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Author Topic:   Stephen Jay Gould: The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magisterís Pox
mikechell
Inactive Member


Message 31 of 92 (759682)
06-14-2015 11:38 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 9:21 AM


The academic research and industry apparatus of science are staggeringly well-funded. My wife works at MIT, where the humanities are treated with contempt next to those lucrative hard sciences.

They're treated with contempt because they just don't produce real results. Tell a shrink that his field isn't lucrative, he or she will drive off in their Lamborghini, laughing their heads off.
Tell a social worker that his field isn't lucrative ... and he'll laugh at you from the oval office.

And the power science has over our imaginations in this millennium is hard to overestimate.

Yeah ... science fiction is dead ... why, I haven't seen a new sci-fi movie for ... a week? Imagination is alive and well ... it's just not steered toward god, anymore.

The audience for this sort of cheerleading has been groomed by a culture where gadgetry is more important than the arts or humanities...

Nonsense ... I, for one, don't even own a smart phone, and the text feature on my account is disabled. Gadgetry just gets in my way. There isn't anyone who believes the world would be better off without social programs ... but they shouldn't be the ONLY support structure for half the population.
We believe ...

... science as if it's synonymous with reality, or that it's self-evident that it's the only source of knowledge worth considering.

... because it's mostly true. Science reveals reality. Faith and religion NEED to ignore reality.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Add some blank lines - I just looks better then.


evidence over faith ... observation over theory

This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 9:21 AM MrHambre has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 33 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 3:43 PM mikechell has responded

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 12820
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 32 of 92 (759706)
06-14-2015 3:09 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 9:21 AM


MrHambre writes:

Still Better Than Religion! is a great slogan for people who prefer machine fantasies to religious ones. But those of us who consider ourselves humanists wonder how much difference there really is between the two.


I consider myself a humanist because there's no alternative. I wouldn't have any problem believing in religion if it was in any way plausible.

MrHambre writes:

A lot of the messages we get from the science industry are depressingly anti-humanistic.


My copy must have been lost in the email. Do you have any examples?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 9:21 AM MrHambre has not yet responded

  
MrHambre
Member
Posts: 1493
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 33 of 92 (759708)
06-14-2015 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by mikechell
06-14-2015 11:38 AM


mikechell writes:

because it's mostly true. Science reveals reality.


That's a grade-school conception of science you've got there: it's like there's all these facts, things like cells and species and atoms, out there waiting for humanity to discover them. It's more accurate to say that these things are all part of a symbolic language that humanity developed to conceptualize the data generated by empirical research. And there's a lot of controversy over how much of reality we discover and how much we create in the process.

I guess you've never read anything by Gould, huh? He had a much more sophisticated view of scientific inquiry than the pop science writers of today, one that explored how science has historically reflected the social dynamics of its time. Gould wasn't anti-science, he was a celebrated scientist in his own right. He wasn't saying we should get rid of science, he just wanted us to have a sense of perspective in approaching it.

ringo writes:

quote:
A lot of the messages we get from the science industry are depressingly anti-humanistic.

My copy must have been lost in the email. Do you have any examples?

Well, how about Dawkins telling us we're nothing but machines built by our genes to propagate themselves? How about Krauss telling us that we're "cosmically insignificant"? I don't consider either of these messages very humanistic, but maybe you've got a different take on it than I do.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by mikechell, posted 06-14-2015 11:38 AM mikechell has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by ringo, posted 06-14-2015 3:49 PM MrHambre has not yet responded
 Message 35 by mikechell, posted 06-14-2015 6:34 PM MrHambre has not yet responded
 Message 37 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 7:45 PM MrHambre has responded

    
ringo
Member
Posts: 12820
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 34 of 92 (759710)
06-14-2015 3:49 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 3:43 PM


MrHambre writes:

Well, how about Dawkins telling us we're nothing but machines built by our genes to propagate themselves? How about Krauss telling us that we're "cosmically insignificant"? I don't consider either of these messages very humanistic, but maybe you've got a different take on it than I do.


I think humility is an important part of humanism. As I've said before in other topics, humanism doesn't mean that we can solve all of our own problems, only that we have a responsibility to try.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 3:43 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

  
mikechell
Inactive Member


Message 35 of 92 (759728)
06-14-2015 6:34 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 3:43 PM


... it's like there's all these facts, things like cells and species and atoms, out there waiting for humanity to discover them.

It's not "Like" that ... it IS that.

