Atheist Positivism Is Just Pretend Rationality

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Atheist Positivism Is Just Pretend Rationality

 

 

 

 

BrotherDavid wrote:

Positivism is quite evidently nonsensical, as a theory of knowledge: if it is true it must be false, seeing that the theory is not a modifiable empirical hypothesis, and cannot as far as we can see ever be subject to worthwhile measurement, & etc etc. The theory is no more than a postulate that cannot possibly demonstrate its worth using its own terms. To point out that the only workable epistemology has to be generous enough to allow religious conclusions to be live possibilities, which might then be established or discredited by the appearance of things, is to draw attention to a material fact about the evidence. Either we want to be rational and base our views on such information—in which case all considerations of this kind will tell with us. Or we don’t care less about reason or knowledge, we want to think whatever suits us—in which case we should say so, and drop the pretence of rationality and a love for facts.

 

 

 

Above is a quote from my Dr of Philosophy and theist brother, a clever and deeply annoying epistemologist, who cannot bear to think that it's not possible to think our way to a comprehension of reality. If the man is not a Platonist it would surprise me. For him, ideas, concepts, the 'immaterial' fabric of knowledge - this is the underlying truth of reality. 

In his defense, BrotherDavid is not a bible literalist, does not believe in hell and thinks much of religious doctrine is mythology. But he nevertheless holds some views that allow him to keep the door open to the possibility of 'supernaturalism' which he calls 'religious conclusions'. This and his interpretation of probability, which he must base on some sort of Bayesian false dichotomy (either god or random chance, people) are the basis for his belief there is an external god-thing. He also maintains that, using the literary historical method for which he has the greatest respect, jesus is the the most probable incarnation of this god, giving him a devotional aspect to his hypothetical prime mover. 

According to BrotherDavid, positivism fails to prove there are not concepts or laws that exist outside of the ability of human empiricism to detect them. Further, he insists that the theory of positivism cannot be proved empirically true. This loophole allows him to insist that material proofs have no more basis than do supernatural proofs - in fact they have less because they are based on a flawed epistemology, which insists on proofs which it is internally unable to deliver in support of itself.

What do others think of all this? I think we are, at heart, mostly positivist reductionists here. Do we believe everything, including knowledge itself, is reducible to atomic and possibly quantum constituents? I have long argued that it is, to Brother's frustration, which explains the implicit ad hominem in his final couple of lines. 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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in essence i agree with your

in essence i agree with your brother, if i apprehended him correctly.  it kind of reminded me of when i was still (barely) an evangelical christian.  my argument against sola scriptura was always that it has no clear biblical basis, therefore protestantism's basic mandate--bible alone--is extrabiblical. 

dogmatic positivists have always irritated me just as much as dogmatic theists.  i have always basically agreed with kant, the buddha, et al., that our "reality" is more or less made up of our perceptions.  however, i also agree with the buddha when he maintained (in the pali canon, anyway) that what may or may not be beyond the realm of our "reality" is totally irrelevant to our present situation.  i go along with positivism because no other verifiable alternative has presented itself. 

i refuse to base any important decisions (i.e., those affecting mine and others' lives) on anything outside the realm of empirical knowledge because i have not yet discovered anything more conducive to humanity's survival than basing our worldview on the five senses.  i demand empirical evidence for practical, not theoretical reasons: there just simply is no other kind of evidence that has such a good track record.  hell, in theory i have no problem with radical solopsism.  i just think it would do considerable harm to my physical and psychological wellbeing to base my life around it.

other realities beyond ours are, imo, almost a certainty.  however, until it can be empirically demonstrated that they have a direct, and controllable, effect on our own, i consider them worthy of nothing more than stimulating, and often entertaining, speculation.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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I'm with you, I think

 

iwbiek wrote:

i refuse to base any important decisions (i.e., those affecting mine and others' lives) on anything outside the realm of empirical knowledge because i have not yet discovered anything more conducive to humanity's survival than basing our worldview on the five senses.  i demand empirical evidence for practical, not theoretical reasons: there just simply is no other kind of evidence that has such a good track record.  hell, in theory i have no problem with radical solopsism.  i just think it would do considerable harm to my physical and psychological wellbeing to base my life around it.

other realities beyond ours are, imo, almost a certainty.  however, until it can be empirically demonstrated that they have a direct, and controllable, effect on our own, i consider them worthy of nothing more than stimulating, and often entertaining, speculation.

 

The thing BrotherDavid does is use this quirk of empiricism's inability to empirically justify itself to believe in supernatural first cause and some of the rest, though, in fairness to him, his supernaturalism is swinging oddly towards the vagaries of supersymmetry. In fact, I think he might just want his view to be considered as materially conceivable as he evidently considers it epistemically rational. 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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I'm confused - parsing problem

 

BrotherDavid wrote:

To point out that the only workable epistemology has to be generous enough to allow religious conclusions to be live possibilities, which might then be established or discredited by the appearance of things, is to draw attention to a material fact about the evidence.

Either we want to be rational and base our views on such information—in which case all considerations of this kind will tell with us.  

I get that Positivism cannot empirically prove itself, but what does he mean by:

"is to draw attention to a material fact about the evidence."

Does he just mean that Postivism is flawed because it cannot empirically prove itself?

And if so, has he presupposed what a material fact is?

 

and what is "will tell with us"?

Ah, now that I think about it, perhaps tell in the sense of count.

 

Also, if religious conclusions are live possibilities, then so are 'pataphysical conclusions.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%27Pataphysics

 

 


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I hold the Voltaire view of

I hold the Voltaire view of agnosticism:

"If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

There's also the video game character Morpheus:

"God was a dream of good government"

Obviously, context is important: "Morpheus" is referring to the (somewhat) benevolent god of the New Testament from which numerous pre-Protestant kings, queens and papal officials drew their 'holy authority' during the middle ages and Renaissance, as opposed to the narcissistic and hateful "God" of the OT.

Of course, the next Voltaire quote is a paradoxical pseudoChristian classic:

"I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition."

AE, your friend is a Deist, it would seem. It's a position that is difficult to refute, even on philosophical grounds. He is intellectual enough to withstand any challenges to his 'spiritual' claims.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Atheistextremist wrote:What

Atheistextremist wrote:

What do others think of all this? I think we are, at heart, mostly positivist reductionists here. Do we believe everything, including knowledge itself, is reducible to atomic and possibly quantum constituents? I have long argued that it is, to Brother's frustration, which explains the implicit ad hominem in his final couple of lines.  

