Author Topic: Secular Spirituality  (Read 1854 times)

torridon

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #100 on: August 12, 2019, 06:39:18 AM »

Consciousness or the Self is the subject itself. It is not an object that can be observed and analysed.  So hair splitting doesn't help.

I am not using Chalmers or anyone else to further my ideas. My ideas are there already. But ideas seem to be converging. Eventually reality has to be seen as it is regardless of which side you see it from.  That is what will happen. Truth will out!   


If you think there is a convergence happening between science and ancient philosophies around reincarnation then you are mistaken.  We'd have to put that down to an illusion in your head.  Ancient teachings do not evolve or grow particularly, modern interpreters might try to accommodate the findings of science within them, is all.  Science does continue to grow however unencumbered by legacy beliefs from the ancient past.  You might as well try to claim that there is a 'convergence' between creationism and evolutionary biology, which, also, there isn't.  Nothing in QM endorses notions of disembodied spirits.  Nothing in Chalmer's suggestion that matter might be inherently sentient endorses notions of afterlife.  In fact, rather than converging, it does the opposite; the proposition that matter itself is inherently sentient leaves no need for the proposition of disembodied sentience somehow climbing in a body at birth to animate it and leaving it at death to find another body to animate.   If sentience is a fundamental property of matter then unembodied sentience makes no sense.

Sriram

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #101 on: August 12, 2019, 06:58:19 AM »
If you think there is a convergence happening between science and ancient philosophies around reincarnation then you are mistaken.  We'd have to put that down to an illusion in your head.  Ancient teachings do not evolve or grow particularly, modern interpreters might try to accommodate the findings of science within them, is all.  Science does continue to grow however unencumbered by legacy beliefs from the ancient past.  You might as well try to claim that there is a 'convergence' between creationism and evolutionary biology, which, also, there isn't.  Nothing in QM endorses notions of disembodied spirits.  Nothing in Chalmer's suggestion that matter might be inherently sentient endorses notions of afterlife.  In fact, rather than converging, it does the opposite; the proposition that matter itself is inherently sentient leaves no need for the proposition of disembodied sentience somehow climbing in a body at birth to animate it and leaving it at death to find another body to animate.   If sentience is a fundamental property of matter then unembodied sentience makes no sense.


First of all...in Hindu philosophy there no emphasis on the 'ancient'.  Some communities do give importance to ancient writings. The more ancient something is the more authentic it is perceived. Not in Hinduism.   In fact, current writings and philosophical ideas are are often more important than ancient texts.  Views of present day Yogis are valued more than historical ones.

Why you are getting into a tizzy trying to put together Chalmers ideas and reincarnation, I don't understand.    Reincarnation is something Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker or  the University of Virginia have documented. Refer to that. 

https://uvamagazine.org/articles/the_science_of_reincarnation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La8vG4mA0is

Gordon

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #102 on: August 12, 2019, 07:40:20 AM »
Why you are getting into a tizzy trying to put together Chalmers ideas and reincarnation, I don't understand.    Reincarnation is something Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker or  the University of Virginia have documented. Refer to that. 

https://uvamagazine.org/articles/the_science_of_reincarnation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La8vG4mA0is

iirc you mentioned these guys before before: psychiatrists who interviewed a few children and then started wittering about 'quantum' based on anecdotes. What do proper qualified quantum scientists say about his ideas?

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As former head of the department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, Stevenson's early reputation as a careful researcher caused his later reincarnation writings to be given some attention in academic circles. Despite this early interest, the vast majority of scientists came to see him as "earnest, dogged but ultimately misguided, led astray by gullibility, wishful thinking and a tendency to see science where others saw superstition."

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

Outrider

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #103 on: August 12, 2019, 08:28:03 AM »
I am glad you realize that there is a tendency to tar secular philosophy also with the same brush as mythological beliefs. That's more than what most others understand.  Unfortunately, the West has not been exposed to secular philosophy (till recent years) in the same working manner that is common in India. Indian philosophy (Vedanta, Yoga, Samkhya) are not idle intellectual musings. They are living models that can be practiced and followed to see the reality for oneself.

I appreciate that it may be my ignorance on the practices here, but although I'd heard that Samkhya was an atheist outlook, I thought Yoga presupposed a personal deity?  And Vedanta has been pitched to me as a sort of 'catch-all' syncretism of the other major Hindu schools - I'm not saying that's right, just what I've heard about it.

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The essence of Indian philosophy is practice and more practice.  And there is no fanatical zeal to push any idea. Its all left to ones own initiative. Don't accept it?
 ...no problem! 

As with any philosophy, that's your take on it perhaps, but I'm sure there are any number of people in India who might look at Mr Mohdi's take on Hindu nationalism and suggest that his philosophy is being rather more aggressively pushed.

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Of course, Philosophy does make claims about reality!  Science is nothing but a subset of philosophy that follows a certain specific methodology.

I'd say that Science isn't a subset of philosophy any more than, say, logic is.  There are philosophical schools that accept it as a useful tool, but it's a method rather than a particular viewpoint.  There is the associated 'scientism' view that ONLY science is a valid means of examining reality, but that's distinct from the practice of science itself.

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This type of methodology is fine in specific areas of study but will not work everywhere.

Well that's the scientism argument, really. Science examines phenomena, so if you can perceive it reliably, science can investigate it.  If you can't perceive it reliably, scientism argues, how can you be confident that it's actually there.  Is anything truly beyond science's possibilities? Currently, of course, there are potentially huge swathes of reality that science cannot adequately explain, but is there anything 'real' that is in principal beyond scientific enquiry?

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There are many aspects of reality that are outside the boundary that science has fixed for itself.

I'm not sure there are - I think there is a large proportion of those that look to scientism who don't see that there is, in principle, anything in reality that is beyond the realm of science.

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As I keep saying, Science is like a microscope. A microscope works fine in certain areas but cannot be used for everything.

Why?  The only things that I've heard people say are beyond science are the things that they, or at least a considerable number of others, say are issues beyond 'knowledge' and into the realms of faith.

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There is ample evidence for  Consciousness being independent of the body.

There are some experiences that, when examined, turn out not necessarily to be reliable.

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We should be mentally prepared to see it, that is all. Attitudes and mental blocks can be major hindrances in our understanding of certain phenomena. Even though we might believe that we are open to ideas if there is sufficient evidence, this is not always true. Evidence itself can be quite tricky.

It can, but it seems to me that acceptance of many of these phenomena is to ignore reliable evidence in favour of personal experience (if you're lucky) or the acceptance of subjective personal testimony if the experience doesn't happen directly to you.  We have any number of demonstrations that human perception is fundamentally unreliable in any number of ways, why would we rely so strongly on it in an area where the objective evidence is so overwhelmingly suggesting that there's nothing reliable their to measure?
   
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Why should there not be a 'why'? Merely because science says so?!

Science doesn't say so, science - as you've pointed out - doesn't deal with 'why', science deals with how.  Scientists, to some extent, philosophers - both those that adhere to scientism and others - ask 'why presume there is a reason' because there has been a history of circular reasoning to justify theism that presumes a why to presume a consciousness with wants to justify the why.  We think in 'why' because we consider ourselves to be free-willed agencies, and we are the architects of our own perceived realities, but objective reality is objected precisely because it is not reliant on our perception of it - so without our need for a 'why', what is there in nature to suggest there is a 'why'?

