Philosophy and Science

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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby vivian maxine on December 26th, 2016, 1:50 pm 

What we have today is the second stage and it started with agriculture. "Co-evolution" of our culture (from cave man to modern man, I am thinking.)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 26th, 2016, 2:23 pm 

Quibble: I'd make it four or five decisive stages. This one is end-game.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby vivian maxine on December 26th, 2016, 2:39 pm 

Serpent » December 26th, 2016, 1:23 pm wrote:Quibble: I'd make it four or five decisive stages. This one is end-game.


I would not argue with you. Maybe I should not have said "second stage". Just how we got to this stage. OK?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 26th, 2016, 3:01 pm 

I would strongly recommend reading "Prehistory: The making of the human mind" by Colin Renfrew.

The brief section "The Mind as Embodied, Extended and Distributed" is really nice. Also mentioned in Renfrew's book is Merlin Donald who outlined developmental stages in his book "Origins of the Modern Mind", will type something tomorrow ..

I would imagine both Zet and Forest would have a lot to contribute in this area, and in regard to cognitive archaeology.

Good night/morning/whatever! :)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby vivian maxine on December 26th, 2016, 3:16 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2016, 2:01 pm wrote:I would strongly recommend reading "Prehistory: The making of the human mind" by Colin Renfrew.

The brief section "The Mind as Embodied, Extended and Distributed" is really nice. Also mentioned in Renfrew's book is Merlin Donald who outlined developmental stages in his book "Origins of the Modern Mind", will type something tomorrow ..

I would imagine both Zet and Forest would have a lot to contribute in this area, and in regard to cognitive archaeology.

Good night/morning/whatever! :)


Thank you, BJ. I'll call the book store tomorrow.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby wolfhnd on December 26th, 2016, 3:35 pm 

There is no starting and ending point, all life on the planet is affected by other life, what happens in one species effects the evolutionary trajectory of other species. Because we are focused on culture it is worth noting that other species have culture, mostly passed on genetically but in a few it is learned.

We have made our definitions too narrow for what philosophy is suppose to do which is to consolidate our thoughts, feelings, experience into something that is logically consistent. Culture is is most often defined as the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. More broadly defined culture is everything that is passed from generation to generation external to our bodies. It may seem contradictory that I said other species pass on culture genetically by that I meant ant hills, bird nests, bee hive, spiderwebs and beaver dams. In it's broadest sense culture means manipulation of the environment.

I often think of language as the best example of how culture and genetics interplay. Without specific genetic adaptations language cannot be passed on but without language passed on our ability to manipulate the environment would be greatly diminished. Language is also one of the elements that most clearly distinguishes one culture from another. Genetics however work within an environment that determines expression. In environments where language is missing the brain develops differently. Here the ant is illustrative when considering other species. The ant communicates chemically which means it has a chemical language. Those chemicals are part of it's inherited ability to manipulate the environment.

The role of philosophy of course is not just limited to logical consistency it also serves as an aid in balancing chaos and order and idea I'm borrowing from Jordan Peterson. http://www.mind-manual.com/blog/2012/02 ... -peterson/

I'm not as pessimistic as Serpent but it is worth noting that some very smart people are saying that AI is the end of us. AI could represent the point at which genetics are no longer a part of cultural evolution. If we set evolution free of the constraints of DNA it does seem likely that accelerated evolution in non living, and perhaps non conscious entities could consume life. A future of machines that consume everything in the universe to make more of itself reminds me of Steven Kings Langoliers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_past ... Langoliers
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 26th, 2016, 5:21 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2016, 2:01 pm wrote:I would strongly recommend reading "Prehistory: The making of the human mind" by Colin Renfrew.

The brief section "The Mind as Embodied, Extended and Distributed" is really nice. Also mentioned in Renfrew's book is Merlin Donald who outlined developmental stages in his book "Origins of the Modern Mind", will type something tomorrow .

It sounds interesting - and timely. I'll make a note, but have no idea when I'll get to it. I have three heavy books going atm: World prehistory by Grahame Clark is an oldish textbook but comprehensive and accessible; Adam Kuper's The Invention of Primitive Society is about the philosophical literature of late 19th to mid-20th century scholars; a hard slog, since most of the works cited are densely verbose; Climbing Man's Family Tree is a collection of essays from 1699 to 1971, some of which are more opaque than others.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on December 26th, 2016, 9:26 pm 

I wanted to submit another answer that is a little more mechanical (practical) and even less forgiving.

