General Question

TexasDude's avatar

Can any Fluther philosophers help me work out a few philosophical issues?

Asked by TexasDude (25269points) December 5th, 2010

First of all, I’d like to provide a caveat: I am not asking for homework help. In fact, this isn’t even for a homework assignment at all, really, but it is important, and it is something I am working to understand. I just need the assistance of other educated humans (because those are hard to find around here right now).

Anyway, I am trying to better understand the relationship between mind and matter (the mind-body split, or mind-body problem as it is sometimes known) and what Rene’ Descartes and Baruch Spinoza had to say about it.

For instance, I am aware that Descartes first identified the issue. He was a dualist who believed in “thinking stuff” and “substantive stuff” as the two disparate types of substances in the world.

Spinoza, on the other hand, believed that there is only one substance, which he defines in his Ethics. Basically, Spinoza believed that the only type of substance, which was God, making him a monist.

Both philosophers were rationalists.

Out of the two, I tend to agree with Descartes, though I still have reservations about his rationalistic methods in the first place (since rationalism relies on the assertion of certain axioms that the remainder of your argument must be built upon). However, I am having trouble finding explicit points of contention between the two philosophers and their views, aside from the differences in their dualism and monism.

Can anyone out there help clarify for me?

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97 Answers

Hobbes's avatar

Are you interested in a general discussion about the mind-body problem, or a discussion specifically about the differences between Descartes and Spinoza?

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know if I can help you, but I would like to point out that our thinking is distributed through all the nerves in our bodies, and that our bodies can not be distinguished from our thinking consciousness. Thought could not exist without body and embodiment. Neither could consciousness exist. What does that say about separation?

Blondesjon's avatar

You can escape the entire dualist mindset if you simply realize, as Robert Earl Keen postulated, the road goes on forever and the party never ends.

Hobbes's avatar

Also, Buddhist philosophy in general and Zen in particular has a lot of insight into this problem.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think the so called mind-body problem is just a failure of imagination. Consider playing the most advanced, complex and graphically accurate computer game you have ever played. Now consider giving the same game to a ten-year-old. Children talk about computer games in the first person – ‘I just killed the monster’, ‘I am on level 132’ etc. However as adults, we know that the game is just a massive string of several billion bits of binary data.

Your brain, or more accurately your connectome containes around a million times the information of the human genome (if my memory serves me correctly). 100 billion neurons, each with up to 10,000 connections to other neurons, leads to an information content several orders of magnitude greater than that of the most sophisticated computer game. Also remember that the brain is a dynamic structure, constantly remodelling itself to store and process the masses of information you encounter every day. Of course it isn’t obvious that electrical impulses can generate everything that we think, feel and experience, but when you consider the sheer magnitude and complexity of the neural networks that compose us, I think it is a perfectly plausible scenario.

Therefore the mind-body problem is a failure of imagination. We cannot imagine the phenomena such a complex map of information may produce, but we just assume that whatever they are, it couldn’t possibly be a human. However I am yet to see any compelling evidence that we are anything more than that which is contained in the biological matter of the human body.

I have read the Ethics, and I know some of what Descartes wrote on the matter, but I regard both as interesting but outdated. I recommend you read the works of more recent philosophers, such as Daniel Dennett and John Searle (who usually seem to take opposite sides). You may be interested in Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment, and Dennett’s discussion of zombies and zimboes.

Hobbes's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh – Adults who play video games still talk about them in the first person. For that matter, when you drive a car and get into an accident, you generally say “He hit me!” rather than “He hit my car with his car!”

anartist's avatar

Sorry I tend towards Manichaeisistic thinking, or the eternal struggle of each man to find a way between the forces of light and of darkness within himself.

TexasDude's avatar

Thanks for the responses, guys, and the links. They’ve all been rather helpful, but I should mention that I am not really a monist or a dualist, and I am not limiting my life philosophy to either of these two views. I should have probably mentioned that while this is not homework, it is for a class discussion and I want to be sure I have my shit together. We are more or less required to argue which of these two philosophers were “more correct,” what they believe about the split, and what our own philosophy is. I’m arguing that Descartes’s view is more reasonable (because Spinoza’s is pretty much built on arbitrary axioms and claims). Like most of you, I think that dualism is kind of dumb anyway, and I guess what I’m looking for is a more concise way to argue this (as my own view) in relation to Spinoza and Descartes. Make sense? Sorry, I should have probably been clearer.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

well I can’t help you there friend. I’m wunna those kinda dum o card carryin dualists.

but its not my fault. blame my parents. they didn’t even give me a name till I wuz seven yeers ode.

TexasDude's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, sorry, I should have rephrased that. “I don’t agree completely with dualism. It isn’t necessarily ‘dumb’”

I am enjoying the link you sent me, and I’m thinking of ways to utilize it. Again, I apologize.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

np… I ain’t reducibul tue the teers I’m cryin.

TexasDude's avatar

I guess you could say that I’m going to argue from a materialist perspective. Like @wundayatta, I believe that my thoughts and consciousness is a result of chemical causes and effects, and not that I have a consciousness separate from my body.

