I say “many senses” because to say that we have five senses is silly. The five are, of course, sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, but all involve touch. Light must touch the rods and cones in our eyes, pressure-waves in the air must touch our ear drums, food must touch the tongue in order for us to taste it, a scent must touch our olfactory apparatus in order for us to smell it.


And there are other senses. Time is a sense (a kid I knew in elementary school could always tell you exactly what time it was, which is an extreme example), as is direction (this is how animals, especially birds, migrate, but it is not entirely unknown in people), hot & cold, various textures such as rough, smooth, soft, scratchy; we can feel shockwaves, as in earthquakes and subsonics in music . . . and the hits just keep on coming.


So, yes, we’re at the mercy of what our brains are telling us. Nevertheless, we’re able to infer and understand what the really real looks like. Peering through a microscope at a bird’s feather offers a telling clue. Colour vanishes, everything appears kind of grey and transparent., as it does through an electron microscope. As far as that goes, at the atomic and molecular levels, everything looks like ghosts, as all there is to be seen is electromagnetic patterns. Matter itself we know to be an incredibly tenuous thing- far more space involved than any sort of consistency.


Science itself is a collection of specialised languages whose purpose is to illuminate, give us eyes, if you will, into areas of our existence we are otherwise blind to. Like any tool, it’s an extension of ourselves which we use to poke and prod the unknown in which we reside in order to make it familiar.

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Posted: 27 May 2012 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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The topic was “The illusion of self”. Do you have a better understanding of it now? Did you convince others what it is you know. Did you even listen and if you did, how did you listen. Was it through the filter of your intellect and its prejudices? Look at these posts the illusion of self is alive and well.
The reasons that science and spiritualism are not harmonious certainly does not arise out of an intelligent mind. Here is the difference between scientific truth and spiritual truth. Science will describe the actual and spiritualism will be awake to the actual. 
If the God particle is found it will explain a lot but it will not provide a “why” even spiritual truth may not provide that.

Please bare with me, I’m almost done. At the Quantum level of the Universe (David Bohm ) states “energy is discrete”. The logical question (to my mind) is this, how did it go from that energy to the arrangement of matter we have presently? There is only one possible answer again (for my mind) and that is, the energy is intelligent.

Look it’s just a question. I am not claiming I know anything so don’t waste your time telling me ‘I don’t know anything”. I already know.
And finally some of you guys better ease off on the paint chips. Humor has its place>

warm regards to all!,

Bill
Pee S: Do not lose sight of this a scientist can use his knowledge for evil, a spiritual person can not use the essence of truth for evil.

[ Edited: 27 May 2012 04:29 PM by Bill Rogan]
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Posted: 27 May 2012 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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gsmonks - 26 May 2012 09:57 PM
kyrani99 - 26 May 2012 03:33 PM

.


That’s a popular area for confusion- that “other areas” are as valuable as science. That’s the kind of thinking you get from religious types, and is known as “false equivalence”. The “limitation[s] in the scientific method” you refer to are not taken up by non-scientific, especially non-logical means. That assertion is false.


You can prove love and hate through scientific means. These are studied at the biochemical level in the human brain, and have been for some time.


http://www.youramazingbrain.org/lovesex/sciencelove.htm


No, defining the self as a point of awareness is not an opinion. It’s an observation. An opinion is “a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty”- this, from Webster’s. An observation, however, is “Facts learned by observing”. In this instance we might refer to that observation as an observational theory. Not a theory as in “A belief that can guide behaviour”, or “supposition”, but rather, “A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena”.


I used to be into this Eastern philosophy stuff too, just like you are. But then the sixties ended and the world moved on.


This is not to say that I didn’t learn a lot of useful things, as I’m sure you have, but I have since learned what the limitations are, and where the boundaries are drawn.


The hardest thing for science enthusiasts to learn is patience and work-ethic. You can’t just jump in and hope to be an expert. You have to work hard and learn, maybe even hit the books. I studied physics at the university level, for example, but that doesn’t qualify me to talk about, say, the doings at CERN in the first-person. I’ve learned a healthy respect for the years of hard work scientists put in, all those years of subsisting on Kraft Dinner and wieners, just so that, maybe once in a career or a lifetime, a person might, just might, further mankind’s ever-growing body of knowledge.


Scientists don’t get a lot of respect these days, but unlike the rest of us who are just talking about it, they’re in there doing it, and have earned far more respect than they’re ever given.


Science is not the only valuable area of human endeavor. Spiritual achievement is very different to science and thus wrong to call it “an equivalence”, it is not an equivalence because it is not about logic but every bit as valuable if not more so. You cannot evaluate it’s worth if you have never had an enlightenment experience. Sure, there is a lot of abuse of religion and religious organizations but that does not mean we throw out the baby with the bath water. There is a lot of abuse in government too, we still persevere with government. There is a lot of abuse in science too, by some scientists but we don’t label all of scientists and science bad because of it. There have been scientists that have published bogus papers that sounded real, just to prove that it could be done. A scientific paper can be “peer-reviewed” and published in a journal and that makes it part of the “body of science” but it doesn’t make the work valid. It is only valid when others have been able to repeat the experiments and get the same results. So really what we call science is a mixed bag.


I did not say that the limitations in the scientific method are taken up by any other methods. I merely stated that the scientific method is flawed. You quote objectivity as if it is a holy grail. THERE IS NO OBJECTIVITY, everything is relative.  Secondly you see logic as the be all and end all but logic is just a way of thinking. If reality is a huge matrix of probabilities and choice is capable of selecting possibilities then logic goes out the window. Furthermore you cannot describe a system that is complex but worse than that once you add choice then what laws or logic is going to work to come up with general formulations that you might call theory? Non logical means may well be the deciding factors in some cases. What then? It appears more and more that reality is an unbreakable whole and lot of science attempts to study the parts to understand the whole, which means it is an invalid method of study. Neuroscience would have to be one of the worst offenders in this area.


Your assertion that love and hate are proven by scientific means is just such a point in question. You can study these at the biochemical level in the brain till the cows come home you cannot then make assertions of value about love and hate. Both involve a metaphysical or non-physical aspect and that is never taken into account. Why? Oh because we can’t quantify it, we can’t even qualify it so we just put our head in the sand and say it doesn’t exist. That is bias! This is another big area of problems in the scientific method because at the end of the day the “interpreter of the results” is none other than a personal self… a non-entity! Little wonder we have gaps and in actual fact the gaps are bigger than what we know or think we know.


There are no means whatever by which you can observe the self, let alone observe it as a point of awareness. You don’t even have any way of observing awareness. Your definition from the Webster says it all. What proof of certainty do you have? NONE! No one has come up with a plausible explanation for awareness thus far, let alone to say that it is personal self. Quite apart from anything else, the most trivial form of enlightenment experience is the experience of no-self, but I can assure you awareness does not disappear. You can observe that there is awareness PERIOD! The rest is assertion and nothing else. It might be that all the neuroscientists in the world agree that self is a point of awareness but that does not make it fact. Every physicist in the world agreed with and celebrated Newton’s laws. Yes while the math is good and we still use it, the physics is wrong.


I respect that you were interested in Eastern philosophy in the sixties, but I was never interested in philosophy. I was and am interested in spiritual endeavor. Philosophy as far as I can see is interesting mind games, while spiritual endeavor is beyond mind altogether.


I too studied physics both at university and afterwards but I am not a physicist. And I agree with you that we cannot have the same intimate understanding as a physicist for his or her subject, but one doesn’t have to be a physicist to appreciate what physicists are publishing in their books for lay people.


As for scientists, I think it is naïve to talk about them as one uniform group. There are good scientists and there are bad, there are those that are prepared to “think outside the box” and those that “tow a line” for many and varied reasons. Some as you say have earned respect but there are others that aren’t even worth shitting on. I have seen scientists parading themselves as respectability itself while privately manufacturing results as the big pharmaceutical companies would like and be rewarded immensely for their efforts. IMO their daily bread drips with the blood of millions of innocent people, men, women and children. 


Another problem is that almost all scientists are committed to materialism only and will interpret result to that end.
You can have a look here Fritjof Capra’s (whom I respect) in his book “The Tao of Physics” page 175, where he quotes an excerpt from Hermann Minkowski’s ( a mathematician formulating Einstein’s work into the language of mathematics) lecture in 1908.
“ The view of space and time………..sprung from the soil of experimental physics…………..only a kind of unison of the two (space and time) will preserve an independent reality.”

And Capra goes on to verify this and justify it. And anyone who challenges this or any other cherished interpretation is called woo woo science, even when the new theories suggested would answer some of the questions that are today unanswerable. Surely to further knowledge it is worthwhile to consider new ideas and investigate them. This however is not what is done. Science is a growing body of every-changing knowledge, it is not uniformly accepted by all and some of it is based on bias.

 

[ Edited: 27 May 2012 04:16 PM by kyrani99]
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Posted: 27 May 2012 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Bill Rogan - 27 May 2012 12:42 PM

The topic was “The illusion of self”. Bill
Pee S: Do not loose sight of this a scientist can use his knowledge for evil, a spiritual person can not use the essence of truth for evil.

A correction here.
Do not loose sight that there are good people and there are evil people.
There are scientists (because to study science does not require you to have any moral standing) and
        there are those parading themselves as spiritual people (because a true spiritual person is good and never evil),
                  who do evil work.
It is evil people, in whatever area they have entered, who do evil work, that will either use knowledge for evil or present their warped understanding of the essence of truth for evil. A true spiritual person NEVER uses the essence of truth for evil. NEVER!
And a true scientist, one that is committed to the pursuit of knowledge, NEVER works for, nor uses knowledge for evil. NEVER.

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Posted: 27 May 2012 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 26 May 2012 11:21 PM

The evidence for that is in ESP.

I don’t think ESP has ever been demonstrated. I have seen lots of debunkings however.

If the experiments are not done properly then how on earth are you going to demonstrate something positively.
There are reasons, $1,000,000,000 reason for not doing the experiments. ESP is the hidden factor behind almost all of disease.
There is no genuine debunking of ESP because all of the debunkers double and triple blind the experiments and hence screen out the ESP. The thing you want to test for needs to be screened out in the blank and never in the experiment and yet that is what is done to supposedly debunk ESP. It is not only money, but the majority of scientists are committed to a materialism only reality and they do not want to see or hear of any evidence that shakes the foundation of their beliefs.

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Posted: 27 May 2012 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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kyrani99 I dont’’ think we can talk to each other meaningfully. No offense.

gsmonks:

,yes, we’re at the mercy of what our brains are telling us. Nevertheless, we’re able to infer and understand what the really real looks like.


I think what’s indicated is something a little more humble.. I change your assertion above to:


“Our brains infer and understand what a more accurate model of the really real looks like. ”

 

We do build more accurate models. But it’s significant - very - that we have no more assurance that those models, or any models we do build or will build, are accurate pictures of the one, objective underlying reality.

 

Our brains evolved only tangentially as truth detecting machines. The real purpose is survival long enough to pass on your genes- that’s the definition of a successful organism. So our brains evolved to help us survive at least until adulthood , and to make us horny. Everything else is an epiphenomena or an accidental side effect of the particular way we did, as a matter of evolutionary history , evolve. A lot of culture is just be a side effect of the one-time, accidental way our brains happened to evolve. Certainly Diablo III fits this description.

 

We could have been successful and had very much another type of brain, so long as that brain kept us alive long enough to procreate. Some people think Neanderthals were very “different” with a unique (stone age) culture and take on reality for instance.

 

So my response is “almost” . It’s not that we’re guaranteed to come to know “real” reality, it’s that we do as a matter of historical fact tend to build more powerful and accurate models. But there’s still no guarantee that Ultimate Reality and the human mind are made for each other .

 

I just say this because I think it’s good for us as individuals, as scientists , it’s good for our character,  to have something in our heads that is 1) indisputably true 2) important   3)  humbling with respect to a certain set of philosophical beliefs we might entertain and seek to inflict on others as “certain knowledge”.

 

 

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Posted: 27 May 2012 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 27 May 2012 05:17 PM

kyrani99 I dont’’ think we can talk to each other meaningfully. No offense.

gsmonks:

,yes, we’re at the mercy of what our brains are telling us. Nevertheless, we’re able to infer and understand what the really real looks like.


I think what’s indicated is something a little more humble.. I change your assertion above to:


“Our brains infer and understand what a more accurate model of the really real looks like. ”

 

We do build more accurate models. But it’s significant - very - that we have no more assurance that those models, or any models we do build or will build, are accurate pictures of the one, objective underlying reality.

 

Our brains evolved only tangentially as truth detecting machines. The real purpose is survival long enough to pass on your genes- that’s the definition of a successful organism. So our brains evolved to help us survive at least until adulthood , and to make us horny. Everything else is an epiphenomena or an accidental side effect of the particular way we did, as a matter of evolutionary history , evolve. A lot of culture is just be a side effect of the one-time, accidental way our brains happened to evolve. Certainly Diablo III fits this description.

 

We could have been successful and had very much another type of brain, so long as that brain kept us alive long enough to procreate. Some people think Neanderthals were very “different” with a unique (stone age) culture and take on reality for instance.

 

So my response is “almost” . It’s not that we’re guaranteed to come to know “real” reality, it’s that we do as a matter of historical fact tend to build more powerful and accurate models. But there’s still no guarantee that Ultimate Reality and the human mind are made for each other .

 

I just say this because I think it’s good for us as individuals, as scientists , it’s good for our character,  to have something in our heads that is 1) indisputably true 2) important   3)  humbling with respect to a certain set of philosophical beliefs we might entertain and seek to inflict on others as “certain knowledge”.

 

Yes possibly you’re right we may not be able to talk to each other meaningfully because I can’t accept what you say there in your last paragraph. There is nothing we can have in our heads as indisputable true. Important, yes I agree. What about your third point??? are you saying you humbling to inflict on others as “certain knowledge”??? surely this is what many scientists are accusing theists of doing.
Anyways thanks for your exchange.

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Posted: 27 May 2012 06:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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The reason I said what I said about not communicating is b/c of your ESP post and rejection of double blind studies. I think we’re just too far away from each other I am really not dismissing you , just.. wow , we’re way away from each other !


As far as the humbling thing what I am saying is it’s good for people to be , ultimately, deep in their own minds, humble about their beliefs with respect to the ULTIMATE nature of reality. Certainly the world’s religions could use a dose of this, but alas, no hope for them.  For us, the rational, reality based community I think we need a dose of this even for ourselves. Nazi doctors (g’day to you Mr. Godwin sir…) come to mind, who were not (very) mystical (well, actually…. that’s not true) but anyways used their limited knowledge of science as an excuse to inflict atrocities. I don’t think anyone is safe from turning bad who also thinks they have a kind of cosmic (small c) certainty   about what they think they know . John Von Neumann also springs to mind. He was caricatured in Kubric’s “How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb” as Dr Strangelove.  He told Ike that the US ought to preemptively nuke the USSR while we had the bomb and they didn’t. Ike didn’t listen to him… thanks Ike!

[ Edited: 27 May 2012 06:35 PM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 28 May 2012 12:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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As far as evolution goes, a comment regarding extratesticals from other planetoids grabbed my ear a few days ago- that the “face” we associate with living animals on this planet might very well not evolve on other planets. In fact, the speaker pointed out, everything recognisable might be absent, which is why it’s so very hard to come up with a “real” alien for speculative purposes.