Do you really want to hear my buddhist teachings on this?

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Atheistextremist wrote:...Do

Atheistextremist wrote:

...
Do we believe everything, including knowledge itself, is reducible to atomic and possibly quantum constituents?
...

Great post Atheistextremist. I believe both you and BrotherDavid are correct and can find common grounds.

In my opinion, human empiricism as it stands is flawed only due to the mechanism of our sensory perception. As this mechanism evolves, our ability to sense and therefore process data will increase, potentially changing many worldviews, but the means by which this information is processed can still technically be considered empirical.

Imagine for example an extrasensory device implanted into the arm of every person, allowing a form of telepathy through direct communication between your nervous systems. This may sound like science fiction, but Kevin Warwick has already achieved a proof of concept. This type of extrasensory communication could eliminate individualism, but it would do so by empiricism, not rhetoric.

So in BrotherDavid's defense, if our senses are limited to those we are born with, then yes, we can never fully accept any perceived reality. However, if we consider the possibility that our senses may be extended to include previously unobservable phenomena (such as supersymmetry), then in your defense, we would then have to consider that all knowledge can be obtained in this manner.

As our knowledge of elementary and subatomic particles increases, our understanding of how matter can be manipulated is only be bound by our imagination. At this point in epistemology, information and reality can be used almost synonymously; any given reality is simply a specific state of information.

This is one of the reasons I am so intrigued by mind uploading. If reality can match imagination, is imagination bound by our mental construct, or is the process of imagining itself infinite by virtual design?

 

iwbiek wrote:

...
i refuse to base any important decisions (i.e., those affecting mine and others' lives) on anything outside the realm of empirical knowledge because i have not yet discovered anything more conducive to humanity's survival than basing our worldview on the five senses.  i demand empirical evidence for practical, not theoretical reasons: there just simply is no other kind of evidence that has such a good track record.

other realities beyond ours are, imo, almost a certainty.  however, until it can be empirically demonstrated that they have a direct, and controllable, effect on our own, i consider them worthy of nothing more than stimulating, and often entertaining, speculation.
...

This type of thinking may seem unpractical, of course it will not pay your bills, but I would like to suggest this notion is contestable as an applicable generalization to all of your day-to-day decisions.

For example, it would be unpractical for a child from a very poor family to consider amassing great wealth in his lifetime, but this idea is contested almost regularly. Although the probability of this occurrence is not likely when analyzing the whole, we mustn't allow this to deter us as individuals from limitless thinking.

Limitless thinking is how that one person out of millions achieves "the impossible". However, it must be exercised with caution; unfortunately it can also lead to imaginings of cows jumping over the moon.


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ax wrote:For example, it

ax wrote:

For example, it would be unpractical for a child from a very poor family to consider amassing great wealth in his lifetime, but this idea is contested almost regularly.

but this unlikelihood is purely statistical, not empirical.  a poor child amassing wealth against impossible odds is admirable, but hardly miraculous.  now, the idea of that child taking a bag of gold directly from the dreadful hand of ahura mazda is something i would demand empirical proof of. 

i have to say, though, i'm probably the most "spiritual" atheist you'll ever meet.  the scriptures of zen and pure land buddhism, for example, have played an invaluable part in mitigating my (admittedly mild) bouts of depression.  i've even been known to chant the nembutsu every now and then, quietly and discreetly.  i wouldn't recommend these practices to anyone else.  i wouldn't discourage them either.  i have no problem admitting i carry far more positive than negative effects from my years as a devout christian.  however, all this is purely accidental, and i wager i would have been just as "good" of, if not a better, person had it not been for my christian experience.  i simply no longer consider religion a valid foundation for one's worldview--indeed, i consider it a dangerous one. 

i came to this decision gradually and organically.  no religion ever "burned" me.  there were a lot of minor irritations with my particular christian orientation, and i won't minimize their importance, but i feel no "anger" towards god.  indeed, i love god more as an atheist than i ever have before, and i have no shame in admitting that the thinker who has had the single greatest influence on my life is the buddha, whom i consider the first recorded outspoken atheist.

in conclusion, anybody critical of any of this can go fuck themselves.  om shanti shanti shanti.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen


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iwbiek wrote:ax wrote:For

iwbiek wrote:

ax wrote:

For example, it would be unpractical for a child from a very poor family to consider amassing great wealth in his lifetime, but this idea is contested almost regularly.

but this unlikelihood is purely statistical, not empirical.  a poor child amassing wealth against impossible odds is admirable, but hardly miraculous.  now, the idea of that child taking a bag of gold directly from the dreadful hand of ahura mazda is something i would demand empirical proof of. 

i have to say, though, i'm probably the most "spiritual" atheist you'll ever meet.  the scriptures of zen and pure land buddhism, for example, have played an invaluable part in mitigating my (admittedly mild) bouts of depression.  i've even been known to chant the nembutsu every now and then, quietly and discreetly.  i wouldn't recommend these practices to anyone else.  i wouldn't discourage them either.  i have no problem admitting i carry far more positive than negative effects from my years as a devout christian.  however, all this is purely accidental, and i wager i would have been just as "good" of, if not a better, person had it not been for my christian experience.  i simply no longer consider religion a valid foundation for one's worldview--indeed, i consider it a dangerous one. 

i came to this decision gradually and organically.  no religion ever "burned" me.  there were a lot of minor irritations with my particular christian orientation, and i won't minimize their importance, but i feel no "anger" towards god.  indeed, i love god more as an atheist than i ever have before, and i have no shame in admitting that the thinker who has had the single greatest influence on my life is the buddha, whom i consider the first recorded outspoken atheist.

in conclusion, anybody critical of any of this can go fuck themselves.  om shanti shanti shanti.

Hey Brian37... see... here is another one just like me! I'm not alone!

 (ok not exactly like me, but very similar)

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

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 iwbiek wrote:...i have no

 

iwbiek wrote:

...

i have no shame in admitting that the thinker who has had the single greatest influence on my life is the buddha, whom i consider the first recorded outspoken atheist.

...

Ahh, more to you there is it seems.. mm-hmm.

 

digitalbeachbum wrote:

...

Hey Brian37... see... here is another one just like me! I'm not alone!

...

You actually came to mind as I was reading this. I'm searching for patterns, and patterns are found.