Your view ...

And there's a lot of controversy over how much of reality we discover and how much we create in the process.

Is the cat dead or alive? Existentialism is as much a fairy tail as god.

How about Krauss telling us that we're "cosmically insignificant"?

I don't consider either of these messages very humanistic ...

Might not be "humanistic" ... but it's also not humancentric.
First the Earth was flat ... false.
Then the Earth was the center of the solar system ... false.
Then the Sun was the center of the universe ... false.
Now you think Humans are special in evolution ... this is also false.

Edited by mikechell, : No reason given.


evidence over faith ... observation over theory

This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 3:43 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3422
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 4.8


(2)
Message 36 of 92 (759734)
06-14-2015 7:33 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by MrHambre
06-12-2015 7:48 PM


Well, there are a lot of people who feel they're getting an explanation of a phenomenon through a description of the brainwave activity of a person undergoing the phenomenon. Can I be excused for recognizing this as classic reductionism? What human experience can't be described as a change in brain chemistry, etc.?

None, actually. But what's the problem here? Do you really think that just because we know how sound propagates in air, enters the ear vibrating cilia in the cochlea firing changes in electric potential along s-nerves to the neurons in the auditory cortex somehow detracts from the wonder and pleasure of listening to the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony? And we even know what area of the brain lights up to produce that pleasant feeling. Is something in the pleasure missing because we know the mechanism?

quote:
As Gould describes in the book, scientists see the idea that there are limits to the applicability of empirical inquiry as a red flag.

As well they should. There is nothing in this universe that cannot be rigorously studied with good scientific discipline. And none of those studies or their conclusions can detract from the beauty and awe one should feel from Picasso or from Keats.

I hear all this "reductionist" tripe as attempts to insult science by small-minded anti-science people afraid some mystery will be lost in the knowing; who think we must lose something magical in understanding things of beauty or culture or emotion. It's bull.

I know of no scientist who believes defining the mechanism voids the beauty of a child's laugh.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by MrHambre, posted 06-12-2015 7:48 PM MrHambre has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 8:27 PM AZPaul3 has responded

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3422
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 4.8


(2)
Message 37 of 92 (759736)
06-14-2015 7:45 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 3:43 PM


Well, how about Dawkins telling us we're nothing but machines built by our genes to propagate themselves?

Doesn't make you feel very special, does it. Doesn't make you feel like you're the center of the universe; that all this was put here just to serve you?

How about Krauss telling us that we're "cosmically insignificant"?

That's really harsh, isn't it?

I don't consider either of these messages very humanistic, but maybe you've got a different take on it than I do.

They weren't meant to be humanistic. They were meant to be factual.

Reality bites.

The rest of this 100 billion lighyear wide universe we can see doesn't know we're here, and couldn't care less if we feel so special or not. We are nothing to this universe now that we're here and it will not miss us, or even notice, when we finally go extinct.

None of that means we can't have a hell of a lot of fun while we are here. Make music, have babies, eat Hšagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream, make babies, cry over poems, make babies, and like that. We are a very special bag of walking talking DNA strands inhabiting a beautiful blue-green dust mote out in the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of a lone galaxy to which the rest of the universe is oblivious.

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 3:43 PM MrHambre has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by Faith, posted 06-14-2015 8:10 PM AZPaul3 has acknowledged this reply
 Message 41 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 8:45 PM AZPaul3 has responded
 Message 42 by Coyote, posted 06-14-2015 9:05 PM AZPaul3 has acknowledged this reply

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 23978
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 38 of 92 (759739)
06-14-2015 8:06 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by ringo
06-13-2015 12:18 PM


Re: Science, Humanism and Spirituality
Faith writes:
... I resented scientific reductionism with its unbelievable arrogance in reducing us and our amazing abilities and our complicated history to the lowest materialist ponderings of the ********* / stooppidest scientist out there.

It's funny how you equate humility about our "amazing abilities" to arrogance.

There's no humility in reducing Shakespeare or Plato or Confucius or the Bible to their atomic constituents, that IS arrogance, and a recipe for mindless demoralization.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by ringo, posted 06-13-2015 12:18 PM ringo has responded

Replies to this message:
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Faith
Member
Posts: 23978
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 39 of 92 (759740)
06-14-2015 8:10 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by AZPaul3
06-14-2015 7:45 PM


Right, after you've reduced it all to mindless material forces, what's left but the lowest kinds of hedonism?

