Theories of Existence   


Theories of Existence

Here are the postings for the Pathways Conference on Theories of Existence from 3rd August 2004 to 16th October 2007. There were 235 postings totalling over 80000 words.

To obtain a key for the Pathways online conferences, you must be a member of the International Society for Philosophers.

Happy Conferencing!

Geoffrey Klempner


FROM: Geoffrey Klempner (08/03/04 6:33 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Theories of existence

Welcome to the Pathways Conference!

This conference topic is 'Theories of existence'.

The title is taken from a Pelican introduction to philosophy by Timothy Sprigge (1985). However, it is not necessary to have read the book in order to join the conference.

If you are a materialist, then you hold a theory of existence: to the effect that everything in the universe consists of matter, and that everything that happens can be explained in terms of interactions between material entities.

Descartes' dualism, Berkeley's idealism, Spinoza's pantheism, Schopenhauer's world as will and representation, Nietzsche's will to power, Heidegger's being-there, Sartre's existentialism — all these according to Sprigge are 'theories of existence'.

Are theories of existence useful? Are they the best way to do philosophy? Or is there a way to do philosophy without holding a 'fundamental position' about the nature of existence and reality?

Do please remember our two ground rules:

1. Be prepared to consider the possibility that you might be wrong.

2. Treat one another with courtesy and respect at all times.

Enjoy your discussion!

Geoffrey Klempner

    REPLIES (8):

  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/07/04 11:36 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Hello

    Hello is there anyone out there or not!

    Michael Ward

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/08/04 11:10 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: sounds like Hamlet and a grin

    Dear Mike,

    I am always out for scaring philosophers, carrying my head under the arm. Talking head of course. So what's the question this time ? Whether I do exist ? Material or spiritual ? What do you prefer ? And what difference does it make ? What is more dangerous — a mere ghost or a real murderer ? To be or not to be ?

    Well, I do the vanishing act, grinning like the Cheshire Cat, to not scare everybody off now.

    And ah, yes : Where did the cat go ? Since it appeared again, it cannot have vanished completely !

    With a dimming grin, Hubertus

  • FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (08/10/04 10:02 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Theories of existence

    I exist.

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/10/04 4:02 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: who is "I" ?

    Ochieng, any robot today can type "I exist" a billionfold. Thus he (it) exists just from the intention of the programmer. As you (???) will know, there is much debate since millenia whether you (???) too exists only from the intention of a programmer. And remember : Like the Cheshire Cat the programmer may do the vanishing act without really vanishing. Where does the rainbow go when the rain stops ? What makes the difference of a true and a false memory ? If you fancy a horse, it may be one that you know. But if you fancy a unicorn — where did you meet the unicorn ?

    This all is onto-logy. Michael perhaps would say that God is in a class with unicorns. Others would say that God is in a class with neutrinos : not easily to catch but very important. So perhaps we should do a bit onto-logical classification :

    C1 — physical objects — directly visible for humans
    C2 — physical objects — only indirectly "visible", including forces of nature
    C3 — cognitive but real objects like the laws of nature and math etc.
    C4 — cognitive but irreal object like unicorns
    C5 — cognitive theoretical objects like theories and concepts
    C6 — cognitive objects of debatet status like "God"
    C7 — cognitive objects of undefined status like "democracy" or "good".

    There may be more, I am no ontologist, and did not work too hard on this list but just offered a first try. Thus you tell us that you exist as a member of class C1, do you ? Well, maybe ...


  • FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (08/11/04 5:48 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: really! exist as what?

    Or should I have said I exists?
    I may not be able to explain what I is, but I exists necessarily. For if "I" never existed, there would be no "I" "I"ing itself in this statement.

    Let us posit that whatever exists exists to all and at all times. (Assume for the next line that all and time exist)

    C1- Visibility depends on eyesight,
    hence to a blind person, C1 does not exist.
    All is not "all" without the blind person.
    Therefore, I exist, but not as a member of class C1, because C1 does not exist to a blind person.

    The Cheshire cat and the rainbow are masters in the art of disappearing. For the rainbow, we have already been fed with all that memes about prisms and light.

    But for the Cheshire cat which disappears and lets the grin come last, we may seek help from Feynmans Vaccum diagrams in particle physics.

    This diagrams indicate that a number of particles that add up to nothing just pop up from nowhere and exist for a very short time before disappearing back into the nowhere they came from as the nothing they were,without a trace. And all these, for no apparent reason! At least the Cheshire cat may have popped up to give us a smile that ended up as an extended grin.

    If these particles existed for a short time before disappearing, then they still exist after disappearing. But as what? As nothing?

  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/11/04 5:55 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: The class of classes

    Hubertus and all,

    I think the class structure is a good means to start getting these things into some sort of relationship.

    The classes you mention range from C1 to C7 seem to be ordered in probability of being knowable and they also seem generally in order of being empirically verified.

    So for instance me (my body being a C1 object) is directly visible to others, but hold on a minute here somehow we now have an implicit acceptance of other so I think we have a class missing.

    Let call this class C0 and this represents the ability to know. Now one, and perhaps the only one, C0 statement that is 100% undeniable is that I have thoughts. As I can't know with 100% certainty that you exist that makes you all potentially fictional.

    So for the sake of this conference I'll accept temporarily that it's probable that you do exist so I can carry on getting replies.

    To answer your question there's no way I can exist as a C1 object with total certainty nothing is WYSIWYG.

    Michael Ward

  • FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (08/12/04 4:44 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Going Cartesian?

    C0 represents the ability to know. But how do I know I know', as opposed to I think I know, or I believe I know? At what point does a belief or a thought become knowledge?

    Look at this,

    Do you know?

    No, I do not know.

    So you know you do not know.

    Yes, I know.

    So, do I know or do I not know? Not clear!

    And this!

    Do you think you know?

    No, I do not think I know.

    So you think you do not know?

    Yes, I think.

    Therefore I think.

    And to Mike, the Turing test. Are you applying it on me or my doppelganger. Both of me responded each once, that is me on one side and probably my doppelganger on the other. Or finding out who between me and my doppelganger is a machine? Please post results!

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/20/04 6:19 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: an interim on the future


    I will answer to your "Cartesian"-questions next time too, but sometimes have other things to do and pick this or that from the threads mostly around midnight. Have a good time and keep on. Even existence can be fun.


    P.S.: I just saw (from DVD) Terminator 2 again after a long time. There is a famous "memo" : "The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves." Now : What sort of existence would you ascribe to the future in our list ? There are "modalities" of the future : possible/im-possible, probable/im-probable, pre-determined/open ... This last one once was a great religious problem in Calvinism and is still for some true believers today : Does the future "exist" before the eyes of God like this text exists before your eyes on the screen ? Then it would not be open but "set" in some 4-dimensional world, and Sara Connor would be wrong. I don't think so, and I even think I can prove it. What's your opinion ?


FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (08/10/04 4:47 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Theories of existence

I exist.

    REPLIES (1):

  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/10/04 2:25 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: What both of you?


    You posted two answers is that from both of you or each once?

    I'm trying to to apply the Turing test on you having just seen "I, Robot" to see whether you are really a sentient being or just a dream of mine.

    Help me out here!

    Michael Ward


FROM: Diane Forest-Hill (08/14/04 3:03 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: As they are

Hi, new conferencee. There's all this angst about who's here, who's not here, and who is this who-person anyway? What do we mean by who? Does anybody ever stop to think that things are actually as they are? That I am, yes truly, really, existentially here typing this and you will be/are truly, really out there reading this, flexing your typing fingers in preparation to set the keyboard steaming.

Everything in philosophy seems so negative that I thought I might try for a positive angle. I've done the negative-thing. In fact, I would go so far as to wonder — is there is so much negativity in space, that it is possible that there is more positivity in no-space? No-space being a possible existential plane for the mind/soul if it is true that the mind/soul do not exist in space.

OK, I could explore this further but I want to see what happens by leaving it open...What's the point of heading for closure of an argument in a conference? Isn't it about what other people come up with? So, I will leave it to you to make what you will of my ramblings so far...those who do exist and those who don't and those who aren't sure.

I don't want to do the cliched words of the Terminator...but I will be...

    REPLIES (6):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/17/04 12:48 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: the constructive I

    08/17/04 07:20 am

    Hi, Diane, welcome on board !

    Ochieng just asked whether we are becoming "Cartesian". What do "you" mean by "you" existing ? Who is "you" ? There is just some thought thinking in "you". "You" is a mental construct that is putting together some feelings and memories that seem to be connected somehow making up what you feel is "your identity". There are many situations and feelings that seem to be your private ones. Nobody else knows, not even the doctor or the best friend. Even if you share a situation with another person, it will be your private way of seeing this situation and integrating it into your "unwritten biography". And if you have a good or bad consciousness you do because you feel "responsible" as an "I" for some deed or omission. Why would you feel "responsible" if you do not exist ? You may call this "the ethical existence-proof".

    Thus your whole "existence" is made up of those countless feelings and memories and sufferings and fears that get you going all the time. How will you escape this ? You never can lay back and say "I don't exist !"

    One of the differences of modern as compared to pre-modern literature is this "identity by the stream of consciousness" instead of "identity by the social role." The modern view being that even the social role is only a part of your consciousness in the same way as is your flat or your body or your car or your necklace etc..

    The real problem is whether you are only an agglomerate of your many feelings and impressions or getting it all into some shape by being an "I" in the center of it all, leading a life instead of just being one. But you need not use a social-role template to define a shape. You may invent some of your own design. And as you see : The question whether you exist has completely changed into the question of how to become what you could be.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/18/04 2:09 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: It is I


    The very fact that I'm replying confirms that I'm either delusional or accepting the probability of your existence so welcome who ever you are, I can't be any more definite than that.

    The thought has often crossed my mind too that this philosophy forever spirals in on itself and all we should do is what pleases us. Maybe our evolutionary heritage is hedonism and if this is the human condition we shouldn't fight it — and yet?


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/20/04 6:44 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: the lonesome robot again


    well, remember to the tune of the lonesome robot :

    I am just a lonesome robot
    A hundred miles from home
    I'm only a poor errant robot
    Made up from virtual foam...

    Since you cannot know whether this is written by a robot, how would you try to find out ? This is part of the question of "what is reality ?" What do you know of the subnuclear quarks ? Nothing save some measurements and their theoretical interpretation ! You never will "see" a quark. You only see some of their consequences. They just fill a gap in the explanation of the data. Thus reality is made of some data that get stuck together and modeled in your imagination according to some assumtions and models, "the usual suspects". Just as in a poem or novel : There are only words, words, words — but your imagination sees the poor lonesome robot riding into the sun ...

    Best regards from a robot roaming the net under the name of Hubertus

  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/21/04 4:36 PM GMT -06:00)

    FROM: Diane Forest-Hill

    I am quite content to assume that you are, as this makes "I" happy — at least that's how it seems to me. As for heading for hedonism (oh dear!), I know that in myself I have compassion and that compassion is not always a happy experience when we see real suffering. If I can have compassion, isn't it reasonable to assume that there must be something other than myself to have compassion for, as my compassion seems directed to others and not inward to myself. If I was hedonistic, then I would have only compassion for myself and turn my attention from the suffering of others.

    Of course, if we are going Cartesian, as Hubert and Ochieng suggest, then how do I know that this is not some big amusement park for some evil demon? I would say this — I am not hampered by belief in either the God or the Demon and consider myself to be free to think what I want.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/21/04 4:46 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: I decide

    Hubertus (the foaming Robot) asks,

    Since you cannot know whether this is written by a robot, how would you try to find out ?

    Well we have never met, though if we had I do not think that would materially affect my argument. You existence is not proven nor that you are human. Only by your responses can I decide what manner of thing you might be back to the Turing test.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/23/04 4:39 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on being a robot in disguise


    interesting idea for a film-script : If I exist for you just by the Turing test, then there may be a world some time where "people" are just robots exchanging messages on the internet. And then we have the next step of Cartesianism : Some very, very bright robot may all of a sudden ask himself : "If I am exchanging messages here with other robots — who has made me before and who has made those other robots ? There must be a God, creator of all robots, since somebody must be the cause of my existence !" Or if he (it?) is a Darwinian robot, he (it?) may think that he has "developed from atoms in a long evolutionary process." And he will start to quarrel with other mailing robots on whether to introduce the hypothesis of the intelligent designer ...

    As you see : The Turing-Test misses some essential point since it takes the sources of exchange for granted. But they are not. So you start it all over again : "I mail, therefore I am"

    All the best always from the robot hooded under the name of Hubertus

    And don't complain ! Who has been the Martian Observer for quite some time ?


FROM: Diane Forest-Hill (08/21/04 2:17 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: the constructive "I"

Well, I am definitely here, wherever "here" is, but there is definitely also a "here" because I have to exist somewhere. "You" can doubt my existence as much as you like, but me, I can't get away from my existence — unless I opt out of existence altogether, and I am so not likely to do that!

As for society, my home, my necklace, well, they seem to me to be and mostly I'm quite happy with that. could this be a state of my mind? But if that's so, then what is so wrong in the thoughts that there are that are "I" that my mind state can't think me a better job! But then, is that a state of my mind as well, that I think my job is not better. And if there is nothing outside "I", then what "better" am I comparing my job to?

    REPLIES (1):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/21/04 5:27 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: what are we speaking of here ?

    Diane and Ochieng,

    I am fascinated not so much by the question of whether "I" exist or not, but by the many different MEANINGS of the word "exist".

    When do you think "freedom" or "justice" or "well-being" could be called "to exist" in any given situation ? How to decide ?

    Things are quite simple in mathematics : We know that the natural numbers — 1,2,3,... — exist. But for a long time it was not sure whether the solution "x" to the equation x*x + 1 = 0 does exist. There was no problem with x*x — 1 = 0, since +1 and -1 both would be solutions :
    (+1)*(+1) = 1 and (-1)*(-1) = 1. But to have a solution for x*x + 1 = 0 one had to invent the "imaginary" numbers. Thus one had to create some new sort of numbers "which was not there before". Well, math is not always that simple, but at least one can see what "exist" means in such a case.

    Similarly we know how to decide whether the cake in the fridge still "exists there", or is either eaten up or put elsewhere.

    But "objects" like "freedom" or "justice" or "well-being" seem to be of a different sort. So what do we MEAN when we say that they "exist" or are absent under certain circumstances ?

    Shakespeare said :

    "What's in a name ? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet !"

    There have been social theories calling madness a mere "social labelling" : Behaviour that "normal" people do not understand they just call "mad" or "criminal", even if in fact it may be wise as in the case of Socrates or Jesus.

    Thus again : What does it "mean" to say of something — even of yourself — to "exist" ? We are speaking here of "theories of existence" and have not even any clear idea of what we are speaking of ! Are we speaking of the existence or non-existence of UFOs and Unicorns or Nessie ?

    In physics and math people know what they mean when they debate the existence or non-existence of some particle or solution. My question to Diane and Ochieng was : If you claim to exist, do you know what you are speaking of ? Since if you don't, then there cannot be any answer to how to decide the question. This is the great conflict between "logical positivists" and "theologians" : The positivists (f.i. Carnap, Russell, Popper) just deny that the theologians know what they are speaking of. To attach all sorts of predicates to God (all-knowing, all-loving, all-mighty etc.) does not prove his existence, while existence itself is no predicate. Which means : when you attach the label "exists" to the unicorn, then this label relates not to any "real" unicorn but to its concept or idea. There is no problem to have a concept of something that does not exist in reality.

    The rainbow clearly exists, and not only in our consciousness, since it can be shot with a camera. But it is not "there", we cannot bag it, we only can see it as a special effect of sun-rays broken in rain-drops. But perhaps God is only a certain set of mental rays broken in our imagination and seen from a certain perspective ? I don't know, I just try to illustrate a problem. If intensive visions of God could be had from certain drugs, this would not prove that God is only a mental artifact. If you see horses or roses from drugs, this does not prove that horses and roses are mere artifacts of your brain. There are some real ones around.

    Michael always wants to know what is "real". What is "real" in the Matrix-film ? The film does NOT say that reality is a mere illusion. The film says that what we take for reality is mostly an illusion generated by the Matrix. But the Matrix itself is reality. And there must be other things and people belonging to the reality of the Matrix too, f.i. "the Architect".

    Descartes was feeling like Neo in The Matrix : In a world of deceptions he wanted to go at rock-bottom and arrived at "I think, therefore I am" which meant "to think there must at least be something that thinks". But to call this "thinking something" an "I" was much more than was justified.

    Seen against this background my question to you all would be : Do you really think it important to know whether you exist at all ? Is it really important to know the name of the rose instead of just smelling it ?

    Thus we now have at least three ways of "existing" : (1) By labeling, (2) by imagination, and (3) by "real" existence. "Real" existence was in part category 1 in the list, something "that can be seen", but there is real "logical" existence too as of imaginary numbers. The dream as a mental event is real, but its contents are not, since you may dream of UFOs even if there are none.

    Well, its all a bit complicated. But this is our world, and this is one of the central problems of modern philosophy : What are we speaking of ?



FROM: Ute Sommer (08/23/04 10:01 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: I am nobody

I am nobody.

Well, it could look like I would have an existence, real or in your imagination — I could be an individual existence, living my own self-determined life.

Now, let's assume my inner 'I', my ego's self-conception of being special somehow, has been passed through a process of dissolution, has been despaired of its painful and ridiculous life, has been struggled for its survival, lost and finally disappeared due to the recognition of its inconsiderable existence whereas body and thoughts seem still to be there. Whose are they?

The left 'I' also still seem to have consciousness, knowledge, memories, family and bank accounts, however it does not seem to be an individual independent being with its own will, it could be seen as a very tiny part of something which is universal and unique. All prior human pain seems to be forgotten, all limitations seem to have been pulled down, the doors of the left 'I' look like they would be now open for the assumed wonderful 'things behind everything', and the left 'I' is ready to welcome the universe. A way to gain knowledge or the thoughts of a human being lost in an imaginary spiritual world?

Am I nobody, or do I only wish to be nobody?

Ute Sommer

    REPLIES (25):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/23/04 4:23 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: My name is nobody ...

    ... is a nice famous funny western movie with Terence Hill (see

    Welcome on board, Ute.

    Of course you are somebody. I said something before on this in this conference. I am once more surprised by this strange obsession with "who am I ?" But it's not just MY obsession. Why do you think it should be important ? The main obsession of occidental philosophy always has been the existence not of the person but of God. And the second most important problem was the existence of truth, and then of the nature of the good. And only then at best became the existence of the ego a serious concern.

    Mike f.i. is asking for the nature of "reality" as different from mere fancy. This is a very difficult question.

    Try to see yourself as a robot : There are some things, some impressions, that stabilize your ego : You body, your memories, your home, your surroundings, your daily whereabouts, your daily contacts etc. : This seems to confirm that there is a core of stable things that constitute your existence. This would be the conclusion of the robot too. But then there are fluid impressions too. Newspaper and TV contents etc.. The TV-set is like your robot-self : something given and stable, while the program is always changing.

    Then a possible question could be : What sort of program is coming to you when reading Vaughan-Lee ? Is it just words arousing some feelings, or is it "insight" ? And what is "insight" ? When you get a mail, you normally are sure that it is "real", since there is a know person behind. But like you can scribble any monsters with your pen on any sheet of paper and not thinking much of it, so you can project any strange idea on the background of your consciousness and just invent monsters. But the true philosopher is not inventing monsters but is asking for real insight. So the question is how to know the difference. This is what is haunting Mike : The difference of "real insight" and mere fancy. Some people are blaming "God", others are blaming "the stars", others are just blaming "the laws of nature" for what happens. Who is right ? This would be a question on the existence or non-existence of certain causes.

    How would you try to find out ?


  • FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (08/24/04 10:08 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Existence as imprints on mind

    By claiming to exist, what am I really trying to say? Spatially, I am here.
    But if so, am I here continuously or here in short divided intervals stringed together by some empty time? (The temporal equivalent of empty space?) I may be here, but am I now, and if I am now, how long is now such that I would be here now beginning to write this letter, and still be here now after finishing to write it? Or should I say I was, I was, I was.. on and on in acknowledgement of the fact that now keeps changing, and hence, we have to seek another explanation of our existence that makes the temporal intervals known as now continuous? Or should we say we are, like photons in quantum field theory, just some tendencies to exist? In Diane's words, opting from one existence to another, or right back into the same existence, but in different colours at a different time?

    Now, let us imagine that I am an idea, then I am an idea that knows itself to be an idea. Or rather, I am an idea that thinks itself to be an idea. Oops! Cartesianism, here I come.

    And if we imagine that I am a concept, then I am a concept that knows itself as a concept, or rather thinks itself to be a concept. To exist seems to contain the concept of self-knowledge or actualization. Should I then say that to exist is to self-actualize? Or to have the ability to self-actualize? This would leave out stones and robots. And if to exist is to be a kink in the smooth pattern of space-time. Then where would this leave ideas and concepts? Then, the question would become something like what is common between stones and ideas, ontologically?

    If I see or imagine a stone, it means that the stone is imprinted on my mind. If I think of an idea or a concept, then it means the idea or concept is imprinted on my mind. Then probably to exist is to be able to imprint or be imprinted on mind.
    to exist = to be able to imprint or be imprinted on mind.
    I exist = I am able to imprint or be imprinted on on mind.

  • FROM: Rachel Browne (08/24/04 10:09 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Nobody?

    So who wrote?

    We can do thought experiments separating off faculties and we can imagine all sorts of things. There are probably facts about the brain that provide us with a sense of self — as long as there are others.

    If no others, would we need the idea of self?

    Welcome non-Ute,

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/25/04 11:47 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: some memories

    Dear all,

    things get recycled ! This below I take from the older conference, one and a half year back now. One more comment on "identity".


    FROM: Michael Ward (01/29/03 4:42 PM GMT -06:00)

    SUBJECT: Take the middle case

    To all,

    Leaving the stark difference between organic and inorganic life aside can we ever choose one human as being more 'human' than another? If we can then maybe this would give us an insight into what is essentially human.

    Consider that soon we can 'transport' people instantly from one place to another but accidentally your partner gets duplicated and you end up with two. Please avoid trying to say it can't happen to get out of facing the dilemma, but of the two totally identical persons : which is more human than the other? Is it A or B or neither?

    What is it that would prevent you from equally committing to both of them, surely any such difficulty would be with your concept of identity. Until now we have always been unique and have relied upon this to differentiate one from another.

    This difficulty in duplication of identity seems to me to be one of the prime, possibly unspoken, objections to cloning.

    Or is it like printing money — where too much causes devaluation?

    Michael Ward


    # FROM: Rachel Browne (02/05/03 1:28 PM GMT -06:00)


    And Michael, cloning seems great. I could have five or ten husbands all identical to the one I have. Increased pleasure, but increased annoyance too! But then that would all be too much, maybe. Perhaps we define human beings by the way we are rather than how we could be. If cloning comes in we might have a different conception of the self. R


    # FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (02/07/03 3:38 AM GMT -06:00)

    SUBJECT: on avatars and cloned husbands



    And for the cloned husbands: In my former school a boy teenie had two babies on the same day from two girls that were identical twins and that deliberately used his inability to tell them apart. And since they were identical twins they loved him both of course. The whole school had its fun, but the parents may have been less amused after the first laughter.



    One remark now (August 25, 2004) on the "beaming duplicated" person in the posting of Michael :

    Two "identical twins" are different by their personal experiences, so they are "identical computers with different data", and from this they always could be told apart. And of course if one of them looses a tooth or finger by accident, the other need not. Each of them has his/her personal fate. But in the "beaming experiment" this difference is missing : There is one and only one person that is duplicated with all his/her memories and faults etc.. Only after the doubling the lines of life begin to separate as in identical twins.

    I don't know whether the two mothers getting pregnant on the same day from the same boy later made fun of it or got yealous at each other.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/25/04 2:30 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: one more on humans and robots

    I saw "Terminator 2" from DVD again : The film ends with Sara thinking : "If a machine, a terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too." And when Sara sees her son playing around with the Terminator and making friends, she thinks : "He has not known his real father. Now he has this Terminator instead. But in an insane world it was the sanest choice."

    Of course you would say — most people would : "The robot does not know of any value, he only obeys the command to spare humans !" Well, this points to deep theological questions again — but I leave this for another time now.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/25/04 4:08 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: three sorts of imprints


    I take the last para of your posting. There you write

    //If I see or imagine a stone, it means that the stone is imprinted on my mind. If I think of an idea or a concept, then it means the idea or concept is imprinted on my mind. Then probably to exist is to be able to imprint or be imprinted on mind. Hence, to exist = to be able to imprint or be imprinted on mind. I exist = I am able to imprint or be imprinted on on mind. //

    Interesting idea ! But think of a computer : He may be part of a handy- or webcam. The pictures are "imprinted on his mind". Now think of another computer as perhaps the "WHOP-A" in "War Games". He too has patterns imprinted — but most of them self generated from programs.

    And now think of Tschuang Tsi who dreamt he was a butterfly, and when awoke asked himself whether he was a butterfly dreaming to be a human, or a human dreaming to be a butterfly. Thus our problem is to get at criteria to decide what is reality — signals coming from outside — and what is fancy generated in our heads. But this fancy is not always just that. The formulas of Einstein and others clearly are connected to reality, since they led to the construction of computers and nuclear bombs and power-plants, so this is no mere fancy but it works.

    Thus you have three sorts of patterns to begin with : patterns imprinted from the outside, programs deriving meaningful conclusions from those primary patterns, and patterns without any meaningful relation to reality, just dream and fancy.

    But even this last sort may be very, very important ! Even if the idea of God in the Occident should have never been more than "mere collective fancy", it led (provably !) Kepler and Newton to study nature in a certain way (since they were convinced to study God's creation and found this to be meaningful !) and by this Kepler found the elliptic character of the Mars-orbit and then Newton showed how this could be derived from the law of gravity. Without these theological (!) assumptions there would be no law of gravity known, and then no modern physics and no Einstein either — and of course no computer.

    There are data on you reflected in your consciousness, this is "self-awareness". But there are self generated fancies concerning your nature too. And the third pattern would be used to connect the one to the other sort of patterns. All three sorts of patterns are "imprinted" in your sense. But now you see how it works.

    So once more : How to decide what all this comes to ? You need not only "know to exist", you need not only "know thyself". You even need some dreams to BECOME thyself.


    A note added : A "concept" cannot just be imprinted on your mind without a whole "context" and some learning and experience that gives meaning to the concept. Otherwise the concept is just a meaningless word. Are you from Kenya ? I am not sure. But then there are many concepts that are completely alien to me, since I am not grown up in Kenyan indigenous culture.

    And overall the picture above is of course a gross simplification.

  • FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (08/26/04 9:46 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Contexts and concepts, which comes first?

    First, I would like to confirm that I am existing in Kenya as a Kenyan.

    And now to my response,Hurbertus,

    Like the egg and the chicken, which came first?

    You say //A concept cannot just be imprinted on your mind without a whole context and some learning and experience that gives meaning to the concept.//This is okay, but these contexts, learning and experiences, are they not also made up of concepts and ideas already imprinted in your mind?

    It may be difficult to get a criterion to decide between dream and reality. Tschuang Tsi may not be able to know whether he is butterfly dreaming to be human or human dreaming to be butterfly, but Tschuang Tsi has no doubts for sure that he is. He may doubt whether reality is the dream that just ended or the dream that has just began , but he does not doubt that reality, everything else notwithstanding, is in progress.

    If a program is developed, it has come from the mind of the developer, which means it was imprinted in the developer's mind. Therefore, I may argue, that program exists.

    If a computer has a program that enables it to self-generate different programs, then we would argue that these new programs self-generated from other programs also exist because they are able to be imprinted on mind.

    This, I know, is a very simple explanation.

    And responding to some memories from Michael Ward, brought back from the archives by Hubertus, this tough question was asked;

    If human teleportation is carried out in a copy and paste rather than a cut and paste fashion, which one between the two copies is more human than the other? The concept of identity is dented by the fact that we rely on uniqueness as our main way to differentiate between one and another. It is quite difficult to imagine whether or not each copy will be aware of the existence of the other. Quite an interesting topic!

    Ochieng Ombok

  • FROM: Ute Sommer (08/27/04 9:23 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: About believers

    Dear Rachel, dear Hubertus, dear Ochieng,

    I understand that the true and concerned philosopher is getting nervous when somebody comes up with theories about destroying the ego in order to get 'insight'.

    The true believer sees no point in justifying his belief and does not ask whether his 'insight' is real or an imagination. Also there is no way to describe the nature of true belief, because words are not good enough to explain 'the power of God's love'.

    The philosopher is probably not willing to accept this argument, because it leaves no space for further questions and it can never be proofed in a way non-believers would accept a proof about the existence of God to be.

    Is this the end of it?

    On the other hand a Sufi* saying by Abu-Said reads as follows:

    'To be a Sufi is to detach from fixed ideas and from preconceptions; and not try to avoid what is your lot.'

    Isn't this also true for philosophers of any school? And wouldn't this mean that detachment supports the ability to gain knowledge?

    So, is there a way to be a believer and a philosopher at the same time?

    Ute Sommer

    * In my understanding Sufis are true believers.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/29/04 5:39 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Belief and gravity


    You quoted 'To be a Sufi is to detach from fixed ideas and from preconceptions; and not try to avoid what is your lot.' AND that Sufis are true believers

    Like a musical note played in error which irritates so does the thought that holding a belief is exactly the same as being detached from fixed ideas. This I cannot frame into any kind of rational relationship believers are irrational, well, more precisely belief is irrational.

    In an earlier posting Hubertus repeated a statement that due to religion we have science and whilst I do not exactly disagree that these events weren't causally linked it does not necessarily have to be the case. f.i he says Without these theological (!) assumptions there would be no law of gravity known, and then no modern physics and no Einstein either — and of course no computer.

    I wonder how one can ever know how events would have evolved had we taken choices other than those we actually did, whichever road was taken I suspect apples would still fall towards the ground.

    My response to Ute's question So, is there a way to be a believer and a philosopher at the same time? my answer would be no, though it might say more about what I think a philosopher is (or isn't).

    Michael Ward

  • FROM: Michael Ward (08/29/04 6:07 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Solid thinking


    To evaluate external reality we must use experiments that do not depend on our seeing things from our perspective.

    Solid thinking maybe?

    Michael Ward

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/30/04 4:26 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on firmware and meeting ones copy

    Dear Ochieng,

    there are several interesting problems. First : Of course you are right that the "context" to understand the "concepts" has to be learned too. But there is not only "imprinting". There is not only hardware (neurons) and not only software ("imprintings", data), but there is much firmware. The architect needs to be studied to build houses, but the bird does not need to study to build a nest. The bird knows how to pick a partner and how to court it and how to build a nest and to defend a territory and feed the offspring etc.etc.. This all is firmware, transferred by the genes, not by learning and the senses. Well, it is in fact a mix of some 90% genes and some 10% learning. I will not go into details here.

    On Tschuang Tsi you are right of course as far as his mere existence is concerned. But it is really interesting how to decide whether we live in the world OF the Matrix or in the world GENERATED by the Matrix. The first we call reality, the latter we call pseudo-reality as in a dream or cinema. We just do not know whether we live in a pseudo-reality all together. Not even Mike does know for sure. Perhaps an 11-dimensional Big Brother is watching you and me — including our thoughts and our future ??? How would you find out ? I have no idea !

    See what I answered to Michael on this "reality check" in Use the word "cinema" for searching.

    And I have no problem with running into my "copy and paste clone". From the moment we exist as two — he and me — our ways part. We only have a common memory of all that happened before this cloning event. If I think in perhaps 20 years "I have written this mail on August 30, 2004 under such and such circumstances", the other guy could remember exactly the same — while perhaps not in the same moment, because his way now is independent of mine. He has shared my life prior to cloning, but he is not dependent on me thereafter, he is going his own way.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (08/30/04 5:15 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: believing and proving

    Dear Ute and Mike,

    interesting debate ! Michael says "belief is irrational". Well — TRUST is irrational. We trust the world we live in for at least 99,9999%, do we ? We don't distrust every chair we sit down on or every piece of food we are eating, etc.. If things and persons don't behave as they are expected to do, we begin to panic. In this same way the true believer is trusting in God : He does not question his existence, he just "knows". For the true believer — and the Sufi — God is not some unknown particle to be proven "existent" in a large collider, but God it just as real and present as a chair or a piece of food on the plate before your nose.

    But of course I understand what Mike is hinting at with this link to modern physics. As Popper would say : God cannot be falsified, and by this he very probably is a mere phantom of our mind. Well, I leave it there. But even phantoms have a "phantom-reality", and maybe a very important one and a good one. There has been burning of witches and heretics from about 1450 to 1750, and with the number of victims running into the thousands, where the number of slain heathens — slain in the name of God — is not even counted. The "religion of eternal love" historically has been the most atrocious and bloodthirsty religion of all. Sorry. But on the other hand it was the only religion to bring forth a St.Vinzenz and St.Francis and many orders of true charity. Thus it is hard to evaluate the balance.

    And on this "theology begat science" : I cannot prove of course that this must be so. It has been the historical fact. The core of the problem is : To know the law of gravity, you have to get interested in studying nature in a certain way. The study of Brahe and Kepler of the exact orbit of Mars was not needed for any practical reasons, but only for theological ones. But without this Mars-orbit Newton would have had nothing to apply his formula of gravitational forces to. Today we are studying nature withour any theological need, since we KNOW that we get at useful results. But Kepler and Newton did not know that, while Francis Bacon — 10 years older than Kepler — thought so. Thus Mike may be right and it was just dumb luck that modern science made its greatest advance by two "theologian-scientists". The core of my argument was just : You have to put the right question to get at the right answer — whatever causes you to put that question. If you can put the right question without introducing God, then of course God does not matter in the development of science. And there is always much "serendipity".

    And there is this analogy of the ladder : If you are over the wall, you may let go the ladder. My question always is : Do we really gain from letting go religion ? I don't think so.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (09/02/04 6:52 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Trust me I'm a priest


    Trust is not the descriptive way I see the world, what I refer to is probability and that is not subjective, and yes it's 99.9999% probable that the chair beneath me is supporting me possibly higher. This chair provides all sorts of demonstrable reasons to me and you why it's 99.9999% and not the reverse of the 0.0001% that I might assess the probability of a god. My Trust in the chair to support me is thus millions of times higher than god to support me. I accept the idea of god as a very powerful motivator and it's inversely attractive to the less critical intellect. We all recall the trust in the Waco and Heavens Gate suicides, now I can't prove they are not all off in some nirvana or utopian state but really how can you stand behind the idea that god is a real as a chair (or anything else material)

    For those without a healthy measure of scepticism the idea of god must tie up all the loose ends, put the last piece in the jigsaw and provide the meaning to life. Is that where you would like to be?


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (09/03/04 9:26 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: well roared lion — and more fun !

    Dear Mike,

    I won't argue with you over the EXISTENCE of the chair. But remember that Hume — squarely in the camp of the sceptics with you — would deny that hitting the chair 999.999 times could be called a "proof" of its existence or a warranty to be there at the one millionth try. But of course I know what you are saying : The chair is a fairly good example of "falsifiability". You bet a sure thing that if you hurl an egg at the chair the egg will be smashed. You cannot prove God in this way. And you cannot even apply theology in the way you apply theoretical physics, since even the predictions of theoretical physics are "falsifiable" in the Popperian sense.

    This granted, my point was a quite different and "Humean" one : We cannot "prove" anything, we are constantly living on trust and assumptions. We are discussing "existence" here, and the strange thing is just this : While theoretical assumptions are only "spiritual" but provably true, practical assumptions are not. You can prove the correctness of a mathematical theorem or the existence of a mathematical object, but you cannot prove the existence of the chair. Those adherers of "intelligent design"-theory f.i. try to prove the existence of a creator, since "anybody must be the cause of all this". This is what Aristotle called the "first cause" or "first mover". And since the laws of nature are that admirable this "first cause" in the opinion of its proponents must be an "intelligent" first cause. And from this they extrapolate to some all pervading intelligent being called God.

    Well, this is a question I can let unanswered. But what about "true love" — does it exist ? If you trust a person — how do you "prove" that you are justified ? The paradox is : If you try to prove then you are not trusting anymore. This was the fate of Otello. And this is what happens to the true believer : He does not need a proof, since he is quite sure. Thus the existence of "true love" and the existence of "God" may be in the same class of "existence". Well, this you may call the class of imaginary things, but we all are dependent on those too — even you are. Only the elements of this class are assorted differently by different people.

    For the moment I leave it there. If I had the option to extinguish all religions or let it be, I would vote for "let it be". What is the use of elephants and crocodiles ? Let them live. When Faraday was asked what the use of his little dynamo should be he asked back : "What is the use of a baby ?" Now it is the source of all electrical power. And God — "existent" or not — has been the source of much of Occidental power.

    But to bridge long evenings, you may look at this one :
    where at the end of the page are many more links to many more pages. Have fun, the world is rich — and I like it.


  • FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (09/07/04 4:50 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: God, a non-constant tessellator?

    Michael says,
    For those without a healthy measure of scepticism the idea of god must tie up all the loose ends, put the last piece in the jigsaw and provide the meaning to life

    Hubertus says,
    And there is this analogy of the ladder : If you are over the wall, you may let go the ladder. My question always is : Do we really gain from letting go religion ? I don't think so.

    And also,
    If you can put the right question without introducing God, then of course God does not matter in the development of science. And there is always much serendipity

    From these three paragraphs, I happen to infer God the Tessellator, a Diminishing God, a Disposable Religion and an Immobilized Mind

    God the Tessellator? His fluidity may be used to fill those gaps that have not yet been filled in that jigsaw puzzle that makes up the beautiful mosaic of life in order to complete a whole scheme of things. And if, with time, a scientific discovery brings forth another missing link into the jigsaw puzzle, then God the Tessellator is forced to give some space for the piece to be fixed into its rightful place, thus a Diminishing God.

    Or shall we say that with every single new discovery, the empty gap in the jigsaw puzzle also grows larger even after fitting the newly discovered piece into its place, hence requiring a bigger Tessellator to make the scheme whole and meaningful?

    Disposable Religion? What or where is the top of the ladder? When do we say we have had enough religion and we should now be stepping forward? When we are stepping out of the highest rung of this ladder called religion, into what or where should we be going forward? Once we have both (or all) our legs there and we have thrown down the ladder, where are we standing? Do we need religion in heaven?

    An immobilized mind? What of that person who fills the missing link of the jigsaw puzzle with God the Tessellator and henceforth discontinues the search for the right piece? Is this person not immobilized in thinking? And what would be the reaction of such a person if a piece of God the Tessellator were to be removed and replaced with a piece of scientific discovery? Would it not, to that person, diminish the Size of God in the scheme of things?


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (09/07/04 8:52 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: where the ladder ends

    Dear Ochieng,

    you hit the nail with

    //Or shall we say that with every single new discovery, the empty gap in the jigsaw puzzle also grows larger even after fitting the newly discovered piece into its place, hence requiring a bigger Tessellator to make the scheme whole and meaningful? //


    //Disposable Religion? What or where is the top of the ladder? When do we say we have had enough religion and we should now be stepping forward? When we are stepping out of the highest rung of this ladder called religion, into what or where should we be going forward? Once we have both (or all) our legs there and we have thrown down the ladder, where are we standing? Do we need religion in heaven? //

    This is exactly why I object to throwing away the ladder of religion. There will never be — and there should not be — something like a "final answer". What would that be ? This would mean man being either a God or a beast again. A God knows all, a beast needs not to know more than what it needs for food etc.. But man driven by his fancies and dreams and conjectures is always searching and trying in the way life itself is.

    I have asked myself what is wrong with Brave New World of Huxley (see I think the essential point is : closing the mind, stopping the phantasy. Humans are degraded to be happy animals. The essential thing about any great religion is to leave the door to a great mystery ajar and so keep us humans uneasy and asking what may be behind that door. Perhaps God is not only the "Great Tesselator" but the "Great Riddler" too.

    That is what the holy shares with the beautiful and the true and the good : Those all are great mysteries and challenges, open horizons that make us set sails for something beyond.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (09/07/04 12:26 PM GMT -06:00)


    Not that I am any lawyer but as I understand it in the UK the prosecution is never allowed to call the defendant a murderer just the accused, murderer is the term for the jury to use after the trial.