 


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:
iwbiek wrote:

i refuse to base any important decisions (i.e., those affecting mine and others' lives) on anything outside the realm of empirical knowledge because i have not yet discovered anything more conducive to humanity's survival than basing our worldview on the five senses.  i demand empirical evidence for practical, not theoretical reasons: there just simply is no other kind of evidence that has such a good track record.  hell, in theory i have no problem with radical solopsism.  i just think it would do considerable harm to my physical and psychological wellbeing to base my life around it.

other realities beyond ours are, imo, almost a certainty.  however, until it can be empirically demonstrated that they have a direct, and controllable, effect on our own, i consider them worthy of nothing more than stimulating, and often entertaining, speculation.

 

The thing BrotherDavid does is use this quirk of empiricism's inability to empirically justify itself to believe in supernatural first cause and some of the rest, though, in fairness to him, his supernaturalism is swinging oddly towards the vagaries of supersymmetry. In fact, I think he might just want his view to be considered as materially conceivable as he evidently considers it epistemically rational. 

 

"Practical" empiricism has far too many uses in civilization to count, most of which are unrealized. However, it also takes a gigantic shit on quantum physics: most physics concepts required indirect observation to become 'realized'.

 

The primary problem of quantum physics in the 21st century is that:

  1. they are based almost entirely on math and "Copenhagen rules" (neither of which amount to "evidence" )
  2. many of the claims made by it are unfalsifiable, and thus... not actual science

Yeah, I'd say practical empiricism makes a great deal of sense in a civilized society... until one considers the claims of physicists, however inane or "wrong" said claims are.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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The challenge for me

 

 

is the use of the 'flex' in human comprehension, as well as in the nature of apparent reality, to plug in the viability of a supernatural order existing behind things. Once that initial instability is established then the god person is freed up for all sorts of claims. BrotherDavid for instance, claims he has serious doubts about evolution saying he has epistemological issues with evolution in line with Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolution.

I can't imagine having epistemological doubts about the theory of evolution by selection of the most fecund rooters. The general consensus of the scientific community is that the data supports it, whether the subjective objections of the christian community are taken into account or not.

And to reject or even stand to one side of evolutionary theory and all its related data while embracing a hypothetical external first cause on the basis that one's flawed theistic epistemology is internally consistent (or even just subjectively possible), seems a lot like motivated reasoning to me.  

In defending himself from charges of relativism Kuhn said theories should be:

 

- Accurate - empirically adequate with experimentation and observation

- Consistent - internally consistent, but also externally consistent with other theories

- Broad Scope - a theory's consequences should extend beyond that which it was initially designed to explain

- Simple - the simplest explanation, principally similar to Occam's razor

- Fruitful - a theory should disclose new phenomena or new relationships among phenomena.

 

Now, we can apply these points to scientific theories but not to religious theories, in my opinion. Theism is not consistent with observation or experiment, is not simple, does not disclose new relationships among observable phenomena and does not have broad scope.  

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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For

For starters;

  1. religion≠theism
  2. religion (with one exception that I am aware of) was not built with skepticism in mind
  3. mythology can not be tested with science; it's a myth, for fucks sake!
  4. theories with "broad scope" tend to have little meaning in terms of civilized knowledge, as near as I can understand. Granted, the big bang can be 'stretched' to have a "broad scope", but it is still one event.

 

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Not sure if I'm correct

 

Kapkao wrote:

 

  1. theories with "broad scope" tend to have little meaning in terms of civilized knowledge, as near as I can understand. Granted, the big bang can be 'stretched' to have a "broad scope", but it is still one event.

 

 

but I think the idea of broad scope relates to inter-relatedness with other theories that together provide mutual support for conclusions. I've not given it much thought but I assume there are multiple hypotheses that co-support Big Bang theory. 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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ax wrote: iwbiek wrote:...i

ax wrote:

 

iwbiek wrote:

...

i have no shame in admitting that the thinker who has had the single greatest influence on my life is the buddha, whom i consider the first recorded outspoken atheist.

...

Ahh, more to you there is it seems.. mm-hmm.

 

digitalbeachbum wrote:

...

Hey Brian37... see... here is another one just like me! I'm not alone!

...

You actually came to mind as I was reading this. I'm searching for patterns, and patterns are found.

 

I see patterns too.

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams


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It worries me

digitalbeachbum wrote:

ax wrote:

 

iwbiek wrote:

...

i have no shame in admitting that the thinker who has had the single greatest influence on my life is the buddha, whom i consider the first recorded outspoken atheist.

...

Ahh, more to you there is it seems.. mm-hmm.

 

digitalbeachbum wrote:

...

Hey Brian37... see... here is another one just like me! I'm not alone!

...

You actually came to mind as I was reading this. I'm searching for patterns, and patterns are found.

 

I see patterns too.

 

that Ax's patterns are intrinsic spirituality patterns seen in 'atheists'. Ax certainly feels that an acceptance of spirituality is 'more' than bloody minded skeptical empiricism. 

Though maybe Buddhism is not strictly spiritual. I broadly identify with the Stoics, myself. Personal integrity, morality. These things cannot be externalised, in my opinion. 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

Kapkao wrote:

 

  1. theories with "broad scope" tend to have little meaning in terms of civilized knowledge, as near as I can understand. Granted, the big bang can be 'stretched' to have a "broad scope", but it is still one event.

 

 

but I think the idea of broad scope relates to inter-relatedness with other theories that together provide mutual support for conclusions. I've not given it much thought but I assume there are multiple hypotheses that co-support Big Bang theory. 

 

That would make more 'sense' than a theory that deals with a multitude of subject matter.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Atheistextremist wrote:Ax

Atheistextremist wrote:

Ax certainly feels that an acceptance of spirituality is 'more' than bloody minded skeptical empiricism. 

if so, that's where he and i would part ways.  my "spirituality," as i said, is purely accidental.  it has no bearing on anybody else, other than it often keeps me from being a total dick to people.

 

Atheistextremist wrote:

Though maybe Buddhism is not strictly spiritual.

