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Is awareness more basic than the material world?
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11-04-2015, 08:03 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
Quote:Dawkins is an Evolutionary Biologist. You are a scientifically ignorant Philosophy student, and you actually think you are competent to say he is wrong, yet are not capable of saying why, yourself ? Rolleyes

Are you trolling? Either: you haven't read my comments; you have misunderstood my comments; or you read my comments, understood them, and are now trolling.

Briefly, because trolls need food too (and you might not even be trolling; if that's the case I'm sorry if the accusation caused offence).

1. Dawkins is no longer an evolutionary biologist. He began his career as one, but the bulk of his theories have now been rejected as false by almost the entire community of evolutionary biologists (the 'immortal gene' especially, which I mentioned earlier) His current profession revolves around atheism, and anti-religious activity. He no longer studies, contributes to, or is employed within, evolutionary biology. He does teach theology at Oxford though, and is the head of the 'institute for science and reason' (ironic, as I mentioned earlier, as both his science and reason have been proven inadequate within biology and genetics, which is where he became famous)

2. Yes I am a philosophy student, no I am not scientifically ignorant. I specifically said that the argument we have been discussing is scientifically ignorant (in the literal sense that it ignores science, not in the common-phrasing sense of ignorant which you seem to have picked up on, which would mean I am a generally scientifically ignorant person. I meant 'this argument is scientifically ignorant' in the same sense as 'musical notations are ignorant of the alphabet.'). Perhaps the most important point here is that I did actually explain, albeit briefly, why he is wrong. Check again if you missed it. I also gave a link to an academic source which discusses why he is wrong, as chas asked.

It amuses me that your comment is pretty much a textbook example of appeal to authority- on a forum for atheists! Laugh out load

This raises an interesting question actually; how much are we tempted to just believe scientists simply because we give them authority, in the same way people used to (and still do) give the clergy authority? The difference of course is that we theoretically have access to the evidence they have, and the reasoning they have followed. In reality though how many of us check behind every scientists claims, looking at the exact experiment and its method?
I'm not trying to bring on a science vs religion debate here, but I think the similarities with how we treat scientists and the clergy, especially relating to the information they give us, is pretty fascinating. In the old days if we thought god was backing a man, you believed him, no questions asked. Nowadays if you think science is backing a man, you believe him, usually no questions asked.
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11-04-2015, 08:25 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(11-04-2015 05:16 PM)Th3box Wrote:  As for the definition; yes it is difficult to define awareness, and yes it is difficult to define the basic constituent of reality. This is a natural result of definitions being ways to explain things within reality, relying on some kind of distinct existence for that thing.
The definition of matter is simple and indistinct in this way; consider "Physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy" which is the oxford english definition of matter. If we then ask what a physical object is we reach a definition like "Relating to physics or the operation of natural forces generally". We ask what physics is and we find it is "The branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. " There is a clear circularity here. These definitions have served some purpose in showing us some of the aspects of how we deal with matter, but they don't explain much more than the obvious; it is basic, and we rely on our experience to ascertain it.
I think it is fair to consider that awareness will occupy a similar sort of position within the subjective perspective as matter does to the objective perspective.

I don't see that at all. They are not parallels, there is no reason to believe that.

Quote:Awareness is the basic constituent of subjectivity in the same way that matter is the basic constituent of objectivity.

Since you can't define awareness, you can't make that claim.

Quote:Awareness is therefore likely to be susceptible to a similar problem. I don't want you to think that it is undefined, but a sufficient definition is no doubt impossible for a sceptic, in the same way that we may be sceptical of the definition of matter.

Who is skeptical about the definition of matter?

Quote:I explained that I can't provide a straightforward definition of awareness, by that I meant to imply that a definition in a proper and satisfactory sense would be inevitably elusive; the best I can manage is 'awareness=subjective being (verb)'. It is no doubt possible to extend this in the way that we extend the definition of matter, by referring to what experience is, or what subjectivity is, but eventually these will become circular; the only definition which is important for the argument is that it is subjective. I hope this helps you to properly consider the argument.

That's pretty incoherent.

Quote:
Quote:Your lecturers are incorrect. And probably malicious. It is an unattractive attribute in a teacher.

Actually, I haven't said anything about what my lecturers have or haven't claimed.