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That is not correct.  We don't have to presume a consciousness. It is there for all to experience.

So those who claim to have experienced it will say, but I (for one) have not experienced it, so to presume there is a why doesn't satisfy that emotional need for self-justification.  I have, however, perceived of sentient tomatoes chasing me down a hallway - a fever-dream in a particularly nasty bout of gastro-enteritis - but I don't presume my experience necessarily justifies presuming reality.  I might be inclined to conduct further examinations, but it is at best a possibility until there's an external validation of it.

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Duality is a very common philosophical position because that is what life and death seem to indicate.

I don't see that leap.  Life is a process of energy exchanges conforming to a (currently not particularly well-defined) pattern, and consciousness is a subset of those energy exchanges conforming to an even less well-defined pattern.  When the pattern of energy exchanges alters (i.e. we die) then the pattern no longer conforms to life or consciousness and we stop.  I don't see a need for anything more in the system than that - I'm not definitively ruling it out from that understanding, but I'm equally not presuming that it's a part of the system that I can't understand because it doesn't add anything to my explanation except a need for more evidence and answers.

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NDE's add to this argument.

I don't think they do.  NDE's add to the experiences that require explanations, but there are perfectly good explanations that rely entirely on physical phenomena such as brain chemistry and neuron activity - they aren't proven, but they are conceptually sound.  I guess there's a strong element of Occam's Razor in the argument.

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There must be a very good reason not to accept dualism. Science is yet to provide any such reason.


Philosophy already has provided a very good reason.  It's an unnecessary addition - we have a  viable explanation without an independent 'spirit' component, so why add a complication with no reliable, independent evidence? 

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Consciousness  is an enigma.

Ain't that the truth :)

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Science merely assumes that it is a product of physical processes.

To be consistent, science presumes that EVERYTHING is a product of physical processes, it's part of the foundation of the conceptualisation of the scientific method.  That is, potentially, a limitation, but that will only be a practical consideration at the point where someone comes up with as reliable a method for demonstrating non-physical elements of reality, and that hasn't happened yet.

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But as you say, science hasn't yet proven any materialistic origin to consciousness and therefore the dualistic position is also a perfectly valid philosophical position.

I agree that it is not the obligation of science to disprove any philosophical position.

Science has, though, posited a conceptually valid understanding of consciousness - it needs considerably more evidence to upgrade it from the current 'hypothesis' to a full-blown theory of consciousness, but it's there to be challenged.

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But in the absence of any conclusive evidence to the contrary, a dualistic position on consciousness is perfectly valid. Why not?!

The idea is valid, yes, but many, many ideas are valid (despite, in many cases, being mutually incompatible).  We can't accept all of them, even given the human capacity for cognitive dissonance, so how do we choose which to accept?  For instance, you appear to adopt a variant of a Hindu dualistic understanding of consciousness - this, as you say, is entirely valid.  There is no conceivable way, as I understand, not just to validate that understanding in any reliable way, but even to suggest that there is grounds for choosing it over, say, a Catholic conception of dualism, or an Islamic one.  My question doesn't come from the point of 'your conception is patently nonsense' because it isn't, there is an internal logic to it. My question comes from 'why do you choose that conception which has no evidentiary support and no prospect of ever being validated rather than one which does?'

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There is no reason to get paranoid (as some people do) about it.  For some people even suggesting a dualistic idea seems to be  equivalent to pushing Jehovah or Allah down their throat....!! This could be a serious problem of phobia. It can create mental blocks that can be very serious impediments in understanding reality beyond science.

For those of us who live in cultures where the struggles between reason and faith (as opposed to arguments between faiths) have resulted in bloodshed, anything that's seen to validate or justify mysticism, spirituality or religion can be seen as a potential threat - if one unverifiable conceptualisation of dualism (your rather inoffensive Hindu concept of consciousness) can be accepted, how can another (the Islamic spiritual devotion to Allah) be contested?

Which raises the question - and this is perhaps a topic for another discussion - if the Islamic fundamentalists who perpetrated attacks such as the London Underground bombings feel like they're attacking 'Christendom' (for want of a better word) but those of us in an increasingly atheist Britain see this as a religious attack on a secular state, is it a battle between faiths or a battle between reason and faith?
 
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I am having a meaningful and open discussion on here after a long time Outrider. Receptivity is important. Thanks.

I'd like to think I'm asking people to listen, so I do the same, otherwise we're all just shouting into the wind like a Daily Mail comment section, aren't we?

O.
Universes are forever, not just for creation...

New Atheism - because, apparently, there's a use-by date on unanswered questions.

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Stranger

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #104 on: August 12, 2019, 08:39:11 AM »
Why you are getting into a tizzy trying to put together Chalmers ideas and reincarnation, I don't understand.    Reincarnation is something Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker or  the University of Virginia have documented. Refer to that. 

https://uvamagazine.org/articles/the_science_of_reincarnation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La8vG4mA0is

It's a kind of dishonesty to accuse people who disagree with you of being emotional or "getting into a tizzy". Why do you feel the need to do that?

The article includes a typical example of 'quantum quackery': waffle, waffle, hand-wave... 'observations' change things, therefore consciousness does... waffle, waffle, hand-wave... Max Planck! ... waffle, waffle, hand-wave... therefore <insert favourite woo here>.
x(∅ ∈ x ∧ ∀y(yxy ∪ {y} ∈ x))

Sriram

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #105 on: August 12, 2019, 11:06:51 AM »
I appreciate that it may be my ignorance on the practices here, but although I'd heard that Samkhya was an atheist outlook, I thought Yoga presupposed a personal deity?  And Vedanta has been pitched to me as a sort of 'catch-all' syncretism of the other major Hindu schools - I'm not saying that's right, just what I've heard about it.

Samkhya is atheistic in the sense that it thinks of  individual souls getting freed of bondage without any common goal.  Yoga and Vedanta do talk of a supreme soul that individual souls merge into but there is no deity that needs to be worshipped. It is about individual souls achieving a state of divinity through knowledge and practice. 


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As with any philosophy, that's your take on it perhaps, but I'm sure there are any number of people in India who might look at Mr Mohdi's take on Hindu nationalism and suggest that his philosophy is being rather more aggressively pushed.

Modi is merely bringing in a new wave of nationalism and pride....which was bound to happen given the overdone minoritism and Political Correctness of the past. It has nothing to do with Hindu philosophy.

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I'd say that Science isn't a subset of philosophy any more than, say, logic is.  There are philosophical schools that accept it as a useful tool, but it's a method rather than a particular viewpoint.  There is the associated 'scientism' view that ONLY science is a valid means of examining reality, but that's distinct from the practice of science itself.

Well that's the scientism argument, really. Science examines phenomena, so if you can perceive it reliably, science can investigate it.  If you can't perceive it reliably, scientism argues, how can you be confident that it's actually there.  Is anything truly beyond science's possibilities? Currently, of course, there are potentially huge swathes of reality that science cannot adequately explain, but is there anything 'real' that is in principal beyond scientific enquiry?

I'm not sure there are - I think there is a large proportion of those that look to scientism who don't see that there is, in principle, anything in reality that is beyond the realm of science.

Why?  The only things that I've heard people say are beyond science are the things that they, or at least a considerable number of others, say are issues beyond 'knowledge' and into the realms of faith.