I used to cry over Mozart or Handel's Messiah because there is no explanation for such sublime ideas in this iodiotic material universe concocted by science. Can you really live on Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream or feelings about poems that make no sense in this kind of universe? REALLY?

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 7:45 PM AZPaul3 has acknowledged this reply

    
MrHambre
Member
Posts: 1493
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


(3)
Message 40 of 92 (759743)
06-14-2015 8:27 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by AZPaul3
06-14-2015 7:33 PM


AZPaul3 writes:

Do you really think that just because we know how sound propagates in air, enters the ear vibrating cilia in the cochlea firing changes in electric potential along s-nerves to the neurons in the auditory cortex somehow detracts from the wonder and pleasure of listening to the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony? And we even know what area of the brain lights up to produce that pleasant feeling. Is something in the pleasure missing because we know the mechanism?


Uh, yeah, what's missing is the meaning.

I'm not disputing that human experience involves neurochemistry. I recall there was a meme that shows the two words DOPAMINE and SEROTONIN; underneath it says, "these are the only two things you really enjoy." On one level, of course, that's true. But do we really think it explains everything about human experience when we reduce it to squirts of neurochemicals?

There is nothing in this universe that cannot be rigorously studied with good scientific discipline. And none of those studies or their conclusions can detract from the beauty and awe one should feel from Picasso or from Keats.

Gould didn't dispute that all aspects of human endeavor should be studied scientifically. However, the point he was making is that the meaning we derive from art, literature, and music as individuals and a culture isn't a scientific matter.

I hear all this "reductionist" tripe as attempts to insult science by small-minded anti-science people afraid some mystery will be lost in the knowing; who think we must lose something magical in understanding things of beauty or culture or emotion. It's bull.

But this is Stephen Jay Gould we're talking about, one of the most prominent scientists and historiographers of science of his day. You're really calling him "anti-science"?

What I think is bull is pretending that locating the mechanism of these things of beauty or culture or emotion is the same as understanding them. You might not like that someone sees reductionism and scientism for what they are, biases that keep us from legitimate understanding.

Why would you think we should feel "awe" when confronted with great art, music, or poetry, if it's all just an illusion generated by brain chemistry?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 7:33 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 43 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 9:49 PM MrHambre has responded

    
MrHambre
Member
Posts: 1493
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


(1)
Message 41 of 92 (759744)
06-14-2015 8:45 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by AZPaul3
06-14-2015 7:45 PM


AZPaul3 writes:

Doesn't make you feel very special, does it. Doesn't make you feel like you're the center of the universe; that all this was put here just to serve you?


So, according to you, anyone who takes issue with being compared to a machine is just butthurt because he's not the center of the universe? Did I get that right?

They weren't meant to be humanistic. They were meant to be factual.

I wonder if it would convey how insulting I think this rhetoric is if I said that, since women have organs for carrying a fetus, they're nothing more than procreating machines. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but is that factual too?

None of that means we can't have a hell of a lot of fun while we are here. Make music, have babies, eat Hšagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream, make babies, cry over poems, make babies, and like that. We are a very special bag of walking talking DNA strands inhabiting a beautiful blue-green dust mote out in the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of a lone galaxy to which the rest of the universe is oblivious.

Yeah, so we're back to that meaning thing again. We should just procreate and buy things and do silly stuff while we're around, and never pay any mind to cultural or social notions of meaning or purpose? Sounds like a real consumerist vision of humanity.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 7:45 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 44 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 9:58 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

    
Coyote
Member
Posts: 5541
Joined: 01-12-2008
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 42 of 92 (759745)
06-14-2015 9:05 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by AZPaul3
06-14-2015 7:45 PM


A Man Said to the Universe
A Man Said to the Universe
By Stephen Crane

A man said to the universe:
ďSir, I exist!Ē
ďHowever,Ē replied the universe,
ďThe fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.Ē


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

Belief gets in the way of learning--Robert A. Heinlein

How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?--Robert A. Heinlein

It's not what we don't know that hurts, it's what we know that ain't so--Will Rogers

If I am entitled to something, someone else is obliged to pay--Jerry Pournelle

If a religion's teachings are true, then it should have nothing to fear from science...--dwise1

"Multiculturalism" demands that the US be tolerant of everything except its own past, culture, traditions, and identity.


This message is a reply to:
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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3422
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 4.8


(1)
Message 43 of 92 (759751)
06-14-2015 9:49 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 8:27 PM


Didn't understand a word I said.