You said they claimed Dawkins's theories were ripped apart.

Quote:I said that I might have inherited any malicious tone about Dawkins, which I meant semi-humorously, but also to indicate that they are generally derisive of him. Therefore you are saying my lecturers are incorrect in maliciousness? Obviously their feelings and subjective opinions are just that, subjective (back to that word...) but to say they are incorrect seems, well, incorrect.
Anyway I'd agree that it is an unattractive attribute in a teacher; but I was probably exaggerating when I say they were malicious. The one lecturer in particular I am thinking of is an expert and published author in the field of the 'unit of selection' debate in the theory of evolution, which is the area which Dawkins makes some atrocious philosophical biological inferences and claims in, yet also the area which he claims to be addressing in 'the selfish gene'. My professor was half smiling when describing Dawkins' view and its flaws, but there was an undercurrent of 'how come this guy who was wrong is famous and making loads of money while I'm not'. He was nice enough about it though; I'm interpreting his manner rather than relaying his actual words or actions.

Quote:What theories have been ripped apart and by whom?
And since you profess ignorance of biology, how could you tell that the critics were right? Consider

Firstly, I never professed ignorance in biology- I stated that I was being purposefully ignorant of biological facts, but that is in the context of the argument in question, which is epistemological rather than biological. Obviously whilst dealing with an argument in the philosophy of biology, I am not purposefully ignorant of biological facts.

The theory being 'ripped apart' is Dawkins' idea that we can see the entire process of natural selection by evolution to revolve around 'immortal genes' which are self-serving entities which will survive for as long as possible; their striving for survival resulted in every single biological organism. I'm not going to explain in detail why the theory is wrong here, but if you want to know about the debate, and where Dawkins commits logical and biological fallacies, you can check out this Stanford article, also written by an expert in the field;
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/selection-units/

As I thought, you do not understand what Dawkins said in The Selfish Gene and other books.

Quote:The basic problem with Dawkins' theory is that 1) it postulates 'genes' as certain parts of the chromosomes, long enough to convey survival advantages but short enough to avoid breaking in meiosis. Apart from being a case of suiting the definition to the theory, there is no evidence (and almost no chance) that such entities exist.

Really? How do you think heritable traits are passed?

Quote:2) It ignores some of the crucial aspects of the theory of evolution which cannot be explained in such a manner. For instance the evolution from single to multi celled organisms.

Your knowledge of biology seems poor.

Quote:There are also many other logical inconsistencies in Dawkins' theory which you can find by researching, and looking at the encylopedia article I have linked. What makes these problems worse is that Dawkins has refused to respond to repeated published articles which have asked him to; in academia that's a big faux-pas, and the cowards way of admitting defeat.

Citation required.

Quote:In relation to this, but on a different issue, Dawkins has refused to comment on other recent research which purported to show that learned and practiced traits can affect genetic inheritance of those traits; something he strongly claimed was impossible. That was in New Scientist magazine.

Citation required.

Quote:It is amusing (to me at least) that of all the scientists in the world, perhaps the most sceptical of Dawkins and his work are biologists and philosophers of biology.

Citation required.

Quote:
Quote:Without a grounding in evidence, philosophy is prone to word games such as yours.

Now here we can definitely agree! I agree with you that philosophy is horribly prone to word games without evidence; in fact Kant became my favorite philosopher by observing this with his wonderful quote "metaphysics has rather to be regarded as a battle-ground quite peculiarly suited for those who desire to exercise themselves in mock combats, and in which no participant has ever yet succeeded in gaining even so much as an inch of territory, not at least in such manner as to secure him in its permanent possession. This shows, beyond all questioning, that the procedure of metaphysics has hitherto been a merely random groping, and, what is worst of all, a groping among mere concepts." We do certainly need evidence!

The argument that I put forward is one that does rely on evidence; evidence of ourselves, and evidence of other things. In fact that is exactly what the argument is concerning; the first and most fundamental forms of evidence, and what we can conclude from them. Perhaps I have engaged in word games at some point in this discussion, but the argument itself should not be considered as one of those games.

Quote:I am skeptical of neither.

That is good to know; neither am I, and neither are a huge majority of people. The point I was making was that it makes more sense to be sceptical of matter than it does to be sceptical of awareness.

I hope that this comment might provide some useful final answers for you regarding the argument and how to interpret it.

Yes. I reject your argument in its entirety. It is incoherent.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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11-04-2015, 08:28 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(11-04-2015 07:26 PM)Th3box Wrote:  
(11-04-2015 05:37 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  Never been on the bus, huh? Tongue

It doesn't make more sense when one considers emergence. The emergence of consciousness from matter seems a case of mopping up the details, where the converse seems a man without shoes. And of course you're gonna get the automatic knee-jerk reaction that this smells like a "first cause/god argument."

Haha, I've been on a few buses... some of them smell pretty bad... or at least, I think that they smell bad. I don't know for sure if there is actually something smelling bad on them, or if its just me...

The emergence thing is definitely a problem for both a materialistic or an idealistic perspective. It's a toughy; we either accept emergence happens, in which case we have to know where and how, which seems an almost impossible task; or we dissolve the problem by saying that there is no emergence, which means either claiming matter doesn't exist, claiming consciousness doesn't exist (as Dennett does), or claiming that they are aspects of the same thing or reality. I'm personally in favour of dissolving them down to one thing with different types of properties (perhaps depending on whether they are viewed subjectively or objectively). That way we don't have emergence, or dualism, or any of that generally mind-boggling and seriously questionable 'relationship-between-two-sorts-of-reality' stuff. Instead we are left with a mind-boggling reality which is both massive and awesome outside and fascinatingly vicarious inside. Although the argument being discussed is not about that problem as such, it does bear on it, by implying we should be very wary of dismissing consciousness before matter.

And of course any talk of consciousness being fundamental does lead to the idea of god... I was wondering whether anyone would have noticed that the argument as set forth is so basic to rational agents that it would provide a good explanation as to why belief in god is so ubiquitous among rational agents; we have to believe in thought as fundamental, by dint of our own thoughts, so we then lean towards considering thought as most basic when applying our knowledge to reality. Of course, our own process of knowing things may be different to the way reality is structured, so the natural inference of mind or consciousness being basic (i.e. god) is not necessarily the best way to approach our explanation of reality; but it is one thinking beings are naturally led to.

We know that emergent properties are very real.

Take an explosively reactive metal and a poison gas, combine them and - voilà - table salt.
The properties of table salt are nowhere to be found in sodium or chlorine. Where did they come form? Consider

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11-04-2015, 08:42 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(11-04-2015 08:03 PM)Th3box Wrote:  
Quote:Dawkins is an Evolutionary Biologist. You are a scientifically ignorant Philosophy student, and you actually think you are competent to say he is wrong, yet are not capable of saying why, yourself ? Rolleyes

Are you trolling? Either: you haven't read my comments; you have misunderstood my comments; or you read my comments, understood them, and are now trolling.

Briefly, because trolls need food too (and you might not even be trolling; if that's the case I'm sorry if the accusation caused offence).

1. Dawkins is no longer an evolutionary biologist.

Of course he is. Do you think he simply forgot it all?

Quote:He began his career as one, but the bulk of his theories have now been rejected as false by almost the entire community of evolutionary biologists (the 'immortal gene' especially, which I mentioned earlier)

Citation required.

Quote:His current profession revolves around atheism, and anti-religious activity. He no longer studies, contributes to, or is employed within, evolutionary biology. He does teach theology at Oxford though, and is the head of the 'institute for science and reason' (ironic, as I mentioned earlier, as both his science and reason have been proven inadequate within biology and genetics, which is where he became famous)

Citation required.

He published scholarly papers for four decades and popular writings on evolution for nearly as long.

Quote:2. Yes I am a philosophy student, no I am not scientifically ignorant.

You certainly appear to be ignorant regarding evolution.

Quote:I specifically said that the argument we have been discussing is scientifically ignorant (in the literal sense that it ignores science, not in the common-phrasing sense of ignorant which you seem to have picked up on, which would mean I am a generally scientifically ignorant person. I meant 'this argument is scientifically ignorant' in the same sense as 'musical notations are ignorant of the alphabet.'). Perhaps the most important point here is that I did actually explain, albeit briefly, why he is wrong. Check again if you missed it. I also gave a link to an academic source which discusses why he is wrong, as chas asked.

The one citation you have provided does not rip Dawkins to shreds - quite the contrary. Did you actually read it? Consider

Quote:It amuses me that your comment is pretty much a textbook example of appeal to authority- on a forum for atheists! Laugh out load

No, it was questioning your qualifications.

Quote:This raises an interesting question actually; how much are we tempted to just believe scientists simply because we give them authority, in the same way people used to (and still do) give the clergy authority? The difference of course is that we theoretically have access to the evidence they have, and the reasoning they have followed. In reality though how many of us check behind every scientists claims, looking at the exact experiment and its method?
I'm not trying to bring on a science vs religion debate here, but I think the similarities with how we treat scientists and the clergy, especially relating to the information they give us, is pretty fascinating. In the old days if we thought god was backing a man, you believed him, no questions asked. Nowadays if you think science is backing a man, you believe him, usually no questions asked.

We don't 'just believe scientists', we evaluate their ideas.

And we evaluate their ideas, not someone else's misunderstanding of their ideas as you appear to do.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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12-04-2015, 07:03 AM (This post was last modified: 12-04-2015 07:29 AM by Th3box.)
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
As for the Dawkins thing; he claims to be defending the gene's eye view of evolution, which is a process involving 'immortal genes'. Immortal genes as he describes are a theoretical construct rather than a specific physical entity, and if they did exist they would not be an adequate candidate for the unit of selection. This is NOT saying that genes are not the units of selection, or that they do not convey heritable advantages; it is saying that the process of evolution does not revolve around specific lengths of chromosome which themselves remain intact, and which we should see as being the driving force of evolution.

To refer back to the article; it is definitely being more critical of Dawkins' view than it is to other authors and is definitely not supporting his views. "As we saw in the previous section, Dawkins had particular problems with his treatment of the interactor." Remember it is is meant to be an encyclopedia article, so really should be as unbiased as possible.

If I spent a few hours I would be able to find some citations for you, but unless you are subscribed to an academic institution (I assume you are not) you would have to pay about forty dollars a piece to access them. The same goes for the new scientist article. Unfortunately although the internet has done great things for the spread of information, academia is still not free. And anyway, I'm not here to argue about the unit of selection question within evolution; I did enough of that last year.

As for the replies you have given to my original argument, where I provided a definition for you, you seem to be ignoring them. I'm not going to spend more time on it, as I don't see there to be any logical problem with my definition or reasoning on that point, although you claim it is 'incoherent' and that 'you don't see that'. Also, there is difference between being a matter sceptic and being a definition-of-matter sceptic. I wouldn't fall into the first category, but I might fall into the second, for the reason of circularity which I exposed in my last comment.

Thanks for the dedication in replying though! I have to admit I am less dedicated than you in that respect, but it starts to feel like a battle of individual minds rather than a battle of truth after a while.
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12-04-2015, 07:43 AM (This post was last modified: 12-04-2015 07:52 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(11-04-2015 08:03 PM)Th3box Wrote:  It amuses me that your comment is pretty much a textbook example of appeal to authority- on a forum for atheists! Laugh out load

Yeah you fucktard. That's what newbies do to people who disagree with their garbage ... call them "trolls". How predictable. I've been here for years, and (reputedly) have written some of the best stuff here, (which you wouldn't know how to find if you tried, and couldn't refute if you tried), and you have been here a couple of damn days, and have a negative to zero reputation.

It amuses me that all your comments about Dawkins are pretty much a textbook example of what theists do on atheist sites, and talk about Dawkins and Darwin, *as if* somehow atheism rests on anything they say. Your premise is stupid, and you have provided not a shred of evidence for it. ALL your arguments were fallacious, and YOU admitted it, and tried to excuse your idiot self by saying you wrote them late at night.

Go fuck yourself.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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12-04-2015, 08:44 AM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(12-04-2015 07:03 AM)Th3box Wrote:  it is saying that the process of evolution does not revolve around specific lengths of chromosome which themselves remain intact, and which we should see as being the driving force of evolution.

bla bla bla ... so many excuses ...
Then how about you simply state what exactly it is that drives evolution, and how you are qualified to say anything on the subject.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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12-04-2015, 01:16 PM (This post was last modified: 12-04-2015 01:35 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(12-04-2015 07:03 AM)Th3box Wrote:  If I spent a few hours I would be able to find some citations for you, but unless you are subscribed to an academic institution (I assume you are not) you would have to pay about forty dollars a piece to access them. The same goes for the new scientist article. Unfortunately although the internet has done great things for the spread of information, academia is still not free.