To do science, you must have a scientific theory. That theory must be subject to the following criteria.
  • You must be able to identify and delineate the predictions that your theory makes.
  • Those predictions must be able to be subjected to experiment.
  • Results of experiment will corroborate or falsify your theory.
In a rigid, unforgiving sense, if you do not have all three of these things, you are not doing science.

These leaves a dangling question as to what is properly considered "philosophy".
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 26th, 2016, 10:12 pm 

[quote="[url=http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=312914#p312914]hyksos » Mon Dec 26, 2016 6:26 pm[/url]"]I wanted to submit another answer that is a little more mechanical (practical) and even less forgiving.

To do science, you must have a scientific theory. That theory must be subject to the following criteria.
[list]
[*] You must be able to identify and delineate the predictions that your theory makes.
[*] Those predictions must be able to be subjected to experiment.
[*] Results of experiment will corroborate or falsify your theory. [/list]
In a rigid, unforgiving sense, if you do not have all three of these things, you are not doing science.

These leaves a dangling question as to what is properly considered "philosophy".[/quote]

Do you think that a theory must have a causal explanation or causal explanations as part of the theory to be considered a "valid" scientific theory?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby wolfhnd on December 27th, 2016, 1:00 am 

hyksos » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:26 am wrote:I wanted to submit another answer that is a little more mechanical (practical) and even less forgiving.

To do science, you must have a scientific theory. That theory must be subject to the following criteria.
  • You must be able to identify and delineate the predictions that your theory makes.
  • Those predictions must be able to be subjected to experiment.
  • Results of experiment will corroborate or falsify your theory.
In a rigid, unforgiving sense, if you do not have all three of these things, you are not doing science.

These leaves a dangling question as to what is properly considered "philosophy".


It's hard to see how you could have a theory without a prediction.

Everything is an experiment if you don't know what will happen in the future.

Outside of dreams life will tell you if you theory was reasonably accurate.

What we are talking about here is standards. The standards vary according to what degree of accuracy is needed to make a theory applicable to experimental confirmation. If the theory is a generalization that holds true some useful percent of the time then the standards can be fairly low.

I know this gets tired but there are no absolutes outside of death and taxes but that doesn't mean their is no objective reality. All it means is that we cannot transcend our limitations so as to comprehend objective reality absolutely. The idea of the horse is more real than the horse itself to the observer simply because there is no mind outside of the brain. We can know only that which we can experience either directly or indirectly. We can produce a perfect math because it doesn't exist outside of the mind that does not mean that math is not the product of experience only that it's originating experiences are lost in time. I'm not much of a fan of emergence theory but I'm a big fan of swam intelligence and abstract reasoning. What I'm saying the abstraction is however is a useful simplification of a very complex objective reality using very complex evolved mechanisms that we may or may not be aware of.

All scientific discoveries are approximations of reality some more accurate than others but they should not be confused with reality. The fact that reality is starting to look more like a computer simulation than Newtons clockwork universe doesn't alter the fact that we will always be approximating the nature of that simulation.

So which approximations are science and which are just accumulated understanding based on experience is a matter that we can judge subjectively based on whatever standards we wish to apply. The higher the standard we apply the more often we can expect our predictions to come true but if we limit ourselves to very high standards that limits the applicability of science to a limited subsets of problems.

This approach of defining science also limits the methods for discovery we can use. Considerable progress is being made using evolutionary principles to do what could be called undirected research. In this approach you set the initial conditions and run millions of simulations to discover that which you could otherwise have not predicted. You can then test the results of the simulation using conventional techniques. In a way this bypasses the theory step altogether. After all why have a theory if you don't need one just skip right to the experimentation stage. I can't think of a single scientific theory that even approaches the complexity of the simplest living organism and no theory was required for their invention.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 27th, 2016, 4:28 am 

Serpent -

In reply to your last critic of what I wrote, I'll have to spend more time on it. I hope in future replies you can try not to assume what I am assuming. I am not saying anything like prescientific man was incapable of reason or problem solving.

I need to find a way to establish what I am expressing by "theoretical". You seem willing in some ways to grasp this idea yet not in others. Problem solving general practical tasks is a precursor to a theoretical outlook. What I am saying is it is taken on as a practical theme. It is also important to understand that individuals mst likely did have lesuire time to sit around and think about things. In a small social group this doesn't really gain much purchase although some ideas and conceptions will, to soem degree, whether the storm (learning practical tehcniques and crafts looks like one obvious step in this process).