"buddhism" comes in all shapes and sizes, and ultimately, like all religions, is something subjective to each individual adherent.  however, what scholarly consensus has deemed the most likely authentic teachings of the buddha (walpola rahula's what the buddha taught is a good frame of reference for this), are not spiritual at all, especially when you place them in their historical context.  that's why i keep putting "spiritual" in quotes.  the buddha was a born skeptic.  he dismissed the brahmanic sacrifices, the hindu pantheon, and the vedas out of hand as totally irrelevant.  the only things "spiritual" about his teachings were the blind acceptance of reincarnation (but reincarnation was accepted as fact in all indian civilizations at that time, and almost never seriously questioned, almost like gravity today) and his ideas of dhyana or meditation techniques, which were heavily borrowed from raja yoga.

when asked about the afterlife, whether or not there is an individual soul (jiva) that maintains some identity which is passed on from life to life, whether or not there is a conscious ground of existence (brahman), the buddha always dismissed these questions as pointless.  therefore, by any commonly held conception, his teachings were a-theos.

allow me also to say that i would never in a million years identify myself as a "buddhist."  that wouldn't do justice to me or buddhists.  i have freely borrowed from the milieu of buddhism whatever has been helpful to me.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen


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iwbiek wrote:"buddhism"

iwbiek wrote:

"buddhism" comes in all shapes and sizes, and ultimately, like all religions, is something subjective to each individual adherent.  however, what scholarly consensus has deemed the most likely authentic teachings of the buddha (walpola rahula's what the buddha taught is a good frame of reference for this), are not spiritual at all, especially when you place them in their historical context.  that's why i keep putting "spiritual" in quotes.  the buddha was a born skeptic.  he dismissed the brahmanic sacrifices, the hindu pantheon, and the vedas out of hand as totally irrelevant.  the only things "spiritual" about his teachings were the blind acceptance of reincarnation (but reincarnation was accepted as fact in all indian civilizations at that time, and almost never seriously questioned, almost like gravity today) and his ideas of dhyana or meditation techniques, which were heavily borrowed from raja yoga.

when asked about the afterlife, whether or not there is an individual soul (jiva) that maintains some identity which is passed on from life to life, whether or not there is a conscious ground of existence (brahman), the buddha always dismissed these questions as pointless.  therefore, by any commonly held conception, his teachings were a-theos.

allow me also to say that i would never in a million years identify myself as a "buddhist."  that wouldn't do justice to me or buddhists.  i have freely borrowed from the milieu of buddhism whatever has been helpful to me.

I used buddhism, or the term buddhist for similar reasons. I have tried to explain my belief in the four noble truths and that because I believe and follow that mindset I call myself a buddhist.

Of course, I'm labeling myself and this is bad (lol) but if I had to put a label on myself it would be buddhist.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:

ax wrote:

 

iwbiek wrote:

...

i have no shame in admitting that the thinker who has had the single greatest influence on my life is the buddha, whom i consider the first recorded outspoken atheist.

...

Ahh, more to you there is it seems.. mm-hmm.

 

digitalbeachbum wrote:

...

Hey Brian37... see... here is another one just like me! I'm not alone!

...

You actually came to mind as I was reading this. I'm searching for patterns, and patterns are found.

 

I see patterns too.

 

that Ax's patterns are intrinsic spirituality patterns seen in 'atheists'. Ax certainly feels that an acceptance of spirituality is 'more' than bloody minded skeptical empiricism. 

Though maybe Buddhism is not strictly spiritual. I broadly identify with the Stoics, myself. Personal integrity, morality. These things cannot be externalised, in my opinion. 

I don't find any spirituality in buddhism. I associate spirituality with religion and all that is wrong with said belief systems.

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"Cycle of rebirth" seems

"Cycle of rebirth" seems awfully spiritualistic to me...

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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My mother claims

digitalbeachbum wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:

ax wrote:

 

iwbiek wrote:

...

i have no shame in admitting that the thinker who has had the single greatest influence on my life is the buddha, whom i consider the first recorded outspoken atheist.

...

Ahh, more to you there is it seems.. mm-hmm.

 

digitalbeachbum wrote:

...

Hey Brian37... see... here is another one just like me! I'm not alone!

...

You actually came to mind as I was reading this. I'm searching for patterns, and patterns are found.

 

I see patterns too.

 

that Ax's patterns are intrinsic spirituality patterns seen in 'atheists'. Ax certainly feels that an acceptance of spirituality is 'more' than bloody minded skeptical empiricism. 

Though maybe Buddhism is not strictly spiritual. I broadly identify with the Stoics, myself. Personal integrity, morality. These things cannot be externalised, in my opinion. 

I don't find any spirituality in buddhism. I associate spirituality with religion and all that is wrong with said belief systems.

 

Buddhists are atheists who self worship. While she's clever enough to comprehend the fact all theists worship internal god concepts they create themselves and self moderate on the basis of their own consciences, she has a cognitive blind spot the size of a large, granite presbyterian church. With a hall.

I will never comprehend the silliness of the godly insistence that conscience, which is so obviously universal and personal, is somehow divine in nature. I think theists reify feelings. Guilt, shame, love. Anything they suddenly feel without the input of their prefrontal cortex is supernatural to them. 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

Buddhists are atheists who self worship. While she's clever enough to comprehend the fact all theists worship internal god concepts they create themselves and self moderate on the basis of their own consciences, she has a cognitive blind spot the size of a large, granite presbyterian church. With a hall.

How interesting. I've never seen that point of view.

Well for me I definitely don't worship myself. I am trying to kill my ego.

I think most buddhists who are really practicing and not those who pray to the buddha's are ones who are closer to their goal of enlightenment.

I was in China, let me see here, nope, I thought I had a picture of it, must be on video tape.

Anyway... there was a temple of 1,000 buddha's. It had all these different buddha's which were the same except the face. I was told that each buddha represented a person in their history which were "notable" for their contribution to the city.

One of the buddha's was "Marco Polo".

The people were praying to the buddha's and leaving money, food, wine, etc.

This was quite strange to me at the time because praying to the buddha's is a worthless act (for me). But when I asked the guide he said it isn't about that, it's about giving thanks for their contributions.. thus.. the 1000 statues.

I find this very enlightening. For many, many years I thought those little chinese people had it all wrong.

 

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Atheistextremist wrote:I

Atheistextremist wrote:

I will never comprehend the silliness of the godly insistence that conscience, which is so obviously universal and personal, is somehow divine in nature.

there is absolutely zero of this in buddhism, even in the most superstition-laden mahayana varieties.  the whole point of the buddha's doctrine of anatta was to combat this notion.  the idea of a buddhist worshipping himself could only be taken seriously by the most ignorant of nineteenth century "orientalists."

the buddha's teachings involve no worship whatsoever, which is why the buddha quite frankly didn't give a shit who or what his lay disciples worshipped.  he did instruct his monks, however, not to engage in worshipping any divinities, since it only bolstered the ego (thus implying that gods are nothing more than projections of our egos).

