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Author Topic:   What does life do outside of science?
Ben!
Member (Idle past 1758 days)
Posts: 1154
From: San Diego, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004


Message 16 of 112 (242665)
09-12-2005 4:28 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by PurpleYouko
09-12-2005 4:10 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
Science doesn't stop being there just because we haven't found it yet.

OK, I've been trying to clairfy my thoughts more. And I think I can make things clearer. As things become clearer in how to present them, I think I've been doing a bad job.

There are THREE ways in which life is outside of science:

1. Even if you can describe something with science, we simply don't USE science in our daily lives. Science is just a method for coming up with models and for collecting empirical data, all so we can predict and manipulate our world. We don't use science to go to the grocery store, we don't use it to watch TV, we don't even use science to hit a baseball.

Lots of things in life can be DESCRIBED using theories developed by science, but life itself is outside of science.

2. Anyway, we don't have theories that can accurately describe lots of things. Foremost in my mind is that of cognitive processes, because that's what I'm currently studying.

We have general ideas on how the brain works. We certainly, unquestionably, are very far from a complete picture. We're very far from even having a useful partial picture. What we have is SOME understanding of the cellular mechanisms, LESS understanding about the computational properties of the brain (no, it's NOT just feed-forward neural networks; the connectivity in the brain is WAY more complex than that), and EVEN LESS understanding of how cognitive processes, mental processes, and cultural processes come from those architectures.

We cannot describe behavior, in any rigorous way, from neuroscience or cognition. Far, far from it. We're still stuck with intuitive, non-scientific folk psychology.

Thus, in this way as well, life is outside of science.

(aside: In fact, I fundamentally think it is flawed to believe we can accomplish a reduction of folk psychology to neuroscience or chemistry in any useful way. It's way to computationally intensive. It's not clean enough. Even if we describe the computational and architectural properties supporting it, the computations to make predictions are too heavy. Neuroscience would have to further reduce to more computationally simple approximations, and I don't believe that's going to happen. Folk psychology offers us close to the best we're going to get in terms of speed and accuracy, IMHO.)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by PurpleYouko, posted 09-12-2005 4:10 PM PurpleYouko has responded

Replies to this message:
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Ben!
Member (Idle past 1758 days)
Posts: 1154
From: San Diego, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004


Message 17 of 112 (242668)
09-12-2005 4:34 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by PurpleYouko
09-12-2005 4:26 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
Ever heard of a TransCranial magnetic stimulator?

Yup, I'm familiar with it. I haven't used it or had it used on me but... pretty cool, huh? We can do all sorts of cool manipulations. We can inject you with sodium amobarbital (the WADA test and basically paralyze half your brain, then run cognitive tests on you. We can do direct electric stimulation on the surface of your brain during brain surgery.

Of course, TMC is cool because ... well... those other things aren't done to normals :)

Apparently it can make people experience feelings of "Meaning" too.

I'm sure it can. I have little doubt that all emotions, feelings, etc. derive ultimately from

I don't even know what this statement means...

Dude. Cognitive science is freaking cool. Don't get me wrong. I love it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by PurpleYouko, posted 09-12-2005 4:26 PM PurpleYouko has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by PurpleYouko, posted 09-13-2005 8:49 AM Ben! has responded

    
PurpleYouko
Member
Posts: 713
From: Columbia Missouri
Joined: 11-11-2004


Message 18 of 112 (242674)
09-12-2005 4:42 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Ben!
09-12-2005 4:28 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
1. Even if you can describe something with science, we simply don't USE science in our daily lives. Science is just a method for coming up with models and for collecting empirical data, all so we can predict and manipulate our world. We don't use science to go to the grocery store, we don't use it to watch TV, we don't even use science to hit a baseball.

I disagree on all counts.
We DO use science every day. We may not realize it but every action we ever take is based on science.
We DO use science to go to the grocery store. Every step you take along the road to the grocery store involves complex internal calculations to balance your mass against the pull of gravity. You had to learn to walk. Right?
Why do you think you buy certain things at the store? Because in previous trips you found that you liked them. You are comparing previous experience (data) with extrapolated future events.
You are going to enjoy those DoNuts. or
That bottle of Gatorade will quench your thirst.

