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Author Topic:   Stephen Jay Gould: The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magisterís Pox
MrHambre
Member
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 46 of 92 (759759)
06-14-2015 10:24 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by AZPaul3
06-14-2015 9:49 PM


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.

What better way to make science sound like a religion than make pompous pronouncements that affirm that anything outside the province of empirical inquiry is just wishful thinking?

I think it's hilarious the way you dismiss meaning as being "subjective," as if the word means "arbitrary" or "irrelevant." It sounds like you want to de-emphasize the importance of anything that can't be accessed by empirical inquiry. The problem for you is that subjective experience is real, even if it's something that reductionist science treats as nothing more than a mechanical by-product.

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.

As Gould points out in his usual erudite way, though, they don't. Thinking you can understand a phenomenon by breaking it down to its constituent elements is a myth. Thinking that empirical research is the arbiter of all questions pertaining to human endeavor is a myth.

Each to his own delusions.

Edited by MrHambre, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3428
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006


Message 47 of 92 (759767)
06-14-2015 10:58 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by Faith
06-14-2015 10:12 PM


Faith, M'lady, Poopsie, you missed the meaning I was transcending upon the thread.

... it's about a reason for existence, it's an affirmation of something transcendent...

Which are meanings you give to objects through your eyes, philosophy, acculturation, hope. The science did not belittle your ability to do this one bit.

You assign certain "meaning(s)" to the Sistine Chapel, to Rodin's Le Penseur, to Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles". You may find them transcendent of humanity or an essential statement of the human condition. Or not.

Again, the science behind the objects as well as the science behind your responses does nothing to detract from your imparted meanings, reasons and emotions, transcendent or other wise.

And as I said to Hombre, if you let the science interfere with your enjoyment, your reason, your transcendence in the moment, then you need to get your head ... straight. The science will be there regardless.


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 Message 45 by Faith, posted 06-14-2015 10:12 PM Faith has responded

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Faith
Member
Posts: 26611
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 48 of 92 (759774)
06-14-2015 11:49 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by AZPaul3
06-14-2015 10:58 PM


You are missing MY point. I grew up in this science-besotted world, I was part of the Sputnik generation that got a megadose of science propaganda in high school, pushed as the salvation of America and indeed the world. EVERYTHING was reduced to science. My high school best friend went on to get advanced degrees in biology (and then had a nervous breakdown of the sort you could only have in the 70s flood of eastern religions that nearly drowned us all, which may or may not be relevant to this topic though I strongly suspect it is). i was geared to writing and the humanities in general and came to resent the scientism of the times, as I already said, which in my immediate environment took the form of Behaviorism. I LOATHED it, it's pure poison to the human soul.

ANYWAY,

... it's about a reason for existence, it's an affirmation of something transcendent...

Which are meanings you give to objects through your eyes, philosophy, acculturation, hope. The science did not belittle your ability to do this one bit.

Oh yes it did. It dictated the terms in which I was allowed to have such experiences, which is what you are doing now. Imputing my experience to mere subjectivity, reducing all of it to a figment of the mind. That's really a form of soul murder.

You assign certain "meaning(s)" to the Sistine Chapel, to Rodin's Le Penseur, to Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles". You may find them transcendent of humanity or an essential statement of the human condition. Or not.

Certainly not every claim to art has truth in it. Those that do, however, have it as something intrinsic, not something merely subjectively imputed, that shows the pathetic smallness of the physicalistic science that thinks it can contain such things. The sadness of great music for me always was that "there is nothing in this world that deserves such music. How can such music exist in this shrunken material world?" So people make gods out of sex and Haagen Dazs ice cream because the glory such music celebrates doesn't exist in this shrunken world. You are celebrating a fiction and that's the depressing thing. How can we have such feelings and thoughts and aspirations in such a desert of a world? And it is primarily the worldview of reductionistic science that created this shrunken miserable trivial meaningless world. We crave Reality, and we can't personally invent reality, we recognize it.

Again, the science behind the objects as well as the science behind your responses does nothing to detract from your imparted meanings, reasons and emotions, transcendent or other wise.

