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Senses

Senses
October 03, 2011, 10:14:40 AM
Our senses are tools that can be used to discern true from untrue. Comment.

Re: Senses
October 03, 2011, 11:24:41 AM
I don't really think that is there purpose.

Re: Senses
October 03, 2011, 05:08:45 PM
I didn't say that is their purpose. I said they can be utilized for that end. Or can they?

Re: Senses
October 03, 2011, 05:14:09 PM
No, they can't.  Our senses are tools which feed electrical signals to a brain which converts those electrical signals into chemicals/states which are then interpreted by the mind.  "Data" and "information", though related, are different things - we never experience reality, only our interpretation (of an interpretation) of our perception of reality.  Do we not "sense" in dreams?  Do hallucinogens not directly fuck with our senses?  Are all of these things real, or none of them?

Nothing is real, except Death.

Re: Senses
October 03, 2011, 06:03:04 PM
A young man leaves his little village in Russia to attend University. He comes back the following summer on vacation and speaks to his Rabbi.

"Rabbi," the student says, "I've lost faith in God."

"And why is that?" the Rabbi asks.

The student explained. "I learned in University that all things are the way they are because that is how I perceive them. Everything exists to me only because I have a vague and inaccurate image of it in my mind. And, really... if I can't even believe in you or your desk or the soil in my yard... how can I possibly believe in something as abstract as God?"

"So," the Rabbi says, "you can't even really know that, say, your own nose exists?"

"Exactly!" the student answered. "Not even my own nose."

The Rabbi pauses thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. After a moment, the Rabbi turns to the student and punches him. Hard. In the nose.

The Rabbi then leans over the student, crumpled on the ground, holding his bloody nose and moaning.

"So, my boy," the Rabbi says, "what hurts?"

Re: Senses
October 03, 2011, 06:43:19 PM
A young man leaves his little village in Russia to attend University. He comes back the following summer on vacation and speaks to his Rabbi.

"Rabbi," the student says, "I've lost faith in God."

"And why is that?" the Rabbi asks.

The student explained. "I learned in University that all things are the way they are because that is how I perceive them. Everything exists to me only because I have a vague and inaccurate image of it in my mind. And, really... if I can't even believe in you or your desk or the soil in my yard... how can I possibly believe in something as abstract as God?"

"So," the Rabbi says, "you can't even really know that, say, your own nose exists?"

"Exactly!" the student answered. "Not even my own nose."

The Rabbi pauses thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. After a moment, the Rabbi turns to the student and punches him. Hard. In the nose.

The Rabbi then leans over the student, crumpled on the ground, holding his bloody nose and moaning.

"So, my boy," the Rabbi says, "what hurts?"

So in order to believe in God we must punch him...

Re: Senses
October 03, 2011, 07:35:14 PM
Haha, I was hoping that might be passably good.  It wasn't.

Re: Senses
October 03, 2011, 09:32:47 PM
Kant's notion of the transcendental faculty is the solution to the "Matrix problem". The structure of mind (and by corollary, our senses) corresponds to the structure of reality, thus making true knowledge possible.

My own view is this: Nothing exists outside of mind. It is the prime matter. The universe wouldn't exist if it was unperceived.

Phoenix

Re: Senses
October 11, 2011, 06:19:48 AM
Our senses are tools that can be used to discern true from untrue. Comment.

To stick with a tight definition of your question: true. We can make hypotheses about what our senses will perceive, and then test out the hypotheses by exposing our senses to the stimuli in question. Also, as we gather sensory data we can discern patterns in the data and determine how these patterns work by the process of elimination - ruling out mutually exclusive scenarios such as that of 'married bachelors'.

Re: Senses
October 11, 2011, 07:37:55 AM
Nothing is real, except Death.

If only death is real, and life leads to death, then shouldn't life be real too?

Re: Senses
October 11, 2011, 03:39:28 PM
Nothing is real, except Death.

If only death is real, and life leads to death, then shouldn't life be real too?

Death exists even when there is no life.

Re: Senses
October 11, 2011, 06:00:05 PM
So in order to believe in God we must punch him...

I support this.

Re: Senses
October 13, 2011, 12:52:59 AM
http://brain.mada.org.il/triangle-e.html

The split between 'sense' and 'rationality' is false. What we perceive of the world (sense) is shaped by our brain making predictions based on what has worked in the past... on the innate 'rationality' of the nervous system refined by a selection process of millions of years. You see a fully formed triangle in the image in the link above because you possess the 'form' of a triangle in your brain (it doesn't reside in some platonic realm, its pure psychology). There are no pure triangles in nature (nor squares, circles, etc), there are only imperfect 'imitations'. Yet we evolved the mental map of a pure triangle which enabled us to identidy and process all the not-quite triangles in nature quickly and efficiently by placing them under a mental category (kant: a good psychologist, essentially). Parallel geometry with... morality! Intuitive feelings of good and bad are simply evolved attitudes towards the world which benefitted our ancestors. Science/philosophy is the process of sorting out what is the real world from what are anthropomorphic projections of how we have evolved to see the world based on what benefitted our ancestors in pleistocene environments where most of the shaping of evolution on proto human brains occured.

