Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 154 (8096 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 07-26-2014 3:06 AM
194 online now:
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: yudi
Happy Birthday: Bliyaal
Post Volume:
Total: 733,161 Year: 19,002/28,606 Month: 2,273/2,305 Week: 478/671 Day: 21/63 Hour: 2/14


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Prev1
...
56
7
8910Next
Author Topic:   Jazzns' History of Belief
Straggler
Member
Posts: 9920
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 91 of 140 (638010)
10-19-2011 7:48 AM
Reply to: Message 90 by GDR
10-18-2011 2:04 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
There seems to be a contradiction in your thinking.

On one hand you say that you wholeheartedly subscribe to Wright's thesis. A thesis in which evolution is said to have a "purpose" exactly because morality, love, compassion, altruism etc. aid gene propagation and thus evolve as psychological traits. Traits that are the physical manifestation of non-zero-sum logic that is the source of Wright's "moral order".

On the other hand you seem to be asserting a rather minimalist role for genes as the cause of human psychological traits and instead invoking moral conscience.

But you can't on one hand deny the fundamental role of genes in human choices whilst on the other hand be advocating Wright's argument that the very moral conscience you refer to is a direct product of genetics and evolution.

It doesn't make sense.

GDR writes:

With no desire for sex the species would have died off long ago. How do you see the desire for sex evolving?

Well I think you have just answered your own question.

GDR writes:

It’s a bit of a chicken or egg question isn’t it.

Not really. The details of how sexual reproduction originated aren't known for sure but there doesn't seem to be any fundamental logical problem to overcome.

Evolution of sexual production

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 90 by GDR, posted 10-18-2011 2:04 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 92 by GDR, posted 10-19-2011 10:58 PM Straggler has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 3711
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 92 of 140 (638120)
10-19-2011 10:58 PM
Reply to: Message 91 by Straggler
10-19-2011 7:48 AM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
Straggler writes:

There seems to be a contradiction in your thinking.
On one hand you say that you wholeheartedly subscribe to Wright's thesis. A thesis in which evolution is said to have a "purpose" exactly because morality, love, compassion, altruism etc. aid gene propagation and thus evolve as psychological traits. Traits that are the physical manifestation of non-zero-sum logic that is the source of Wright's "moral order".
On the other hand you seem to be asserting a rather minimalist role for genes as the cause of human psychological traits and instead invoking moral conscience.
But you can't on one hand deny the fundamental role of genes in human choices whilst on the other be advocating Wright's argument that the very morality you refer is a direct product of genetics and evolution.
It doesn't make sense.

As I understand Wright we are evolving not just physically but socially. As I understand him, the evolution of our “moral order” is social. I just don’t see him saying that this is strictly a product of genetics although I suppose there might be a genetic component.

Straggler writes:

Not really. The details of how sexual reproduction originated aren't known for sure but there doesn't seem to be any fundamental logical problem to overcome.

From your link there are different theories and any of them or none of them could be accurate. I do have to question the likelihood of any of them originating from a mindless process though.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by Straggler, posted 10-19-2011 7:48 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 93 by Straggler, posted 10-20-2011 11:32 AM GDR has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 9920
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 93 of 140 (638175)
10-20-2011 11:32 AM
Reply to: Message 92 by GDR
10-19-2011 10:58 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
GDR writes:

As I understand Wright we are evolving not just physically but socially.

The social component of his thesis is that increasing technology etc. allow us to expand the circle with which we apply non-zero-sum logic.

Wright in The Evolution of God: "The expanding moral compass sponsored by the moral order, as we’ve seen, is a manifestation of non-zero-sumness, of the fact that cultural (and in particular technological) evolution leads more and more people to play non-zero-sum games at greater and greater distances."

GDR writes:

As I understand him, the evolution of our “moral order” is social. I just don’t see him saying that this is strictly a product of genetics although I suppose there might be a genetic component.

Then you have completely misunderstood it.

You have been beguiled by Wright’s rather unique use of theistic sounding terminology. But conceptually you are poles apart. Darwinian evolution as the mechanism of moral progress is the central plank of his “higher purpose” and “moral order” argument. If you don’t accept a materialistic Darwinian account of human morality it is impossible for you to agree with his conclusions regarding “divinity” or a "moral axis" in any way that actually makes conceptual (as opposed to superficial borne from terminological conflation) sense.