I very key factor to cultural development would be writing. This is a huge event in human history (the actual beginning of human history!).

Also, to add. If you view all people to have been scientific and philosophical, then I say this is what was referred to as "bungee jumping into fantasy land" in sense. If you meant the capacity was there I agree. Although for thr sake of skepticism when archeaological data suggests our brain mass has reduced since prehistory I have no choice but to reflect upon physiological changes and cognitive abilities. Given that I know very little about that data I will let another chime in if they have something to offer. For now I assume that our capacity today is similar enough to prehistory as not to put too much emphasis on this discussion.

You also talk about the application of European/American thought onto foreign cultures. That is the exact thing Husserl protests against in The Vienna Lecture. He was pointing out the stark different of what the Greeks established as a community of individual "eccentrics", the role of education in their society and seems to infer how it led into the greater public sphere. This is something that did not happen so readily elsewhere. As an example that springs to mind, in Egyptian society, and elsewhere across the globe, mathematics was steeped in a mythological-religious attitude. As a pursuit in and of itself (a theoretical pursuit), it did not gain purchase.

Also to say that an ancient man could not grasp todays world can be partially demonstrated by refering to certain peoples alive today. I am, to be clear, not saying a baby of the ancient world would grow up unable to comprehend the modern world like everyone else - the point I am making is what is, or is not, the culturally established norms of a given society alongside other societies. Anyway, I was referrig to a tribe whose number system is something like 1,2,3,4,5 then they have a term for 6-10, and a term for 8-16 (or something along those lines). This would make it extremely difficult to communicate a mathematic theory with them. They had no practical need for such a use. I hope this highlights the difference between a "practical" view of the world and a "theoretical" view. Btw falling down a hole is a pratical problem we are faced with, not a theoretical problem ... this then does seem to suggest that theory reaches into practical life by way of planning, or rather practical life reaches into the realm of the theoretical by making time thematic and measured in some way (a whole new bag of screaming cats to look at there!).
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby vivian maxine on December 27th, 2016, 4:37 am 

Serpent » December 26th, 2016, 4:21 pm wrote:
BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2016, 2:01 pm wrote:I would strongly recommend reading "Prehistory: The making of the human mind" by Colin Renfrew.

The brief section "The Mind as Embodied, Extended and Distributed" is really nice. Also mentioned in Renfrew's book is Merlin Donald who outlined developmental stages in his book "Origins of the Modern Mind", will type something tomorrow .

It sounds interesting - and timely. I'll make a note, but have no idea when I'll get to it. I have three heavy books going atm: World prehistory by Grahame Clark is an oldish textbook but comprehensive and accessible; Adam Kuper's The Invention of Primitive Society is about the philosophical literature of late 19th to mid-20th century scholars; a hard slog, since most of the works cited are densely verbose; Climbing Man's Family Tree is a collection of essays from 1699 to 1971, some of which are more opaque than others.


Serpent, Royal Society has a shorter (but not brief) summary of it - done by the same author.

http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... /1499/2041
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 27th, 2016, 4:43 am 

Merlin Donalds five stages :

"Episodic"- as obseved in living primate communities, social intelligence.
"Mimetic"- beginning 4,mill years ago until 400,000 yrs ago. Production of tools and continuation through time by imitation. Passed on through generations.
"Mythic"- emergence of Homo sapiens. Characterised by complex use of language skills, and narrative thought.
"Material symbolic"- human capacity for use of symbols. Material goods of symbic importance.
"Theoretic"- what Donald calls "institutionalised paradigmatic thought". He talks about internal memory record as "engram" and methods such as writing as "exogram". Data storage and exchange.

I am sure the ataeologist folks among us here can flesh out the importance of these stages better than I can!

I have to again spam my favour quote:

"a system of symbols which acts to establish power, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating concepts of a general order of existence and clothing these concepts with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."
- Clifford Geertz
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on December 27th, 2016, 6:36 am 

Athena » December 24th, 2016, 6:49 am wrote:Here is a video about the philosophy of science with Hilary Putnam.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et8kDNF_nEc


I enjoyed the discussion with Putnam, thanks, especially about the question of clear difference between science and non-science. There are some similarities with the talk I linked, including ideas that philosophical knowledge and questions have been considered by great contributors to maths and science. In another post, Athena has also mentioned quantum notions, as did Putnam from the link from the 1970s. Putnam mentioning quantum logic, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-quantlog/
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on December 27th, 2016, 7:09 am 

Athena » December 25th, 2016, 4:57 pm wrote:
dandelion » December 20th, 2016, 5:21 am wrote:This talk seems to agree that philosophy can be very helpful to science and I think highlights good interactive relationships between these of the past and seems encouraging of this going forwards.

