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```=E2=80=A2 =E3=80=88What's Philosophy and Paul Graham=E3=80=89
http://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/whats_philosophy.html

What's Philosophy and Paul Graham

Xah Lee, 2010-10-10

Discovered:

* =E3=80=88How to Do Philosophy=E3=80=89 (2007) By Paul Graham.
http://www.paulgraham.com/philosophy.html

I find it LOL.

He says:

Formal logic has some subject matter. I took several classes in
logic. I don't know if I learned anything from them. [1]

[1] In practice formal logic is not much use, because despite some
progress in the last 150 years we're still only able to formalize a
small percentage of statements. We may never do that much better, for
the same reason 1980s-style "knowledge representation" could never
have worked; many statements may have no representation more concise
than a huge, analog brain state.

Eh?? What formal logic is he talking about? Taken at face value,
formal logic is synonymous to symbolic logic, mathematical logic, or
logic by formal languages. We thank formal logic for computer algebra
systems such as Mathematica, and much computer language advancements
such as lisp, OCaml, Haskell, and math proof systems or assistants
such as HOL. (See: The Codification of Mathematics; State Of Theorem
Proving Systems 2008.)

So, clearly he doesn't mean this. Perhaps he means Syllogism or
propositional logic. You know, basically reasoning by words, in
classical philosophy. But without these, formal logic as we know it,
including so-called =E2=80=9Cboolean algebra=E2=80=9D, fundamental to compu=
ters,
wouldn't have developed.

What is Philosophy?

The whole essay is quite valueless to me. Let me tell you what
philosophy is, it's essence: Philosophy is THINKING.

Thinking, when done in a serious way on a subject matter, that you do
hard, think, think, think, keep thinking, then write down your
and observe and learn and think more, doing this for months or years,
until, you might have something to say about a subject, even if the
conclusion is =E2=80=9Ci dunno=E2=80=9D, then, it is philosophy.

Philosophy, is the root of sciences. In the beginning, science, art,
poetry, religion, philosophy, are all kinda mixed up together as one
subject. Then, they gradually diversified. In particular, philosophy
turned into today's cosmology, astronomy, medicine, geometry,
chemistry, physics, math, linguistics, biology... More concretely,
when some question is resolved by what we call scientific methods
today (e.g. observation, experiment, analysis, prediction), they are
not called philosophy anymore, but science. But, if you answer the
question by basically just thinking, or thinking with other methods
that we don't have a name for yet, that's philosophy!

Paul's essay, the elaborate 4.7k words, is the epitome of philosophy!
You can see, that he is thinking, thinking, and the subject of his
thinking is =E2=80=9Cphilosophy=E2=80=9D, or =E2=80=9Chow to do philosophy=
=E2=80=9D as his title
suggests. And, what's his method? Did he go by the science of
statistics? social science of poll? Systematic analysis of literature?
Archeology of examing cultural artifacts? CAT-scan of philosopher's
brains? No. His method, is just thinking. Thus, he's doing philosophy
right there.

However, in his essay he thinks that philosophy is useless. Without
his interest and college major in philosophy, he wouldn't be what he
is here today, and may not be as successful, and of course wouldn't

Philosophy, or call it thinking seriously, and in watered down form is
called =E2=80=9Ccritical thinking=E2=80=9D in today's universities, teaches=
and trains
you one thing: think! And that, is fundamental to intellectual
pursuits, even if you end up not understanding the so-called classic
philosophical subjects and its history, such as Plato, Aristotle,
Kerkeley, that Paul cites.

The culminating point of Paul's essay is this proposal:

What are the most general truths?

let's try to answer the question

Of all the useful things we can say, which are the most general?

I think is quite silly. He characterized philosophy wrongly and
narrowly, by linking it to just metaphysics, and somehow, seems to
have a fetish towards Aristotle.

Aristotle is a dead figure, and so is metaphysics. I doubt that these
subjects are more than 1% of the subject matters of journals and
publications among today's philosophors.

* Paul Graham's Infatuation with the Concept of Hacker

Xah =E2=88=91 xahlee.org =E2=98=84
```
 0
Reply xahlee (1035) 10/11/2010 2:39:45 AM

See related articles to this posting

```Xah Lee <xahlee@gmail.com> wrote on Sun, 10 Oct 2010:
>> http://www.paulgraham.com/philosophy.html
> I find it LOL.

And your opinion is ... so valuable, to others.

> He says:
>> Formal logic has some subject matter. I took several classes in
>> logic. I don't know if I learned anything from them. [1]
>>     [1] In practice formal logic is not much use, because despite some
>> progress in the last 150 years we're still only able to formalize a
>> small percentage of statements. We may never do that much better, for
>> the same reason 1980s-style "knowledge representation" could never
>> have worked; many statements may have no representation more concise
>> than a huge, analog brain state.
>
> Eh?? What formal logic is he talking about? Taken at face value,
> formal logic is synonymous to symbolic logic, mathematical logic, or
> logic by formal languages.

That's right.  And such logics don't capture very much at all about how
humans reason, which was the original intent in developing them.

> We thank formal logic for computer algebra systems such as
> Mathematica, and much computer language advancements such as lisp,
> OCaml, Haskell, and math proof systems or assistants such as
> HOL.

That logic may have had a few valuable offshoots, does not obscure
Graham's main point that the development of logic completely failed in
its original goal (which was to systematize the process of doing
mathematics, aka meta-mathematics).

> So, clearly he doesn't mean this.

No.

All that is clear, is that you don't understand what he's talking about.

> The whole essay is quite valueless to me. Let me tell you what
> philosophy is, it's essence: Philosophy is THINKING.

Let me suggest that, among the vast array of possible human readers,
Graham's essay on philosophy holds considerably more value that yours
does.

> Philosophy, is the root of sciences. In the beginning, science, art,
> poetry, religion, philosophy, are all kinda mixed up together as one
> subject. Then, they gradually diversified. In particular, philosophy
> turned into today's cosmology, astronomy, medicine, geometry,
> chemistry, physics, math, linguistics, biology...

True enough.  But there are some questions that have remained constant,
and were asked thousands of years ago in the beginning of philosophy,
and continue to be explored by "philosophers" today.  These explorations
are often thought of as the "core" of philosophy, and this is what
Graham is criticizing.

The parts that peeled off, were useful.  The parts that remained
.... were less so.

> The culminating point of Paul's essay is this proposal:
>     What are the most general truths?
>     let's try to answer the question
>     Of all the useful things we can say, which are the most general?
> I think is quite silly.

Fortunately, Graham's thoughts are much more interesting than yours.

> Aristotle is a dead figure, and so is metaphysics. I doubt that these
> subjects are more than 1% of the subject matters of journals and
> publications among today's philosophors.

Really?  And just what subjects do you think have occupied the bulk of
philosophic journals and publications in the last century?

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
When you starve with a tiger, the tiger starves last.  -- Griffin's Thought
```
 0

```On Oct 10, 7:39=C2=A0pm, Xah Lee <xah...@gmail.com> wrote:
> =E2=80=A2 =E3=80=88What's Philosophy and Paul Graham=E3=80=89
> http://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/whats_philosophy.html

PS: John Wiegley (author of Emacs's eshell, among other things), has
also wrote a essay responding to Paul's article:

* =E3=80=88Response to PG's =E2=80=9CHow to Do Philosophy=E2=80=9D=E3=
=80=89 (2009-05-13) By John
Wiegley. At: http://www.newartisans.com/2009/05/response-to-pgs-how-to-do-p=
hilosophy.html

The article address directly on Paul's proposal on usefulness.
Excellent article.

Xah =E2=88=91 xahlee.org =E2=98=84
```
 0
Reply xahlee (1035) 10/11/2010 6:37:31 AM

```I read it.  The only things I thought notable in it were:

a.  Graham repeats he does not understand philosophy.

"I'd tried to read a few philosophy books. Not recent ones; you
wouldn't find those in our high school library. But I tried to read
Plato and Aristotle. I doubt I believed I understood them, but they
sounded like they were talking about something important. I assumed
I'd learn what in college."

"I'd give Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge another shot in
something in it, if one could only figure out what.

Twenty-six years later, I still don't understand Berkeley. I have a
nice edition of his collected works. Will I ever read it? Seems
unlikely."

"Formal logic has some subject matter. I took several classes in
logic.  I don't know if I learned anything from them."

b. Nevertheless has no problem in intimating it is all a bit of a
waste of time and spends the next few pages telling us all about it.

Generally I would say that reading this essay is a waste of time.
If you want to learn the subject, go to somebody who actually knows
it.  Russell's 'History of Western Philosophy' and Passmore's 'A
Hundred Years of Philosophy' will take you to 1970.  And if you want
to understand Wittgenstein, read Kenny.  And if you want an antidote
to Wittgenstein, read Gellner and Popper.

Mark
```
 0

```Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Mon, 11 Oct 2010:
> a.  Graham repeats he does not understand philosophy.

That's not what your quotes show.  Graham learned the material that was
taught in his classes.  What he realized, was that there was no real
content there.  That's different from not understanding the content.

> Generally I would say that reading this essay is a waste of time.  If
> you want to learn the subject, go to somebody who actually knows it.

But what if you wonder whether there is anything valuable in the subject
to learn, in the first place?

Studying a history of the subject will tell you what happened, and what
various people thought at different times.  It won't tell you whether
the entire field is a self-indulgent mistake.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Some men see things as they are and ask why.
Others dream things that never were and ask why not.
-- George Bernard Shaw
```
 0

```On 11 Oct, 22:13, Don Geddis <d...@geddis.org> wrote:
> Mark Tarver <dr.mtar...@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Mon, 11 Oct 2010:
>
> > a. =A0Graham repeats he does not understand philosophy.
>
> That's not what your quotes show.

Sorry; that is exactly what he says.  He tried Berkeley, 26 years
later he does not understand Berkeley, he just has the books. Oh wow.
"Esse et percipi aut percipere" passed him by. He took logic but did
not get much from it - so that's most of Russell, Quine, Davidson,
Tarski out of his reach.  Without really getting that background, how
can you make a judgement?  That's a good chunk of C20 philosophical
logic. Realism, constructivism, semantic paradoxes - philosophy of
maths.  Semantic theory of truth.  Verificationist theories of
meaning.  Possible world semantics, Kripke models, counterfactual
conditionals? Forget it.

The guy doesn't know the subject.  And you cannot pass a worthwhile
judgement on anything unless until you have taken it to a certain
depth.   It is not worth reading PG's amateur extemporisation on
philosophy and almost not worth commenting on it except that somebody
*might* be influenced and lose out on the chance to read something
really worthwhile from any of the people I just mentioned.  That's the
only reason why it is worth making any comment at all.