Wright in The Moral Animal writes:

Altruism, compassion, empathy, love, conscience, the sense of justice — all of these things, the things that hold society together, the things that allow our species to think so highly of itself, can now confidently be said to have a firm genetic basis. That's the good news. The bad news is that, although these things are in some ways blessings for humanity as a whole, they didn't evolve for the "good of the species" and aren't reliably employed to that end. Quite the contrary: it is now clearer than ever how (and precisely why) the moral sentiments are used with brutal flexibility, switched on and off in keeping with self-interest; and how naturally oblivious we often are to this switching. In the new view, human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse.

Wright in The Moral Animal writes:

Understanding the often unconscious nature of genetic control is the first step toward understanding that — in many realms, not just sex — we're all puppets, and our best hope for even partial liberation is to try to decipher the logic of the puppeteer. The full scope of the logic will take some time to explain, but I don't think I'm spoiling the end of the movie by noting here that the puppeteer seems to have exactly zero regard for the happiness of the puppets.

The Moral Animal Link

Wright in the Evolution of God writes:

I suggested a couple of pages ago that when people feel the presence of a humanlike god, they’re drawing on parts of the moral infrastructure built into them by natural selection—a sense of obligation to other people, guilt over letting people down, gratitude for gifts bestowed, and so on. And these things are in turn grounded in more basic components of the evolved moral infrastructure, including the very sense that there is such a thing as right and wrong. All these elements of human nature—all these ingredients of the sense of contact with a personal and sometimes judgmental God—are the product of non-zero-sum logic as realized via evolution; they are natural selection’s way of steering us toward fruitful relationships; they embody natural selection’s “recognition” that by cooperating with people (some people, at least) we can serve our own interests.

Wright in the Evolution of God writes:

If you accept this argument—if you buy into this particular theology of the Logos—then feeling the presence of a personal god has a kind of ironic validity. On the one hand, you’re imagining things; the divine being you sense “out there” is actually something inside you. On the other hand, this something inside you is an expression of forces “out there”; it’s an incarnation of a non-zero-sum logic that predates and transcends individual people, a kind of logic that—in this theology of the Logos, at least—can be called divine.

Wright in the evolution of God writes:

Can’t we pursue moral truth for the sake of moral truth? Do you really need God in order to sustain moral progress the way physicists need the electron in order to sustain scientific progress? It depends on who “you” is. Some people can lead morally exemplary lives without the idea of God. Others need God—and not necessarily because they can lead a virtuous life only if they fear hell and long for heaven; often it’s because they can most readily lead a virtuous life if they think of moral truth as having some living embodiment. They need to feel that if they’re bad they’ll be disappointing some one and if they’re good they’ll be pleasing some one—and this one is the one whom, above all others, it is good to please and bad to disappoint. This is hardly a surprising need. After all, the human moral equipment evolved in the context of human society, as a tool for navigating a social landscape; our moral sentiments are naturally activated with respect to other beings; we are “designed” by natural selection to be good out of obligation to others, for fear of the disapproval of others, in pursuit of the esteem of others. And for many people, carrying these human relations to the superhuman level works well. They are better people, and often happier people, thinking of a God who is aware of their daily struggle and offers solace or affirmation or reprimand; they can best stay aligned with the moral axis of the universe by thanking God, asking God to help them stay righteous, seeking forgiveness from God for their lapses. It’s nice that some people can be paragons of virtue without this kind of help, but in a way it’s surprising; the natural human condition is to ground your moral life in the existence of other beings, and the more ubiquitous the beings, the firmer the ground. In other words: given the constraints on human nature, believers in God are interacting with the moral order as productively as possible by conceiving its source in a particular way, however imperfect that way is.

Evolution of God Link

I wouldn’t call non-zero-logic “divine”. And I certainly wouldn’t label human personification of non-zero-sum logic “god”. Furthermore I would describe myself as agnostic towards the notion that there exists some sort of mathematical Platonic moral axis borne of non-zero sum logic. But to say that makes me an agnostic with regard to anything that can meaningfully be called "God" in the sense of a supernatural being is just an act of unjustifiable semantics in my view. But if one absolutely insists on labeling non-zero-sum logic "god" then I suppose that I would qualify as a materialist agnostic. For what that is worth.