Remove all previous data from your brain and you won't even know what a shop is.

Lots of things in life can be DESCRIBED using theories developed by science, but life itself is outside of science.

No life IS science. You just don't realize it.

2. Anyway, we don't have theories that can accurately describe lots of things. Foremost in my mind is that of cognitive processes, because that's what I'm currently studying.
Granted. We don't know everything.
We have general ideas on how the brain works. We certainly, unquestionably, are very far from a complete picture. We're very far from even having a useful partial picture. What we have is SOME understanding of the cellular mechanisms, LESS understanding about the computational properties of the brain (no, it's NOT just feed-forward neural networks; the connectivity in the brain is WAY more complex than that), and EVEN LESS understanding of how cognitive processes, mental processes, and cultural processes come from those architectures.

I agree. However I don't see why the amount that we know about something has any bearing on whether it is is science or not. Why should science be defined by what we know now and not by what we will almost certainly know in the future?

let's say an alien race comes to Earth. They are millions of years ahead of us. They fully understand ever single nuance of the way a brain works. Try telling them it isn't science simply because we haven't found it out yet.

IMO it is a much bigger assumption to say that something isn't covered by science than it is to say that it is and we just haven't found it yet.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Ben!, posted 09-12-2005 4:28 PM Ben! has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Silent H, posted 09-12-2005 5:16 PM PurpleYouko has responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3955 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 19 of 112 (242687)
09-12-2005 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by PurpleYouko
09-12-2005 4:42 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
We DO use science every day. We may not realize it but every action we ever take is based on science.

You are not understanding Ben's distinction. There is a difference between you using science to model or calculate something, and science being able to model or calculate the natural phenomena which might make up your actions.

Every step you take along the road to the grocery store involves complex internal calculations to balance your mass against the pull of gravity. You had to learn to walk. Right?

Not really no. If you've seen simple robotics, they do not bother calculating anything. They simply have on off switches that react when necessary to get a limb to move. They don't even have to calculate "when necessary", it can be a simple agitation trigger.

Your learning to walk is experiential however not very scientific. You did not build sophisticated models, but rather trained motor response mechanisms.

Why do you think you buy certain things at the store? Because in previous trips you found that you liked them. You are comparing previous experience (data) with extrapolated future events.

That is also not science. You may choose not to buy a certain brand of food because you are aware the owner gives profits to prolife causes, or that the company abuses animals, or that you don't like the name of the product.

Even your taste, though it may come down to some amount of brain chemistry, is fashioned by all sorts of experiences and can change over time. Maybe one day you decide to try a food you never wanted to try, because someone had suggested it might be healthy.

The build up of memories may be able to be (in the future) modeled by science, but that does not mean that the method you use to build those memories is in any way scientific.

No life IS science. You just don't realize it.

Tell me how science determines whether abortion is right or wrong, or whether you should work a few extra hours this week in order to buy something you have had your eye on.

You cannot escape this by then arguing that you do not believe in objective moralities. Ben is discussing subjectives and explaining that they are the portion of life that is beyond science. The subjectives are what make up most of your life, unless you are a very dull person, with no capability of forming emotional responces.

You can understand, or model, the physical world using science. But science is not the physical world (you'd be confusing epistemology with metaphysics), and is not necessary for the physical world to continue on just the way it does. That would simply be the world of raw natural phenomena.

You live and understand the world in a personal sense, likes and dislikes, without relying solely on scientific models. Well it even goes beyond likes and dislikes. For example red is not an objective color, and may be different to many different people.

Why should science be defined by what we know now and not by what we will almost certainly know in the future?

You are aware that there are logical limits to science, right? There are not only things that we may never be capable of knowing because of limits of technology, but there are things wholly excluded from study/understanding based on the nature of scientific methodology.

Science is a tool and it has benefits and limits. What is "true" may never actually be known by science.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by PurpleYouko, posted 09-12-2005 4:42 PM PurpleYouko has responded

Replies to this message:
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 20 of 112 (242716)
09-12-2005 7:32 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Ben!
09-12-2005 4:28 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
Ben writes:

Even if you can describe something with science, we simply don't USE science in our daily lives.