It isn't about anything I impart, it isn't about reasons and emotions, it is about life itself, Reality, objective truth. I wouldn't object to scientifically studying any of it except that they always make it the "real" explanation for everything, just as you are doing. However, on second thought, even the enterprise of studying it scientifically carries the reductionistic mind set, so in the end I say out with it all, it has no business at all in the spheres of the mind, soul, spirit.

And as I said to Hombre, if you let the science interfere with your enjoyment, your reason, your transcendence in the moment, then you need to get your head ... straight. The science will be there regardless.

Sorry, this is all your own reductionistic view of life which I am objecting to. Enjoyment? Transcendence in the moment? You are a million miles off target.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3428
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006


(1)
Message 49 of 92 (759775)
06-15-2015 12:04 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by MrHambre
06-14-2015 10:24 PM


I think it's hilarious the way you dismiss meaning as being "subjective," as if the word means "arbitrary" or "irrelevant."

There you go again. Trying to pile your bile into my words.

I never mentioned "arbitrary" or "irrelevant."

If I had meant "arbitrary" or "irrelevant" I assure you my vocabulary is sufficiently strong I would have used them.

The problem for you is that subjective experience is real, even if it's something that reductionist science treats as nothing more than a mechanical by-product.

You really have a bad reading comprehension problem.

Science does not treat the emotional impact of the experience as a byproduct, but as the product itself.

Again, Hombre. We know how and why you get emotional singing in church. We know how and why we choke up watching "Starship Troopers". We know how to turn religious euphoria on and off like a light switch. These are not by-products of anything. These are how and why we get the product.

But the greater issue here is this. No matter that we know these things, no matter that we can cause them to happen or not happen under strict laboratory conditions, to have some such experiences are as real as anything else humans can feel and their meanings are as personal and as valuable as any aspect of life can be. The fact that the science has digested the how's and why's, the squirts and squiggles, does not negate the power of the experience.

What the science does mean, however, is that the experiences are not the result of some white-bearded skydaddy, some djinn stalking in the corner or the power of some 4-sided pyramid in Honduras.

Thinking you can understand a phenomenon by breaking it down to its constituent elements is a myth.

Except we do that. Do you know what the OAA is in the brain? Do you know how it relates to euphoria? Religious epiphany?

That fact that we know how and why, does that really mean you can't experience one of these?

Thinking that empirical research is the arbiter of all questions pertaining to human endeavor is a myth.

And, so far, quite a provable one.

What questions have your alternative sources answered for humanity with anything close to the fidelity science has? A world-wide flud, perhaps? Healing prayer? A savior waiting in the ethersphere for "The End Of Days"SM, a "How to ..." manual for stoning gays?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by MrHambre, posted 06-14-2015 10:24 PM MrHambre has responded

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nwr
Member
Posts: 5540
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


(1)
Message 50 of 92 (759776)
06-15-2015 12:38 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by Faith
06-14-2015 11:49 PM


Faith writes:
I grew up in this science-besotted world, I was part of the Sputnik generation that got a megadose of science propaganda in high school, pushed as the salvation of America and indeed the world.

Not my experience.

To be fair, I grew up in Australia, so perhaps a poor comparison.

Faith writes:
EVERYTHING was reduced to science.

That sounds like exaggeration. It has never been that way.

I'll have to guess that either you were badly taught, or that science is just a mismatch for your personality (much like art appreciation would be a mismatch for my personality).

AZPaul3 writes:
Which are meanings you give to objects through your eyes, philosophy, acculturation, hope. The science did not belittle your ability to do this one bit.
Faith writes:
Oh yes it did. It dictated the terms in which I was allowed to have such experiences, which is what you are doing now. Imputing my experience to mere subjectivity, reducing all of it to a figment of the mind. That's really a form of soul murder.

Weird. What's mere about subjectivity?

Faith writes:
And it is primarily the worldview of reductionistic science that created this shrunken miserable trivial meaningless world.

I'm not a reductionist, and to me, science is rich in meaning. Art -- not so much.


Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity

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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3428
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006


(1)
Message 51 of 92 (759777)
06-15-2015 1:01 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by Faith
06-14-2015 11:49 PM


Certainly not every claim to art has truth in it. Those that do, however, have it as something intrinsic, not something merely subjectively imputed...