GDR writes:

From your link there are different theories and any of them or none of them could be accurate. I do have to question the likelihood of any of them originating from a mindless process though.

Why?

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by GDR, posted 10-19-2011 10:58 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 94 by GDR, posted 10-20-2011 9:34 PM Straggler has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 3711
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 94 of 140 (638246)
10-20-2011 9:34 PM
Reply to: Message 93 by Straggler
10-20-2011 11:32 AM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
Hi Straggler

I think that you have misunderstood my point in this. My theism isn’t the issue for me. My view in that regard is simply that God dun it. As a Theist I don’t care whether he used an exclusively genetic process, a social process or for that matter a one time infusing of the understanding of good and evil in mankind which has evolved from there. My interest here is simply from the POV of trying to understand the evolution of altruism from a natural perspective as best I can.

Straggler writes:

The social component of his thesis is that increasing technology etc. allow us to expand the circle with which we apply non-zero-sum logic.
Wright in The Evolution of God: "The expanding moral compass sponsored by the moral order, as we’ve seen, is a manifestation of non-zero-sumness, of the fact that cultural (and in particular technological) evolution leads more and more people to play non-zero-sum games at greater and greater distances."

I agree.

GDR writes:

As I understand him, the evolution of our “moral order” is social. I just don’t see him saying that this is strictly a product of genetics although I suppose there might be a genetic component.


Straggler writes:

Then you have completely misunderstood it.
You have been beguiled by Wright’s rather unique use of theistic sounding terminology. But conceptually you are poles apart. Darwinian evolution as the mechanism of moral progress is the central plank of his “higher purpose” and “moral order” argument. If you don’t accept a materialistic Darwinian account of human morality it is impossible for you to agree with his conclusions regarding “divinity” or a "moral axis" in any way that actually makes conceptual (as opposed to superficial borne from terminological conflation) sense.

I can see how you get that from the quotes you used but he also said this.

quote:
If genetic evolution is the selective transmission of genetic information, then cultural evolution is the selective transmission of non-genetic information: everything from technologies to religious doctrines to songs. Everything, every kind of information that goes from person to person and isn't genes, is part of cultural evolution. And because people are selective in what they transmit—I may hear a song and choose not to whistle it or choose to whistle it—the collective body of cultural information changes all the time. And that's what got us from the Stone Age to where we are now.

I also agree that Wright isn’t a theist let alone a Christian but he does say that his theories do allow for a deity.

quote:
The existence of a moral order, I’ve said, makes it reasonable to suspect that humankind in some sense has a “higher purpose”. And maybe the source of this higher purpose, the source of the moral order, is something that qualifies for the label “god” in at least some sense of that word.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Christianity I’ll grant you but still not Richard Dawkins either.

GDR writes:

From your link there are different theories and any of them or none of them could be accurate. I do have to question the likelihood of any of them originating from a mindless process though.


Straggler writes:

Why?

It just goes back to my basic argument that I can’t muster up enough faith to believe that intelligence, morality can evolve from a non-intelligent non-moral source. I realize that this is an argument from incredulity but actually no more so than the argument of the person who says that he can’t believe that such an intelligence exists.

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 93 by Straggler, posted 10-20-2011 11:32 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 95 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 12:12 PM GDR has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 9920
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 95 of 140 (638300)
10-21-2011 12:12 PM
Reply to: Message 94 by GDR
10-20-2011 9:34 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
Wright’s moral axis as a result of non-zero-sum interactions argument is fascinating and worthy of consideration. As someone who essentially considers themselves to be a moral relativist it has certainly caused me to reconsider the notion of objective moral truth. But his attempt to apply this to justify something that can meaningfully be called theism is rather contrived. And the semantic games he is forced to play in order to do this are appalling.

If even a thinking and intelligent theist such as yourself initially failed to grasp the fact that Darwinian natural selection and genetic selfishness lie at the heart of Wright’s moral axis argument then I would suggest that by using overtly theistic terminology he is creating an entirely unnecessary barrier to effective communication of his ideas. The whole thesis is based on genetically selfish organisms (i.e. us) engaging in non-zero-sum outcomes with other equally genetically selfish organisms (i.e. other people). The following is another quote from The Evolution of God. This one is specifically about love as a product of non-zero-sum interactions. But the same principle could be applied to altruism, compassion or any of the other psychological traits we have been discussing. This particular quote lacks much of the semantic confusion that is present in many of his other quotes.