Science is just learning writ large. And we do learn and use the results of learning in our daily lives.
This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 21 of 112 (242734)
09-12-2005 8:25 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Silent H
09-12-2005 2:51 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
There is no focus or tools for subjective moral phenomena to be studied via this methodology.

Certainly not to be studied via the scientific methodology, but why can't the results of that methodology form the basis for a morality?

I simply throw this example into the arena so that you can see the distinction I believe Ben is addressing.

And I believe that I've already accepted that distinction. After all, I did say:

quote:
The meaning derived from science comes from science's study of the world, not science's study of meaning.

But accepting that distinction, which I agree is reasonable, doesn't to my mind imply that morality, meaning, and ethics are beyond the ability of science to inform.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Silent H, posted 09-12-2005 2:51 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by robinrohan, posted 09-12-2005 8:41 PM crashfrog has responded
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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 22 of 112 (242738)
09-12-2005 8:41 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by crashfrog
09-12-2005 8:25 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
But accepting that distinction, which I agree is reasonable, doesn't to my mind imply that morality, meaning, and ethics are beyond the ability of science to inform.

To inform, yes--in the sense of "help." One might use an analogy from some literary study. Suppose we discovered some ancient poem. We could use scientific methods to perhaps determine the date and origin of the work, by analyzing the ink and paper. The date and origin helps us to understand the work, but there would be a great deal of interpretation--non-scientific in nature--that would have to be done in order to write up our study on the poem. The overall judgment about the poem would by helped by science but would not be scientific, in the same way that our overall moral judgment about some matter might be helped by science but would not be scientific.

This message has been edited by robinrohan, 09-12-2005 07:42 PM


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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 23 of 112 (242740)
09-12-2005 8:51 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by robinrohan
09-12-2005 8:41 PM


The overall judgment about the poem would by helped by science but would not be scientific, in the same way that our overall moral judgment about some matter might be helped by science but would not be scientific.

I read two articles in Science about the role of a certain enzyme in a certain cellular process. The articles present two possible explanations for the same evidence.

Now, I come to a decision about which conclusion I think is most likely, and that process of coming to my conclusion doesn't proceed via scientific methodology but according to my view of how well each article supported their points. Nonetheless science has directly informed my ideas about cellular chemistry, and it would be improper to conclude that I reached my conclusion "unscientifically", or that science couldn't inform me about the world of the cell.

Now, there may not be any scientific test for what morality we should have; that's a conclusion we have to reach ourselves from the evidence put before us. But how is that any different than when I learn about cells? How did science play any less of a role?


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 Message 22 by robinrohan, posted 09-12-2005 8:41 PM robinrohan has responded

Replies to this message:
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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 24 of 112 (242744)
09-12-2005 9:10 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by crashfrog
09-12-2005 8:51 PM


Now, I come to a decision about which conclusion I think is most likely, and that process of coming to my conclusion doesn't proceed via scientific methodology but according to my view of how well each article supported their points.

How well each article supported their points is a non-scientific analysis. Therefore, your conclusion is non-scientific.

You have learned about cells, but your learning, though the subject matter is scientific, is in itself a non-scientific procedure.


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 25 of 112 (242747)
09-12-2005 9:22 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by robinrohan
09-12-2005 9:10 PM


You have learned about cells, but your learning, though the subject matter is scientific, is in itself a non-scientific procedure.

Granted. Yet, no one would argue that science is somehow unable to tell us about cells.

So too can science inform out morality and meaning despite being unable to grapple with these things scientifically.


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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3955 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 26 of 112 (242823)
09-13-2005 5:59 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by crashfrog
09-12-2005 8:25 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
but why can't the results of that methodology form the basis for a morality?

The basis of morality is not an objective "thing", nor a logical rule/paradigm. Thus the results of science cannot form the basis for a morality.

The foundation of all moral systems is a subjective statement. That is how you get from pure statements of "is", to statements of "ought" or "good".

Science could be said to allow us to see the stage and the actors, but it is only the subjective which gives them their meaning... creates the moral "scene".

doesn't to my mind imply that morality, meaning, and ethics are beyond the ability of science to inform.