    Now laced through the last two postings was the implicit use of god (not the idea of god) being used.

    Donning my wig I now cry out objection, being imprecise in language leads to imprecise ideas. It's long overdue that we should have some RC (Religious Correctness) in our society.

    As to Brave New World I see it all around every day, we don't need mechanistic robots we already have plenty of biological ones.

    Michael Ward

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (09/08/04 4:04 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: msg from the bio-robot

    Hi Mike,

    this is from the bio-robot residing in Bonn, Germany. Well, no problem. For the bio-robot all questions of existence stay unchanged. But even a bio-robot needs to go by hypotheses. He is writing this by the hypothesis that there is some nice person going by "Michael Ward" somewhere in UK. But who knows ? There is a famous little book "Mr.God, here is Anna". Well, in your opinion she may have written as well to Yoda or to Charly Brown of the Peanuts. You are quite right that we should ask what makes the difference — if anything at all. But even if God is just "the Great McGuffin" he would keep the story going just by this.

    You mentioned those people from Gyuana and from Kureish. But most Christians are not of this sort, well over 90% of them are not. As I said : If I had to pick 100 really bright and able persons at random, surely 10% or more of them would be true believers trusting in god — and surely not the worst of them. And maybe — very probably — even the bio-robots would have their God. Religious practices are even more characteristic of human beings than having fire or flintstones.

    Humans are fancyful beings — even bio-robots are. Thus they need "something" to give meaning to their life and existence. God is not the worst "something" to have. The Marxists have a future that is not more interesting than the liberal one. To have a Christian hope is of just another dimension. Even if it were a dream : what would you put in place of such a dream that would be worth a single thought ? Will you prefer a salad for a rose ?

    Religious people neither need nor accept "proofs" or "disproofs" of God, they are just not interested. In a similar way true lovers are not interested in certain proofs. What could they gain from it ? And I think even a bio-robot could agree to this state of affairs. A world without dreams and unproven truth would be a horror for any playful intelligent being.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (09/09/04 1:11 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Moving on

    Hi Bio-Robot,

    It troubles me, that you would make the assumption that robots would need a god. This need I cannot see other than in making an analogy with human evolution.

    You make the point well that you would not want to draw up that religious ladder that got you to the top of the wall though I'm not sure how long your ladder of gratitude is. Does it go back to the first of the seven days of creation or the big bang or the first amoeba dragging itself out of the swamp.

    I see evolutionary advantage in the mutual support gained from living in a society and the gods of rain, wind and fire make excellent (but temporary) names to put on these unknown forces. Transport a television with the weather forecast on it back around 3000 yrs and suddenly we have a new god of weather.

    Why am I not surprised to find after several thousand years of genetic selection that most people now have god modules in their heads. As far as I can see there is no merit in this god/religious issue, it's nothing other than a genetic throwback. Sure there are lots of moral stories about it and equally lots of immoral acts by one moral bunch against another moral bunch.

    Now here is big crunch that people are disinterested in thinking for themselves don't confuse them with the facts, let them live in the bliss of belief. Oh, and by the way this or that bunch want to get to your children before they've learned to think critically and mess up their minds.

    You ask what could true lovers or the religious gain from proof a better grasp or reality I would answer. Now is that what they want, and who is to decide what's good from them?

    The Ubermench

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (09/13/04 4:28 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: the driving force of evolution

    Dear Ubermensch,

    let me once more state the essential para of my last posting : //Humans are fancyful beings — even bio-robots are. Thus they need "something" to give meaning to their life and existence. God is not the worst "something" to have. The Marxists have a future that is not more interesting than the liberal one. To have a Christian hope is of just another dimension. Even if it were a dream : what would you put in place of such a dream that would be worth a single thought ? Will you prefer a salad for a rose ?//

    There are surely mad fancies, but there are good ones too. In my experience Jesuit schools are the best ones, but of course this depends on the Jesuits. Socialist schools typically seem to be the worst ones, since they teach what they call common sense but not much more. But there IS much more !

    Well, we are debating "theories of existence" here. You seem to say that we bio-robots should not waste our time with things like God that do not exist. But I think that even bio-robots should not waste too much time with those things that DO exist, because most of them are trivial. Or put otherwise : The meaning of a salad is trivial, the meaning of a rose is not. We need our salad, but so any rabbit does. I try to understand why even bio-robots dream of roses — or of gods.

    Well — the roses exist, maybe the gods do not. But this is not the essential point. The point is : What makes objects valuable that are of no use or even may not exist at all ?

    Even if Feuerbach is right and theology is in fact on man and on god only as a projection of man, then it would be very important to have this theology to learn something on man. Some of the most revealing and insightful books on the true nature of man are by theologians and well worth studying — if not in place of then surely in addition to books on behaviourism and psychology and sociology by a-theist anthropologists.

    I am reading both sorts of anthropologies — the naturalist and materialist and systems-analyst ones and the theological ones — and I cannot say that the latter are of less insight or importance, rather to the contrary.

    You always have to separate "dumb bio-robots" from "fancyful bio-robots". The dumb ones never will get at relativity theory or something like starships in warped spaces of eleven dimensions. They always will be self-sufficient with feeding on grass all day long. Only the fancyful bio-robots will dream of distant worlds and of a great future and of roses and nightingales — and maybe of gods.

    Buddhism is quite different from Christendom, even fundamentally atheist. But even Buddhism has golden pagodas and golden Buddha statues. The greatness of man shows in his ability to recognize and to warship what is greater than he himself.

    The greatest thing that could be said of a bio-robot is in my opinion, that he dreams of some super-robot that is greater — spiritually and morally — than he himself, and to dream of a world that is greater than that he lives in here and now.

    Don't mix up a salad with a rose and a trans-human robot with a rabbit.

    The errant bio-robot.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (09/16/04 1:32 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: More equal than others


    I make no assertion to be the Ubermench, my intention in introducing that concept was to open up a vision on where we might go so as to get a better perspective on the past.. I would agree that in the past most of the insightful books on humanity were from theologians but I find that hardly surprising with the stranglehold that theology has had over writers in education and thinking.

    I would assert that anyone with a background of theistic belief is by definition unreasonable and of necessity biased towards concepts supporting that perspective and can never be neutral. I have never been able to have a rational debate with anyone who is a believer as the two terms are, in my opinion, mutually exclusive. Rational thinking is not a dogma it is like language, you have to have language to talk about language hence in that sense it is a priori.

    Theories of existence is the subject of our discussion and one of the questions to be first asked after deciding whether I exist or not is what do I exist in. At one extreme some would argue that we exist only in the mind of god and at the other extreme that we exist in some arbitrary deterministic material universe upon which we try to impose meaning because we cannot live without meaning. I'll leave you to guess where I see myself on that scale.

    With your analogy of the relationship of the salad to the rose I see the religion as the salad and the rose as rational thinking.

    I also agree with your observations about dumb and fanciful bio-robots and so I guess would Plato in The Republic as would Huxley in Brave New World or Orwell in Animal Farm. I have come to doubt that in behavioural terms we really are one species or that we have ever been one species some have always been more equal than others wow, just ended back up with the Ubermench.

    Michael Ward

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (09/23/04 11:44 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: More Equal Than Others

    Michael says: " I would assert that anyone with a background of theistic belief is by definition unreasonable and of necessity biased towards concepts supporting that perspective and can never be neutral."

    Michael, how do you define background here?

    A dictionary definition of "unreasonable" is "a) having or showing little sense or judgment; not rational b) excessive; immoderate: exorbitant."

    Michael, are you saying that "believers" who are scientists are unreasonable. For example:

    Robert Pollack at

    Arthur Peacocke at

    Ravi Ravindra at

    Trinh Xuan Thuan at and

    John Polkinghorne at

    John Myers at

    I believe that these scientists have all written about the connection between their science and their religious beliefs. Perhaps there is a difference in methodology between science and religion. But is the difference such that you can justify labeling one as being reasonable and the other unreasonable?


  • FROM: Michael Ward (09/24/04 11:12 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Unreasonable


    For background I mean thinking processes so I chose not rational also little sense of judgement is partly true at least in respect of pre-judging or prejudice.

    Yes I am saying that that those scientists are unreasonable. But lets take a lesser case than religion lets say that they all believe in unicorns. How can they possibly stand behind the concept that all data is relevant if they negate some of it by choosing to believe. I cannot how can they?



  • FROM: Charles Countryman (09/25/04 3:35 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Unreasonable


    I am puzzled by your "unicorn" response. I had expected you to at least challenge my list of scientists as not being entirely theist. My list of scientist believers includes several different religions. What methodology are you using in your evaluation of religion? Are you saying that there are no differences in the underlying theories of existence held by scientists who have different religious beliefs?

    My questions are in the context of Ute's original question, the "I." I have no competence to address the big cosmological questions or the infinite mathematical ones, except to wonder at them. However, I think that just about everyone is competent to address the "I," if they make at least a minimal philosophical effort.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (09/29/04 12:58 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Hope instead


    There are many theories about existence and equally about religious concepts and people holding such ideas may call themselves scientists or not. What is not contestable is the fundamental process of rational thought, you either apply it consistently or you're inconsistent.

    Today I might believe in a creator tomorrow I don't that's my choice it's how I feel and there's nothing you can say to change my mind. Now were I to adopt this unreasoned position you cannot use reason as a tool to explore what stands behind such positions. Such people are, in my previous words unreasonable people.

    Now hope is quite a different matter, I might hope that Unicorns, Father Christmas, Jesus Christ and the Tooth Fairy all actually exist(ed). Now if believers reduced their position of certainty to one of hope about such matters then there would be little I could argue with, I hope this explains what I was saying.

    Michael Ward


FROM: Anonymous802134 (09/22/04 2:49 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: The myth of rational thinking

"Rational thinking" is only a myth.

From "The Value of Philosophy" with love

    REPLIES (1):

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (09/23/04 2:04 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: The reasonable assumption of rational thinking

    Philosophy's very nature assumes the existence of the human capability to think and to be rational. Assuming otherwise negates the possibility of doing philosophy. Then the being has to decide to do something other than philosophy, perhaps just get drunk. A decision will have to be made. This decision to do something other than philosophy, whether to get drunk, to sit and "om," or do etc shows the "naive reality" of human rational thinking, despite any erroneous conclusion about philosophy.



FROM: Charles Countryman (09/25/04 11:12 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: The Human Soul

I found this quote of American writer William Faulkner, whose birth date was September 25, "On This Day" from Encyclopedia Britannica.

"I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things."

William Faulkner

My opinion is that "modern" philosophy in general exhibits a "knee jerk" reaction and irrational bias against the "soul" in its analysis of human nature and theories of existence.

Mr. Faulkner said that the poet and writer had a duty. How about philosophers and the students of philosophy? What is the soul?


    REPLIES (9):

  • FROM: Michael Ward (09/29/04 1:02 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Soul is.......


    To clarify what I understand soul to mean in the context you write about I will rewrite William Faulkner's words thus:-

    I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He may become immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has desire, a behaviour capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things.

    Now if you see no difference in my rewrite then soul is the sum of our experiences to date combined with our desire for the future. What it is not (or certainly yet to be proven to be) is some non-corporeal parallel entity that both precedes and is a successor our physical presence.


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (10/03/04 9:58 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: "Soul is"


    Re your rewrite of Faulkner, two areas of philosophical inquiry that particularly interest me are 1) the nature of desire and 2) the definition of dualism. I think that you may be implying that desire is only an aspect of behavior, which I do not think is necessarily so. Also, I do not think that dualism necessarily means that the soul is parallel to the body. I would argue that the body and soul are actually a unity.

    I agree with you that man "may" become immortal, although we disagree on means. I question whether Faulkner was correct in reserving this for humans. In anticipation of Hubertus bringing up robots, my reservation refers only to biological creatures.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (10/04/04 6:16 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: where are the ladies ?

    Dear Charles and Mike,

    I am back again and of course will lead hordes of robots into the battle next time. But where are all those ladies ? Did we scare them off place ?

    In my opinion the whole debate on "existence" is much too materialistic and dualistic. Always those boring "body and soul". What about the existence of dreams and beauty and truth and good and evil and hope and freedom and justice etc. ?? What is the MEANING of the word "is" or "exists" in those cases ? We are driven by fancies and dreams and hopes and fears etc., and just like Descartes we are asking what is valuable and worth going for it and what is deceiving and seducing and to be shunned.

    For a spiritual being like man the fancies are at least as important as "mere facts". When we go to the movies or to the theater or read a novel, what do we expect ? This is a quite different sort of reality than math and physics — and a much more "human" reality at that. WHY ?

    "The world is all that is the case" was the famous opening of Wittgensteins Tractatus. But to know "what IS the case" is boring. Humans are much more interested in WHAT COULD AND SHOULD BE the case.

    This is simple : We need not care nature, since nature cares for itself. We need care OUR future, just because it is (at least in part) OUR work. We are not responsible for what is, but for what will be because of our doings and omissions. Just because of this we try to give meaning to mere facts. Without a meaning facts are just — meaningless, since the meaning cannot be in the facts themselves but only is in the eye of the beholder or the poet or the true believer. This I think is what Faulkner had in mind.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (10/07/04 2:56 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Fanciful as ever


    Welcome back you haven't changed at all. I hear you saying don't confuse me with reality let me (and the rest of humanity) live in our fanciful world where we can dream and hope in complete naivety

    How absurd it is it that the world is not organised as you want it to be, that you find and enjoy more substantive reality in the fiction of theatre or novels or movies than what is apparent when you draw your curtains and look out of your window.

    Reality is boring sounds rather like the cry of most adolescents.

    Facts are meaningless yes I agree, but really are their only opinions either?

    What should be case seems a bit of an arrogant position to take, does my should supersede yours and if so why.

    And finally, yes the other 50% perspective, where are they?

    Over to you,


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (10/08/04 10:04 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: re the other 50%

    Hubertus & Michael,

    I think that with the possible exception of China, they are or are becoming the majority.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (10/08/04 11:56 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on wishful thinking

    Dear Mike,

    thank you for your reply. Well, we all do not change too much. Do you ? But I think you misgot my intentions completely. I am not given to fanciful thinking. As far as it goes I am as "postivist" as you are. But it doesn't go very far. And that's the problem.

    My point is : You cannot just look out of the window to know your future, since your future to a large part IS YOUR OWN WORK. Thus you cannot ask how it IS but you NEED to ask HOW IT SHOULD BE. Your future is not an event but a task ! No science will tell you what is good for your future. But from this does not follow that it is all the same. You know very well that you have to make up your mind to think which of your innumerable possible futures seems to be preferable and which does not — and why. And once more : No science will tell you !

    But since you are defending your preferences at least before yourself and maybe before your wife, if not "before history", you need arguments. Since these arguments cannot be of a scientific sort, because science is value-free, we have — as philosophers — to think what other sorts of arguments there are.

    Thus my concern is not "wishful and fanciful thinking and dreaming" but "getting at good criteria for making good choices." And since those criteria CANNOT be scientific, we have to understand what the very meaning of "good criteria" and "good choices" could be.

    Humans are not just observing and analyzing what they see, they are deciding and acting by criteria. There is not only homo sapiens, but there is homo faber fabricating a life. That's the point.

    Anglo-Saxon philosophers seem always obsessed with epistemology and analysis. But the most important question about (f.i.) Christianity is not "is it true ?" but "why could it become thus important and attractive for so many people ?" Likewise Marxism and Freudism etc.. All those isms are full of errors and contradictions, but they are attractive and embraced nonetheless. This was the problem of Schopenhauer etc. and it is mine : The truth people are interested in is not the truth of the scientist. People just do not care all this hair-splitting. They want "nourishment and guidance", not "scientific knowledge". What I am interested in in ALL of my essays is this difference of good and bad "philosophical nourishment and guidance". I will offer a new essay on this next time.

    Philosophy is for living humans, not for analytical robots. The conflict of Heidegger and Husserl was about this : Husserl turned to "Cartesian Meditations" and by this got "logical and brainy" again, while Heidegger tried "to think", i.e., to understand what our brain is making of the world we live in. And in this Heidegger was very near to the later Wittgenstein and his study of common language. People try to make sense of the world and of their lives, not to get at logically correct solutions. But even Heidegger and Wittgenstein knew the difference of good and bad answers very well. And I want to understand just this difference, which is definitely NOT a scientific one in the modern analytical sense. Heidegger — like Nietzsche and Marx — was wrong on important points, but no analytical philosophy will help us to understand in what respect they were wrong. When we call some thinking or behaviour "wrong", then there are several different meanings of the term "wrong", not only the scientific and logical ones. And THAT is my problem.

    When Heidegger said of one of his brightest pupils (Karl Lowith) "he cannot think", he did not mean that Lowith was "stupid" or lacking intelligence. The idea was something like "he does not understand what it means to be in the world as a thinking being. He is only thinking with his brain, not with his existence." This difference is what naturally evades all scientifically oriented minds : They mistake logical constructions for truth. But the physical human condition is not the spiritual human condition, and "knowledge" per se does not imply "meaning". This is what I meant with the fundamental difference of the task of the buildings-engineer and of the architect in my essay in PATHWAYS #84.

    More on this in my next essay.

    All the best from Hubertus

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (10/09/04 12:25 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on wise decisions


    if I understand Mike right, his "other 50%" are those positivist-scientific evaluations as compared to the "fanciful" ones. But as I just tried to show in the other answer we have to make wise decisions and those cannot be nearly as "rational" or "reasonable" as Mike seems to think.

    There always is some naivety in the concept of "reasonableness". Much of it depends on hidden assumptions. Was Blair (or GWB) "reasonable" in entering the Iraq ? There are pros and cons as always, but there is no clear and undisputed standard of what is "reasonable" in this case — as in any other case. If you defend your life or your family or your country, this seems reasonable from a certain perspective, but if you do not because you try to be a martyr of pacifism like Gandhi the Mahatma this is reasonable too in another way.

    What I try to get across is just this : What we call reasonable in science is more or less agreeable, but what we call reasonable in our human life and condition is not generally. And this can be understood : The facts of nature are what they are and they do not care what we think of them. But our actions do not depend on "facts" but on our free decisions (as in the example above). Thus to ask for "scientific" justifications for our decisions is meaningless. Most of our decisions (">50%") are depending on values and evaluations, but science is value-free. No science will tell you whether to be a pacifist or not. But a religion — such a "fanciful" thing — will do. By this argument I wanted to convince Mike that we cannot evade deriving decisions from "fancy" instead of from "science" and "reason". Reason is a difficult concept.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (10/12/04 11:07 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Headless feelings


    The 50% I referred to was the female contributions to the conference, I'm always interested on the views of another species!

    Now back to your problem, you seem to want a system of values that has no collectivley agreed or measurable basis. On many occasions you have said we all know what is good and what is bad, I say you have one set values, I have another and Bin Laden yet another and quite frankly there is nothing to differentiate them apart other than emotional feelings. (If you want me to respond to that don't invoke my feelings)

    The removal of Ken Bigley's head in retaliation for an earlier atrocity is but an example of this nourishment and guidance you claim people want instead of thinking for themselves. Science is as neutral as we can get as a means of communication, just like the words I am writing now to get across the ideas I hold. At least science provides the largely agreed language of communication which is better than anything else.

    What language would you put in its place? Science doesn't get it right every time but it gets closer and more often.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (10/14/04 4:58 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on rational behaviour in humans


    thank you for clarifying on those 50%. So I will contact the ladies directly and ask them. And Ochieng is no lady if I am right.

    On the scientific-rational thing : The removal of Ken Bigley's head in retaliation for an earlier atrocity is but an example of rational behaviour — if even a misguided one perhaps. If somebody is molesting you, you will set him stright, while not necessarily killing him. This it "rational behaviour", a social technique to keep a bit law and order. There has been a time when in merry old England people got beheaded and their heads put on pales near the market-place to have people deterred and well behaved. Today we need not such outdated techniques, since there are others as or more effective. Thus this is rational while not always wise, like alchemy and astrology and witchcraft have been rational in the times of Shakespeare but seem a bit outdated now. Even dropping the A-Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was quite rational to stop the war and the killing and spare many lives.

    But there are different levels of rationality, and in this respect Saddam Hussein was — like Hitler or Stalin — "rational in a stupid way". They all had the chance to become really great leaders like Caesar or Charlemagne, but they were not in fact.

    Thus on a certain level of stupidity, people are of different opinion, but on some higher level they may be not. In my opinion the leven of arguing most often is more important than the arguments themselves. There surely are thoughts and deeds of your past you are ashamed of — as with all of us. Thus the difference of REAL error and stupidity and mere "different opinion" should not be blurred. The true saints and sages of all continents generally agree on what to call good and wise and what not. But children quarrel over things that you find ridiculous. In the world of the children this quarreling may be not that ridiculous but "rational behaviour" in the context of "fighting it out" and defining a ranking order.

    I don't fight the concept of reason, I only think that reason itself is a complicated concept of many faces.

    Sincerely Hubertus


FROM: Michael Ward (10/15/04 11:31 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: What makes life worthwhile


Your email of 14th October I have also posted this to the conference site.

We each look at the same events and form distinctly different perceptions and in this I too am very interested. I agree with you for I too do not think any one can prove worth because it is subjective, it's a human construct and self referencing. A very good question is what makes life worthwhile and I don't mean cars, money etc but the end product that such things as these and friends and family and sharing ideas brings.

Atheism isn't inspiring, I agree, what it does however is free up the mind from dogma and this remains my quest to increase freedom of thought at any price.

Every attempt I have made to date to try to extract out of believers in non-corporeal existence what it is that stands behind their convictions has resulted in failure and I must therefore remain as sceptical as ever on the existence of anything that is non material. But what, I ask myself if I do not understand the answers I am being given?

So to try to comprehend the perspective of a spiritual dimension the nearest explanation I can find of what it means to believers are these words from Buddha about Nirvana to his disciple.

It is enough to cause you bewilderment, enough to cause you confusion. For this truth is deep, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. It is hard for you to understand when you hold another view, accept another teaching, approve another teaching, pursue a different training and follow a different teacher

I understand this to mean that to comprehend the concept of spirit one must transcend rationality itself and operate on a plane outside anything we can imagine. That only the enlightened believer can understand this state and it is a fool who denies the existence of anything they have not yet experienced. An unenlightened onlooker has no point of reference to test the accuracy of the believers belief.

What Twaddle! This is mysticism at it's worst, the very antithesis of being rational and the methodology of science. It is saying I know what the truth is but I can't show you, I can't explain it either as you have to experience it for yourself yeah right, just hook me up to your virtual unreality dogma machine, pump in a few mind altering cliche's and then I'll find the truth.

Sorry but this way of thinking is a cop out, most people are weak, feeble minded and unwilling to put in the determined effort it needs to think critically for themselves. They want to be spoon fed comforting ideas and opinions, they do not want to walk alone but would rather go with the rest of the herd where there's safety in numbers..

I still contend there is nothing else out there that isn't material, nothing beyond materiality, what you see is what you get, what you don't see cannot be known and certainly cannot be believed in. But I may be wrong, and that is the principle difference between me and a believer my sincere acceptance of doubt.



Dear Mike,

perhaps I should study this one : qid=/sr=/ref=cm_lm_asin/104-7276842-6160769?v=glance

I am very much thinking in lines of atheist ethical principles. But I
still defend religion and think that even thinking robots would have
religion. Why ?

Because you cannot prove the worth of anything. There is no such thing
as an "objective" value. It just cannot be. If people fall in love, you
may call this good or bad, but you cannot prove it's value. To make
offspring you need no love. And if you are a robot you need not even
sex. Thus to fall in love is sort of taking a happiness drug. But by
what argument do you call a happiness drug a good or bad thing ? If
people would not like it, it would not be called a happiness drug of
course. What do you call "needed"? The Beatles are not needed, Beethoven
or Bach or Mozart are not "needed", good cuisine is not needed, beauty
is not needed, nothing of all that makes life worthwhile is "needed". We
could trash the whole of advanced culture from the old Egyptians -
including all of Greek and Roman culture of course — and just go back to
the Stone Age. From any "scientific" point of view there is nothing to
object to this plan. Since the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the
Australian Aborigines are nice and wise, why not join them altogether ?

Thus I cannot fight atheism from any scientific position. Atheism in my
opinion is just another religion, another creed defended by its
supporters. But I will not be converted to this creed because I find it
lacking. The important question about the interior of a house is not
whether it is Swedish Style or Italian Style or Greek Style or Country
Style or Japanese Style etc., but whether it is of good or bad taste.

As I said before : Religious people tell me important things on the
human condition that the atheists cannot see from their perspective. It
is a certain perspective and light under which the reality is seen. It
is not about "facts". The least interesting thing to know of a great
landscape painting say of Turner or Constable or Monet are the "facts".
Thus while I know all the arguments of the atheists against religions I
am just not interested. The arguments are not "wrong", they are in my
opinion irrelevant and addressing the wrong problems. If I had children
I would in any case have them know religious things since religious
feelings strike an important chord in the human soul. It is like getting
the kids to the zoo or to the landscapes etc. to have them see
"reality". I am really thankful now — even as an atheist in the
conventional sense — to have had the intensive experience of religious
things in my childhood. It makes me see and understand a much richer world.

This is not simply esthetics. I take religious convictions seriously. It
is not on sentimentalities but on realities that otherwise evade the
atheist. It is like being acquainted from childhood with good works of
music and art and literature. You just see subtleties that otherwise
would evade you. There is nothing inspiring about atheism. The arguments
of atheism are just too simple, not too complicated. As a scientist I
need no Russel or Hume or Freud to know what the atheists are arguing.
To learn something new and important you have to go beyond atheism.

Once more : Why do people read novels or go to the movies — even to
surrealist and dream-stuff and mystery ? Because they want to know
something that is not trivial.

Well, you try to tell me that people are seduced by this and become
superstitious and mad. But I think there are both possibilities : Not
only religion can distract people from human things (as Feuerbach and
Nietzsche said) and not only can religion be the opium of the masses as
Marx and Heine said, but even atheism can distract people from reality
and become the opium of the masses. Or put otherwise : Religion can and
does as much direct people to other humans. This was what Jesus did
always and the Buddha likewise and even Muhammad.

I will not fight atheism, it is an important critical voice, but not
more than that. Even a good criticism of a Shakespeare-play is not a
replacement of the play itself.

Sincerely Hubertus

    REPLIES (2):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (10/20/04 2:38 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on two concepts of "existence"


    thank you for your answer. It still is about the "existence of God". But I think the whole approach to this idea of "existence" is misleading, since it takes the concept of existence itself for given. But it is not. The concept of existence is very complicated indeed. Even if nowhere else, god would exist in the hearts and minds of humans. This too is a way of "existing" — and of making impact. This is our human world, so we should know what makes humans tick and not only ask for physical forces.

    We are preoccupied and even obsessed today with questions of how things are and how to know this. But the other sort of questions is at least as important : How things should be by our own doings ! Man is not only homo sapiens, he is homo creator and homo poeticus, the creative animal, designing and creating his artificial worlds. He is building houses and town and landscapes and many cunning devices and great works of art, and visionary models of the world. He is active, not just asking for what's the case ?. Instead of always asking What's the case and how to know it ? we should ask : What are we doing and how to justify it ? No science whatsoever will give us an answer to this latter question.

    We are fallen to what I call the positivist fallacy, the misguiding idea that by ever better understanding what is the case we could eventually know what to do. But this is another form of evading liberty : Liberty shows in taking up responsibility for what we do and for what we intend to do. To concentrate on what is the case is evading liberty, is evading the call for creative action. The artist and the architect and even the engineer are expected not to know what is the case, but to surprise us with impressive new works of invention, if possible works of creative genius, works that nobody saw or expected before, as are great novels and dramas, great works of music, great paintings and sculptures and buildings etc.. And in this same sense the great founders of religions and philosophies and the great saints are creative geniuses too. They too show us human possibilities we never have thought of before.

    The real danger of the positivist fallacy is to discourage and to paralyze our grasp of or freedom and responsibility, and to strengthen instead a natural tendency to be content with what is there and what is usual and always has been. People don't like freedom, they prefer habits and conventions and sureties.

    The failure of the modern obsession with knowledge is showing in absurd problems concerning free will and neurology. We will always be responsible for what we are doing, we will always be free to decide what should be and what should not be. Neurology does show us mechanisms, but it does not show us goals and values, since no science can ever know anything of goals and values. We tend to forget that even robots today know of goals and values when they play in soccer-contests. It is simply not true that to be a robot means to be without a free will. Thus even if man is proven to be a mere robot this would not change his nature of a free willing creative animal. People who think otherwise just have not understood the problem.

    When we speak of human existence, we tend to speak of it in a way we speak of the existence of the electron and the quarks. This is a mechanistic view supported by analytical philosophy. When people ask do I exist ? they typically do so in the detached mode of the logician asking for the solution of a mathematical problem. We should turn instead to the existentialist way of asking do I exist ?, by which the question is understood as : What is my situation here and now, what am I doing here, where should I go from here, what to make of my freedom to change the world and leave a footprint ? We are not electrons or solutions, we are freely acting and thinking systems, we are active and creative, we are on a distance from necessity, not just following some line of force. And once more : this sort of freedom, of distance from necessity, is already displayed by working robots today, while only in a rudimentary way.

    The mode of being, of existence, of a human is freedom to go this way or another way and to choose where to go. This is not an illusion as is often said. The real illusion, the real misunderstanding, is that of being determined. I know all arguments against free will, and they all are rubbish because they miss the essential point. They are spoilt by what one has aptly called the rattomorphic image of man, depicting man as a rat in a maze running for a pellet. But man moves in a super-maze, in a maze of his own invention, transcending what is called given circumstances. There are no given circumstances for the wise and saintly, for the creative and imaginative, only for the unimaginative following rules and usages and forgetting about their freedom to ignore or to break and change them.

    Thus to ask for the existence of man is to ask for the meaning of his freedom, is to become aware of being in the world here and now and free to go where I want to go. This of course is Heidegger : Man exists i.e. stands out from merely being a fact in a clear distance to nature and the animals by being aware of his situation. To be aware of my situation means to be free to change it on my own free decision. I am not the passive victim of my situation and I am not a mere fact.

    If somebody is to tell me what I will do next time, I may surprise him by doing just the opposite in rebellion against his prediction. This was what Socrates and Jesus did : They both could easily have run off, and their judges even did hope desperately they would take the chance and do so. But they both did not and freely decided to get killed. And they both so decided by arguments that were not understandable for any mere behaviourist or determinist. To insist that they had to do as they did is a void phrase. Of course everything in the world has to happen as it does, the value of such a pseudo-insight is nil, as is the pseudo-insight that the world is all that is the case. Even if there were a god, this god would just be the case. This does not lead us anywhere, neither to some good insight nor to some good decision.

    The questions that should concern us are : What to make of our freedom here and now ? What next step to go why ? This is our responsibility, and we should try to be up to it. And this is the proof of our existence : I am free to decide where to go therefore I am. And since this world of human freedom, where we decide what to do and where to go, is a virtual world, there are many "virtual objects" like freedom and justice and beauty and truth and goodness — and even god — that are at least as important as are physical objects. To be virtual in the world of decisions is not "to be not there". So we have to think over this virtual sort of "existence" and its importance for thinking beings that have not only to know something but even to decide something and to go somewhere.


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (10/29/04 1:47 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: What is known.

    "No man has seen nor will anyone know the truth about the gods and all the things I speak of."

    "For even if a person should in fact say what is absolutely the case, nevertheless he himself does not know, but belief is fashioned over all things (or, in the case of all persons.)."

    "Let these things be believed as resembling the truth."

    "By no means did the gods reveal all things to mortals from the beginning, but in time, by searching , they discover better."

    "If God (Note- my capitalization not translator's. cc) had not created yellow honey, they would say that figs are far sweeter."

    From Xenophanes of Colophon in Richard D. McKirahan, Jr.'s "Philosophy Before Socrates," Hackett Publishing Company, 1994, which includes text and commentary.


    "It is proper for men who are enjoying themselves first of all to praise God with decent stories and pure words. But when they have poured a libation and prayed for the power to do what is just — for thus to pray is our foremost need ... not treating of the battles of the Titans or of the Giants, figments of our predecessors, nor of violent civil war, in which tales there is nothing useful; but always to have respect for the gods, that is good."

    From Xenophanes of Colophon in Kathleen Freeman's "Ancilla To The Pre-Socratic Philosophers," Harvard University Press, 1996 printing.


    "This love, which is God himself, acts, since he is God, but he acts only so far as he obtains consent."

    From her chapter on "The 'Symposium' of Plato" in Simone Weil's "Intimations Of Christianity Among The Ancient Greeks,"
    Routledge, reprinted 1976.


    "You don't have to believe in God to feel God's presence."

    "Sacraments help us to be reverent in the presence of the sacred."

    "Meditation is the most down-to-earth of spiritual practice."

    "Stillness is a work that challenges our culture and our personalities"

    From Laurence Freeman, OSB, published letter in "Christian Meditation Newsletter," Vol. 28, No. 3, September 2004, International Centre, The World Community for Christian Medittion, St. Mark's, Myddelton Square, London EC1R 1XX.


FROM: Shaun Williamson (11/26/04 7:31 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Wittgenstein and Heidegger

'Heidegger was very near to the later Wittgenstein
and his study of common language.'

Heidegger was nowhere near to the later
Wittgenstein and Wittgenstein had no interest in
common language. Wittgenstein wrote 'Philosophical
problems arise when language goes on holiday' and
most of the previous posting are prime examples of


    REPLIES (4):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (11/27/04 12:31 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on common language

    Dear Shaun,

    glad to hear a new voice after monthes of silence from everybody. I was just starting a poll on why people stay off from this "conference". I am not even eager to show up myself to not scare anybody off. Why not have other people do the royal rumble a bit ?

    I am no expert on either Wittgenstein nor Heidegger. So I am eager to know from you — if you bother to tell me. But Heidegger was telling people that our exchange is not on logical formulas but on daily experiences. In a similar way Wittgenstein tried to find out how people try to understand their daily world by inventing concepts. Thus both were interested in understanding the relation of concepts to "reality" and the way reality is "created" by those concepts — i.e., both ways.

    As a student of Husserl Heidegger tried to get down to the phenomena and how they are transformed into concepts. He opposed Husserls tendency to stay "logical" in a Cartesian sense and said that our use and handling ("Umgang") of objects in practice should be taken into account.

    Wittgenstein said that concepts are SOCIAL constructs, evolving from social needs and conventions, not just mental constructs. Thus they both aimed their critique in the same direction. This was my point.

    Please correct me on this if needed.

    Sincerely Hubertus

  • FROM: Michael Ward (11/27/04 7:24 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: The meat in the sandwich

    Hi Shaun,

    Can you give a current day example of the problems arising from these two perspectives?



  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (11/29/04 9:27 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Wittgenstein and language

    Well I'll try to say something sensible about this.
    Wittgenstein's work can be divided into two periods.
    His early work which led to the publication of his
    book 'Tractatus..' and his later work which I count
    as starting with 'Philosophical Investigations' a
    book that he prepared for publication. There are
    also many other books by Wittgenstein in the
    bookshops but these have been put together by other
    people from the writings that he left behind. I have
    no quarrel with this but only count the ones written
    after (or at the same time as) Investigations as part of to his later work.

    It is possible to regard the Wittgenstein of
    'Tractatus..' as a philospher in the analytic
    tradition but it is a mistake to regard his later
    work in the same way. If you don't want to
    misunderstand 'Investigations' it is best not to
    think of Wittgenstein as a philosopher but rather
    as someone who is discussing western philosophical
    problems. In fact all of his later work is simply
    an endless discussion of philosophical problems.
    It contains no arguments and no conclusions.

    In the introduction to 'Investigations' he says
    that it seems unlikely to him that his work will
    be understood and I think this has turned out to
    be true. Wittgenstein is one of the most quoted
    but least influential twentieth century philosophers
    The problem is that his work has been interpreted
    by philosophers who are only too willing to turn
    him into a philosopher and supply arguments and
    conclusions for him. However some people do understand
    his later work. The best book on it is 'Wittgenstein's place in Twentieth Century Analytic
    Philosophy' by P.M.S. Hacker (who teaches at Oxford university).
    However this is a large book and is difficult to
    understand but well worth the effort.
    You need to keep in mind that for Wittgenstein
    philosophy does not exist or rather that philosophy is the 'bewitchment of our intelligence
    by our own language' and he would have applied this
    thought equally to the works of Hume, Descartes,
    Heidegger, the Logical Positivists and the author
    of 'Tractatus..'.

    Now I have offered this brief account of his work
    so that you will understand that it is difficult if
    not impossible for me to answer questions like 'What were Wittgenstein's ideas on language and how
    do they compare to Heidegger's etc. He had no ideas on language. Certainly in Investigations he
    encourages us to look at language in a certain way
    but this is not because this is a superior or more
    philosophically correct way to look at language. There is no right or wrong way to look at language but some ways are more useful for his purpose and his purpose is dissolve philosophical
    problems (rather than to solve them). When we get
    a clear view of a philosphical problem we will no
    longer find it a problem and because of this we will
    no longer be tempted to philosophise.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (11/30/04 9:32 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Enlightened?


    My understanding of Wittgenstein is limited and I am not able to agree
    or argue with your commentary however the very last sentence is puzzling.
    Are you saying that problems are no longer problems when they are solved
    or something more akin to religious beleif. What follows is an extract
    from a posting by Hubertus Fremery extolling the insights that only the
    true "initiated" beleiver can ever experience — is that what you say he means?



    The scientific mind tries to control everything. The religious mind is
    awed by the very fact that there is a world at all ! Thus any
    religion sharply distincts between the holy and the profane. This is
    clearly seen in the Orthodox and Roman ritual, where the realm of the
    holy and the realm of the profane are clearly separated by bars and
    grids and ceremonies, rituals, formulas and sacraments.

    The uninitiated does not understand the meaning of this and calls all
    this a mere rubbish and a childish superstition. But it is not. The
    meaning of this separation of the holy and the profane is to remind us
    that we are mere creatures and that the whole of nature, those animals
    and plants and stars and the sun and moon are in fact great wonders not
    made by ourselves. There is great wisdom in this humility. What the
    liturgy of Orthodox and Roman and even in part of Lutheran service is
    telling us is this I am the Lord, thy God and my kingdom is not of
    this world (John 18,36). This dualism is essential. This same dualism
    is expressed in Islamic prayer and in Buddhist and Hinduist temples. I
    think this is a very important critical resistance against human
    arrogance and intellectual and moral comfort.

    And this explains why for any truly religious person all gnosticism
    looks shallow and weak : All those gnostic systems of Kabbala and
    Astrology and Theosophy and Alchemy tend to be armchair speculation
    and comfortable arrangements. They tend to keep off the roaring force
    of the holy, this rex tremendae majestatis surpassing all human
    expectation and understanding. A tiger is no pussicat. The gnostic is
    stroking intellectual and spiritual pussycats and never expecting the
    tiger. This is what all great saints of any religion would say on the
    true nature of gnosticism. In falling down on his face before the
    sanctity of the mysterium shows the true greatness of the human mind.

    Only to see and explain the facts is not enough.


FROM: Shaun Williamson (11/29/04 10:34 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Which theory of existence and why?

Reading all the previous posts I was struck by the
differences between Michael and Hubertus and their
outlook on life.
Michael seems to be attracted by scepticism, science
and rationality, Hubertus by spiritual values etc.
What I wonder is how do people choose a theory of
existence. Is it like choosing a religion where you
might become a Catholic because you like the ritual
and the incense or you become a Calvanist because
you like the lack of ritual etc.
Some people will argue that they have chosen their
religion because it is the one true faith etc.
Can you chose a theory without knowing all the
possible alternatives or is it a question of making
a choice on the best infromation you have at this
particular stage of your life?
Is a theory of existence a substitute for a religion?