It would help if anyone offered up criticisms of this viewpoint.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

If your thoughts are part of your physicality, then how is it that I may know them? The dualistic image/object mechanism of code is what allows this. Your thoughts are not reducible to the letters on this screen. The letters represent your thoughts… i.e. image/object relationship (read dualism).

As well, in this same manner, we may know the thoughts and mind of Spinoza, Descartes, and many others even after they have died. Should not their thoughts have died with them and their physical bodies?

Sure they wrote their papers. But their papers are not their thoughts. Their papers represent their thoughts. And now they are dead, their papers still represent their thoughts. They can’t represent something that supposedly no longer exists to represent. And if the thoughts don’t still exist, then what are the papers representing?

The body dies. Thoughts don’t. And since thought springs from mind, and we can know the mind of Homer, then I propose that mind does not die when the body dies either. Thus, the mind and body are separate agents.

The medium is not the message. Never, ever. The medium can only represent the message. The rest of my thesis entails explaining how believing otherwise is the full embodiment of the concept we call Evil.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“Information is information. Not energy and not matter. Any materialism that does not allow for this cannot survive in the present”.
Norbert Weiner, Cybernetics p147 (from Betrayal to Betrothal)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

100 years from today, when you and I are long dead and gone, an internet archeologist comes along and discovers our comments to one another.

Shall he claim that these letters are our thoughts? Or shall he claim that these letters represent our thoughts? If he should choose to claim the latter, then where are the thoughts these letters represent?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

And no… These letters are not recordings of our thoughts. These letters are descriptions of our thoughts.

words are nothing more than little pictures of the mind

TexasDude's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, I understand what you are saying and I like where you are going (this helps alot), but I would respond to you by saying that the concept of “thoughts” or “information” (as you put in that quote) cannot be separate from matter because they are born from it. When I think of an idea or thought, it is a result of my neurons firing as a result of a series of chemical reactions. I don’t pick the thought out of the sky and regurgitate it.

Also, with your internet archaeologist argument where you ask “where are the thoughts these letters represent?” This implies that thoughts are extended and therefore material.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I find it interesting that people keep claiming that thoughts “cannot be separate from matter because they are born from it”, yet never provide a shred of evidence to support the statement.

I propose the exact opposite. Thoughts don’t come from matter. Matter comes in two different flavors. Organic and Inorganic. Inorganic matter has no code to structure it, and thoughts never come from inorganic matter. Organic matter does have a code (genome) which structures it. All codes have authors… no exceptions. All authors have minds… no exceptions.

If anyone believes otherwise then they are free to present their black swan upon us.

“When I think of an idea or thought, it is a result of my neurons firing as a result of a series of chemical reactions.”

Thoughts and Minds don’t spill onto the floor during brain surgery.

Researcher Wes Warren of St. Louis University Genome Sequencing Center has determined otherwise. The ncRNA is what engages the neurons to fire in the brain in the speech centers of finch songbirds. Finch speech centers are extremely similar to human speech centers. Warren suggests this is the case for humans as well. The question is, what causes the ncRNA to fire the neurons? I propose that agent is the immaterial notion of desire.

Hobbes's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies -Thoughts and minds may not spill out during brain surgery, but if the surgeon messes up they’ll be a lot different.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No they won’t. I could have my brain removed tomorrow and you all could still come back to this thread and see the words here that represent my thoughts with no problem. Losing my brain wouldn’t change these thoughts in the slightest.

It may change my physical ability to access and formulate new thoughts, but a broken record player doesn’t break Mozart. It only diminishes the ability to experience Mozart.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

And let us assume the future internet archeologist determines that in fact, these letters on the screen are indeed our thoughts. Well, that still means thought is not part of the physical human body.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

And if one broken record doesn’t break Mozart, and two, three, and 99.99999% of all broken records in the universe still don’t break Mozart… then what pray tell is the logic in assuming that breaking all records would affect Mozart in the slightest?

Mozart would still Be, regardless if any medium existed which allowed us to access it.

Hobbes's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – If all records of Mozart were destroyed, and everyone who ever heard his music died, would it still exist?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

i’ll see you all in the mornin’... g’nigh

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Eerggg… i wuz goin’ ta bed

Since we have no reason to believe that any single or multiple broken mediums affects Mozart in any way, then we have no reason to suggest that breaking all mediums would affect Mozart either.

BTW… Music is a medium too. We’re not really listening to music. What’s really happening is that we are using music as a tool, a language tool, a tool that allows us to access the mind of Mozart. If the tool of music was destroyed, I have no reason to believe the mind of Mozart would be.

Language is a material lens that allows us to view the immaterial realm of Information.

Information… the “ation” denotes a process. Information is the process of manifesting immaterial thought in-to-form… physical form. Code is the tool we use to make this process possible.

Hobbes's avatar

Sorry =[

But at the end of the day, the mind of another human is a black box. We can never know what it is like to be anyone except ourselves. I may listen to Mozart’s music, but I don’t know what it is like to be Mozart. All I have is an echo of his presence.

Paradox's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Even though I’m not sure we agree with our own interpretations of dualism I will try to help you out on this thread when I have time but I have to head out the door in a few minutes.
@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I’m not saying materialists or that even you will agree with me but I have some interesting information that demonstrates we most likely survive physical death and the mind is indeed seperate from the brain. It is called survival physics, which is not about magic or the impossible but this (survival physics) being an actual branch of nuclear physics.