Wright in The Evolution of God writes:

Love was invented because, from the point of view of genetic proliferation—the point of view from which natural selection works—close kin are playing a non-zero-sum game; they share so many genes that they have a common Darwinian “interest” in getting each other’s genes into subsequent generations. Of course, the organisms aren’t aware of this “interest.” Even in our species—smart, as species go—the Darwinian logic isn’t conscious logic; we don’t go around thinking, “By loving my daugher I’ll be more inclined to keep her alive and healthy until reproductive age, so through my love my genes will be playing a non-zero-sum game with the copies of them that reside in her.” Indeed, the whole Darwinian point of love is to be a proxy for this logic; love gets us to behave as if we understood the logic; the invention of love, in some animal many millions of years ago, was nature’s way of getting dim-witted organisms to seek a win-win outcome (win-win from a gene’s-eye view), notwithstanding their inability to do so out of conscious strategy.

Moving on...

GDR writes:

I also agree that Wright isn’t a theist let alone a Christian but he does say that his theories do allow for a deity.

Firstly - What do you think he means by "deity"....? Secondly - Even my atheism allows for a deity. Nobody (even Dawkins) is saying such a thing is impossible.

GDR writes:

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Christianity I’ll grant you but still not Richard Dawkins either.

It depends what you mean by "higher purpose". If all that means is that there is potentially some form of objective morality derived from the Platonic existence of non-zero-sum logic then I think Dawkins, like Dennett, might well give that serious and not unsympathetic consideration. But I doubt they would use the rather misleading and inappropriate phrase "higher purpose" to describe it.

And as for "god". Well if you define "god" as the source of moral order and then ask me if I believe in the Platonic existence of non-zero-sum logic as the source of moral order you might well get me to say that I am agnostic, or even a believer in, "god". But I am not sure that this proves anything other than the fact that a rather misleading use of the term "god" is being applied.

GDR writes:

It just goes back to my basic argument that I can’t muster up enough faith to believe that intelligence, morality can evolve from a non-intelligent non-moral source.

So you cannot believe that intelligence can emerge as a result of increasing complexity but you are fine with the idea that some super-intelligent being simply exists out of nowhere. Are you familiar with the phrase skyhooks and cranes?

GDR writes:

I realize that this is an argument from incredulity but actually no more so than the argument of the person who says that he can’t believe that such an intelligence exists.

All of the evidence indicates that intelligence, consciousness etc. are the product of material brains. On what basis do you conclude that intelligence can even exist without a material brain?

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 94 by GDR, posted 10-20-2011 9:34 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 96 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 12:24 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 105 by GDR, posted 10-21-2011 2:43 PM Straggler has responded

  
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 48 days)
Posts: 3943
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 96 of 140 (638304)
10-21-2011 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 95 by Straggler
10-21-2011 12:12 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
All of the evidence indicates that intelligence, consciousness etc. are the product of material brains. On what basis do you conclude that intelligence can even exist without a material brain?

Specifically, if "souls" actually existed, then that would mean that human consciousness is not tied to any specific portion of the physical body. If people can continue to think and be self-aware after death, with no brain at all, then why does brain damage have any effect at all? Why do psychoactive medications have an effect on personality and cognition?

If souls exist, and people continue to be their conscious selves after the complete death or even total destruction of the brain, then why is Alzheimer's disease so devastating to a person's mental abilities?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 12:12 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 97 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 12:54 PM Rahvin has responded
 Message 107 by GDR, posted 10-21-2011 2:53 PM Rahvin has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 9920
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 97 of 140 (638311)
10-21-2011 12:54 PM
Reply to: Message 96 by Rahvin
10-21-2011 12:24 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
All good points. But you don't even need to go to brain damage or disease to ask these sorts of questions.

What would one's personality be like in the absence of any of the hormones that affect such things in a healthy individual?