And that's it from me.  I'm not taking this further because the
internet will always generate more junk than any one person can deal
with.  Replying to junk seems to generate more.  This is not the place
to discuss philosophy. Signing out.

```
 0

```2010-10-13

On Oct 13, 4:04=C2=A0pm, Mark Tarver <dr.mtar...@ukonline.co.uk> wrote:
> On 11 Oct, 22:13, Don Geddis <d...@geddis.org> wrote:
>
> > Mark Tarver <dr.mtar...@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Mon, 11 Oct 2010:
>
> > > a. =C2=A0Graham repeats he does not understand philosophy.
>
> > That's not what your quotes show.
>
> Sorry; that is exactly what he says. =C2=A0He tried Berkeley, 26 years
> later he does not understand Berkeley, he just has the books. Oh wow.
> "Esse et percipi aut percipere" passed him by. He took logic but did
> not get much from it - so that's most of Russell, Quine, Davidson,
> Tarski out of his reach. =C2=A0Without really getting that background, ho=
w
> can you make a judgement? =C2=A0That's a good chunk of C20 philosophical
> logic. Realism, constructivism, semantic paradoxes - philosophy of
> maths. =C2=A0Semantic theory of truth. =C2=A0Verificationist theories of
> meaning. =C2=A0Possible world semantics, Kripke models, counterfactual
> conditionals? Forget it.
>
> The guy doesn't know the subject. =C2=A0And you cannot pass a worthwhile
> judgement on anything unless until you have taken it to a certain
> depth. =C2=A0 It is not worth reading PG's amateur extemporisation on
> philosophy and almost not worth commenting on it except that somebody
> *might* be influenced and lose out on the chance to read something
> really worthwhile from any of the people I just mentioned. =C2=A0That's t=
he
> only reason why it is worth making any comment at all.
>
> And that's it from me. =C2=A0I'm not taking this further because the
> internet will always generate more junk than any one person can deal
> with. =C2=A0Replying to junk seems to generate more. =C2=A0This is not th=
e place
> to discuss philosophy. Signing out.

great post Mark.

just by your few paragraphs, the names and terms you mentions (and of
course the way you said it), makes me believe that you know more about
philosophy than me, and, if you write a blog on philosophy, i
certainly would pay much more interest.

On the other hand, Paul Graham's blog on philosophy, just lol. But you
know, it goes with fame. Lots of tech geekers read him, just 'cause he
is a expert programer and is successful. Same with perhaps Bill Gates
who wrote books about the future. And in general, lots of celebrities,
or experts of something (say Nobel winner), once they became well
known, they start to fart on everything, from politics to human nature
to science, and the masses follows it.

--------------------------------------------------

idiots at everything. (actually, this can be said for anyone anywhere)
The comp.lang dwellers are expert in one very specific thing. For
example, if i ask what are the tech details of lisp's package system,
then some regulars at comp.lang.lisp indeed can provide basically the
lisp, there's Kent Pitman, Richard Stallman, and few others, who's
opinion on this can be taken seriously, because, they invented it,
lived thru it. Same for, if i have a perl speed question,
comp.lang.perl guys knows it, such as Randal Schwartz. However, their
opinions, on lang design, which lang is good or best, on lang
evolution, on economics, on licensing, on writing, on AI, on user
interface, on IT corporations, which are perennially 50% of the posts,
are worse than shit. And the worst problem is that they dunno
that. One example to tighten it: Larry Wall perl, Guido python, lisp
McCarthy, these people, their opinion on language design, on
functional programing, would be shit-like. Same, vast majority of
authors who have written books, their opinion on writing, grammar,
linguistics, would be shit-like, even they are best sellers. Computer
scientists (such as often in comp.lang.scheme group), their opinion on
programing would be idiotic shit. Professional mathematicians,
their opinions on math notation, are fuck-ur-ass idiotic.

if you want really good opinion on lang design, ask those specialists,
who spent several years surveyed tens of langs as a _social research_,
and as a _background_, they might also have the ability to code
non-trivial programs in tens of langs, and possibly also with
associated background of basics of linguistics, computer science
proper, math, logic, psychology, cognition. Typically, we don't even
know who are such people, and vast majority of them are not known to
the general programing public.

if you want good opinion on math notations, or comp syntax design, you
get it from specialists on just this very issue, who's math knowledge
or comp programing knowledge might even be below u n me.

such narrow specialists exist in every of the ten million fields, and
their publications, exist, but u have to spend time and money to dig
them out. What iditos i deal daily in comp.lang is like: =E2=80=9CXah is a
troll, because he thinks Larry Wall is wrong to claim perl supports
functional programing.=E2=80=9D. =E2=80=9CXah is troll, because he thinks M=
cCarthy is
wrong on some functional programing issue.=E2=80=9D LOL. Yes, i think they
know shit, except they are inventors of their langs. I know more about
lang design, functional programing, than them, anytime.

Xah =E2=88=91 http://xahlee.org/ =E2=98=84
```
 0
Reply xahlee (1035) 10/14/2010 5:59:14 AM

```On 10/11/2010 4:29 AM, Mark Tarver wrote:
>   And if you want
> to understand Wittgenstein, read Kenny.

Ah, yes, "frictionless ice". Now I know how to shoot down discussions of
code absent a problem.

kt

ps. I liked the bit where he yelled out "Nonsense!" while a priest was
talking to children. k

--
http://www.stuckonalgebra.com
"The best Algebra tutorial program I have seen... in a class by itself."
Macworld
```
 0

```More interesting than PG is this idea that philosophy is a waste of
time.  My mind was fired up to consider this proposition and to return
ot it.  Why do people believe it?  I think there are three reasons in
order of ascending subtlety.

1.  It is not practical.

The first is that this is a form of knowledge from which you cannot
'do anything practical'.  That is, you cannot fix your car, get a
better house or make money from it. Of course philosophy mainly never
promised those things and I do not see why everything
should be weighed in those terms.  I think that this mind set is more
common now than when I was young, simply because people pay for their
education and expect value for money.  i.e. the prospect of more money
in return.  Philosophers historically often showed great disregard for
this mind set.

2. It goes nowhere.

The second is that 'philosophy never gets anywhere'.  'Philosophers
just argue round and round'.  I would deny this one.  What is true is
that philosophers sometimes end by saying that a certain proposition
cannot be known to be true (eg. 'God exists'), but this
is a form of (meta)knowledge in itself.  Aristotle says that we should
not expect more in certainty from a subject than it is capable of
delivering.  As Socrates pointed out, knowing what it is one does not
know is a wisdom in itself.  But philosophy does deliver results that
are not just metaknowledge; Russell's destroyed Frege's Axiom V in the
Grundgesetze in a single letter written in 1903.

3. It is an attenuated husk left over from the evolution of other
subjects.

This is a position sometimes held by people who have done a little
reading.  The word 'philosophy' splits into two parts 'lover
of' (philo) and 'knowledge' or 'wisdom' (sophia). The word is
indicative of the ancient roots of the discipline back to a time when
human knowledge was far less differentiated than it is now.  It
lingers in the title of Ph.D. which is dished out in many subjects.

The story is that once everything was philosophy, but that gradually
all the other sciences seperated out from it, leaving only a husk of
subjects too dull or intractable for others to bother with and this is
what philosophy is.  This is probably encouraged by reading the
effluent of many academic philosophers who are simply cranking out
stuff to a quota.

I believe that this is wrong.  One can see it in different terms.  We
might say, that just like our planet, scholarship and human knowledge
was once highly liquid, molten you might say, without clear
boundaries.  As civilisation progressed, the knowledge hardened and
floating plates of hardened thinking were created and people made
livelihoods by living on those plates as physicists, mathematicians,
economists etc.  But the boiling magma still exists underneath and in
times of conceptual revolution, when old ideas are overturned, it
comes boiling up.

Thus you will find in Relativity theory, ideas about space and
position which were anticipated by Leibnitz in his contests with
Newton 200 years before.  In mathematics we found in the C20 that we
are not rooted on a rock but floating on this awesome primordial lake.
This brilliant, awesome display of light and mental force that bursts
out in times of a revolution of ideas is philosophy.

Mark

```
 0

```Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Thu, 14 Oct 2010:
> > a. �Graham repeats he does not understand philosophy.
> He took logic but did not get much from it - so that's most of
> Russell, Quine, Davidson, Tarski out of his reach.

There's a big, big, big difference between "he didn't understand the
material", and "he understood it, but didn't get much [value] from it."

Graham is in the latter camp, not the former.

> Realism, constructivism, semantic paradoxes - philosophy of maths.
> Semantic theory of truth.  Verificationist theories of meaning.
> Possible world semantics, Kripke models, counterfactual conditionals?

I know about all those things.  You overestimate their value to the world.

> More interesting than PG is this idea that philosophy is a waste of
> time.
> 2. It goes nowhere.

Right.

> 'Philosophers just argue round and round'.  I would deny this one.

Philosophers have examined some questions for thousands of years, and
written tens or hundreds of thousands of words about the questions.  "Do
we have free will?"  "What is the meaning of life?"  "Which actions are
ethical?"

These questions have started to have some actual answers in recent
or evolutionary biology, not from the thousands of years of "work" in
philosophy.

All this work hardly builds on itself, and doesn't lead to any
conclusions.  If you look at an introductory philosophy class in
college, what you find is a lot of "in xxx date, philosopher yyy had the
opinion that zzz."

Consider any other field of study.  Do you think there is a difference
between "the history of thought in physics (or cosmology or biology)",
vs. "an introduction to the best current thought" in the same topics?

Why is it that there isn't such a sharp distinction in philosophy?  Why
is "introductory philosophy" essentially the same as "the history of
philosophic thought"?

> But philosophy does deliver results that are not just metaknowledge;
> Russell's destroyed Frege's Axiom V in the Grundgesetze in a single
> letter written in 1903.

This is the BEST that philosophy to aspire to: perhaps some claim will
be found to be inconsistent.

But that's basically all.  If your thoughts have internally consistency,
then there is no further evaluation available from philosophy.  All such
consistent thoughts have roughly equal weight.

Again, consider any other subject area.  They're actually _about_
something, something external to the academic discipline itself.  There
are lots of internally consistent physics theories; very few of them
match observational data.

Philosophy has no observational data.

> 3. It is an attenuated husk left over from the evolution of other
> subjects.

It is certainly true that, thousands of years ago, some work which was
then called "philosophy", today has a more specific name, and is
valuable to society.

The things that remain, still called "philosophy", were always there
from the beginning ... but they turn out to have been the least valuable
parts.

> Thus you will find in Relativity theory, ideas about space and
> position which were anticipated by Leibnitz in his contests with
> Newton 200 years before.

Einstein's insights were a consequence of the observational physics data
available to him at the time.  No credit is due to any philosophy from
centuries before.  That's simply not in the causal chain of how Einstein
figured out the secrets to Relativity.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I can't complain, but sometimes I still do.  -- Joe Walsh
```
 0

```>> Thus you will find in Relativity theory, ideas about space and
>> position which were anticipated by Leibnitz in his contests with
>> Newton 200 years before.

Buddha figured out the Big Bang just sitting under a frickin tree.

kt

--
http://www.stuckonalgebra.com
"The best Algebra tutorial program I have seen... in a class by itself."
Macworld
```
 0

```On 2010-10-14 18:50:50 -0400, Kenneth Tilton said:

> Buddha figured out the Big Bang just sitting under a frickin tree.