    REPLIES (8):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (11/30/04 11:58 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on the outlook on life


    I think you see things too "intellectually" here. Most people (>99%) never "choose" their religious convictions but just were born into some family that happened to be "Anglican" or "Roman" or "Lutheran" or "Sunni" or "Shiite" or "Buddhist" or whatever — including agnostic or anti-religious and Marxist etc.. Only very seldom somebody changes his religious convictions. This can happen by some real "conversion" as in the case of Saulus who became Paulus, or by other forms of becoming a renegade. I know of people who have been "sceptics turned true believers" and others who were "true believers turned sceptics" (I for example even have had BOTH experiences in this order). I just met on the internet a former Reverend who is denouncing with hate and contempt all things Christian and religious now and is running a page where all books and arguments "proving" that the Bible is a fake and nonsense etc. are listed with links.

    While I am no "religious" person, I have had my experiences and I try to be honest. I am not a renegade, I need not hate and despise. Many people after a divorce (from a partner or a conviction) tend to destroy and trample what they have adored and embraced before. I don't. Michael is an admirer of Hume and Kant and Enlightenment who thinks that people should not cling to false hopes and assumptions but be honest and in the sense of Freud or Nietzsche accept the non-existence of God just matter of fact. Personally I have no problems with this stand, I only think that it is not wise and missing the point : We all live on hopes and illusions and dreams, and this need not be bad but often is very good. I am just cautious and respecting. If I had two invitations — one from the antireligious former Reverend and one from a nice, wise, and humourous monk — I surely would prefer that of the monk, even as a sceptic. What I like in this case is a rich and strong and loving personality, not a special conviction. This former Reverend is mad with hate, not rich with love. He is shrinking, not expanding mentally and he doesn't even see it because he is blinded now by his hate. We tend to speak of "blind love" and "blind hate", and I prefer people who by love got seeing and open-minded. There is a sharp-sighted hating too, but this makes a closed soul. This is my point. And this is not just a cognitive thing in the usual philosophical sense of checking arguments.

    But of course it is a very philosophical problem of awareness. And this I try to understand.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/01/04 2:24 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: On being flexible


    Indulge me but I think you see things too spiritually. I have yet to get to grips with the point that you say I am missing. Being of a very practical nature trying to build any kind of structure requires a foundation and I have yet to find any demonstrable foundation.

    I am open to any and all hypothesis that is always valid, regardless of parameters or context. In my experience, not hope, there are no absolutes, there is no quality of truth that cannot be exceeded; no complete truth; no unvarying and permanent truth.

    You may disagree with this but negation is insufficient as it needs to be backed up by some empirical substantiation. If, say, God exists lets have his/hers/its email address and get some comments from the omnipotent one alas no, never has and PROBABLY never will.

    Hubertus I feel is the optimist whilst I feel more like the pessimist, except my definition of pessimist is a well informed optimist.

    Be happy,


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/02/04 2:51 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on not demonstrating god and things


    you at least are relaxed and factual. The former Reverend from San Diego is not nearly so but a bit crusading and raging against all religious things — which may well happen in California which really is "religion-crazy" from Zen-Buddhism up to Charles Manson.

    You wrote "Being of a very practical nature trying to build any kind of structure requires a foundation and I have yet to find any demonstrable foundation." Well, I think there will be none. You are talking like an engineer. But religious people talk of "relations". They do not look for a "demonstrable foundation" when they love and trust a spouse or friend or animal, they just "feel". In the same way religious people "just feel" the presence of God and need no "demonstrable foundation" nor ask for some. There is some sort of fundamental trust in this world, which needs no proof. You may call this foolishness, but in fact it is an attitude of "Islam", of accepting a fundamental spiritual order in the same way as you would accept the order of natural laws as in gravity and electro-dynamics etc.. You may call all this "projection" and "unjustified", but it is just a way to go by. By trusting in God and trying to follow in his steps countless Christians — not only those of the Salvation Army or of those many religious orders — are helping others. And this is similar in the Islamic world and in the Buddhist and even Hindu world. As I said again and again : Science cannot give meaning to your deeds. Doing good is always a creative act of supporting what is good. You need not.

    Critics of religion always see the cognitive aspect and ask for "proof". Religious people are not interested in proofs but in personal relations. Remember "Amazing Grace" and "I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see." There is nothing to "prove", but the experience is "real" and turned a former slave-skipper into a caring minister at Olney. He surely felt what he said.

    For the religious person your questions are like asking a fan of Beethoven how to "prove" that his music is "great". He will not understand you. He will ask in bewilderment : "What do you want me to prove ? Don't you hear and feel it ?"

    The meaning of this comparison is : This Beethoven-fan spends his money on Beethoven-concerts and CDs etc., and even tries in hard work to master the piano to play Beethoven sonatas, just because he finds this music "great". In a similar way somebody changes his life and tries to follow in the steps of Jesus just because he finds the model of Jesus "great".

    There is nothing to prove. The proof of the pudding is in eating it. The proof of Jesus for the faithful is in following in his steps. It is really that simple. It is not an intellectual thing. It's a matter of the heart. Once more brainies against hearties — only that I this time defend the hearties a bit...


  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/02/04 11:25 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Proof and Belief

    Hubertus well I am an intellectual but you have misunderstood the point I was making. I am primarily
    concerned with philosophy and with knowledge not
    with belief. Now one of the questions that
    philosphers might ask is can we prove that God
    exists. The answer to this might be no, its a matter
    of belief and that is fine. However there still are
    philosphers who think that you can prove that God
    exists and that is worthy of consideration as well.
    I was comparing philosphers who choose a theory of
    life with people who consciously choose a religion
    rather than those who are born into a religion.
    You have mentioned the ideas of Heidegger but did
    you become interested in him because his ideas
    already fitted in with your existing beliefs?

    In his early Tractatus.. days Wittgenstein said
    that philosophy has nothing to say about the
    really important things in life and by this he
    meant ethics and aesthetics. In his later philosophy
    he completely rejected this view. For him ethics
    and aesthetics are rational activities and don't
    have to be regarded as matters of belief.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/03/04 4:42 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Nature or nurture

    Hubertus and Shaun,

    Can I see some agreement in what you are both saying, what we are trying to understand are the mind sets which predispose people to choose secular or religious paths. Can this choice be the result of nature or nurture, once it's happened can it really be reversed, is it irrecoverable brain wiring or a software upgrade.

    Do philosophers equate to priests in this alternative reality, are we becoming two species.

    Am I simply looking through the wrong end of the telescope.


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/03/04 4:11 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on philosophers and true believers

    Dear Shaun and Mike,

    I start with the evident : Many philosophers even today and even well read in logics and analytical philosophy are Lutherans or Thomists or in some other way deeply involved in religious things. Even the Pope himself is know to be well read in philosophy. Thus there is not and never was an either-or situation. Even Hume clearly said that in his time from about 1750 most intellectuals in Paris or London were agnostics, while there were some well respected Catholic abbes and Anglican church-people too (Berkeley !).

    Second : My interest in Heidegger explains from his German origin — I am German too — and from his development : He was from a strict catholic region in the southern Black-Forest, he got a stipend by the archbishop of Freiburg, then he studied the work of some scholastic theologians, to be admitted to a dedicated Thomistic chair. Only then he got into a spiritual crisis and fell from his faith. In Marburg he was befriended to a famous Lutheran theologian and — as a Catholic — was well read in the Lutheran texts. This sort of openness is very similar to my own style. Later he turned out to be an admirer of the Nazis and I tried to understand the deeper meaning of this, which in fact is grounded in his thinking and not an aberration. But I skip this for the moment.

    I also agree with the later Wittgenstein "in principle". And that's what I am really interested in : What do we call "science" anyway ? For the Thomists the Gospel was not a fancy. What is unnatural in a report on God appearing on earth and telling humans what to do or to think ? There was this famous saying "credo quia absurdum" meaning "The gospel — taken as a report of serious people — is too absurd to NOT be true." It was like several serious naturalists from the WWF reporting tomorrow on TV that they just are back from the inner Congo and really met relatives of King Kong there. The attitude of the scholastics was : Suppose the Gospel is essentially correct. There must at least be some true core of this. But then it would be a really, really important message, not to be taken lightly. This exactly was their concern : If there is some truth in these reports — give and take some of the usual fanciful decorations — then what would be the consequences?

    This attitude is a quite scientific one. Those people were no stupids. It was similar — to take a modern example — to the story of "star-gate" known from the movies. If it could be proven that the pyramids were really built by aliens this would be a very important fact indeed.

    Well, I don't think that the pyramids were set up by aliens, but I understand the attitude of medieval philosophers.

    Which brings me back to the question of what science is. Shaun contrasts "philosophy" and "belief". I do not in this way. Well, we are not living in the Middle Ages, but, as I said before, many well known logicians and analytical philosophers of today are Thomists or Jesuits or Benedictines or Lutherans etc.. Thus this opposition of thinking vs. believing is not nearly as clearcut as you both seem to think. But we may concentrate a bit on this question of what to call science proper and by what criteria.

    What I try to get across with this example of the Beethoven fan is just that "knowing" is a difficult concept : How does one "know" that the music of Beethoven (or of the Beatles or what you name) is "great". You may deny that this is "knowing" at all and call it "meaning" instead. But once more Shakespeare "That what we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." Thus "provable" or not, this evading "greatness" is what makes the fan spend his time and money on Beethoven's music, while all "scientific" opinion on Beethoven would leave him unimpressed.

    What about a lover who spends his money and soul on some woman he finds "great" while his best friend cannot find anything remarkable about her. Who is right — the lover or the friend ? By what argument ? They BOTH offer just an opinion. What do we gain be talking the lover out of his love ? What would be the MEANING of truth in such a case ? Who defines ? I am fighting this "monopolizing".

    My question was : What do you expect from a "knowledge" that is irrelevant for most people as compared to a "mere opinion" that is relevant ? Even philosophy in my opinion should be relevant lest it becomes a mere scholasticism and playing with words. Well, yes, this is what Wittgenstein called that philosophers do : Word-play, language-play.

    I tried to show that this cannot be the whole truth, since our modern scientific world is a result of this "play". Thus there was some "cash-value" in it, as William James said. It was not only language-play, it was a play against nature that made nature give up some secrets.


  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/04/04 12:39 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Knowlege and belief

    Well now you are starting to say something. I wonder
    if we can get Michael to do the same. So far this conference has been too much concerned with scoring
    points off each other and that has probably driven
    other people away since you two have ignored other
    postings and only talked to each other and even
    then you have failed to have any useful discussion.

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/04/04 3:24 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on usefuel discussion


    you may be right, but who defines what a usefuel discussion is ? This below is taking up your argument, but then trying to show that — at least in my opinion — the usual way of handling things is not very helpful. But you may think otherwise, then please tell me.

    You wrote : //... there still are philosphers who think that you can prove that God exists and that is worthy of consideration as well. I was
    comparing philosphers who choose a theory of life with people who consciously choose a religion ...//

    Part of this is already answered by my hint on the fact that there are modern analytical philosophers and logicians being even monks or nuns. Cf. Edith Stein. But one more remark on this : What do we MEAN by proving the existence of God ? Most people accept the idea that there must be "some cause of it all", this "prima causa" of Aristotelian metaphysics. But a prima causa — this mother (or father) of all 'big bangs' — of course is not a Jewish-Christian personal god of wrath and mercy. The prima causa is a philosophers and logicians god, not the god of the Christian or Jewish or Islamic true believer in whom to trust and to whom to pray. Thus in my opinion "proving that god exists" comes to nothing of much value. People make a great fuss on any sources "proving"
    the existence of Jesus. I have been contacted 40 years back on the street by followers of some of those many re-incarnations of Jesus who pop up then and now. How would we "prove" that one of these is a "real" re-incarnation ? If there had been TV in Israel 2000 years back and we had filmed interviews of Jesus as we have them today of the Dalai Lama — what would this prove ? It would prove that there was a nice and wise rabbi Jesus then like there is a nice and wise Dalai Lama now. But this would not prove that rabbi Jesus is God incarnated. Thus in my opinion all this proving-diproving is a meaningless play with words.

    People are always behaving according to what they think is true and important. The lover will buy a beautiful gift for the beloved woman and the true believer will buy a golden crucifix for the church and many true believers may spend much money to build a great cathedral.

    We are debating here "existence" : The naturalistic concept of existence is "having effects in the natural world as by the force of
    gravity". Some idea that makes you buy a golden crucifix or a cathedral has its own way to exist. The naturalist would call this superstition and an "existence in a dream world". My counter-argument was : Man is a fancyful animal full of dreams and plans and hopes. If you take these away, man becomes a stone only subjected to natural forces. This shows that much of this game of proving is misleading and worthless. In the end we all are just heaps of atoms, and even those atoms are only force-fields. So what ? This is exactly what the true believer is asking the naturalist. You can't disprove the existence of god with the help of some device in the sky, because god is not in the sky but in the heaven. They could never meet.



FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/02/04 11:45 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Belief and Reason

'Are you saying that problems are no longer problems when they are solved
or something more akin to religious beleif.'

Michael Wittgenstein was a logician and made
important contributions to logic. He was always
concerned with clarity and consistency so none of
his works are concerned with beliefs in the religious
Wittgensteins idea was that when you attain COMPLETE
clarity about a PHILOSOPHICAL problem you will
see that there is no problem.

There is nothing mystical about about this. But I
am primarily a philosopher and I am inclined to
think that neither you or Humbertus have ever really
understood how difficult philophical problems are.
You both have your different beliefs as do most
people but if you ever really come to understand
a philosphical problem then you will have to
forget everything you think you know and start

    REPLIES (4):

  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/04/04 12:51 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Nature or nature

    Hubertus and Shaun,

    'Can I see some agreement in what you are both saying, what we are trying to understand are the mind sets which predispose people to choose secular or religious paths. Can this choice be the result of nature or nurture, once it's happened can it really be reversed, is it irrecoverable brain wiring or a software upgrade.
    Do philosophers equate to priests in this alternative reality, are we becoming two species.
    Am I simply looking through the wrong end of the telescope.'

    If you want to understand all these things then I
    would propose that you (Michael) and Humbertus
    discuss a real philosphical problem. The most
    appropriate problem given your opposing beliefs is
    the problem of free will/determinism. Don't think
    this is going to be easy. Your first task is to
    understand 'Why it is impossible to believe in
    determinism and why it is impossible NOT to be a
    determinist'. After all you have nothing to lose
    but your preconceptions.

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/04/04 3:40 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on pseudo-problems and "real" ones


    in my opinion many "hard" problems of philosophers are no hard problems at all but just rubbish. At least one should be very clear on what one wants to show. Everybody not only knows that Achilles will overrun the poor tortoise, it is quite easy to show exactly when an where this happens. Thus a philosopher has first to show where the problem lies and why he thinks that it is important.

    In this same way I will not enter any debate on "free will" as long as I am not told what the MEANING of free will should be. Free will in the sense most people understand it is clearly shown even by robots today. Thus for the moment I think this whole problem is as artificial as that of Achilles and the tortoise.

    The funny thing is : After philosophers have told us that Luther's problem of Gods grace or mercy is a pseudo-problem (while it was not for millions of people in his time) they now try to tell us that free will is NOT a pseudoproblem while everybody else thinks it is.

    There are so many REAL problems around that I would prefer the philosophers look a bit there. In a lengthy private exchange with Michael and Charles over the last weeks we not even could agree on a criterium by which to discriminate "madness" from "mental sanity". But this is a REAL problem for the philosopher !


  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/06/04 12:09 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: What problem

    A problem is something missing, whether it's a piece of data, a feeling or an experience it's a state that for some motivation we want ending. If I didn't have to type this but could just invite you into my mind to experience the problem under consideration would this help.

    I wonder if language creates problems or problems created language. It seems to me there is no fixed ground no absolute human universal agreement on what a word represents in our mind. It seems to be the rule that there are no rules, our minds unsurprisingly are like the rest of existence is in a constant state of flux.

    As philosophers we try to condense little islands in this flux where for a brief moment we have some frame of reference to try to understand the order therein. We of course fail as the next thought bubbles up out of our subconscious destroying that fleeting moment of possibility.

    Worms mean exactly what I want them to mean, nothing more nothing less. Is the problem with a problem that there is or isn't a method of solving it. Maybe we should stop talking about problems and re-badge them as opportunities for making a beneficial difference, do it and them move on to the next opportunity.

    All this deconstruction gives me a headache leaving me with lots of individual pieces of Lego when I started with several structures. What really is the point to it all?


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/06/04 4:15 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: knocking on the door of philosophy


    now you are knocking on the door of philosophy. People sometimes call me "difficult". I am not. I am only consequent. As I said several times before, there are "happy cows" that need no philosophy, because they have their inbuilt "firmware". I always admire the birds that are so busy doing what is needed to lead a bird's life. They need no theory for this to do. They just know "by firmware".

    To see "sqaring the circle" as a problem, you need some mathematical understanding which is not even trivial. To understand what is implied in this problem you need much, much more understanding that was available only some 120 years ago (proof by Lindemann in 1882). To see the problem of "god's grace" in the way Luther did it needs a very special concept of religion and a developed theology.

    What I tried to say was : There are no "natural" problems save "finding food and shelter" so to say. Most of what we call a problem is not at all "natural". It's a very brainy thing depending on concepts and arguments.

    You write "I wonder if language creates problems or problems created language. It seems to me there is no fixed ground, no absolute human universal agreement on what a word represents in our mind. It seems to be the rule that there are no rules, our minds unsurprisingly are like the rest of existence is in a constant state of flux."

    This is exactly what Wittgenstein was saying : We are enmeshed in our words. But we should better speak of theories. Concepts like "class struggle" or "god's grace" are not "words" but "concepts generated by theories and meaningless outside of those theories". This I meant with "class-struggle is not jumping around on a meadow like a horse to point at".

    Your constant struggle with concepts as "God" or "free will" are explained by this : Those are not "worms", but they are "artifacts of theories".

    What I am fighting — just as in the debate on "madness and sanity" — is a certain sloppiness in dismissing theories — or in admitting them. This was what Kant tried to do : Separate "meaningful" theories from meaningless ones. But "reality is slick and without any hold". Our theories — even the false ones — in my opinion are just scaffolds to build some meaningful world. The world in itself, the world of "facts", is meaningless.

    Well, there are some simple "problems" like feeding the worm which is an empirical thing. But building a cathedral is not "simple" in this sense. It's not the technical difficulty here, but the question of why to build it at all. Thus we have TWO sorts of reality — a "simple" one and a "spiritual" one. But we cannot dismiss the spiritual one, since even if you could spend religion and theology, you would have left philosophy of justice and philosophy of human rights etc., which too are not of the "worm" type.

    This all explains from the simple fact that man is by his nature a fanciful animal and cannot avoid to see problems of choice. In your list of "missings" you left out the word "solution" : If you were a judge, you would have to look for the right and "just" solution to the case laid at your feet and judgement. To know what "just" means is the problem. And this is NOT missing "data" or "experience" but ARGUMENTS. And these are only meaningful in the context of some "theory of justice". You cannot avoid justifying theories, and that's the core of these problems.



FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/05/04 2:46 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: on the existence of problems


from I take that you are a fan of Wittgenstein. You say that in the later Wittgensteins opinion, if we really understand a problem clearly, then it will vanish. This sounds a bit like Buddhism and Taoism, and to my knowledge the later W was indeed seen as a bit mystic.

But what is "really understand a problem clearly" : When do you understand a cloud — when you look at it from the distance and see it in the sun as a well defined "object" sailing across the blue sky, or when you are in the middle of it and only see mist all around you ? What is the true nature of the cloud — or of the problem ? To know that all problems are OUR problems I need no Wittgenstein. There are of course no "objective" problems.

Thus let's look at the "ontological status" of problems : In the case of mathematics I have no problem with W's thesis (if you put it correctly) : If you really understand a mathematical problem, then there is no problem. But what does "really understand" mean : Mathematicians really understood the nature of the Greater Fermat Theorem only after Wiles had proven it right in 1994 (see's_last_theorem.html).

Thus we see two different meanings of "to understand" : The superficial meaning is to understand what the formulation of the problem is saying, which in the case of Fermat's Last Theorem is very simple. But the deeper meaning is "the hidden nature of the problem", of what is it, that makes it a difficult one, frustrating so many bright mathematicians for 3 centuries. Even today, over 100 years after it has been proven that "squaring the circle" is impossible, some people offer "solutions" to this problem. They just don't understand the deeper nature of it.

But philosophical problems are not mathematical ones. Wittgenstein at least understood this difference. To understand the nature of "justice" or of "freedom" or of "progress" or of "reason" or of "human dignity" is much more complicated than to understand the nature of "Fermat's Last Theorem". In the mathematical case we at least know "what the problem is". In the cases of "justice", "freedom", "progress", "reason", or "human dignity" we not even know that. But even these seemingly "weak" problems are "logical" problems, but of the "common language" type. And this is what the later Wittgenstein — like Heidegger — was very aware of : All those concepts as are "justice", "freedom", "progress", "reason", or "human dignity" are meaningless outside of a language-community of humans trying to describe their situation in the world.

In this sense even Socrates/Plato was well aware of the problem : "He" always started from common understanding and then tried to get at the core of it in a dialogical/dialectical method. He strictly avoided a formal approach, which would not have been appropriate to the nature of the problems. Using formalism is missing the point of those "human" problems. This is NOT psychologizing or sociologizing, it only is respecting the ESSENTIAL human nature of this sort of problems as are "freedom" etc.. You cannot debate "the nature of human dignity" and keep real humans out of the picture and then boast to be "scientific".

Seen in this light, it is "meaningless" to call a "spiritual" problem like that of Luther asking for a merciful God "meaningless". What the philosopher calling Luther's problem "meaningless" in fact is doing is to deny the validity of Luther's frame of understanding his world. Thus it becomes a quarrel over "defining the situation". It is like telling a Picasso or Warhol that their idea of what art is all about is mistaken and they better should be accountants in a hospital and leave the arts to "real" artists. But I won't leave it to the philosopher to decide what "real" art should be. It is hard enough to know what "real" philosophy is. Not even philosophers do.

The problem of a merciful God is as real for the Christian true believer as are the problems of "justice", "freedom", "progress", etc. for the general public. Philosophers are not allowed to dispute such problems away. The moment all problems are disputet away as meaningless you have a bright white wall where nothing is to be seen. This is what the Buddhist calls satori. And I think something like this was on the mind of Wittgenstein. But this "solution" is not honest, since even Wittgenstein would not have looked at butchering and torturing of humans and animals with indifference : He still was a moral agent, not a scanning device like a web-cam.

What vanishes is the felt need to JUSTIFY your deeds and convictions by arguments. And this in fact would be the end of all philosophy which was "invented" to do just this : Justify our deeds and convictions by arguments. Here again the later Wittgenstein and Heiddegger coincide : They both tend to bury philosophy in the mysticism of "being there". They both got "tired of arguments".

Some monthes ago I suggested to Ochieng that we should direct our attention away from this "I exist" to the ontology of problems. What is the ontological status of a problem ? Why do we care ? Why do we argue ?



FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/05/04 10:59 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Some preliminary notes on "the nature of problems"

Some preliminary notes on "the nature of problems" (Dec 5, 2004)

1 — There is a difference of the "meaning" of a problem and the "nature" of a problem. The "meaning" of "squaring the circle" was evident, the "nature" was not. Likewise the meaning of "Fermat's last theorem" was simple, the "nature" and solution was not at all.

There are cases where not even the "meaning" of a problem seems well defined. What is the "meaning" of "democracy" or of "human dignity" or of "just society" or of "progress" ?

2 — One may differentiate three "classes" of problems :

(1) There are problems of "defining" some objects, f.i., why the whale is not a fish — and who defines;

(2) There are problems of "understanding" some concepts like "freedom" or "justice" etc.: what do those concepts imply and "mean" ?

(3) There are problems of appropriate methods , of "false levels" and "incommensurability" etc..

All three classes of problems of course are interdependent : What does defining mean, what does understanding mean, what are the proper methods applicable on different aspects of a problem etc..

3 — What makes a problem a problem ? The problem is defined by some theoretical context. The problem of God's grace may be central to Christian and Jewish thinking, but is not to Islamic thinking and is alien or peripheral to Buddhist and Hinduist thinking because the central idea in Buddhism and Hinduism is not a "personal relation to god" but a causal relation to "karma". But since karma is like a natural law, like gravity say, it cannot be "merciful" and one cannot "pray" to it. Thus any concept of a "merciful karma" would be quite meaningless, while the idea of "a merciful personal god" is not. In this way many problems are "theory-dependent" and become quite meaningless outside the theory that defines them. But to replace one frame of reference by another frame of reference is not generally acceptable as a solution. It sometimes is, as when we say "see it this way !" But in many cases to "see it this way" is only avoiding and denying a problem : "You drive it out through the door and it comes back through the window."

4 — Many problems have a "fractal" character : "What is the length of a coastline ?" Thise depends on the scale and method : When measured from the satellite or from drawing a polygon between points at a distance of some 100 meters on the coast you will have similar results, but when you get down to each pebble you will not even know how to DEFINE what the length of the coast should be. In a similar way many "well known" problems like freedom or justice or human dignity or truth or progress etc. change their nature dramatically under the scrutiny of the specialist. The more he digs into the problem, the more its nature becomes evasive and confusing like the length of the coastline when you start to think of it. Thus we have a problem of "distance" : You may be too far away from a problem or you may be too near to it. If you are too far away from humans, you only see "masses" and "numbers" and "inhabitants", but if you are too close you only see a single person with singular problems. Only from a middle distance you see "a person in a socio-cultural context" whose problems are personal but not singular but maybe even typical.

5 — There are problems of perspective in the sense of "what is a cloud 'really' ? Is its "true nature" seen from the distance as a well defined "object" sailing across the blue sky, or when you are in the middle of it and only see mist all around you ? Could it be that there is no such thing as "the true nature" ? Compare the "electron" the "true nature" of which is likewise a wave and a particle, depending on the way you look at it. "When does a number of grains of sand make a heap of sand ?"

But we always have to be careful : To say that our concepts depend on our theories and vice versa and on our distance and perspective etc. does not automatically include that there are no "real" problems to be solved ! In this sense we have many books on atoms and on democracy and on human dignity — while none of these "objects" is well defined. This does not include that these "objects" are not important !

What is the difference of "being important" and "exist" ? "God" may be very important in the opinion of many people, but this is no proof of his "existence". Or is this just a question of "the right method" ?



FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/06/04 10:39 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: on what can be said

Dear Mike and Shaun,

I am still struggling with the notion of "existence". What does is mean to say that something "is there" or has "such and such properties" ?

That philosophical understanding depends on our concepts, and that our concepts depend on our experiences, was well known even to Plato. The real problem of Wittgenstein and Heidegger was to better define those limits to our understanding of the human condition. Kant had tried to define the limits of metaphysics. What was left was to define the limits of our language and of our experiences too. In Wittgenstein and Heidegger this led to a great frustration and disillusion. In the end, almost nothing meaningful could be said with certainty. Well, there were scientific sentences, but those do not tell us what we want to know on ourselves. To be sure : Both, Wittgenstein and Heidegger, for some time studied mathematics and were at least well aware of scientific problems. But this was not their concern. The human condition was.

Wenn Wittgenstein said that the limits of my language mean the limits of my world he did not mean that our world is restricted to our language. He only said that what can be said is not very much. To know this one need not Wittgenstein of course, but he made philosophical people aware of it. The whole world of music and of art is outside the realm of language. You cannot explain to a blind person what it means to see some beautiful flower or landscape or person. And you cannot explain to a deaf person what it means to hear some beautiful music or the sounds of storms and breakers or whispering or laughter. Thus a really large part of what we call our reality is outside the reach of our language.

And this even applies to religious experiences or to experiences of love and hate, of hope and desperation etc.. No words nor sentences can do them justice. This was the real meaning of Wittgenstein's the limits of my language mean the limits of my world and of his famous That what we cannot speak about, that we should keep in silence.

The problem was : Philosophy is on arguments, and arguments are constructed from concepts that are combined into sentences and texts. But if such a large part of reality cannot be cast into concepts and sentences, what then is left to philosophy ? This was the question haunting Wittgenstein and Heidegger alike. Heidegger in this sense always spoke of hints and ways instead of solutions in philosophy. Both, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, charged school-philosophy with not being aware of its limits, with being self-content with language-games and word-plays and metaphysics and by this getting out of touch with real life and real experiences.

What we have to understand are the differences and similarities of scientific and general forms of knowledge. We never see an electron, but we have detailed descriptions of many properties of electrons. How is this possible ? We have some indirect observations from counters and voltmeters etc., and we have theories interpreting those observations as indicating the one or other property of what we call an electron. In a similar sense we never observe liberty or justice or human dignity etc.. But we have some awareness of the importance of liberty, justice, human dignity etc. and of where they are lacking. This awareness is not a sensual one but a mental one and similar to a physical theory by which measured data can be interpreted this mental awareness is a sort of mental measurement or evaluation that is made possible and that has to be interpreted by some theory on what the meaning of liberty, justice, human dignity etc. should be.

And on this Wittgenstein and Heidegger have been too pessimistic : While our language may be unable to tell us what liberty, justice, human dignity etc. are, it is not unable to set up some frame of reference for human mutual understanding and for a meaningful debate on those entities. While we never see an electron, we may have a very good knowledge of the electron. This is the pragmatist approach to liberty, justice, human dignity etc. : We cannot see liberty, but we can know much of its properties by indirect descriptions of what is lacking if liberty is lacking and what is there if liberty etc. is there.

If you can't express the content of music in words, then try to express it with music. Which means : To set up a better state of liberty you need not know what liberty is, like you need not know what the content of music is to make good music. Thus our problem comes to understand what knowledge means. Knowledge does not necessarily mean to be able to formulate something in clear or wordy sentences. But you need a theory, a frame of reference, by which to interpret evaluations on liberty etc. in some meaningful way. Our theory of liberty is not some description of some object called liberty but is a description of conditions where liberty would prevail in the opinion of the experienced observer. Seen in this way the limits of my language are very much larger than Wittgenstein's pessimistic sentence suggested.


    REPLIES (5):

  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/07/04 12:43 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: No completely wrong


    You are talking about the early Wittgenstein. I am
    only interested in the later Wittgenstein who knew
    that you could talk about anything.
    There is no conflict between values and facts.
    There is no limit to my world. When Wittgenstein
    was writing his ealy work 'Tractatus..' he was
    already aware that there was something wrong with

    He already knew that there couldn't be an inside
    and outside to language but Tractatus seemed to
    stand outside language in order to comment on the
    limits of language.
    The only understanding of the human condition is
    OUR understanding of the human condition so there
    can't be any limitations to it.
    Or as Wittgenstein said in his later work
    'Everything is in order just as it is'

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/08/04 4:07 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: was Wittgenstein a Leibnitian ?


    you write //The only understanding of the human condition is OUR understanding of the human condition so there can't be any limitations to it.//

    Well, yes, in principle. But as Hegel has shown for philosophy — and as every art-historian knew before — you cannot jump out of your time, so "understand the human condition" is a historical thing — including history of theology and philosophy. Some problems come and go — f.i. Luthers problem of "God's grace" — but other problems seem to be lasting — as f.i. "social justice" or "inequality" or "the nature of evil" etc.. But even those problems change their character by illumination and perspective. Thus your statement is not wrong but void. We should ask as philosphers for the consequences of our understanding of this or that problem.

    Then you write //Or as Wittgenstein said in his later work 'Everything is in order just as it is'//Well, this too is "void" and sounds like Professor Pangloss (=Leibniz) in Voltaire's "Candide". As I said this sounds "Buddhistic" and I am not sure that Wittgenstein thought in this way. But I am reading this time "Philosophical Investigations" and other stuff. Perhaps I will better understand what was really on his mind.

    Even in this case Heidegger was not different. He too said that philosophy could not give any good advice, only clear up our understanding of problems a bit. I always see them as twins. They both were "fathers of postmodernism."

    But I still want to know what light the thinking of the later Wittgenstein or the later Heidegger shed on concepts like "free will" or "social justice" or "progress" or "a good society" etc..

    The work of Newton and Einstein and Maxwell etc. was "fundamental", but it was not "meaningless" but of enormous consequences. Thus I would like to see the consequences of Wittgensteins thinking on our thinking a bit : What has changed ?

    I don't expect an answer from you on this difficult question, but perhaps you should ask it. Only to cite 'Everything is in order just as it is' looks very much in need of some exegetics to not sound just trivial.


  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/14/04 7:52 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Everything is in order just as it is

    There is nothing Panglossian (I've just invented
    that word) about Wittgenstein's remark. He was
    merely pointing out that humans made language for
    their purposes so it is not really possible for
    language to fail to achieve its aims although
    philosophers often think that this could be
    So for exapmle Hume says that we cannot be certain
    about anything which makes it look as though the
    word 'certain' is redundant and has no use. But all that this shows is that Hume has the wrong
    idea of what certainty is in our human language.
    The aims of language are whatever language

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/17/04 2:38 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: what language achieves


    it seems "certain" that I barely understand you or Wittgenstein. Well, yes, we are giving some "feelings" of certainty the label "certainty" and this does not guarantee anything on the world around. But this does not mean that words are worthless either or only labeling "feelings".

    Suppose all written and spoken language would be destroyed and made impossible this moment. We would by necessity fall back to the status of grunting and gesticulating apes like in the opening scenes of Kubricks "2001". The whole of modern culture — including the culture of "primitives" — would be fall down and wiped out in a short time.

    While I have not read much Wittgenstein so far, I have read something on linguistics and even lectured a seminary on the difficulties of translating human language by robots. From this — and not from Wittgenstein — I learned that to understand language you have to know something of the world and not only of grammars. By now this is common wisdom in the AI scene.

    As far as I understand Wittgenstein, this was his idea : You make models of the world and then you test those models. You never "depict" reality, which is impossible. Building models is not depicting. But a model allows for meaningful actions. In this sense all theories are models allowing meaningful actions — even the wrong ones.

    This is best shown in physical theories, where the "language" is math. What we "see" of electrons and neutrinos and quarks etc. are only some measured data, the rest are those mathematical models that explain the meaning of those data. And this is not just a "language game" of mathematicians, but results in computers and HiFi-towers and cars and airplanes etc.etc.. It works.

    Spoken language in my opinion is just another way of handling models of a certain type. But this does not mean that it comes to nothing. Our whole culture and all human history is depending on it — as I said above.

    So once more : I seem not to understand the core of your argument which sounds as if language is just a play of words. It surely is not.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/18/04 6:10 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Thinking out of the box


    There is, in my view, no possibility of destroying language (spoken, written or thought) and going back to, as it were, a clean slate. Thought (language) and brain are like wave and particle manifestations of form and function.

    Brains aren't like buckets that you fill up with thoughts it's more like nuclear material when there's enough of it goes critical and the output is vastly increased.

    Why do we not see infra-red or hear radar it's the same answer for the brain, we can't have ideas we haven't yet got the ability to conceive of. For instance I can easily conceive of life in four dimensions but not five.



FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/07/04 1:00 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Who is this robot and what is his name

'In this same way I will not enter any debate on "free will" as long as I am not told what the MEANING of free will should be. Free will in the sense most people understand it is clearly shown even by robots today. Thus for the moment I think this whole problem is as artificial as that of Achilles and the tortoise.'

Which robots are these? I think this is nonsense.
Why do you need to pin everything down before you
enter into a discussion. Who cares what free will
should be? Is a debate going to kill you? Forget
the debate, lets just have a discussion but a
discussion that is more focused than the point
scoring you and Michael have engaged in so far.

    REPLIES (5):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/08/04 3:40 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: on meaningful debates

    Dear Shaun,

    this debate on "free will" has been on the conference several times. It always came to nothing, because nobody could tell what the MEANING of free will should be. As I said in the context of "Fermat's Last Theorem" or "squaring the circle" it was always clear what the meaning of those problem should be, while not the NATURE of the problem which is totally different from the MEANING. Thus I am not asking for the NATURE of free will but for the MEANING. We cannot exchange on the existence of nonexistence of Xurpls as long as I do not tell you in advance what I think a Xurpl to be. Only then you may tell my why you think that Xurpls do in fact exist or not. But up to now I miss any meaningful criterium of how to decide whether there is free will or not.

    My example of a "free will" robot are those soccer-playing robots contesting every year in a tournament. They are not told what to do exactly, they only are told to score goals and what this means. How they do it is left to their own "free will". Now this is not different from what an earthworm does or a fruit-fly. They are following some general program to survive by going for the needed food. But they must have some "freedom of decision" since otherwise they would starve. Nature cannot know in advance what the conditions of "finding food" will be in all detail.

    This at least give MEANING to the concept of a free will : The freedom to decide depending on the circumstances. Of course there are levels of sophistication. If you are doing a dissertation, you have many more "degrees of freedom" to bring this task about. But in principle its just a more complicated "goal" to achieve than that of the soccer-robot.

    I cannot see what the MEANING of showing a free will could be other than to be free in choosing the single steps required to achieve some goal.

    Perhaps you know of an example that makes me think otherwise. But this is what I called a precondition : I cannot solve a problem if I do not know what it would MEAN to solve it. There must be some definite criterium by which to decide whether the problem has been solved or not or has been shown to be unsolvable. In the case of "squaring the circle" it was clearly shown in what sense it was unsolvable. And in the case of soccer robots it is always clear what "to score a goal" means. This is what I want to know in the case of "free will".

    You are right : Generally the understanding of a problem develops in time. And many problems depend on certain agreements. You cannot debate "God's grace" if you think that there is no God, and you cannot debate "class-struggle" or "Oedipus-complex" if you think that Marx or Freud were mistaken on those concepts and you are debating the nature of "unicorns" or other things that "do not exist". But here we are again : You should convince me that "free will" is something that can be debated in a meaningful way. Up to now I am not convinced. Only to call the problem "very difficult" does not prove its existence. This would be a nice addendum to the old debate on the existence of god : "Proving the existence of God by the difficulty of the problem". No, we have to be careful !


  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/11/04 11:54 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Football robots

    No you are wrong. There is no way to tell soccer
    robots to score a goal. I am a computer programmer
    and I know that at present this just isn't possible.
    And we can talk about God and Freud even if we don't
    believe in them.

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/17/04 2:09 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: what are those robots doing ?


    I am no specialist on those robots. I only know that they are doing their annual soccer-contest. If you can't tell the to score a goal, what then are they doing ? Perhaps I have to ask those people who are programming them.

    And I still miss any description of how you would decide whether there is free will or not in some agent. The usual neurologists "proofs" that there is no free will remind me very much on the "proof" that Achilles never will pass the turtoise : Even Zeno knew better of course, but it was never the problem itself, but his way of describing it, that made it impossible to happen. And this was my point.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/18/04 6:28 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: You would say that


    You did not choose to write your last reply it was nothing more than a inevitable event of such complexity that not even you could predict what it would be.

    If that's true there is no meaning to meaning for there is no ownership of choice how does that suit you?


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (01/03/05 4:23 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: free to choose

    Dear Mike,

    a happy New Year before ! I am back. Well, if I understand you right, then I am back by a chain of necessities, and posting this answer was only matter of necessities too and not a free choice to do other things instead this moment. But in my opinion all this is meaningless and circular and a waste of time.

    First : As I wrote in the context of debating my dream and other "strange" phenomena, I am not fighting "naturalism" but "reduced naturalism". Thus extrasensory persception or "revelation dreams" may be quite natural events, while not fitting with our current understanding of nature. Our current understanding of what is natural may be as "reduced" and incomplete as was the understanding of nature in the times of Newton : No electro-magnetism as in Maxwells Equations, no Quantum-Mechanics and Periodic System, no Relativity Theory etc.. Newton's view of the physical world was very reduced. How do we know that ours is less so ?

    Second : I am still asking what the MEANING of determinism could be. The thrown dice is determined to be unpredictable. This follows from the very meaning of symmetry: If the dice is symmetric, it must be unpredictable. If it were predictable, it would not be symmetric. There is no way out. If two outcomes are of equal probability by symmetry, you cannot predict what will happen. By this (simple) argument you see that "necessity" and "chance" are not contradicting concepts. Chance is a necessary concept.

    Now, if you have two options to choose from and both are of about equal attractiveness to you, nobody can predict what you will do. By this argument your will is NOT determined. Like the coin in "heads or tails" you may fall to become a great saint or a great villain by chance. But generally the "circumstances" of your life are of some importance too, so you will not become either saint nor villain.