Yes. Scientism is the problem.  Science has its uses but cannot be used everywhere. And the word Science can be used as a subject of study or a branch of knowledge also. It does not always mean only a method of investigation. I used the microscope as an analogy to illustrate how something can be very useful in certain areas but utterly useless in other areas. 

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There are some experiences that, when examined, turn out not necessarily to be reliable.

It can, but it seems to me that acceptance of many of these phenomena is to ignore reliable evidence in favour of personal experience (if you're lucky) or the acceptance of subjective personal testimony if the experience doesn't happen directly to you.  We have any number of demonstrations that human perception is fundamentally unreliable in any number of ways, why would we rely so strongly on it in an area where the objective evidence is so overwhelmingly suggesting that there's nothing reliable their to measure?

The point is that everything is human experience. If human experiences is that unreliable, should we use a light meter to detect light? No...our eyes are good enough. This can be carried to ridiculous levels. While I agree that our imagination and instinctive needs do create lot of clutter in the brain, there is something beyond the clutter that can be seen and experienced very reliably. That is what Yogic exercises are meant for. They are used to still the mind so that we can separate the clutter from the real experience. And this can be taught to everyone....so it is not just a one off personal experience. 
   
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Science doesn't say so, science - as you've pointed out - doesn't deal with 'why', science deals with how.  Scientists, to some extent, philosophers - both those that adhere to scientism and others - ask 'why presume there is a reason' because there has been a history of circular reasoning to justify theism that presumes a why to presume a consciousness with wants to justify the why.  We think in 'why' because we consider ourselves to be free-willed agencies, and we are the architects of our own perceived realities, but objective reality is objected precisely because it is not reliant on our perception of it - so without our need for a 'why', what is there in nature to suggest there is a 'why'?

Because we intuitively accept that Consciousness or the inner Self is responsible for our lives. We don't accept life as just an accidental or random occurrence. The fact that our Unconscious mind is responsible for many of our decisions and insights, suggests that lot more is going on within us than we can imagine.

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So those who claim to have experienced it will say, but I (for one) have not experienced it, so to presume there is a why doesn't satisfy that emotional need for self-justification.  I have, however, perceived of sentient tomatoes chasing me down a hallway - a fever-dream in a particularly nasty bout of gastro-enteritis - but I don't presume my experience necessarily justifies presuming reality.  I might be inclined to conduct further examinations, but it is at best a possibility until there's an external validation of it.

I don't understand what you are saying..   Consciousness is what YOU are regardless of what its true nature may be. Your subjective self is the Consciousness that I am talking about. It is not something we need to see objectively nor can it be seen that way. 

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I don't see that leap.  Life is a process of energy exchanges conforming to a (currently not particularly well-defined) pattern, and consciousness is a subset of those energy exchanges conforming to an even less well-defined pattern.  When the pattern of energy exchanges alters (i.e. we die) then the pattern no longer conforms to life or consciousness and we stop.  I don't see a need for anything more in the system than that - I'm not definitively ruling it out from that understanding, but I'm equally not presuming that it's a part of the system that I can't understand because it doesn't add anything to my explanation except a need for more evidence and answers.

I don't think they do.  NDE's add to the experiences that require explanations, but there are perfectly good explanations that rely entirely on physical phenomena such as brain chemistry and neuron activity - they aren't proven, but they are conceptually sound.  I guess there's a strong element of Occam's Razor in the argument.

There is no leap. It is the most common, intuitive way of looking at life and death. NDE's add strength  to these philosophies. There is plenty of reason to believe that they are real post death experiences.  Just go through individual cases...and read Sam Parnia. 


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Philosophy already has provided a very good reason.  It's an unnecessary addition - we have a  viable explanation without an independent 'spirit' component, so why add a complication with no reliable, independent evidence? 

What reason? Life is complicated. We cannot have some Occam's razor limiting us and telling us how the world ought to be. The world is the way it is. If there is an independent spirit, no Occam's razor or philosophical fallacy can wish it away.  Currently it is a valid philosophical position. If it is proven one way or the other a some date, we will see. 


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To be consistent, science presumes that EVERYTHING is a product of physical processes, it's part of the foundation of the conceptualisation of the scientific method.  That is, potentially, a limitation, but that will only be a practical consideration at the point where someone comes up with as reliable a method for demonstrating non-physical elements of reality, and that hasn't happened yet.

Science has, though, posited a conceptually valid understanding of consciousness - it needs considerably more evidence to upgrade it from the current 'hypothesis' to a full-blown theory of consciousness, but it's there to be challenged.

Maybe science has its views...yes....but it is not conclusive. It is just a view based on a certain microscopic methodology. I am fine with that but it does not automatically dismiss the other position. 

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The idea is valid, yes, but many, many ideas are valid (despite, in many cases, being mutually incompatible).  We can't accept all of them, even given the human capacity for cognitive dissonance, so how do we choose which to accept?  For instance, you appear to adopt a variant of a Hindu dualistic understanding of consciousness - this, as you say, is entirely valid.  There is no conceivable way, as I understand, not just to validate that understanding in any reliable way, but even to suggest that there is grounds for choosing it over, say, a Catholic conception of dualism, or an Islamic one.  My question doesn't come from the point of 'your conception is patently nonsense' because it isn't, there is an internal logic to it. My question comes from 'why do you choose that conception which has no evidentiary support and no prospect of ever being validated rather than one which does?'

It does have personal and subjective evidence. One has to take up certain practices to see it for themselves.  The mind will broaden and you will see 'Why' for yourself.

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For those of us who live in cultures where the struggles between reason and faith (as opposed to arguments between faiths) have resulted in bloodshed, anything that's seen to validate or justify mysticism, spirituality or religion can be seen as a potential threat - if one unverifiable conceptualisation of dualism (your rather inoffensive Hindu concept of consciousness) can be accepted, how can another (the Islamic spiritual devotion to Allah) be contested?

Which raises the question - and this is perhaps a topic for another discussion - if the Islamic fundamentalists who perpetrated attacks such as the London Underground bombings feel like they're attacking 'Christendom' (for want of a better word) but those of us in an increasingly atheist Britain see this as a religious attack on a secular state, is it a battle between faiths or a battle between reason and faith?

That is why I am arguing for secular spirituality as against religious beliefs. Religions have regional and cultural elements that can be offensive. Science has its limitations due to its microscopic nature.  The only viable option is secular spirituality.
 
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I'd like to think I'm asking people to listen, so I do the same, otherwise we're all just shouting into the wind like a Daily Mail comment section, aren't we?

O.

 :D True!

Cheers.

Sriram

bluehillside Retd.

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #106 on: August 12, 2019, 12:17:33 PM »
Sriram,

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Yes. Scientism is the problem.  Science has its uses but cannot be used everywhere. And the word Science can be used as a subject of study or a branch of knowledge also. It does not always mean only a method of investigation. I used the microscope as an analogy to illustrate how something can be very useful in certain areas but utterly useless in other areas.

No it isn’t “the” problem at all. Scientism is the idea that science is the only known way to identify reliably and consistently the truth or otherwise of epistemological claims of fact. This is true, or at least it appears to be so as there are no other means on the table to do the job. Your microscope analogy fails because it just assumes that stuff the "microscope" cannot see exists, only the tool isn’t capable of seeing it.