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I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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Kapkao wrote:"Cycle of

Kapkao wrote:

"Cycle of rebirth" seems awfully spiritualistic to me...

as the buddha interpreted it, it was hardly spiritual.  speculative, yes, and without empirical evidence, but, as i said above, reincarnation was always automatically accepted as a fact of life in india.

the vedic ideas of atman and jiva could justifiably be called "spiritualistic," but classic buddhism's explanation of reincarnation, "dependent arising," has no spiritual element unless we stretch the meaning of "spiritual" to "anything outside the realm of empiricism." 

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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Sorry to confuse

iwbiek wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

I will never comprehend the silliness of the godly insistence that conscience, which is so obviously universal and personal, is somehow divine in nature.

there is absolutely zero of this in buddhism, even in the most superstition-laden mahayana varieties.  the whole point of the buddha's doctrine of anatta was to combat this notion.  the idea of a buddhist worshipping himself could only be taken seriously by the most ignorant of nineteenth century "orientalists."

the buddha's teachings involve no worship whatsoever, which is why the buddha quite frankly didn't give a shit who or what his lay disciples worshipped.  he did instruct his monks, however, not to engage in worshipping any divinities, since it only bolstered the ego (thus implying that gods are nothing more than projections of our egos).

 

But I'm talking about the silliness of my mother's christian monotheism here. My habit of starting my sentences in the headers is perhaps not ideal. 

It's my ma who insists Buddhists are atheistic self-worshippers. The irony being that christians worship their own personal deistic constructions. 

I agree entirely that worship of external deities is self projection. I don't see Buddhism in the same way at all.

Buddhism to me seems like an eastern form of cynicism/stoicism with its own formulations and culture. I know little about it, however, so my preconceptions might be off. 

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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iwbiek wrote:Kapkao

iwbiek wrote:

Kapkao wrote:

"Cycle of rebirth" seems awfully spiritualistic to me...

as the buddha interpreted it, it was hardly spiritual.  speculative, yes, and without empirical evidence, but, as i said above, reincarnation was always automatically accepted as a fact of life in india.

the vedic ideas of atman and jiva could justifiably be called "spiritualistic," but classic buddhism's explanation of reincarnation, "dependent arising," has no spiritual element unless we stretch the meaning of "spiritual" to "anything outside the realm of empiricism." 

Reincarnation is completely misunderstood in the Western world.

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

Buddhism to me seems like an eastern form of cynicism/stoicism with its own formulations and culture. I know little about it, however, so my preconceptions might be off.  

i would actually agree with you, especially the stoicism part.  flaky people who come to buddhism expecting something exotic are often disappointed by how bland and moralistic his teachings are, which is why mahayana and vajrayana (tibetan buddhism), with their elaborate metaphysics and devotional prayers, have caught on more in the west than the old austere theravada variety.  reading one of the old pali suttas is a lot closer to reading marcus aurelius than hindu scriptures like the upanishads or the bhagavad gita.

 

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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I embrace many buddhist

I embrace many buddhist philosophies, but definitely could not label myself as a buddhist. A buddhist may counter that to only partially acknowledge their concepts precipitates false understanding, but my response to this is buddhism as an evolutionary form of thinking includes confucianism (among other beliefs), so there is no reason why one cannot form a new system of beliefs including buddhism but not limited to it.

If we can mathematically identify consciousness, then this indicates it has a structure. Biology points towards the tendency of self-perpetuation and adaptation in cells and organisms, so it is natural to think consciousness as a structure would function the same way.

If this is true, then as a function of its structure, consciousness has a tendency to create more consciousness. This leads one to wonder if there existed an original first consciousness. This is a modification of the traditional First Cause argument. In my opinion, one major flaw in the original Kalam is it presupposes empirical existence is all that exists. Can you empirically prove that your mind exists?

New inventions regularly suggest to us that imagination can defy empirical doubts, and the acquisition of knowledge can occur without a single observation. We must therefore strive to expand our method of observation, as the senses are currently limited; I believe as Buddha did, that our senses cannot entirely be trusted.

"What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes." -Houdini


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ax wrote:A buddhist may

ax wrote:

A buddhist may counter that to only partially acknowledge their concepts precipitates false understanding, but my response to this is buddhism as an evolutionary form of thinking includes confucianism (among other beliefs), so there is no reason why one cannot form a new system of beliefs including buddhism but not limited to it.

if the only thing you accept are the four noble truths, i don't think any buddhist anywhere, from sri lanka to japan, would accuse you of having "false understanding."  it's precisely because of this that buddhism has been able to exist side by side with such diverse systems as bon, confucianism, taoism, and shinto.

buddhism is inherently non-speculative, so to almost any metaphysic it is able to say, "sure, why not?"  confucianism, for example, is all about how to create a harmonious society, through benevolence, filial piety, observing proper protocol, honoring the ancestors, following the mandate of heaven, etc., etc.  before the arrival of buddhism, china and all the countries bearing her cultural influence knew nothing of reincarnation--indeed, the cult of the ancestors seems to discourage such an idea.  yet buddhism flourished precisely because it ignored these questions--i honestly believe even reincarnation is not essential to buddhism--and instead sought to answer a totally different, yet no less relevant, one: how do we eliminate our own existential suffering, our dukkha?

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen


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This is really the nub of the OP

 

ax wrote:

 

Can you empirically prove that your mind exists?

 

 

Ax and as you suggest, it's a key mind bend. Personally, I think it is possible to prove the existence of consciousness using the torch and iris method. There are also methods used to establish whether or not a paralysed person retains full consciousness and mental capability. I cannot help thinking that the argument that empiricism is internally inconsistent because our minds cannot be properly defined or empirically studied at this time is, at its core, an appeal to complexity. 

Regardless of theories of mind, it is demonstrable that empiricism remains the best way we currently have to explain things about atomic and even quantum realities. Comparatively, supernaturalism trades in assumptions. One day in the medium future, we will understand the nature of our brains, there cannot be any doubt about this whatever. 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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ax wrote:I embrace many

ax wrote:

I embrace many buddhist philosophies, but definitely could not label myself as a buddhist. A buddhist may counter that to only partially acknowledge their concepts precipitates false understanding, but my response to this is buddhism as an evolutionary form of thinking includes confucianism (among other beliefs), so there is no reason why one cannot form a new system of beliefs including buddhism but not limited to it.