I think the talk addresses mostly those not working as scientists, including working as philosophers, in the audience, discussing helpful and less helpful influences philosophy has had on science, and amongst answers to questions at the end, includes more specific suggestions for philosophy of science.

Some philosophers in particular are commented on. For some instances, philosophers with good attitude, listening to science, such as Kant reacting to Newton, and even from amongst phenomenologists, Husserl is remarked upon near the end of the talk. There seems to be a point made that philosophy with consideration of science is good because science offers the best knowledge available at the moment about the world. So the talk emphasises I think the impact of science influenced by philosophy, influenced by science.
https://youtu.be/IJ0uPkG-pr4


Different terminology, like natural philosophy is mentioned as well. I'll add that, responding to a challenge from Samuel Taylor Coleridge (mentioned previously elsewhere here for introducing the phrase about a willing suspension of disbelief for the moment), the theologian, polymath, and philosopher, Whewell, who, among other terms introduced the term "physicist", also introduced a more general term, "scientist" (1883), that it might match the term "artist"- "...as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist", adding to earlier terms of natural philosopher and man of science (e.g., https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Fe8 ... t.&f=false ).


Your post triggers the thought that language is everything. We can't think it without a word for it. The world is full of different languages and each one restricts knowledge in different ways. Also, our sense of reality changes when the meanings of our words become meaningless or changed.

In the US the meaning of the word "liberal" is so distorted our whole understanding of politics and morals is distorted. This makes our democracy very different from what it was a hundred years ago.

Quantum physics is a new term that is dramatically changing our sense of reality. The idea of packets of energy comes with a huge vocabulary of previously unknown words like quarks. I don't know how this science will right itself with the God of Abraham religions, but it is doing well with Buddhism and Tao. Change the language, change reality.


I’m very pleased it triggered some thoughts of interest, Athena, and I liked Forrest’s discussion of music very much too. I like the way Athena wrote of how some language use may be restrictive. This aspect of language may be used to hinder inquiry and possible improvement. Possibly, language may be considered more open or may be considered more restricted.

Athena (possibly earlier, Atana Potnia), also mentioned religion. An article linked in this thread linked with some similarities, includes discussion about belief and change-
http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=129&t=27635 .

I'll add, the term “scientist” was introduced by someone involved in scientific and philosophical fields in discussion (Whewell) with someone involved with artistic and philosophical fields (Coleridge e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Taylor_Coleridge#/media/File:KublaKhan.jpeg). As mentioned in the thread linked, views there are communicated from someone with professional credentials in science and philosophy of science.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 27th, 2016, 10:10 am 

Only watched first 9 mins of Putnam link on youtube. There is a lotnto be said about our "obvious" assumptions about the world. When he talks about medieval man looking "up" and us looking "into" space this difference of view is framed by the scientific knowledge and changes in scientific attitude.

Also the most telling thing is how they refer to "science" being seen as something different to scientists as compared to the general public. I would also argue that many scientists conveniently ignore this as it suits them to fit their "facts" and "truths", them being merely human being in a political world with their own world-view.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Athena on December 27th, 2016, 11:59 am 

wolfhnd » December 26th, 2016, 1:35 pm wrote:There is no starting and ending point, all life on the planet is affected by other life, what happens in one species effects the evolutionary trajectory of other species. Because we are focused on culture it is worth noting that other species have culture, mostly passed on genetically but in a few it is learned.

We have made our definitions too narrow for what philosophy is suppose to do which is to consolidate our thoughts, feelings, experience into something that is logically consistent. Culture is is most often defined as the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. More broadly defined culture is everything that is passed from generation to generation external to our bodies. It may seem contradictory that I said other species pass on culture genetically by that I meant ant hills, bird nests, bee hive, spiderwebs and beaver dams. In it's broadest sense culture means manipulation of the environment.

I often think of language as the best example of how culture and genetics interplay. Without specific genetic adaptations language cannot be passed on but without language passed on our ability to manipulate the environment would be greatly diminished. Language is also one of the elements that most clearly distinguishes one culture from another. Genetics however work within an environment that determines expression. In environments where language is missing the brain develops differently. Here the ant is illustrative when considering other species. The ant communicates chemically which means it has a chemical language. Those chemicals are part of it's inherited ability to manipulate the environment.