If an artwork's claim to "truth" (whatever that is vis-s-vis art) is intrinsic to its objective being then everyone would see the same thing and feel the same way.

The don't.

One of the most beautiful, moving, emotional moments in music is this (turn your speakers up):

To me this piece transcends mere mortal music. I, just as you, can assign the most glowing terms of truth, beauty and The American Way (well, OK, the German way) to this mere listing of air vibrations of various frequencies juxtaposed in some semblance of the most heart-stirring order. It is magnificent. But, no matter what adjectives and adverbs I may apply to this most perfect of movements of the musical art, none are intrinsic to it.

If all my feelings for this piece were intrinsic to its object then everyone would feel the same as I when they hear it. They don't. I can't believe, this, but there are some people within our species that ... don't ... uggh ... don't ... like it. Can you believe that?

Anyway, Faith, if any piece of art actually contains as an intrinsic element of its objective form some transcendent power or truth then point me to it and I'll find you someone who thinks it's crap. That is the way of this world.

And it is this way because any meaning, transcendent truth, beauty beyond the heavens or any other attributes you care to assign to anything are subjective assignments and do not hold as universal to all.

Edited by AZPaul3, : Good night, Chet.
Good night, David.


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Replies to this message:
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MrHambre
Member
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 52 of 92 (759780)
06-15-2015 6:03 AM
Reply to: Message 49 by AZPaul3
06-15-2015 12:04 AM


AZPaul3 writes:

There you go again. Trying to pile your bile into my words.

No, I think your words have enough bile without any contributions from me.

Look, I think we're talking past one another here. I'm not disputing that empirical inquiry is a good thing, or that the legacy of scientific research has provided us a better understanding of natural phenomena. I'm not saying that there's no value to studying the brain states of people undergoing certain experiences and learning their cognitive bases. The only thing I take issue with is the notion that we understand human experience by reducing it to neurochemistry.

It's very telling that your approach to religion is based on science's all-important demystification of the religious experience:

We know how and why you get emotional singing in church.

What the science does mean, however, is that the experiences are not the result of some white-bearded skydaddy


Just as there's more to water than the fact that it's two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, there's more to understanding the phenomenon of religion than describing the neurochemical processes in the human brain. It's odd that you say on the one hand that understanding the mechanism "does not negate the power of these experiences," but then you make it clear that, indeed, scientific inquiry explains them away.

I'm not religious, but I think any analysis of religion that doesn't deal with what the phenomenon means to individuals and cultures isn't dealing with its most significant (and problematic) aspects. And these aspects aren't inaccessible to scientific inquiry either, but they involve more sociological study than biochemical. Again, a reductionist approach isn't helping us to understand what religion is.

And you misunderstood my point about empirical research: most of what we say we know about the world isn't scientific knowledge, strictly speaking. Obama gave a State of the Union Address in January, but it's not like we know that because of the data generated by rounds of empirical testing. Neither Gould nor I want to get rid of teh Science, it's just a matter of keeping it in perspective.


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Replies to this message:
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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3428
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006


Message 53 of 92 (759784)
06-15-2015 8:01 AM
Reply to: Message 52 by MrHambre
06-15-2015 6:03 AM


It's odd that you say on the one hand that understanding the mechanism "does not negate the power of these experiences," but then you make it clear that, indeed, scientific inquiry explains them away.

There. Fixed it for you.

No need to add any "away" at the end.

Now how does it read?

"Understanding the mechanism does not negate the experience but explains it."

That is not so odd. Now it says what I actually wrote.

Why did you feel it necessary to add that "away" at the end? Are you still trying to say that understanding the mechanism, the how and why of the thing, robs it of its legitimacy as an experience? How can our understanding of the neurochemical basis of feeling "sad" lessen the meaning of the experience to someone who suffers a loss?

...any analysis of religion that doesn't deal with what the phenomenon means to individuals and cultures isn't dealing with its most significant (and problematic) aspects.

Got it. So far so good.

And these aspects aren't inaccessible to scientific inquiry either...

Good. We're on a roll.

...but they involve more sociological study than biochemical.