If we can mathematically identify consciousness, then this indicates it has a structure. Biology points towards the tendency of self-perpetuation and adaptation in cells and organisms, so it is natural to think consciousness as a structure would function the same way.

If this is true, then as a function of its structure, consciousness has a tendency to create more consciousness. This leads one to wonder if there existed an original first consciousness. This is a modification of the traditional First Cause argument. In my opinion, one major flaw in the original Kalam is it presupposes empirical existence is all that exists. Can you empirically prove that your mind exists?

New inventions regularly suggest to us that imagination can defy empirical doubts, and the acquisition of knowledge can occur without a single observation. We must therefore strive to expand our method of observation, as the senses are currently limited; I believe as Buddha did, that our senses cannot entirely be trusted.

"What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes." -Houdini

 

A new system of beliefs? - "Axism" Raised Brow   Isn't a system of beliefs really just a declaration?   No matter which system we claim to adhere to, we each have our own.  I've yet to name mine. Is "Dynamicism" already taken?

 

"the acquisition of knowledge can occur without a single observation"  Puzzled   Please elaborate.   Wouldn't an observation have to be made with at least one of the senses?

 

 

"...but truth is a point of view, and so it is changeable. And to rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world is just as base as to use force." -Hypatia


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The mind and the ego are two

The mind and the ego are two separate entities.

Both have thought but one is legitimate and the other is a falsehood.

 

 

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iwbiek wrote:if the only

iwbiek wrote:

if the only thing you accept are the four noble truths, i don't think any buddhist anywhere, from sri lanka to japan, would accuse you of having "false understanding."  it's precisely because of this that buddhism has been able to exist side by side with such diverse systems as bon, confucianism, taoism, and shinto.

buddhism is inherently non-speculative, so to almost any metaphysic it is able to say, "sure, why not?"  confucianism, for example, is all about how to create a harmonious society, through benevolence, filial piety, observing proper protocol, honoring the ancestors, following the mandate of heaven, etc., etc.  before the arrival of buddhism, china and all the countries bearing her cultural influence knew nothing of reincarnation--indeed, the cult of the ancestors seems to discourage such an idea.  yet buddhism flourished precisely because it ignored these questions--i honestly believe even reincarnation is not essential to buddhism--and instead sought to answer a totally different, yet no less relevant, one: how do we eliminate our own existential suffering, our dukkha?

My difference is regarding the last noble truth and addressing the key question you have mentioned. I believe that the path to eliminate our dukkha is incomplete; in my opinion there is a 9th spoke; Nirvana and complete transcendence can only be achieved by evolving ones consciousness to exist outside the limitations of finite life and through unification of this existence with others.

Atheistextremist wrote:

This is really the nub of the OP Ax and as you suggest, it's a key mind bend. Personally, I think it is possible to prove the existence of consciousness using the torch and iris method. There are also methods used to establish whether or not a paralysed person retains full consciousness and mental capability. I cannot help thinking that the argument that empiricism is internally inconsistent because our minds cannot be properly defined or empirically studied at this time is, at its core, an appeal to complexity. 

Regardless of theories of mind, it is demonstrable that empiricism remains the best way we currently have to explain things about atomic and even quantum realities. Comparatively, supernaturalism trades in assumptions. One day in the medium future, we will understand the nature of our brains, there cannot be any doubt about this whatever. 

Can you elaborate on the torch and iris method? There are cases of coma where a fully conscious mind is stuck in limbo - living in an alternate world where nothing is "real" but everything seems to be.. I allude that the mind can exist without the body, but without proof this is indeed ultimately an appeal to complexity. How does one go about proving something that cannot be understood with our current senses? 

It is my hope that proof can be found through mathematical explanation. After all, math is the language of the gods. Smiling

A notion with increasing popularity that is adaptable even to the subatomic levels understands reality as simply an exchange of information. This fits buddhism and in my opinion, also fits occams better than its empirical counterpart. "Have you ever had a dream, Atheistextremist, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?" 

tonyjeffers wrote:

A new system of beliefs? - "Axism"    Isn't a system of beliefs really just a declaration?   No matter which system we claim to adhere to, we each have our own.  I've yet to name mine. Is "Dynamicism" already taken?

This is a good point regarding our particular beliefs. In order to classify as a belief system, each belief should be consistent with one another. Since the labels themselves are generalizations, like you pointed out, there will always be specific variations that form separate sects. I think many of you here are very unique in your individual beliefs and you have led me to wonder if our belief systems can only be accurately understood by mathematics at an individual level. E.g. 50% atheist, 10% buddhist, 1% muslim, 4%christian, 9%scientology, 6%jedi, 20%egyptian..Smiling

tonyjeffers wrote:

"the acquisition of knowledge can occur without a single observation"     Please elaborate.   Wouldn't an observation have to be made with at least one of the senses?

I sometimes acquire knowledge in my dreams or during meditation. This usually takes the form of code patterns or math concepts. Once I awaken, if I can prove the imagining, it becomes "reality".

digitalbeachbum wrote:

The mind and the ego are two separate entities.

Both have thought but one is legitimate and the other is a falsehood.

digitalbeachbum, can you expand more on this for me? Do you mean this from a purely psychological perspective or through buddhist philosophy?


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ax wrote:My difference is

ax wrote:

My difference is regarding the last noble truth and addressing the key question you have mentioned. I believe that the path to eliminate our dukkha is incomplete; in my opinion there is a 9th spoke; Nirvana and complete transcendence can only be achieved by evolving ones consciousness to exist outside the limitations of finite life and through unification of this existence with others.

then i stand corrected.  it sounds like most buddhists with disagree with what you've expressed here.  the whole point of enlightenment i think is not to expand consciousness, but to expose it as a sham.  it's not conclusive that the historical buddha would have equated all existence with sunyata, as the mahayana and vajrayana do, but i think it captures the spirit of anatta enough that i would venture a guess that gautama would have had no disagreement with it.

it seems to me that your thinking remains fundamentally dualistic, and the idea of one's consciousness "evolving" and "unifying" with others' seems to contradict both anatta and anicca, two of the buddha's three marks of existence.

however, just on an intuitive basis, your ideas remind me a lot of some hasidism's mystic principles.

 

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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Sure Ax

 

ax wrote:

 

"Have you ever had a dream, Atheistextremist, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?" 

 

 

And I took the blue pill...