I will post this information as time allows me. Some of these posts I make take me a little time to put together and take alot of my time up. I try to discuss, not debate these types of issues when I can but I try not to spend too much time trying to change people’s minds for I have better things to do. I do not mind a decent discussion on these matters on occasion however.

I can’t answer the original part of your question because I never heard of those two people (Descartes and Spinoza) but maybe I can add something similar as far as actual scientists who used the scientific method in a laboratory setting to verify the concepts of “dualism”. I actually dislike terms such as dualism, paranormal, ethereal, ghosts, spirits, souls, heaven, hell, supernatural as well as others. I will try to weight in on this if I get time this week (hopefully) but thank you for bringing the subject up!

AdamF's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Nice discussion here of some of the relatively recent research being done in cognitive neuroscience that isolates the sections of the brain and their responsibility for our feelings, and the lack of any supportive scientific evidence for mind brain-dualism.

A nice chat by Dennett

AdamF's avatar

Nicely put together video here as well.

mammal's avatar

Try this brutal analysis of the different viewpoints the font is quite alarming, but it does boldly highlight the textbook dissimilarities. Notwithstanding that Spinoza, as far as i remember, doesn’t kick off with any preliminary expression of doubt, in fact, doubt isn’t an affliction from which the heroic Spinoza seemed to have openly suffered, no dithering, no humility straight in with Prop I…Prop II…. Prop III…..bang, bang, bang. So there was a difference in their methodology if not their confidence.

Sometimes though it is difficult to split the two, but that is probably the point, Spinoza’s ethics are a more polished version of Descartes’s meditations. Some of the distinctions are virtually semantic, some are terminological clarifications, but all that aside, Spinoza like everybody subsequently has sought to resolve the Mind/Body crisis. The suspicion is that Spinoza may have merely substituted one type of dualism with another, more subtle, or simply reinterpreted and tinkered with Descartes in such a way as to soothe the trauma, but not actually cure it.

One thing about Descartes though, his decapitative way of thinking found it’s most brutal conclusion with the Guillotine. That i would say.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Hobbes “I may listen to Mozart’s music, but I don’t know what it is like to be Mozart.”

Agreed. I hope you didn’t get that impression from my comments.

We only have access to slivers of the mind of another. Your comments for instance, they relate to me a small portion of your mind. I have no idea what it is like to Be @Hobbes because I do not have full access to your mind. Holding your brain in my hand wouldn’t change that.

But I do a access to your mind through a small window you have opened for me with the words you write to represent your mind. Mark Twain opened up many windows with the code he wrote… The more a person speaks, the more we have access to their mind.

There is a natural temptation to read more into comments and believe a person means something other than they actually do. But I have no idea if Twain enjoyed red decor unless Twain himself actually wrote that he enjoyed red decor. Even if I saw with my own eyes that his home was decorated completely in red, he may actually hate red, and only decorates in red to overcome a personal distaste for it. But if he actually wrote it down and opened that particular window into his mind for me to know, then I would know he enjoyed red. The code he rights is a tool he used to relate certain portions of his mind to another.

Words don’t mean anything. Words only point to meaning.

하늘은 파란색

Himmelen er blå

Небо голубое

Taivas on sininen

None of these scribbles is the actual embodiment of the meaning The sky is blue.

The all point to an external essence of meaning. A concept which cannot be held or determined by empirical sciences. We infer that meaning exists however because of the scribbles we use to point to it. But we cannot hold or touch meaning any more than we can hold or touch brainwaves. Where is the meaning? We know it exists, yet the only evidence is purely inferential.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“I hope you didn’t get that impression from my comments.”

Actually you couldn’t have. No one could have. We don’t “get” meaning. We can only create it, or access it. And since that was not the meaning I was pointing to, then the meaning you accessed was a different meaning altogether than the one I was pointing to. We must be very careful to not create our own meaning atop that which has already been pointed to. If of course, we desire to access the meaning of the original intent.

Hobbes's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – I’m not sure how reading something Mark Twain wrote about liking red would be any more reliable than seeing his home decorated in red. In fact I don’t think there is any circumstance under which we could say without a doubt that Mark Twain liked red. I don’t think you’re seeing into a person’s mind when you read their words, or even into a sliver of their mind. I can’t be sure what’s going on in your mind when you’re writing these responses – I only have the words on the screen and my reaction to them.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You are correct sir! That brings us to intentions

Although we cannot know if MT prefers red either by his writings or his decor, we can know through his writings that he intends for us to believe he prefers red, if and only if he has actually written it down or spoken such a preference.

Intentions… yet another property of immaterial thought and mind.

“I only have the words on the screen ”

If you didn’t understand English, that would be true. But if you do understand English, then you have the words, and access to the intended meaning from the author they represent.

”...and my reaction to them”

If you are a rock, you react to external stimuli… cause/reaction.

If you are a person, you act upon external stimuli… thought/action.

Cause/Reaction is not synonymous with Thought/Action.

Cause/Effect is not synonymous with Thought/Affect.