You're not going to tell me Sociology is immune to the scientific approach and Sociology is not science, are you? I'm getting visions of quotes about stamp collecting.

a reductionist approach isn't helping us to understand what religion is.

So studying the fine points of a religion, where it is, the creeds, how the creeds developed, how they are used, who manipulates the creeds for what purpose, the symbology of the rituals, the organization of the local church, the organization of the greater church, and on, does not help in understanding a religion, its effects on the individuals, its effects on the community, its effects on society?

As far as the individual bag of chemicals with a cognitive engine, the survival vessel for some strands of DNA, the selfish genes, (aka, people) does the study of the neurochemical basis of religious thought not help in knowing that religion is not brought from the gold-gilded streets above, the evil shadows below or the 4-sided pyramid in Honduras? Isn't the knowledge of what religion is not, important in assessing our knowledge of what it is?

Obama gave a State of the Union Address in January, but it's not like we know that because of the data generated by rounds of empirical testing.

I can get silly, too.

Fact. There were plenty of announcements that a State of the Union speech had been scheduled.

Fact. The speech was broadcast live on several outlets.

Fact. The opposition responded, live, on several outlets.

Fact. The pundits analysed the speech in detail for days afterward on several outlets.

Fact. The President gives the speech.

Fact. Obama is the president.

Test these facts for accuracy by assessing various sources.

Conclusion. There was a State of the Union speech and Obama gave that speech.

We run through the process so often in our daily lives we don't give it any conscious thought. We collect the facts, analyze them and draw our conclusions just like any good scientist sitting at his lab bench. And we do this dozens of times every day. We most certainly did not conclude Obama gave his State of the Union speech last January because of some revelation from above or from below or from Honduras.

Edited by AZPaul3, : bad syntax


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MrHambre
Member
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 54 of 92 (759788)
06-15-2015 8:26 AM
Reply to: Message 53 by AZPaul3
06-15-2015 8:01 AM


AZPaul3 writes:

You're not going to tell me Sociology is immune to the scientific approach and Sociology is not science, are you?


Um, no, that was my point. We need a multi-disciplinary approach, and one that acknowledges non-scientific matters like art and literature, if we're going to say we "understand" what religion is. Reductionism won't cut it.

So studying the fine points of a religion, where it is, the creeds, how the creeds developed, how they are used, who manipulates the creeds for what purpose, the symbology of the rituals, the organization of the local church, the organization of the greater church, and on, does not help in understanding a religion, its effects on the individuals, its effects on the community, its effects on society?

Once again, you've skillfully demolished an argument that neither I, nor Gould, nor anyone else ever made. What you've described is a program of inquiry that isn't reductionist, and doesn't treat neurochemistry as the be-all and end-all of religious experience.

As far as the individual bag of chemicals with a cognitive engine, the survival vessel for some strands of DNA, the selfish genes, (aka, people) does the study of the neurochemical basis of religious thought not help in knowing that religion is not brought from the gold-gilded streets above, the evil shadows below or the 4-sided pyramid in Honduras? Isn't the knowledge of what religion is not, important in assessing our knowledge of what it is?

I guess I don't think of religion as magic anyway, so I don't consider the fact that it's not magic the nail in the coffin for the entire phenomenon. You're aiming at pretty low-hanging fruit here.

I'm not religious because I have a lot of problems with the way religion often trivializes human experience. By the same token, I can't help but cringe when someone talks about humans being "bags of chemicals." It's not as if I prefer my dehumanization evidence-based. It's that I object to any worldview that degrades and dehumanizes us.

I can get silly, too.

Fact. There were plenty of announcements that a State of the Union speech had been scheduled.

Fact. The speech was broadcast live on several outlets.

Fact. The opposition responded, live, on several outlets.

Fact. The pundits analysed the speech in detail for days afterward on several outlets.

Fact. The President gives the speech.

Fact. Obama is the president.

Test these facts for accuracy by assessing various sources.

Conclusion. There was a State of the Union speech and Obama gave that speech.