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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I'd know by whether or not

I'd know by whether or not I'm god. No pill necessary. Sticking out tongue

In my dreams, no matter how real, eventually my mind makes a mistake. And in that split second I become omnipotent, insofar as the dream is concerned.

Though I'd also know I was asleep, which would eventually become disconcerting as I began to wonder why I was still dreaming. Never happened yet, but I never slept for more than 14 hours or so either.

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Mmmm

 

 

Do you really become omnipotent in your dreams, Vast? My dreams are fraught. Vivid but fraught. Running, chasing, sex with the inappropriate girl friends of ex-girlfriends. I used to do a lot of very vertiginous flying. Less now, I think, sadly. 

Not sure I was ever omnipotent. But I can breathe underwater. The first breath is the hardest...

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Yep. Omnipotent. I've done

Yep. Omnipotent. I've done shit in my dreams that puts gods to shame. My mind doesn't have the restriction of the laws of physics when I realise I'm dreaming. It's usually a nightmare that clues me in, but I've had all sorts of dreams where something happens that shouldn't be possible, or is at least well outside my expectations for the event.
I haven't had a nightmare that failed to clue me in to the fact I was dreaming since I was 6 or so.
It has made for some fun times. Nothing like ripping apart some shadows that had been stalking you through the dark and whipping knives into and by you for minutes, before you got a second to breathe and suddenly wonder where the hell you are and how you got there.

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digitalbeachbum wrote:iwbiek

digitalbeachbum wrote:

iwbiek wrote:

Kapkao wrote:

"Cycle of rebirth" seems awfully spiritualistic to me...

as the buddha interpreted it, it was hardly spiritual.  speculative, yes, and without empirical evidence, but, as i said above, reincarnation was always automatically accepted as a fact of life in india.

the vedic ideas of atman and jiva could justifiably be called "spiritualistic," but classic buddhism's explanation of reincarnation, "dependent arising," has no spiritual element unless we stretch the meaning of "spiritual" to "anything outside the realm of empiricism." 

Reincarnation is completely misunderstood in the Western world.

Anything is easy to confuse when portrayed by my yuppie dad and stepmother. Sticking out tongue

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Vastet wrote:Yep.

Vastet wrote:
Yep. Omnipotent. I've done shit in my dreams that puts gods to shame. My mind doesn't have the restriction of the laws of physics when I realise I'm dreaming. It's usually a nightmare that clues me in, but I've had all sorts of dreams where something happens that shouldn't be possible, or is at least well outside my expectations for the event. I haven't had a nightmare that failed to clue me in to the fact I was dreaming since I was 6 or so. It has made for some fun times. Nothing like ripping apart some shadows that had been stalking you through the dark and whipping knives into and by you for minutes, before you got a second to breathe and suddenly wonder where the hell you are and how you got there.

I levitate frequently while on the virge of lucid dreaming*

*VERY difficult to describe, but... not quite lucid, and not quite random, either.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Vastet wrote:Yep.

Vastet wrote:
Yep. Omnipotent. I've done shit in my dreams that puts gods to shame. My mind doesn't have the restriction of the laws of physics when I realise I'm dreaming. It's usually a nightmare that clues me in, but I've had all sorts of dreams where something happens that shouldn't be possible, or is at least well outside my expectations for the event. I haven't had a nightmare that failed to clue me in to the fact I was dreaming since I was 6 or so. It has made for some fun times. Nothing like ripping apart some shadows that had been stalking you through the dark and whipping knives into and by you for minutes, before you got a second to breathe and suddenly wonder where the hell you are and how you got there.

Me too. I usually see a nightmare as an opportunity to have some fun though I don't actually plan it that way. Usually when that "dark shadow" is stalking a loved one I kill it off and every one thinks I'm a hero.

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Atheistextremist wrote:And I

Atheistextremist wrote:

And I took the blue pill...

:/

 

re: lucid dreaming

You can increase the frequency of lucid dreams with certain meditation techniques. There is a technique I use when I'm conscious before going to sleep where I close my eyes and imagine I'm looking at my watch and cycle through the mental image of other various clocks and say repeatedly "what time is it". As a result, sometimes afterwards when I am dreaming If I look at the time anywhere within the dream I will find myself saying "what time is it" in the dream. From that moment forward I become lucid for a brief period.

 

 


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An interesting and

An interesting and potentially extremely useful technique. You likely have more lucid dreams than I.
I've never used a technique myself, I depend upon my sense of reality to bring them about.

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i don't think i've ever

i don't think i've ever dreamt lucidly, though i have had the experience of realizing i'm in a nightmare and trying to wake myself up and being unable to.  in general my dreams reflect my preoccupations and are mostly pleasant.  i fuck girls i used to or currently want to fuck but am unable to because i'm married.  i work out problems that are bothering me (then wake up pissed off that they're not actually resolved). 

i also tend to have multiple dreams about the same imaginary locations and am quite bothered these pleasant (but not unrealistic) places don't exist in reality.  for example, nothing pleases me more than whiling away an hour or two in a dim, smokey dive bar, by myself, listening to the afternoon drunks mutter to each other while drinking piss beer and maybe a shot of cheap rum.  everybody thinks i'm crazy, but oh well.  anyway, in several of my dreams i have visited two very pleasant dive bars that somewhat resemble a few i like to visit in reality.  they always look the same and occupy the same places in the slightly altered geography of the dream version of my city.  i never realize i'm dreaming, and i always feel a slight sadness when i wake up. 

i no longer have nightmares often (thank god--as a teenager i had horrible screaming night terrors at least twice a month), but i often have unpleasant dreams in which i'm late for work or forget something important.  also, when a guy pisses me off in my dreams and i try to jack him, it feels like i'm trying to punch underwater and my punches land with no force.  it's really annoying.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen


Zaq
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I've always had the feeling

I've always had the feeling that epistemology (and in fact much of philosophy) is just a big game of "move the goalpoasts."

 

Philosopher: How do you know that 1 + 1 = 2?

Me: Because that's how math works

Philosopher: How do you know that math give you the correct results?

By this point, the term "correct results" could mean "obeys the rules of math," or it could mean something else.  If it means the former, then he's asking how I know a tautology (that the rules of math obey the rules of math), which is absurd.  If the latter, then he's asking how I know the rulds of math obey some unspecified property.  The fact is that I don't, but this has nothing to do with the rules of math or any "deep" facts about human limitations.  It's just that the philosopher hasn't bothered to specify the property he wants me to show.