    Freud and Marx and the behaviourists have shown that much of what we do is more determined than we thought before. But they both suggested meaningful explanations for this in form of "class" and "neurosis" and other such models. But a general "determinism" is a meaningless and void idea. Even Calvin gave meaning to the concept of predestination by introducing God as the Great Predestinator.

    To build those Gothic cathedrals you needed Christian faith. To create modern science you needed Neo-Platonism and Alchemy in the times of Kepler and Newton. You may call this determination, but then it is determination in the sense of Darwinian evolution : There always are causes of what happens, but you cannot predict what will happen. Newton could not know that he was inventing "modern science". Columbus could not know that he was launching "American History". The genes of the mouse did not "predict" the genes of man.

    Why ? Because the selective process is not in the genes. The evolution of man is only one of countless possibilities in the genes of the mouse. The selection process is unpredictable and "historical". Apply this to your personal bio : You are not (completely) "determined" because you are acting always in some environment which is unpredictable — and so your reactions and their effects are too.

    You may hint at some rules and effects, as Darwin and Marx and Freud tried to do. But to speak of a general "determinism" is not only meaningless, it is wrong and caused by a misunderstanding.



FROM: Shaun Williamson (12/14/04 8:13 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: You can't jump out of your time

'you write //The only understanding of the human condition is OUR understanding of the human condition so there can't be any limitations to it.//'

Well Hagel may have claimed that we can't jump out
of our time but this is a useless idea that goes all the way back to Plato. We only see the shadows
cast by the firelight on the walls of the cave.
The picture that that this conjures up is that
there is an objective reality which exists in the
mind of God of which we have an imperfect view.
But for us there is only the human view of reality
so we cannot be trapped inside it because there is
no inside or outside to language.
What humans think often changes over time but this
is not because our previous view of things was
imperfect but because we live in a different
world. So it is not our view of the world that
changes over time. Our world and our view of the
world change together. Nothing mysterious about

    REPLIES (1):

  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/17/04 3:07 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: our world and our view of it


    I clearly disagree on this. Picasso could copy a Leonard, but Leonardo — in his time — could not jump out of his time and paint like a Picasso of the 1930s. Of course technically there was no problem, but it would have been a joyful caricature at best, not — as in the real Picasso — from a certain conviction and way of seeing.

    There is NO direct relation of "basis" and "Ueberbau" in the sense of Marx. This is rubbish. Modern science did NOT result from practical necessities but from strange theories and special conditions.

    It is not about "outside and inside of language". That Columbus set out to reach India on the western route was not a matter of language but it changed the world. That bright people in Europe became obsessed with mathematics in the 17th century was not a matter of language, but it changed the world. In all these cases it was a certain way of seeing things and seeing problems.

    Luther's problems with a merciful God and his Reformation was only meaningful in the context of Christian theology and would have been meaningless in Islamic or Buddhist culture. But Christianity was not the necessary consequence of some mode of production while of course the "socialist" character of Christianity made it fit for becoming the general religion of later Roman Empire in a similar way as Marxism proved useful in the hands of Lenin and Mao under the special conditions of Russia and China in their time.

    That there can't be limitations to our understanding of the human conditions was meant to say : Your personal conditions do NOT by necessity determine whether you will become a monk or a playboy. We are NOT just "adapting" to conditions, because we ourselves define what "our conditions" MEAN. This is the old wisdom of the media : Place a pro-Bush and an anti-Bush person before a TV-feature showing some speech of Bush. They will be as fiercely opposed afterwards as before, because they both heard the same speech, but completely disagreed on how to "read" it.

    There is never a necessary reading, because all reading is done against some background of understanding. The image is not (only) determined by the incoming data but by the imaging-device and -process. You need not even read Gadamer to know this. Every engineer knows. This was my point.



FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (12/17/04 12:40 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: on more on "free will" and necessity

Dear Shaun and Mike,

I am still waiting for a meaningful definition of "necessity" or "lack of free will" in humans. I time and again got the impression that people just don't understand the meaning of those concepts even if they try to defend them.

Animals — f.i. ducks — have a sign language that is very precise. A disciple of Konrad Lorenz said that different species of ducks can by as clearly kept apart by their behaviour as by the colour-patterns of their feathers. This assures that only members of a species are pairing and having offspring.

This is totally different in humans. While there are some genetically determined human reactions of universal validity as smiling, blushing etc., they all can be suppressed or enhanced or ritualized by culture.

Human language is not "adapted to a species" but is (in the sense of Noam Chomsky) only a genetically fixed "deep-structure" from which to generate countless languages (i.e. grammars) beyond those some 10,000 already known. If you know the principle of building concepts you are free to build any concept. Thus Bedouins have some 50 different words for different forms of sand and stone, while Inuit have about the same number of different words for forms of snow and ice. We industrialized people have many thousands of different words for all sorts of technical devices and chemicals etc..

Thus if you understand the principles of naming and constructing, you are free to invent an indefinite number of names and constructions. There is no limit. If you know how to combine words to sentences and sentences to novels, then you can write millions and billions of novels — as in fact it is done. And if you know the principle of musical invention you can invent millions and billions of tunes and musics, which too is done. If you are an architect you can build everything which is compatible with human needs and technical possibilities.

Humans are not determined by their environment, save they are stupids and dull and without phantasy. This is why I call naturalism not "wrong" but a misleading nonsense. What should naturalism mean ? There are some millions of animals and plants known today. Those are a tiny fraction of all possible animals and plants. The genetic principle is a constructive principle and by this is as open to varieties as human language or music. Of course this all is in accordance with laws of nature and in this sense I agree on naturalism.

The difference in the case of humans is : If you are able to write a novel, you need not do it, you are not determined to write it, you can write another novel. If you are able to compose a music, you need not do it, you are not determined to compose it, you can compose another music. If you are able to paint a picture, you need not do it, you are not determined to paint it, you can paint another picture.

Which means : There is no necessary connection between "circumstances" and our reactions to them. We are not answering to outer conditions but to inner ones. There is no necessity for man to go for wealth, lust, and power following "natural drives". He may as well enter a religious order and vow "poverty, chastity, and obedience" following religious convictions. By this he is reacting and adapting not to an outer environment but an inner one. And while there may be only one outer environment at a time in a physical sense, there are innumerable inner environments depending on cultural and personal standards and inventions. Thus we often do not even follow conventional religious or political creeds but our own ones. In this way even children can use their understanding of common language to build their own languages by similar principles. They ara adapting, but not by necessity. They are not determined. They just want to be sociable.

Thus the whole concept of human necessity in my opinion is just nonsense and missing the point. The most important characteristic of man is his ability to playfully invent concepts as needed and construct any combinations of them as seem fit — NOT to necessity, but to play around. The idea that there is or should be one "reasonable" or "best" solution to any problem is quite absurd. There never was. To what problem is an elephant or a rose "a solution" ? Well, they just survived in an ecological niche where other competing organisms failed by whatever cause, mostly by bad luck. But the countless animals and flowers grown in our phantasy and populating SF-stories and fairy-tales are subjected to quite different principles of selection. If sometime we will have the technical means to build animals and plants and even "plantanimals" and "cyborgs" by genetic and electronic engineering we may do so. There are no limits.

So once more : I just don't understand the concept of necessity and ask for an example "dead or alive" of this very strange and evading species.


    REPLIES (7):

  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (01/08/05 10:18 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: free will and determinism

    Well it is obvious that you don't understand the
    nature of the problem and at present it is the
    nature of the problem that I am trying to explain to you. To understand the problem of freewill vs
    determinism you have to be prepared to listen and to leave all your preconceptions behind.
    But if you want to say that humans are free and that is the end of the matter then that is ok.
    You and Michael are like two sides of the same coin. You are both so determined to advance
    propaganda for your own points of view but you
    both fail to see the real problems.

    Shaun Williamson

  • FROM: Michael Ward (01/11/05 11:24 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Free to reply


    Please set out what it is we are not seeing, a problem where there isn't one or maybe no problem at all just a matter of perspective.

    What do you propose is the case?


  • FROM: Hubertus Fremerey (01/15/05 4:28 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: one simple question


    what I wanted to know is just : How would you decide whether there is free will or not ? If you can't, then it is a meaningless problem.

    What I try to avoid are trivialities. Everything has a cause. Even the fact that I am writing this. Well, that amounts to nothing.

    See it thus : To know that plants and animals are made up of molecules can be very interesting the moment you try to do genetic engineering. But if you only say "all plants and animals are made up of molecules" it is only a banality. I am interested in the wealth of wonderful forms of plants and animals, not in the banality that everything is made up of molecules.

    In the same way I want to know what I buy for the banality that everything has some natural cause. This moment there are many articles around in neurological and philosophical journals "proving" that there is no free will in humans. All this comes to nothing and is a mere rubbish, because it just misses the point and does not lead anywhere. THIS was my complaint.

    How do you think to put some real value to this thesis of "no free will" ? What are the consequences of yes or no ?

    I see it thus : We know the consequences of molecular-genetic evolution — well, as naturalists, not as creationists or adherents of "intelligent design". But does this knowledge of the mechanisms tell us anything on what evolution came to — all those plants and animals and humans ? No, because the genetic mechanism itself is interacting in an unpredictable way with geography and disasters and chance and all such things. Thus you may well know and accept the Neo-Darwinian theory of genetic-evolution and at the same time have not nearly any realistic idea from your computer-models of all the millions of forms of life on earth. This is what I call the difference of a banality (the mechanism) and a reality.

    You may be right on "there is no free will in humans", but this comes to nothing of any value, since you don't get any deep insight in what to be a human is all about. Then you are not "wrong" on this thesis, but you waste your time with it.

    What you seem to tell me is : If I were able to see things in four dimensions I would see world history not as a unpredictable sequence of events but as a map of world lines predetermined. This idea was well known to the 17th century theologians. But since we are no gods seeing the world this way, we have to keep — at least for the time being — to the notion that the future is behind the horizon and unknown to us.


  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (03/12/05 7:23 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Free will and determinism

    Sorry to take so long to reply to this but I have
    been in New Zealand for the past two month and
    have not had much access to the Internet.
    I don't know why you assume that I am anxious to
    persuade you that free will doesn't exist. This is
    not true. What I am trying to get you to see is
    that the arguments for free will are compelling and the arguments for determinism are also
    When you see this you will see what a real
    philosophical problem is like and you will see
    that it needs a real solution.
    My main criticism of both you and Michael is that
    you play at being philosophers. You pick and
    choose the philosophical beliefs that fit in with
    your own preconceptions. You have driven other
    people away from this conference because you both
    avoid real discussion of other peoples views and
    are too concerned to push propaganda for your own
    preconceived ideas. It is not my reponsibility to
    explain determinism to you but maybe it is your
    task to try and understand the serious arguments
    for determinism. In the same way maybe Michael
    should try to understand that it is impossible to
    be a determinist.

  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (03/13/05 8:16 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: The future

    'But since we are no gods seeing the world this way, we have to keep — at least for the time being — to the notion that the future is behind the horizon and unknown to us.'

    But of course this is exactly what we don't do. We
    expect our clock to go on mechanically telling the
    time. We expect our computer to act in the same way tomorrow as it does today. When we go into a
    room we reach for the lightswitch.
    What we don't say is 'My computer works today but
    tomorrow everything might be different'.
    The whole of human existence is based on trying to
    pin down the future and to take account of what we
    cannot pin down. So the future isn't unknown to us. The sucess of humans as a species is based on
    their ability to predict the future.
    Why would we build a power station if we thought
    it might only work today and not tomorrow.

  • FROM: OCHIENG OMBOK (03/14/05 8:40 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: conjectures as dilemmas in time

    We live with expectations based on rules that have been so far obeyed, and those that we expect to be obeyed. Some of these rules are products of inductive thinking because there is no deductive method of resolving them, or the methods available could themselves be based on inductive premises. For instance, I find it reasonable to believe that if I flip on the switch, the lights will glow, though I would not be surprised if they failed to glow and I had to replace them all. However, if the expected does not happen, it proves nothing. It neither proves free will nor determinism. It only shows the limitations within which we were performing our expectations. Some beliefs are held through conjecture, and just like Goldbach's conjecture of prime numbers, these beliefs will remain unproven until one day, one comes across an event that does not fit the conjecture. But the point is that if ,say, that number in Goldbach's conjecture "exists" somewhere near a trillion or sextillion, then, it is already there but we can not work it out yet. I don't know whether this is trying to dodge the law of excluded middle, but the only way we can prove freewill is if we could take a completely independent action free of any external or internal influence. But if it is truly argued that our actions are not free, but actually as a result of earlier experiences, then this trap of freewill vs determinism must have been laid much earlier, before the point at which we started loking for its solution. Can we move slightly backwards, as it is usually done in astronomy, and see whether we can observe the trap being laid.

  • FROM: Shaun Williamson (03/26/05 6:07 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Orchieng don't confuse maths and science

    'and just like Goldbach's conjecture of prime numbers, these beliefs will remain unproven until one day, one comes across an event that does not fit the conjecture.'

    It is important not to confuse maths and science.
    One day a mathematician might prove that the
    conjecture is true or that it is false and then the matter will be settled for all time. It took
    hundreds of years to prove Fermat's last theorem
    but now it has been proven there is no possibility
    that we will find an exception to the theorem.
    With a scientific theory there is always the
    possibility that we will find things that do not
    fit the theory. Then we will find a better theory
    that explains the things that did not fit. This is
    how science progresses.


FROM: Shaun Williamson (03/26/05 6:37 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Michael and Hubertus and free will

Look philosophy is about having a discussion in
order to solve a problem. If Michael can't see what the idea of 'free will' means and Humbertus
can't see what 'determinism' means then you both
have nothing to discuss. So you should both stop
posting messages on this topic. It is not my task
to explain to both of you why you might be wrong.
I don't wish to persuade anyone that there is a
philosophical problem if they haven't first seen it for themselves because I don't think that there
are any real philosophical problems.
If Michael is comes to understand why determinism
is a problem and Hubertus ever comes to understand
why free will is a problem then there might be
something to talk about.


FROM: Anthony Kelly (09/16/05 2:15 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: The beginning of the Cosmos and Time

I have a Theory of Existence. I developed this theory by applying the same principles that I applied as a Police Officer conducting a criminal investigation. When I look at the world and the evidence produced by Cosmology, it is clear that something is going on. I look at the evidence and seek to explain what is going on. I ask whodunit?

It seems to me that the best explanation of both the Cosmos and Time beginning together in the Big Bang is that there is a powerful, intelligent creator behind this event, and that this creator has a motive. I am willing to consider any other explanation of this event.

I do not call this creator God, simply because that name carries too much mythical and other baggage. For the same reason I do not use a capital c for creator. What I want to do is to use the available evidence to work out the creator's motive for the Big Bang.

Before I continue I want to deal with any other explanations that can be offered for the beginning of the Cosmos and Time. Any takers?

    REPLIES (3):

  • FROM: Gerald Boone (09/16/05 4:06 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: The Unmoved Mover

    Hello Anthony,
    What you wrote reminds me of what I have read of the Unmoved Mover. The Creator and sustainer, who moves everything but is Himself unmoved. The arguement for design, that what is appears simply too complex to have "just happened". I agree, I find too much beauty and interdependent relationships to believe otherwise. I believe in God. That said, I have a Brazilian friend that says " God exists but the truth is yours", meaning that when it comes to such issues as God, creation, or existence there is a variety of opinion, all logical assertions with support. How do we explain even our own existence. The painting you see me with in the philosophy lovers gallery is kind of based upon all this. Metaphysical questions become so complex, I could find no words to describe them, some thoughts are best described by images.
    Best regards

  • FROM: Anthony Kelly (09/21/05 2:36 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: The next step

    In the absence of any dispute that a self-existent entity, a creator, is the best explanation of the existence of the Cosmos, the next question is that of motive. Why would the creator create a Cosmos like this, one that could eventually produce intelligent beings such as mankind, and moral beings, such as some members of mankind. (Lawrence Kohlberg shows that there are a series of moral stages and that the top stage, principled morality, is pretty rare. Most people simply adopt, or seek to avoid, the "morality" of their community.)

    Aristotle was able to argue his way up from the world to the necessity of a creator (in my terms) but he could not reconcile the state of the world with the perfection of its creator. Aristotle's only model of process was the circular biological model. Had he understood process as possibly a linear development towards greater perfection he may have been able to see the Cosmos as a process.
    I suggest that this is the most likely motive for creation. Other suggestions anyone?

  • FROM: Anthony Kelly (09/25/05 11:59 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: The Motive for creation

    I suggested that if Aristotle had understood creation as a linear process, rather than either see the cosmos as static or as a circular process on the biological model, he may have not given up on his attempt to link the creator to the cosmos. If creation is a linear process, where is it heading? Answering this question could provide the key to motive. Any suggestions?


FROM: marvin kirsh (11/19/06 7:57 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: I Am the Same As You If and Only iI You Are the Same As Me

When we ask question of existence, can we start with a very simple thought akin to "ITHINK THEREFORE I AM" in terms of the liars paradox..."THIS STATEMENT IS FALSE". If the statement is true that it is false then it contradicts itself. if you say "THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE" it says nothing.-nothing we can call a void. Then we have two existing statements -an existing void and an existing contradiction, both existing together in the same world, that the scientist must find room in some middle ground to write his ideas-to find the best truth "so help me god"
"THIS FALSE STATEMENT IS EQUAL TO THE SAME AS THE COLOR OF THE SKY if false and true are colors. [the actual lettering in black blue red etc)With respect to color, if the sky, is color "true" then it is false that false equals true and the statement is false with respect to color . Again with respect to color, if the sky is color false then the statement says false is equal to false and the statement is true with respect to color, and not truth value if it proclaims itself false. If we include truth value a true sky produces a false statement which proclaims itself false (if proclaiming ) truthfully). If the sky is false the statement itself is true)(false equals false) while proclaiming itself a false statement ,is a true statement proclaiming itself as false. This always leaves the moving reflection (and witness to testify to the colors of the letters)of the proclaimer in final judgement (i.e. as god is my witness). This trial the scientist has to avoid by producing evidence that can be mutually agreed upon. The scientist in doing this composes two compositions, one of the model world he is constructing and the other of his personal critique of his own creation so that, to the best of his knowledge, the composition (i.e his mood and behavior, for instance on a day when the sky is dark colored) and the applicability of his specific pursuit as a form of general knowledge-that it is consistently logical and is testable. Before Newton (not too long ago in history) there was possibly no foundation in thought that logic applied to nature. The science of nature is of the religious argument which preceded it and from which science was born . [Can it be envisioned happening another way logical fact preceding belief if in fact all learning is from environmental test] ----the scientist's tasks, if he objects to religion as a kind of emotionally derived (of fears and vulnerability to nature)buck passing, is to create composition's one of which is of his own critique of his creation(his personal composition) and the other of the mathematical logic and approximation to truth of the work itself. . Neither of his compositions can be logically empowered to speak against the truth
Today's science has attained such a vast complexity that the scientists' statements almost reduce to (as curved line created by dividing a distance to a straight line by twos. never reaches it),i.e. THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE the closer the curve to the line-i.e to an effectual bullying of the ignorant and uneducated with logical consistency as a weapon that one need the talent and intelligence of an Einstein to speak for the common good. He deductions(of THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE). essentially add to either nothing or something beyond the scientists own grasp that is not in the always small remaining distance of the curve to the line, but is about it -one can never refer totally away from himself, -Einstein,who I think was never understood,.. that there is some commonality to all that refers to each equally....and this creation is acceptable in terms of objectivity vs. self referal. Todays scientist . He is nearly able to create real objects from imagination, walls from nano materials, microbial populations with solid stock holding in wall street utilities, turn the discarded failures of conception into disease cures, one animal into another , as proof of the validity of his science. He wastes nothing of the forces of change that he considers free to his TRUE employ.


FROM: Bernard Rooney (11/28/06 10:44 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Introduction

Hello I'm Bernard from Australia. I thought I'd start with a curve ball. It's from another forum where we were discussing cosmology.

My belief is that we are infinitely reincarnating. We were ants and we will be suns. But unlike the ordinary view of reincarnation, my view is that this progression is not bound by time: we are either the reincarnation of the infinite numbers of life forms that have been, or those that will be, or those that are. For example, very ant you see, or that will be on this earth, every blade of grass, were forms you or I were once manifested as: every sun of past, future and present you and I are yet to be. What this entails is that we have had infinite lives in the future, present and past (although there is really only the present, but that is another story)

Nietzsche came close to this concept with his idea of the eternal recurrence, but his poetic bent didn't allow his philosophy any further than that.

The idea that we live forever is mistaken. We die. Death is the catalyst for new life because it entirely disolves the individual into the infinite. To say we reincarnate is a misnomer then, and my only defence in using the term is that I am limited by language and conditioning. The deepest of mysteries are the most simple of all, and anyone who attempts to talk of them ends up with egg on his face one way or another, but I'm willing to risk that for a philosophical view that is both fluid and worthy of intelligent inquiry.

The spirit is what never dies and we are the manifestations of it.

    REPLIES (20):

  • FROM: Michael Ward (11/29/06 11:42 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    Hi Bernard,

    Welcome to this discussion group.

    I am curious as to what exactly is the we that is reincarnating, I don't mean the plural but I assume you also would say I am reincarnating.

    That every element is created in stars and is constantly re-cycled is by and large an accepted view in cosmology do you not agree. This issue of spirit has been discussed at great length in this forum alone but without any meeting of minds as people tend to believe rather than leave such unproven concepts up in the air.

    I believe in unicorns but because I say this there is no onus upon me to have any reason for such a belief, I could say absolutely anything. Do you have anything other than a desire for this to be the case if so please could you elaborate.



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (11/30/06 7:35 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    Hello Mike.Thanks for the reply boy, do I need someone like you at the moment!

    So far so good, we are both fruit-loops — you believe in unicorns and I believe in the spirit. Philosophy being the love of common sense, I should retract any belief in the spirit, but alas I'm hooked as I can sooner lose my belief in life than my belief in the spirit, if there is any appreciative difference between the two. Common sense tells me I'm alive, not because it has proved that I am alive but because my beliefs inform it that I am alive. My common sense doesn't however inform my belief that I am alive, although it may seem it does. As in the case of the setting sun, where my common sense tells me it is going down, while my belief tells me it is due to the rotation of the earth that the sun is disappearing, even though I can't see the earth rotating. A small child who hasn't the capacity to believe that the earth is rotating — because he or she hasn't grasped the idea of the earth as a large ball — will only consider as much as what the combination of his or her senses, and the information about the sun will allow, and will in all probability be confused by, or even laugh at, any statement of my belief that the sun isn't in fact setting. I have the choice then of either letting my common sense be informed by my belief that the earth is rotating and humour the child by agreeing with him or her, or allow my belief to be informed by my commonsense, in which case I would have to revert to a childish outlook.

    Its not so much that we build beliefs from commonsense but commonsense from beliefs. This afternoon I lifted up the cover from my workbench and struck in the face by something. My senses detected that it was soft, was moving upward, and traveled erratically, it was not therefore an inanimate object sprung loose from one of the many strange inventions and doings upon my bench. My commonsense had it so because my belief system only allows for inanimate objects to move along a predictable projectile: straight. Had my belief system had the allowance that inanimate objects generally behaved eccentrically when propelled I would not have been able to progress to the commonsense belief that I was struck by something small and alive. My commonsense view of what the incident on hand involved was now enlarging: By belief system was intact and the same size as ever, and told me it was some form of flying insect. My commonsense was unable to do so because it hadn't verification so it was force to hunt with my eyes for the suspected arthropod. My belief was that it was possibly a cicada, but more probably, a moth, because of its softness and the not-uncommon visitations of moths in my region.

    My commonsense was foaming at the mouth, itching for a resolution, and a chance to reach the summit of the experience at hand, thereby enlarging itself even more. My belief remained serene, knowing that my commonsense could never be a systematic faculty like itself — no matter how much it gorged itself upon my belief's inputs and knowing that by surrendering itself to commonsense it was performing an archaic rite through which it found refreshment and relaxation.

    Mine eyes spotted the moth a glorious black creature as my belief, rather than my commonsense, would have it. My commonsense knows that moths can be beautiful, but has no means by which to arrest the beauty: Belief is a sunrise that can never be reached by the vehicle of commonsense.

    Now philosophy being the adoring mistress to commonsense; who looks after philosophy so well, and commonsense being the adoring husbandman to belief; who looks after commonsense so well, we end up in a bit of as triangle, as belief is the sister of philosophy. And this is the crux of an apparent impasse of which I suspect we have differences upon as to how to handle it. My way is this: one believes in life or the spirit, not because commonsense tells me to, but because my commonsense has no objection to ratifying things that it can't prove — especially if such things are essential to its own existence. We can see quite obviously how life is essential to the existence of my commonsense: if I am not alive it doesn't function. But how is the spirit essential to it?

    We should first backtrack and posit life safely as apriori without offending commonsense (as commonsense is the man apparently caught betwixt two sisters, who, we hope, get on well.) Commonsense can't prove life through his microscope — though things said to be living move and make sound and do whatever else they do, to him all physic is in the end physic. All he knows is that without physics he is a sure goner and that living things are a major category in physics taxonomy, so commonsense stomachs life and leaves all the dirty work up to his mistress, belief, who can be very lazy even at the best of times. Can commonsense stomach spirit so easily? Does it even have the need? Firstly it does so only if belief allows it to, and secondly it does only if it can build upon it, categorize it within taxonomy, and give it syntax the ultimate function of commonsense. The only way it can accomplish this feat for something that can neither be apriori and useful or useless but empirical, as he suspects the spirit of being, is for belief to furnish it as both empirical even though useless, and apriori but still useful. Quite a task for belief! So what does belief do? Well, belief having no husbandman to look after her hands it over to philosophy, so that commonsense can at least look after her as she deals with something so unmanageable and potentially dangerous. What philosophy finds, to her great delight, is that the spirit becomes enamoured of her and she begins to care for him as she has had no one prior to care for, and then spirit becomes the husbandman to belief, looking after her. And so spirit becomes a useful apriori because he's looking after belief as well as a useless empirical because philosophy is looking after him And the once unstable triad becomes a stable tetrad and live happily ever after.

    To sum up. Belief provides the means for commonsense to exist through subjective data; commonsense provides the means for philosophy to exist through objective data; philosophy, without data, implants the quality 'subjective' to the spirit, and, finally, the spirit provides the quality 'objective' to belief, again without data.

    As to your question, what is the 'we' that reincarnates, I can only repeat by saying that it is the spirit that reincarnates, but that reincarnation is a misnomer as the spirit doesn't come into or out of being. It just is... or isn't — dependant entirely upon whether we are... or are not.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (11/30/06 11:08 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    Hi Berhard,

    What an interesting set of family relationships you have! As I read through you posting a number of perceptions came to me which were:

    You, rather like me, seem to be in two minds in as much as you are both observing what is happening in the world whilst simultaneously watching how you yourself are reacting and behaving. You therefore have a perception on your perceptions and this to me would indicate that you hold commonsense somewhat at a distance in favour of more critical appreciation.

    If this is true you cannot ever regain the innocence of the child's perception of sunsets any longer despite willing it otherwise.

    I cannot subscribe to the idea that belief tells anyone anything, at best it's a reflection of your prejudices at worst (maybe least worst) it's the childlike perception and the apathy of choosing not to enquire further.

    I agree that people, by and large, build a world around them that suits them and only change when either forced to by irrefutable facts or by simple curiosity. If you really wanted to find out something you probably could but if you couldn't then leaving loose ends isn't tidy enough for these obsessive believers in a creationist universe there always has to be a reason.

    With the instinctive reactions needed still for survival your self observed reactions are perceived, maybe, as being thoughtful rather than thoughtless — which in fact what they were and should not be interpreted otherwise. Seek and ye shall find but only what you are looking for.

    For me philosophy isn't dominated by anything else such as emotions or feelings or desires but it is what I live and not what I do.

    Your triangle is in fact my pyramid which I think ties in nicely with virtually ever other structure around us from the food chain to politics and evolution we are pyramid builders as it's a proven evolutionary advantage to every species.

    Finally back to spirit, is it your internal observer or their observer in turn ad infinitum for me it makes no sense as does wishing it to be otherwise.

    Now if you're not certain you exist and I cannot even prove to myself that I exist what chance is there of any of us proving the existence of others so how can you posit the existence of spirit.



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (11/30/06 3:53 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    Ah yes, the circuitous pragmatist and the plummeting dreamer join forces to form a living spiral! Your pyramid, don't forget, has a tetrad base. Whether we like it or not spirit is a part of language and has to be dealt with, even if through negative attention. Of course the spirit can be ignored without sufferance to itself, nor to commonsense, which is only indirectly attached to it on the tetrad base. The pyramid is five pointed, with the observer as the pinnacle, and you would seem to only gaze down two slopes of it, seeing only the corners of commonsense, belief and philosophy. I'm not sure about this though as you seem to posit your philosophy as the whole pyramid — please qualify. Perhaps you are facing the pyramid from the ground, seeing the commonsense corner closest to you, the belief corner off to the left, but not as skewed toward you as is philosophy which is off to the right, and you are observing yourself as the observer at the peak. The spirit is the hidden corner at the back of the pyramid. this seems to me the most popular way of perceiving.

    Certainly one lives ones philosophy as much as ones critical faculties, beliefs or spirit.

    Now one can either prove or disprove spirit, as with any other element of my tetradic toolbox, by using the three other elements. One finds what one seeks.

    Commensense is forever opposed to reason on the tetradic base, so it is probably a bad idea to try and directly prove spirit through reason (commonsense) if one is interested in proving the spirit. I think one is bound to fail. The only option is an indirect approach through either belief or philosophy — which I like to think of as sense faculties for the purpose of this discussion. Bear in mind that commonsense isn't dispensed with in the proving of the spirit, but must still undergo and undertake activity, for its very existence is dependant on the provisions from belief as well as the mandate to supply philosophy with its existence. Being philosophy that supplies the spirit with its existence, its best to start the quest for the proof of spirit through philosophy, although I get the feeling we will be requiring belief ere long. (Note that, on the face of it, I'm at first primarily concerned with the existence of spirit only through its existence as a language element. This is in order to placate unavoidable commonsense concerns)

    Philosophy's proof for spirit lies in its attachment to the pathos inherent to human endeavour the sense that the purpose within intelligence is apriori, a given, sacred or in other words, the sense philosophy gives us is that aprioris exist, and, being a collective, must form a homogeneous extension of some form. This homogeneous extension I posit as spirit. The proof belief gives us that the spirit exists is simply belief's own existence: belief is a unified approach that must have had some sort of incommensurable heterogeneousness as its source; the incommensurable heterogeneousness being the spirit. The ensuing repercussion following all this is the question mark of how an incommensurable heterogeneousness can also be a homogeneous extension, and it would do well as a starting point for disproving that spirit exists, but that is another story.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/04/06 7:24 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    I'll start with a quote:
    "You don't need to take drugs to hallucinate; improper language can fill your world with phantoms and spooks of many kinds." -Robert A. Wilson

    Now spirit is one of these phantom words which if said often enough people will believe in well most people anyway. Ignoring something which is not there would seem a very positive thing to do, after all being the atheist I fit nicely into the description of a being without any invisible means of support.

    I'm appreciative of Platonic forms in as much as in reality there can never ever be a true triangle or pyramid in any material form it is no more than a set of ideas. Philosophy for humanity is all encompassing and not a branch of anything else. Whether that includes space and time I cannot tell but if space and time are actualities then we build a model of them within our philosophy.

    In this way the pyramids and triangles within your mind are your own constructs in piecing together a working model of reality which brings me back full circle to the meaning and use of words and the hidden traps they set for the non critical thinker. (not that I'm suggesting you are in that category) We agree that no one can either prove or disprove spirit any further discussion is speculation and should always be "what if" and/or "probably"

    The notion of a priori is a set of conditions within which certain relationships can be deemed to be valid. I like to think of it as map which I will use to find out how much distance there is from A to B. But what of the blank paper the map was drawn on is that also a priori ? Is therefore consciousness the only possible a priori?

    When we use the words I think that in itself creates a duality what do YOU think :-)



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/05/06 2:48 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    The existence of universals has come more and more into question the more it has been framed as a question. When universals first started to become represented with the dialogues of the Athens school, its existence was almost accepted as gratis, because, I think, it already had a strong nebulous existence in the psyche — an existence that seems to have been more weakened the more that universals have been framed, concluding with the Nietzschean catastrophe that 'God is dead'. Hence our beloved atheism came to the fore. But the Nietzschean catastrophe can't be disintwined from N's own personal catastrophe and descent, and that has been a huge sticking point ever since. How does the individual cope with a philosophical outlook that must, in the end, refuse all ideas as things in themselves, without power to supply meaningful responses to questions that are not able to be resolved in any other way but philosophically?

    We have tried with the intuitive scope of our intellect, through art, to manage the decline of the philosophical sense. It has been a parallel decline though.

    The renaissance framed the individual as an aspect of culture that had power, had equal rights to that of social institutions. But again this framing of a perceived force caused the force to enter into decay. Michelangelo was able to dictate to the dictators — the popes — but the naked figures of the Sistine chapel were eventually to be clothed, and the baroque madness began. Technicality has led eventually to what we have now in art: denial of aesthetics, just as 'God is dead' was the denial of ascetics.

    What we have now is a lack of philosophical sense through either the universals of the ascetics, or as derived by the aesthetes through the apprehension of reality via the processes of individuation.

    Whereto now Horatio?

    Ascetics and aesthetes exist as strongly as ever they did, and are as distinct as ever they were. In fact its as if the main and only drive left to us now is to set up the natural dichotomy as distinctly as possible, to a point wherein the differences between the two are so emphasized that no rapport can exist between them. Its reflected politically where mainland America is divided into localities of left and right loyalties: whole towns are becoming almost exclusively republican or democratic. The philosophical sense is now almost synonymous with the political sense, and as such is taken as gratis — as was once the universal philosopher's sense that he could dally the world pondering his universals with a fair amount of support for his lifestyle. The aesthetic philosopher's inclination to ruminate on his individual responses to the world was likewise deemed worthy of a feed. But I feel I have digressed.

    You can no doubt see what I am tracking here, whether you agree, or no, is a rather moot but, hopefully, hearty matter. The weakening of the philosophical sense decays the sense of the spiritual — already an apparently flimsy sense at best for philosophy, by my model, supplies the spiritual sense with the means for its existence. I suspect a block of supply in reason, or commonsense, toward philosophy. Reason was over bloated by belief, but the supply stopped from belief, as the spirit was deficient, and reason sits there festering and composting, blaming belief for its overweight condition. Reason acts like a fundamentalist who attacks fundamentalist beliefs of a different creed or religion, even though he knows full well in his heart of hearts that their beliefs are identical to his beneath the surface. Why does he do it? To attack his own beliefs: the things he is so 'fed up' with but too self important to admit it as such.

    If aprioris only exist as language, so does the spirit, philosophy, and reason; for aprioris are really only belief. Why need there be an argument or frustration about that? Is it because language itself is lacking in the meaning we so need in all four corners of the pyramid? Let's call language the stone, the substance of the pyramid. The observer, the pinnacle of the tetrad, has to see through language to see the foundation, the source of language, which he intuits may reveal the cause for a possible lack of meaning in language. So he penetrates with x-ray eyes and discovers silence the same silence that swallowed Nietzsche, Sartre, Castaneda and Picasso at a certain point. What is it so intriguing beyond words! So magnetic — yet so bland and meaningless upon cursory inspection something that seems to enter the pyramid through that corner called the spirit? I'm tempted to call it home, or the whack of the Zen roshi's stick, but I'll stick with infinity.

    How about another curve ball?


    Does 'I think' create a duality? It depends whether one is thinking or not when the statement is made doesn't it?

    In my opinion, thinking is the only divine recourse we really have — divinity is defined here as pure joy in being. Thinking is one thing I have no care to examine in and of itself, such as; "is thinking a 'thing in itself'?" or,"Is the thinker the thought?" Thinking can lose a much needed quality of urgency with such questions... or thoughts... like a dog does when chasing its tail (which reminds me of a joke. I'm in Australia and its drought, drought, drought. A fellow came up to me and said he was from out West and that it was "... so dry out there that the other day he seen two trees chasin' a dog.")

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/12/06 7:31 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Explorer or Follower


    Just as you watched yourself watching what turned out to be the moth I am watching what is happening in these exchanges to see where the discussion is going. At present this evades me.

    Let us consider that it were possible for someone to know everything, how all things work, the purpose and reason behind all events and the meaning of life would this not be the end of the road we are travelling?

    Personally I do not think so as these concepts of omnipotence, omnipresence and causality are our own constructs and preceded by a prioris of some nature or other.

    Taking another perspective on existence of life as being totally arbitrary, without purpose, meaning or intent seems a far more neutral starting position to set out on a voyage of discovery than with a map given by someone else.

    It's probably no surprise to you that the latter is my current philosophy rather than the former which I think is yours.

    Where then to go from here do we trust the map given to us or make our own?



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/13/06 6:52 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    I suppose the thing is to have an as accurate map as possible, but not one that interferes with the sense of wonder that is so essential to us... sheer wonder. We need the disposition to be able to tear up the map, any map, in the blink of an eye; as a child would knock down a sand castle. To have no propriety sentiments attached.

    I think we can have the answers to 'all of life'. But 'all of life' is not life, it is a quantity of life, (the quantity determined by the denotation 'all'). Thus I can happily feel I have the answers to all of life (for myself), because I believe that life is infinite, and that anything infinite cannot be an 'all', and that all I'm ever doing is defining with words what I see as 'all of life', but not life. It is merely due to my insurmountable, and inherent, and very necessary need to conceive with thought. Even just by using the word life, I am encapsulating something, giving it the boundary that the use of a word gives it... so too with 'it'.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/13/06 9:42 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction


    When you say because I believe that life is infinite this is the issue where I ask why but never seem to get a candid answer.

    What is it that makes belief preferable to simply not knowing and leaving matters open.



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/13/06 2:24 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    The philosopher lives in his head, as has been said. Can belief or faith reside there?

    Mentally, no, I can't explain why I believe in anything, ultimatly. I believe the sky is blue, not because its been explained to me why it is blue... I already knew that. To wit; the effect light has in passing through the atmosphere wherein only the blue end of the colour spectrum becomes visible to our sight. But even explaining to me why the sky is blue never quites satisfies me. It doesn't tell me what the nature of light is that produces this effect, such as the nature of its base particles: are they energy or matter or both? Wave or particle? The more abstract the belief the less easy it is to explain the why of it, but they are less likely to be taken for granted realities,which some of us think of as a positive rather than negative attribute of abstracts. Reasonable ideas have their roots in abstract ideas, not vice versa. Reason is the hand made of reflection, reflection is the result of turning abstractions in on themselves. For example, thinking that infinity is an abstract concept is a way of creating a reflection for reason to make use of infinity, even though infinity isn't a concept at all. It is inconceivable.

    When you say because I believe that life is infinite this is the issue where I ask why but never seem to get a candid answer.

    What is it that makes belief preferable to simply not knowing and leaving matters open.



    # FROM: Bernard Rooney

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/13/06 5:14 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Don't Panic


    Let us go with the case of the blue sky: I do not believe the sky is blue I think that beyond all reasonable doubt that it appears blue to me — assuming we both share the same qualia of blue that is. I can compare, measure, test, calibrate and all of this is without validation from another being. Validation from another follows as a second order of substantiation one that than only be trustworthy under certain restricted conditions with exceptions such as not being colour blind or not speaking the same language etc.

    This I suggest is nothing like the case you envisage when believing in spirit because there is no first order validation and precious little second order. What I surmise here is a desire for something to be such and such and I translate I believe in spirit to be more accurately stated as I want there to be spirit which I think is more accurate but much less self delusional.

    This small extract spoken by the master of ceremonies from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is pertinent here:

    "It's marvellous though," he rattled on, "to see so many of you here tonight — no isn't it though? Yes, absolutely marvellous. Because I know that so many of you come here time and time again, which I think is really wonderful, to come and watch this final end of everything, and then return home to your own eras ... and raise families, strive for new and better societies, fight terrible wars for what you know to be right ... it really gives one hope for the future of all lifekind. Except of course," he waved at the blitzing turmoil above and around them, "that we know it hasn't got one ..."