And indeed, that's pretty silly. Regardless of whether you're wearing your Junior Scientist lab coat, that's not engaging in scientific research. That's just having a rational and vaguely coherent process of reasoning from which you derive a conclusion. If that's performing scientific research, then I submit there's almost nothing we do with our eyes open that doesn't constitute scientific research.

There are plenty of things we know about the world, things that are indeed "based in facts and reality," that don't involve a formal process of empirical testing. Let's be reasonable.


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mikechell
Inactive Member


Message 55 of 92 (759795)
06-15-2015 9:45 AM
Reply to: Message 45 by Faith
06-14-2015 10:12 PM


Mr. Hambre wrote:
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?

Faith wrote:

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.

So ... you require some "higher power" or belief in god to appreciate the meaning of a piece of art? You require a soul to appreciate the music of the classics?
Does this mean that a 12 year old who can't stand to listen to Beethoven does have a soul? A pastor who doesn't understand the perfection of a Dali painting is without spiritualism?
Appreciation of beauty is a function of a thinking mind. The electro-chemical reactions in the mind ARE the only reason you appoint meaning to anything.

Serial killers the world over are thanking you. Since they get the same "Meaning" in their hearts when the take a life ... they must be connected to Jesus ... because he's the reason behind their feeling's of joy and awe and their reason for living.


evidence over faith ... observation over theory

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Faith
Member
Posts: 26611
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 56 of 92 (759800)
06-15-2015 10:27 AM
Reply to: Message 51 by AZPaul3
06-15-2015 1:01 AM


Thank you for the Beethoven. Made a nice start to my day.

If an artwork's claim to "truth" (whatever that is vis-s-vis art) is intrinsic to its objective being then everyone would see the same thing and feel the same way...

If all my feelings for this piece were intrinsic to its object then everyone would feel the same as I when they hear it. They don't. I can't believe, this, but there are some people within our species that ... don't ... uggh ... don't ... like it. Can you believe that?

Anyway, Faith, if any piece of art actually contains as an intrinsic element of its objective form some transcendent power or truth then point me to it and I'll find you someone who thinks it's crap. That is the way of this world.

And it is this way because any meaning, transcendent truth, beauty beyond the heavens or any other attributes you care to assign to anything are subjective assignments and do not hold as universal to all.

Of course I get your point but I disagree. I don't think everybody has to hear the same thing in Beethoven's 9th you do for the music itself to objectively contain what you hear in it. (And other things other people hear that you can't.) People are different in what they respond to, that doesn't make the music or art or literature any more or less objectively valuable in itself. Being a melancholy teenager I got a passion for Rachmaninoff and it drove my poor mother crazy -- "too depressing." I can get carried away by Beethoven but you and I probably wouldn't agree even about other classical music.

I actually don't even LIKE Picasso. which makes me a rank philistine to many, but I love some of the old "primitives." I'm really not all that sensitive to music either despite my high moments. I don't have any feeling for math at all but there are mathematicians who really understand numbers and get depths of meaning from them, even something like ecstasy. Some people have a feeling for abstract science, lots don't. Etc.

I think all the human disciplines, including the sciences, can "speak sublime things" to some people. I'm sure Beethoven's 9th not only speaks to you personally but is really objectively speaking what you hear in it. Some people can experience more of what's actually there than others can. And to a great extent it can be learned too.

My problem was it made me want those things /experiences/ thoughts / places in the music to be real. I couldn't stand such glories being something in us that has no external reality, what a terrific cheat.

abe: THE THING IS A DEAD COLD UNIVERSE OF ATOMS AND CHEMICALS COULDN'T POSSIBLY INSPIRE SUCH GLORIES. IT'S AN INHUMANE PLACE. /abe

And it IS a cheat. That's what materialist science is when expected to explain all of life, a lie and a cheat. If you can hear something of a better life in some music, believe it, that life actually exists, you don't have to make do with this desert of atoms and chemicals. (By the way your YouTube video has been playing Beethoven's 5th since I started writing this. Yes, another whole sublime world to experience.)

This isn't really the same thing but just hearing a line of scripture out of the blue, even in the middle of something completely different, will often give me spiritual goose bumps. Yet so many at EvC actually hate the Bible. This is about Spirit, not just mind and emotions and I know I'm sensitive to it because God changed me. Nevertheless, at first I fought a lot of the Bible too, argued with it; I had to grow into it.