Only the Hard Marxist Dialectic Materialist conflates Cause/Reaction with Thought/Action.

Where there is no language/code present, we must infer Cause/Reaction.

Where there is language/code present, we must infer Thought/Action.

Hobbes's avatar

But my understanding of English doesn’t allow for a transfer of knowledge from your mind to mind. Language isn’t a hollow pipe that transmits understanding. I can never know what your intended meaning is. I may make an informed guess, and that guess may be correct, but I will never know whether it is or not. I can’t even be sure that the same person is writing all your posts. There may be a whole group of people responding to me under your name, and I will never be able to know for certain whether or not that is the case. And yet, I still respond to you as though you are one person, because you have to make those sorts of assumptions to do anything in life.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Hobbes Adults talk about it in the first person for linguistic convenience. My point was that children see a computer game as an extension of reality without a knowledge of how it works. A car accident is a whole other scenario, because the driver really is moving with the car, and is one with the car.

Hobbes's avatar

I don’t think children are any less capable of knowing that video games aren’t “real”. Adults don’t really know how video games work either, unless they have a lot of specialized technical knowledge. The point about the cars was to illustrate the fact that while the person knows they haven’t physically melded with the car, they still extend their sense of identity to cover it. I think people (adults and children) do a similar thing when playing video games.

TexasDude's avatar

@mammal that was incredibly useful for me, actually. Thank you.

@Hobbes and @RealEyesRealizeRealLies, absolutely awesome. Thank you guys for playing. I kicked ass in my discussion with the ideas you gave me. Lurve for everyone.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“understanding of English doesn’t allow for a transfer of knowledge from your mind to mind”

You mean from my brain to your brain? Or do you really mean mind to mind? I’ve never understood the distinction between brain and mind from the materialists perspective. If you’re speaking of a mind in the manner I do, then you are speaking of the separate immaterial agent responsible for thought and intentions. The brain only functioning as a physical medium to manifest the mind/soul into physicality.

Let us consider the architect, her intentions, her desire to express a thought into physical reality. She forms the structure in her mind as a thought. She first expresses that thought to others with the language tool of English. As you note, her English is only capable of representing her intentions to a certain limited degree of accuracy. But language tools come in different flavors of intensity and accuracy. When she gets the green light from the client to proceed from the initial description, she then formalizes that thought with another more accurate language tool of mathematics.

She utilizes a different language tool for a different purpose. Now that the sales pitch is over, her thought is precisely represented in a very accurate set of architectural plans. Those plans leave no doubt in the minds of the builder and his workers as to what the architects intentional thoughts are. Their job is to interpret those plans as accurately as possible with their understanding of the same mathematics.

Same logic holds for air traffic control. There are specific protocols in place to arrange the planes in the sky in a precise manner. Buildings and flight, along with our entire industrialized culture would never be possible if we were incapable of transmitting thought and intentions to one another via different degrees of codified descriptions.

Different tools used for different purposes. Where mathematics can represent the accuracy of my intentions, it fails to relate how I feel about my intentions. Only poetry will suffice for that.

“I can’t even be sure that the same person is writing all your posts”

That truth is attainable if one desires to pursue it deeply enough. And regardless, whether it be just me, or the youthful hordes of Rah fleeing Britain, when faced with a genuine code, we must acknowledge a mind responsible, and thoughtful intentions being represented by it.

Hobbes's avatar

Well, in the materialist school of thought there is no difference between brain and mind. The experience we have of “mind” arises from the physical processes of the brain and does not exist anywhere outside of them. If the physical processes shut down, the experience of thinking disappears.

You seem to be assuming that a creative idea exists fully formed before the creator attempts to “transmit” it. I would argue the opposite. For example, as I write this, I am shaping my argument as I go. I did not sit and come up with the words in my head, then write them down. Though I am not an architect, I imagine that the idea of a building also takes form as the creator attempts to describe it, whether through words or mathematics. The idea is inextricably tied up with its medium.

Buildings and flight, along with our entire industrialized culture are built on the assumption that there is an external world, and that it includes other beings like ourselves, and that when we experience a sign (a word, a number, a drawing) it refers to something real in the world, to the experience of another human or the position of an airplane. This assumption is necessary, and happens so constantly that we don’t usually think about it. The point I’m trying to make is that it is an assumption. We can never be certain that there is an external world, or that other people have internal experiences comparable to our own.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“The experience we have of “mind” arises from the physical processes of the brain and does not exist anywhere outside of them. If the physical processes shut down, the experience of thinking disappears.”

I cannot deny that. I actually agree with it. My perspective separates the notions of thinking and thought.

Thinking being the physical manifestation of thought, thinking therefor, is the process… i.e. in-form-ation.

But thought, is more akin to spirit. One only need to think if they desire the thought to manifest. But that does not deny the essence of thought, regardless if thinking manifests it into physicality or not. I propose that we, as humans, are thought/spirit, at our most fundamental essence. The physicality of neurons firing in a brain is simply the medium required to express our self into the material realm.

Many thoughts build a mind, just as many spirits build a soul. Synonymous terminologies from two separate disciplines.

Thinking is not the thought. Thinking simply manifests the thought.