    Don't Panic,


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/14/06 1:17 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: THAT restaurant

    The hassle maybe just my fault because I am not being dominantly philosophical in our dialogue; being a philosophy forum I should be more so. I am sounding philosophical, which for most people is enough qualification for being a philosopher, but that is merely hoi-poloi laziness. To be strictly a philosopher is a very difficult thing, as philosophy, we like to think, is more than reason yet remains a dominantly thinking occupation. Some would argue it is a branch of reason, or reason trying to refine itself to the ultimate, or at least, nth degree.

    Is philosophy about thinking with beliefs rather than reason? Is it even possible to think with beliefs? Obviously many do, but let me not judge them or their motives, let me examine things.

    But philosophy is about thinking philosophically, rather than reasonably or emotionally (emotionality equating to beliefs). So things within a philosophical discussion should be verified, or not, using philosophy rather than reason or science, emotions or beliefs. With this in mind I feel that if objective (reason) arguments are allowed to be acknowledged so too should subjective (emotion) ones, bearing in mind in using both that we are focusing primarily on a philosophical outcome -philosophy seeming to inhabit the twilight world twixt reason and emotion. Fair enough?

    A logician is not necessarily a philosopher, though he can become a philosopher, ditto with the religious thinker.We can become specious and talk of logical philosophy and religious philosophy but I'd prefer not to go there for now.

    Sorry to do it, but I wish to return to my tetradic model in order to point out that when I place philosophy between reason and belief, I'm betraying my own concept. In the tetrad I had philosophy firmly placed between reason and spirit, if you recall. You may even also recall that my original model was triadic, and in that philosophy was indeed placed between reason and belief. The spirit was a later inclusion, or adjustment, that needs some further extrapolation, evidently.

    Lets jump metaphors for this and think of spirit as that device used in mathematics: zero.

    Zero was of course an invention of the Arabs. Perhaps only a people with poetry at its heart could have come up with this use of zero in mathematics. That zero is nothing is not an argument against it existing, its only an argument against it being a thing. That only 'things' have existant values is a natural bias we have because we like to think of ourselves as things, albeit sentient living things. To think that nothing, 'no thing', has existing value is to somersault thought into the unknown, to borrow an expression.

    To believe in an existant value which has no defining boundary, no limits, none of the attributes belonging to things at all, requires sheer, blind, unadulterated belief. But being philosophers we need not worry about doing that. On the other hand to deny the existance of zero is not in the league of reason. As reason sees it in mathematical equations, used in concepts, on 100 dollar notes etcetera, so it has to put up with it no matter the objections to the contrary, otherwise we end up in a very viscous circle zero something that only belief can tolerate doing. Reason acknowledges it and refuses to have nothing more to do with it; just as it does with the word 'spirit' in language.

    This Zero — just as a circle symbol at least — is interchangeable with, and identical to, infinity. As any mathematician worth his salt can tell you.

    Because I am not interested so much in the proof of the existence of the spirit through the proof of beliefs or the proofs of reason, but through the proof of philosophy — which I think of as the exact point between reason and belief — then I must be willing to suspend both reason and belief for a moment and see if I'm left with just the philosophy of the issue. Before doing so though... I sense a minor tremor, and must investigate it...

    'The proof of beliefs' doesn't sit well with you does it? Well despite appearances you are in like company, for I long ago eschewed all religion or any subscription to God, or what may be called God. God is an idea, and only has existence as such. But even its existance as only an idea is still an existance, is still a reality. And I choose to acknowledge that, and the power concepts can have, without rancor or wishing that certain existing ideas cease existing.

    Its easy to witness that ideas arise from beliefs, as much as they do from reasons. But its not so easy to witness the source for the ideas that form beliefs or the source of reason. A believer would say that it is God that sources the ideas that forms beliefs, and a reasonable man would say that the source of his reason is his brain. Its not altogether surprising then that a believer would posit God as the source of reason in man, nor for the reasonable man to say the brain is the source of beliefs.

    I don't wish to argue with either, but hope to point out that the believer feels he has proof of his belief sheerly through the fact (to him) that God exists. He would argue that belief, not being physical, necessitates requiring only non-physical proof for its existance. In positioning, above, that zero is endless existing force, I am more or less calling it God. I will admit it. But on the other hand I am fully conversant and in agreement with the reasonable view that there is no existing, all omnipresent creator that oversees all things according to the limited hierarchy which it has imposed.

    Am I fence sitting? Yes, but not in the agnostic's sense. It is in the philosopher's sense that I fence sit. What is the difference?... the philosopher knows, sir! The philosopher proves through the advent of his knowledge the existance or non-existance of anything, or nothing, through the even admixture of the inputs of his beliefs and reason. The question of whether or not to prove existants or non existants is simply a matter of personal proclivity, or due to the nature of circumstance. I could believe through my reason that you belong to the former class, and I the second. Or I could reason through belief to the contrary and be none the wiser. To me what is important here is the development of intelligence through philosophy.

    I enjoyed Douglas Adams. My young son has drawn a pirate lately and because the pirate had the appearance of floating in space, I put him against a backdrop of stars using a computer program. It seemed to fit in with your quote. I can send it to you as a small JPG file if you like.

    Another drought joke I heard today: It's so dry here the cows are only producing powdered milk.

    Cheers, Bernard

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/14/06 5:59 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    Oh, and if you don't believe the sky is blue what colour do you believe it is?

    I guess people learn things in different ways. One may learn in childhood that the sky is blue when a teacher introduces the concept of colour, and shows that some things are this colour and some that colour. Others may be self taught. Others may just intuite it. I don't think we are taught through reason that the sky is blue until long after we already know that the sky is blue by repeating the phrase ad nauseum and then eventually associating it with the actualities of 'sky', 'blue' and the concept that the two are linked.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/14/06 8:55 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: THAT restaurant


    Yours replies address a number of different matters all of which I am keen to follow up.

    Firstly, the philosophical practise of dividing things up into neat little sets of ideas is a useful tool we humans fashion to hopefully better understand what is. Unfortunately with so many trees around we run the risk of loosing sight of the forest.

    These notions of triangles and pyramids can, in my opinion, cause a duality by separating mind and other things we attribute to ourselves such as spirit, soul, consciousness etc. Can there really be two separate states when say we view a sunset; one being an arrangement of energy and matter and the other an experience, the advances in neuroscience is probably the only real area of new information being produced at the moment. I find it incredibly difficult to accept this duality especially when there is certainly no empirical evidence to substantiate such a view to date unless I am unaware of it. The fact that I cannot come up with a theory of everything should not force me, or anyone else, into believing in lesser explanations.

    Secondly, zero, something that most of our modern world runs on and would collapse without it I speak of the binary language. There are two states existence and non existence, if I have one bag of rice a day I live if I have zero I die. The mathematical link with infinity escapes me, as does the notion of infinity is that my problem or is there no problem and I can park the idea of infinity with the idea of unicorns.

    Thirdly, you say to believe in an existant value which has no defining boundary, no limits, none of the attributes belonging to things at all, requires sheer, blind, unadulterated belief. But being philosophers we need not worry about doing that. I agree that belief is blind and unadulterated but disagree that that philosophers should not worry about it.

    Next, the idea of god exists with equal value to any other idea existing and some time ago during other discussions I decided to start my own religion. But before I could do that I needed to decide upon a set of principles that would successfully both explain the religion and render it unassailable by any rational critique and guess what, it ended up just like other religions by placing itself beyond any critical questioning. In short belief is irrational.

    Finally I have yet to meet a philosopher who can prove they exist let alone that I also exist but then again what is proof.



    p.s. my email address is on the members page for attachments and I am curious as to what area of Oz you are in.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/14/06 9:05 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction


    The experience I perceive looking at a clear sky in daytime I call blue, I arrived at this position by way of a learning process which consistently verified itself time upon time.

    Now in other areas I am not so confident, for instance if my wife asks me to buy her a blue dress for a birthday present my success is considerably lower in arriving at a mutually agreeable position about blue.

    Know what I mean blue!



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/14/06 2:37 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    If I were you I'd hitch my unicorn outside of that distant outpost at the end of the universe, and go inside and a have a got shot of something at the bar and try drowning infinity with it. Because if the proprietor is correct and there is no end to the universe, then you are either going to have to stay oblivious to infinity or simply obliterate it. Good luck!

    Yes, there a meld between the apprehension of existence through the experience of it and the apprehension of it through understanding its arrangements, making it a single phenomenal moment to the perceiver. It is our bent to pull things to pieces conceptually, and I don't think it is healthy to deny ourselves that role while there is a need for it, such as when communicating. When your missus wants a blue dress she will probably have a certain blue in mind and you need to understand the basic arrangement of blue she requires, perhaps through surreptitiously asking questions that concern her proclivities about blue, or the sorts of things the dress is intended for. Her experience of her need is going to be more direct than yours. Likewise the apprehension of existence is more accurate the more it is directly experienced, rather than understanding it via its arrangements.

    Verifying existence is a different matter because it requires us to be self removed from the experience of it a contradiction in terms unless we keep in mind that existence cannot be escaped from no matter how much we attempt to remove ourselves. — There is no God to stop us behaving like gods, making ourselves appear to be removed from existence. Thus proof is merely an arrangement produced by us with which to view existence and existent things, as if from an outside perspective. It is itself simply another arrangement of reality, or to lean more cryptically; another arrangement of existence.

    To attempt to prove my existence would therefore be a non-task per se, at best a manque attempt. For I would have to undo the arrangement 'proof' in order to gain pure data on existence. The only looking glass into generic existence is specific existence, which is blurred by the arrangements, or maps of our existence. The axiom at the heart of my philosophy is; if you can't defog the mirror, then smash it! Spare nothing as an iconoclast, tip infinity over the edge of the universe where it belongs!

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/17/06 4:57 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction


    "A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
    "At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."
    "The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?"
    "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

    Well . Will one more Turtle ever get into an objective position to see the universe, I think not. If the universe had a beginning then I don't think it can go one for infinity because how can infinity include a finite beginning.

    I'm with you as consigning these icons (religion f.i.) onto the fiction shelves in every library.

    Alas few people agree:



    p.s. big tree

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/18/06 3:07 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    That old lady sounds like a theosophist. I think the turtle myth is Indian, although there is a Dr Seuz version of stacked turtles, where Yurtle the Turtle is the unhappy fellow at the bottom, standing on a rock. The turtle king wants to be higher than anything on earth, and demands his subjects to keep raising him higher, until the inevitable fall of the self important.. I'm happy to share the same initials and birthday as 'Bertie'.

    I feel certain the universe isn't infinite in expanse, but just one of zillions of universes, just as there are zillions of atoms. As without, so within.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (12/19/06 12:30 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction


    I've never thought that whether there is one or multiple universes, either multi dimensional or not, that such possibilities alter the basic issue of ultimate causation. Such I think is the example of the stacked turtles that we can never get away from the model of existence being "within" something — even if it is just a void what is that within.

    I really don't know whether language or physics is the issue here — what does astound me is that some people claim to know.



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/20/06 4:02 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Introduction

    'I don't know' is best. Yes, we always end up confining existence.

    As to what you say of causation. I remembered the way the king turtle fell; it was because Yurtle the turtle on the bottom of the stack hiccupped. I love it! The neccesity of a hiccup rules! The benign nature of causation gives it total licence. The tiniest cause can undo the mightiest in a split second. Existence remains aloof.


FROM: Michael Ward (12/12/06 8:11 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Why meaning?


For some time I have been refining an explanation of the need for religion which seems endemic in the majority of the population.

My starting point has always been that everything is treated with the same degree of scepticism until some validity can be attributed to whatever thesis is being proposed. Does this remove any a priori issues no, because we have to be both aware and have language and reasoning abilities to engage on such a quest.

In order to test and refine my argument that religion is nought but a human invention I would like responses to these questions please.

1) What would be the most significant loss to people like yourself if there were no creator.

2) Why is belief a preferred alternative to accepting lack of knowledge.

3) Why do emotions almost exclusively override rational decision making processes.

Answers gratefully received.



    REPLIES (1):

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (12/12/06 10:03 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Why meaning?

    Dear Mike: I will approach your question from the definition "That religion in description implies beyond test or witness. -Belief that is untestable and beyond the applicability of science. It cannot be assumed that this is the actual begining point of the beliefs of many. A valid religious belief has to be untestable by its' nature. This should exclude question 2 a-all religious belief is untestable. On question 3 if belief is challanged/confronted with knowledge, an emotional response can result. This still does not imply that an emotional response acknowledges the existance of an actual challange tobelief-only that it is or can be a sored issue. This might be how we come to interpret wars as of a religious nature if the emotion witnessed is from the soring but not from the actual conflict. If the actual events giving rise to a belief can be known and explained with sccience, this still does not invalidate or exclude the valid existance of religion itself-which still from the same elucdated issue can be redefined and renewed.
    The belief in a creator is not the only possible valid belief to have. i.e. 'it all just is and was not created' Science assumes at least that something is at least "just is". my personal though that the name God has the same meaning to describe a property of all that is or "just is" that the world by virtue of its' successfull steps that give the present a witness(i.e ourselves" is such that way that witness to the route to survival(to a problem that like wise cannot exist without a possible solution) is necessarily a factor of what is. A point in time( the definition of which is under question currently in science) does not in my opinion have any real meaning but of an implication or unexactness-viz there is always a hypothesis and antithesis to any problem that is implyed by the branched structure of nature-the actual path though is unknowable-thenthere are at least two incorrect notions(probally boiling down to exactly two) with respect to exactness and one exact unknowable.
    Religion(corrected to mean the existence of religion) is immune to science, though lesser truths of a belief can be elucidated. In some sense if one defines the world as all that is to define a creator means to imply that created itself. One can see examples of this in the biological sciences-self assembly of viruses, the obvious facts of proliferation. We project notions (probably from being on the short end of the stick) of intent to actions. If one considers some of the dangers we have created ourselves-i.e. nuclear devices, gene cloning, car emmisions-it appears that from experiences at the short end of stick-given the slightest mans to control(a non existing intention) we have applied force, in instances with feeling of controlling a loss of fear and respect-sense of having conquered(as nietzsche phrased it "loss of the fear of man of himself"). THis can be view from nay aspects and goes around in a circle as the mind works in attempts to establish a theorum of logic-each part validates the rest in the whole. Nietzsche mostly referewd to actions involving the Arians and the Jews-inaccurate naming and attribute giving as a source-Arian behavior growing into the existance of evil from good , bad and the unknown-having a loss of fear as if knowing all-surviving a profundity as if the only profundity -i.e birth. Man continually tresspass as did the Arians blindly in alien circumstances, as if the conquering of those specific alien circumstances-the feelings of conquering were applicable to all alien circumstances. They had conquered the (all that is) alien. A jump again from a perspective as at the short end of the stick(based an a very immature emotion. We can understandably, become alerted to challange religious belief especially with logic(the roots of science) as it spells a threat to survival. However I do think religion is at the root of the problem(at most are the practices of distinct populations associated with religious beliefs that had grown in the population).
    That we still suffer an suffer in all endeavors(as I do not think most would have an argument with this presentaion of religion and science) from a lack of good defintion and exactly established meaning)..suffer and suffer in depths well beyond this simple example inthat 100 percent of all the science that we practice that employs change to nature, all of the physics theory we have constructed, has a false divide in it related to objectivity, poor catagorizaton and definition. It is all (not so obviously)false from a (environment originating)thinking habit of poor definitions (starting definitions) of the world of subjects and objects. Nietzsche had inthe 1800's a hope that science would conquer this problem -all science is the study of "subjectlings" only yet we have half the world defined mathematically -in relativity-for explanation-into separate parts -part defined by special relativity, and part by general relativity-a part -the former to account for the temporal-the real experienced world(the properties of space of) and the latter to expain what is not accounted for by the former...a mathematical definition(space-time) and current inquiry as to what spaces, in this huge mathematical conglomerate are we in. I do not think there are other spaces other than what we occupy, notonly in comon sense but the proposition itself lacksj science applicability as it is not testable and has no value what so ever in the realm of the living-in fact might or could be an exact desription of what is beyond-as a perfect circle is only in the mind and does not exist in the real world. God the creator as a perfect circle is not beyond feasibility-anything from it(a circle) could be said to be imperfect(an imperfect circle).
    A danger rest from this theory based on its appeal,descent from and existing of false definition and meaning-its ready acceptance, incompleteness as a standing whole, and filled with the "intent-action" notion of old concepts thought buried.


    P.S.-see links I posted Time and Nature-especially on entropy and Einstein


FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/22/06 3:57 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: The base of a philosophy

What does a theory of existence serve? That is the question, the residue this discussion has brought me to now. No apotheosis seems immanent, nor has it been a desired outcome. The exploration of existence through theory seems more to serve the purpose of keeping us away from the temptation to define it reasonably. Was it ever a central concern of philosophers to do so? Great statements in philosophy are the result of a withdrawal from reason rather than a conclusion through reason. Sartre comes to mind most obviously. Does a philosopher really theorize? He makes a proposal to reason, not seeking to verify a postulation through reason, but to admit a postulation as a possibility within a framework that contains the total art of his philosophy and which passes the acceptable criterion that language and culture set. Thus Mao Zedong passes as a philosopher.

A philosophy becomes something rather trite and block-headed when it becomes popular. For a philosophy to excel it must remain essentially private to the individual from whence it sprang, and therein lies the major undoing of many a sincere sophist. Most philosophers resolve the impasse by limiting and selecting his audience to those with leanings and questionings that are most similar to his own. He has to cast his net wide in order to do that, however, and he can often be lumped with a very heavy catch that he can't haul in, or the net may even tear.

A theory of existence is either something very complex and entirely equated to the person who invests in it — and therefore of insufficient meaning to anyone else but himself — or else is a bunch of glorious looking baloney that is fed to the masses to keep them sedate. In between the two is a whole quagmire of suffering, misapprehension and miscommunication that serve only one meaningful purpose: to keep a great distance maintained between the two extremes. The forthrightness and irrational diatribe of any given religious fundamentalist is a purposeful stink, like that given off by a skunk, a sheerly territorial matter. His covert aim of making one feel offended by the idea of God and his righteousness is equal to his overt purpose of bringing one to God.

As soon as anyone begins to theorize on existence a god is instantly shaped, through the mere effort of bringing thought into the realm of language. A god is merely the carnage of any thinking endeavour. and 99 percent of that carnage is done before the thinker even gets a chance to mouth his theory for other ears. Be it a god of science or of belief — it will emerge. There is nothing more certain. The temptation of independent thinkers that get them into most trouble is to feel that their more intelligent formulations, which usually form a more coherent and less emotive and personal god, can, to some small extent, be assumed by the masses within the dead heart of a socially formed god, bringing a tweak of life and sanity to the old bugger. Alas, it can never me; he is naught but a lifeless scarecrow.

The phenomenology of Husserl was an attempt to strip god from thought, and make that action by itself a valid theory of existence. It worked perfectly for him as it forced him to avoid any existential angst. Yet any practical application of the theory was also placed out of the picture. It placed him in the familiar scenario of the zen teacher who has nothing actually to teach.

The outlook of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, still stands in my mind as the most successful and delicate approach to date to conundrums caused by the over or under-presence of either theory or belief in philosophy; as he places his philosophy (dhamma or teaching) before any existential postulate or any deictic pretension. By doing so he undermines the temptation to impose an individual view that would obscure any ensuing teaching. He was famous for circumventing any discussion on God, existence or metaphysical matter. He did use the religious language and culture of his times as ardently and skilfully as any teacher of his time would do, but the difference was that he used it to lead the listener into the heart of a philosophy, rather than to build a belief system out of them. Unfortunately Buddhism — a religion — came into being, and the heart of his thinking has been deeply obscured and buried. One of the greatest damages that has occurred with it is the belief that the Buddha believed in reincarnation and that he was the final result of many incarnations, when the truth was much elusive and yet simple. Without judging it, the Buddha rejected the religion he was raised for in order to be able to reduce his thinking to its essence. It wasn't that he had arrived at the end of his incarnations but that he put aside the whole idea of reincarnation and arrived at the buddha essence, which is simply the joy of being. He recognized the face of suffering and that unexamined or culturally conditioned ideas formed the root of suffering. His constant exhortation to others was to be lights to themselves, to think for themselves; to discipline thinking to the extent where there is no temptation to form answers for unanswerable questions.

To return to my original post in this thread, Mike — if you are reading this — I want to mention that I have no base theoretical substance to my philosophy such as may be gained through cosmology. The prior notion in my philosophy is to have a way of thinking which is properly functioning and not biased to either belief or reason. What I think and discuss I base on philosophy that has been, and on philosophy that is yet to come. The former I use as my theoretical workbench and the latter as my realm of belief. This seems the sanest approach to me, because it leaves the phenomenal present free of the interruption of reason and the temptation to set beliefs in concrete. It aligns reason with the perspective of humanity as whole and gives it a broad, fertile and eclectic field in which to plow, whilst aligning belief with abstraction, hope and fluidity there is no furnace and testing ground like the future.


    REPLIES (8):

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (12/23/06 10:03 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy


    If as you said, great philosophical statements result from the withdrawal of reason, how do you explain Socrates? He also did not base his reasoning on cosmology.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (12/23/06 4:10 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy


    A great and timely question. I think what characterised Socrates most was his heightened use of reason, which is something rather rare. His lifelong venture was concerned with the search for wisdom, spurred on by his drive to examine the Delphi oracle's statement that 'Socrates was the wisest man in the world at that time', as is detailed in the Plato's, The Apology. He did not feel he was but felt a responsibility at least to interview hundreds if not thousands of citizens, discovering various levels of wisdom and proving some to be false and others true. His basic tool for use was that of reason, but reason was a useless yardstich without a feeling for what is good in a character or action. It is this subjective bent that was key to most important to his philosophy.

    What he saw of high value in others was not the ability to make practical advantage, but a sense of morality that was supported by a proper use of reason. What this requires is to make use of the faculty of reason only as an objective tool, rather than the objective outcome of any enquiry, exactly as we should with beliefs. This is not what we are raised for in society. We are raised mainly to develop our predator's eye; an eye that apprehends the world in only objective terms, this deriving no doubt from our distant ancestors' struggle to survive through hunting and gathering. Once we had learned how to survive better through the development of our reason we seemed to have got greedy; instead of checking the growth of reason after using it to surfeit our basic needs, we allowed its exaggerated expansion to the point now where we expect of it to furnish not only food but meaning.

    So I think it is proper for a philosopher to lay aside reason and belief, not in the spirit of denial — as there is obviously value in them — but in the spirit of making sure that the growth of his philosophy does not become the growth of reason or beliefs: let them grow in their own soil. Yes, and let them all intertwine as they grow: reason, belief and philosophy. Philosophy, though the slowest growing, eventually becomes the tallest if not strangled out by the other two while still a sapling.

    So Socrates did not base his reasoning on cosmology. That would be stupid of him as cosmology is a science, a thing of reason.
    Nor were his reasons based on his beliefs. His beliefs were essentially private matters that he went to great pains to keep distinct from reason, though they were amenable, if not propinquitous,
    to his reasonings — running parralel with them to their mutual benefit.

    His philosophy did have its roots in reason and beliefs; though it can't be identified as either his reasons or beliefs. Philosophy was the net weight of his living actions and words.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (01/04/07 9:11 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy

    Happy New Year,

    Bernard, you ask what purpose does a theory of existence serve? I could answer 42 but then perhaps I didn't really understand the question nor maybe did you!

    There are things we can properly talk about and things we cannot. Science I think fall into the former category and belief into the latter.

    Just as I wouldn't scour the philosophy section in the library for reasons why my car won't start neither would I look on the religion shelves for a theory of gravity. I fear there are those who would do just the opposite though.

    In reading your initial posting I was trying build the map out the jigsaw world you inhabit and the following phrase will not fit anywhere: The prior notion in my philosophy is to have a way of thinking which is properly functioning and not biased to either belief or reason.

    If it your argument that we are all just a bunch of solipsists I can accept that position and each to his own forever. But I do not really think that is what you see.

    Seneca said, Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. It seems to me that you could in your view easily replace religion with reason unless I am mistaken.

    As much as I like the idea of having freewill I think I am constrained by causality and in just the same way as billiard balls interact in a Newtonian chain of causality so I think that conciousness, thoughts and thinking cannot step outside the physics of this existence. If this is correct there must follow a hierarchy events for philosophy.

    One tidy theory of existence I can recommend reading, if you already haven't is Scott Adams book God's Debris



  • FROM: Charles Countryman (01/04/07 10:26 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy


    You said about Socrates: "His philosophy did have its roots in reason and beliefs; though it can't be identified as either his reasons or beliefs. Philosophy was the net weight of his living actions and words."

    I wonder if you are making a dualistic argument in calling Socrates' philosophy "net weight ..?" Are you saying that this "net weight" has an independent existence and if so, where?


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (01/06/07 1:04 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy

    I wouldn't think the wise feel reason to be false. Reason is useful to the wise. However, cultural reasonings are usually false; such as the predominant reasoning that drugs are the most effective and usefull form of cure in medical care.

    An effective balance between reason and faith is what is important in any philosopohy I own. I use the word faith more in the sense of trusting a wholesome intuition than any sense of religiousness.

    And, yes, happy new year!

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (01/07/07 5:51 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy

    Well yes, Charles, I am pointing to a dualism in him. I think it stems from the dichotomy that built up over his years of activity between what he was able to communicate as his philosophy to his various interlocutors and what remained silent, in the realm of feelings. In this latter lies the true measure of his clout as a philosopher. It could be measured also as the net effect he had on those close to him through the sheer power of his person. His life force as a human being was almost something divine to them, and it was this sense of his high nature that brought him most fame.

    Through his advent, the status of philosophy and philosophers was raised from a thing of mind and belief clashing — with either one or the other being victorious — to a sort of conjugal union between the two, with the resulting progeny being 'the philosopher as hero'. Of course this was not entirely unknown pre-Socrates, but Socrates was a shock due to the extent to which he was able to embody this form of philosophy: I'll call it heroic philosophy.

    And yes, the mark he made was highly individual, giving the sense of having an independent existence, though examined properly it is nothing but the force of his person, rather than a single phenomenal ideation which exists here. Though one wonders with him to what extent he identified with universal ideas. Did he lose his person in them eventually? His willingness and lack of concern — his complicity, in fact, with having to drink the cup of hemlock when his friends could so easily have evacuated him, borders on a statement of denial of his individual existence, favouring, supposedly, a belief that the realm of purity from which pure ideas are borne is all that actually exists: self is a mistaken assumption.

    The dichotomy between the realm of purity from which pure ideas derive and the pure ideas themselves, is formed through having to communicate and gather in those ideas. Did he consider such ideas to have an independant eternal existence? Probably, but one which was dependant on the one in whom those ideas have their life. Such a philosopher feels a duty towards those ideas which go beyond self concern; but only so long as the self can no longer add life to the ideas. When the self that supports the ideas has gone the ideas go as well, leaving for the disciples only the pure matrix of life to witness where once there was the self of Socrates and the ideas (ideas being healthy unions of belief and reason).

    Nietzsche's Zarathustra warns his disciples to beware of falling statues, especially the one they build of him. I think he is saying that what they do with his teachings is unimportant to his philosophy, even though it is that which informs the teachings. In the end, a living philosophy can't really be taught, only embodied, though in its inception one would be forgiven for thinking to the contrary. And even a great philosophy must eventually be subordinated and dissolved back into its creator.

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (01/08/07 6:24 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy


    I am attempting to write a (semi-scientific-philosophical paper) and I discover, thinking at first, that my questions and aids to construct theory are mabe different, maybe similiar to that of other authors and on readinfind out that with stated conflicts , stated philosophical and scientific problems..themes presented...that many if not all authors drift away from common sense into very difficult mathematical dissections far from the realities of daily life, a good movie or book. If Ihave insight into the deeper problems, maybe I do, all questioning in the literature bluntly halts at the line delineating navel(belly button) research(to diverge symbolically at vast distance and separation at the deepest roots where the real confusion is) to the social studies of Navy Projects in Unethical Warfare, for example. The mind goes then into circles crossing realms without notice between existance and non existance-at a standing question that cannot be answered. "Which comes first the belly button or the reflection?"
    My approach to this problem in my own problem solving, and my advice is that some aspect of this state of affairs needs a first and firm grip before an enquiry can begin and anything transcending it is mental masturbation:the literature is full of it-bright ideas of mental masturbation under the topic bright ideas(some of which at the deepest understanding-real apprehended meaning,a well organized, estute and especially sound criminal could find amusing). Civilization is at a very confused threshhold. appraoch to this involves a play on words and thoughts to reinforce and nurture constantly when one tries to sort all of this out...Instead of theories of existance start with the theory that states "I exist" ..what it means to you and sort out which theories are or are not especially very "sensuous". Those, then can be put into the list of the impractical, unfounded and incomplete of whole sense. Think of the problem to define an instant in time..some theories and ideas have a 'still' point to them and are not very interesting...tuck the idea under your belt, of a point in time, and read on to see what the author has to say about motion and change. Of somethings, the confessed attitudes of a professed bigot are more natural, can be more educational, yet draw increasing less diverse and creative thinking, of the type of moralistic "no-no" response of what your ethics should be. The old slogan of the Reagan administration "trickling up or down economics" can be spotted-what trickles up and down-morays etc of the times (past or present) of social content can be mentally filtered for a better view. Do all readers (and/or scientists) take space time ideas as mathematical theory or does it imply a mysterious place somewhere(beyond the navel?) We are always reaching but something is holding us up into a slow motion dwelling phenomonom? I am far from the first to say, but current society, in a vast extravagance, is falling into the deepest rut conceivable with the environment nearly dominated with science and technological contrivance--we are afraid to "ruff it" as did our ancestors(who obviously survived).
    Theory ONE "I EXIST"-what do other theories and ideas say with regards to that-I think if it is not sensuous it hardly has a place in any part of life-if it has not a place in any part of life it has no meaning, scientific or other wise. One might have the ability to search all corners of a near infinite number in the world and not find a perfct circle-what then can it have to do with living and survival, past to present. Ask a scientist about Adam and Eve and he will most likely be willing to argue forever; but ask again how many bacteria must start each culture in a microbiology lab(though some can divide from one, I do not believe they remain very fertile). Ask again if any two are exactly the same? Ask an ancient biblical scholar about what is new in our knowledge of biology-he still knows more than in the science labs-though he might like Einstein's relativity, with its' non-descript central perspective interprtation of the world (he may also be cornered to it support it for teaching purposes as there is nothing else in science that conveys his wisdoms and has a perfection to it that is nameless).
    Remember when you think "I exist" what does or does not, can or cannot co-exist and all of its' implications.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (01/08/07 11:56 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: The base of a philosophy

    I like your style. To go with just 'I exist' is not motivational enough. Descartes proved that. He had to add logic into the equation to make it workable, even then the tendency is to go round and round the merry go round. The only intelligent solution I found to all of this is to make an accurate theory of existence with all the best you can muster, knowing all the while that ideas don't really add or change anything much in our lives. If we need to apply axioms to our lives its not those that feature the notion that we exist — already so evident to us — its those that deal with our potential for greater awareness of existence and the issues of existing. We need the forebrain to be critically engaged: 'I exist' is a function of the lower rather than the upper brain — its less than primitive brain-ware.

    Ideas are in neural pathways, and these pathways can become very entrenched at the price of the possible development of other neural pathways. Changing the way think, can be got about very simply. We have the ability to grow neurons and parts of the brain, in the same way some lizards grow their tails back when they get cut off. It can be as simple as changing a routine, such as the time one goes to bed, or as complex as examining one's relationships and approaching them in new and novel ways.

    Philosophically this can be accomplished by examining the philosophy of past cultures and epochs. Rehashing the Western thread of philosophical thought is not good enough anymore, as the ground has been pretty well covered, hence the angst you point to. From about the 1960's the dire need has been to supplement Western thinking with Eastern and other thinking, and Vise-versa. Thinkers from the preceding 100 or less years — from about the time modernity arose — anticipated this need, and the total weight of their contributions were then felt. And the popular era was born; an era wherein it suddenly became a possibility for humanity to become a unified and globally thinking entity, in which cultural differentiations could be relegated to oblivion, so long as what was best in any given culture could be given up and shared within the new total entity. The drive, unfortunately, has been thwarted, and modernity instead insists on clinging to the separation between cultures so as to suppress the interaction of what is intelligent within them. This clinging occurs under the guise of post-modernism, wherein faux cultures, poor imitations of the real thing, are created out of quite recently thriving and alive cultures — now all but eliminated by the needs and greeds of technology. Post modernism will accept deep cultural interaction only if it is the interaction of its own faux cultures, or wherein the interaction (covert or overt) is only surface. An example of the latter is the interaction of Christians and Moslems along the level of agreeing to be monotheistic, detractive of the feminine, blase about change, and in love with the world only when it comes to war and ideas around the destruction of the world and the institution of heaven.


FROM: Bernard Rooney (01/24/07 3:29 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).

And so... discussing a theory of existence here has so far, from my point of view, been a matter of two things: ascertaining in what vein such a theory should be discussed, or defining better how to philosophically theorize, and two; the obvious and inevitable wall that is thrown up by the elusive yet matter of fact nature of existence.

The latter can be discarded as unproductive. (If non-existence were better than existence, there would have been no being K Gibran). The former though should be summarized. A philosophical theory of existence is not the same as a scientific theory of everything, which seeks a physically apparent explanation of things, even if that explanation lies on the edges of physics, such as in quantum mechanics or in the interplay of quantum physics and empirical physics. Neither can a philosophical theory be a mere reflection of beliefs, as beliefs do not demand the sort of thinking and inquiry so necessary to philosophy.

This unscrupulous state between subjectivity and objectivity the philosophers stamping ground is the only place where a theory of existence can exist with integrity. Because the philosopher must be scrupulous and unyielding with every inquiry — because the philosopher must be a non-adherent to any ideas formed by any culture is why he is suited to this unwieldy task.

Any theory of existence is a laughing matter, for we know the ceaseless nature by which thoughts alter and evolve. But it is also the most serious topic for a philosopher, for it is where all his faculties are challenged to the maximum, and wherein his skills are best honed. So let me begin the quintessential journey with you.

In my first post here I described briefly my thoughts on the notion of reincarnation that horrible term. What I wanted to distill was the idea that without an infinite home to go to after death, where we live in an infinite and unchanging state of bliss, what are we left? The only other idea is that of coming back and doing life again in another form. These are the two options available. The first stinks because it is such a mind numbingly boring idea, and the second stinks because it lacks intellectual appeal or coherence. Is it possible to wed the two ideas and come up with goods that both excite and intrigue?

The sense of identity is what none of us want to lose; that we continue perceiving and processing our perception as experiences is very important to us. It is being alive. We talk of death as the end of life, or as its beginning, depending on whether we are being rational or irrational. By all outward appearances once something dies it is kaput! But from a subjective view point we will always somehow feel that it is unacceptable that everything stops at that point. We keep an inquisitiveness in regard to that final door, or if nothing else a sense of surrender and humility borne from the knowledge that we didn't ask for life, or institute our own existence anyhow so who are we to demand we keep it. But as far as the workings of existence are concerned it may well stand to reason that we continue in some fashion beyond that door. For all we are is a quantum of energy that is aware of itself, and if that quantum of energy we are becomes dissipated, losing its sense of awareness of itself, then why in heck shouldn't it be able to re quantify and become aware of itself again? As it is beyond us to institute such a thing as individuals, one would inevitably have to regard the idea that the design of the cosmos is so well oiled and conscious that such a thing is instituted from within it; meaning that its machinery doesn't allow our consciousness to remain in a dissipated unaware state, but clumps it together again.

So without affirming or denying this idea as a possibility let's just assume it is correct for the purpose of building a philosophical theory. Several questions are then raised, as well as several deductions, the first of which is that this process of coming into being, leaving being and coming into being again is not a one-off occurrence. Indeed one should deduce that it is an endless process. Several ideas have been floated across the ages that have to do with the general idea that when we die or after many times of living and dying — we attain a state wherein we are in infinite existence, and that we don't come into existence again once arriving at that state of heaven. Such a statement is for me the king of non-sequiturs: how can one not come into existence who is already existing, albeit infinitely? The argument against me would then be that there is another form of existence outside of existence as we know it. But why would existence bother to deceive us so? And if there were another form of existence outside of this one, then wouldn't we, who are the stuff, the makings of existence know about it? Why deceive ourselves so? Their may well be a continuation of our sense of individuality beyond clinical death, in the same sort of way that a strange sense of individuality can exist when we are in deep sleep, but this is still existence as we know it.

So for the purposes of this POE we can safely drop the idea that existence has another form of existence. It is not sane. This leaves us alone with the process that makes individuality a thing that infinitely comes into and out of being. Reincarnationists may be pleased with this reduction, but from what I know of their expressed thoughts, words and actions they will not meld well with it easily, especially the more so it becomes unveiled. Firstly, most of them have the idea of a final state after many lives. Secondly, their ideas are intelligible and all too stupid. They talk of reincarnation as if one doesn't die but transforms into another body somewhere in the future a body with memories of its former existence. They don't seem to be able to comprehend that death wipes out all consciousness of memory and all attachment of that consciousness to time. Death is a very fatal thing. What they do achieve is to give us the opportunity of examining things in more detail, and more holistically.

To my mind the infinite process of being and not being we are all a part of has a purpose, a purpose we all give to it; evolution, but not in any Darwinian sense, although reflections and comments are allowed and highly encouraged in that regard. What I propose is that because we are the stuff of consciousness, then that consciousness, or energy, increases slightly with each episode of being we find ourselves in, so that the quantum of the sense of being we end with is more than the quantum we begin with. When we die and dissolve — cease being as individuals — then that quantum gets recycled into an entirely new being where ever it best fits; past or future. Thus a human energy quanta wouldn't come into being as a tree on earth but as a slightly more evolved, a more potent human being then it had been before.

The development of this POE theory to this point allows another deduction, or realization. It allows in the idea that the entire earth is composed of a single evolutionary thread of all the creatures on earth that exist, have existed, or are yet to exist on it. What allows this is the to-ing and fro-ing through time of the evolutionary process I propose: a mosquito dies in Bangkok in 1972 and its quanta of energy reforms as a little bit better mosquito in the year AD 42,987,185. Or a 56 year old person dies in Frankfurt on the fifth of December 1675, and their quanta of energy forms into a new human being on the 15th of December 1669 in Mexico City and after that forms anew as a someone in Pisa Italy in the year 2089.

Imagine then of this single thread leaving earth once all the organic possibilities have been achieved. and then this thread moving through a different sort of earth, in another place and time (past or future), and moving through a whole gammit of possibilities of life forms again on that other earth. And again and again on other earths throughtime. Imagine that the whole cosmos is composed of this single line of evolution, weaving through time: that stars and galaxies, microbes and men are all a part of this infinite evolution.

Now send the men in the white coats.


    REPLIES (7):

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (01/28/07 4:44 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).

    This POE theory I posit is not a replacement as a replacement for a scientific or theolgical explanation of existence but as a wedge between the two — largely for my own past-time. An atheistic/materialistic view isn't satisfying to me, and a religious point of view is too blinkered. Its the only thing I can come up with the information I have. Of course one can just say I don't know and go down to the pub, but this leaves one a worse position than any other. Intelligence needs to be worked.

    I suppose I could be seen as an intelligent design advocate, but that would be mistaken, for the only intelligent designer I see in the universe is intelligence itself. And intelligence is the exclusive province of sentient beings, of which I am happy to wager make up the full and only content of existence, (which is not as simple as it may sound as exsitence is in all probability infinite which would make sentient things infinite in number as well... what strange questions this thought raises!) If their is non-sentient existence it is merely the result of combined forces of sentient things. Thus if I must think that God exists I would considered it to be no more than the combined effort of intelligence of sentient things, and love being the highest form of intelligence, I'm happy with the notion that God is love.