Pretty sure he didn't specify the black body temperature of the cosmic
microwave background though.

warmest regards,

Ralph

--
Raffael Cavallaro

```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> Philosophers have examined some questions for thousands of years, and
> written tens or hundreds of thousands of words about the questions.  "Do
> we have free will?"  "What is the meaning of life?"  "Which actions are
> ethical?"
>
> These questions have started to have some actual answers in recent
> decades, but the answers come from computer science or cognitive science
> or evolutionary biology, not from the thousands of years of "work" in
> philosophy.

[snip]

> Philosophy has no observational data.

As it happens, I disagree with your statement that philosophy brought nothing
to humanity.

My reasoning is:

1. Philosophy is fundamentally about observation of external (the
world) and/or internal (the mind) phenomena and trying to find a
pattern in it or a reason for its existence. The observations and
pattern determination are reality and scale agnostic, which is a
pretty big concept to understand.

2. Those observations and patterns are only meaningful if we can use them
to predict or understand the behavior of the world or the mind. What tools
do these questions imply?

3. Mathematics, which could be reliably argued as a philosophical
conversation mankind has had with it self for several thousand years
and due to that has its own dialect, and science were proftable to
perform in order to answer the questions that philosophy presented

4. Once answers (which are really tools) are produced, society as a
whole has an agreed upon (roughly) philosophical understanding of the
context of both the question and the answer in order to determine if
the result is actually meaningful.

Just look at the things animals without the concept of philosophy have
generated. Absolutely nothing! Well, maybe stick to get ants out of a hole
or a stone to break open a shell.

Without the concept and expression of philosophy, I assert that
humanity never would have been anything more than animals doing exactly
what is necessary, and only that, to survive. And it would have been
that way until our species died or changed into something else.

Dinosaurs had *160 million years* to get to the stars, but they never
could ask themselves why would they want to.

We had only 200,000 years. But we could ask why. At least we got to the moon.

The greatest tool mankind ever created was: "Why?" It has shaped and will
forever more shape our future in fundamental ways.

-pete
```
 0

```> There's a big, big, big difference between "he didn't understand the
> material", and "he understood it, but didn't get much [value] from it."

The distinction you are making here doesn't help PG much you know.

Yes re logic, 'didn't get much out of it' might mean

a.  didn't understand it or
b.  understood it and either found it dull or irrelevant to his
interests

But whatever interpretation we attach, in either case it is extremely
unlikely that PG ever got to study the more advanced material on
philosophical logic I have mentioned which requires sustained effort.
So what is his opinion worth?  Can it be based on a real knowledge of
the subject?  I suggest not.

> I know about all those things.  You overestimate their value to the world.

Define 'value'.  Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to
things
other than philosophy?  This looks like a variant of the 'not
practical'
criticism.

> Philosophers have examined some questions for thousands of years, and
> written tens or hundreds of thousands of words about the questions.  "Do
> we have free will?"  "What is the meaning of life?"  "Which actions are
> ethical?"

> These questions have started to have some actual answers in recent
> decades, but the answers come from computer science or cognitive science
> or evolutionary biology, not from the thousands of years of "work" in
> philosophy.

To a degree; but there are questions which are ethical which are not
except by philosophical enquiry; for instance 'In what cases is it
right for the wishes of the majority to be suspended in favour of the
wishes of the minority?'. No amount of social research is going to
answer that one alone - you must embark on philosophy.

> All this work hardly builds on itself, and doesn't lead to any
> conclusions.  If you look at an introductory philosophy class in
> college, what you find is a lot of "in xxx date, philosopher yyy had the
> opinion that zzz."

And much the same is still going on in the fundamental questions of
science.
Scientists are still trying to answer the questions that the pre-
Socratics
posed about where things came from and how they are constituted.  What
we have is our best guess.  According to Popper, that's all we can
ever have.

> This is the BEST that philosophy to aspire to: perhaps some claim will
> be found to be inconsistent.

> But that's basically all.  If your thoughts have internally consistency,
> then there is no further evaluation available from philosophy.  All such
> consistent thoughts have roughly equal weight.

In this respect, philosophy is exactly like pure mathematics.  But the
exercise of following a position to its logical conclusion is a useful
one.  The results can be surprising.  Mostly people do not have this
discipline; Russell remarked that the value of philosophy was that it
stopped people from assuming propositions that were emotionally
comfortable but not consistent.  Socrates was a master of showing
people this - which was the reason for his execution.

> Philosophy has no observational data.

Well, actually a lot of philosophers have been skilled mathematicians
and scientists and have been quite comfortable with using empirical
data. Philosophers do not deny themselves the fruits of empirical
science; it is just that when we are doing philosophy we are not
actually performing experiments ourselves.

If we compare philosophy to pure mathematics, there is a pure and
applied aspect.  We can take ethics into social policy or philosophy
of mind into psychology.

> Einstein's insights were a consequence of the observational physics data
> available to him at the time.  No credit is due to any philosophy from
> centuries before.  That's simply not in the causal chain of how Einstein
> figured out the secrets to Relativity.

I would deny that.  I do not believe that Relativity theory was a
*consequence* of observational data, because no scientific theory of
that generality can be entailed by the data.  It was an audacious
hypothesis, triggered by perceived anomalies existing between the
speed of light as a constant and the Principle of Relativity itself
which insists that the laws of nature are the same for all observers
in all inertial frames.  This latter principle is very sympathetic to
the thinking that Leibnitz sponsored vs Newton.  We don't know if
Einstein knew of this philosophical
argument between these great minds or not.  Even if he did not, this
does not detract from Leibnitz's insight.

Mark
```
 0

```On 2010-10-15 05:49:03 +0100, Peter Keller said:

> Just look at the things animals without the concept of philosophy have
> generated. Absolutely nothing! Well, maybe stick to get ants out of a hole
> or a stone to break open a shell.

s/philosophy/<any-characteristic-you-consider-unique-to-humans-for-instance-language-or-usenet/