“If the physical processes shut down, the experience of thinking disappears.”

Agreed. Just as if the record player is broken, the experience of Mozart disappears. But disappear is not synonymous with destroy. The loss of a medium only reduces our ability to experience physicality. Beyond experience, there lies ISness.

“You seem to be assuming that a creative idea exists fully formed before the creator attempts to “transmit” it.”

Not at all. I made that clear earlier when I stated: “We don’t “get” meaning. We can only create it, or access it.”—. We accomplish both with the language tool of code. No thought may be thunk without a language to think that thought upon. A beings conscious awareness is directly relevant to its ability to use language. An adult scholar is more consciously aware of his being than an infant specifically because of the ability to associate image/object relationships. A bee, with its figure 8 waggle dance is more consciously aware of his being than an ant with no language faculties.

The bee can be inferred to “create” meaningful thought by encoding distance, direction, quality of pollen, wind drift, and an optimal route to the booty in his figure 8 dance. Other bees can be inferred to “access” meaningful thought by acting upon the code of the original author. Ants can’t do that. Therefor bees are more consciously aware of their being than ants are.

An infant, at best, may understand “blue” and “ball”. But a scholar understands “bounce affect”, “polymers”, “toxicity”, and “marketing”… therefor a scholar is more consciously aware of his being than an infant.

“I did not sit and come up with the words in my head, then write them down.”

Actually you did. It just happens so fast that it seems synchronistic. But the fact is that your fingers type only what the neurons in your brain tell them to type. And your neurons are enacting a program set forth by your ncRNA. And since the ncRNA is a code, and all codes have authors, then your BEing, immaterial as it is, must be the source which directed the ncRNA to engage the process of thinking… in-form-ation.

“The idea is inextricably tied up with its medium”

The expression of the idea into physicality… is inextricably tied up with its medium. But the idea could have remained simply as an idea, an awareness, an awakening, an epiphany, a notion… without ever being shared or expressed into the material realm for others to have access to.

“We can never be certain that there is an external world…”

That my friend, sounds like immaterialism…

”...or that other people have internal experiences comparable to our own”

Are you mocking the establishments of education, or even the notion of cultural values? Heritage and Historical Reference would reject your claim.

Summum's avatar

TThis is how we came about. We have always been and existed as intelligences that were waiting for a spiritual body. The Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother created a spiritual body for us just as we have our children. We then studied and learned until we were ready to come down and receive our next phase a mortal body. Our Mother and Father produced the mortal body and our spirit was placed inside it when the child breathed the breath of life and we became a living soul. At death the spirit body leaves the mortal body and goes into the spirit world and the mortal is buried or whatever happened to it. So there is a separation of a mortal body and a life essence. IMHO

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Summum If you were an intelligence before you were born, how come you don’t remember it? What is the purpose of a body? Why are children so malleable if they have a pre-existing nature? Why would a heavenly father/mother place intelligent spirits in disabled, unintelligent bodies?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“What is the purpose of a body?”

That is a great… no, that is a fantastic… no, that is THE question that Theists must answer for.

I have no answer that that anyone wants to hear. But I do understand the question… Basically… Why bother?

everephebe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies What is the point of having a bicycle? Why bicycle?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Because it’s more economical, challenging, faster, readily available, socially acceptable, and altogether cooler than a unicycle or tricycle.

everephebe's avatar


You answered that easily. Why is it any different then, when you ask, “Why bother?” Or to ask, “What is the purpose of a body?”

Summum's avatar

What I can tell you is the same as the movie Contact. Why a body is needed? Because that is the way it has always been done from eternity to eternity and will always be done. There are billions (much more but my point will let billions suffice) of planets out there with life on them. We are in a very low phase of the progression we will achive and there are life forms that are helping our progression.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

It’s a huge difference in question @everephebe. People choose to build and choose to ride bicycles. But they don’t choose to be born or to have a body.

Summum's avatar

Ah @RealEyesRealizeRealLies but people do choose to have a body and be born.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Where is the science to confirm that statement?

Summum's avatar

There is way more than science to life.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No doubt. I completely agree. But I’d first like to establish that there is or is not a scientific basis for your statement. If so, or if not, that’s only one issue to establish among many.

Let’s not forget that experience is a valid premise of the scientific method. Thus, experience must also be valid for other methods of truthful inquiry. I have no desire to brush aside someone’s statement based only on experience. But I would like to know the parameters behind making any claim… before discussing the claim.

So are we discussing experiential opinions, or are we discussing the interpretations of scientific research?

Summum's avatar

I have been shown and know these things from experience. So IMHO would suffice.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Understood. And that is good enough for me, for I too have “been shown” a thing or two.

What concerns me with what I’ve been shown, is how do I validate the experience beyond anything other than dream, or personal inclination, or fantasy? What is the standard of Truth to contrast all other personal truths against? How may I, we be confident that our personal truth is not really a personal deception?

Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite also felt that they had “been shown” things. They felt so convicted by this knowledge that they took it and many others with them to the grave. How may we know if what we’ve been shown is valid or not?

Summum's avatar

I know what I have experienced and I was fully awake and aware. I have no other means of knowing other than I was there and seen things with my own eyes and heard things with my own ears.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

How do you weigh your experience as any more valid than Jones, Koresh, Applewhite, or mine?