The role of philosophy of course is not just limited to logical consistency it also serves as an aid in balancing chaos and order and idea I'm borrowing from Jordan Peterson. http://www.mind-manual.com/blog/2012/02 ... -peterson/

I'm not as pessimistic as Serpent but it is worth noting that some very smart people are saying that AI is the end of us. AI could represent the point at which genetics are no longer a part of cultural evolution. If we set evolution free of the constraints of DNA it does seem likely that accelerated evolution in non living, and perhaps non conscious entities could consume life. A future of machines that consume everything in the universe to make more of itself reminds me of Steven Kings Langoliers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_past ... Langoliers


Do we have science philosophy or science fiction here? AI taking over the world and causing the end of us? How about global warming leads to our extinction and we program AI to keep our memory alive, just in case aliens discover our planet and will actually care about us.

Why can we speculate about AI and not about the possibility of a consciousness being more than atheist say it is?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Braininvat on December 27th, 2016, 1:27 pm 

I like it when these discussions go in the direction of talking about language itself. It seems that science uses language (including the math language) as a specific tool, while philosophy, being the meta-discipline that it usually is, examines the language itself to understand what are the underlying assumptions and presumed meanings of theories. This is why philosophy is so tricky, it's using a system of existing symbols to examine the system of existing symbols. Like all those 4 pazillion threads here in which consciousness is examined by means of focusing conscious attention on it. Rather like studying telescopes by examining them with telescopes, at least in some instances. For this reason, I don't think philosophy can really ever be science, but must always be a meta-perspective ON science and other areas of inquiry. E.g. the physicist is told to SUAC, so she shuts up and calculates, whereas the philosopher asks if the calculation really helps us understand the fundamental nature of reality or is even worthwhile as a way to interpret raw data. The scientist tries to connect dots, the philosopher asks if the dots really have any objective connection at all. My 2 cents worth.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby NoShips on December 27th, 2016, 1:37 pm 

These tribal fences and turf wars make little sense to me.

"You're not doing science, you cad!!"

"You're a disgrace to philosophy, you... um, badger"

Who gives a turd, besides the proctologists (who I assume are doing good science)? There are sensible claims, and there are dumbass claims. Never mind the label on the bottle. Drink it and find out, I say. So to speak.

Solipsism is very silly. So are parallel universes.

And how do we judge silliness again, Your Excellence? We just did. "We" is all we have.


Edit: Address all correspondence to the Ministry of Sensible Staggers. It's that time of year.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby wolfhnd on December 27th, 2016, 2:01 pm 

How about global warming leads to our extinction and we program AI to keep our memory alive, just in case aliens discover our planet and will actually care about us.


Because responsible scientists do not say global warming is an existential threat. Responsible philosophers should therefore not say that it is.



Why can we speculate about AI and not about the possibility of a consciousness being more than atheist say it is?


Because responsible scientists say AI is an existential threat.


I may be a materialist but I'm not an Atheist in the same way Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett are. The problem with their version of atheism is it arrogantly assumes they know what material is. What we know about material increasingly moves it into a realm previously reserved for metaphysical discussions. That does not mean that philosophers should speculate in ways inconsistent with the best scientific understanding we have.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby NoShips on December 27th, 2016, 2:05 pm 

I believe Dennett said something like (too lazy to Google):

"There is no such thing as science without philosophy. There is only science with its philosophical luggage taken on board unexamined".
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby vivian maxine on December 27th, 2016, 2:37 pm 

January Scientific American has an article entitled "Why Robots should Disobey us". (That may not be verbatim but close enough. Too lazy to go to other room.) Scientist at bottom of cliff says to Robot "Jump down. I'll catch you." Robot at top of cliff is pondering. Does he recognize that scientist (being human) is tricky and doesn't always do what he says he'll do.

So, does Robot need a Conscious? I seem to remember a long thread about that, maybe last winter?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby wolfhnd on December 27th, 2016, 4:10 pm 

NoShips » Tue Dec 27, 2016 6:05 pm wrote:I believe Dennett said something like (too lazy to Google):

"There is no such thing as science without philosophy. There is only science with its philosophical luggage taken on board unexamined".


“A great deal of philosophy doesn’t really deserve much of a place of the world,” he says. “Philosophy in some quarters has become self-indulgent, clever play in a vacuum that’s not dealing of problems of any intrinsic interest.” Much if not all philosophical work in analytic metaphysics, for example, is “willfully cut off from any serious issues”

Daniel Dennett
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 27th, 2016, 5:45 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 27th, 2016, 3:28 am wrote:I hope in future replies you can try not to assume what I am assuming.