"We" are our physicality.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 96 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 12:24 PM Rahvin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 98 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 1:15 PM Straggler has responded

  
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 48 days)
Posts: 3943
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 98 of 140 (638313)
10-21-2011 1:15 PM
Reply to: Message 97 by Straggler
10-21-2011 12:54 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
All good points. But you don't even need to go to brain damage or disease to ask these sorts of questions.

What would one's personality be like in the absence of any of the hormones that affect such things in a healthy individual?

"We" are our physicality.

Entirely true.

The reason I chimed in is simply because the effect of physical changes to the brain (hormonal, artificial chemical, or structural) is one of the larger nails in the coffin of my own former faith. I've personally known people who've developed mental illness and used psychoactive medication, and even one person who suffered significant changes to her personality after a head injury. There seems to me no way to rationalize the concept of an immortal soul containing a human consciousness without any body at all, and the concept of changes to a part of a human body altering the consciousness of the individual.

If it were only body-related functions like motor control that were affected by changes to the brain, I could still allow for a soul that simply runs the personality processing independently of the meat brain. But when memory, personality, mood, language comprehension, etc. are all very clearly and incontrovertibly resident in the brain, there's simply no way to rationally include a "soul."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 97 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 12:54 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 99 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 1:24 PM Rahvin has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 9920
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 99 of 140 (638315)
10-21-2011 1:24 PM
Reply to: Message 98 by Rahvin
10-21-2011 1:15 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
Rahvin writes:

The reason I chimed in is simply because the effect of physical changes to the brain (hormonal, artificial chemical, or structural) is one of the larger nails in the coffin of my own former faith.

Once you had rejected the notion of a soul did the rejection of an immaterial super-intelligence-consciousness (a godly prime mover) follow naturally or did that take more thought?

Can one reject one form of immaterial intelligence and cling onto another?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 98 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 1:15 PM Rahvin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 100 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 1:40 PM Straggler has responded

  
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 48 days)
Posts: 3943
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 100 of 140 (638318)
10-21-2011 1:40 PM
Reply to: Message 99 by Straggler
10-21-2011 1:24 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
Once you had rejected the notion of a soul did the rejection of an immaterial super-intelligence-consciousness (a godly prime mover) follow naturally or did that take more thought?

Wasn't quite the way it happened. I rejected Christianity and belief in god(s) first. I suppose at that point i also no longer believed in souls...but the consideration of the brain-vs-soul problem occurred later, serving more to solidify the direction of my belief.

Like many issues of my former faith, it's one of those very large inconsistencies that I had simply never thought of before. My religion served as a titanic blind spot, in which was hidden all manner of topics that should have triggered confusion, but which cognitive dissonance kept me from really thinking about.

Can one reject one form of immaterial intelligence and cling onto another?

Of course. I can loosely conceive of a hypothetical intelligent entity that possesses no physical form. I have no idea what mechanism would drive such a mind, but all things may reside in the utterly speculative space of total ignorance.

The problem is with human nonphysical consciousness. We have unassailable proof that human consciousness rests solely within the physical brain, and that altering the state of the brain through chemicals or even just a solid impact can permanently alter the personality, memory, etc of the individual.

That doesn't preclude a non-human entity having a purely non-physical mind, or even a hybrid of the two. If we discovered such a thing tomorrow, I would not at all reconsider the state of the human "soul," as I see no contradiction if the mechanism of consciousness is entirely different.

That's not to say that I actually believe that such a thing exists. I'd need a reason to do so; that I can conceive of a thing only means that I have a good imagination, not that my imagination is in any way tied to reality. Ignorance breeds freedom in imagination, but is a poor basis for belief.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 99 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 1:24 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 101 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 2:02 PM Rahvin has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 9920
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 101 of 140 (638322)
10-21-2011 2:02 PM
Reply to: Message 100 by Rahvin
10-21-2011 1:40 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
I agree with your differentiation between an immaterial human soul as the seat of human intelligence and personality etc. and that of an innately immaterial godly entity.

We do have what amounts to conclusive proof that a human "I" is a product of the physical whilst it remains relatively possible that a conscious entity lacking such physicality could conceivably exist.

But I seriously suspect that in most cases the two are rather entrinsically entwined and that belief in one goes hand in hand with belief in the other. I suspect that pretty much all heists are dualists of some sort. Whether they realise it or not.