The best you could actually say is that there’s no way to know whether science will always be the only means to sift probable truths from probable non-truths, but few people that I know of take that position so it’s largely a red herring in any case.         

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The point is that everything is human experience. If human experiences is that unreliable, should we use a light meter to detect light? No...our eyes are good enough. This can be carried to ridiculous levels. While I agree that our imagination and instinctive needs do create lot of clutter in the brain, there is something beyond the clutter that can be seen and experienced very reliably. That is what Yogic exercises are meant for. They are used to still the mind so that we can separate the clutter from the real experience. And this can be taught to everyone....so it is not just a one off personal experience.

How would you know that explanations we arrive at for the phenomena we experience subjectively are reliable unless you have some method objectively to test the claim? You have no idea whether something “can be seen and experienced very reliably” by applying mental exercises because still all you’re left with is guessing and opinion.   
   
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Because we intuitively accept that Consciousness or the inner Self is responsible for our lives. We don't accept life as just an accidental or random occurrence.

Who doesn’t do that?

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The fact that our Unconscious mind is responsible for many of our decisions and insights, suggests that lot more is going on within us than we can imagine.

Yes, most mental activity happens at the unconscious level. We have no difficulty imaging that though because it’s been studied and written about extensively. Try some David Eagelman to get you started for example.   

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I don't understand what you are saying..   Consciousness is what YOU are regardless of what its true nature may be. Your subjective self is the Consciousness that I am talking about. It is not something we need to see objectively nor can it be seen that way.

He’s saying that one person’s causal story (giant tomatoes) is as (in)valid as another’s (auras) when when both are non-investigable and non-verifiable claims. 

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There is no leap. It is the most common, intuitive way of looking at life and death. NDE's add strength  to these philosophies. There is plenty of reason to believe that they are real post death experiences.  Just go through individual cases...and read Sam Parnia.

There isn’t plenty of good or robust reason though, and the very problem is reliance on intuition as a reliable guide to truth. Evolution has no brief for our intuitions to provide epistemic truths – all intuition needs to tell us is that the rustling in the grass is a tiger so we’d better run away whether or not there actually is a tiger in the grass.

Intuition in other words is a highly unreliable method so identify what is and isn’t true.     

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What reason? Life is complicated. We cannot have some Occam's razor limiting us and telling us how the world ought to be. The world is the way it is. If there is an independent spirit, no Occam's razor or philosophical fallacy can wish it away.  Currently it is a valid philosophical position. If it is proven one way or the other a some date, we will see.

It isn’t a valid philosophical position at all because it has no coherent reasoning to support it, and you misunderstand the point about Occam’s razor. We have already various incomplete explanations for certain phenomena we experience. Adding non-verifiable guesses to the mix contributes nothing to finding the most likely answers, and nor can it unless they too have some means of testing and verification.   

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Maybe science has its views...yes....but it is not conclusive.

One of your favourite straw men. No-one, least of all people who do science, claims its findings to be conclusive.

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It is just a view based on a certain microscopic methodology. I am fine with that but it does not automatically dismiss the other position.

No it isn’t. It’s both a method and a set of findings that have been investigated and found reliably to produce results. It makes no claim to “automatically dismiss the other position” because “the other position” cannot be examined using the methods of science. Your problem though is that “the other position” cannot be examined using any other known method either, which is why it remains incoherent guessing.   

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That is why I am arguing for secular spirituality as against religious beliefs.

You’re not “arguing” for anything; you’re asserting, supported occasionally by some very bad arguments.

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Religions have regional and cultural elements that can be offensive.

So?

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Science has its limitations due to its microscopic nature.

Wrong again. The problem isn’t with the “microscopic nature” of science; it’s with the non-investigability of truth claims with which neither the methods of science nor any other methods can engage.

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The only viable option is secular spirituality.

Don’t be silly. “Secular spirituality” as a means of identifying truths is incoherent gibberish, and will remain so unless and until you or someone else can finally tell us what it means and propose some means of distinguishing it from just guessing.   
 
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 12:43:04 PM by bluehillside Retd. »
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Outrider

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #107 on: August 13, 2019, 05:40:42 PM »
Yes. Scientism is the problem.  Science has its uses but cannot be used everywhere.

Well, scientism might be a problem.  We don't know that science can't be applied to everything that's physically real, and we haven't (so far as I've seen) come up with anything that adequately validates claims of anything that's not physically real.  We have conjecture, and perhaps we can't absolutely refute it, but we appear to set ourselves higher standards than accepting merely any logically valid conception.

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And the word Science can be used as a subject of study or a branch of knowledge also.

There can be a tendency to confuse the process of scientific enquiry and the resulting provisional understandings that are a result of that scientific enquiry, that's true.

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I used the microscope as an analogy to illustrate how something can be very useful in certain areas but utterly useless in other areas.

The key difference, though, is that with (say) a telescope instead of microscope there is both an explanatory mechanism and a wealth of evidentiary suppoort as to why the telescope is objectively a) reliable and b) a better choice than the microscope in certain circumstances.  That's not the case for means of investigation or enquiry that are not science.

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The point is that everything is human experience. If human experiences is that unreliable, should we use a light meter to detect light?

Yes. The point of the light meter is to remove as much of the subjectivity of the human experience as possible from the measurment process ("it's a bit brighter") and to replace it with a numerical understanding of the underlying physical phenomena ("it's 20 lumens brighter"). The light meter is not subjective, it's read-out is a calibrated numerical value, hence our understanding of the light level does not depend on our subjective sense and interpretation of light, but on our relatively robust interpretation of numerical values.  It's not foolproof, but it's significantly more reliable.

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No...our eyes are good enough.

That rather depends on what light level you're trying to measure, and for what purpose. Is it light enough to read, that's something we can adequately do without a light meter, but is this laser output in the range I need for this cutting task... I'd suggest that's not something to test by eye.

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While I agree that our imagination and instinctive needs do create lot of clutter in the brain, there is something beyond the clutter that can be seen and experienced very reliably

Except that time and time again it's been ably demonstrated that we can't reliably experience phenomena, and the further from the core of the human experience the worse we are.  Our memory for detail of visual experience is very poor, we are not particularly good at identifying absolute volume or tone of sound - our senses work best at distinguishing patterns in changing inputs rather than fixed detail.  Our memory of sensory phenomena is rewritten every time we review our memory of the event,, such that eye-witness testimony should be considered highly questionable in most circumstances.  We can experience things, and we can testify to the intensity of the experience reliably, but we should revert to the CCTV and the DNA evidence when it comes to the particulars.

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That is what Yogic exercises are meant for. They are used to still the mind so that we can separate the clutter from the real experience. And this can be taught to everyone....so it is not just a one off personal experience.

And is there any reliable evidence that this is effective at improving our sensory performance or our mnemonic capabilities? 
   
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Because we intuitively accept that Consciousness or the inner Self is responsible for our lives.

Which we is this, Batman?

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We don't accept life as just an accidental or random occurrence.

Beg to differ - I'd not characterise it as such, but in the way that I think  you are conceiving it, that's exactly how I 'accept' it.  Life is a complex manifestation of the ongoing, entirely deterministic sequence of cause and effect events that has been progressing for the entirety of the existence of the universe, which itself may be the deterministic outcome of some extra-universal events with their own physical laws and constants.  I don't see a need for a 'free will' or independent consciousness in that mix.