And it is this way because any meaning, transcendent truth, beauty beyond the heavens or any other attributes you care to assign to anything are subjective assignments and do not hold as universal to all.

Before I was a believer I got attached to the books of the philosopher Suzanne Langer (Philosophy in a New Key) whose ponderings on the nature of art made me experience all the arts in much more depth, could even give me goose bumps just reading her sensitive thoughts about it (odd since in one way they are very dry philosophy). There was no hint that she believed in God but she wrote about art as pointing to another Reality or God Himself, that being what art addicts are really getting out of it. Even that can be reduced to a mere psychological trick of course.

But if God is just a psychological experience of mine, I don't want it, I want the real true living God, and once I had Him I knew it.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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ringo
Member
Posts: 13881
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


(1)
Message 57 of 92 (759806)
06-15-2015 11:45 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by Faith
06-14-2015 8:06 PM


Re: Science, Humanism and Spirituality
Faith writes:

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.


It isn't "reducing" at all. It's recognizing what WE as humans have accomplished. It's elevating the Bible from a mere newspaper, as you would have it, to literature that's as valuable as Plato or Confucius. This is what WE can do; it's not just a memo from some alien overlord.
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caffeine
Member
Posts: 1349
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 58 of 92 (759835)
06-15-2015 1:57 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by MrHambre
06-13-2015 10:36 AM


Gould takes issue with the way Wilson defines a reductionist approach as "solving" matters by breaking them down into their constituent elements. Even in science, emergent properties can't be explained using this approach: defining water as H2O tells us nothing about the property of liquidity, because it's not contained in the constituent atoms. So a reductionist approach is going to be useful in some sense, but the notion that it's sufficient for explaining complex human cultural phenomena is simply not true.

This seems a bit backwards to me. The emergent propeties are only explained through a reductionist approach. When we look at water macroscopically, we have to take most of its properties simply as givens - as brute facts about the way water is. Water has a high surface tension and cohesion, and we can use that fact to explain some of its behaviour.

To explain why water has these properties, reductionism is the only solution, since water's properties are emergent properties of the properties of the molecules that make up the liquid (it's something to so with hydrogen bonds - it's been a long time since science at school!).

Edited by caffeine, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 15972
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 59 of 92 (759842)
06-15-2015 2:21 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by MrHambre
06-15-2015 8:26 AM


I'm not religious because I have a lot of problems with the way religion often trivializes human experience. By the same token, I can't help but cringe when someone talks about humans being "bags of chemicals." It's not as if I prefer my dehumanization evidence-based. It's that I object to any worldview that degrades and dehumanizes us.

But how does it dehumanize us to notice what we're made of? If it dehumanizes a human to notice that he's made of biochemicals, does it derabbitize a rabbit to notice the same about the rabbit? Does it dediamondize a diamond to notice that it's made of carbon? Dehousize a house to notice that it's made of bricks?


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 Message 54 by MrHambre, posted 06-15-2015 8:26 AM MrHambre has responded

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 Message 60 by MrHambre, posted 06-15-2015 2:40 PM Dr Adequate has responded

  
MrHambre
Member
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 60 of 92 (759845)
06-15-2015 2:40 PM
Reply to: Message 59 by Dr Adequate
06-15-2015 2:21 PM


Dr Adequate writes:

But how does it dehumanize us to notice what we're made of?


I'm sure you can recognize the distinction between noticing what we're made of and defining ourselves as a collection of the chemicals that comprise the human body. I asked before whether a woman should get insulted if someone claimed that, because her body contained organs for carrying a fetus, she's nothing more than a procreating machine. I presume everyone here would agree this is objectionable. But why isn't being reduced to a "bag of chemicals" just as bad?

caffeine writes:

water's properties are emergent properties of the properties of the molecules that make up the liquid


The water analogy was mine, not Gould's. (And the emergent properties are defined not by the constituent atoms, but how the atoms interact in the water molecule.) Gould wasn't saying reductionism is never useful, but as the guiding principle in uniting science and the humanities, it's inadequate.
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