That was the root of my question.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 100 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 1:40 PM Rahvin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 102 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 2:19 PM Straggler has responded

  
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 48 days)
Posts: 3943
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 102 of 140 (638326)
10-21-2011 2:19 PM
Reply to: Message 101 by Straggler
10-21-2011 2:02 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
I agree with your differentiation between an immaterial human soul as the seat of human intelligence and personality etc. and that of an innately immaterial godly entity.

We do have what amounts to conclusive proof that a human "I" is a product of the physical whilst it remains relatively possible that a conscious entity lacking such physicality could conceivably exist.

But I seriously suspect that in most cases the two are rather entrinsically entwined and that belief in one goes hand in hand with belief in the other. I suspect that pretty much all heists are dualists of some sort. Whether they realise it or not.

That was the root of my question.

I don't think so. There are religions that believe in the non-total-physicality of human consciousness and yet do not believe in deities - like Buddhists.

Never forget that beliefs regarding spirituality are not universally alike, as certain others would have us believe. Belief in the nature or existence of souls and deities are widely different. Modern commonalities are largely due to the expansive reach of three particular religions that themselves share a common history.

It's been said that the near-universality of human belief in some manner of soul or spirit is evidence that such a thing may exist, but those beliefs are so different that it's almost criminal to even lump them together.

Theists in cultures dominated by monotheistic religions tend to most frequently have a both-or-neither belief regarding souls and deities, but I think that's more a cultural distinction than an observation of a pattern in human theistic beliefs.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 2:02 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 103 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 2:30 PM Rahvin has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 9920
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 103 of 140 (638328)
10-21-2011 2:30 PM
Reply to: Message 102 by Rahvin
10-21-2011 2:19 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
Whether it is ancestor worship or some form of "god" the notion that there exists an immaterial "I" and the notion that there is "something" else that is conscious, immaterial and "out there" seems inseparable. But with Buddhism specifically you make a good point.

Rahvin writes:

It's been said that the near-universality of human belief in some manner of soul or spirit is evidence that such a thing may exist, but those beliefs are so different that it's almost criminal to even lump them together.

I would suggest that they share enough in common to suggest a common source. Namely human psychology. The attribution of cause to agency rather than mindless processes seems to lie at the heart of most religiosity.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 102 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 2:19 PM Rahvin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 104 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 2:42 PM Straggler has responded

  
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 48 days)
Posts: 3943
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 104 of 140 (638329)
10-21-2011 2:42 PM
Reply to: Message 103 by Straggler
10-21-2011 2:30 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
I would suggest that they share enough in common to suggest a common source. Namely human psychology. The attribution of cause to agency rather than mindless processes seems to lie at the heart of most religiosity.

I think the more relevant factor in most religion is simply the human ability to have confidence in an unsupported proposition.

Anthropomorphism of nature is certainly prevalent, but I think it ties more that what specifically we come up with, where the real problem is that we simply tend to have unfounded confidence in what we essentially pull from our rectums.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 103 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 2:30 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 112 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 4:01 PM Rahvin has not yet responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 3711
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 105 of 140 (638331)
10-21-2011 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 95 by Straggler
10-21-2011 12:12 PM


Re: Altruism - The Big Mac Effect
Straggler writes:

Wright’s moral axis as a result of non-zero-sum interactions argument is fascinating and worthy of consideration. As someone who essentially considers themselves to be a moral relativist it has certainly caused me to reconsider the notion of objective moral truth. But his attempt to apply this to justify something that can meaningfully be called theism is rather contrived. And the semantic games he is forced to play in order to do this are appalling.
If even a thinking and intelligent theist such as yourself initially failed to grasp the fact that Darwinian natural selection and genetic selfishness lie at the heart of Wright’s moral axis argument then I would suggest that by using overtly theistic terminology he is creating an entirely unnecessary barrier to effective communication of his ideas. The whole thesis is based on genetically selfish organisms (i.e. us) engaging in non-zero-sum outcomes with other equally genetically selfish organisms (i.e. other people). The following is another quote from The Evolution of God. This one is specifically about love as a product of non-zero-sum interactions. But the same principle could be applied to altruism, compassion or any of the other psychological traits we have been discussing. This particular quote lacks much of the semantic confusion that is present in many of his other quotes.