```
 0

```Mark Tarver wrote:

> The first is that this is a form of knowledge from which you cannot
> 'do anything practical'.  That is, you cannot fix your car, get a
> better house or make money from it.

I suspect that "has practical use" is the poor man's version of "it's
true". A very weak version of Truth indeed but, at least, verifiable.

By the way, I liked a lot your paper on gnosis. Will other writings follow?

gg
```
 0

```hi Mark,

here's my own take on doubts about usefulness of philosophy. This is
also a subject on my mind for perhaps 10 years. Thanks for the
opportunity here to write it out for the first time.

to me, questioning usefulness of philosophy is questioning thinking
itself.

Typically, people think philosophy is not useful because when they
think of philosophy they think of things like =E2=80=9Cdoes god exist=E2=80=
=9D,
=E2=80=9Cwhat's beauty=E2=80=9D, =E2=80=9Cwhere do we came from=E2=80=9D, =
=E2=80=9Cdo we have free will=E2=80=9D,
=E2=80=9Cpurpose of life=E2=80=9D, =E2=80=9Cwhat's good and what's evil=E2=
=80=9D, etc.

These kinda subjects are what most people think of when hearing
=E2=80=9Cphilosophy=E2=80=9D. However, that's not what philosophy is about.=
Thus, the
common thought of =E2=80=9Cphilosophy being not practical=E2=80=9D is due t=
o wrong
characterization of philosophy.

As i mentioned previously, philosophy is thinking.

=E2=80=A2 =E3=80=88What's Philosophy and Paul Graham=E3=80=89
http://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/whats_philosophy.html

and here's a Wikipedia quote on philosophy =E3=80=94 http://en.wikipedia.or=
g/wiki/Philosophy
=E3=80=95:

=C2=ABPhilosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems
concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind,
and language.[1][2]  It is distinguished from other ways of addressing
such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its
reliance on rational argument.[3] =C2=BB

Philosophy, is the root of all knowledge. As said before, it's the
origin of all what today we call sciences.

Let's give a concrete example about how philosophy is thinking.

For example, among us programers, we often ask questions like =E2=80=9Cwhic=
h
language is best=E2=80=9D, =E2=80=9Cwhich language is most elegant=E2=80=9D=
.. We discuss these
every day. We argue about it. Some say Scheme, some say Common Lisp is
most practical. Some say Haskell is most beautiful. After some
discussion, our reasons and thoughts necessarily expand on meaning of
=E2=80=9Cbeauty=E2=80=9D, =E2=80=9Celegance=E2=80=9D, =E2=80=9Cpractical=E2=
=80=9D, or other contexts of each person's
opinions and experiences. For example, Scheme Lispers will say they
really like Scheme because it is so small a language and most
powerful, and perhaps the power/(lang size) ratio is largest. Perl
programer may disagree, and counter that Perl allows the shortest
number of chars for a source code, therefore the small here is better
than Scheme's smallness in lang spec, while perl has much more libs
than Scheme, therefore the Power/(actual source code) is maximized,
thus more beautiful than Scheme. Common Lispers might counter, saying
that yeah perl allows =E2=80=9Cgolfing=E2=80=9D but it's line noise, hard t=
maintainable, while Common Lisp, has huge libraries, huge lang spec,
huge number of practical industrial implementations, that once you
become familiar with the lang, it has most power for given task with
respect to programer. Perhaps, emacs share similar philosophy on this.

So, here, we have several different takes, and as you can see. What's
a name to describe these collection of thoughts?  Philosophy! We
started from a practical, everyday question, that all of us seek the
answer, and eager to debate about it, we ends up with schools of
thoughts, what's best described by the word =E2=80=9Cphilosophy=E2=80=9D.

After few generations of this debate, the thoughts and debates are
organized into =E2=80=9Cschool of thoughts=E2=80=9D, so we have categorizat=
ion of
thoughts on the meaning of elegance, practicality, beauty, of
languages. And, when someone wanted to create a new lang, as happens
today all over, he can look at this more organized philosophy of
computer languages, and benefit fruitfully, in his thinking about
what's is =E2=80=9Cbeauty=E2=80=9D and =E2=80=9Cpracticality=E2=80=9D in a =
computer language for him,
a direction of lang design.

(i'll mention here that Paul Graham's philosophy on this, about the
best language,
is a language best for =E2=80=9Chackers=E2=80=9D.
See: =E2=80=A2 =E3=80=88Paul Graham's Infatuation with the Concept of Hacke=
r=E3=80=89
http://xahlee.org/comp/Paul_Graham_language_design.html
)

That's the humble root of all things philosophy: thinking. When the
fruits of thinking have amassed into a body of literature, it's called
philosophy. Thus we have philosophy of math, philosophy of language,
philosophy of science, philosophy of education, for examples. With
such established and organized thoughts, it directs our future
activities and thougts. It directly gives us directions for the
future.

In general, what's in our brain today, on society, on sciences, on
every minute, are shaped by the accumulated thinking (philosophy!) of
the past. For example, in US, your thoughts on free speech, on
justice, on politics, etiquette, child rearing, on dating, on personal
hygiene habits, came from your education and family, which traces all
the way back to the ancient philosophers from the Greeks (e.g.
Aristotle, Plato.). While, Asian people, their thinking, manners,
behavior, are overall distinctly different from Westerners, because
thru generations they came from accumulated thinking from Asia, back
to the ancient asia philosophers. (e.g. Confucius, Lao Tzi, Buddha.)

r
accumulated thinking of all humanity before us are useful.

Though, one might ask, then why is that when people hear the word
=E2=80=9Cphilosophy=E2=80=9D they think of things in metaphysics, esthetics=
, theology,
epistemology, ethics? The type of questions that seem useless and
never have any answer? I haven't thought of this in detail. I wish to
give a simple, logical reason. Basically, i think it is because when
the thinking and questioning developed certain effective methods on
particular type of questions, they got new names such as all the
branches of sciences, including mathematics, logic, psychology,
linguistics, political science, music, arts, law, cosmology. So,
what's left that are not given new names are the kinda questions we
associate with the word philosophy.

So, for example, if in 20 years, symbolic logic and theories in formal
languages have advanced so far that we are able to classify all our
computer langs such as lisp, perl, OCaml, C, in some precise way with
formal (symbolic) definition on =E2=80=9Cpracticality=E2=80=9D, =E2=80=9Cbe=
auty=E2=80=9D, =E2=80=9Cpower=E2=80=9D,
then, our =E2=80=9Cphilosophy of computer languages=E2=80=9D will cease to =
be such,
instead, it'd be a new name, new science, where we use systematic
methods to persuit the question of =E2=80=9Cbest language=E2=80=9D, instead=
of the
lose words and written thoughts. But still, as human animals, we will
probably still debate and discuss the beauty of languages in
traditional way of words and opinions, just as we like poetry, so
there is our philosophy again =E2=80=94 eternally connected with something
seemingly useless and impractical.

Xah =E2=88=91 http://xahlee.org/ =E2=98=84

On Oct 14, 4:13=C2=A0am, Mark Tarver <dr.mtar...@ukonline.co.uk> wrote:
> More interesting than PG is this idea that philosophy is a waste of
> time. =C2=A0My mind was fired up to consider this proposition and to retu=
rn
> ot it. =C2=A0Why do people believe it? =C2=A0I think there are three reas=
ons in
> order of ascending subtlety.
>
> 1. =C2=A0It is not practical.
>
> The first is that this is a form of knowledge from which you cannot
> 'do anything practical'. =C2=A0That is, you cannot fix your car, get a
> better house or make money from it. Of course philosophy mainly never
> promised those things and I do not see why everything
> should be weighed in those terms. =C2=A0I think that this mind set is mor=
e
> common now than when I was young, simply because people pay for their
> education and expect value for money. =C2=A0i.e. the prospect of more mon=
ey
> in return. =C2=A0Philosophers historically often showed great disregard f=
or
> this mind set.
>
> 2. It goes nowhere.
>
> The second is that 'philosophy never gets anywhere'. =C2=A0'Philosophers
> just argue round and round'. =C2=A0I would deny this one. =C2=A0What is t=
rue is
> that philosophers sometimes end by saying that a certain proposition
> cannot be known to be true (eg. 'God exists'), but this
> is a form of (meta)knowledge in itself. =C2=A0Aristotle says that we shou=
ld
> not expect more in certainty from a subject than it is capable of
> delivering. =C2=A0As Socrates pointed out, knowing what it is one does no=
t
> know is a wisdom in itself. =C2=A0But philosophy does deliver results tha=
t
> are not just metaknowledge; Russell's destroyed Frege's Axiom V in the
> Grundgesetze in a single letter written in 1903.
>
> 3. It is an attenuated husk left over from the evolution of other
> subjects.
>
> This is a position sometimes held by people who have done a little
> reading. =C2=A0The word 'philosophy' splits into two parts 'lover
> of' (philo) and 'knowledge' or 'wisdom' (sophia). The word is
> indicative of the ancient roots of the discipline back to a time when
> human knowledge was far less differentiated than it is now. =C2=A0It
> lingers in the title of Ph.D. which is dished out in many subjects.
>
> The story is that once everything was philosophy, but that gradually
> all the other sciences seperated out from it, leaving only a husk of
> subjects too dull or intractable for others to bother with and this is
> what philosophy is. =C2=A0This is probably encouraged by reading the
> effluent of many academic philosophers who are simply cranking out
> stuff to a quota.
>
> I believe that this is wrong. =C2=A0One can see it in different terms. =
=C2=A0We
> might say, that just like our planet, scholarship and human knowledge
> was once highly liquid, molten you might say, without clear
> boundaries. =C2=A0As civilisation progressed, the knowledge hardened and
> floating plates of hardened thinking were created and people made
> livelihoods by living on those plates as physicists, mathematicians,
> economists etc. =C2=A0But the boiling magma still exists underneath and i=
n
> times of conceptual revolution, when old ideas are overturned, it
> comes boiling up.
>
> Thus you will find in Relativity theory, ideas about space and
> position which were anticipated by Leibnitz in his contests with
> Newton 200 years before. =C2=A0In mathematics we found in the C20 that we
> are not rooted on a rock but floating on this awesome primordial lake.
> This brilliant, awesome display of light and mental force that bursts
> out in times of a revolution of ideas is philosophy.
>
> Mark
```
 0
Reply xahlee (1035) 10/15/2010 3:28:25 PM

```Tim Bradshaw <tfb@tfeb.org> wrote:
> On 2010-10-15 05:49:03 +0100, Peter Keller said:
>
>> Just look at the things animals without the concept of philosophy have
>> generated. Absolutely nothing! Well, maybe stick to get ants out of a hole
>> or a stone to break open a shell.
>
> s/philosophy/<any-characteristic-you-consider-unique-to-humans-for-instance-language-or-usenet/

I think philosophy is a property of a certain density of computational
power, (otherwise known as intellect) in a life form and likely
emergent behavior built from other skills like language, opposable
thumbs, and whatnot the life form posesses. I believe that humans
_may_ be the only thing which posses enough intellectual density to
exhibit it on this world.

However, the ability to perform philosophy is not just _any_ characteristic.

It is the characteristic which causes profound changes in how a society works.

Groups of people organize according to common philosophical points of
view. Economic philosophies are one of them.  Capitalism, Communism,
etc, etc, etc.

A philosophical question as simple as "Are my mind and body
separate?" has spawned religions which have encircled the globe and
affect many people's daily actions at a measurable level.

The seed of philosophy is observation, the medium of philosophy is
language, the effect of philosophy is change.

-pete
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> My reasoning is:
> 1. Philosophy is fundamentally about [...]

You're talking about "philosophy" in the large, the way a Ph.D. in any
subject area is labelled a "doctor of philosophy", or the way philosophy
was explored thousands of years ago.

The problem is, in the modern world all the good parts got cut away and
given their own disciplines.  Most of the valuable work that you're
talking about is now called "mathematics" or "physics" or "astronomy".

The criticisms are about what remains, in modern college Departments of
Philosophy.  When a professor applies to a tenure-track position, what
determines whether they will apply to the college physics department, or
the college philosophy department?

It's the people who work on philosophy today, as well as the thousands
of years tradition of exploring those same questions from the past, that
is being criticized here.

Not the general idea of "critical thinking", which indeed was part of
the original tradition of philosophy, and indeed is still valuable today.

> 2. Those observations and patterns are only meaningful if we can use them
> to predict or understand the behavior of the world or the mind.

Physics, biology, and astronomy predict the behavior of the world.
Cognitive science and psychology predict the behavior of the mind.
Philosophy (in the modern sense) predicts nothing.

> The greatest tool mankind ever created was: "Why?" It has shaped and
> will forever more shape our future in fundamental ways.

Sure, but I don't at all credit modern college philosophy departments

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Why are our days numbered and not, say lettered.  -- Woody Allen
```
 0

```Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
> philosophy?

In essense, yes.  Otherwise it's in the category of a hobby, for
personal amusement.  Perhaps I like to collect painted figurines, or
play Call of Duty on my XBox.  But I wouldn't call that a "field of
study" that is worth granting graduate degrees in.

> there are questions which are ethical which are not answered except by
> philosophical enquiry; for instance 'In what cases is it right for the
> wishes of the majority to be suspended in favour of the wishes of the
> minority?'. No amount of social research is going to answer that one
> alone - you must embark on philosophy.

No, the problem is that philosophy doesn't answer those questions
either.  Philosophy _addresses_ the questions, and writes volumes of

The field has no content.  It only has history, and an ongoing process.
But it doesn't actually have results.

Really, you need to contrast this with fields that actually do have real
content.  I want to build a bridge over a river gorge that will support
the weight of tanker trucks.  Civil engineering provides the answers,
and even a training procedure that will result in qualified humans who
can change the world such that the bridge gets built.  I want to get a
spaceship to Saturn and take photos of the rings.  Again, orbital
mechanics, physics, and electronics get this done, and a few years later
I have my photos.

I'm interested in the questions that philosophy explores.  I want to
know, in what cases is it "right" for the minority to win over the
majority?  Do humans have free will?  The questions very much interest
me.  But what are the answers?  I look to philosophy ... and find no

>> If your thoughts have internally consistency, then there is no
>> further evaluation available from philosophy.  All such consistent
>> thoughts have roughly equal weight.
>
> In this respect, philosophy is exactly like pure mathematics.

I agree, that the worst of mathematics, is like all of philosophy.

But even in math, there is at least a field of study out there, which
exists independently of any humans.  Math theorems are discovered; the
real truth is already out there, and a given mathematician is either
capable of finding them, or not.  It doesn't matter how socially
esteemed a senior mathematician might be; the most humble new math
student can instantly overshadow them, if the student discovers the true
theorem, and the venerated professor makes an error.

This is because math actually has an external field to study.  There is
actually a right and a wrong to claims, and eventually the truth can
become clear to all.

Philosophy doesn't have any way to make judgements.  So instead it's a
social game, about pecking order and prestige and publications.  It's
not actually about the work itself.

> But the exercise of following a position to its logical conclusion is
> a useful one.  The results can be surprising.  Mostly people do not
> have this discipline; Russell remarked that the value of philosophy
> was that it stopped people from assuming propositions that were
> emotionally comfortable but not consistent.

There is value in thinking clearly, yes.  But philosophy doesn't even
have a monopoly on this.  There isn't a sequence of courses taught by
the philosophy departments in "generic critical thinking" or
"rationality", which are taken by students of physics and economics and
biology, where the students who have passed the courses actually do well
in their own disciplines, but the students who have not yet taken the
courses constantly make reasoning errors and fail to progress in their
own disciplines.  This just doesn't happen.

In fact, the closest to this are courses like Probability or Statistics,
which do indeed cover methods of rationality that are often
counterintuitive.  Surprisingly (to you?), these courses are generally
offered by the departments of Statistics or Mathematics, not by the
department of Philosophy.

Philosophy _doesn't_even_offer_a_course_of_study_on_thinking_.

> We can take ethics into social policy or philosophy of mind into
> psychology.

In theory, you could.  But in practice, this doesn't actually happen.
In practice, ethical philosophy has no content to offer social policy,
and philosophy of mind has no content to offer psychology.  (The content
you imagine being offered to psychology actually comes from computer
science and cognitive science, not from philosophy.)

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Instead of having "answers" on a math test, they should just call them
"impressions," and if you got a different "impression," so what, can't we all
be brothers?  -- Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>> there are questions which are ethical which are not answered except by
>> philosophical enquiry; for instance 'In what cases is it right for the
>> wishes of the majority to be suspended in favour of the wishes of the
>> minority?'. No amount of social research is going to answer that one
>> alone - you must embark on philosophy.
>
> No, the problem is that philosophy doesn't answer those questions
> either.  Philosophy _addresses_ the questions, and writes volumes of
>
> The field has no content.  It only has history, and an ongoing process.
> But it doesn't actually have results.

An example:

Philosphy asks the question: "Do we have free will?"

100,000 years later, societies rise and fall, we move from nomadic to
agricultural based living which gives us more free time, mathematics
and empirical science (sub-disciplines of philosophy whose purpose is
to answer only "How" something works, not why) arise, and eventually
we build gigantic particle accelerators to empiricaly test quantum
theories and discover the world really *is* random in its base
fundament.

Then these disciplines fall up the stack of the evolution of thought to the
original question and provide the unequivocal answer: "Yes".

That's why philosophy is interesting.

Philosophy is likely best understood like geological time in human thinking.
The history in philosophical thinking is exactly the benefit of it.

I bet you the next question Philosophy will ask is: "Should we care?"

:)

See you in 250,000 years!

-pete