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The fact that our Unconscious mind is responsible for many of our decisions and insights, suggests that lot more is going on within us than we can imagine.

Well, not than we can imagine, but rather that there is more going on than the feedback loops in our mental structure are returning to the actively conscious part of the brain's activity that we perceive as consciousness.

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I don't understand what you are saying..   Consciousness is what YOU are regardless of what its true nature may be

What 'True nature'?  Consciousness is the part of my brain's activity that is experienced as me being aware of my existence - it's the 'I' in 'I think therefore I am'.

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Your subjective self is the Consciousness that I am talking about. It is not something we need to see objectively nor can it be seen that way.

Why not?  If we develop sufficient understanding of the neurology and the information pathways, why can't we potentially understand the conscious self? 

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There is no leap. It is the most common, intuitive way of looking at life and death.

And, therefore, given what we understand about the limitations of human experience, to be questioned strongly.

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NDE's add strength  to these philosophies.

Only if it is presumed that the subjective experience is somehow representative of an objective reality, despite the lack of any discernible pathway for the information to get into the brain to trigger understanding in such scenarios.

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There is plenty of reason to believe that they are real post death experiences.  Just go through individual cases...

Multiple anecdotes does not equal data; many, many people can be wrong.  Examinations of brain activity during extreme stress gives explanations for these experiences which relies on physical realities that we can already adequately demonstrate do exist.

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...and read Sam Parnia.

I shall add him to my ever-expanding list...

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What reason? Life is complicated. We cannot have some Occam's razor limiting us and telling us how the world ought to be. The world is the way it is. If there is an independent spirit, no Occam's razor or philosophical fallacy can wish it away.  Currently it is a valid philosophical position. If it is proven one way or the other a some date, we will see.

Occam's Razor doesn't determine whether it's true or not, it's a way of deciding, in the absence of reliable information, which is the more likely explanation to be valid.   In this instance, we have two internally valid conjectures: one of them builds upon already validated understandings of reality, and one requires the assumption of an entirely unevidenced additional 'layer' of reality.  One of these has to be considered more likely than the other, and it's the one that doesn't require an entire additional realm of mechanics to resolve.

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Maybe science has its views...yes....but it is not conclusive. It is just a view based on a certain microscopic methodology. I am fine with that but it does not automatically dismiss the other position.

It's a method with an unparalleled record of success and achievement, and I don't see why it should be considered 'microscopic'.  It's only limit is reality, intrinsically, and the only reason to consider it limited is to presume that there is something beyond reality. 

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It does have personal and subjective evidence. One has to take up certain practices to see it for themselves.  The mind will broaden and you will see 'Why' for yourself.

That's not a reliable manner of enquiry given both human limitations and the history of people who have gone looking for this and found nothing, or who have gone looking for nothing and found something equally unverifiable that is other than your claim.

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That is why I am arguing for secular spirituality as against religious beliefs. Religions have regional and cultural elements that can be offensive. Science has its limitations due to its microscopic nature.  The only viable option is secular spirituality.

Except that you still don't have any reliable evidence for 'spirituality', just the same 'you can't disprove it' argument that each individual religion has.  That you aren't picking one of their particular sides doesn't mean that you're rejecting their inadequate methodologies.
 
O.
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Sriram

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #108 on: August 14, 2019, 06:10:16 AM »
Hi Outrider,

I'll avoid a sentence by sentence reply. I usually avoid it because it is too cumbersome....and could go on forever. I think the essence can be captured without a microscopic discussion.

Your first point creates a conflict...... "We don't know that science can't be applied to everything that's physically real, and we haven't (so far as I've seen) come up with anything that adequately validates claims of anything that's not physically real".

If we insist that only science can be used to understand phenomena...and we continue to use only science as the means to validate the idea...it doesn't make sense.  We have to step out to see if other means can be used. If you continue to use science you will obviously keep coming up only with physical phenomena.

That is the essence of what I am saying. If there is any reality outside the physical domain (I say there is), we cannot keep insisting that we should use physical means to understand it or else it is not valid.  That is incorrect. 

Btw...let me add that I don't think of the physical and the non physical as two separate worlds.  I think it is a continuum...a spectrum where they overlap. For example, you cannot examine psychological aspects of people through methods used in physics. Every aspect of psychology cannot be examined through meters and instruments. The mind is not just the brain. Personal discussion and anecdote are more important means of examination and treatment. 

Cheers.

Sriram

torridon

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #109 on: August 14, 2019, 06:38:57 AM »

If we insist that only science can be used to understand phenomena...and we continue to use only science as the means to validate the idea...it doesn't make sense.  We have to step out to see if other means can be used. If you continue to use science you will obviously keep coming up only with physical phenomena.

That is the essence of what I am saying. If there is any reality outside the physical domain (I say there is), we cannot keep insisting that we should use physical means to understand it or else it is not valid.  That is incorrect. 


The criticism is that your claims about souls as alluded to above and suchlike are inherently self-contradictory.  You cannot on the one hand claim that souls and biofields etc cannot be detected by 'physical' instrumentation but then immediately claim that biofields and souls etc interact with bodies implying there is, actually, a physical interaction going on.

It is a case of double-think

Sriram

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #110 on: August 14, 2019, 06:46:24 AM »



I have said that it is a continuum. They overlap. Not necessary that they should all be measurable. All aspects of the mind and consciousness cannot be measured through instruments.  You are carrying physics and reductionism too far.

torridon

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #111 on: August 14, 2019, 06:54:43 AM »


I have said that it is a continuum. They overlap. Not necessary that they should all be measurable. All aspects of the mind and consciousness cannot be measured through instruments.  You are carrying physics and reductionism too far.

In which case, the degree in which they overlap should be measurable.  I think you are clutching at straws, trying to find a form of words in wherein something can be measurable when it suits your philosophy and excusing our inability to measure it where it conflicts with your philosophy.  You'd need to elucidate on this business of 'overlap', how it works.

Stranger

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #112 on: August 14, 2019, 08:00:17 AM »
If we insist that only science can be used to understand phenomena...and we continue to use only science as the means to validate the idea...it doesn't make sense.  We have to step out to see if other means can be used. If you continue to use science you will obviously keep coming up only with physical phenomena.

That is the essence of what I am saying. If there is any reality outside the physical domain (I say there is), we cannot keep insisting that we should use physical means to understand it or else it is not valid.  That is incorrect. 

Then you need to come up with an actual methodology that enables us to tell probably right ideas from just guessing based on how something feels to you (or some group of people).
x(∅ ∈ x ∧ ∀y(yxy ∪ {y} ∈ x))

Gordon

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #113 on: August 14, 2019, 08:06:17 AM »

If we insist that only science can be used to understand phenomena...and we continue to use only science as the means to validate the idea...it doesn't make sense.  We have to step out to see if other means can be used. If you continue to use science you will obviously keep coming up only with physical phenomena.

Then by 'other means' you need a method that isn't science as we generally understand the term but is suited to the 'spiritual' - but that doesn't seem to exist. Berating science for its acknowledged limitations doesn't get around the absence of a similarly disciplined and reliable 'spiritual' alternative.   
 