I can't promise to do that. I can only read what's written and interpret the words according to the meaning I have for them.

I am not saying anything like prescientific man was incapable of reason or problem solving.

Yes, you are, unless you insist on a contradiction in terms. A man who identifies a problem, then proceeds to solve it through observation, hypothesis, prediction and testing of methods is, by definition, behaving scientific manner. I maintain that there is no such thing as a prescientific man - a prescientific ape, or even a prescientific crow. Not having a word for it never stopped them practicing it.

I need to find a way to establish what I am expressing by "theoretical". You seem willing in some ways to grasp this idea yet not in others. Problem solving general practical tasks is a precursor to a theoretical outlook.

I have said that theorizing is part of problem-solving. I have not accepted "a theoretical outlook" as a credible descriptive of a species, or a culture or even a band of humans. It is an attribute abundant in some individuals, while almost wholly absent in other individuals of the same species.

What I am saying is it is taken on as a practical theme.

And i'm not convinced about this "theme" business. I also look askance upon a phrase like "is taken on": The passive form would suggest (but I don't know whether it's intended to) that something nebulous - like an attitude or mental state or world-view - comes from outside, to unspecified people and then becomes part of their thought-process. I can't see the origin of the something or the mechanism of transfer.

It is also important to understand that individuals mst likely did have lesuire time to sit around and think about things. In a small social group this doesn't really gain much purchase although some ideas and conceptions will, to soem degree, whether the storm (learning practical tehcniques and crafts looks like one obvious step in this process).

Sorry, I don't understand this.

I very key factor to cultural development would be writing. This is a huge event in human history (the actual beginning of human history!).

The beginning of recorded history, certainly. Do you put writing before or after the birth of whatever your meaning of science is? Before or after formal philosophy? What is the relationship of writing and theoretical science? (Bear in mind that the earliest surviving documents are inventory lists, edicts and royal boasts.)

Also, to add. If you view all people to have been scientific and philosophical, then I say this is what was referred to as "bungee jumping into fantasy land" in sense. If you meant the capacity was there I agree.

In that case, somewhere between the ability to do something and the doing of it, there is an enormous chasm. Who put it there? Why do you think it's there?
By being scientific, I mean dealing rationally with the material world; taking advantage of observed phenomena to predict how things will behave, test theories and improve on ideas. By being philosophical, I mean reflecting on his place in the world, his relation to other entities and deciding what rational limits to place on his emotional impulses. I don't see fantasy-land there; I see a functional tribe.

You also talk about the application of European/American thought onto foreign cultures. That is the exact thing Husserl protests against in The Vienna Lecture. He was pointing out the stark different of what the Greeks established as a community of individual "eccentrics", the role of education in their society and seems to infer how it led into the greater public sphere.

I don't say he's attributing European-like characteristics to other cultures, but that he seems - like most philosophers of his time - to set the Greek model as the norm, or standard, for intellectual development.
The relative importance of mathematics is hardly a "stark contrast", especially when you look at the engineering feats of all ancient cultures, arrived at independently of one another. It's the similarities I find more striking.

Also to say that an ancient man could not grasp todays world can be partially demonstrated by refering to certain peoples alive today.

It takes an adult longer to adapt to a new culture, or learn anything, than it does a child. That tells us nothing about the comparative conceptual capabilities of prehistoric, ancient and modern man. How many very, very modern Americans are functionally innumerate and or/and illiterate? How about rural Pakistanis and Ecuadorians? What's the male-female ratio of mathematical excellence between Sudan and Germany?

. Btw falling down a hole is a pratical problem we are faced with, not a theoretical problem

That's what I said. Every practical problem has a theoretical aspect and a material aspect. Falling in hole is something the real world can do to you and the caveman equally (while hunger is not), and you would need all your wits to deal with the resultant crisis. I'm guessing (not assuming!) that you would have the advantage in knowing formulas for leverage and weight distribution, while he would have the advantage in knowing more about the properties of rock.

... this then does seem to suggest that theory reaches into practical life by way of planning, or rather practical life reaches into the realm of the theoretical by making time thematic and measured in some way (a whole new bag of screaming cats to look at there!).

Yes. I'm saying you can't - and don't need to - compartmentalize thinking so rigidly. We all do all sorts of thinking all the time - we just don't do all of them equally well.