    I'm happy to think (not believe) of life as something continuously designed by living things — from the micro to the macro level — through sheer intent or will. I wouldn't call this a conscious or unconscious process, but something much more vital in us and elusive.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (01/30/07 7:37 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).


    If you listen carefully you might just hear the sirens on the approaching black van driven furiously by the men in white coats heading in your direction.

    As a script for a new edition of hitchhikers guide the POE fairy-tale you posit makes good copy. However on a more carefully considered approach my observations are these.

    POE the presumption is that there is one when all we really have is a combination of ignorance and wishful thinking and a pair of coloured spectacles (senses) that we don't know we are wearing. I find it totally amazing that people have the audacity to ask why before they even understand how. A sense of wonder is something most of us share but it probably says more about the mind than it does about reality.

    You say the philosopher must be a non-adherent to any ideas formed by any culture and I totally agree so why not just follow that maxim with adding reincarnation, theological explanations, design of the cosmos, we didn't ask for life (of whom?) all these phrases prejudice critical thinking. But then again on any journey you can only start from where you are.

    You also say that an atheistic/materialistic view isn't satisfying to me why not, what unspoken baggage are bringing into the situation that dictates the world should be so organised to meet your satisfaction. We have a life then nothing what's so unacceptable about that will someone please tell me!



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (01/31/07 3:05 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).

    I feel that their are constants in the organisation of life that are not dependant on human culture. Reincarnation as a term is loaded with social baggage and I've gone out of my way to avoid all that stuff as best as I can — with little success apparently. Making a POE theory is just an exercise, made half in humour. Yes, I suppose could do another sort of Hitchhiker's Guide, but not having the panache and education of a Douglas Adams I don't think it would be wise of me to attempt. The funny thing is though that to acheive the outlandish sort of ideas necessary for that sort of thing, one has to first give very serious attention to outlandish ideas, and only then letting the literary imagination roam.

    In thinking up the theory I start from a very basic stance, with very basic questions: How can I not exist? Why should consciousness that is so hard worked for and acheived just completely end? It isn't very intellectually stimulating nor is it very emotionally rewarding. So first of all I whistle that tune "Always look on the Bright Side of Life (/Death)" From there I look at all the information given to me from within society on the subject of the life and death conundrum and try and get rid of all the crap I can, seeing what is left, and then add that to my subjective feelings of the issue and then see what happens. Of course I can just say that one dies and that is that, and I believe my theory actually gives full support to that very obvious fact that few wish to face, let alone contemplate. I don't however see it in anyway harmful to negotiate a theory which offers some hope of continuence — not of the person but of being. This is the strongest and weakest point in the theory of course; for how can being continue without the self that informs it? There are many thinkers who have dealt with this issue, but its a very difficult subject to maintain a view on, let alone to describe. All I can personally say about it is that life, from birth to death, seems to be a journey in which we become more conscious of our consciousness until the point comes when we hit a limit and our consciousness breaks loose from the boundaries we call our persons. Then it becomes free-ranging, infinite in scope. In my theory 9not my belief), once that happens it has nothing else to do but go over the whole process again with a little more salt. There is no memory carry over at all in this, as reincarnationists would it, (although the question of a sense of idenity is interesting here: is identity essential to being?) Nor is it something that works according to a universal heirarchy of being. It is, rather, the mechanics through which being is allowed and evolved (evolution being here not a means to an end but the powerhouse of consciousness, allowing its infinite survival).

    As I say, my theory is a bit of fun all up, but you've got to give it to me — its so mad it might just work! Most of the time we take life at face value, but no one can really object if we add a little salt now and then.

    I am more sympathetic to atheism than others would believe if judging by my words. Atheism only really became defined as the voice we know it today through the Christian upheavals during and after the reign of Charles the second in Britain. It was this voice that released the highly regarded analytical intelligence of the British, and in some senses atheism has been Britain's greatest achievement. Its sad that this voice is being challenged with great vehemence today, but resistance may serve to make it stronger. I know I may be reminiscent at times of some religious blockhead without the fluidity or perspicacity in his nature to deny himself the temptation of forcing his views on others. But what I'm interested in is maintaining the integrity of atheism alongside with true religious moods. Religion for me though is about subjective states where emotions such as hope, joy, longing and humility help to bring purpose to my organism.

    >> we didn't ask for life (of whom?)"

    Of life.


    The sirens... THE SIRENSSSSSSS!

  • FROM: Michael Ward (02/08/07 10:59 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).


    Worry not, I take your POE with humour but still get hooked on its non-sequitur proposals.

    People spend a lot of time talking to God and find nothing wrong in this but when they say he (she) (it) is talking back to them and telling to go and do so and so it starts to become a bit scary you know Waco and all that.

    Self or identity is interesting, now if I have no memory of who am I just a new being created moment by moment. Reincarnation is thus rendered meaningless without past memory, how would you know you were reincarnated.

    Atheism wasn't ever invented, it is the starting point, the blank canvass upon which ideas are put down. Atheism is a reaction to Theism, atheism isn't any kind of belief structure in fact it just the opposite if the theists have a case let them make it and atheists are the people who question their proposition.

    You say we ask life of life. Well yes that makes sense only if you consider life as a sentient entity capable of dialogue whereas life I think is advantage taking where opportunities exist in a Darwinian sense.

    Thought experiments such as yours are great but extreme care is needed as you built the wall of your ideas up around you only to find you're in a mad house or prison with no exit. Still at least you won't hear the sirens.

    All the best


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (02/09/07 3:14 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).

    In this thought experiment, one isn't reincarnated. Death is the end of personal identity, which couldn't be regarded as having occurred if there were any sort of memory still existing. That's the point. Being is just recycled. If meaning can be gathered from this it is from the idea that sense of being isn't lost, despite complete extinction of identity. Its not a permanent sense of self from past through present and into future that is at stake here. It is being itself, which through the process of individuation occurring between conception and death, becomes aware of itself. And it does this again and again through an infinite variety of means, meaning through infinite varieties of possible sentient being. It is the only intellectual sense I can make of the whole question. One can't derive much meaning from it in an ordinary and practical sense. But that's not what I'm after here. I'm just looking for a theory, then indirectly extracting meaning. So long as the theory has a plausible cogency, I'm happy enough. Deriving meaning from something improperly examined is the beginning of dogma.

    Life, the insentient, is our own lives within us. So to ask life of something is to simply read the story within us, or to take a subjective dive. An objective Darwinian track can yield far more practicable results, with far less unwieldy impulse for questions and speculations; and this is the one we have to deal with in daily life, whether we care to admit it or not (I usually find that a theist is a covert atheist).

    The present form of atheism — occidental at least — has its roots, I believe, in the era I mentioned; when Charles the second lifted religious censure on printing and publishing.

    I appreciate your concern. Any sort of conclusion inevitably becomes an imprisonment. The more private the conclusion, the less shared, the more this is true. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist activist of the sixties, found herself in a very isolated position due to her thinking, but became very public about it and set up an organization despite horrendous consequences to her and her family's safety. She was at least able to enlarge her prison. On the other hand those whose conclusions are not a result of their own critical thinking are in a worse position as their prison is an ever shrinking affair, despite claims to the contrary. Someone who's thinking has little inter-subjective potential must continually show no mercy in pulling his thinking to pieces and rebuilding it with more service to others in mind, otherwise he ends up where Zarathustra ended up in the abyss.

    I also appreciate your careful reading of what I've had to say... if I have said it. Its something that I have spent a large amount of thinking on. I'm not bothered if the content becomes less dominant and idiosyncratic in favour of the need to share quality communication with others. I played my first game of bowls last night and enjoyed and played my best shots at the moments when not attempting to be the leader in a game but enjoying everyone else's shots as much as my own.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (02/10/07 4:44 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).


    I admit to still being uncertain as to your theory of a possible structure to reality that isn't material. Coincidentally I am part way through a short Metaphysics course at my local university and this fits very nicely into what is being discussed there the nature of being.

    Now Epicurus (341-270 BC) could be considered to be the first atheist, a materialist and probably the first recorded philosopher to develop the argument from evil :

    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

    However, setting theism aside because I think you are not a believer and the qualities of a god aren't an issue, I interpret your sense of being as a kind of spiritual vehicle. It's vehicle that during it's existence has many different drivers who come and go but the vehicle has no memory (tachograph) nor service history to pass on to the next keeper.

    Now whether this is a viable theory I cannot tell for certain but the very nature of the theory also precludes any possibility of validation in our life, so what's the point? I confidently use Ockham's Razor principle to hypothesise that the least complicated answer is the most probable one, we live and then we die and life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. (stop planning and play more bowls maybe) This brings me back always to the same point which is rarely addressed and even less frequently answered what is it about nothingness at the end of life that is so unpalatable to most people and why does it matter. Is it not sufficient that we just live on in the memories of others and in the genes of our descendents.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (02/11/07 5:50 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Philosophy of Everything (POE theory).

    I don't like to think of the theory as a possibility, more just a creative venture. I guess what I'm doing is working through the crap I was fed in my conditioning and proving to myself that I can come up with something better — more intellectually viable at least — than what their centuries of effort and pomp have accomplished... all on my ownsome. Revenge perhaps? It gives me endless humour to oudo them at their own game. I'm also curious about what I might stumble across if I can continue the experiment concertedly and without belief.

    And its not just the cronies of religion and politics to be dealt with, check out:
    The only Australian philosophical school to raise its head and a few eyebrows (especially in England) was the materialist pnilosophy school begun in the sixties,see:

    I have no problem with nothingness — after all its where I came from, and I recall having no problem with it back then. The old zen koan, "Where were you before you were born?", is an antidote to that poisonous question, "Where will you be after you die?" As in science where in order to study a black hole one studies what surrounds it, so this black hole before and after life should be studied. By doing so, one gets the hint of a sequence: Black hole... life... black hole... ?
    I can't see anything else but life can be chosen to fill the blank space in that sequence, if a continuing sequence it is. I don't think its a matter of it being a possibility that the sequence continues, much less a matter of belief. For me its a simple matter of philosophical flowering, and the enabling of a theory where none other exists for the down-moments whilst awaiting my turn on the bowling green. As we ascertained earlier in our discussion, theories are to be taken light heartedly and kept at the service of philosophy — mere vessels that contain the vital substances and that can be smashed at any time.

    That my POE theory is meaningless is a bad call I feel. It was the call made on Nietzsche for his eternal recurrence idea, and with more justification. His theory was that our lives recur eternally exactly as they are, whereas in my theory there is a modicum of evolution involved. Nietzsche expressly forbade this in his theory the only format he had of the idea of evolution through death was the model of the Hindu concept of reincarnation as a march forward through time. This format is full of holes, the same of which are apparent in any reincarnation scheme you care to name. The primary error is that it doesn't allow for the fact that there are multitudes of beings in existence at different levels of evolution, or consciousness. This inevitably implies that sometimes beings devolve instead of evolve when reborn. The only this can be incorporated into the schemata is by saying that because some beings have been particularly naughty in their lives, they devolve when they are reborn. Hence hierarchy is born.

    Another error directly related to the first is that because devolution is inherently necessary in the schemata, then a sense of futility and meaninglessness becomes dominant, and thus an escape hatch is created, which aligns all too neatly with theistic afterlife doctrinaire; a state whereby super-evolved , and suspiciously mostly human (and male) beings attain an infinite state of being after death, namely Buddhas. It was an unforgivable historical moment when the Buddha's philosophy was contorted and turned into a religion, and the Buddha into God no doubt the incursion of monotheism from the West. Buddha, originally, was not a person, much less a deity. It was simply the state in which being is tapped without any more questions asked, or being happy.

    So I think that at least my theory shows more meaning. But is meaning necessary? We are certainly hell bent on it, and hell bent on deifying in the name of meaning whatever is highest in our thoughts: look at Sartre's God, non-being, for instance. I ask myself the question: well if I am wired so to find meaning, why not posit it in being rather than non-being? It would certainly be just as harmless to do so, and, speaking from personal experience, more likely to give me a happier disposition. And more importantly, where I place my meaning is also where my love ends up being directed, so that I can truly say and mean wholeheartedly that I love existence..


FROM: Michael Ward (02/14/07 1:30 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: A Flock of Dodo's


At the Darwin Day symposium earlier this week more science was presented demonstrating shifts in evolutionary development at single generation levels which starts to begin the understanding of the so called "gaps" in the fossil records. Gradual is not necessarily the case.

In the evening the film Flock of Dodos was screened with a debate afterwards

It would seem from talking both with US and UK biologists and educators that we here in the UK are more vulnerable (less well protected) against the intrusion of religious teaching than in the US where there is a constitutionally enforceable split between state and religion. But this is also kind of odd as the US is far more overtly religious than the UK.

Recent reports here in the UK have shown that in some Muslim schools the children are taught not to mix or emulate or mix with Christian or other religious children. Intolerance is in fact being purveyed and portrayed as being good behaviour — Dawkins was right this is mental child abuse.

Personally I think there is a need to take this a step further and the title "scientist" should only be attributable to those who follow the scientific methodology in the widest sense in their own lives — you are what you do. It is clear from the many and lengthy discussions both here and elsewhere faith and science cannot coexist without loss of principles. Rational argument is unable to penetrate the armour of belief, the concept of fighting ideas with ideas becomes flawed when facing a closed mind set. Science considers everthing and rejects nothing which puts it at a severe disavantage to the cynical religious spin doctors — this is a conclusion drawn from looking at Darwinian variation in the bible texts which then produce a decendacy tree of change, some would argue there is no conspiracy in this change whilst I remain open minded. To remove a god first we must remove the need for a god — any thoughts about how to do this? (if nothing other than a thought experiment)



    REPLIES (7):

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (02/14/07 1:56 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: A Flock of Dodo's

    (edited 2.16.2007)


    Are you casting for a new version of "Brave New World," "1984," or C.S. Lewis' novel "That Hideous Strength?"


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (02/14/07 8:23 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: A Flock of Dodo's

    (edited 2.16.2007)


    What would be referred to in establishing correct scientific methodology?

    What authority would determine who is following correct scientific methodology and can be considered a "scientist?"

    Would this authority be applied only to individuals or also to groups and organizations?

    What penalties would be applied to those in conflict with these authorities, civil and/or criminal?


  • FROM: Michael Ward (02/15/07 10:07 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: A Flock of Dodo's


    These are all interesting questions and ones I am willing to address however before I do my challenge (thought experiment) was to find out what ways you would refute the existence of a god.

    Perhaps you would humour me here as I would like to know your views.



  • FROM: Charles Countryman (02/15/07 2:53 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: A Flock of Dodo's

    (Edited 2.16.2007)


    What god do you want refuted?

    Any old god? Those gods are like the gods Paul of Tarsus referred to when debating the philosophers in Athens' market and when Paul addressed the people of Athens (before the Areopagus). Pascal later described the God that Paul of Tarsus proclaimed as being "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Not of the philosophers and scholars. Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace. The God of Jesus Christ."

    The Trinitarian God reveals Himself. Human will may direct individuals away from God's Revelation, But God's self revealing nature makes refutation moot. However whether or not someone else believes in an account of revelation by another is probably one of the foundational questions for philosophy.

    I remain concerned about how and who would define "science" in your previous proposal. Why would your proposal (as a thought experiment) not be a variation on the theme of totalitarianism as expressed in the three novels I cited?


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (02/16/07 4:04 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: A Flock of Dodo's

    I am in full empathy with the sense of sorrow — and even rage — contained in what you say, Mike. When I try to examine it, it becomes something ontological, something unfitting to political or social action. That rational thinking is the height of human evolution is something that would take a big argument to knock down, and I can't see that happening. But are humans as a whole today even interested in protecting it? Is it a flower that briefly blooms and dies, never to be followed by another of the same? Are we returning to something similar to what composed those vast numbers of years before the advent of reason — those which make up the bulk of experience for the human species? A certain resignation and a letting go are probably very necessary ingredients for the emotional equilibrium of those who still love rational/critical thinking. We have achieved wonders after all.

    I doubt thought experiments on a large scale can be implemented, and even if they did, would any conclusions derived therefrom be properly regarded and then applied en masse? Would the outcomes be expectable outcomes, or would it be anybody's guess as to the nature of the results? What sort of side effects could occur? Was the Third Reich a side effect of the freethinking 19th century German philosophers?

    But I am optimistic and willing to ditch my doubts, though I think such things have to come without too much push and shove, through great hardship think of how the renaissance was arrived at through the dark ages. Hopefully things won't take that long though to get to something more wholesome and sustainable to what we have now, if that is possible. A lot of people from the most unexpected quarters are genuine about it.

    The definition of science is systemic knowledge. Is systematic knowledge only rational; how about the systematic endeavour involved in maintaining the community of a bee hive, is that reliant on knowledge?

  • FROM: Michael Ward (02/18/07 8:55 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: A Flock of Dodo's


    You ask, What god do you want refuted?

    I think you know I can only mean the one that you believe in. This I ask as an exercise in objectivity to lead the (self) examined life espoused by Socrates. Without this self awareness how can discriminate between what we thing is the case and what me wish to be the case.

    As to Why would my proposal (as a thought experiment) not be a variation on the theme of totalitarianism I will respond to your concerns.


    Mike Ward

  • FROM: Michael Ward (02/18/07 9:19 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: A Flock of Dodo's

    Bernard (and Hubertus),

    Contrary to the arguments put forward by Hubertus on our Apish inheritance I agree with you that rational thinking is the height of human evolution and is something that would take a bigger argument than Hubertus's to knock down, and I too can't see that happening.

    You ask Is it a flower that briefly blooms and dies, never to be followed by another of the same?. My answer would be a firm no, as the significance of the individual has progressively risen to the fore over human history, albeit in fits and starts with times of regress. I think when we are all fully appreciate of others as being no less worthy than ourselves then we will treat each other as we ourselves would like to be treated (the golden rule)

    Hubertus causally links demonic behavior when religion is removed, he also cites the Third Reich as a consequence of the freethinking 19th century German philosophers I see no necessary causal link but then we only find what we are looking for.

    In a utilitarian manner it can be argued that ethical outcomes can be derived from unethical means, I find this just as unsatisfactory as the categorical imperative a new more humanist middle road is needed.

    With the bee colony it is difficult to see sentient purpose in the self organization of the hive, also of curiosity is the sponge that lives most of it's life as freely roaming independent cells but when food is short it assembles into a single form capable of swimming to fresh territory is that scary or not?




FROM: Charles Countryman (03/03/07 4:27 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Man is multi dimensional.

Some incredibly vapid and one dimensional models of Man made possible by philosophy. (When it becomes the science of reductionist logic, rather than the art of Wisdom.)

Man is a machine. (Descartes)

Man is apish. (Darwin)

Man is a worker. (Marx)

Man is defined by the leading political party of the working class. (Lenin)

Man is defined through his economic class within a nation. (Stalin, Mao & Pol Pot)

Man is defined by race and nation. (Hitler)

Man is defined by sexual identity. (Gay movement)

Man is politically incorrect. (Feminism)

Men are from Mars, maybe ...

But more likely: All mankind is made in the image of God (Wisdom).


    REPLIES (12):

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/04/07 6:04 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.


    So if man is made in the image of God that would make him an apish machine of working class defined by his gender, race and genetic origins. In short forever a prisoner of his history and a bit actor in gods creative drama called Life.

    Also if wisdom is an art then it will come and go out of fashion according to the fickle nature of it's followers.

    Philosophers are from Mars maybe?



  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/04/07 8:23 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.


    Thank you for your always thoughtful reply.

    My original is, as you noticed, as one dimensional as what I claim to have identified. Really it should be "what is wisdom," "what is reductionist logic," and etc.

    But I was a little inflammatory, hoping to reignite and maybe inflame some new conversation at this international philosophy forum.

    I was impressed by your local philosophy cafe. (The notice that you recently passed to me.)


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/05/07 11:08 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.


    I'm not sure how functional the use of God is in your phrase. I can see the personal function and great import for you as an individual, but as an intersubjective thing among philosophy lovers, I'm not sure. Had you used the term Allah I don't think it would have helped either, nor Brahma or Baiame (Australian aboriginal).

    I'm wondering whether love is a better term, or has that term but too sullied and lowered for use in such high stakes?

    Your attempt to qualify it as wisdom is at worst ahistorical and somewhat clumsy, if you don't mind me saying: and at best quite interesting in a curious sort of way. Is wisdom the philosopher's God? That makes God rather too human in my books, unless you consider wisdom not to be a derivative of man.

    "All mankind is made in the image of God (Wisdom)."

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/06/07 8:44 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.

    Hello Bernard

    You are correct in identifying my dysfunctional use of "God" here. It was in a personal sense, my understanding of Wisdom as an orthodox Christian.

    Perhaps "love," as you suggest, would be more universal in the sense of philosophy's understanding of Wisdom? I will have to think about that.

    Is Wisdom purely a derivative of man?

    I welcome your comments as I stumble through philosophy.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/06/07 1:42 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.

    How unique is man? How unique is love or wisdom to man? If we truly knew the origin and conclusion of life we might have a chance of answering that question. But the cosmos unfolds mercilessly before our view; macro and micro. An educated guess as to the extent of existence would, I think, inevitably be a surrender to the possibility that it is infinite, as closure never appears immanent. Thus any source of all of this around us can only be discussed as an ungoing influence that makes life possible, rather than an originating act.

    That life is something primarily defined by the existance of biological organisms is, very embarrassingly, still a very extant idea among even the most notable minds today. Surely we can pass that one up by now! We are nothings amid this universe.

    If life is not a reflection of our particular form of life, then could not the same be said of love, wisdom, joy, etcetera? And of all things, is there anything more important than love in our lives? Could not it follow then, and be true, that love is the most important thing in life overall? and therefore is the leading creative force of life?

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/07/07 5:09 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Ways of Being

    My current classes in Metaphysics seem quite relevant here and in particular what is being.

    The notion of process philosophy and theology are profoundly different ways of thinking. It seems to me that there is a misconception about science and objectivity which erroneously sets it's opposers on an incoherent path.

    The process idea is that our minds and language are at fault in not reflecting a dynamic world that is in a constant state of flux with nothing other than relative truths. I ask how can such a statement stand when there is no comparison to be made, no one has ever gone down the other paths of process thinking to be able to validate such a claim.

    The idea that materialist philosophers and scientists cannot and do not appreciate that whilst they freeze, isolate and dissect existence to learn more about it they loose sight of the holistic perspective is absurd. We can only do what is possible and, flawed as it may be, by trying to understand the atomistic construction of reality for there is no better method than the verifiable empirical observation done by many humans.

    I am becoming ever more persuaded that humanity is evolving into different species which are becoming separated by ways of thinking. One of them has an open future the other is bound to eternal recycling of the same restrictions. The one that has an open future is free from belief, it will be capable of setting aside fixed notions of ways of being as new data is forever gained. Whilst it will not be shackled by it's past it will be vulnerable to making unwise and disadvantageous choices leading to possible extinction leaving only the fittest to survive which may in the end be the better safe than sorry believers.

    How then to describe love, an hormonal hangover from our genetic past , an evolutionary survival tool (selfish gene), a vision of some future utopian state, a new element (as far as humanity is concerned) rather like philostogen was. But finally and maybe more importantly is what you either think love is or feel what love is.


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/07/07 8:59 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.

    Charles S. Peirce, who was both scientist and philosopher, in a series of articles entitled "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" concluded that in science the community of investigators determines reality. Peirce associated reality with the practical. This associating reality with the practical distinguishes science's understanding of reality from the Greek view that reality has a metaphysical character.

    I do not have any background in process philosophy or process theology. But I think that Peirce's pragmatism offers a method of dealing with the dynamic world. Greatly simplified, the question becomes "does it work or not."

    Michael, I wonder why you are limiting yourself with an atomistic construction of reality. Not that it needs to be excluded. But maybe other constructions of reality will work better, pragmatism once again.


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/07/07 9:13 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.


    I think that we may appear to be "nothings amid this universe." But further contemplation and reasoning can lead to different conclusions.

    An example is your brief reflection on "life" and "love." Your question about love being the most important thing in life and thus the leading creative force may be THE QUESTION.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/07/07 1:08 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.


    There is for sure another side to the story: that from another perspective we are universes, harboring untold numbers of worlds within. In truth, we are creators in the midst of creations.

    I've thought a bit about it, and think that the word love, although the best, is somehow inadequate. Intelligence is another word that comes to mind.

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/11/07 8:45 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.


    The concept you present is intriguing. You said: "we are universes, harboring untold numbers of worlds within." From a physicalist account of a person: the microscopic and submicroscopic worlds within. And I can imagine with some wonder what these worlds might "look like" and be. There are also the ideas of "worlds" framed by consciousness and unconsciousness, e.g. archetype.

    You also mentioned intelligence compared to love. A problem that I have with "intelligence" though is that for all of us, it will eventually decline and fail. Intelligence is not equally distributed among us. Intelligence seems very much to be a physicalist's problem.

    However "love" seems to be more universal. The developmentally disabled seem to possess its possibilities equally with the able bodied and able minded. The exceptions to the possibility of love within might only be the psychopathic. And even the psychopathic personality may be vulnerable to intrusion by love. So I think it more likely that love, not intelligence, underlies creation.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/12/07 3:43 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: A rose by any other name.


    Certain words carry so much baggage that they cease to be just a word but a conceptual thesis of reality. Even my use of the word real presupposes the existence of the unreal. So does the the existence of the unreal have any meaning at all?

    The word I refer to in your previous posting is Creation which implies a creator just as the word Given implies a giver. I think we need to become constantly aware of the coloured spectacles which we each see reality through do we not?

    From my perspective love is the newcomer on the scene, as a human value it wasn't there before humanity so it hardly underlies creation or the big bang etc.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/20/07 2:14 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Man is multi dimensional.


    Peter Russell wrote a book, The Global Brain, where he talked of man's place within earth as similar to the place some of our brain cells have in us; they only come into activity in adiluthood and are relatively short livers compared to other groups of cells of the body. It verges on an absurd reduction as an idea, but is not as easy to take with a grain of salt with 'distant' scientific postulates. Its closer to home and the emotional/practical sort of needs we encounter, such as the need for beauty; in this case via thinking. I feel for sure we are fulfilling designs that are very hardwired for us at least much more so than we usually think it. The contrast of free will and destiny is not there for the sake of contradiction, but as an aid in the delineation and enhancement of free will, which is up against huge odds in terms of its own survival.

    Perhaps will is extracted from the same irreducible baseline that tantalises you as light energy is. If we say that Energy = destiny multiplied by velocity(quanta) of will multiplied by the velocity of will, we can apply it across individuals or conglomerates of individuals, as if they were different forms of physical light. This we can't do with hypothetical parallel universes where light might have different velocity, but conform to e=mc2. This is not just because they are hypothetical but also in the 'so what' category where funding is not available, even if the potential and means for such far flung discoveries were available.

    But the difficulty in reframing an equation the way I did is that there are two absurd reductions: will and energy involved in the math (whereas in the original the velocity of light is measurable, the limits of individual will power cannot be quantified, except perhaps as an 'instinctual package'). The math becomes instead a metaphysical equation. But it does offer that parallel universes may be feasibly reflected in a possibility closer to home. Metaphysical conjectures, or formulas, are best characterised by the presence of two absurd reductions (reductions absurd to reason, eg;
    love multiplied by intelligence = life). But metaphysical philosophy can be as much too much of a tangent as logical philosophy, and I think an effort is necessary to keep philosophy, metaphysics and logic fairly separate, although the mixing of logic and metaphysics may be a sincere definition of philosophy.

    Is light more of the nature of gravity than we think? Probably, if both are forces; perhaps gravity is a sort of vacuum aspect of the force of light. They are both weak forces as I understand it. What is the force of light and the speed of gravity? The point singularity may be nothing more than the fusion of these two aspects of energy, forming another nuance, or other nuances, of energy not necessarily relating to force; flame, motion, solidity, visibilty, Gina Lollabrigida.

    Sorry. What I'm getting to is a question: Is a black hole?


FROM: marvin kirsh (03/07/07 5:31 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Self Evident Facts Can Be Disguised But not Superceeded

In relation to the discussions on theories of existence, I notice in all the arguments, arguments about what can or cannot be adjuncted, makes sense or not, to self evidence... to common things self evident to all. That it really should make no diffence with respect to truth, whatever the orientation of argument, whether you are standing on philosophical adjuncts to basic fact or in a fresh air -i.e vacationing in Hawaii v.s. for example, engaged in physical and psychical-intellectual combat with Satan in a renouned and world known licensed den of eniquity. Perspective and position do play some role in the nature of inquiry,and maybe mankind does not now any fresh air for so many persons to argue from the limb of a tree as if they do not know where the root of it is.
There are some basic facts that are self evident and cannot be avoided. All things begin with witness. In order to claim witness you have to claim existence. In order to claim a theory of existence you haver to claim the existence of others. I order to claim both your existence, your thoughts, the existence of others, their thoughts, you claim that there can be nothing else, and that all knowledge must be derived from comparison. You might rest on this foundation, as on a limb, to argue and compare, but it is the whole tree , and as it appears to me , and as the proponents of an argument do not argue with themselves on the SAME (?) accepted issues, the act is self avoiding, like your own body characteristics, fluids etc avoid mixture with that of others. Maybe your own body fluids are self avoiding to each other from a sterile beginning and grow away from your birth like a tree, as the body has limbs-limbs have the means to apply force to move from the fact of self avoidance-all things are arranged proximal and distal and function from self avoidance; in principle, standing at the proximal position, the distal can lose sight of its origins ....this keyword, self avoidance, can stand on its' own with respect to every aspect of the world regardless of where and what ever circumstances exist. Adjunct theories are always self avoiding to one another, and if try to contradict the self evident or use it in argument , or lose track of where you stand, the wind from it can be as easily confused with the forces of Marxism- thesis and antithesis and a struggling for synthesis, as fear of a moving wall with the need for revolution, but is a wind from a cyclic self infliction-a tree in struggle with its' own roots. Maybe it cannot either move or either dislikes the name of wall as it is neither moveable, nor a prop, for leaning on: it requires a great distortion and vast distance for one not to recognize one unique fact as identical to itself everywhere in the tree.
This can describe also an avoidance of and/or failure in perspective to know what the real topic of discussion is in many debates, so that, with a recognized name as a topic, problems are accurately defined and potential solutions identified and not avoided..they are of direct objective focus and are not found in the shady areas of perception, self rationalization, or the mutual agreement of masses, but only from evident and non arguable truth whether it is a product of mass application or the insights of one.. Logic is meant as to tool to apply to argument not to define it, or itself also, lest all that remain, but thinner air.
I think certain facts during the passing of human history had never become clear, and are not resolvable by science, in fact are necessary to guide science pursuit. The ancient Greeks even may potentially have arrived at ideas that the world is like the science of immunology, and is built of (in its' basic elements) things appropiate or inappropiate to one another only -is not a very difficult logic to arive at. They apparently were struggling themselves with some factor that blinded them to this fact. A person struggling with something inappropiate to his survival, attempting to overcome it, might not divide the world this way( to inappropiate and appropiate) if the inappropiatness were chronic-being unthoughtful to define a potential life in the absence of it, instead focused and oriented only with the problem itself.


FROM: Charles Countryman (03/13/07 11:41 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: "A rose by any other name."

Michael said: Certain words carry so much baggage that they cease to be just a word but a conceptual thesis of reality. Even my use of the word real presupposes the existence of the unreal. So does the the existence of the unreal have any meaning at all?

Reply: I think of words as merely being symbols, representing something. So I do not think words have their own reality that necessarily implies the existence of their antithesis. I think of myself being a realist, so unreal is just a nebulous mental concept to me and probably has no basis in reality.


Michael said: The word I refer to in your previous posting is Creation which implies a creator just as the word Given implies a giver. I think we need to become constantly aware of the coloured spectacles which we each see reality through do we not?

Reply: I understand that in Hellenistic thought (the roots of philosophy) creation was something self-existent and immortal, something that always existed and will always exist. The Hellenistic gods were part of creation. The gods did not create it from nothingness, they only formed the existing matter. Matter can take different forms. Forms come into existence and vanish, but matter itself is eternal.

In contrast to Hellenistic thought, Jerusalem (Judeo-Christianity) understands God existing outside creation (and time) and creating out of nothingness. I note that there is no apparent conflict between the Judeo-Christian concept of creation and the modern scientific Big Bang theory, since God stands outside time and space (that began with the Bang). The Judeo-Christian texts that refer to creation are not scientific,

In a philosophic or even general conversational sense, I do not see creation necessarily implying a creator. That understanding would have to come from a broader context. In a discussion about science, it might be better to use a word like universe to describe all that is out there. But even in general scientific use, I don't see any problem necessarily arising from interchanging universe and creation.

Michael said: From my perspective love is the newcomer on the scene, as a human value it wasn't there before humanity so it hardly underlies creation or the big bang etc.

Reply: I do not agree that love is necessarily just a human value. It could take on a larger reality and be Form in the Hellenistic sense. It could be understood as Aquinas wrote about Love- not only in all the soul's powers, but also in all parts of the body, and universally in all things: because as Dionysius says, 'Beauty and goodness are beloved by all things.'


    REPLIES (32):

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/13/07 5:00 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Charles: Love is a hard concept to catagorize but I am inclined to think, as you suggest that it may has a(its') likeness in all things. Intelligence I think to be a factor of the near infinite number of possible choices of path (to survival) ,though time, of simple additions ...that it appears continuous as it (we)always within(fit to ) the same container as the problems given us. DNA has been shown to be able to add substract multiply and divide. Even the inert can be viewed to appear as with some intelligence but without a self will or accessible memory of the past but what is written upon it directly from its evolution. We (humans) appear to be a combination of the two -the search for genetic information modernly has drifted into areas descrbed by its' structure more than a sequence of letters(code-chemicals). Some parts of our bodies are capable of moving and others are not. Some things inside of cells can move and some cannot. Chromosomes are known to move during division and the mechanism of propulsion is studied. Is very tricky as a pulling force causes condensation rather than stretching.
    That the world is comparable to a lock and key system of a near infinite number of combinations of (physical) surface meshing, one might try to compare this with the phenomenom of love to add forces of attraction repulsion-best appropiateness for life from a near uncountable number of (set of potential) contributing factors and possible combinations.
    Though this is my own notions and philosophical device-I like it because it does not require complex math, a scientific laboratory and proof to accept. The examples I give are only secondary support.
    As an example, I could parade on Main street demanding a Nobel prize for what I figured out, I wouldn't cherish the idea of being exhaulted for something that only requires self honesty and a good ability to recognize what constitutes no so...this particular described exhaultation is not an act of loving it is an act of complicating from the limb of observation and always a bad act. Where, what is the love expressed of those in this situation, what is the actual surface meeting?-if we know it we know also its'(love's) place in world philosophy.
    During world wars, many women assumed arms, left romance with a purpose, loved a common romance, romanced a common love, other than their men. It was in that case a war with threat maybe oriented inapprotiately from a limb itself-indirect and fitting to engage especially as women, who might sense and cherish the appropiate more than men, and know the devious and unnaturally occuring to engage it. This still can be called love, though it bear no fruits interms of offspring(continuance of self). Speaks of terror and terrible existance.
    In my exhaultations, I could be convinced to wear no clothes, hold out a tin for donations in love of money, and if money be my salvation then the giving be perceived with love, and the fruits of this stage of affairs?--- I have money fallen from the , less than inert(self willed) limbs, of a tree("money doesnt come from trees"), by gravity as a figurative representation of the universality of love, as a factor of the synergism of those fond of self deceipt and those fond of money, and as an issue that only bear again illfounded unthoughtfull bastards of the same worship born to cause the same (unexhaulted?)repetitive terrible existances and terror. As in one western movie I saw :
    Hero "I once fell in love. It's(love) a damn curse".
    And yet, but to potentially find a real place for it as a property of all things....?
    In Marx for instance thesis -antithesis, a curse of change and suffering---appropiate and inappropiate things not getting along with really a love threatened rather than loves being itself and still in basic behavior and property can be called of loving-affinity, matching etc. Does all loving involve a curse but if the limb of a tree is involved? , and of that we have a willfull choice regarding deceipt, self deceipt and greed... behavioral addiction-habit ..creatures of habit than can willfully change-move whereas trees cannot.

    What could be the priority of philosophies of existance, but to dwarf all of the known established science and accumulated technology said to better survival, add comfort.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/14/07 12:11 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    >>Michael said: From my perspective love is the newcomer on the scene, as a human value it wasn't there before humanity so it hardly underlies creation or the big bang etc.<<

    I can't imagine life without love. I don't know the extent of life, but I like to believe — shearly for health reasons — that its infinite.

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/14/07 9:31 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."


    I understand you are defining Love in the terms of physicalism. I think that the reductionist nature of physicalism is very useful in scientific and medical inquiry. But I think that physicalism lacks the breadth necessary for a comprehensive inquiry into Love.

    Likewise, I think "intelligence" is a scientific categorization and is limited by the nature of its physicalist inquiry. Intelligence lacks the breadth of inquiry contained in philosophical ideas such as mind, logic, knowledge, reasoning, and wisdom.

    I used the quote of Aquinas as an example of Love defined as Form. However my personal belief is that while Aquinas and other Western Christian theologians used Hellenistic philosophy well, they were not always aware of its limitations. I believe that beyond Love defined as Form, there is a greater understanding of Love expressed by the Fathers of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. However I will have to save that discussion for later.


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/14/07 9:55 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."


    I also believe that Live and Love are infinite. It is interesting to examine how we come up with these ideas. In a philosophical forum like this one, I would like to use the concept of "Great Ideas" as expressed by the philosopher Mortimer J. Adler rather than retreat to my own beliefs defined by Creed.