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That is the essence of what I am saying. If there is any reality outside the physical domain (I say there is), we cannot keep insisting that we should use physical means to understand it or else it is not valid.  That is incorrect.

Straw man - nobody is saying that: you are simply being asked what method(s) exist specific to the 'spiritual'.   

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Btw...let me add that I don't think of the physical and the non physical as two separate worlds.  I think it is a continuum...a spectrum where they overlap.

How could you ever know anything about this 'overlap' since, presumably, the 'spiritual' would need to in some way influence or intrude upon the physical for this overlap to be recognised - again, what method(s) applies here? 

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For example, you cannot examine psychological aspects of people through methods used in physics.

Don't be silly - there are many examples of detectable physical factors that can have psychological consequences: ingested substances, sleep deprivation, trauma and disease come to mind.

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Every aspect of psychology cannot be examined through meters and instruments. The mind is not just the brain.

Yet it does seem that the mind is dependent on a functioning brain. 

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Personal discussion and anecdote are more important means of examination and treatment.

Such exchanges are undoubtedly of interest, but more is needed to draw reliable conclusions: after all, people can make mistakes, people can be misled (or mislead themselves), some people can mislead others (knowingly or unintentionally) and all of us can potentially be wrong. Discussion and anecdote are no substitute for investigation without there being a basis to exclude these risks.   

Outrider

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #114 on: August 14, 2019, 09:56:21 AM »
I shall follow your lead on the line-by-line...

I don't see the conflict in acknowledging those realities, they are merely framing the current status.  We have no solid reason to think that anything is beyond the remit of science - science flows from what we can perceive directly or indirectly; if we can't perceive it, then we need a justification for accepting the proposition and at the moment the only reliable mechanism we have for doing that is scientific enquiry.  It's not impossible that there are other methods out there, but as yet they've not been put forward.

There's no intrinsic insistence that justifications have to be scientific in nature, but there is a justifiable request that anything we're going to use to contradict the scientific understanding has some sort of justification that at least approaches the level of consistent performance that scientific enquiry has produced.  It's easy - I fall prey to it myself - to forget that scientific understandings are technically only provisional, that something could come along that completely undermines entire swathes of our understanding (Newtonian gravitation being the obvious example, but there are innumerable others).

I understand that you feel - perhaps with some justification - that a non-physical reality would not be susceptible to scientific enquiry.  However, not only is there not a complementary method for investigating such concepts with as much validity, but the idea that something could interact with a physical human being in such a way that the interaction itself is somehow beyond science does not make any sense - anything that happens to the body is measurable, is investigable with science.  Anything that doesn't interact with the human body, so far as we have any evidence for, would be functionally no different to something that didn't exist.

I can't really get my head around the concept of a continuum of reality from physical through to non-physical.  I can just about grasp the idea that some things (say, people) would have manifestations in both whilst other things (say, tables) would only exist in one (and, presumably, there could be some entirely non-physical things as well).  What I can't see is any reason to think that this is the case, given that we gather information through our senses which interact with the physical world; I'm not sure there's any evidence of the senses or the brain responding to non-physical stimuli.

O.
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ekim

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #115 on: August 14, 2019, 11:43:07 AM »


I can't really get my head around the concept of a continuum of reality from physical through to non-physical.  I can just about grasp the idea that some things (say, people) would have manifestations in both whilst other things (say, tables) would only exist in one (and, presumably, there could be some entirely non-physical things as well).  What I can't see is any reason to think that this is the case, given that we gather information through our senses which interact with the physical world; I'm not sure there's any evidence of the senses or the brain responding to non-physical stimuli.

O.

Many of the 'spiritual' practices are about detaching from the inclination to 'get the head around' or 'grasp ideas about' as these are just mental activities or efforts to give form to the formless, time to the timeless, limitations to the limitless etc.  I suspect that many of the words used in 'spiritual' literature are just terms used to give a clue to the direction of 'spiritual' paths.  Words like spirit, soul and aura are associated with air which was possibly in the distant past people's understanding of space, which is present within the body and outside of it and extending to the heavens.  It is omnipresent and is a symbol of unity whereas the forms and forces which make up the physical universe tend towards separation and disunity and which the conceptualising mind latches on to.   A quote from the Tao Te Ching gives a clue:

Many spokes are needed to create a wheel
But it is the space at the centre that makes it functional.
Create a pot from clay,
But it is the space within that makes it useable.
A house may have many windows and doors,
But it is the open space that allows them to be used.
Therefore, although we favour what is in Existence
We need to see the spacious value of inner Being.

Outrider

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #116 on: August 14, 2019, 01:31:43 PM »
Many of the 'spiritual' practices are about detaching from the inclination to 'get the head around' or 'grasp ideas about' as these are just mental activities or efforts to give form to the formless, time to the timeless, limitations to the limitless etc.

You'll appreciate that could equally be interpreted as 'don't think about it, just accept what you're told', right? It might not be in the intent, I'm certainly not working on the basis that it's the spirit with which it's intended, but functionally it's the same thing.

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I suspect that many of the words used in 'spiritual' literature are just terms used to give a clue to the direction of 'spiritual' paths.  Words like spirit, soul and aura are associated with air which was possibly in the distant past people's understanding of space, which is present within the body and outside of it and extending to the heavens.

And yet, in the few hundred years since we developed the capacity to create partial vacuums (and, therefore, barometers) we've determined that space is there and investigated and uncovered huge amounts of information about it, developed a coherent, well-defined dictionary of relevant terms and used those foundations to hypothesise further possibilities which we can hope to test in the future.  By contrast, despite the concept having been apparently in the human collective consciousness for thousands of years, it seems we're still no closer to establishing anything reliable at all about 'spirit'.

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It is omnipresent and is a symbol of unity whereas the forms and forces which make up the physical universe tend towards separation and disunity and which the conceptualising mind latches on to.

Deep.  So vague as to be interpretable in any way you'd like to do so, and so functionally meaningless... perhaps it fits more neatly into the original context, or perhaps the transliteration loses cultural references, I don't know, but that just doesn't amount to anything coherent.

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Many spokes are needed to create a wheel
But it is the space at the centre that makes it functional.
Create a pot from clay,
But it is the space within that makes it useable.
A house may have many windows and doors,
But it is the open space that allows them to be used.
Therefore, although we favour what is in Existence
We need to see the spacious value of inner Being.

So many things wrong with that - it's not the space at the centre of a wheel that makes it function, it's the whole wheel - if you don't have a rim or a tyre, you don't have a wheel.  When you create a pot the space inside is part of the pot - if you follow the contours of a pot, but have a solid core, you don't have a pot you have a blank for making a mold.  Similarly, if you build something with the exterior form of a house, but a solid interior you haven't built a house - the space is not something separate from the house, it's intrinsically a part of the concept.  All these spaces are measurable, demonstrable practical realities - if they were absent, the object wouldn't be what it claims, it wouldn't work.  Given that we cannot show any impact of 'spirit' on the real world, in what way is a real world without 'spirit' demonstrably different from a real world with it?

O.
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ekim

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #117 on: August 14, 2019, 05:22:15 PM »
(1)  You'll appreciate that could equally be interpreted as 'don't think about it, just accept what you're told', right?