```
 0

```>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
>> philosophy?

> In essence, yes.......

Well we have a potential infinite regress.  Applied across the board
everything must be justifiable by being a means to something else.  Do
you really mean to say that?  Or are you saying that there is
something specific to philosophy which means it must pass this test of
contributing to something else though these other somethings are not
to be interrogated?

The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'
or why
your idea of value is the appropriate one.  This is why I asked you to
define
'value' earlier.

> No, the problem is that philosophy doesn't answer those questions
> either.  Philosophy _addresses_ the questions, and writes volumes of

> The field has no content.  It only has history, and an ongoing process.
> But it doesn't actually have results.

What does 'doesn't actually have results' mean here?  It could mean.

common agreement or knowledge on anything

Actually I don't think that is true.  For instance, take this
proposition

"Pure utilitarianism is inconsistent with the idea of unalienable
rights."

Most modern philosophers with any background would agree with that.
This was an insight of the C20 critique of Bentham and Mill. What
philosophers then go on to do is to ask this kind of question.

"Is there any modification of utilitarianism which can support
unalienable rights?"

or

"Can we define what are the unalienable rights? "

The argument continues but has moved on.  No philosopher today would
propound utilitarianism in the manner of the early C19.

settled state. The subject is always in ferment.

True; but the same is true of the sciences.  "What are things made
of?" has occupied us in the West for 2,500 years.  Every discipline
has its ferment  - unless it is dead.

> There isn't a sequence of courses taught by
> the philosophy departments in "generic critical thinking" or
> "rationality", which are taken by students of physics and economics and
> biology, where the students who have passed the courses actually do well
> in their own disciplines, but the students who have not yet taken the
> courses constantly make reasoning errors and fail to progress in their
> own disciplines.  This just doesn't happen.

I think you are mistaking the purpose of "generic critical thinking"
and I would recommend Thouless 'Straight and Crooked Thinking' as a
corrective.  Normal science, which is what a UG does, is highly
constricted in its methodology.   You learn about properties of
materials and numeric algorithms etc. and mainly the goal is to
minimalise personal judgement. There is a body of formulae to apply
and material to learn and you learn it.

on this kind of material.  Critical thinking is about improving your
ability to spot holes in people's arguments, face social questions and
to help you evolve into a citizen; not just a competent economic cog.
Critical thinking is the first casualty of any totalitarian state.

Mark

Mark
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>> My reasoning is:
>> 1. Philosophy is fundamentally about [...]

> You're talking about "philosophy" in the large, the way a Ph.D. in any
> subject area is labelled a "doctor of philosophy", or the way philosophy
> was explored thousands of years ago.

> The problem is, in the modern world all the good parts got cut away and
> given their own disciplines.

I assert that they aren't their own disciplines, but sub-disciplines of
Philosophy created to answer the questions put forth by Philosophy.
Philosophy askes Why, the subdisciplines state How.

As for why the sub-discipline makes the agreement that a PhD candidate
in general making the statements, it is a delegation of knowledge
verification to the sub-discipline.

> The criticisms are about what remains, in modern college Departments of
> Philosophy.

> It's the people who work on philosophy today, as well as the thousands
> of years tradition of exploring those same questions from the past, that
> is being criticized here.

You can't claim that philosophy in the large had good parts, and then
claim that philosophy today, in addition to the thousands of years previous,
are no good. Those sets intersect and produce contradiction in your statement.

> Not the general idea of "critical thinking", which indeed was part of
> the original tradition of philosophy, and indeed is still valuable today.

Indeed it is!

>> 2. Those observations and patterns are only meaningful if we can use them
>> to predict or understand the behavior of the world or the mind.
>
> Physics, biology, and astronomy predict the behavior of the world.
> Cognitive science and psychology predict the behavior of the mind.
> Philosophy (in the modern sense) predicts nothing.

Philosophy predicts what societies spend their time upon.

>> The greatest tool mankind ever created was: "Why?" It has shaped and
>> will forever more shape our future in fundamental ways.
>
> Sure, but I don't at all credit modern college philosophy departments

Sadly, while I might disagree with you on some fronts, this isn't
one of them.  Most of the knowledge I have about philosophy courses
in college concerned itself with minutiae that didn't tie together
the whole of the sub-fields of philosophy into one whole. I suppose
that was for later study...

-pete

```
 0

```Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
>>> philosophy?
>> In essence, yes.......
> The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'

We don't need to be precise.  "Affects a significant fraction of
humanity (or even a single society."  Or perhaps, in a capitalist
society, "creates wealth" (i.e., something people would pay for).

What influence does the work have, on people OUTSIDE of the field,
people who care not at all about the internal status competition?

A civil engineer actually builds a bridge.  People that live in the
nearby village drive their trucks across it.  They'll pay a toll to do
that.  They couldn't care less about the history of engineering, or what
professor what the chairperson and which one didn't get tenure.  They

What consequence does all the work in philosophy (the journals, the
college departments, the books) have on people outside of philosophy?
Especially anything that anyone might pay for?

>> The field has no content.  It only has history, and an ongoing process.
>> But it doesn't actually have results.
>
> What does 'doesn't actually have results' mean here?  It could mean.
> 1. It produces no results because philosophers never arrive at a
> common agreement or knowledge on anything

Yes, that's right.

> Actually I don't think that is true.  For instance, take this
> proposition
> "Pure utilitarianism is inconsistent with the idea of unalienable
> rights."
> Most modern philosophers with any background would agree with that.

First of all, you're back to "inconsistent", as the best you apparently
can do.  Again, just internal to philosophy, not connected with anything
in the real world.

This is a game, in words, and definitions of words, and logical
consequences.  The game is: "Assume the following 10 random things; then
the following 50 theorems are logical consequences of the 10
assumptions."  Yes, that might be true.  Or perhaps a "brilliant"
philosopher will discover some inconsistency.

But the problem is, the ten assumptions have no connection with the real
world.  So nobody outside philosophy ever cares.

>> There isn't a sequence of courses taught by the philosophy
>> departments in "generic critical thinking" or "rationality", which
>> are taken by students of physics and economics and biology, where the
>> students who have passed the courses actually do well in their own
>> disciplines, but the students who have not yet taken the courses
>> constantly make reasoning errors and fail to progress in their own
>> disciplines.  This just doesn't happen.
>
> I think you are mistaking the purpose of "generic critical thinking"
> and I would recommend Thouless 'Straight and Crooked Thinking' as a
> corrective.

Yes, super.  And do you find, that people who are familiar with this
text and have studied it, make better practicing scientists than those
who have never heard of it?  No, you do not.

> on this kind of [undergraduate] material.

Sorry, that's not what I meant.  I meant: in their eventual professional
careers.  Sorry for the confusion.

> Critical thinking is about improving your ability to spot holes in
> people's arguments, face social questions and to help you evolve into
> a citizen; not just a competent economic cog.

Sure, sure.  Exactly.

And the college departments of philosophy do not offer training courses
in this content.

There are courses in systemic errors in human reasoning; these are
offered by departments of Psychology or Cognitive Science.  All sorts of
typical human bias: anchoring, projection, hindsight bias, confirmation
bias, fundamental attribution error, etc., etc.  (Why weren't these
discovered, published, and countered by professional philosophers?
Because they never do experiments.  There is no subject matter in the
real world that they are exploring.)

There are courses in drawing the best conclusions from real world data.
These are typically offered by Statistics departments.  Bayesian
probability, etc.

There are courses in rhetoric, in the use of language to persuade and
achieve goals.  These courses are usually offered by English
departments.  Perhaps sometimes Political Science.  Debate, journalism,
that sort of thing.

But the Philosophy department ... they mostly define new words to each
other, explore logical consequences, report on their introspective "gut
feeling" on which assumptions seem "reasonable" ... but have almost no
connection to the real world, and thus no impact on it.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Do not regret growing old; many are denied the privilege.
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> The problem is, in the modern world all the good parts got cut away and
>> given their own disciplines.
> I assert that they aren't their own disciplines, but sub-disciplines of
> Philosophy created to answer the questions put forth by Philosophy.

The historical accident of their foundation is not really that
important.  Yes, Newton called his book "Natural Philosophy".  Yes, once
thousands of years ago, all this scientific inquiry was done by
"philosophers".

The point is that, today, the college departments of Philosophy have no
connection with the other sciences.  The departments of Physics,
Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Cognitive Science ... none of these
people make pilgrimages to the Philosophy department, to learn what new
things they've discovered, and to help their own "sub-discipline" work.

Philosophy "launched" these "sub-disciplines", but then lost all contact
with them.  They're self-supporting now.

> As for why the sub-discipline makes the agreement that a PhD candidate
> knows what they are talking about or not instead of Philosophy
> in general making the statements, it is a delegation of knowledge
> verification to the sub-discipline.

And the fact that the Philosophers have no idea whether the (physics,
psychology, etc.) candidates are qualified or not.  The Philosophers are
not qualified to make such judgements.

>> It's the people who work on philosophy today, as well as the thousands
>> of years tradition of exploring those same questions from the past, that
>> is being criticized here.
>
> You can't claim that philosophy in the large had good parts, and then
> claim that philosophy today, in addition to the thousands of years
> previous, are no good. Those sets intersect and produce contradiction

I was attempting to refer to the questions that modern philosophers ask
today, the kinds of topics which are published in their journals.  These
are often not new questions; they were originally explored by the
ancient philosophers thousands of years ago.

It is the parts in _common_, between ancient and modern philosophers,
which have very little value.

Ancient philosophers explored many other topics, besides those which
continue to concern modern philosophers.  Some of those topics had
value, and have since peeled off into disciplines with new names.

The parts that remain in philosophy, a subset of ancient philosophy, are
the most useless, unproductive, navel-gazing parts.

> Philosophy predicts what societies spend their time upon.

Really?  What does Ghana spend its time on?  How about China?  Don't you
think, perhaps, that Political Science and Economics might have more
interesting predictions to make about the future of those societies,
than Philosophy does?

> Most of the knowledge I have about philosophy courses in college
> concerned itself with minutiae that didn't tie together the whole of
> the sub-fields of philosophy into one whole. I suppose that was for
> later study...

You're giving philosophy too much benefit of the doubt.  You ought to
consider the horrifying possibility that they NEVER tie together all the
"sub-fields" (physics, biology, psychology) into any kind of a "whole".

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Doubt:  In the battle between you and the world, bet on the world.
-- Despair.com
```
 0
Reply don8867 (556) 10/15/2010 11:20:17 PM

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> The field has no content.  It only has history, and an ongoing process.
>> But it doesn't actually have results.
>
> An example:
> Philosphy asks the question: "Do we have free will?"

Good!  I like it.

> eventually we build gigantic particle accelerators to empiricaly test
> quantum theories and discover the world really *is* random in its base
> fundament.

Not really.  You've misunderstood physics.  (To be fair, a lot of
physicists have too.  So you're in good company.)

> Then these disciplines fall up the stack of the evolution of thought
> to the original question and provide the unequivocal answer: "Yes".

Wait a minute.  Just how exactly do you get from physics randomness
(even if it were true) to "free will: yes"?

I was not aware that the overwhelming consensus of the philosophy
community is that humans do indeed have free will.  (Say, along the
lines of the consensus in biology about evolution.)  And especially if
it is "because" physics it random at the bottom.

> That's why philosophy is interesting.

Well it might be ... if your story were true.

That's exactly the problem.  The kind of story you just told, is the
kind of thing that everybody thinks OUGHT to happen, if philosophy were
a real, actual, field of study.