PS The Colin Renfrew abstract looks interesting and pleasantly readable. I haven't finished it yet, but there is nothing particularly difficult so far.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 27th, 2016, 7:38 pm 

I would have to mention that I don't think science can be defined solely by methodology as in a kind of mental tool box. The definition, IMHO, ould also have to incorporate some consideration of the subject of enquiry and exclude engineering, technology as well as what could be called the realm of the metaphysics although, of course, "the scientific method" or variations could be used here without topics such as Creation Science or Intelligent Design becoming science. This is (but) one of the reasons why I have problems with some of the broad definitions you people are using - you are legitimizing Creationism as a science which I definitely don't agree with. My definition of science actually makes it explicitely a "western" invention of probably the 19th century.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby wolfhnd on December 27th, 2016, 10:27 pm 

Forest_Dump » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:38 pm wrote:I would have to mention that I don't think science can be defined solely by methodology as in a kind of mental tool box. The definition, IMHO, ould also have to incorporate some consideration of the subject of enquiry and exclude engineering, technology as well as what could be called the realm of the metaphysics although, of course, "the scientific method" or variations could be used here without topics such as Creation Science or Intelligent Design becoming science. This is (but) one of the reasons why I have problems with some of the broad definitions you people are using - you are legitimizing Creationism as a science which I definitely don't agree with. My definition of science actually makes it explicitely a "western" invention of probably the 19th century.


Honestly creationist are no more irrational to me than Marxist, they look at the evidence and find a million reasons why the evidence doesn't support their theory. They then concoct and alternative reality to support their theory. We all do this a thousand time a day it's called cognitive dissonance. It happens to scientists every day. Philosophers may try and eliminate cognitive dissonance but often as not they are just creating a logical but unproven hypothetical reality.

As I have been saying the mental world is more real that the external world from the point of view of the observer. A dog barks and growls at some object knocked over by the wind. His image of a lurking predator is more real than the phantom threat he growls at. It's not the dogs brain that is faulty it's his senses that are not accurate enough to see what isn't there. His brain is perfectly evolved to react to threats the trick is identifying them. A stupid human may on the other hand wonder into an intruder when he thought it was just the wind.

Modern science extends the senses with things like particle accelerators, microscopes, chemical analysis, radiation detectors, etc. the science however is not much different than the dog using his logic to determine threats. The dog has a theory of what sounds he should here, he has the senses to detect those sounds, he has a brain that tells him how to test his hypothesis. If his growling test does not produce the expected reaction he goes back to sleep and waits for the next test of his hypothesis. Over time he will refine his hypothesis and will not react to the phantom predator.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby wolfhnd on December 27th, 2016, 10:39 pm 

I want to make a final comment on popular scientist that have made spreading atheism their mission in life. What they have done in my opinion is made themselves into gods to satisfy whatever evolutionary quirk makes humans search for meaning in their lives and traditionally turn to religion for that satisfaction. I'm an atheist in the practical not philosophical sense, if I can't touch, hear, see or smell it and other people can't convince me that someone else has experience it it isn't real. The failure of most scientist and academics to grasp that were it not for culture they would be idiots is hard to understand and can only be explained by egotism. It doesn't matter how great a brain you have if it doesn't develop in the right environment. DNA is just the building blocks development reproduces the evolutionary process. You change the environment you get different results.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on December 27th, 2016, 11:25 pm 

. All it means is that we cannot transcend our limitations so as to comprehend objective reality absolutely. The idea of the horse is more real than the horse itself to the observer simply because there is no mind outside of the brain. We can know only that which we can experience either directly or indirectly. We can produce a perfect math because it doesn't exist outside of the mind that does not mean that math is not the product of experience only that it's originating experiences are lost in time. I'm not much of a fan of emergence theory but I'm a big fan of swam intelligence and abstract reasoning. What I'm saying the abstraction is however is a useful simplification of a very complex objective reality using very complex evolved mechanisms that we may or may not be aware of.

All scientific discoveries are approximations of reality some more accurate than others but they should not be confused with reality.


I wish you could have seen this conversation I had with a guy in a webcam chatroom. This was circa 2009ish. (He was a guy that happened to live on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.)

You are being very wordy, and that's okay because you hit all the high points. We are limited beings. Scientific discoveries are approximations.

What the Scottish guy concluded went something like this: "If I could conceive of an entire star in my mind -- then I wouldn't need science."