Ever notice, too, how there’s a “sensory plane” through most animals’ heads, including our own? Tilt your head a little forward, so the eyes and ears are level, then lop off the top of your head, and you’ll see that sight, sound and smell are sliced right through the middle.


Don’t try this at home, kids.


Also, the body of mammals is kind of worm-like when you think about it. Lop off the arms and legs, and you’re left with a mouth at one end and an arsehole at the other. The eyes and nose are above the mouth for obvious reasons- food and goo would dribble down into your eyes and nose, otherwise. Plus the eyes and ears are at the top for locating food, the nose is above the mouth for detecting whether something is probably good or not, and the tongue has the final say before something is ingested.


Seen in that light, humanity is really just a complex brew of amino acids whose true purpose is to break down the environment.


Which is what humanity is doing, right?


:^)

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Posted: 28 May 2012 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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gsmonks:

Yes I agree with your post strongly . Humans are whatever evolution shit out its ass over the course of a few hundred million years.  It’s not always so great to be stuck on a planet populated by such an end product.  But at the same time, as an accident of evolution, some, most, humans also come imbued with a sense of beneficence or altruism which results in them not wanting to hurt other things, at least those things with recognizable nervous systems.


I even read a paper where a researcher was wondering if we have the right to eat peas since his work was indicating that peas can communicate danger - environmental stresses- to each other and wasn’t this as act of communication between somehow-conscious entities?  So this impulse in some individuals to be kind is in some people at least not limited   merely to those things which might be described as head-sporting alimentary canals.


So we have better angles (no typo there) to our nature . This could be a source of hope . If we generalize the “breaking down the environment” problem as “anti-social, self-centeredness to the point of all-life annihilation” which is basically what we’re obviously capable of, then giving an artificial “boost” to those parts of our brain which are pro-social, in opposition to anti-social, could solve a lot of problems at one go.  Re-engineering the genome to produce slightly different people with slightly different tendencies could be the solution to the majority of humanity’s self-inflicted problems.


Pretend we know that brains “emit” thoughts, conscious or otherwise,  which directly guide actions, leaving all philosophical notions of free will etc out of it for a minute.  Pretend also that some brains, all environmental and social factors being equal, will problem solve and set goals for itself which are fundamentally short-sighted, anti-social and selfish while other brains will look for solutions which are more pro-social inclusive and non-exploitative.  If we could find a way to produce brains of the second type rather than the first, this would have to be counted as a ultimate engineering achievement of our species.


We’ve engineered away innumerable problems that have made life on earth miserable for us for most off history. Many diseases, famine, scarcity etc. What is largely left, tsunamis aside, are a list of things we do to each other. War driven famine, resource hording, anti-egalitarian impulses.


We create enough food for everyone. We have the ability to distribute it. We can make enough stuff to raise everyone’s standard of living to a good level. Our problems are now largely self-inflicted. With our anti-social impulses and our advanced technology its more than possible that we’ll simply end up extinguishing ourselves and a lot of other species. This is also ultimately if you trace it back, because we evolved to compete for limited resources with each other and because we reproduce sexually instead of some other way, say, asexually.  These two things really guide most social behaviour and most laws in any society and they’re what we go to war over and kill each other over.


Resources aren’t limited in the way they were in pre-history and evolution via the bar scene is not producing better people along any interesting dimension. The way forward in evolutionary terms is to consciously apply technology,  so we go down an alternative path to natural evolution, one in which we deliberately create better people along the dimensions that we consciously value.


Taking the totality of human efforts and approaches into account, we’ve tried everything else at some time or another to improve humanity. We’ve tried indoctrination (communism for instance), we’ve tried narrative (religion), we’ve tried arranging financial contingencies (capitalism) and social contingencies (secular societies)  but really does any of it work? If there’s a way of arranging and preserving a system of contingencies which reliably and durably produce pro-social behaviors we haven’t struck upon it yet.