Summum's avatar

Because I personally experienced things I cannot say if they did or not?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

They said the same thing. They all had “special revelations”. What makes yours or mine any more valid than theirs?

Summum's avatar

Again I can only go by my own experience I can’t say what they said is true or not. Therefore the IMHO.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There must be a more solid methodology of validating one’s interpretation of personal experience than that. Thus far, I have no logical reasoning to place your humble opinion above theirs.

Consider that Truth may be like a house. Within that house there are many rooms. Each of us is free to decorate our room however we may like as long as we understand that we are under the rules of the house. These rules are very lenient, allowing some rooms to be large, some small, some flamboyant, some dull. Some rooms of personal truth are centrally located in the house, atop the most stable parts of the foundation and protected by the outer rooms. Some rooms of personal truth are on the edges, still under the protections of the House of Truth, but not quite so well insulated against external elements of deception and fantasy. Some rooms are being built, and while they are under construction, they are unsuitable to live within.

Woe to the one who builds a room of personal truth without first placing it under the House of Truth. That is a shack, with no foundation, separate from the House. It will easily blow down at the first challenge put upon it. And there will be challenges put upon it.

Summum's avatar

My foundation is built upon a ROCK. I had something very unique happened that gives me confidence in all I have experienced in life. I am sure of things because of what I have been through and I don’t want or need a following. I just wish I could say the things I have learned without people making fun of it. The things are so amazing that it cannot be described by our language. It just can’t relay the information correctly.

everephebe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, There is no difference in the question. People choose to build a bike, just like people choice to have a baby. The builder is not what is built. The body is the bicycle, life is the bicycle. People are bicycles. This isn’t about choice. You are, until you are not.

I am not saying your mind builds you body at all. If that is not dualist enough for you remember bicycles have two wheels.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

If your foundation is such a ROCK @Summum, then it could withstand having a little fun poked at.

Is it such a ROCK that you are willing to die for it, as the disciples were, as Koresh and Jones and Applewhite were?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Humans don’t build other humans to specification @everephebe. They do build bicycles to specification and copy them tens of thousands of times and also consciously evolve them into whatever they want them to be.

Humans evolve emotionally upon their own merit, not by the merits of their makers.

everephebe's avatar

You think too hard. The metaphor isn’t about all that.

Summum's avatar

My Rock survives everything.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

It’s not for want of understanding. I’ve tried to give you humans as creators, and humans as individuals. Neither fits the bicycle metaphor.

What am I missing?

everephebe's avatar

The point.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Is the point “You are, until you are not.”?

Is that the point of what you are saying @everephebe? Please help me to understand.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“My Rock survives everything.”

That may be so. But you don’t like being questioned about it at all. And if that be the case, why present it to all? If it was for you alone to experience, would it not be better to leave it at that? If you don’t like speaking about it in fear of being poked fun at, then why speak of it?

And again, is your Rock so solid that you are willing to die for it, or attempt to instill it into others to the degree that they would be asked to die for it?

Summum's avatar

No need to die for anything except when it becomes my time. I did pass once and was brought back here to finish my life. I’m just giving my opinion like others do and maybe some will think about things and open their minds to all possibility.

everephebe's avatar

What is the point of having a bicycle? Why bicycle?

“Because it’s more economical, challenging, faster, readily available, socially acceptable, and altogether cooler than a unicycle or tricycle.”

You answered that easily. Why is it any different then, when you ask, “Why bother?” Or to ask, “What is the purpose of a body?”

And forget about choice for a minute, ok?

The point is why can you answer one thing so easily, that is essentially the same question, and not the other.

Why bother, because you can bother, because you are able to bother. What is the purpose of the body? It’s more economical, challenging, fast, readily available, socially acceptable and altogether cooler than a unicycle or tricycle.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You’ll notice I never once disagreed with you @Summum. I never challenged your opinion once. I simply wanted to know the details behind how you came about forming your opinion. That seems a reasonable request considering the claims of the opinion.

Summum's avatar

And I told you how I came about my opinion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You’ve misread me @everephebe. When saying “Why bother…”, I did not mean in the sense of “Why bother explaining…”.

I meant it in reference to @FireMadeFlesh‘s comments directly above my statement. “Why bother… putting souls into human bodies in the first place”.

Why bother going through the trouble of creating a universe, creating life, creating bodies to embody souls, just so they could suffer and die, ultimately returning to the creator from whence they came? Why bother going through all of that business.

I know why we bother to build bicycles.

I also said, “I have no answer that that anyone wants to hear.” I know this because I’ve said it before on this forum… I did bother, to give an answer previously on numerous other threads. I feel no need to repeat myself again.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well @Summum, you stated you had a near death experience, and that things were shown to you that could not be communicated to others. It has me perplexed as how they could be communicated to you, but not to others through you.

I’m an avid Information Theory enthusiast. I study the processes of communication and information transmission from many different disciplines, including the spiritual and psychedelic. Nothing is out of bounds for me. But until I’ve listened to your rap, I’ve never come across an instance where information could be transmitted only once, understood as clearly as you seem to understand it, yet not be capable of being communicated to another.