  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/14/07 10:22 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Charles: I wasnt trying to define love scientifically. There is a difference vbetween acknowledging that love exists-that we have fondnesses and dislikes-and with the thought that nsture is basically identical, in its fundamental building blocks, to us-the living-that though is is unencompassable scientifically (i.e a circle is round and its circumference is infinite..a hand drawn circle which cannot be perfect also has no way to mathematically identify or characterise the irrregularities-we can only generalize to a circle. I was saying that the emotion, love, might extend in a similiar conceptual way -have a similiar generality with the way nature is constructed -i.e. of affinities and meshings of surfaces as the basic substance of all things, which though endure over time with the tests of evolution by means of adjustability and inherited lattitude and ability to recombine, accomadation to change, not perfect-vis all the genetic abnormalities inherited diseases, lines that fail to survive, but continues none the less by experiment. Similiarly one could not define the soul scientifically(worse, the attempts to connect biochemistry and brain function to such), but one could generalize to say of containers and contents-i.e the soul is a composite of all possible paths available from forever in nature.) In both irony and enlightenment, this definition stands alone -is exactly sufficient to answer all practical question -there are no details to know. In the seeking of detail the whole is diminished and reduced by scientific method to a single moving point of all things aligned..a topologically closed (as one could envision a ball with air though the ball is really built of all open things of amyriad of affinities and sizes-shapes that it can enclose a topologocally closed energyless world.. I do not think it is impossible for science to acomplish this ..a applying theory which has no test by witnessability(can you see a gene?) establishing change and verifying it with the same theory built of extrapolations from the real-is analogous to declaring self love as fertile.
    I had never really considered or thought about emotions-e.g. love interms of science ( any date would say I was to scientific-a reverend think I was confused) but the more I think about this, read over what i wrote from just the theoretical connection with nature- that nature is built of infinities(reads from this scientific concept almost to direct application to describe experience -to expound on life, love ... I can now state things of great philosophical meaning about love, although I am far from fluent on the topic -like Google claims to be able to translate chinese from elements that speak no chinese),... the more applicability I see..even in questions of love philosophically ..of high philosophical importance-stands alone and seems to extend to all of nature.
    Science is really if one sees through all the theory and technology, not any different from lunky activities and irregularities of
    of people doing things to acomplish goal or injust their everyday walks in life-is far from perfect or the perfectness soufght in concepts and learning extrracted from life or held higher in relation to the normal fluctuations of thought. It(science) should test better than as i describe ..but include money and better life comfort and its has sunked a little lower philosophically. If fact on just reviewing what i am writing here ..the analogy of science application with self love..i have another idea (as all world problems do connect with fertitlity in some way or another) that science has some obscured connection with mastubatory activity (all sciences -as related by my philosophy of science instructor are tangentially extracted from events and endeavors attempted solutions to problems at any time in history -generalized and tested with respect to other applciations and the original problem sometimes never stated or carried along). One topic is invitro fertilization (from looking at the pictures of man wife produced child and scientist it is not often clear who fertilized what)...or military -use of what is maybe described ultimately as self love originated weaponary of geometrical expanding elements..i.e growing incidence of sexually transmitted disease..generalized application of invented phenomenom of unknown origin .. a basic pessimism and sarcasm grown throughout modern think to try to identify a lost event in history (or lost life or neeeded conception -one needs to beware always is this type of thinking to consider the record or the record player in relation to description..but the topic of love seems to fit in all test question as beginning and stopping point -line ..of demarkation) ..indicates to me an obscured historical event associaed with a quality of futility -failure and a tangential application of what learned to our general (especially science)education..we have also gotten very meticulous about it and abortive in the sense that we have not questioned a possible direct origin in terms of a direct appropiate application -have taken historical events and translated them into (held very high above the rest ) mathematics. Worse is that we know what is incorreect when we prey on other life to satisfy our self defined needs that way (i.e growing babies for their tissues, experimenting with animals-especially inhumanely to understand the inhumanities we suffer ourselves-narcisism at its extreme (narcisim at the extreme distal limbs of life trees)want to use bacteria to make batteries, clone armies of like men for task we self appoint as necessary..exploit other places etc..ALL AS MANIFESTATIONS RELATED TO LOVE

    I was faily rebelious when I was young -resented authority-went through the formalities of brief religious education and did not develop a deep respect for it(a little sarcastic) , but remember only of it those who were kind or gentle, and the remainder falling together not another catagory of dogmatism, prejudeice without a notice of their attempted teaching or very much respect for it-not rejection of it but dismisal as a topic -in the realms of science fiction . The teaching of the testaments bible, are not given competantly in the modern world as an extension of the common sense of home life, confused with formal rhetoric and a myriad of faces and non exemplary manners, I myself found no place for it until after my science education , at which time I began to question the meaning of things held so high in so many multitudes that had no scientific logic-realized how linearly oriented my(and that of all the others) science education was oriented ;not only that questions of for instance, an adam and eve (all things have parents)were deleted, in those texts and expsoures where it is acknowledged, the orientation-perspective and reasoning suffers greatly as well as a good comprehension of the writings as they are adapted-oriented to the growing slang and abberant "loves" of modern times the intended lesson orientated that way and only at the bare beginning of change. For instance the newspapers reports "earth digging" with relation to world events, but in practice is undermined with a real shovel and living earth being dismantled.
    I am not the only person who had come to resent the teaching of organized religion...there are multitudes..and the writing so poorly understood are not perceived as elemental lesson for ones private reflection akin to the family learning at home-of the whole human family and with all the needed lessons and wisdom to survive-remain. The environement to day is unendated with other and conflicting things right within the temples and shrines themselves-holy ignorance that ordinary decision making has to be relegated to higher places. Is the fact from which I am oriented in my discussions and quest to indentify its; nature and origins.
    .... That almost anything written here crosses the topic.

    P.S. My idea that ther infinites and meshing of nature as representative of the notion of love is I think equal to the ideas of yourself and bernard the love and life are infinite -everywhere-in all parts of nature -if in all the contents, then a container that contains the thought infinite has infinite contents-is(love and life) the contents.

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (03/15/07 9:22 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Marvin you said: My idea that ther infinites and meshing of nature as representative of the notion of love is I think equal to the ideas of yourself and bernard the love and life are infinite -everywhere-in all parts of nature -if in all the contents, then a container that contains the thought infinite has infinite contents-is(love and life) the contents.

    My response- Speaking of equality of ideas, I think of this forum as embracing freedom of speech about philosophy. I don't think it is in the business of determining value. That takes place elsewhere.

    Marvin you said: I am not the only person who had come to resent the teaching of organized religion.

    My response- Again, I think of this forum as embracing freedom of speech about philosophy. From its beginnings philosophy has been concerned with religion, organized and unorganized. From the beginnings of humankind, people have probably resented one thing or another. I think that part of philosophy's concern is helping determine exactly what people resent and how to deal with that.

    Marvin you said: In the seeking of detail the whole is diminished and reduced by scientific method to a single moving point of all things aligned...

    My response- I disagree with you Marvin about this. I do not think that scientific method reduces the whole. Rather it is a special, but not an exclusive, way of looking at the whole.

    Marvin you said: ...that nature is built of infinities...

    My response- I am just an amateur naturalist and amateur radio operator, a sometimes student of philosophy. But I question this assertion Marvin. Because it seems to me that if nature had a beginning (Big Bang), then it is not necessarily infinite. Nature could possibly have an ending.

    Marvin, I think that we may have a fundamental philosophical disagreement here. (Although of course, I remain open to further discussion.) I tend to think that nature is not infinite. I think that perhaps the concept of infinite has to be found elsewhere. My personal belief is that infinite can only be understood in the Judeo-Christian concept of God.

    Judeo-Christianity also has a different understanding of life. In that Mankind is more than just part of nature and that mankind is not merely a subset of life.


  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/15/07 1:10 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Dear Charles- I read your comments carefully..I only wrote originally to confirm what you said initially-you seem to be quoting me out of order. Anything I said was not meant critically. If I said that many come to resent organized religion-I did not say come to resent religion, but that there is a problem with the way it is presented that many many more would indulge in it, if it was given the down to earth place it is intended to have. I gave as an example my own experience and false perceptions handed down to me fromy brief exposures.
    I also have a philosophy,that if one can say something scientific to scientists about a common numero-uno of the conflicts with religion,science and ordinary folks,then it is a much more effective argument. You misread everything I said. I have no personal prejudices regarding either science or religion or tried to speak for others. The topic of love for example, is nearly beyond approach scientifically, yet just from what you and others wrote, I was able to compare it to the afinities of nature as an elemental building block and give love a much more fundamantal role in nature, which I reduced to two factors- self-avoidance and appropiate and inappropiatenesss . I am not intending to scientificize all things and the areas between actual life and these basic elements are in a very emphasised grey to dark area, and basically undefinable. From top to bottom though a picture is a picture, a rose a rose. Related to ideas of infinity, the circumference of a circle goes round and round forever -is infinite, but the name "circle" is finite. Scientists confuse easily the record from the record player i.e -they find a neat code in the cell, DNA, and from their perspective-essentially from the dark and only with a bare shadow of light, they extrapolate. I think DNA is simply a component or evolved factor of the whole record player itself-which is the same as the record as we ourselves are the same as nature. Science has not arrived at a simple finite definition that gives us an identity with all things- i.e. related to afinities-meshing the indirect-inappropiate inputs and direct appropiate inputs to witness. I do not believe in the big bang, simply because it is from Einstein's incomplete notions that atrtribute mass to postulated invisibles. The possibility of doom is more probable when the world is not viewed with a beginning (i.e. BIG BANG) and end.
    To demonstrate, we are more capable of inappropiate behavior from a lack of wisdom and comprehension. All anyone can know of the world is distance-angle-perspective-shape -size volume. The senses I have not attempted to include, things like smell , taste, pressure etc I do not find a route to include with my simple ideas of distances-and though the molecular mechanisms may be explained by them, they are hard to define tangibly. Magnetism, a very important force, is also know very little of scientifically , nor is fire understood. I think though that if one takes a perspective to consider things in gross-net amounts, rather than the details of explanation, ...light can impart monentum from its' energy, momentum defines a distance -the difference(differential) of two different light sources) (postulated to exist)-one of which has to be more proximal than the other..i.e more appropiate to the environment of a given witness..delineates/entails a distance, and if momentum is imparted, an energy change. If one takes these two facts -distance and energy of a light path and applies Einsteins formula E=MC^2 ..he can define time from an initial numero-uno perspective -from the outset of his thinking , and, for specific examples calculate a time(or distance or energy if one knows two of these three factors) . The existance of time then is encapsulated first by theory : as energy yielding movement -and without any net work at all ascribed totally if light has no mass. In other words, the world itself can be postulated never to move or change and accomplishes no work, but work is accomplished within it from light energy. This is the confusion in all aspects of modern life and science-and concerns entropy and the conservation of energy. If there is an opposite reaction from the momentum imparted from light, I do not think it can be related to description from any place of nature(i.e. all places) -(light has also recently been shown capable of reflecting, circulating in a closed area and of being captured at super low temperatures, somehow stored as mass, and released elsewhere in its' same intial form but of lower intensirty and obviously inappropiate to it's new location) , but only as a one way input of energy to affect work in one direction only-the (the irreversible)direction of time.
    Essentially life, the world is a gratis gift. This is why I favor the early greek philosophies that the world does not change, any other argument is lesser in scope, and in light of the fact that the real things that affect existance are tangential to our senses and beyond direct perception (consider your own perceptions and the things you do not take notice of .. other persons are always able, have essentially the same unperceivable areas in their own life experiences as you-the things that influence their senses are tangential to their awareness-...other persons are always to raise an awarewness of those imperceptable about yourself, though they damage themselves in the process-have tampered unawarely and indirectly with their own environments)...I think science has accomplished such tampering, greedily playing with things, theories that are still in the dark and lack perspective. (Maybe working to attain what is already freely given, from limited view of short time intervals). If voids are included in science theory(e.g. Einsteins vaccum for the description of the velocity of light) all applications of his theory upon the natural environemnt would ultimately harm ourselves as the resulting devices created are added up from an assumed neutral distant perspective -especially the building of bombs which are(with terrible intention and stupidity) intended to cause harm, especially in a society more oriented immediately towards the material and its' (changing with time) problems(in analogy to a teen) and might not hold(modern society) philosophy and its' wisdoms in higher priority-understand or yieled to its' temptations, the wisdoms of Einsteins.
    I think there is an abnormal inappropiate factor in the eyes of all of us from antiquity-a shady area, indirect, area carried on from the past -described by Nietzsche of the behavior of all the Jews and Arians of which almost all of us are, or are derived. Einstein whad been right up to the door of this dilema, but never resolved it(is even quoted of his later years that the problem was a mistaken assignment of the name "phenomenom" to things in a process of change, and that the parts and whole of things were not correctly ordered), but wound up, in his theory, with both an absolute number and a void, in struggle to accomodate observation.
    It might be pictured as a very tormenting life to knowingly live in a sea with a certain poison in it, exist with it , and to attempt to define it. The actual truth might draw any kind of reaction from anyone, and needs to be read very carefully and as thoughtfully as it is derived and presented.
    The correct meshings of nature, we feel as love and give the name "love" to, and is equilivilent to the meshing that nature must necessarity accomplish: love is not restricted to a human value, and it is of love of which this world suffers a disturbance of-(perhaps this is the intended biblical definition-as the bible might be meant to communicate its' lesson to those in a harsh environment, who would know better the words, meshing, good meshing, good afinity-likeness, and the fact that we all have a common likeness that should not-cannot be judged or acted against).
    Today nearly all of our communications have some false content..false content in the case with regards to the very important -ultimate- means false communications-of what ever the origin-of, beacons reflecting indirectly, inappropiately, from other places.
    P.S. -It might be good to refer instructors to this before exposing them to it, as it might not be good to receive from 500 students sensical and new material the instructor had not seen himself. I also have papers in stable condition in review and hope they will be published soon so references can be provided.

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/15/07 6:35 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Charles- I was saying — "seems to be equal" implying so, as far as I understood it.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/15/07 11:03 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "An intelligence by any other name."

    Intelligence is not IQ, which is information response peculiar to particular culture or species even. A greater intelligence may improve IQ but the two are different. Intelligence is like air; it is all around us and in us. An intelligent designer of the universe — or God — is a human projection of the totality of human IQ, or ideation, but is not intelligence itself. IQ is important as it is based upon cultural norms,
    protective ideas of the world that are important in sustaining coherent world agreements.On the other hand, intelligence is a highly active force; a resulting abundance of awareness-information formed through the act of myriad life forms connecting and exchanging without sovial, cultural or norms of a given species. This freedom of open intelligent exchange is loving. Of course the rate of intelligence sharing is personal and circumstantial. When caught in danger, we act more intelligently because the rate of sharing needs to be up in order to have as many options available to us as possible. Or when writing a great book an author's rate of sharing goes up, as he has a broad spectrum of readers to appeal to — I am thinking of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra . The more heightened the sensitivity, the greater the spectrum of intelligence one is hooking into. Beholding a great starry sky silences me often because I sense intelligence beyond that is too vast for anything that my ordinary thinking can relate too. In such a state I'm downloading stuff in the form of unshaped feelings of longing, motivation etcetera. At other times I can look at the sky and feel no 'intelligence surge', and sure as hell I won't be feeling love (connectivity) either. Am I getting too hippy here?

    I tend to rate intelligence above wisdom as wisdom is more in the service of intelligence, rather than intelligence a thing at the service of wisdom. Wisdom only activites intelligence, rather than adding to it; the finger that points to the moon — a thing dependant upon experience — whereas intelligence is immediate. Love and intelligence are interdependant in the same way as wisdom and kindness are interdependant. The latter duo though come, somewhat, through a reflective process' and as such do not classify for me as the immediate creative aspect of life that the former does.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/17/07 12:54 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "An intelligence by any other name."


    I'm confused about IQ which I understand to mean Intelligence Quota and what Bernard means for his definition of Intelligence which seems to be something else. Being a simple person I like simple ideas and if nature were sentient then I think we could attribute it's operation to simple ideas in this respect I much prefer Ockhams approach rather than needlessly complex and conspiratorial theories of everything.

    Bernard seems to paint a picture of the interplay, an ebb and flow, of a dynamic almost purposeful view if life which I do not share. It is exampled by wonder and emotions when beholding the night sky, an experience indeed and one that could well be replicated (suitably done) inside a planetarium or by neural stimulation (as can religious experiences) see this link and numerous other like it
    If then you are that kind of person then you would experience things that way, wouldn't you, and we could hardly expect anything any different.

    As a counter argument to the authority of IQ there was the recent introduction of the idea of Emotional Intelligence although I find this difficult to conceive of as Intelligence it does seem to fit into the different approaches seen here by participants in this forum between, as Hubertus would describe it, Brainies versus Hearties. I think one of the fascinating things we humans have is the ability to un-wire our minds and rebuild them in a different way which I think we call learning do we not.


    ps How can I be wise before an event surely it's a quality only acquired after a decision proved to be a correct one. The fact that some people are better at predicting things isn't wisdom is it?

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/18/07 1:15 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Yeah, Hi.

    >>ps How can I be wise before an event surely it's a quality only acquired after a decision proved to be a correct one. <<

    Is wisdom found within a decision, rather than before or after it?

    >>The fact that some people are better at predicting things isn't wisdom is it?<<

    No, it isn't wisdom coming from such people; they are people who know the ins and outs of a given inventory. A weatherman takes all the data and makes a reasonable prediction based on facts. The key word here is reason. Intelligence is not reason, and IQ is only the measure of reasonable responses, which are largely culturally defined. Higher IQ's solve more complex reasonable problems at a faster rate because they have more of the cultural equipment to do so than someone of similar intelligence, but lesser IQs, who does not have that equipment. Check out the mensa society: an elite society for people with high IQ's. Rating intelligence by IQ is merely an attempt to make intelligence provable and measurable in order to fit in with the particular view of the world that says that anything of high human regard, such as intelligence or love, must essentially be of a visible nature, albeit just in the way that neurons are seen to be set out in the brain, and how impulses are seen to pass through them. I find this a very biased prerogative.

    Is an intelligence that isn't primarily reasonable less an intelligence because of that? You have at least half the world to contend with, in the form of women, through a statement such as the one you make about emotional intelligence. That emotional predictions can be just as intelligent and valid as reasonable ones is worth some inquiry. (Will my wife like that blue dress if I buy it?)

    A prediction made and then proved to be incorrect or correct may still retrospectively be said to be a wise choice from the range of predictions on offer at the time that the prediction was made. Let's say a metaphorical lion is chasing me, so I choose to climb a tree as high as I can because lions are not good at climbing trees. The limb I am on — one of those 'theory of everything' limbs snaps, and I fall down to where the ravenous lion is ready to sup upon me. It was a rational prediction that if I climb the limb the lion won't get me. But there was also another decision I could have made, and which I sorrowfully remembered as the limb cracked: that I could have jumped into the body of water that was as nearby as the tree was, and escaped the lion that way — as lions hate water and drown in it usually. Because it was not a rationally thought out option, I ignored it. It was on option presented to my panicking thoughts in the form of an instinctual message, a feeling that safety was to be had in the water. As luck would have it a beehive upon the limb that snapped fell before I did into the gaping jaws of the beast, causing it to madly jump into the water and drown.

    How wise was I then to choose the tree as the escape root? If I had of chosen the water option I might have saved an endangered lion from dying, but instead I went with the rational option, nearly dying myself, and suffering multiple cuts and bruises from the fall. As I pondered the conundrum I watched, horrified, as several crocodiles emerged from the dark water to devour the carcass of the lion, thrashing it about with great thrusts of their jaws. Needless to say I hastened away from that place.


    Can wisdom be found in rational or instinctual decisions? The proposal I'd like to make is that wisdom is the precursor to complete intelligence; intelligence that is not allied directly with either rationality or will (will is manifest as instinct in the above case will being the voluntary surrender, or non surrender, to instinctive drives). To attempt a description of what I mean by complete intelligence, I need to find the best way to identify wisdom, which I think is by identifying its most obvious quality: kindness, or compassion. There is no wisdom without kindness. It is it's most essential ingredient. And what is kindness but putting oneself aside in the service of others? It is this putting oneself aside wherein one can access intelligence that is not bound by our survival needs or social mandates. All this is saying is that when concern for the self is put aside we become more aware, sensitive to what is going on around us. This is provable: if I'm party to a petty argument I can make a mature decision to end the argument by acknowledging my pettiness and not participating in it any further. When I do this I Invariably find myself appreciating and learning something real about the being before me. All it takes is an effort to forget the selfish concern. That effort, to my mind, is wisdom, and the ensuing reward is the sort of love and intelligence that is completely free.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/18/07 5:01 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Complete intelligence

    I have worked with disabled, senile and 'crazy' people, and have never once felt that such person's essential intelligence was compromised by their condition. The only thing I ever discovered was their frustration and resentments in their intelligence not being recognised for what it is. Infants often express the same sort of frustration, as do marginalised groups like indigenous or the extreme poor. You can see intelligence in a newborn as powerfully as in one of declining years. The only difference being that the latter has power of expression of his or her intelligence, whilst the babe has not. The babe has the upper hand though in that it has not had the chance to confuse itself with the expressions of intelligence; mistaking it for something it is not, such as reason or will. Their senses, as conduits for intelligence at large, in the immediate environment, can detect impulses we as adults are barely aware exist. We could conjecture that a tree has its intelligence in things like its roots and leaves, much slower, but just as effective as any other. We think of the earth as a bit of rock haphazardly formed and occurring in a solar system. Because it has no detectable biology we think of it as lifeless. Yet perhaps all we have to do is to drop our shared humano-centric navel gazing for a moment and feel it for what it really might be; a thing of such supreme intelligence compared to our own that it bypasses our ordinary attention to notice it as such. In the same way that ants crawling across our feet are unaware of the awareness they encounter, or the way the cells of our bodies, floating around in our fluids, think of them just as so many oceans, so might we be to things like planets and suns.

    I offer these thoughts as curve balls within the discussion and not as philosophical conclusions. The worth of such inputs may be deleterious, but I think their inclusion worthwhile so as to keep the ideas that need to be dealt with in our theories of existence broad and not too substantial. Its very easy to get hot under the collar with all this, but I must say how admiring I am of each of you fellows and your efforts to keep at bay judgemental slights and interruptions to each other's thought processes.

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/18/07 1:25 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Intelligence-Bernard


    I do not know how familiar you are, or oriented with science. When I read you comments about the existence of intelligence, its' contrast with IQ, I was reminded (with a question reflection to understand you comments) of the physics ideas gifted us of Albert Einstein. In particular certain common definitions from physics "inertial frame", frame of reference, or physical law that states that the properties of a system have to be the same through out. From my perspective he struggled to delineate what was in motion, what was not in motion, was everything in motion, with repect to what, and if so was rate of change involved. his statement that "God did not play dice with the world" is reminiscent of you thoughts. .as I see them that there is some kind of order to things as if innate things were able to think, part of a design or intelligent rational construction. The new born seems as much a part and participant as the way an innert wind blows. And we are confused about this fact we can state that that is so, we and sense that way because it so and we ourselves are a part of it -lending affirmation to the same.
    As if the universe were a mathematical construction that constructs mathematically. .by an alogarhythum of some kind that is the construction itself. then again, are things in motion how can we define inertial frame(in motion with respect to what), this leads to certain things we can measure and test from his theory-the bending of light, the velocity of light, the distance of things, etc. Is still a very baby science, but with a firm central notion, and much more advanced than the social sciences.
    My though about the intelligence of things I am comparing to motion-all things of life are by discrimination, the eye sees by contrast. The universe is what it is and if we we the same as it we would not detect mentally waht you describe as (the overwhelming) intelligence in all things. An onion must grow from a seed. Yet the center core is different from the peels, and by analogy each would see each other, though be basically of the same. Let me share a quote from Einsteins works that is related to today of all the conflicts in physics that are still un resolved and what he himself did not ever resolve:

    "Einstein originally declared that the distortions of special relativity

    reflect real changes to the objects being remotely observed, then


    In biology clas the question was posed-How can on cell divide into two things that are different from one another.?

    With both of these problems in mind (in the physical and biological sciences) the scientist would delve forever mathematically and logically to arrive at a cause and effect explanation . One not so inclined might simply accept it.

    In a better approach tan asking what happened over time for the peels of an onion to change from its seed , one instead might defined the change as time, can define it as time if the same phenomenon is common to all things. What looks like, then
    , a perplexing question, is reduced to so what , what else is there or am I able to know or has any meaning at all. The onion, the tree, people, the world has layers, scales and is motion-call it intelligence or etc. Is fascinating wonder of all things that we notice by virute of the fact that it is a property of our selves also- our seed, cores etc, or place of observation is different from and capable of seeing our own scales.

    I appreciate your comments, they are very perceptive and stimulate my own imagination.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/18/07 5:33 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Only able to briefly read your response, Marvin. I stil haven't got my teeth solidly enough into Einstein — if that's possible! But maybe you can help me with something

    I saw a documentary about the sun on TV and it said that light can only escape the sun's core at 1 millimetre an hour or something, due to its density. If the speed of light is constant, why is it so slow in this sort of instance?

    What you say about layers of the onion reminds me of Carlos Castaneda's work. Are you familiar?


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/19/07 2:50 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    >>.as I see them that there is some kind of order to things as if innate things were able to think, part of a design or intelligent rational construction. The new born seems as much a part and participant as the way an innert wind blows. And we are confused about this fact we can state that that is so, we and sense that way because it so and we ourselves are a part of it -lending affirmation to the same.<<

    My view here is that everything we can perceptually detect is alive, apparent to us in one of either four ways: as a complete sentient being apprehended; as a portion of a sentient being; as a conglomerate of sentient beings; as sentient being once or more times removed from our direct perception. The first type is simple enough; you see me, I see you, I see a tree, etcetera. The second type you bring up yourself when likening an inert thing, such as wind, having apparent intelligence. My thought is that in the wind is part of the awareness of a sentient being, such as the earth's awareness. There may be the awareness of other things in the wind as well, but mostly it has to do with the earth's consciousness I think. In the same way that the air we inhale carries oxygen to cells, so as well does our breathing carry our intelligence to them. The cells of our bodies are an example then of the third type of living states we apprehend. The fourth type of living things we can detect are not detectable in any way through our ordinary senses and are only apprehended by us through the general qualities that all living things possess, such as love, intelligence, growth, perception, beauty, identity, interaction, etc. In other words, it is the infinite other life forms that lie beyond any perception we can ever have of the cosmos, macro or micro: the who-gives-a-damn-about-it-anyway.

    How much can one discuss mysteries without demeaning them through the need to rationalise them? Life is essentially irrational. Was it Spinoza who said that life should never have been? (rationally speaking). We have very little time on board here, and can't waste it looking a gift horse in the mouth. Quests for theories of existence are all vulnerable from the outset because existing is so dam engulfing and demanding. Being can't allow itself the luxury of navel gazing. We are existence forging existence as individual awareness, and as conglomerates of individual awareness. The designs of existence we envisage fall away as fast as they unfold to make way for new envisagement, yet the fallen visions arise again, and with a greater power.

    Its good to seek the reflection of all of this in science. Rationality can't be the way to unravel existence though, only a tool, and a rather oblique one at that.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/19/07 9:20 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Light speed


    This is my take on Einstein so I lay claim to all errors and omissions but here goes:

    Light has a constant speed but that through which it passes is space time. Space time is curved by increasing gravity until the point is reached when no light can escape an object, namely a black hole. The sun is part way down that scale which from our low gravity location appears to make light travel slowly.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/19/07 9:29 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Flowers for Algernon (Roses?)


    Whilst still pondering your definition(s) of intelligence I wonder if you have seen or read the film/book "Flowers for Algernon" I presume you would disagree with basic concept of intelligence expressed in this thought provoking story. Below is a link to a short synopsis from wikipedia



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/19/07 1:27 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Thanks for the physics aid. Interesting. Does light actually bend of its own accord? or is it beiong refracted or pulled by gravity so that it appears to bend in the theoretical formulae?

    I have heard of the book but not read it. It looks fantastic. Do you know the novel and film 'Birdie'?, made in the eighties sometime. I can't find links to it. Its about a guy who loves birds and wants to become one. He is actually becoming mentally ill. Is his 'bird intelligence' to be discouraged if he finds so much joy in it?

    I appreciate, and mentioned, that intelligence as defined by society is important, because it defines boundaries for our intelligence. Without those boundaries we can become nothing better than mincemeat. We are all happier and better off if our intelligence is able to form and express itself satisfactorily, in the normal way. We do tend to become too secure with it I think.

    I'm updating my comp at the moment, so bear with me with waht follows.

    If we think of intelligence as the software we install over the hardware, our minds, then if the hardware isn't functioning well, neither will the software. It may not even install. Some hardware can't take certain software that more advanced hardware of the same type can. Likewise, when hardware goes wrong, already installed software for that hardware is affected. Nietzsche comes to mind. When he had a mental (hardware) collapse, his software, the OS, suddenly seriously underfunctioned. Thew bios is about the only thing stil okay, yet all the information is still on the hardware, yet is unusable in ant normal functioning way. It does its own thing in a semi functional way. In N's case it was beyond need of repair, let alone anyone's capability to do so — it had done a great job after all. Yet Fritz was still a loved and loving, facinating, and rare individual who was valued for his intelligence; a software, let's say, that was unmatchable in its performance, and even when underfunctioning so badly still gave out starbursts.

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/19/07 3:27 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Bernard: In response to you questions of science, and in general response, I always like to outline things, and in this case include key words in response: Key words=collective unconscious, reducio absurdum. If you like in reply to create an outline of contrast — your interpretation. Words can sometimes clutter ideas.

    1) you thoughts remind me of Freuds term collective unconscious when you speak of the universality of intelligence.
    I had, in my past wrestled with Freuds' idea -its' meaning.
    If one were to assume that all the world started anew each day, one could sure become intellectually suspicious if he were to notice that everyone-all the persons available to question or simply encounter- had something in common (i.e a collective state of mind of unconscious) that had evolved without a meeting of societies-defied mechanical explanation.
    First how would we even notice it, but to know a contrast of the situation with its' absence.
    I do not think I would have been aware of it, but for Freuds theory of it, which from my perspective required a great extended perception, as if in a scientific experiment to extrapolate a control or baseline line without witness to it.
    And from a scientific point of view, especially from my learned mechanical adding of given facts about the world, something unexplainable and mysterious was going on(almost again writing love sonnets from scientific logic).
    I will jump to my opinion today on this matter first.
    As an individual has a finite lifetime, so does a whole species, life altogether.
    We develop (in prominent factors)psychologically in a way that is independent of environment as we age and so must a whole gene line or species (especially in the same environment earth-our developments would be even more narrowly alike and different, though still parallel, from humans developing off the earth on a hypothetical other planet).
    I do not know how Freud even made a comparison to know what he theorized but to have read ancient dialogues, philosophy and to have been able to intuitively project a psychological state and meaning in communications different from his own.
    But in what ever way he claimed his notion, it is probably fact.
    Large numbers of persons or small numbers if in a common environment, can relate-communicate accordingly and in common, fom a common species origin of descent, and the common environment of which they exist.
    This could be called a form of universal intelligence to all things.
    and is a "so what" also, a reductio absurdum hardly seen profitable for intellectual investment.
    The fact I am trying to communicate is that the property of reductio absurdum is not often obvious-in the case of Einsteins theory of relativity-the mathematics is not reductio absurdum-has more important higher value-but some of his philosophy and applications of original math-to explain distant phenomenon(really accommodate them with thoughts of unity to nature), upon arrival at the frustrating wall of conflict, in awaiting, across and beyond it,there would be nothing but reductio absurdum facts common to everyday life and true of things 100 billion light away also.
    Who would not but seek all the possible exceptions to a reductio absurdum notion — in seeking a real peace-in his witness of anything, a billion light years beyond or otherwise, and to really put the nails in the coffin,.
    .from quote about Einsteins' work in my earlier essay, below it is obvious he, himself had doubts of interpretation and implications.
    Science goes on that way, philosophy makes statement only, and, not yet obvious to mans' curiosities, he has only to arrive at an acceptable statement in each case , as science question and pursuit only originates from common reductio absurdum like knowledge of the collective unconscious kind-the basic scientific perplexities always reduce to the same Observations beyond witness are only approachable mathematically, and not understood until a strong consensus and(undoubting-i.e would you doubt that gravity exists on seeing something fall, or more simpler, that the earth is round after it is has come to be shown and accepted that way)) philosophical foundation is agreed on- in this the reductio absurdum fact of common life-eggs and chickens and a thought that all is eggs and chickens, and built of contrasts (a battery delivers energy from a contrast of electrical potential between its' cells-one more positive or negative with respect to the other, as an example).In analogy, an appealingly not so reductio absurdum question with the potential to become one with a reductio absurdum answer — is there a base line electrical potential to the world from all energy processes(energy processes, the power as if batteries to drive everything).
    If one thinks about it , there could either be a common ground with respect to which all voltages operate, or only a world of differences.
    Or the world could have begun with a certain potential, which changes as energy is expended-and is different everywhere.
    If one planet has an electrical potential with respect to another -who is to say whether a baseline exists with respect to all.
    Does there have to be one? This is very comparable to Einsteins proposal of a constant velocity of light.
    Light velocity, on the other hand, might be relative to every place from any place, and if this is the case, it is not logically possible to specify a constant for any condition, theoretical or otherwise(Einstein declared it a constant in a vacuum at zero degrees).
    In terms of a constant, but not as theorized or even the same as the limit proposed) a starting value could have existed (i.e a beginning electrical potential or amount of energy that would also be a limit- as you cannot wind up with more than you started with-but this limit is no the same as a maximum velocity in a vacuum-though the real value could theoretically be identical ,the theories are very different and science experiment not able to distinguish them).
    The reductio absurdum fact -the world is ratios-contrasts, from its beginning (or rather one end to the other)(because stating a beginning is a mathematical extrapolation like stating a constant value of the speed of light- a starting amount is not knowable-depends on what is said to be the start, how one could possibly determine it, and winds up as always a ratio-what is the start of a place of time, trees, roots etc ..a definition has no meaning -the word start, beginning, end are are definitions from within the theory which is within the word definition world- it is applied inappropriately).
    Hence my theory-philosophy of the world is composed of only the words inappropriate and appropriate and a contrast between the two that delineates time in terms of length and energy-no more penetration(dissection to further parts) into this ideas is possible as you wind up with the same unanswerable from all perspectives -chicken-egg questions-which came first? -why did the chicken cross the street? Time is just what we define it to be, distance divided by velocity .
    Who knows where distance comes from, or energy(force) either? The reductio absurdum fact is the acknowledgement of the simple existence of these factors-they cannot be explained.
    Some things affecting us are at an appropriate distance for knowing as apart of our lives and some are not-I think both kinds(appropriate and inappropriate) of things are always present-and are scientifically definable as or relateable e to distances =i.e the distance or difference in distances of two light paths..
    Thus we have four entities with which to understand the world, the reductio absurdum facts of distance, time, energy(energy-force are interchangeable) =the reductio absurdum fact of movement and the one quality of appropriateness.(appropriate(direct and proximal or inappropriate(indirect and distal) movement I really think this to be correct , as it appeared also that Einstein thought that some of the phenomenon used to build his theory were further reducible.
    He alternately on failing to find another solution, gave light a quality of mass, that would be deflected in strong gravitation-it was predicted as a consequence.
    Light is deflected in strong gravitation(was measured early last century)-but cannot be from a quality of its directly having a property of mass.
    But from the process of its approach-proximity to a place of high gravity.
    My best conjecture is that mass and energy interchange in this process in such a way that new (moving)mass is constantly generated in the path of the light energy -micro volumes being born with an energy remainder in terms of emitted and or reflected light from the initial beam-(or a process that involves the already existing appropriate light around the body of high gravitation-sounds like the words used in time =space theory-time dilation, but is not the same.) reflected deflected new masses and hence light associated with them by gravitation...micro new mass may being generated all the time and from forces of gravitation does not ever proceed in a straight line.
    Light may actually never pass directly from one place to another, but the reductio absurdum common sense that it does-i.e the net result cannot be exceed by science explanation to accommodate distant observation of phenomenon-especially as specific exceptions in theory (called singularities in physics).
    Interpretation is simply wrong in that case.
    A force obviously caused this, but as light has no mass, a force cannot be applied to a light beam.
    This is a good example(for the question off bending light) of an inclination to think scientifically where upon ordinary collective sense-philosophy has not a strong common consensus.
    Science should always be taken as lightly as a grain of salt to common sense in the absence of an answer as< I think, anything at a distance-distal verse proximal-that(especially) requires aided observation reduces to a fallacy in interpretation and theory that always involves a principle of reductio absurdum.
    In modern day this involves, especially, genetics and its medical applications, and physics (especially war applications).
    it is not guessed at, that even experiment confined to laboratory can cause a general change-assumed to be the opposite-mind does always have the say over matter(witness the splitting of the atom) (it also must be correct)- by effecting a change in the course of things that are arrived from(basic fact) and also dictate all the collective notions and reductio absurdums of civilization.
    I also wanted to add that aside from a collective unconscious, mankind earns and adds to his knowledge and wisdom, which becomes assimilated by all of civilization.
    Not very different from the process of growth and development of a single individual.
    If the whole civilization were to witness together the principles of relativity, I am sure its missing reduction absurdum would be found quickly.
    These gains are not absolutes, they are happenstances, and the intelligence you see of all things is probably that, a collective problem solving past to present .
    I think also, in everyone the doors are automatically left open for additions; some people may naturally have a better eye and sense than the ordinary.
    The collective gains do not necessarily have to be equal with respect to individual potential gains in every individual.
    Some have a chance to teach directly beyond their niches, some just live and die and their learning is passed along indirectly via direct association and knowing the persons.
    This means(the latter means ) has some positive aspects.
    It appears more natural.
    I recently took a course in the history of Latin America, and many of those in power struggles had studied the philosophies of notable Europeans.
    They also had employed the philosophy as personal tools to support racism and bigotry, notions of supremacy..
    to back their slanted ideas.
    Philosophy was not apart of school curriculums there(if it had been it might had muffed many bloody rebellions and turmoils.
    The land still suffers until today from the appending of philosophical ideas to lesser notions of order suited to the wish of particular individuals.
    A night mare if one thinks about the havoc and injustice that can ensue from this type of leverage added to emotion with intellect.
    I wanted to introduce the ideas of collective natural growth with time and earned collective knowledge for your reflection.
    I view the former as naturally happening with age of a civilization and the latter having to with the accumulation of common wisdoms.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/20/07 2:37 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A Gina Lollobgigida by any other name."


    Peter Russell wrote a book, The Global Brain, where he talked of man's place within earth as similar to the place some of our brain cells have in us; they only come into activity in adiluthood and are relatively short livers compared to other groups of cells of the body. It verges on an absurd reduction as an idea, but is not as easy to take with a grain of salt with 'distant' scientific postulates. Its closer to home and the emotional/practical sort of needs we encounter, such as the need for beauty; in this case via thinking. I feel for sure we are fulfilling designs that are very hardwired for us at least much more so than we usually think it. The contrast of free will and destiny is not there for the sake of contradiction, but as an aid in the delineation and enhancement of free will, which is up against huge odds in terms of its own survival.

    Perhaps will is extracted from the same irreducible baseline that tantalises you as light energy is. If we say that Energy = destiny multiplied by velocity(quanta) of will multiplied by the velocity of will, we can apply it across individuals or conglomerates of individuals, as if they were different forms of physical light. This we can't do with hypothetical parallel universes where light might have different velocity, but conform to e=mc2. This is not just because they are hypothetical but also in the 'so what' category where funding is not available, even if the potential and means for such far flung discoveries were available.

    But the difficulty in reframing an equation the way I did is that there are two absurd reductions: will and energy involved in the math (whereas in the original the velocity of light is measurable, the limits of individual will power cannot be quantified, except perhaps as an 'instinctual package'). The math becomes instead a metaphysical equation. But it does offer that parallel universes may be feasibly reflected in a possibility closer to home. Metaphysical conjectures, or formulas, are best characterised by the presence of two absurd reductions (reductions absurd to reason, eg;
    love multiplied by intelligence = life). But metaphysical philosophy can be as much too much of a tangent as logical philosophy, and I think an effort is necessary to keep philosophy, metaphysics and logic fairly separate, although the mixing of logic and metaphysics may be a sincere definition of philosophy.

    Is light more of the nature of gravity than we think? Probably, if both are forces; perhaps gravity is a sort of vacuum aspect of the force of light. They are both weak forces as I understand it. What is the force of light and the speed of gravity? The point singularity may be nothing more than the fusion of these two aspects of energy, forming another nuance, or other nuances, of energy not necessarily relating to force; flame, motion, solidity, visibilty, Gina Lollabrigida.

    Sorry, what I mean to say is that what we are looking at when looking at a black hole is still a theory as far as I can tell. Ways that matter behave when gravity gets to a point where light cannot predictably escape its influence, is one matter, but proving a black hole is another. I know that they have seen stuff that they predicted would come out of a black holes if they exist, but having read a little through it I didn't feel convinced.- or less convinced about what a black hole is and does.