But it isn't a field of study, and stories like you outlined don't
happen, in reality.  That's the depressing part.  Philosophy never
achieves its original goals.  It doesn't actually answer questions,
after all.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Once there was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled.
This time is called the Dark Ages.
```
 0

```In article <8739s7dpha.fsf@mail.geddis.org>,
Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> >>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
> >>> philosophy?
> >> In essence, yes.......
> > The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'
>
> We don't need to be precise.  "Affects a significant fraction of
> humanity (or even a single society."  Or perhaps, in a capitalist
> society, "creates wealth" (i.e., something people would pay for).
>
> What influence does the work have, on people OUTSIDE of the field,
> people who care not at all about the internal status competition?
>
> A civil engineer actually builds a bridge.  People that live in the
> nearby village drive their trucks across it.  They'll pay a toll to do
> that.  They couldn't care less about the history of engineering, or what
> professor what the chairperson and which one didn't get tenure.  They
>
> What consequence does all the work in philosophy (the journals, the
> college departments, the books) have on people outside of philosophy?
> Especially anything that anyone might pay for?

How about entertainment value?  Lots of people pay for books and classes
in philosophy who have no aspirations of becoming professional
philosophers, just as lots of people go to see plays and movies who have
no aspirations to become actors, or listen to music with no aspirations
to become musicians, or read fiction with no aspiration to become
authors.  Actually, an even better example is magic, which has value
precisely because it provides false answers to the question of how the
trick was done.

How about Answers to the Great Questions (e.g. what is the meaning of
life?)  Even if the answers that philosophy provides are baseless or
even false, that doesn't mean they don't have value.  Indeed, providing
people with baseless or false answers is an enormous industry.  It could
even be argued that baseless, false answers might be preferable to no
answers under certain circumstances.  (Like, for example, oh, I dunno,
if you should happen to find yourself trapped in a mine for two weeks
with no idea if you will ever see daylight again?)

The utilitarian critique of philosophy is fraught with peril.

rg
```
 0

```* Don Geddis <8739s7dpha.fsf@mail.geddis.org> :
Wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010 16:07:45 -0700:

| Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
|>>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
|>>> philosophy?
|>> In essence, yes.......
|> The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'
|
| We don't need to be precise.  "Affects a significant fraction of
| humanity (or even a single society."  Or perhaps, in a capitalist
| society, "creates wealth" (i.e., something people would pay for).

This indicates your assumptions.  You are subscribing to a very
particular school of philosophy, which involves utility/exploitation,
and are defending and advancing that school by attacking and
discrediting the field in general.  The politics behind your tactics
works because then there is no basis to question your assumptions.

I believe this is circular enough to dismiss the usefulness your
contributions to this thread: you are merely indulging in politics

--
```
 0

```On 10/15/2010 7:28 PM, RG wrote:
> In article<8739s7dpha.fsf@mail.geddis.org>,
>   Don Geddis<don@geddis.org>  wrote:
>
>> Mark Tarver<dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk>  wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>>>>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
>>>>> philosophy?
>>>> In essence, yes.......
>>> The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'
>>
>> We don't need to be precise.  "Affects a significant fraction of
>> humanity (or even a single society."  Or perhaps, in a capitalist
>> society, "creates wealth" (i.e., something people would pay for).
>>
>> What influence does the work have, on people OUTSIDE of the field,
>> people who care not at all about the internal status competition?
>>
>> A civil engineer actually builds a bridge.  People that live in the
>> nearby village drive their trucks across it.  They'll pay a toll to do
>> that.  They couldn't care less about the history of engineering, or what
>> professor what the chairperson and which one didn't get tenure.  They
>>
>> What consequence does all the work in philosophy (the journals, the
>> college departments, the books) have on people outside of philosophy?
>> Especially anything that anyone might pay for?
>
> How about entertainment value?  Lots of people pay for books and classes
> in philosophy who have no aspirations of becoming professional
> philosophers, just as lots of people go to see plays and movies who have
> no aspirations to become actors, or listen to music with no aspirations
> to become musicians, or read fiction with no aspiration to become
> authors.  Actually, an even better example is magic, which has value
> precisely because it provides false answers to the question of how the
> trick was done.
>
> How about Answers to the Great Questions (e.g. what is the meaning of
> life?)  Even if the answers that philosophy provides are baseless or
> even false, that doesn't mean they don't have value.  Indeed, providing
> people with baseless or false answers is an enormous industry.  It could
> even be argued that baseless, false answers might be preferable to no
> answers under certain circumstances.  (Like, for example, oh, I dunno,
> if you should happen to find yourself trapped in a mine for two weeks
> with no idea if you will ever see daylight again?)
>
> The utilitarian critique of philosophy is fraught with peril.
>

Any effort to have an intellectually coherent debate with you is fraught
with impossibility: I think you just defended philosophy by saying, "So
what? Sudoku has no practical value either!"

kt

ps. How the Hell did you get out of my killfile?

--
http://www.stuckonalgebra.com
"The best Algebra tutorial program I have seen... in a class by itself."
Macworld
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>>> The field has no content.  It only has history, and an ongoing process.
>>> But it doesn't actually have results.
>>
>> An example:
>> Philosphy asks the question: "Do we have free will?"
>
> Good!  I like it.
>
>> eventually we build gigantic particle accelerators to empiricaly test
>> quantum theories and discover the world really *is* random in its base
>> fundament.
>
> Not really.  You've misunderstood physics.  (To be fair, a lot of
> physicists have too.  So you're in good company.)

Let's explore this. You claim that I've misunderstood quantum mechanics
(likely) and due to this the universe is deterministic (unlinkely).

Then, we're done. Bam. Universe is Determinstic and no free will. I
can build a measurement device to perfectly measure you as a human
being and the locality in which you exist, and then compute the field
equations of your future with perfect accuracy.

Sadly, the Copenhagen Interpretation, in which the actual choice of
the collapse of the wavefunction is unknown at collapse time, and
the de Broglie???Bohm theory, in which a guiding wave function (that
describes the whole of the universe's configuration, aka, the hidden
variables but we don't even know what they are and the wave function
does not collapse ever), are both equivalent in what they derive and
in accordance to emperical theory. The first is non-deterministic,
the second is deterministic. There are others besides those two,
and they disagree on determinism, on, as far as I can tell, based
upon if there is a universal wave function or not.

In mathematics, this is a contradiction. So maybe the problem is "Do we
have free will?" is not a valid question, and the true answer is "mu".

The would get a bunch of people's panties in a bunch, I tell you!

>> Then these disciplines fall up the stack of the evolution of thought
>> to the original question and provide the unequivocal answer: "Yes".
>
> Wait a minute.  Just how exactly do you get from physics randomness
> (even if it were true) to "free will: yes"?

If there is randomness, then there is never a true prediction of the

> I was not aware that the overwhelming consensus of the philosophy
> community is that humans do indeed have free will.  (Say, along the
> lines of the consensus in biology about evolution.)  And especially if
> it is "because" physics it random at the bottom.

I will admit there is no overwhelming consensus. But most later
theories for quantum mechanics are non-determinstic. If empirical
evidence shows that to be correct and the universal wave function
falls to the side as uneeded, it is inevitable that the answer is
"Yes". It becomes an axiom of the universe, like a physical constant.

> But it isn't a field of study, and stories like you outlined don't
> happen, in reality.  That's the depressing part.  Philosophy never
> achieves its original goals.  It doesn't actually answer questions,
> after all.

It seems I am unable to change your point of view. So I abstain from

-pete
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> writes:

> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> Wait a minute.  Just how exactly do you get from physics randomness
>> (even if it were true) to "free will: yes"?
>
> If there is randomness, then there is never a true prediction of the

This is not obvious.  For example, computers live in the same universe
as us, however, they don't demonstrate free-will.  In general both the
hardware and the software is made so that their choices are
deterministic.

And even if some choices were made randomly (based on a real random
physical process) that wouldn't mean these systems would have free-will.

To begin with you would have to define what it is to have free-will.

My own definition, is that the Creator (or anybody else) doesn't
override the choices made naturally by the creature.  Notice that this
definition is orthogonal to determinism or randomness.  In the case of
computers, a program has free-will(pjb definition) as long as the
programmer doesn't change its state (eg. with a debugger).

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```Pascal J. Bourguignon <pjb@informatimago.com> wrote:
> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> writes:
>
>> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>>> Wait a minute.  Just how exactly do you get from physics randomness
>>> (even if it were true) to "free will: yes"?
>>
>> If there is randomness, then there is never a true prediction of the
>
> This is not obvious.  For example, computers live in the same universe
> as us, however, they don't demonstrate free-will.  In general both the
> hardware and the software is made so that their choices are
> deterministic.
>
> And even if some choices were made randomly (based on a real random
> physical process) that wouldn't mean these systems would have free-will.

Now we come down to whether or not we can enumerate all possible
choices a system can make or not. You implicitly state that knowing the
complete "information function" of a system renders it deterministic
and therefore is lacking free-will.  This is the same argument as the
de Broglie-Bohm interpretation of causality. *You* are the universal
wave function in which the computer's world-line is a subset.

> To begin with you would have to define what it is to have free-will.
>
> My own definition, is that the Creator (or anybody else) doesn't
> override the choices made naturally by the creature.  Notice that this
> definition is orthogonal to determinism or randomness.  In the case of
> computers, a program has free-will(pjb definition) as long as the
> programmer doesn't change its state (eg. with a debugger).

[Joke: I am disturbed by how thin a difference there appears to be
between a bug and free will. :)]

I would make the definition of free-will that requires there to be
exactly zero chance of deviation from a deterministic evolution of
the function describing a change of state in the system. That would
include no debuggers. :)

The consequence of my statement is this:

A high energy photon flips a random bit in the memory of a computer
causing it to make a choice it was otherwise unable to make through
formal verification of the algorithm. Now, suppose at each mutation of
the memory space by the code from the previous mutated state, another
photon comes and forces yet another deviation from the evolution
predicted by the text segment's instructions.

However improbable, but not *impossible*, different photons strike
the memory again and again to alter the behavior of the program so
that it simulates the information processing algorithm of the human
brain.  It achieves identical "sentience" as long as the photons
are changing the processing of the computer at each evolution of the
program. When the photons stop striking the system, it immediately
becomes determinable.

I don't claim that this has ever happened. :)

Free-will, to me, is simply that it is actually impossible to determine
the system's future. In my definition, metal, stars, people, etc,
etc, etc, all have free-will.

Strange, no?

-pete

```
 0

```RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> How about entertainment value? [...] Actually, an even better example
> is magic, which has value precisely because it provides false answers
> to the question of how the trick was done. [...] The utilitarian
> critique of philosophy is fraught with peril.

I think the problem is that philosophers don't think of themselves as
entertainers or illusionists.  They aren't in on the joke.
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Conscious is when you are aware of something, and conscience is when you wish
you weren't.
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>>> An example:
>>> Philosphy asks the question: "Do we have free will?"
[...]
>>> eventually we build gigantic particle accelerators to empiricaly test
>>> quantum theories and discover the world really *is* random in its base
>>> fundament.
>> Not really.  You've misunderstood physics.  (To be fair, a lot of
>> physicists have too.  So you're in good company.)
> Let's explore this.

(Sigh.)  Yeah, I figured you wouldn't let that go.  I'm reluctant to go
much further, as this takes the thread in a whole new direction, even
farther from the purpose of this actual newsgroup as the original topic.