There in lies my curiosity with your opinions.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Even the Prophecies of Fatima came with an explanation from the girls. They didn’t just make a claim and then refuse to give details as to how they came about their knowledge.

everephebe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies You’ve misread me, now I’m wondering why I bothered. :)

edit: I meant bother in the sense of:
“Why bother… putting souls into human bodies in the first place”.

Why bother going through the trouble of creating a universe, creating life, creating bodies to embody souls, just so they could suffer and die, ultimately returning to the creator from whence they came? Why bother going through all of that business.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I appreciate you attempting to lead me to a point by asking questions of me. That’s a good methodology for finding unity, at times. I certainly must have missed it this time, for I am still utterly confused as to the point you are attempting to communicate to me.

I agree that humans and bicycles differ from unicycles and trikes in many of the same ways. But humans differ from them in many more ways, and they also differ from bicycles too.

It seems you want to claim that humans and bicycles are the same because they both differ from unicycles and trikes. That is just not the case.

everephebe's avatar

You’re really not getting it. :) Sorry. You’re totally not getting the point.

I am saying the hard questions are easier to answer than you think. It’s not about the unicycles and tricycles. My point is that bodies are a mode of transport too. I don’t know if I believe in a separation of mind and body or in souls, but I think we can all agree on: the body is a form of transport.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’ll have to think about that one. Thanks for explaining.

Hobbes's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with this conversation. It’s finals week in the halls of higher education =]

The main point I was trying to make earlier was just that, from birth to death, all we have are our own perceptions. I do believe that there is an external world, but that belief stems from a fundamental leap of faith, which we all make every moment of our lives because it is necessary in order to engage with life in any meaningful way.

The paradox is that this experience of being separate from the rest of the Universe, of being a subject perceiving an object, which is all we ever know, is an illusion. If you zoom in to the level of quarks, there is no observable difference between your skin and the air around it. Our bodies are not static objects, but patterns of atoms, constantly changing like everything else. The map is not the territory, but on the most fundamental of levels, it is.

I think I would answer the “why bother” question by saying that there is no difference between body and soul. I don’t think the body is a vehicle for the mind, because I think that the body is the mind. Minds can’t exist without being embodied in brains, but it’s not that brains “channel” minds from an immaterial space – the two things are equivalent.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“If you zoom in to the level of quarks, there is no observable difference between your skin and the air around it.”

Sure there is. One is formed by the instruction of information. We know this because we have isolated the code which directs this. We have “observed” it. The other (the universe) has revealed no code to account for its structure. Not to say one isn’t there, but we have not found it as of yet.

Therefor, I may safely and confidently attribute the universe to chaos, and life to the codified description of an author, with as much knowledge as we have to go on at this point.

As well, as Weiner points out in the quote above, Information is not Energy or Matter. Therefor it must be an immaterial agent. Therefor, an “immaterial space” is logically inferred, as paradoxical as those two terms are together. That’s why I prefer to call it an immaterial realm, rather than space.

Hobbes's avatar

“One is formed by the instruction of information” I’m not sure what you mean by this.

“Therefor, I may safely and confidently attribute the universe to chaos, and life to the codified description of an author, with as much knowledge as we have to go on at this point” Or this, really. Could you rephrase?

I think information is matter in the sense that the meaning doesn’t exist anywhere except in the minds of those who perceive it, and so it “exists” in the particular pattern of neuronal firings which create the experience of that perception.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

•“One is formed by the instruction of information” I’m not sure what you mean by this.

One set of quarks was used as a medium to express a message of skin. We know this because we have a genetic code which predetermined the existence of skin long before the skin existed in physical form. There is no code found anywhere in an oxygen molecule.

The difference between skin and oxygen is code, and the information it represents.

•...attribute the universe to chaos, and life to the codified description of an author, with as much knowledge as we have to go on at this point” Or this, really. Could you rephrase?

We have not found a code which predetermined the existence of the universe before the universe actually existed in physical reality. However we have found a code which predetermines life before life ever exists in physical reality. The existence of code is the smoking gun to determine if a thing was planned or not. Plans need a planner. All codes have authors.

“I think information is matter in the sense that the meaning doesn’t exist anywhere except in the minds of those who perceive it…”

In the “minds”, or the “brains”? It’s difficult having an accurate conversation when you seem to use the terms synonymously. Regardless, I disagree with your assessment altogether.

The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been long dead and gone. Yet their ancient writings were only unearthed fairly recently. Two thousand years passed between the time of their death and the time any living being received the meaning represented by them.

You can’t say that modern man “made” meaning out of them because the meaning was created at the time they were originally authored. Where was the meaning during the two thousand years when no living person had access to the hidden scrolls?

The code that represented the thoughts of the original authors was mapped from ancient Hebrew and Aramaic to French and English. Will you now claim that one of these languages was both medium and message? All of them perhaps?

”...and so it (information) “exists” in the particular pattern of neuronal firings which create the experience of that perception.”