Notice the italicized text around "in my mind". To really understand his meaning, you must emphasize "in my mind" in the most bitter and sarcastic way possible. Scotland guy used first person, but he didn't mean first person. Because human beings cannot grasp the fullness of an entire star in their minds , then they must engage in this laborious thing called science.

Why is this interesting? Because if humans could naturally visualize a bunch of reproducing organisms in a multi-tiered eco-system , wherein reproductive success is probabilistically determined by traits of the individual, as they compete for space and resource. If we could visualize this as people, then evolution by natural selection would have been discovered in the 2nd century BC in Athenian Greece.

Instead, because most human beings cannot conceive of an eco-system in their minds -- evolution was not discovered for several thousand more years after Greek antiquity.

Human beings have a brain that was not taylor-made to ponder out mental simulations of complex adaptive systems. We being sweaty hairless apes who knock our rocks together around the campfire --- we laboriously write down data and then try to mine the patterns out of it. Today we call that (tedious) process "Science".
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 28th, 2016, 12:31 am 

Serpent -

Don't promise, just promise to try please :) If you think something is unclear then before you assume anything more ask for clarity. That would help me a great deal.

I guess the best and simpliest way I can put it is that the theoretical attitude is only concerned with theory wholly detached from the practical life-world. The thematic of theory becomes an interest within itself rather than as taken on as a technique directed at practical matters.

Also, beign illiterate in a literate world is not a fair comparison to being illiterate in an illiterate world. Do you see why?

Also, "prescientific" is not a reference to modern scientific method in the way I have been expressing it. I said, a few posts back, that "science" is inclusive of chemistry, biology, psychology, philosophy, etc.,. So, no I am most definitively not saying prescientific man waa incapable of reason of problem solving. Neither would I say they were incapable of learning to read and write or do anything that you or I or anyone else today can do (that is my assumption amd I even said what could possibily contradict such as assumption).

What I meant by groups of people sitting around was that if in lesuire time someone decided to invent writing and take such a task and no one paid any interest then it would fail to survive. If we had a community of people all possessing a theoretical attitude (non-practical) then a they would begin to lay down the ground for a scientific attitude. What happened in ancient Greece happened around the globe at about the same time, but the extent of theoretical use was not the same elsewhere due to various political factors. What seems to have propelled Greek thought forwards is how it was institutionalised by large and differing bodies of thought all taking on a theoretical attitude (an interest in the theory for theories sake not for a direct practical use - meaning doing math for the sake of doing math not with an intentiom of putting it to practical worldly use). The point beinf when I talk about "prescientific man" I am not assuming no singular person could take up a theoretcial attitude. What I am.saying is that if their attitude was not communalised enough it would gain no social purchase and fall away. Writing would ssem to be an obvious hurdle to bridge this gap an literacy and exchnage of thoughts on a larger communal level would also suggets this (not to mention in regard to linguistics and semantics how this would allow people to more directly, and literally, view language itself apart from is daiky usage and as a subject matter unto itself, as a theoretcical pursuit).
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 28th, 2016, 12:47 am 

Forest_Dump » December 27th, 2016, 6:38 pm wrote:I would have to mention that I don't think science can be defined solely by methodology as in a kind of mental tool box. The definition, IMHO, would also have to incorporate some consideration of the subject of enquiry and exclude engineering, technology

I have two problems with this. The second is the rest of the sentence, and that its contents were in the same sentence to begin with.
The first is definition. If it's not a mental tool-box, what is it? May I conjecture, without assuming about your assumptions, that you are with BadgerJelly in elevating science to a capital S - an abstract concept, a realm apart from the mundane, beyond the reach of ordinary noticers and tinkerers?
If the products of scientific inquiry are to be divorced from Science, where do they now fit in the scheme of human endeavour? What is now the motivation of scientists?

Not this:
as well as what could be called the realm of the metaphysics

which is the interest of a completely different kind of mind.

you are legitimizing Creationism as a science which I definitely don't agree with.

Who did this? Where and how? Philosophy might include that preposterous notion, but no definition, however informal, of science that I've ever encountered accepted it.

My definition of science actually makes it explicitely a "western" invention of probably the 19th century.

Why? Because the Chinese pottery glaze and silk and dynamite are too technological to qualify?

What, then, happens to Webseter's
knowledge acquired by careful observation, by deduction of laws which govern changes and conditions, and by testing these deductions by experiment; a branch of study, esp. one concerned with facts, principles and methods
?
Why are Volta and Kepler disqualified?
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