I don’t see his polemic as being something that leads to theism. I think his language if anything leads to his self-proclaimed agnosticism or deism. I’m saying though that his theories allow for the possibility of theism. I think, and I emphasize think, that he is saying that there are two streams to evolution. There is the biological side and there is the social side, and that the two work together in tandem. The non-zero-sum argument makes a great deal of sense.

In reference to your quote I still don’t see that dealing with altruism. If you are extrapolating his argument for love to altruism I think that is a stretch. I understand altruism is a zero-sum-game where the benefactor is the loser and the recipient is the winner. A non-zero-sum situation with kin is not the same thing.

Straggler writes:

Firstly - What do you think he means by "deity"....?

An intelligent prime mover with purpose.

Straggler writes:

Secondly - Even my atheism allows for a deity. Nobody (even Dawkins) is saying such a thing is impossible.

Yes, but he goes beyond that and thinks that there are indications that a deity actually exists. In a sense though, by that way of thinking all atheists are really agnostic.

Straggler writes:

It depends what you mean by "higher purpose". If all that means is that there is potentially some form of objective morality derived from the Platonic existence of non-zero-sum logic then I think Dawkins, like Dennett, might well give that serious and not unsympathetic consideration. But I doubt they would use the rather misleading and inappropriate phrase "higher purpose" to describe it.

Sure but even in the Platonic sense there is some form of external intelligence with purpose which fills the bill for a non-specific deity doesn’t it?

Straggler writes:

So you cannot believe that intelligence can emerge as a result of increasing complexity but you are fine with the idea that some super-intelligence simply exists out of nowhere. Are you familiar with the phrase skyhooks and cranes?

But the cranes had to start somewhere. I am fine with the idea of cranes but remember this all started with a non-physical, (as I understand it), singularity several billion years ago. You are saying that I am fine with the idea that super-intelligence exists out of nowhere, but you believe essentially the same thing. You believe that your intelligence came out of nowhere. It is my opinion that our intelligence did not come out of nowhere but is the emergent property of a greater intelligence that exists in a non-entropic multi-time dimensional state.

Straggler writes:

All of the evidence indicates that intelligence, consciousness etc. are the product of material brains. On what basis do you conclude that intelligence can even exist without a material brain?

Wright says this about consciousness:

quote:
It (science)certainly hasn't solved the mystery (of consciousness) and it's hard to imagine that it would, in part because consciousness doesn't have what scientifically explicable phenomena need, which is public observability. Anything that is to be explained scientifically has to be something that you can point to—point to the physical phenomena and say, "See, I'm predicting that it will behave like this when you do that." Consciousness, by definition, doesn't fall into that category. Now, of course, you can register brain waves and you can do MRIs, and you can look at various physical manifestations of consciousness, but by definition that's not consciousness itself. Consciousness itself is a subjective experience. So it's very hard to imagine how science would really go about tackling the fundamental problem of consciousness. In any event, I certainly don't think it has handled it successfully to date. And there are too many people who are under the impression that science has answered all the important questions in the world or can answer them.

One reason I think it's fascinating that science can't handle this question, at least so far, is that the existence of subjective experience, of consciousness, is the source of all the meaning in the world, so far as I can tell. If I told you that there was a planet out there that looks just like Earth, and there are these things that look just like people, and they walk around doing exactly the things we do, and they utter phrases and stuff, but they have no subjective experience, it isn't like anything to be them. They are zombies. You would probably think, "Well, who cares what happens to that planet?" And I would agree. I would think, "Well, there's really nothing especially immoral about annihilating some of those creatures on that planet because we are not going to cause them any pain by doing that, and we are not going to deprive them of any future happiness or anything. So, who cares?" In my view, the whole basis of meaning and of moral significance is the fact that it is like something to be alive. And that is the one thing that, it seems to me, science cannot explain.


All the objective evidence just points to the fact that intelligence and consciousness exist. There are also theories, and some of them solid that show how they might have evolved. There is no evidence that indicates whether or not a prime mover exists that set all of this in motion. That is a purely subjective conclusion.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 12:12 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 106 by Rahvin, posted 10-21-2011 2:52 PM GDR has responded
 Message 111 by Straggler, posted 10-21-2011 3:55 PM GDR has responded

    
Prev1
...
56
7
8910Next
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2014 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2014