Knowing the mechanism does not detract from the beauty or the awe or the "magic" of that emotional connection to you daughter.

You sound like you think the "meaning" of some emotion or some art form is an intrinsic element of the thing. Meaning is subjective and we each take whatever different "meaning" we feel from all of life and everything in it. There is no intrinsic element of "meaning" to anything except that which we give. Most assuredly as a result of a few squirts.

But do we really think it explains everything about human experience when we reduce it to squirts of neurochemicals?

But it does explain your experience. Without those squirts you do not have the experience. Again to "meaning." You take whatever subjective meaning you feel from having the experience and someone else will take some different meaning. These are subjective and personal. The mechanism of squirts, the science of squirtology, does not rob the experience of your "meaning" whatever you might give it.

If you can not enjoy because you know it's a squirt then you have your head ... some place it needn't be.

Gould didn't dispute that all aspects of human endeavor should be studied scientifically. However, the point he was making is that the meaning we derive from art, literature, and music as individuals and a culture isn't a scientific matter.

Like non-overlapping magisteria. Bull.

You're really calling him "anti-science"?

His view on this, like his non-overlapping magisteria, is rejected. Knowing the mechanism (reducing to physical phenomena) does not reduce the beauty nor the individual meaning. Which, by the way, can be deduced by close study of the psychology, history and motivations of the individual. Very sciencey, indeed.

However, the point he was making is that the meaning we derive from art, literature, and music as individuals and a culture isn't a scientific matter.

It most certainly is. There is nothing that cannot be subject to study with scientific discipline. No thing.

Gould was wrong on this view and has given feed to the anti-science weenies that plague society. Note: I did not say he did so knowingly and deliberately. He really believed what he was saying in Rocks of Ages. He was just wrong.

Reductionism, scientism, whatever insults you want to draw upon in your attempt to diminish the power of science to study all things, without limit, fail.

Again, divide the knowing how from the pure enjoyment of the experience. Science can and will explain the mechanism and the squirts right down to the tear that wells up in your eye. But if you, having all this wonderful knowledge of how and why, cannot let yourself just enjoy despite the knowledge, then, again, your head needs to be relocated.

You might not like that someone sees reductionism and scientism for what they are, biases that keep us from legitimate understanding.

If you see science as some form of institutional bias then you do not understand science. Any understanding of any mechanism outside the science is not any kind of legitimate understanding at all. What you are referring to as "legitimate understanding" is no more then your personal wishful thinking. Religiously motivated platitudes masquerading as "understanding". They have no basis in fact or reality. If they did, they would be science.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 8:27 PM MrHambre has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by Faith, posted 06-14-2015 10:12 PM AZPaul3 has responded
 Message 46 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 10:24 PM AZPaul3 has responded

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3422
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 4.8


Message 44 of 92 (759753)
06-14-2015 9:58 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 8:45 PM


So, according to you, anyone who takes issue with being compared to a machine is just butthurt because he's not the center of the universe? Did I get that right?

Yep. Your DNA-created cranial module has decoded my message within exceptable parameters.

I wonder if it would convey how insulting I think this rhetoric is if I said that, since women have organs for carrying a fetus, they're nothing more than procreating machines.

I take exception to the "they're nothing more than" crap. That's your misogyny showing.

We should just procreate and buy things and do silly stuff while we're around, and never pay any mind to cultural or social notions of meaning or purpose?

Where the fuck did you get this piece of crap! Not from me!

I don't want to put words in your mouth...

Then stop doing it!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 8:45 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 23978
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 45 of 92 (759754)
06-14-2015 10:12 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by AZPaul3
06-14-2015 9:49 PM


It isn't about "just enjoying," or about "beauty, awe and magic." That's part of the reductionistic mind set, just a form of hedonism in the absence of meaning. Art is about meaning, not a mere experience to titillate or cheer us up, it's about a reason for existence, it's an affirmation of something transcendent, all shrunken to cartoonishly pathetic uselessness when viewed through the microscopic lens of science. There is nothing in reality as defined by this life-shrinking science that even begins to correspond to the meaning to be found in the work of the greats we've all listed here.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 43 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 9:49 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 47 by AZPaul3, posted 06-14-2015 10:58 PM Faith has responded
 Message 55 by mikechell, posted 06-15-2015 9:45 AM Faith has not yet responded

    
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