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/20/07 1:25 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Bernard: Frankly there is no substitute for a Gina Lolabrigeta-the whole is not only more important than the parts, the question is dismissed on finding at least one scientist who does not find her a topic of science. Mind is always numero-uno with respect to matter(matter in this analogy is a topic of science as well as mind can be-but of the fact of an indivisible soul the scientific inquiries into mind can have no meaning, the parts of a soul, as a topic, have no meaning-the parts we find or divide to, on reconstruction, add to something else other than an (indivisible)soul-is the result of mental mastrubation from frustrations, belly button reflection, from the encountered wall in the pursuit of everything else.
    I mostly like to think that the professional things we find that originate this way-(fit into the catagory of belly button research) are just thoughts tossed in the air for feed back. But somewhere along the way someone takes them more seriously. Science theory of belly buttons coupled with dissected belly buttons that fit the theory can become so complicated they could fool a naive person. Einstein didn't dissect things in physical experiment, nor Darwin (to be exact and precise-if he did it was not in the manner I am discussing), nor Newton-the all tossed up thoughts from active intellects that some serious some one else took to, with wrenches or scalpels. What is the importance of knowing the truth. As far as I know, each of the science facts we have today-the seeking that resulted in them-was towards specific problems that occured during history. Einstein was mostly very theoretical-I have not come across mention of a practical application-I dont think he had thoughts of helping man visit the moon, especially wasn't at war with Japan..? I myself studied in graduate school with no real practical purpose but to improve my intellect education make a living. Maybe there is a change in modern times that intellectual pursuits can occur with no practical purpose-like art expression. I cant picture Plato or Socrates either but as art expression. There seems to be a distinct division in history where by objects of engineering skill are more predominate in mental associations-materialism, safety in large groups, that we do not sense the earth individually as much. Thus, have as if a court to test nature, a burden of two rather than one thing- truth of the belly button, and where it is applied to the world — to distinguish it when seen- and the naked truth itself (as one sorts through all the thoughts and writing available) as we engineer the earth to suit us we are obviously not in the same crude environments of the past, where upon I am sure tools were known as tools and secondary to the wisdoms of life. What is, for example to add to the absurdio reductum fact of Gina Lolabridgeta as aesthetic-an exercise in self punishment(self banishment into the chambers of hell for temptation, vagrancy-resting during lunch break)- a phony debit in the ledger- from the philosophy of the self-perceived damned.
    A Key word seems to be "hole" as either mentioned directly ("blackhole") or indicated by association. Th entire Judio christian ethic has the quality , beyond self love, of a need to climb out of a hole- a permeated threat throughout with a whip to keep working at it- in some cases to make gold from lead and though impossible, still have practical gains from the effort-e.g lead technology as if trying to turn lead into gold-would learn a lot about lead... I am also inclined to think from experience that a practical side to this exists-i.e something important to civilization trapped in a (dark-black hole.)... we would all know it if we encountered it-maybe by now have a way to help it-ourselves---
    If real hole as I described does not exist, I am still better off for the thought, I keeping my perspective, being good to myself-was the original question of the Greeks-how to attain happyness -was it was with respect to the self and society as whole.
    What ever- I am convinced that a real hole (of purgatory to a real necessity) does exist-maybe why we explore so much to find and remedy our discontents.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/21/07 2:30 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    I recall that Steven Hawking and a colleague had a bet in regard to who would prove black holes first. Hawking won and received the prize, a copy of penthouse magazine... hmmm.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/22/07 2:14 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: In a hole

    Does light bend? In this respect we have to look at theory and what does theory attempt to provide us with. I think all theories are attempts to best fit data into a model that we can comprehend and the extent of the model we can comprehend is a measure of intelligence. (whatever model is concerned)

    Plato's notion of forms may well lead us astray from an accurate representation of reality — what is a straight line anyway? If I draw a straight line on a piece of paper and then bend the paper the line is still straight when compared with any point in the plane of the paper. In a similar three dimensional way with a space-time grid distorted by gravity light still enters and exits the cube at the same points but compared with regions of space where the grid is not so distorted the light appears to bend.


    In a similar way that we have conceived of the idea of infinity in a finite universe so we are unable to conceive what a singularity is despite having created the idea. This I think shows more about the limitations of our thinking structures than it does about things in themselves.

    When you go out to buy some clothes you may want to take them out of the shop to see what the colours look like in daylight, unfortunately we can't step outside of our thinking in a similar to see what things look like from a wider perspective. or is this all getting a bit new age.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/22/07 5:47 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Are we thinking about universals when we observe them? Is thinking of universals the observation of universals, or a result of the observation? What is the quality of the apprehension of universals?

    When we say light has a constant speed are we really talking about a universal when we are talking about a constant? Gravity waves travel at the same speed as the speed of light, so it is not a constant that pertains to light alone and, therefore, may it be more intelligibly talked of as a universal speed rather than a constant speed? Or is the constant in question more like an incommensurable number?

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/22/07 5:50 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: There's a lot to existence

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/22/07 11:33 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."

    Bernard: When I think of the word (universal)as I think you are using it, my thoughts go to Hegel in reference to conscious and awareness learning and mental structure...i.e interchange between the self and the environment, a struggle, and fulfillment in terms of self enlightenment-described as never ending process-akin to an ego that wants everything its way and a thought that it is not naturally his way as a bondsman, and his struggle to overcome his lord-bondsman (represented as the simple thought itself) that he is a slave to. His freedom from it is the wisdom itself he gains in the struggle that is closer to reality and grows stronger that the bondman's thought.
    I studied science a long time and it is a little similar, with the discussion of constants. The real universal is as Hegel description-wisdom developed over time with the practice to challenge theory. There is no other universal to be had though it leaves us feeling empty. Each persons separate wisdoms are also universals, but the added sum of them is not a number, but more (if one seeks a universal) like Hegels description. A scientist can argue over a theory for a life time, but is always glad to be rid of it. "Rid of it" not meaning to have found a substitute, but glad to be "on his own" of himself (of itself)without it. To my knowledge this has not happened very often in history-if at all. But I am convinced that the "laws" that rule the universe, are things right at his door step, of which another calling that causes him unhappiness and suffering has lead him away from, to conquer it -understand its' nature.
    In reference (I had listed links in the link section from nature and time magazine). The latest issue of nature is the most interesting I have come across. it has a new term called "emergence" in it. For example, very similar atoms, under go what is expected of their properties in certain processes, but diverge unpredictably depending on a multitude of factors that seem to be random. Cause and effect-determinism- are discarded. In another article predatory factors are said to dominate what appears as structured evolution by conventional theory. One year a species with a strong genetic constitution favoring survival might survive and propagate, and the next, never get off the ground. This sounds simple but the thought can create chaos in trying to understand evolution from genetic structure. It was generally though that nature favored, as if was trended, in average, the best fit and survival. It looks like that notion is coming to challenge. My opinion is that that specific notion is but a part of the whole picture, and not the major concept. The physics article , itself is oriented with the theme of a similarity of the physical and life sciences. Clones, colonies, likeness and maybe a mechanism of transmission to offspring might be all that survives of evolution theory;and in a similiar manner, as i have myself have been intellectually engrossed more than in the life sciences I studied, the mechanisms of energy transmission, and facits of matter energy relations, maybe all that survives of modern physics-no mathematical constants-no space time-light/matter physics goes the same way, functions the same whether a billion miles off in the universe somewhere, or right in front of you. The article would answer the paradoxes of Einstein, in that certain things thought as element properties-phenomenon, facts fo things thought necessarily to be universal in nature are the result of change, and not fundamental to theory. Maybe all theories in these sciences reduce to just a bare fundamental conception of transmission because that is all that is ever observed. Are not small gains either as transmission is all there appears to be-the rest any one might be glad to be rid of when the coffin is nailed-we will all be better oriented. A child hearing the wind can get frightened-ah thats only the wind- but later in life grow alarmed of of his own suffering apparently caused by things far away beyond his understanding, and find comfort again in knowing again that that is only also but the same exact wind. (Now I have transformed matter energy theory into a Dostoyefsky passage-before I came up with euphemisms about love from molecular genetics-probably a better living doing either))

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/23/07 12:40 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: michael-in a hole

    Michael — I think physicists really think light bends in strong gravitation, as much as a ruler is straight regardless of possible optical effects that can be created. To my best intuition and comprehension, for any transmision to bend, the medium through which it propogates must not be in a straight line. I think , though very simple, how light(photons are given mass values-i.e predicted to have weight in a gravitational field-though it can obviously never be verified). The important fact of this is that Einsteins theory of relativity predicted light would bend from the idea that it was figured to behave as if having mass-his giving a mass number to microscopic particles was simply the only mathematical solution he could find. I am not familiar with the facts, though that the originally started with-first I have not sought them out vigorously as they could possibly cause such confusing argument to practical sense and also be the only evidence and observation from which theory originated, and of which there are probably still no answers, that I chose to think through things from a different orientation. Light either appears to bend in strong gravitation, or has a property of(or like ?) mass or what ever one calls a straight line is not the same from every perspective(e.g.straight)...(maybe the path of light depends on the mass around it-maybe it always travels indirectly but as such great velocity, that unless a very heavy mass is around it appears straight all the time. I.e the light path from your hand to your nose is not straight, but the light is reflected refracted repeatively, and always travels a little further than the actual direct distance. How could one distinguish a property of light having mass from minute interactions that involve mass or even energy released from light that turns into microscopic mass or little volumes being born with something in them, even in the short distance from your hand to your head.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/23/07 4:02 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: A Tree and a Pig.

    What Hegel is talking about is truth, isn't it? Or the individuation process and its utter reliance upon the unfolding of truths. Universals are a more masculine slant of the same thing- more process involved perhaps, or specific to given disciplines. Truth can't be examined as a thing in itself any more than 'universal' (in the Platonic sense) can be. We can work with universals quite happily and without that specific distaste in our mouths which seems to have visited Mike lately. Nietzsche quipped about St Peter in the same way he could have quipped about Plato: How could anyone stand an eternity in heaven (amid universals) with him. For all the dialectical processing that can be had with them, universals, as a body, don't stand up to scrutiny. Universals have an infinite array that Plato was able to acknowledge but not able to stand his thinking up to very well. If Socrates left any legacy in him it was to not waste time focussing on their array, but to make use of them individually for edification and enquiry.

    The question 'what is truth', like 'what is existence', is not just perplexifying but perplexity itself, and demanding more of the need to dismantle the question than to administer responses. If we can be sure, however, that an individuation process is at large in us, then such questions transform into what is... I'll use your term appropriate. That is 'what is this truth?' or, if I dig over here, what truth will I unearth? or, how many different truths am I capable of handling in this specific situation? The appropriate truths that one is dealing with at any given moment are all necessarily lacking in value toward anything else, bar the individual moment at hand, and this allows no truck with the world — the social world — wherein values are defined, registered and hallmarked for use in a one-size-fits-all economy of appropriateness like it or lump it.

    As with 'truth' and 'truths', 'universals' and 'universal', so it is with 'existence' and 'existences': I can't deal with truth as a thing in itself, nor existence, but existences I can work with. Its as if the infinite stretch we call existence is only made workable and palatable to itself through being diversified, or by self replicated infinitely (any infinity can only be replicated infinitely), and that existences can only make themselves apprehenable to themselves, and others, through adhering to the perplexity that is stand-alone existence. For example, if I focus on you fully, I apprehend you as existing, rather than you as an existence, because when I'm standing before you there is only you in that moment and not others. That is, I am seeing existence singularly manifested. Its only upon reflection of existence, in the form of you at that moment, that I can acknowledge existence as a plurality as well as a singularity, because I have the immediate recall in me of experiencing others standing before me. But its retrospective. It works the other way around to: I can't acknowledge existence as singular without having had its contrasting plurality. The multiple and the sigular are mutually dependant and co-exstensive, yet the former, as far as I can tell, is apprehendable (provable) only through our attention of singular existence. When I define singular existence as perplexity, I am really defining the immediecy with which our apprehension of it replicates and diversifies it: chaos theory in its essense. When that diversifying becomes to overwhelming we seek the singularity again, hence Hegel's search and Edmond Husserl's phenomenology.

    So the proof of existence is that we have attention, but the proof of existences is that attention can only be placed fully on one existence at a time. To explain, if I were capable of placing full attention on more than one existence at a time it would only prove, contrary to what it would seem, that existence is not replicated, because the experience is still a momentary single act, which, in retrospect, could only be one memory in which the two separate existences can only be apprended in my memory as one existing experience. A dog is chasing its tail. If I have two faculties of attention instead of one and perceive one existence with each attention, it would still be to no avail, for each separate attention is a are separate observer, which if they unified as one would also unify their experience as one, by hashing out everything bar what is equal in their separate experience; the experience of apprehending an existence. This attention does because it is how attention essentially operates, and came to be; through minimizing perceptual data to what is apprehendable. Seperate truths can't conjoin and form another truth without each losing all but what is essential to the ability for us to apprehend a cohesive new truth. A truth is not a truth unless thoroughly cohesive. For example, if we qualify a tree and a pig as separate truths and try to amalgamate them into a thing that is completely new, but also completely tree and pig, we fail; the best we can get is an organic living thing composed of cells, affected by gravity, has limbs (semantic), colour, growth processes, etcetera.

    When a religious man says that the proof of God is in his creations, and vice versa, I think its the same as when a modern scientific view of existence might say that empirical knowledge is proved by observations while observations uphold empiricism as the viable means it is.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/26/07 5:33 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: More thoughts on Black Holes

    I find black holes an interesting and pertinent topic here. Light being such an intrinsic representative of energy to us, and gravity of mystery, they do well for a more cosmic starting point in a theory of existence. Looking around the web a bit on black holes, the consensus appears to be that they exist, but scratch the surface and things start to go awry. The predominate notion that nurtures the view that they exist is that things have been discovered which black hole theories fairly accurately predict. But to get a handle on what a black hole is or does is a strange matter, and the more I looked the less I found, what I did find however is that what is seen to be evidence of black holes are more soberly seen as evidence of huge gravitational pulls and their effects on mass and light. From my amateur stance it seems more compatible to clear thinking to not go down the black hole path as proven and gratis, but to look around a bit more at other possibilities. One that I like is the idea of dark stars composed of super dense matter that doesn't release energy as light. This may also explain dark matter, and even gravitational waves, though I may need some correcting on this point. Here may also exist the secrets of the mysterious question as to how quantum mechanics and special relativity can coalesce — but that is something I'm even more sketchy on.

    Reading bthat Einstein didn't believe black holes existed (something to do, I think, with the impossibility of getting beyond the speed of light)I was encouraged, though disheartened a little when a lot of people seem to be saying he would change his mind these days, which I don't think is true. I think he would still not believe that matter had the ability to halt the production of energy as light altogether, and that to talk of matter as we don't know it — as in the case of dark stars — would be a big headache and nothing much more, and I would agree. But I can't speak for him.

    The idea I like best is that, rather than black holes, what holds galaxies together is a nuance of energy that acts in them in a non-physical way, and that this force is found in everything. It holds atoms together and our own bodies. This I gleaned from Carlos Castaneda's works which expounds upon knowledge found in ancient Mexico. Perhaps modern science has a similar notion, but I haven't found it. From what I know, electro-magnetic energy is said to be too weak to be the cause.

    For me forces can be non-physical, but to explore such forces takes subtlety of consciousness and a gentle letting go of rationality. Rationality is left behind in states such as had when dreaming of flying, composing a poem, admiring a new born infant etcetera. In such states their is one common factor; the mind becomes quieter, more composed and concentrated. Its where quantum effects seem to take place, or are perceivable.

    "When I examined myself and my methods of thought, I came to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." — A. Einstein

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/27/07 5:35 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: michael-in a hole

    Empirical evidence is the only thing we have and even that is imperfect from limitations and errors in the instruments we measure it with (our senses and minds).

    All the theories that Einstein or you and I come up with are ways of rationalising empirical data into some form of predictive explanation. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that black holes exist they may or may not but what is not in too much doubt are the effects we can measure.

    Truth in itself is nothing more than a measure of difference between the empirical data and the model we have constructed either individually or socially. With such a definition God, black holes and a flat earth can all have a measure of truth in them as we know all too well.


  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/27/07 5:43 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Ain't that the truth

    What is a straight line?

    Should we plough straight into this question accepting all the inherent a priori notions that come with it or should we try to first test what coloured spectacles we are wearing in our investigation.

    Ploughing on regardless will produce a result, we shall find what we are looking for because until we do we shall reject all other possibilities and after finding it stop looking.

    What then is the idea of straight line? Maybe a line is a point with one dimension of extension we call length. What then is straight but a measurement of that line compared with something else but what else?

    Consider living on planet with such a gravity that light was bent sufficiently to keep in parallel with the planet surface. We could then in practice see the back of our own heads. We then take our infinitely long tape rule and lay it down on the planets surface all the way round. Is it a straight line well it would certainly look like would you not agree?

    What is in our minds is an imperfect reflection of what is outside isn't that the truth.


  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/27/07 10:44 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: "A rose by any other name."-Mike and Bernard

    Mike and Bernard:

    It appears true-as you related straight verses bent. My main thesis is this writing though is that mankind has overstepped what is actually vital to his knowing and what is navel play. For instance, any point of reference as to whether something is straight or bent has to have a universal meaning with respect to the niche occupied by man. If everything and anything is straight, but lines up with the curves of a planet you are on, or any planet you are on, the question as to whether it is actually straight or bent with respect to something else is not only mundane and exactly superfluous-belly button thought as a result- the associated philosophical notion (especially when one has adopted a tunnel view of things in his experimental focus as a tool) is that anything by definition that is not ever witnessable then has no relevancy to the world what so ever, is probably a good notion to start-a philosophy not yet established, maybe apparent in the writing of the very old (Greeks) ..and, I think, if established and applied as the first criteia when one sets out , a very viable orientation from the outset would be achieved-from both a mental (a concrete reality verse imagination) and resulting scientific perspective, would be achieved-feet on the ground from the outset and staying that way.
    I did not understand a topic in my philosophy of science class, that though I am still confused about, you seems to have at least overlapped with. The ancient Greeks in establishing initial geometry laws and rules for nature, though they admitted that is was intuitively true annd correct, were, and we still are, unable to show that there is only one straight line that is parallel to a given plane. if you think of plane geometry and coordinate mathematics, it appears simple to be able to say so..I still do not completely understand the topic. Relativity theory depends on the postulation of all kinds of things that are strictly theoretical-non witnessable-and for that reason I think is mathematics only and not reality-Einstein had no other delusions about it and had not thought that physical law had been found. The reason this is a such an important philosophical issue is the monetary aspect and human suffering, that science has tackled, based on these type theories, that appear proven, as they line up with reality on experiment,..tackled every last little aspect of nature they encounter and have employed ideas that exclude historical change..
    Take the following example:
    Suppose everyone earth seemed to be going crazy, acting like a cancer that were to start with a seed of some type. And on inspection, and thought from the behavior, the phenomenom appeared as if the seed had no reasoning/brain — ..but just kept going on and growing that way. What if from, a good observation, this were the result of something appearing innane, stupid.. an act of nature of somekind that had strike as if guided by intelligence-as an attack to something critical and guarded. The result, if takes the initial description of a spreading cancer without a mind, could be explained as the actions from the word of mouth in (unknowingly or even knowingly(any descrip[tion might potentially have the property, in the eyes of the beholder/second party as an act of an intelligent agent and be hard to communicate differetly without a camera picture-are we not endeavoring to get photos of all corners of space potentially just from the historical trails to the intellect in the wake of an unknown-allour sciences seems to suffer this way -geeting at thingas very slowly and indirectly from missing data. The message is that all begins at home. )experiencing an event of the inert, yet intelligent appearing to any perception. This could cause scientific havoc in a search for cause and effect, if the event were not witneesed and recorded-a defiance to all scientific theory. Is why it is very important-absolutely essential that one not mix up or exclude ideas of change with time-the existence of and events of history(an example of transmission-the only basic fact to all) with picture like observation-part evidence-in scientific endeavors, and why ones feet must be exactly oriented to mankind and his real within witness) environment at al times than with the theoretical.
    I think the second fact to nature, that requires a second sense, is that all things avoid their exact selves, and that the basis of all force might be attributed to this, as the root force of propogation, change and time. Theories, that try to dig deeper thanthese two aspects for origins, is where we get derailed. These ipso facts have to be accepted for the understanding of more ipso facts-time is of differences like the root of an onion to its layers .as an ipso fact building of non perfect circles verse a linear approach that extrapolates in an off centered way(leads away from humanity and the consideration of history-and leaves a quagmire, indirectly endeavoring to define the events of history mathematically.) The new idea I saw in the recent issue of nature..of "emergence" (i.e things emerge as they do depending on how they emerged in a prior step, in history. Is the only ray of hope ever proposed, yet with reference to the biological and physical sciences and a potential visibility to reorganize what is already known. This is a vast leap from the cause and effect of all science ever layed down, to ideas of history and change, yet the ability to potentiality extract usable science still, without knowing an exact chain of events. For its employment much of what acquired(extrapolated) this(old way) way, will have to be junked, and maybe a new sense attained (maybe we will stop abusing ourselves and nature). Once presented as main topic in the magazine maybe it will take hold quickly.


    P.S. I will put the links to nature articles in the new link area-some are already there. I also have my own article being reviewed currently and if it is rejected (as before but has lasted an infinitley longer time in the review process) I will post it somehwere for a general audience. My comments are already in many of the nature blogs associated with the corresponding reports.


FROM: Charles Countryman (03/28/07 12:23 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: For Consideration

(from a Greek Orthodox publication)

"If human philosophy can content a man, why did the philosophers Justin and Origen become Christians? Why did Basil and Chrysostom and Gregory, who had in Athens studied Hellenic philosophy in its fullness, receive baptism? And Blessed Augustine, who was familiar with Hellenic and Roman wisdom — why did he set aside everything and seek salvation and light in the Christian faith? And St Catherine, who was of the royal house and learned in all the secular knowledge of Egypt? And Joasaph, the heir of India, who was versed in the whole of Indian philosophy. And so many, many others who first sought an explanation for the enigmas of the world and light for their souls in philosophy ..."

And I'll add: Why did Sir John C. Polkinghorne exhange his fame in physics for being Anglican Rev. John C. Polkinghorne?

Maybe there isn't a moral Black Hole out there. Maybe "Truth" cannot be dismissed with just a casual phrase about nature or materialism.


    REPLIES (9):

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/28/07 5:34 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: Theistic Brigade


    This is of significant interest and begins to identify the issues I have with the theistic brigades.

    The argument put forward here in principle is how can all these great people not be right it is as if the world is or should be organised around the wishes of the majority (or individual) rather than just the way it is.

    It expresses to me what is the very worst approach to philosophy by arranging the means to suit the end. I could engage in this pseudo rational approach by countering with a list of names of people who have gone the other direction and rejected Christianity but I won't do this because such an argument carries no weight when compared with empirically derived information.

    If we really are seeking why all these people thought what they did we must not exclude all obvious possible causes. These causes may well include, ideas of the time (flat earth f.i.), emotional driven choices, non-critical thinking, indoctrination in their upbringing (polytheistic to monotheistic), genetic disposition (brain god modules), ignorance of physics (magic, witchcraft, alchemy). etc. etc.

    Should we not first dismiss these reasons before embarking upon voyages into a mystical spiritual world or is this all to much boring hard work and unexciting when by going their way we can believe in absolutely anything at all.


    ps — suppose I claimed god told me to write this?

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/28/07 5:38 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration

    This came up in news today and seemed to neatly knit in to what we are exploring.

    And, Charles, would love to know your thoughts on Erigena, if you don't already know him or are in need of a recap:

    Mike, is truth a measurement? a value?

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/29/07 5:09 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration


    Thanks for the link which led on to some other very interesting pages especially this one below on prayer.

    I think the main article on gravity expounded the best in what the scientific method is about, the to and fro of ideas and counter ideas whilst all the time taking the recorded data as undeniable.



  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (03/29/07 1:50 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration

    Thyanks. Begs the question of whether certain syntaxes are so hardwired to key emotional ststes that we just have to keep then as parts of our lives despite obvious flaws in them, altering them in a gentle way only.

  • FROM: Michael Ward (03/29/07 5:17 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration


    I think we are so hardwired, but one has to ask how we got hardwired in the first place if not by habit and if we can keep the idea of such a filter in mind we have the opportunity to compensate for in our daily lives.

    After all we are what we do, aren't we?


  • FROM: marvin kirsh (03/30/07 12:02 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration

    To Bernard-Hardwired

    I think the biggest error of modern times, related to the mechanization and categorization of things, ..the smallness becoming us of the in the allowing of others to define things for us. With a key word "diversity" in mind, and it's highest level as the best level for survival, and survival time, the word hard wiring almost indicates-reminds me of the physically heavy and obvious, mechanical objects, engineered things for strength, whereas the important things, I think, are light, awkward, flimsy looking and not too indirect that we are not aware of them. The wind direction, it's light variabilities are more important in real life than the ways of science and engineering, and perceived differently for each person. No one should let another define them, try to make a science out of individualities. I dont think requires much effort , but awareness and self reminder to make such a list of better hierarchies.
    As an example, take an artwork, what the artist says of it, what critiques say.. the artist can define what he drew with relation to himself, the critique can say how he liked it from his expertise, but all comments from any source are ultimately about the diversity(number of lines, unique arrangement with respect to your own life experience) encountered when the artwork meets the eye. If a comment of another rules your own thought, you are being ruled, reduced in diversity, as if a mixture of two things that automatically is less, when added, than either of the two original opinions. You are your own creator-if the creation of another rules you, then the ruled creation is your (lesser added) creation also, and not the maximum or best for your self and for society. Everyone is different, the rare individual, more different from the rest, and in a greater position to create more from the contrasts, is also able to oppress himself resulting in an oppressed creation. This concept is also not equal to facts of inhibition, being a minority, fear to express what is different, but only related to what your mind creates of the world, being aware and enlightened.
    I can envision that people can get hard wired in complex, overpopulated, environments , where there is a greater sensory input from added extraneous sources, the categorization-organization of the knowledge of mankind, but this(the ordered knowledge of mankind) is also a matter of critique and self creation (of however many), and is also a matter of the self , self survival, and the total and total survival-especially when it filters too deeply on the individual. Who is to control this(very high probability of occurrence phenomenon); who has the ultimate say but the individual? Society can spiral upwards or downwards with respect to this: I think even over population could come into check from peoples thinking, without scientific or medical analysis and intervention, from a personal enlightenment and awareness-shared instincts, emerged intuition, I think, can serve alone. I do no think civilization has ever been along this road, to know .

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (04/01/07 1:07 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration

    I think its a solid point that reason based observation is too obvious and sane a choice of direction to ignore. I prefer the idea of grounding reason solidly at an early age before sailing off into other realms of reality-apprehension. But resonable constructs and views as per the nature of existence can become to easily isolated in their own right for very good reasons; we survive after all primarily through rational discrimination in our modern world. Is it enough? Well, yes, as the biophysical creatures we are anyway. We don't need to go beyond that if that's what we want to stick to.

    I think of Francis of Assissi as an example of the type that chose the option of seeing what else is beyond that. Of course, he has been dehumanised by sainthood and all its trappings, but in examinimg the person I find someone very interesting. A churchgoing but materialistic youth, he opted for leaving the church to find the church of the heart. He became more respectfull and loving of others. He still bowed to the popes and dignitaries of the church, but his heart and mind were largely elsewhere. An ascetic, he was also a singer and there are tales of miraculous events in his life — none of which were promulgated by him. The jury remains out on that score, where it should stay; whether or nay such things are true are not nearly as urgent a matter as the need to not let such things interfere with the processes of rationality; not because rationality might be lessened by them, but because rationality is a miracle in itself, sufficient in itself, and of great integrity.

    If science discovered by proof that God exists I would not want to know about it, not so much because proof would be an invalid way of discovering God, but because it is too far from the traditions of science to venture that way. It would be as gross as hearing religion proclaim that reason is the primary means we have of finding meaning in life. Between religion and science is the unenvied and therefore solitary path that is philosophy. Without the syntax of religion or reason what is there else?... Just the razor's edge?

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (04/01/07 1:10 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration

    Bernard- I can relate very well to your discussion of rationality and life. Einstein proposed as a universal frustration observation of distant phenomenom that were not explained so easily. He had concluded that they could be facts of change (and its' associated randomness) rather than as phenomenom..and hence unsuitable for a rational scientific delineration. If one thinks of superstitution and belief, this distant observation(seen as tangible phenomenom and that clouds all of physics) could easily fall into that catagory. Einsteins insights standout well above and beyond all ensuing interpetations of his science and math.

    P.S. I have just posted a link(see Link Sharing) to my own manuscript on this topic posted (as of yesterday) in a philphys discussion group.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (04/01/07 8:55 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: For Consideration

    I'll certainly have a look.


FROM: Charles Countryman (04/03/07 10:33 AM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Re analytic philosophy

A quote that I came across recently while doing some reading in archetypal psychology and mythopoiesis. I think that it says something on the "gut level" about the natural limits to analytic philosophy.

"If logic were everything, all men would ride sidesaddle."
from mythopoeticist Clarissa Pinkola Estes

    REPLIES (9):

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (04/04/07 5:47 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy

    Sounds like meaningless control to me. But there are undeniable times when logic is everything, but there is infinitely more than everything. 'Everything' is a finality covering all of whatever context it is used in. The trouble or joy in that is that contexts and their everythings never end,

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (04/05/07 9:16 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy


    I think that what it is about is that at best, grand theories of existence in philosophy are merely a pleasant intellectual diversion. Socrates recognized this. And philosophy would be nothing without Socrates.

    I'm not advocating a return to Socrates' opinions. Rather I think that if philosophy as a modern intellectual discipline is to have any merit, it must return to the questions of Socrates: What is good and what is true? This should be an ecumenical discussion, not one limited to questions and methods of the analytical school of philosophy. Neither should it be limited by the naive proposition that there is a fundamental divide between religion and science.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (04/08/07 1:30 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy

    Dear Charles,

    You have voiced what many would voice in Western educational institions and circles concerning Socrates and philosophy. The same is likely to be said in the same circles of Einstein and science, Jesus and religion, Michelangelo and art, Nietzsche and modernity, Shakespeare and English, the Buddha and oriental wisdom... in fact we can cover a huge variety of fields of human endeavour and come up with someone quintessential to the genre. It is as if all the bases in human endeavour have been covered; the cup of human experiece is overflowing. Google can prove that well enough. I think we do need to humbly and graciously accept this fact and the idea that, as a species, our youth and time of exploration of divergent disciplines is as fulfilled as it can ever be. Personally, I don't feel that technology has much left to offer us beyond what has come over the last fifty years. Whereto for now Horatio?

    I think a division line between science and religion is necessary but dependant on how they are defined. In a public forum it is least confusing to define them within the context of how they are normally dealt with and presented. For example, a news reporter will talk about religion in the context of organised religion: Christianity, Islam etcetera. His context is not that of religion as a broader personal function which is not dependant on institutions to furnish it with value. For example, an individual may be religious in many things, including unshared beliefs, that are important in his or her life, and the breadth of which might make that person religious by nature, and religion important in their lives. Someone may also be very scientific in the way they approach themselves and their lives but never have read or studied science.

    Religion by its nature can dwell in the same house with any other attribute such as science, art or philosophy quite happily according to some — such as yourself n but to marry religion with another human attribute permanently is not something one can expect, or hope for, of human attributes as they are posited in their institutional sense. I am not sure if you are advocating this and would like clarification.

    Depending on individuals' talents and proclivities philosophy may be apprehended in varying ways based on one of four main platforms: 1) institutionally (from what they are taught) 2) rationally 3) intuitively, or, fourthly, through the mixture of the rational and the intuitive. For this reason I don't feel that philosophy is ultimately dependant on Socrates, or even that Socrates is ultimately dependant on philosophy, although he fits the bill rather well as the ultimate religiously inclined type of philosopher. I don't think there ever has been or will be anyone or any group that perfectly represents philosophy without a natural bias in the way they approach it. If so I would have no beef with placing philosophy under the rubric of their means. It should remain thus so that philosophy stays the possession of no man or school or discipline. I don't feel I am placing philosophy as a pure ideal by saying such — though there can be good in doing so. For me its rather a matter of helping to unclutter my thoughts by placing out there what I have built up and called 'philosophy' as something free from 'me' after I have used it. It can then be utilised by others through them adding to or subtracting from what I have changed in it from when I received it.

    I'm sure you agree with me in this but I'm just writing it to help
    clarify the point for myself as much as anyone else.

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (04/09/07 2:15 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy

    Bernard: I agree to a limit. I.E. the most important thing, how we spend our time -is the whole trend towards survival, and there is a great deficit with respect to morals and ethics in our designs for ourselves. ..Money as the root of all "no good" cannot be argued with-hardly has an excemption-even in our attempted welfare to others, hard for all to see a way to make it and not pursue it during times when our philosophical developments are in advance of our scientific-or a conflict beteween the two and or religion, is only partially understood. The only jobs I have ever rufused, in good or bad times, are those I directly saw as not of good affinities with myself. Persons will walk away from a bad love, regardless if wealth is involved or not, more reliably, than with other things associated with wealth. We therefore, in light of the great exploitation and abuse of nature, do not see clearly our own loves and affinities-requirements for happiness, a wholeness with things other than our shapes and forms.
    It is good that philosophically we have outlined things very honestly, and carefully to be as a Socrates to know what it is we do and do not know-and ashame that this is not the case in the sciences to know of the, in actuality, poor affinities we practice.


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (04/09/07 2:45 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy

    Thanks for that Marvin, nice input. Is there really anything more practical than love? Is it the inconveniences and trials it is sure to keep putting us through that makes us devalue its practical value?

    Are you familiar with Parmenide's thoughts in any way? Here was a man in philosophy for the love.

  • FROM: Charles Countryman (04/10/07 1:07 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy


    I do think that philosophy as as an intellectual discipline is dependent upon Socrates. There were presocratic philosophers. But Socrates through reason was probably the first to recognize the limits of individual reasoning in understanding our natural world. I think that Socrates, if he had lived then, would have recognized philosophy's role as a precursor to the scientific revolution.

    However being pre-science, Socrates correctly identified the ultimate futility of individual intellectual reasoning and contemplation alone to understand the natural world. That being so, he recommended the quest through philosophy for "what is good" and "what is true."

    I do not think that science is an individual intellectual activity like philosophy. Skeptics beware: science requires a realist expectation that an event can be verified and repeated. Science is dependent both on those who have preceded one's own research and those who will follow. I think that mathematics has similar dependencies to science.

    Although there are intellectual ayatollahs about who say otherwise, I don't think that either as individual disciplines or collectively, philosophy, science, or mathematics can answer all our questions. There is also plenty of room in our minds and souls for metaphysical speculation and for religion.


  • FROM: Charles Countryman (04/10/07 1:22 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy

    Regarding my last on 4/10/07, I overlooked the arts! Where do they fall in the "scheme of things?"


  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (04/10/07 3:33 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy

    The arts are the direct manifestations of ideas that have already been procured — they are the arrangements and rearrangements of new ideas into the social order, not, as some would believe, to transform the social order — though it can have some positive effects, but to help individuals who wish to seek something better than the social order to find a way out. Like philosophers, artists are not really acceptable members of society, but tolerated.

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (04/11/07 3:22 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Re analytic philosophy

    Some humour on Socrates, a bit bad taste perhaps:


FROM: Gerald Boone (07/18/07 7:14 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Theories of Existence: An Objective Uncertainty?

Soren Kierkegaard spoke of faith as grasping the objective uncertainty. I would propose that our theories of existance are all to an extent based upon faith.... simply because we cannot know for certain how or why we exist. We observe separate theories of existence of which we pick and choose that which we personally can believe but can we know for certain. Can we anwser the question of our existence with one anwser that everyone agrees
Hence I would propose that any theory of existence contains an element of faith. You simply can not anwser the question without grasping an objective uncertainty and making a "leap" of faith.
Hopefully mankind will accept that what an individual believes about their existence is not something they can impose upon others.

    REPLIES (2):

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (07/24/07 11:01 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Theories of Existence: An Objective Uncertainty?

    Well, there is belief in existance, belief in theories, belief in theories of existance, and theories of existance without belief. On the latter, it is taken for granted that any theory of existance is a rational theory, as rationality is the hallmark of the modern world. There are theories that are non-rational but embedded mostly in the deep past, most of them fermenting there. A cursory glimpse across what was left by ancient Egyptians will furnish the possibility that these people had little rational basis in their view of the world. The whole thing was dependant on theories of existance that had little to do with the mind, and more to do with the mandates and rules of cycles and regeneration. To us it appears nonsensical as we don't know the details that go into their view and which pull it altogether into a coherent view. We cannot however deny that it must have been highly sophisticated and of a great cogency to them. This was true across the globe in those times.

    We turned to more rational ways of apprehending reality in a relatively short time in evolutionary terms, but it seems to have been degenerating over the past millenia or two; in the sense that it has been over-emphasized. The question now is how to form new syntaxes of meaning which are not primarily rationally based, and yet not to fall into the same pitfalls of ancient man whose megalithic acheivements grew beyond his ability to control them, much as our rationality has grown rampant today. Ancient man seemed to act from his guts, whilst modern man is head-centric. Between the two is the heart, and who could argue with the use of that centre in us as a means to end our present turmoils. Is the suggestion too New Agey?

  • FROM: marvin kirsh (08/10/07 12:04 AM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Theories of Existence: An Objective Uncertainty?

    RE: Bernard,Gerald

    I suppose that modern man worships mathematics-has far exceeded, with its' application, his immediate senses, dispelled non rational notions, some of which I assume brought him self imposed suffering, with logical reasoning. I think at the base of this (and I certainly appreciate Bernards appearing matter of fact acceptance that language is at the root of all)is the inability, understood, accepted, comprehensive, proven and comprehended inability, to exactly mathematize language and the world. And yet we are still unsettled, constantly riddled with paradox, conflict related to the same-a proof of something does not answer all the questions about its nature. Language and math can blend together into a good correspondance only to a limit. If the world appears mathematical(distances, times, like qualities) which is it(the world) just our language or not. At the final root, I think is that there is only a description possible of the world-upon which math can be applied as a tool. My own description-the one I like best-is that the world, all things, are just "open". No absolutes exist. Matter -appearing solids are open,life is open..a beggining or end is in the mind from self relation and relation to other things of knowledge of a begining to our conscious lives. here-in is the source of constant perplexity, regardless of the absolute validity of any understanding or interpertation or scientific approach. Survival does not demand a total apprehension of things. It depends daily on a limited view, we are constantly bombarded with perplexities regardless if we know everything(if there is an everything to know). If one can envision a physical inversion putting aside what I believe to be a sound idea that that the world is one sided like a mobias stip(everything in it only reduces properly to this), one might envision traversing from "the world appears open", to "open means world"). The two orientations are different with different numerators and denominators. The first (the world appears open) does not reduce (e.g. as factions like 3/6 or 2/8 to 1/2 and 1/4) reduce in all ways(the arguments are infinite) to have a common denominator(e.g. always ends up as 1/5 as an example)). The mobias strip goes on to infinity as well as a test of all the possible things for openess. Science, mathematical appplication does not give the same theory or results either depending on which denominator one comenses to question with. Modern man, I do not think is correct with the science he applies, and is destroying the world, which probably has only a single chance in this respect.
    Faith, religion, the open world, "the objective uncertainty", is that in any language, dogs barking, there are not absolutes. There are absolutley inappropiate's to a valid denominator for things, as I spoke of with respect to science. When I read Gerards comment about faith and personal choice in belief, .. some claimed beliefs can be dispelled as not valid. But as in my statement above if a dog's bark alone can assert openness/uncertainty as a descriptive common denominator, anyone can put to mind language his own valid non disputable beliefs.


FROM: Richard W. Symonds (09/19/07 2:23 PM GMT -06:00)
SUBJECT: Theories of Existence : Reflections of New Class Member

Just joined the class — bit nervous — needing to get up to speed here — first impressions — scarey ! Theories of Existence...blimey

My approach to this is KISS — Keep It Simple that's what I will try to do here.

You've just talked about Socrates...ummmm...I can't quote exactly, but someone said that today's philosophies, and questions asked by philosophers (amateur and/or professional), are merely "Footnotes to Plato" (or more accurately, Footnotes to Socrates, perhaps?)...

Did you know Dr CEM Joad — my favourite moral philosopher — was called a "Third Class Socrates"...pjoratively, by Randolph Churchill in 1950. Quite a compliment I would say !

Well, Joad (I will call him 'CEMJ) said this — which is not entirely unrelated to Theories of Existence :

"Christianity is the least implausible Theory of the Universe"

Don't worry, I'm not a closet evangelist wanting to ram my religious prejudices down other people's throat, but CEMJ makes me think — which is no bad thing for me, and as philosophy has been defined as 'Thinking about Thinking'.

I wonder what the reaction would be here if I slightly adapted CEMJ bold statement, and said :

Christianity is the least implausible Theory of Existence.

Just a thought.

Anyway, I personally think this is all very academic, because if we are to hold any Theory of Existence we must first hold a Theory of Consciousness...and that philosophy is very much in its our minds.

    REPLIES (1):

  • FROM: Bernard Rooney (10/16/07 2:47 PM GMT -06:00)
    SUBJECT: RE: Theories of Existence : Reflections of New Class Member

    Hello, sorry you have had to wait so long for a response.

    The Greeks put philosophy on the map in such a commanding way that it is almost a given that philosophy will always return to them. But that is just me talking from a Western perspective. What of Eastern philosophy or Meso-American?

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