But ok.  I'll try one brief one.

> You claim that I've misunderstood quantum mechanics (likely) and due
> to this the universe is deterministic (unlinkely).

Quantum Mechanics is one of the best-tested empirical theories of all
time.  It's as "true" as science ever gets.  However, there is no
randomness at all in the equations of quantum mechanics.  There's a
waveform, but there is never a "collapse".  That's simply not a part of
the theory of QM.  (Well, ok: the Born probabilities bridge the two
worlds, yes.)

On top of QM, there are _lots_ of "interpretations" about what the
equations "mean".  Some of these are deterministic, some have
randomness.  The interpretations are not particularly well-supported,
and it's a mistake to take the empirical conformation of QM as evidence

> Then, we're done. Bam. Universe is Determinstic and no free will.

Doesn't work that way either.  This is why I asked you for the detailed
argument of how you get from randomness to free will.  (Hint: you really
ought to try to define what you even mean by "free will" first, before
asking whether any particular entity has it.)

In any case, I happen to believe that free will and determinism are
compatible.  (Alas, there is not enough space in the margin to
explain...)  I certainly will not grant you a "Bam.  We're done." on
this question.

> I can build a measurement device to perfectly measure you as a human
> being and the locality in which you exist, and then compute the field
> equations of your future with perfect accuracy.

That does not follow, actually.  But there are ways besides randomness
to break the predictability you fear.

> Sadly, the Copenhagen Interpretation, in which the actual choice of
> the collapse of the wavefunction is unknown at collapse time, and
> the de Broglie???Bohm theory, in which a guiding wave function (that
> describes the whole of the universe's configuration, aka, the hidden
> variables but we don't even know what they are and the wave function
> does not collapse ever), are both equivalent in what they derive and
> in accordance to emperical theory. The first is non-deterministic,
> the second is deterministic. There are others besides those two,
> and they disagree on determinism, on, as far as I can tell, based
> upon if there is a universal wave function or not.

I doubt I would have written those words, but it seems at least that you
already understand that quantum mechanics does not necessarily imply
fundamental randomness.

>> Wait a minute.  Just how exactly do you get from physics randomness
>> (even if it were true) to "free will: yes"?
> If there is randomness, then there is never a true prediction of the

1. Hardly anyone uses the phrase "free will" to mean "random behavior".
They mean that they are in control of their own actions.  (Vs., usually,
being a puppet of some kind, where some other entity or influence
controls them.)  Randomness is the opposite of control.

2. Your simple argument from (wrong) physics doesn't seem unique to
humans.  It seems to apply equally well to chimps, or birds, or even
rocks and stars.  Do they all have "free will" too?

>> I was not aware that the overwhelming consensus of the philosophy
>> community is that humans do indeed have free will.  (Say, along the
>> lines of the consensus in biology about evolution.)
> I will admit there is no overwhelming consensus.

So in what sense has the field of philosophy "answered" this
long-standing question?

> But most later theories for quantum mechanics are non-determinstic.

Truth is not a popularity vote.

In any case, you need to distinguish QM theories (which have empirical
support) from interpretations (which mostly don't).

> It seems I am unable to change your point of view.

I'm amused that your best example of a result from philosophy on a
long-standing question, seems not to have consensus from within the

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either
proven right or pleasantly surprised.  -- George F. Will
```
 0
Reply don8867 (556) 10/16/2010 4:38:22 AM

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
>> It seems I am unable to change your point of view.
>
> I'm amused that your best example of a result from philosophy on a
> long-standing question, seems not to have consensus from within the

So you beat me in an argument on the internet. You win.

-pete
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> writes:

> Pascal J. Bourguignon <pjb@informatimago.com> wrote:
>> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> writes:
>>
>>> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>>>> Wait a minute.  Just how exactly do you get from physics randomness
>>>> (even if it were true) to "free will: yes"?
>>>
>>> If there is randomness, then there is never a true prediction of the
>>
>> This is not obvious.  For example, computers live in the same universe
>> as us, however, they don't demonstrate free-will.  In general both the
>> hardware and the software is made so that their choices are
>> deterministic.
>>
>> And even if some choices were made randomly (based on a real random
>> physical process) that wouldn't mean these systems would have free-will.
>
> Now we come down to whether or not we can enumerate all possible
> choices a system can make or not. You implicitly state that knowing the
> complete "information function" of a system renders it deterministic
> and therefore is lacking free-will.  This is the same argument as the
> de Broglie-Bohm interpretation of causality. *You* are the universal
> wave function in which the computer's world-line is a subset.
>
>> To begin with you would have to define what it is to have free-will.
>>
>> My own definition, is that the Creator (or anybody else) doesn't
>> override the choices made naturally by the creature.  Notice that this
>> definition is orthogonal to determinism or randomness.  In the case of
>> computers, a program has free-will(pjb definition) as long as the
>> programmer doesn't change its state (eg. with a debugger).
>
> [Joke: I am disturbed by how thin a difference there appears to be
> between a bug and free will. :)]

For a process, there's no difference between the presence or the absence
of a bug.  It only behaves according to its program whatever that may
be.  That's what free-will is for the process.  A debugger allows an
external entity to modify the state of the process thus depriving from
its free-will.  But you can do that independently from the presence or
absence of a bug.  You can actually _inject_ bugs with a debugger, to
see how well the program recovers from them.  But you could also have
the process do something that it would never do by its own free-will
(by it's own program, bugs included).

> I would make the definition of free-will that requires there to be
> exactly zero chance of deviation from a deterministic evolution of
> the function describing a change of state in the system. That would
> include no debuggers. :)

This is what I mean.

> The consequence of my statement is this:
>
> A high energy photon flips a random bit in the memory of a computer
> causing it to make a choice it was otherwise unable to make through
> formal verification of the algorithm. Now, suppose at each mutation of
> the memory space by the code from the previous mutated state, another
> photon comes and forces yet another deviation from the evolution
> predicted by the text segment's instructions.
>
> However improbable, but not *impossible*, different photons strike
> the memory again and again to alter the behavior of the program so
> that it simulates the information processing algorithm of the human
> brain.  It achieves identical "sentience" as long as the photons
> are changing the processing of the computer at each evolution of the
> program. When the photons stop striking the system, it immediately
> becomes determinable.
>
> I don't claim that this has ever happened. :)

In microprocessors and memories, there's protections against these
improbable events.  And I'm sure Intel tries very hard to protect us
against "bit flipping" when they reduce the number of electrons required
to denote 0 or 1.

In human brains, it would be harder I guess to have a neuron fire
(against its will) from random subatomic events.  But I guess if it
occured, it could be qualified as a privation of free-will, depending on
the exact neuron activated and the consequences it would have.

> Free-will, to me, is simply that it is actually impossible to determine
> the system's future. In my definition, metal, stars, people, etc,
> etc, etc, all have free-will.
>
> Strange, no?

This, would be IMO, the reason why God gives us free-will.  He wants to
know what will happen.  If He messed with us, the experiment would
become useless.

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0
Reply pjb (7870) 10/16/2010 5:47:39 AM

```Pascal J. Bourguignon <pjb@informatimago.com> wrote:
> This, would be IMO, the reason why God gives us free-will.  He wants to
> know what will happen.  If He messed with us, the experiment would
> become useless.

I respect your argument, but I find I don't want to continue in this thread.

It is obvious that I will, in fact, not be reconciling 20 thousand
years of philosophical questions with respect to existence and current
events. Don't worry, bridges fall down and cancer still happens. So
the sub-disciplines that philosophy generated get a couple whacks
too.

I'm an existential nihilist, don't worry, it's cool. :)

I have some lisp to write.

Later.

-pete
```
 0

```On 15 Oct, 16:28, Xah Lee <xah...@gmail.com> wrote:
> hi Mark,
>
> here's my own take on doubts about usefulness of philosophy.
> > This brilliant, awesome display of light and mental force that bursts
> > out in times of a revolution of ideas is philosophy.
>
> > Mark

ok
```
 0

```Hi Don,

>>>>> "Don" == Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:

Don> I agree, that the worst of mathematics, is like all of philosophy.

Don> But even in math, there is at least a field of study out there, which
Don> exists independently of any humans. Math theorems are discovered; the
Don> real truth is already out there, and a given mathematician is either
Don> capable of finding them, or not.  It doesn't matter how socially
Don> esteemed a senior mathematician might be; the most humble new math
Don> student can instantly overshadow them, if the student discovers the
Don> true
Don> theorem, and the venerated professor makes an error.

Don> This is because math actually has an external field to study. There is
Don> actually a right and a wrong to claims, and eventually the truth can
Don> become clear to all.

That is a very simplistic platonic view of mathematics. There are
a lot of mathematicians that view their field quite differently.
philosophy of mathematics.

Andreas

--
ceterum censeo redmondinem esse delendam.
```
 0

```On Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:10:52 +0000, Peter Keller wrote:

> Philosophy predicts what societies spend their time upon.

I find that interesting.  Can you give me a few references to papers
from philosophers who wrote on this topic?

We generally have a really hard time predicting what people do -- see
eg the literature about time-use survey data (such as the ATUS, the
American Time Use Survey).  I was not aware of philosophers working on
surprising.

Best,

Tamas
```
 0

```On 2010-10-15, RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote:

> people with baseless or false answers is an enormous industry.  It could
> even be argued that baseless, false answers might be preferable to no
> answers under certain circumstances.  (Like, for example, oh, I dunno,
> if you should happen to find yourself trapped in a mine for two weeks
> with no idea if you will ever see daylight again?)

Or if you were stuck on an obscure planet in a little anonymous corner
of the universe falling horizontally and inexorably in the direction of a
death pit deep as eternity itself which is going swallow you in your
entirety whatever you do in at most a few decades, if not a helluva lot
sooner if you don't stop stressing out over the whole deal (read: human
condition as it applies to your sorry ass), for instance.

> The utilitarian critique of philosophy is fraught with peril.
>

Isn't everything?
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
> Free-will, to me, is simply that it is actually impossible to determine
> the system's future. In my definition, metal, stars, people, etc,
> etc, etc, all have free-will.

Ah!  So you have, in fact, been doing typical philosophy yourself,
during this whole thread.  People for thousands of years have had a
question, "do humans have free will?"  And they meant something by this
question.

You, as is typical with philosophers, confidently "answered" the
question ("yes, because of quantum randomness").  But the truth is, all
you really did was redefine the term "free will".  You used the same
term as everybody else has been using, but you were using your own
private definition, which didn't at all match the concept that everybody
else cared about.  And, in a typical bit of philosophical subterfuge,
you didn't bother to explain your redefinition when you first made your
bold claims.

What a perfect example of philosophy.  Lurkers on this thread don't even
have to bother reading my criticisms.  You've provided a great example
of the process by yourself!  Philosophy is about words and definitions
and argument, not about the real world.

Well done.
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I will repeat this point again until I get hoarse: a mistake is not something
to be determined after the fact, but in the light of the information until
that point.  -- Nicholas Nassim Taleb
```
 0

```Andreas Eder <andreas_eder@gmx.net> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
>     Don> It doesn't matter how socially esteemed a senior
>     Don> mathematician might be; the most humble new math student can
>     Don> instantly overshadow them, if the student discovers the true
>     Don> theorem, and the venerated professor makes an error.  This is
>     Don> because math actually has an external field to study. There
>     Don> is actually a right and a wrong to claims
>
> That is a very simplistic platonic view of mathematics. There are a
> lot of mathematicians that view their field quite differently.  Maybe
> you should read a bit about the foundations and the philosophy of
> mathematics.