Information can only be represented by a code, a genuine code that conforms to Purlwitz, Burks and Watermans formal definition of code. Information cannot be represented by patterns. Codes and Patterns are practically opposites. Patterns cannot run through Claude Shannon’s communication protocols. Codes, like DNA make it through with flying colors. That’s why Hubert Yockey mapped the DNA/RNA transcription process directly from the Shannon protocols.

If the neurons transmitted and received any information whatsoever, then they cannot possibly be patterns. They must be engaging some form of a codified sequence. If this is so, it could be mapped to any other code, and also duplicated without error ad infinitum. Though possible, no research that I am aware of has demonstrated this faculty. That’s why Wes Warren’s research is so profound, having determined that thought is not a property of brain neurons, but rather a property of the ncRNA enacting stimulus upon the brain, once again satisfying all concerns that thought may only be represented upon a codified medium. What chain of events that come before the ncRNA is completely up for speculation.

And again, if you insist upon equating information and meaningful thought with matter and energy, then your argument is with Norbert Weiner, and not myself. I have yet to find any situation where the medium IS the message.

In honor of Dawkins coining the term Apparent Design, I offer you Apparent Information to account for the pseudo process of which you promote.

AdamF's avatar

“All codes have authors.”

If you define DNA as a code, than all this sounds to me as a “begging the question” logical fallacy.

We have zero scientific evidence that DNA has a designer or a planner. So to assert that it does, because all codes have designers..Why? Because all plans need a planner….is pure tautological reasoning….because the proposition to be proven is assumed in the premise.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“If you define DNA as a code…”

I didn’t. Gamov and Yockey did based upon the formal definition of code. DNA wasn’t assigned as being a code. It was discovered to be a code and therefor defined that way every bit as much as English or Binary. It’s why we call it the genetic code.

“We have zero scientific evidence that DNA has a designer or a planner.”

The fact that DNA IS a code IS the evidence. Inductive logic is a common tool used in science. It’s the same reasoning behind claiming that an unseen force exists because the ball drops the same way every single time. We call that force gravity.

Anonymous authorship does not negate the necessity of an author. As I said before, you are free to present a black swan of an author-less code at any time. Until then, may we move science forward by acknowledging what we do know about information and codes, rather than speculating upon what we don’t know about them?

AdamF's avatar

“The fact that DNA IS a code IS the evidence.”

Nope. That just demonstrates that DNA can meet some people’s definition of a code. Nothing more.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Ok if you say so @AdamF. Last I heard all of genetics and biology were going under the premise that DNA was in fact a code that adhered to extremely precise protocols, just as every other code does. But apparently you have a different perspective, of which, of course, you are entitled to hold.

Tell me @AdamF… do you have any evidence that DNA is not a code or that a code can arise without a sentient author?

AdamF's avatar

You’re not moving beyond the “begging the question” problem. You or others define DNA as a code (I don’t have a problem with that, that is not the issue). But your definition of a code requires a designer (start of problem…). You then arrive at the endpoint that DNA was designed/authored. Not surprising as your proposition to be proven is assumed in the premise.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“But your definition of a code requires a designer…”

Name one that doesn’t. Billions, Trillions of examples of this every day for the past 60,000 years and not one example of a code arising without an author. Not one mechanism demonstrated to allow for code to poof into existence all by itself. Google sciences and every encryption credit card processor depend upon the fundamental acknowledgment that all codes require sentient authors to exist. By any other standard, it is a Law of Information.

I do not deny the possibility for a black swan. But I will not believe in one nor prevent known science from moving forward until you or someone else provides an alternative demonstrable mechanism to account for the existence of code other than a sentient author.

All fire requires heat. All humans require food. By your standard, that would be “begging the question” too.

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefor, Socrates is mortal.

All codes arise from sentient authors.

DNA is a code.

Therefor, DNA is sentient authored.

AdamF's avatar

“By your standard, that would be “begging the question” too.”

Nope. Now, in addition to repeating the original fallacy, you’re playing a false equivalency between factual statements (ie all humans require food), with unsubstantiated assertions based on tautological reasoning (all codes arise from sentient authors).

As this doesn’t appear to be going anywhere fruitful, I’ll move on.

Best wishes regardless.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’ve addressed every one of your concerns. You’ve avoided answering mine. Will you present the black swan or not? You must either provide evidence that DNA is not a code, or that all codes do not require sentient authorship. You keep claiming fallacy, but refuse to acknowledge the empirical data right in front of you.

“All Codes require Authors” is just as factual and observable as “All Humans require Food”. Every human we’ve ever observed has required food. Every code we’ve ever observed has required sentient authorship. Meditating Yogis and Anonymous Authors don’t change that.

everephebe's avatar

What if the sentient life itself was the author? You know, autobiography. Isn’t that what DNA is basically?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I make no claims as to the nature of the required sentient author. I only acknowledge that there must indeed be one.

Programs may be written with the faculty to rewrite themselves on the fly by acting upon stimuli. Computer science, robotics, A.I. all confirm this. But in all cases, an original author is required to create the program with those faculties from the very beginning.

I suggest that is how we are programed as well. To rewrite humanity on the macro level via Natural Selection + Controlled Mutations. On the micro level, something must be controlling the recombination of DNA from mother and father. Whether that is directed by a sentient agent or a result of latent pseudogene programming I do not know.

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