(2) And yet, in the few hundred years since we developed the capacity to create partial vacuums (and, therefore, barometers) we've determined that space is there and investigated and uncovered huge amounts of information about it, developed a coherent, well-defined dictionary of relevant terms and used those foundations to hypothesise further possibilities which we can hope to test in the future.  By contrast, despite the concept having been apparently in the human collective consciousness for thousands of years, it seems we're still no closer to establishing anything reliable at all about 'spirit'.

(3)  So many things wrong with that - it's not the space at the centre of a wheel that makes it function, it's the whole wheel - if you don't have a rim or a tyre, you don't have a wheel.  When you create a pot the space inside is part of the pot - if you follow the contours of a pot, but have a solid core, you don't have a pot you have a blank for making a mold.  Similarly, if you build something with the exterior form of a house, but a solid interior you haven't built a house - the space is not something separate from the house, it's intrinsically a part of the concept.  All these spaces are measurable, demonstrable practical realities - if they were absent, the object wouldn't be what it claims, it wouldn't work.  Given that we cannot show any impact of 'spirit' on the real world, in what way is a real world without 'spirit' demonstrably different from a real world with it?

O.

(1) Yes, it could but it often means 'don't blindly  believe what you are told but detach from thinking and conceptualising and experience for yourself following a suggested method'.

(2) The inner path is not about gathering information and converting it into dictionary terms and hypotheses.  It is more about transformation and transcendence of the individual and his egocentricity.  The sort of egocentricity which drives the information gatherer to direct it to ever growing means of destruction of life and pollution of the earth, air and water of the planet.  I suspect that it was always a forlorn hope and probably beyond hope now.  As regards establishing anything reliable about 'spirit', I suspect that it will never meet the conditions which you would impose upon reliability because the description is likely to be subjective in nature like enduring ecstasy, bliss, joy, enlivening, 'peace that passes understanding', love, oneness.  These are all words which signify nothing in themselves and are probably useless to the information gatherer.

(3) ...  and so many things wrong with that - the word used was functional i.e. if the space between the axle and its bearing is filled with rust it will cease to be functional, space is important.  The second word used was 'useable' i.e. if the pot was filled with solid clay it would cease to be useable as a pot for liquids, space is important.  Similarly if windows and doors do not have the space between them and the frames they will not be useable, space is important.  Lao Tse was suggesting that one should give as much attention to our inner space (spirit) as we do the physical and mental framework which surrounds it.  I suspect that materialism was just as important in his day as it is today and looking at the state of China today, obviously his words did not bear much fruit.

Sriram

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #118 on: August 15, 2019, 06:21:42 AM »
I shall follow your lead on the line-by-line...

I don't see the conflict in acknowledging those realities, they are merely framing the current status.  We have no solid reason to think that anything is beyond the remit of science - science flows from what we can perceive directly or indirectly; if we can't perceive it, then we need a justification for accepting the proposition and at the moment the only reliable mechanism we have for doing that is scientific enquiry.  It's not impossible that there are other methods out there, but as yet they've not been put forward.

There's no intrinsic insistence that justifications have to be scientific in nature, but there is a justifiable request that anything we're going to use to contradict the scientific understanding has some sort of justification that at least approaches the level of consistent performance that scientific enquiry has produced.  It's easy - I fall prey to it myself - to forget that scientific understandings are technically only provisional, that something could come along that completely undermines entire swathes of our understanding (Newtonian gravitation being the obvious example, but there are innumerable others).

I understand that you feel - perhaps with some justification - that a non-physical reality would not be susceptible to scientific enquiry.  However, not only is there not a complementary method for investigating such concepts with as much validity, but the idea that something could interact with a physical human being in such a way that the interaction itself is somehow beyond science does not make any sense - anything that happens to the body is measurable, is investigable with science.  Anything that doesn't interact with the human body, so far as we have any evidence for, would be functionally no different to something that didn't exist.

I can't really get my head around the concept of a continuum of reality from physical through to non-physical.  I can just about grasp the idea that some things (say, people) would have manifestations in both whilst other things (say, tables) would only exist in one (and, presumably, there could be some entirely non-physical things as well).  What I can't see is any reason to think that this is the case, given that we gather information through our senses which interact with the physical world; I'm not sure there's any evidence of the senses or the brain responding to non-physical stimuli.

O.

Outrider,

Yes...the idea of a reality spectrum moving from the 'hard core' physical to the less physical to the non physical is a fact.  While the laws of physics are underlying all aspects of the universe, as some kind of a base, we cannot directly use them everywhere like say...biology. There are complex aspects of life that develop at each stage where reductionism is not possible. 

Physics...Chemistry...biology...psychology.  The level of precision and predictability become less and less. There are so many so called 'emergent properties' at each level that each of these areas are almost separate worlds in themselves. 

Psychology is where we can see  biology overlapping with the mind.  What we call 'Spirituality' only takes it a step further where we see the mind  overlapping with consciousness.   

Scientific methods have been largely developed in the area of physics. We can see that they cannot be applied with equal efficiency in biology and much less so in psychology. We cannot always plug in instruments to understand the mind. That is why the mind, consciousness and spiritual aspects are not amenable to scrutiny in the same way that physical aspects are.

So, scientific enquiry has too narrow a scope for it to be seen as a universally applicable system.  Either we broaden the scope of science itself or have a new system which restricts the use of current 'science' methodologies up till biology and from there adopt a new system of enquiry with different methodologies and techniques.  This obviously cannot be offered by any single person on a platter. This needs a new way of thinking and the consorted efforts of several philosophers.   It has to evolve by and by.

Cheers.

Sriram

torridon

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #119 on: August 15, 2019, 07:41:32 AM »

So, scientific enquiry has too narrow a scope for it to be seen as a universally applicable system.  Either we broaden the scope of science itself or have a new system which restricts the use of current 'science' methodologies up till biology and from there adopt a new system of enquiry with different methodologies and techniques.  This obviously cannot be offered by any single person on a platter. This needs a new way of thinking and the consorted efforts of several philosophers.   It has to evolve by and by.


This is simply blaming the methods for failing to validate your beliefs rather than accepting the simpler more obvious conclusion, that the beliefs are wrong.

Sriram

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #120 on: August 15, 2019, 01:12:08 PM »
This is simply blaming the methods for failing to validate your beliefs rather than accepting the simpler more obvious conclusion, that the beliefs are wrong.

No. I am merely saying that we should not get so fixated with a method or methodology that we refuse to see its limitations.

Outrider

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #121 on: August 15, 2019, 01:18:46 PM »
(1) Yes, it could but it often means 'don't blindly  believe what you are told but detach from thinking and conceptualising and experience for yourself following a suggested method'.


Experience can have subjective value, I don't deny that, but to eschew 'thinking' in favour of accepting our limited sensory capabilities and even more limited intrinsic conceptualisations is to limit our capacity to understand, not to expand it.

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(2) The inner path is not about gathering information and converting it into dictionary terms and hypotheses.  It is more about transformation and transcendence of the individual and his egocentricity.  The sort of egocentricity which drives the information gatherer to direct it to ever growing means of destruction of life and pollution of the earth, air and water of the planet.  I suspect that it was always a forlorn hope and probably beyond hope now.  As regards establishing anything reliable about 'spirit', I suspect that it will never meet the conditions which you would impose upon reliability because the description is likely to be subjective in nature like enduring ecstasy, bliss, joy, enlivening, 'peace that passes understanding', love, oneness.  These are all words which signify nothing in themselves and are probably useless to the information gatherer.