 

If a philosopher tells you what they mean by "truth," then you can just show that your statement meeds their necessary and sufficient conditions.  If a philosopher conspires to keep the word "truth" ambiguous, then they're just wasting your time.

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


Atheistextremist
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Yeah, I agree with this

Zaq wrote:

I've always had the feeling that epistemology (and in fact much of philosophy) is just a big game of "move the goalpoasts."

If a philosopher tells you what they mean by "truth," then you can just show that your statement meeds their necessary and sufficient conditions.  If a philosopher conspires to keep the word "truth" ambiguous, then they're just wasting your time.

 

But it worries me I'm missing something.

BrotherDavid is like one of the Capadocian Fathers, Gregory, for instance, who maintained the masses, who had not dedicated themselves to rigorous theological study and decades of spiritual purification through starvation, were not fit to understand christianity. He presented this ad hom-ish assertion as the underpinning of his support for a Nicene trinitarian position that no man of sense would embrace unless chastised by a fearsome desire to rationalise the insoluble.

Of course, BrotherDavid applies this appeal to his own authority to the knowledge of knowledge making him the husband of all human comprehension. It matters not what your scientists discover, cries he, because their methods are internally inconsistent because we don't understand how we understand. And having made his position 'true', BD then embraces the supernatural veracity of the NT!

As you can imagine, the possession of a 2-years older christian brother like this one is the cause for bitter gall. The rocks are lying because my brain says so sums it up for me. 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


ax
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 Zaq wrote: ...

 

Zaq wrote:

...

Philosopher: How do you know that 1 + 1 = 2?

Me: Because that's how math works

Philosopher: How do you know that math give you the correct results?

...

Both are right:

We rationalize and generalize to interact with the world which works great at one level, but by doing so we sometimes miss information on another.

My personal take on this scenario would modify the last Philosophers statement to "How do you know that your knowledge of math which presumes values for potential unknowns, gives you the correct results?"

I believe many metaphysical philosophers are ultimately nihilistic, but they could also be right. 

You were taught very early in life to associate math symbols with objects. 1 apple and 1 more apple makes two apples. Regardless of the object the rule seems to hold true. 

As a basic definition this is fine, but what about when you have 1 broken car and 1 more working car? In this instance you can have 2 cars, but to do so you must generalize the similarity between them and disregard their functionality. Is a broken car still a car? That might depend on the difference and the degree to which it is broken. If it is missing four wheels, then by definition of an automobile it may no longer be considered a car.

If you were to explain this mathematically, this car example is the equivalent of 1ax+1bx=2x. Using algebraic simplification and substitution, this cannot be solved for scalar variables given only this information. However, if you assume a=1, then it simplifies to a very obvious truth: 1 + 1 = 2.

The ambiguity in my opinion is not in the definition of "truth", but in the means in which we determine it.

 

Atheistextremist wrote:

But it worries me I'm missing something.

Regardless of our predilections, as long as we are human, we are forever susceptible to the human condition.


Zaq
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Philosopher: "How do you

Philosopher: "How do you know that your knowledge of math which presumes values for potential unknowns, gives you the correct results?"
Me: Wtf are you talking about?  Math doesn't presume values for potential unknowns. 

 

Also, what definition do you give the word "correct?"  Because in the context of mathematical statements, "correct" usually means "obeys the rules of mathematics," and so you just asked me how I know that my knowledge of math obeys the rules of math.  In other words, you've just asked me how I know a tautology, which is true by the definition of the terms involved.  Unless of course you meant something else by "correct," in which case you need to be more specific.

 

In math (as well as symbolic logic) the definitions of your terms aren't allowed change with each use (in other words, it's precise.)  1 + 1 = 2 mathematically means that 1 of something plus 1 of that same thing is equal to 2 of that same thing.  If you want to have 1 working car and 1 broken car then you're no longer dealing with the kind of situation that "1+1=2" says anything about.  1 + 1 = 2 is only applicable if you're willing to treat "working car" as being the same as "broken car."  Otherwise you will need to introduce a units system or vectors or somethign that will allow you to mathematically differentiate between "thing1" and "thing2."

 

Here's an idea.  Instead of asking whether "1+1=2" is "true" or "correct," ask whatever it was you were trying to ask without using the word "true" or its synonyms.  In other words, replace the vague word with what you mean by it.  That way I'll be able to understand your question better.

This applies to the OP too.  Instead of asking whether one or another method of inquiry leads to "true" statements, pick some specific criteria that a "true" statement must obey.  After doing this you can unambiguously investigate whether the various competing methods pick out statements that meet those criteria.  When you allow the critic to leave the word "true" vauge then every attempt to show your method picks out true statements will be rejected as the critic cries "but how do you know meeting those criteria make your statement true?"

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


ax
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 Math, especially higher

Zaq,

Math, especially higher levels, regularly assumes values for potential unknowns. This is a also a commonality in most physical systems where absolute values cannot be determined.

"true" is probabilistic. Illustrating this was my previous objective.

You can generalize that you have two cars because the definition of a car is vague enough to allow you to consider including your broken car. 

If the definition were further extended to specify "a car has an engine that activates upon ignition" then your broken car no longer meets the definition, and you only have one car. 

In the context of a single debate this would be moving the goalposts, but over a series of debates this occurs frequently, and we often encounter "knowns" in science that later turn out to be unknowns, which brings us full circle back to mathematical presumptions of potential unknowns.


Teralek
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Wow... remarkably good

Wow... remarkably good posts. This forum has good thinkers. 

I'll keep my comments short. Everything was said already anyway.

I agree that positivism is a really great tool and has served us well in building up a consistent and naturalistic view of the Universe. But it's a long way of saying it is the ONLY source through which we can access everything that is "real". Things change and senses change. Can thought be a sense? Surely introspective thought by itself can reach true statements. Descartes famous quote: "I think therefore I am" being a clear example. If thought is a "thing" made of "subjective conscient experience" seems to be outside the spectrum of positivism... but arguably is to many the thing we are more sure about.

I believe that abstract objects have an existence outside the human mind, that's how it's possible to make sense of math. That is how math makes sense!

... in this sense I guess I'm a platonist... I even go further than this... being a believer of a creative FC to this Universe we know, I think the existence of this FC is dependent of something I call the "metaphysics of mathematics".

In other words the potential for mathematics precedes, or is a condition for ANY thought. Even "the thought of God".

______________________________________________________________
"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies