Belief versus reality
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01-11-2017, 03:26 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 03:22 AM)Belaqua Wrote:  
(01-11-2017 03:16 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  It's an attempt to model reality. Informally, we say light travels at such and such. Scientifically, we would say, "This is our best model for representing what appears to be an objective reality. In this model, light travels at such and such." It's just that this is a mouthful to constantly repeat when discussing science. The underlying philosophy is kind of taken for granted, at least by those who understand it.

Technically, we're only trying to model our observations, not reality itself. When viewed this way, it removes a lot of this tangle. It ultimately doesn't matter from a practical point of view what might be producing the observations, if anything, as long as our models work.

Thank you -- this is a lot more careful way of thinking than I usually see, and I appreciate it.

(And "It ultimately doesn't matter" is of course a philosophical statement.)

No problem Smile

Some people are just as guilty of over-playing the role of science too, when they equate our models with a supposed reality. To be fair, a lot of people probably haven't thought about it in such detail. I have a lot of time on my hands Tongue

Because science deals with evidence and not proof, it's always easy to stay intellectually honest and open to corrections and caveats.

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01-11-2017, 04:25 AM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2017 04:33 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(31-10-2017 11:33 PM)whateverist Wrote:  It is my experience that a goodly chunk of online atheists have a low opinion of philosophy. I think this is related to the streak of scientism and hyper-rationalist tendency of quite a few atheists. Perhaps it is a reaction by some who, having left a religion look back horrified at the absurdity of what they had been led to believe. Clinging to the relative certainty afforded by science might allay the fear of being led astray again.

I have been misled by philosophers as well as by religious people. Historically, both religious and idealistic philosophers have caused a lot of on-going confusions. I'm not at all convinced that the world was improved by Marx's ideas for instance. I especially think the idea at the very heart of philosophy, the search for absolute certainty, is misguided.

I very much oppose philosophers who try to tell either scientists or reality how to behave. I also oppose people who say, "Everything is philosophy." That, to me, is commiting the genetic fallacy. Many areas of study which were once philosophy are now independent, including logic.
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01-11-2017, 05:48 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 04:25 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  the very heart of philosophy, the search for absolute certainty, is misguided.

It hadn't occurred to me that this is the very heart of philosophy.

It's kind of an open question in philosophy whether such certainty is even possible, and I kind of think the jury is leaning toward "no."

Naturally it's the philosopher's job to make the best case he can for his ideas, but it's the other philosophers' job to tear him down. And then everything proceeds through dialectic.

I'm sure you recall Plato... A lot of those dialogues intentionally end in aporia. And I'm pretty sure the purpose of that is to eliminate unfounded certainty. Socrates often used myth as a way to be suggestive while avoiding certainty.

In fact the more I think about it, the more I have the opposite idea from you... I think one of philosophy's most important goals is to keep us uncertain, by challenging all the ideas that we are overly fond of.
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01-11-2017, 05:56 AM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2017 06:03 AM by Chas.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(31-10-2017 11:23 PM)Belaqua Wrote:  
(31-10-2017 05:32 PM)Chas Wrote:  Teleology. Laughat

Do your lungs have a role in your body? If someone asks you "what are lungs for?" will you say "nothing"?

Lungs evolved. There is no intelligent design. Yet lungs have what Aristotle would call a Final Cause.

Therefore, there is teleology in nature.

Not really. The lung evolved from an air sac and therefore its function changed. There was no purpose to this and the cause was natural selection. So classifying function as telos or final cause is vapid at best.

It is not a useful way of viewing or classifying things. It only makes any sense in conjunction with the other 'causes' and can not stand alone. The scientific method has relegated Aristotelian and Aquinian thinking to the ash heap of intellectual history.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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01-11-2017, 06:03 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 02:26 AM)Belaqua Wrote:  People who claim that philosophy isn't helpful anymore because science has taken over are contradicting themselves.

The argument that science is good and philosophy is bad is a philosophical argument. It can't be proved through empirical testing. It's about values, and science doesn't test those.

So the people who try to dismiss philosophy are just doing (rather weak) philosophy.

The value in philosophy is in asking questions; the value in science is in answering questions.

Science answers factual questions, not value questions. Values are not objective.
You won't find answers in philosophy; you will find ways to think about the questions.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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01-11-2017, 07:05 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
The final cause for everything is to die the heat death in an endlessly big, expanding universe at exactly 0K, after even the biggest black holes have evaporated due to hawking radiation.

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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01-11-2017, 07:59 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 02:56 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Science requires falsifiable hypotheses.

Maybe I'm being a bit snarky here, but the above statement is one definition of science (provided for us by the "philosophy of science"), and perhaps not the only one. This is one of the functions of philosophy -- to examine the foundations and hidden assumptions underlying science and other human activities.
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01-11-2017, 08:01 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 07:59 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(01-11-2017 02:56 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Science requires falsifiable hypotheses.

Maybe I'm being a bit snarky here, but the above statement is one definition of science (provided for us by the "philosophy of science"), and perhaps not the only one. This is one of the functions of philosophy -- to examine the foundations and hidden assumptions underlying science and other human activities.

Absolutely. What other definitions are there that don’t include falsifiability?

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01-11-2017, 08:35 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 04:25 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(31-10-2017 11:33 PM)whateverist Wrote:  It is my experience that a goodly chunk of online atheists have a low opinion of philosophy. I think this is related to the streak of scientism and hyper-rationalist tendency of quite a few atheists. Perhaps it is a reaction by some who, having left a religion look back horrified at the absurdity of what they had been led to believe. Clinging to the relative certainty afforded by science might allay the fear of being led astray again.

I have been misled by philosophers as well as by religious people. Historically, both religious and idealistic philosophers have caused a lot of on-going confusions. I'm not at all convinced that the world was improved by Marx's ideas for instance. I especially think the idea at the very heart of philosophy, the search for absolute certainty, is misguided.

I very much oppose philosophers who try to tell either scientists or reality how to behave. I also oppose people who say, "Everything is philosophy." That, to me, is commiting the genetic fallacy. Many areas of study which were once philosophy are now independent, including logic.


Can't say I've ever been led astray by philosophy the way I was with religion. But then the religion slipped in when I was very young and accepted most everything my care givers put in front of me. But I never looked to philosophy for answers. For me it was just a curiosity regarding what people had been moved to think hard about through history, and then to consider those questions on my own when one still felt intriguing.

I hated reading marxism, so naive on the face of it. Made me embarrassed for mankind that this was ever thought of as intellectually acceptable. I didn't study it in a philosophy class though. I took an intellectual history course through the history department which had its moments but .. ugh .. so much Marxism. Boring. As if "destiny" were a fit subject for study.

I'd say the subject matter of philosophy was mostly irrelevant, in terms of specific theories. It is more a process for getting the slop out of ones own thinking, recognizing when you have justification which should be relevant to others and how say exactly and no more than precisely what you mean. My thinking had been more metaphorical before, now it is less so. I enjoyed the process.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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01-11-2017, 08:48 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
I think one of the problems with philosophy is spending a long time trying to answer a question that we either can never answer, or else doesn't even make any sense (if we knew enough to know that). It's just a loss of time though, and the mental stimulation can be a benefit in itself.

The biggest danger I think is that anything can be justified, if you build up your value system accordingly. It would still only be justified in your own eyes of course, unless you could convince others.

An interesting thing for me is how advances in scientific knowledge can advance ethics, by lessening the reliance on superstition. The latter can cause the results to not match ethical intentions.

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