Well that's rather elitist of you now isn't it. Lazy even. "I'd provide citations for you but since you can't afford them anyway I won't bother." First off, you're likely wrong that Fullerene does not have access to journal articles given that he's a student at a prestigious university. Second, since the authors almost always retain copyright of their own work you can find most journal articles on their personal web site as part of their CV. So why don't you go ahead and cite your references Skippy and we'll see if I can't find them for free. Fucking lazy elitist bastard.

#sigh
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12-04-2015, 09:31 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
(12-04-2015 07:03 AM)Th3box Wrote:  As for the Dawkins thing; he claims to be defending the gene's eye view of evolution, which is a process involving 'immortal genes'. Immortal genes as he describes are a theoretical construct rather than a specific physical entity, and if they did exist they would not be an adequate candidate for the unit of selection. This is NOT saying that genes are not the units of selection, or that they do not convey heritable advantages; it is saying that the process of evolution does not revolve around specific lengths of chromosome which themselves remain intact, and which we should see as being the driving force of evolution.

That demonstrates your muddy, and probably second-hand, misunderstanding of what Dawkins was actually saying. He quite clearly explains that biologists don't have a clear definition of genes, that genes are not necessarily a single length of DNA, and that genes are 'immortal' in contrast to the mortality of organisms that genes build.

You are also wrong about chromosomes. They do not, in fact, remain intact.
Your knowledge of biology and understanding of evolution are very poor.

Quote:To refer back to the article; it is definitely being more critical of Dawkins' view than it is to other authors and is definitely not supporting his views. "As we saw in the previous section, Dawkins had particular problems with his treatment of the interactor." Remember it is is meant to be an encyclopedia article, so really should be as unbiased as possible.

The article contrasted different views. Your reading appears rather biased.

Quote:If I spent a few hours I would be able to find some citations for you, but unless you are subscribed to an academic institution (I assume you are not) you would have to pay about forty dollars a piece to access them. The same goes for the new scientist article. Unfortunately although the internet has done great things for the spread of information, academia is still not free. And anyway, I'm not here to argue about the unit of selection question within evolution; I did enough of that last year.

Then don't bring up unattributed horseshit that requires refutation.

Quote:As for the replies you have given to my original argument, where I provided a definition for you, you seem to be ignoring them. I'm not going to spend more time on it, as I don't see there to be any logical problem with my definition or reasoning on that point, although you claim it is 'incoherent' and that 'you don't see that'. Also, there is difference between being a matter sceptic and being a definition-of-matter sceptic. I wouldn't fall into the first category, but I might fall into the second, for the reason of circularity which I exposed in my last comment.

Definition? No, you have not provided a coherent or useful definition.

Quote:Thanks for the dedication in replying though! I have to admit I am less dedicated than you in that respect, but it starts to feel like a battle of individual minds rather than a battle of truth after a while.




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13-04-2015, 02:51 PM
RE: Is awareness more basic than the material world?
I'm a little late to this particular party but after a (very) quick read it seems to me that the OP is hung up on the notion that consciousness "must be" something more than it appears to be, which is simply a kind of interaction with the environment that arises out of certain configurations of awareness and intelligence.

My guess is that the OP would be skeptical that machine intelligence will ever be achieved. The objections raised to that tend to be based on a perceived dichotomy between living and nonliving things that doesn't really exist (living brains are made of nonliving atoms, after all). The OP's arguments remind me a great deal of that argument; instead of arguing that nonliving things can't think because they are nonliving, he's arguing that they can't NOT think because they are nonliving. Both points of view posit an ineffable quality to consciousness that it doesn't have but that we flatter ourselves that it has because it makes us feel special. There are only two places to go that I can think of with such a preconception: either that consciousness requires life, or that existence itself is in some sense conscious.

I think it is far more economical to simply say that consciousness is an emergent property of certain configurations of sense perception and intelligence, so far only seen to arise in living things but may well not be confined to living things. But I see no need to conflate the existence of consciousness with existence itself. (The OP might enjoy reading the old SF short story, They're Made out of Meat ... http://www.terrybisson.com/page6/page6.html).
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