Worse yet, there’s mounting evidence that not just the extremes of human behaviour are represented by unique genetic predispositions - sociopaths for instance- but also less virulent expressions of the same traits - authoritarian, hierarchical, small-tribal and individualistic to the point of destructive self-centeredness/destructiveness may also be strongly genetically mediated tendencies as are their opposites, pro-social, communitarian, generous and inclusive.  The political divisiveness we see may have uneradicable genetic roots and all the talk is just so much huffing and puffing which doesn’t change anyone’s mind. . We may be different , with subtly but intractably different brains which evolved to meet different environmental exigencies.


To the extent that any of that is true, and I think it is broadly accurate, then we need to take the reigns of control away from evolution and put them into our own hands. It’s not without risk, but we just have to make it to the finish line once and forward of that time, society , the people who will then be in it, will form a self-sustaining system.

 

 

 

 

 

[ Edited: 28 May 2012 06:25 AM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 28 May 2012 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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It’s always the “you first” or “who gets to decide?” dilemma when it comes to engineering progress for the species, especially when the question of population control arises.


Achieving consensus isn’t possible, and enforcing an end has always proven to be some type of nightmare scenario or other.


If our species survives a few more centuries- and that’s a big “if”- some of our number will gradually merge with our technology, and those who are so inclined will evolve in a whole new way. If the merging with technology proves successful, humankind as an animal won’t last very long. A creature with vastly enhanced memory, expanded intelligence and an eternal life-span, with the body of knowledge and experience that goes with it, won’t tolerate the selfish stupidity of homo sapiens for very long.


Besides, by the time the human brain can be plugged into a computer, a collective consciousness will right away emerge that will be the sum total of everyone plugged into the system. When that happens, mankind will be replaced with a super-being that will progress exponentially, because it will have infinitely much more intelligence, memory, capacity, everything in every direction simultaneously.


It will literally be a Big Bang of consciousness.

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Posted: 28 May 2012 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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gsmonks - 28 May 2012 06:40 AM

It’s always the “you first” or “who gets to decide?” dilemma when it comes to engineering progress for the species, especially when the question of population control arises.


Achieving consensus isn’t possible, and enforcing an end has always proven to be some type of nightmare scenario or other.


If our species survives a few more centuries- and that’s a big “if”- some of our number will gradually merge with our technology, and those who are so inclined will evolve in a whole new way. If the merging with technology proves successful, humankind as an animal won’t last very long. A creature with vastly enhanced memory, expanded intelligence and an eternal life-span, with the body of knowledge and experience that goes with it, won’t tolerate the selfish stupidity of homo sapiens for very long.


As far as consensus goes, no consensus on anything has ever been achieved, and yet things get done. So consensus is not an obstacle so long as a minority who have power to decide what gets done do so. That’s how all history is created. Just ask Bush et. al.


As far as this:

those who are so inclined will evolve in a whole new way. If the merging with technology proves successful, humankind as an animal won’t last very long. A creature with vastly enhanced memory, expanded intelligence and an eternal life-span, with the body of knowledge and experience that goes with it, won’t tolerate the selfish stupidity of homo sapiens for very long.


Yeah, right. It could be just as true that people with that expanded knowledge and lifespan conclude that the rest of us are insects who need to be made dead ASAP. If you gave such to the Ayn Randers or libertarians how quickly do you think they’d set about exterminating us - perhaps through “denying us their work because it’s theirs “-  in the name of their own obvious superiority? About two seconds, that’s how long.


Our problem isn’t that we’re not smart enough. It’s that we’re not nice enough. That’s the point of my post. We don’t have technological problems, we have social ones. We have people who unconsciously act out their primeval programming to get more stuff and better themselves at everyone else’s expense… “hey, life’s a competition… the fittest need to survive, man. Giving people welfare is just helping to breed society’s incompetents..man…. ” Like that.


We are smart enough, we have in place an effective and efficient way to discover and deal with reality- it’s called science. conflating making us smarter with making us nicer is a big mistake. Everyone naturally thinks that if people are smarter they won’t do the evil things they do now. In fact,  community oriented, pro-social behaviour and empathy is it’s own stand-alone trait. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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