It's a tricky business and there is no 'clear' answer to how we come to truth. Like the philosopher Quine said, the process of using our brains to find truth is like repairing a ship while at see. You replace some planks by standing on ones you haven't ripped out yet, and vice versa. this isn't to say it's relative either. Its a process of back and forth fine tuning based on 'what works' in reality. We never have absolute truth. Science is essentially pragmatic.

Re: Senses
October 13, 2011, 01:37:34 AM
Science/philosophy is the process of sorting out what is the real world from what are anthropomorphic projections of how we have evolved to see the world based on what benefitted our ancestors in pleistocene environments where most of the shaping of evolution on proto human brains occured.
What makes science any less anthropocentric than the way our ancestors gained knowledge about the world? Are you implying that Aristotle's theory of knowledge was correct in postulating that mankind's knowledge ascends higher and higher towards Truth with he passage of time? Are we more attuned to reality than our ancestors were?

Also, what makes humans predisposed towards perfect forms if they don't exist? Was Plato implying the Realm of Forms is really just mental? Are the mathematical patterns we perceive in nature just psychology?

Re: Senses
October 13, 2011, 05:58:55 AM
Science/philosophy is the process of sorting out what is the real world from what are anthropomorphic projections of how we have evolved to see the world based on what benefitted our ancestors in pleistocene environments where most of the shaping of evolution on proto human brains occured.
What makes science any less anthropocentric than the way our ancestors gained knowledge about the world? Are you implying that Aristotle's theory of knowledge was correct in postulating that mankind's knowledge ascends higher and higher towards Truth with he passage of time? Are we more attuned to reality than our ancestors were?

Science, at its best, is less anthropocentric because it imposes a better methodology upon itself than say, armchair philosophy, which at it's worst is simply a tautologous (analytic) shuffling of words which just unpacks what was there all along in different combinations (see nietzsche on 'truth and lies...'). Science produces synthetic truths...i.e. information which is true, *but which was not simply contained in the premises all along*. Philosophy produces analytic truths...i.e. information which is true but which was there all along. Mathematics is an interesting sub-set of purely apriori exploration which produces synthetic truths.

Some of our ancestors thought they could cure illness by snipping off bits of their genitals, or make a sea journey more successfull but sacrificing a nice heffer to poseidon. All this was the result of specialised, evolved algorithms in the human brain whcih we all possess and which give us unconscious rules of social exchange. These psychological adaptations were successful for they allowed us to benefit from interaction with human agents (we feel, intuitively, that we should offer something up if we want  something in return like health or a good voyage) but we overextend this innate 'logic' to supernatural agents. This is a concrete, empirical example of our ancestors viewing the world through anthropomorphic tinted glasses. Our evolved cognitive biases, or how we evolved to process data from the world, is studied by cognitive scientists and evolutionary psychologists: http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/The_Adapted_Mind_Evolutionary_Psychology_and_the_Generation_of_Culture.html. I will leave you to ponder whether you think science is more 'in contact' with reality in these sorts of situations.

Perhaps our ancestors had different kinds of knowledge that we moderns lack, while we possess greater utilitarian knowlede about how to cure illnesses and make sea journeys more successfull. Maybe. Ancients may have had a more 'holistic' understanding of life... but probably by accident because they didn't have the science to get bogged down in very specific avenues of knowledge.

yes Aristotle was corrent, but not beause he knew why. The modern problem is that knowledge has become very compartmentalised and overtly moralised.


Also, what makes humans predisposed towards perfect forms if they don't exist?

Efficiency and the hammer and chisel of evolution. You place something under an idealised and abstracted mental category for ease of processing. Like 'good'. 'Good' doesn't exist but we place 'not killing infants and children in the group' under the ideal mental category of 'good' for ease of processing, or more specifically for the moral case, because it was beneficial to regard it as bad... not because it WAS bad, outside the observer.


Was Plato implying the Realm of Forms is really just mental? Are the mathematical patterns we perceive in nature just psychology?

Plato didn't know about evolution so, being a smart man, came up with an interesting logical epistemological hypthoesis in its absence. He observed, correctly, that there are no pure triangles in nature... but then how do we come to have an understanding of pure triangle? We must have come from a different realm before this one (in which there are no pure triangles), in which we were in contact with the form of a triangle!

Mathematics is an interesting one. it will be psychological on some level I think. It will be 'hardware' not 'software', like language faculty is 'hardware' but the method of induction is 'software': a thiking tool we learn from cultural evolution. re maths: There are interested neurological observations which have seen that the brain keeps track of frequency using nueronal pulses (we hear one noise and one pulse is accumulated, two noises and two accumulate etc) and this may mean that we evolved basic arithmetic abilities as hardware and developed these culturally. Are there nubmers 'in' nature... or do we represent nature with numbers which just happens to work?