Science can certainly inform an individual what there is in the world to deal with, interact with. Given certain subjective opinions held by a consistent logic, that might mean a scientific finding will drive a moral conclusion. But this is not always the case, and some moral systems stand (absolutism) regardless of scientific findings.

For example science can explain that you are causing another pain with an action, but only a subjective moral system can take that info and say whether the action is good (and you should continue), or not. Otherwise it just is.

"Is" helps, but does not decide.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 27 of 112 (242830)
09-13-2005 7:21 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Silent H
09-13-2005 5:59 AM


Re: I don't get it at all
The basis of morality is not an objective "thing", nor a logical rule/paradigm. Thus the results of science cannot form the basis for a morality.

I'm sorry, but I don't follow. Scientific knowledge about the cell (in the example that I have) isn't an objective "thing" either, but no one could doubt that science forms the basis for my knowledge about the cell.

Since "morality" is simply a set of constraints about how one is going to interact with other physical actors, where's the limit in science that would prevent scientific knowledge about those actors from forming the basis for moral conclusions?


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 Message 26 by Silent H, posted 09-13-2005 5:59 AM Silent H has responded

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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3955 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 28 of 112 (242842)
09-13-2005 8:05 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by crashfrog
09-13-2005 7:21 AM


Re: I don't get it at all
Scientific knowledge about the cell (in the example that I have) isn't an objective "thing" either, but no one could doubt that science forms the basis for my knowledge about the cell.

The cell is a "thing". That there are cells, and what makes them up is a scientific paradigm. Science forms the basis for your knowledge about the cell.

where's the limit in science that would prevent scientific knowledge about those actors from forming the basis for moral conclusions?

The problem appears to be stemming from your use of the term "basis". There is no limit which says that the knowledge gained from science can't be used in formulating a moral conclusion.

However "basis" suggests something fundamental. The foundation of moral rules are not objective statements of "is", but subjective imperative or judgemental statements like "ought" or "good" or "like".

Here is an example. We can use science to determine what qualities a fertilized egg has. That knowledge can help us decide (come to a moral conclusion) whether it is something we would call a "person", or whether its destruction is "wrong". But the basis of the conclusion is not the knowledge we plug into the moral formula, it is the formula itself... how you feel one should define "person" and "wrong".

Science cannot in any way shape or form guide you in how to define "person" and "wrong". In fact, things like "wrong" go right out the window, which is why I don't use a moral system which includes such statements. Because I do like to use science as much as possible, I try to avoid moral systems which make objective sounding claims regarding actions and the state of their position in the universe.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
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PurpleYouko
Member
Posts: 713
From: Columbia Missouri
Joined: 11-11-2004


Message 29 of 112 (242856)
09-13-2005 8:49 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by Ben!
09-12-2005 4:34 PM


Re: I don't get it at all
I'm sure it can. I have little doubt that all emotions, feelings, etc. derive ultimately from (xxx insert brain science stuff)

As long as we agree on this then what are we arguing about?

PY writes:

Ironically it is impossible to prove (with current science) whether the experience is completely fake or whether they are actually stimulating a "real" connection with God.

I don't even know what this statement means...


It is just paraphrased from the site that I quoted. I take it to mean that there may be a part of the brain that is able to actually bridge the gap between us and God. (Like really talk to God). We just don't know if we are amplifying the real connection or creating a fake one. That make sense? Obviously you have to work under the assumption that there is a God for this to work.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Ben!, posted 09-12-2005 4:34 PM Ben! has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by Ben!, posted 09-13-2005 9:00 AM PurpleYouko has responded

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 30 of 112 (242859)
09-13-2005 8:59 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Silent H
09-13-2005 5:59 AM


Re: I don't get it at all
The basis of morality is not an objective "thing", nor a logical rule/paradigm. Thus the results of science cannot form the basis for a morality.

The basis for morality is that homo sapiens evolved as a social species, and survival of the species is dependent on cooperative social interaction.

The foundation of all moral systems is a subjective statement. That is how you get from pure statements of "is", to statements of "ought" or "good".

I would prefer to say that moral systems are evolved systems of social interaction. In this paragraph, I refer to social evolution, rather than biological evolution.
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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