Transformation into what?  It is not the process of information gathering that is driving a means of destruction - indeed, it is invariably the sort of 'emotional' expressor who decries the scientific community and there masses of evidence on the scale of the destruction in favour of chasing, say, self-actualisation through accumulation of wealth.

If the only concept of 'spirit' that's possible is a subjective one that encompasses ecstasy, bliss and the like, then I don't need spirituality, those are elements of the entirely physical life I already have.  Those are states of mind which, so far as we can tell, correlate with particular patterns of brain activity in particular areas of the brain.

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(3) ...  and so many things wrong with that - the word used was functional i.e. if the space between the axle and its bearing is filled with rust it will cease to be functional, space is important.  The second word used was 'useable' i.e. if the pot was filled with solid clay it would cease to be useable as a pot for liquids, space is important.  Similarly if windows and doors do not have the space between them and the frames they will not be useable, space is important.  Lao Tse was suggesting that one should give as much attention to our inner space (spirit) as we do the physical and mental framework which surrounds it.  I suspect that materialism was just as important in his day as it is today and looking at the state of China today, obviously his words did not bear much fruit.

If the 'space' is filled with metal, or plastic, or wood, though, the wheel works fine, a filled pot isn't useless as a pot, it's simply not a pot, likewise a house with no inside is not a house, it's a sculpture of a house.  This isn't 'deep', this isn't 'wisdom', it's truthiness.

O.
Universes are forever, not just for creation...

New Atheism - because, apparently, there's a use-by date on unanswered questions.

Eminent Pedant, Interpreter of Heretical Writings, Unwarranted Harvester of Trite Nomenclature, Church of Debatable Saints

Outrider

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #122 on: August 15, 2019, 01:26:33 PM »
Yes...the idea of a reality spectrum moving from the 'hard core' physical to the less physical to the non physical is a fact.  While the laws of physics are underlying all aspects of the universe, as some kind of a base, we cannot directly use them everywhere like say...biology. There are complex aspects of life that develop at each stage where reductionism is not possible.

Biology is the application of physics on a large, aggregated scale.  That we can't directly apply them is a limitation of computational power, not a limitation of the concepts of physics - there is no 'hard core' physical, there is merely the physical.  Biology is a collection of short-hand explanations for regular patterns of physical activity because it's a more convenient level at which to operate to investigate particular phenomena. 

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Physics...Chemistry...biology...psychology.  The level of precision and predictability become less and less. There are so many so called 'emergent properties' at each level that each of these areas are almost separate worlds in themselves.

Right?  That doesn't change the fact that the physics at the core of it is highly predictable - arguably, if we knew enough, absolutely predictable. 

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Psychology is where we can see  biology overlapping with the mind.

Neuroscience is where we see biology and the mind overlapping, psychology is where we try to draw inference from neuroscience into culture.

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What we call 'Spirituality' only takes it a step further where we see the mind  overlapping with consciousness.

But the overlap is 100% - consciousness and mind are the same thing.

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Scientific methods have been largely developed in the area of physics. We can see that they cannot be applied with equal efficiency in biology and much less so in psychology. We cannot always plug in instruments to understand the mind. That is why the mind, consciousness and spiritual aspects are not amenable to scrutiny in the same way that physical aspects are.

I don't think that's intrinsically the case, I think that's the current situation.  That we don't currently have the precision or the depth of knowledge to take neuroscientific measurements and accurately interpret them into psychological findings doesn't mean that's impossible, it just means we need to keep learning.

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So, scientific enquiry has too narrow a scope for it to be seen as a universally applicable system.  Either we broaden the scope of science itself or have a new system which restricts the use of current 'science' methodologies up till biology and from there adopt a new system of enquiry with different methodologies and techniques.  This obviously cannot be offered by any single person on a platter. This needs a new way of thinking and the consorted efforts of several philosophers.   It has to evolve by and by.

You seem to be operating on the idea that science has stopped, that we aren't still learning new things.  Science continues, and neuroscience, artificial intelligence and the like are at the forefront of it.  To say 'we can't do this, therefore it's impossible' would validate the claim that people aren't really flying planes, driving cars, fighting bacterial infections or watching porn on the internet, and there's way, way too much evidence for all of those to discount it.

O.
Universes are forever, not just for creation...

New Atheism - because, apparently, there's a use-by date on unanswered questions.

Eminent Pedant, Interpreter of Heretical Writings, Unwarranted Harvester of Trite Nomenclature, Church of Debatable Saints

Bramble

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #123 on: August 15, 2019, 01:45:56 PM »
  Lao Tse was suggesting that one should give as much attention to our inner space (spirit) as we do the physical and mental framework which surrounds it. 

I was intrigued by your translation of this chapter. I've read many translations and commentaries over the years but never one that explicitly refers to the space here as representing inner being or spirit:

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'Therefore, although we favour what is in Existence
We need to see the spacious value of inner Being.'

This seems to suggest that inner being is somehow opposed to 'existence' which would be very odd and not very Daoist, I think. Usually, the sense is rendered something more like this:

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'Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.' (Gia-Fu Feng)

which is more in keeping with Daoism's emphasis on the usefulness of absence (as in doing by not-doing wu-wei) or what is normally considered useless (as in the 'useless tree' of Zhuangzi's Inner Chapters).

Anyway, it's an interesting take, whether it's what was originally meant or not.

It's probably also worth reflecting that whilst it is indeed the space within that makes a pot useful, that space is only useful because it is contained by the pot!





Sriram

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Re: Secular Spirituality
« Reply #124 on: August 15, 2019, 02:22:55 PM »
Biology is the application of physics on a large, aggregated scale.  That we can't directly apply them is a limitation of computational power, not a limitation of the concepts of physics - there is no 'hard core' physical, there is merely the physical.  Biology is a collection of short-hand explanations for regular patterns of physical activity because it's a more convenient level at which to operate to investigate particular phenomena. 

Right?  That doesn't change the fact that the physics at the core of it is highly predictable - arguably, if we knew enough, absolutely predictable. 

Neuroscience is where we see biology and the mind overlapping, psychology is where we try to draw inference from neuroscience into culture.

But the overlap is 100% - consciousness and mind are the same thing.

I don't think that's intrinsically the case, I think that's the current situation.  That we don't currently have the precision or the depth of knowledge to take neuroscientific measurements and accurately interpret them into psychological findings doesn't mean that's impossible, it just means we need to keep learning.

You seem to be operating on the idea that science has stopped, that we aren't still learning new things.  Science continues, and neuroscience, artificial intelligence and the like are at the forefront of it.  To say 'we can't do this, therefore it's impossible' would validate the claim that people aren't really flying planes, driving cars, fighting bacterial infections or watching porn on the internet, and there's way, way too much evidence for all of those to discount it.

O.


The point I am making is that there are domains at various levels that behave almost as separate worlds.....though they are obviously connected and overlap.   We can broadly classify them as Physics, chemistry, biology, psychology...and so on.    We can go further into the subatomic world and talk of  elementary particles as a separate quantum domain...then maybe Strings.  Beyond psychology, we can talk of mind as one domain, Consciousness as another. 

All these, though interconnected, cannot be reduced into the earlier domains or understood in those terms.  There are properties at each level that cannot be explained through pure reductionism.