I have read such histories, so if you have a specific comment, perhaps
you should make it.

Perhaps an example will better explain the contrast.  Consider Grigori
Perelman, the (now) famous and reclusive Russian mathematician who
proved the Poincare conjecture, "one of the most important and difficult
open problems in topology", a century after it was first posed:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Perelman

He never talks to anybody, never gives interviews.  While he has worked
in academia in the past, he no longer holds any academic position, and
appears to be unemployed.  After proving Poincare, he withdrew
completely from working on mathematics, even in private.  He was offered
a \$1 million award for the Poincare proof ... and he turned it down.  In
his rejection, he said, "the main reason is my disagreement with the
organized mathematical community. I don't like their decisions, I
consider them unjust."

Perelman is a social outcast.  He rejects the entire status game of his
community.  Yet, despite his refusal to play by any of the rules, he's
held up as one of the best mathematicians of the last century.  The
field that he despises constantly tries to give him awards.

Now.  Contrast that with philosophy.  Can you find a similar example?
Can you find a philosopher who hates all the other professional
philosophers, who disrespects them every chance he gets, refuses to
participate in tenure or publication ... but who nonetheless is hailed
by the very community he despises, as one of the best philosophers of
his generation?

No.  And the difference is, mathematics is a discipline that is actually
about something.  The difference is, Perelman actually found a proof of
Poincare.  It doesn't matter how rude he is; he found that proof, a
century of other mathematicians tried and failed to find it, and even
mediocre professional mathematicans can _verify_ that Perelman's proof
is correct (even though they couldn't find it themselves).

Philosophy has none of that.  There is no actual subject matter being
studied.  There is no result that an anti-social philosopher could
write, which would overcome his rejection of status games, refusal to
participate in conferences, lack of publication in journals, etc.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always
feel that they have not said enough.  -- Mark Twain
```
 0

```On 10/15/2010 9:27 AM, Don Geddis wrote:
> Really, you need to contrast this with fields that actually do have real
> content.  I want to build a bridge over a river gorge that will support
> the weight of tanker trucks.  Civil engineering provides the answers,
> ....
boring :)
-Antony
```
 0

```Andreas Eder <andreas_eder@gmx.net> writes:

> Hi Don,
>
>>>>>> "Don" == Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:
>
>     Don> I agree, that the worst of mathematics, is like all of philosophy.
>
>     Don> But even in math, there is at least a field of study out there, which
>     Don> exists independently of any humans. Math theorems are discovered; the
>     Don> real truth is already out there, and a given mathematician is either
>     Don> capable of finding them, or not.  It doesn't matter how socially
>     Don> esteemed a senior mathematician might be; the most humble new math
>     Don> student can instantly overshadow them, if the student discovers the
>     Don> true
>     Don> theorem, and the venerated professor makes an error.
>
>     Don> This is because math actually has an external field to study. There is
>     Don> actually a right and a wrong to claims, and eventually the truth can
>     Don> become clear to all.
>
> That is a very simplistic platonic view of mathematics. There are
> a lot of mathematicians that view their field quite differently.
> Maybe you should read a bit about the foundations and the
> philosophy of mathematics.

Which funnily enough, is not done by philosophers, but by
mathematicians.

Which remembers me that when I had a class of philosophy, quickly enough
99% of the students were doing their maths exercises during that class.

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```Tamas K Papp <tkpapp@gmail.com> writes:

> On Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:10:52 +0000, Peter Keller wrote:
>
>> Philosophy predicts what societies spend their time upon.
>
> I find that interesting.  Can you give me a few references to papers
> from philosophers who wrote on this topic?
>
> We generally have a really hard time predicting what people do -- see
> eg the literature about time-use survey data (such as the ATUS, the
> American Time Use Survey).  I was not aware of philosophers working on
> surprising.

There's certainly a lot of noise in philosophy, but I think that Peter
is right and we could find some signal effectively predicing or
prescribing what subject the society would spend time on, at least in an
indirect way (but sometimes in quite a direct and harsh way, eg. the
French revolution and its imitators).

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```In article <871v7qdbfn.fsf@mail.geddis.org>,
Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> > How about entertainment value? [...] Actually, an even better example
> > is magic, which has value precisely because it provides false answers
> > to the question of how the trick was done. [...] The utilitarian
> > critique of philosophy is fraught with peril.
>
> I think the problem is that philosophers don't think of themselves as
> entertainers or illusionists.  They aren't in on the joke.

Are you sure?  Have you asked any philosophers?  And even if it were
true, why is that a problem?  It so happens that you can't do magic
without knowing how the trick is done, but that's just a characteristic
particular to the art of magic.  There are other arts whose
practitioners would have a very hard time explaining "the trick", like
writing poetry for example.  Even writing computer software is a craft
that seems to be somewhat resistant to deconstruction.  None of this
changes the fact that writing computer software has value, as does
writing poetry.  So why not philosophy?

rg
```
 0

```In article <slrnibjbls.32b.curty@einstein.electron.org>,
Curt <curty@free.fr> wrote:

> On 2010-10-15, RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote:
>
> > people with baseless or false answers is an enormous industry.  It could
> > even be argued that baseless, false answers might be preferable to no
> > answers under certain circumstances.  (Like, for example, oh, I dunno,
> > if you should happen to find yourself trapped in a mine for two weeks
> > with no idea if you will ever see daylight again?)
>
> Or if you were stuck on an obscure planet in a little anonymous corner
> of the universe falling horizontally and inexorably in the direction of a
> death pit deep as eternity itself which is going swallow you in your
> entirety whatever you do in at most a few decades, if not a helluva lot
> sooner if you don't stop stressing out over the whole deal (read: human
> condition as it applies to your sorry ass), for instance.

Indeed.  And your point would be...?

rg
```
 0

```In article <4cb906f8\$0\$20182\$607ed4bc@cv.net>,
Kenneth Tilton <kentilton@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 10/15/2010 7:28 PM, RG wrote:
> > In article<8739s7dpha.fsf@mail.geddis.org>,
> >   Don Geddis<don@geddis.org>  wrote:
> >
> >> Mark Tarver<dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk>  wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
> >>>>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
> >>>>> philosophy?
> >>>> In essence, yes.......
> >>> The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'
> >>
> >> We don't need to be precise.  "Affects a significant fraction of
> >> humanity (or even a single society."  Or perhaps, in a capitalist
> >> society, "creates wealth" (i.e., something people would pay for).
> >>
> >> What influence does the work have, on people OUTSIDE of the field,
> >> people who care not at all about the internal status competition?
> >>
> >> A civil engineer actually builds a bridge.  People that live in the
> >> nearby village drive their trucks across it.  They'll pay a toll to do
> >> that.  They couldn't care less about the history of engineering, or what
> >> professor what the chairperson and which one didn't get tenure.  They
> >> care about the bridge.
> >>
> >> What consequence does all the work in philosophy (the journals, the
> >> college departments, the books) have on people outside of philosophy?
> >> Especially anything that anyone might pay for?
> >
> > How about entertainment value?  Lots of people pay for books and classes
> > in philosophy who have no aspirations of becoming professional
> > philosophers, just as lots of people go to see plays and movies who have
> > no aspirations to become actors, or listen to music with no aspirations
> > to become musicians, or read fiction with no aspiration to become
> > authors.  Actually, an even better example is magic, which has value
> > precisely because it provides false answers to the question of how the
> > trick was done.
> >
> > How about Answers to the Great Questions (e.g. what is the meaning of
> > life?)  Even if the answers that philosophy provides are baseless or
> > even false, that doesn't mean they don't have value.  Indeed, providing
> > people with baseless or false answers is an enormous industry.  It could
> > even be argued that baseless, false answers might be preferable to no
> > answers under certain circumstances.  (Like, for example, oh, I dunno,
> > if you should happen to find yourself trapped in a mine for two weeks
> > with no idea if you will ever see daylight again?)
> >
> > The utilitarian critique of philosophy is fraught with peril.
> >
>
> Any effort to have an intellectually coherent debate with you is fraught
> with impossibility: I think you just defended philosophy by saying, "So
> what? Sudoku has no practical value either!"

No, I don't believe I mentioned Sudoku.  If you're actually interested
in having an intellectually coherent conversation you might start by
responding to what I actually said.

> ps. How the Hell did you get out of my killfile?

Magic.

rg
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:

> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
>> Free-will, to me, is simply that it is actually impossible to determine
>> the system's future. In my definition, metal, stars, people, etc,
>> etc, etc, all have free-will.
>
> Ah!  So you have, in fact, been doing typical philosophy yourself,
> during this whole thread.  People for thousands of years have had a
> question, "do humans have free will?"  And they meant something by this
> question.
>
> You, as is typical with philosophers, confidently "answered" the
> question ("yes, because of quantum randomness").  But the truth is, all
> you really did was redefine the term "free will".  You used the same
> term as everybody else has been using, but you were using your own
> private definition, which didn't at all match the concept that everybody
> else cared about.  And, in a typical bit of philosophical subterfuge,
> you didn't bother to explain your redefinition when you first made your
> bold claims.
>
> What a perfect example of philosophy.  Lurkers on this thread don't even
> have to bother reading my criticisms.  You've provided a great example
> of the process by yourself!  Philosophy is about words and definitions
> and argument, not about the real world.

Do word and definitions and argument not belong to the real world?
If they're pure imagination, how does it happen that I can read them?
Or is it a mere dream that I see these black and white lines and curves
and points?

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:

> Mark Tarver <dr.mtarver@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>>>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
>>>> philosophy?
>>> In essence, yes.......
>> The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'
>
> We don't need to be precise.  "Affects a significant fraction of
> humanity (or even a single society."  Or perhaps, in a capitalist
> society, "creates wealth" (i.e., something people would pay for).
>
> What influence does the work have, on people OUTSIDE of the field,
> people who care not at all about the internal status competition?
>
> A civil engineer actually builds a bridge.  People that live in the
> nearby village drive their trucks across it.  They'll pay a toll to do
> that.  They couldn't care less about the history of engineering, or what
> professor what the chairperson and which one didn't get tenure.  They
>
> What consequence does all the work in philosophy (the journals, the
> college departments, the books) have on people outside of philosophy?
> Especially anything that anyone might pay for?
>
>>> The field has no content.  It only has history, and an ongoing process.
>>> But it doesn't actually have results.
>>
>> What does 'doesn't actually have results' mean here?  It could mean.
>> 1. It produces no results because philosophers never arrive at a
>> common agreement or knowledge on anything
>
> Yes, that's right.
>
>> Actually I don't think that is true.  For instance, take this
>> proposition
>> "Pure utilitarianism is inconsistent with the idea of unalienable
>> rights."
>> Most modern philosophers with any background would agree with that.
>
> First of all, you're back to "inconsistent", as the best you apparently
> can do.  Again, just internal to philosophy, not connected with anything
> in the real world.
>
> This is a game, in words, and definitions of words, and logical
> consequences.  The game is: "Assume the following 10 random things; then
> the following 50 theorems are logical consequences of the 10
> assumptions."  Yes, that might be true.  Or perhaps a "brilliant"
> philosopher will discover some inconsistency.
>
> But the problem is, the ten assumptions have no connection with the real
> world.  So nobody outside philosophy ever cares.

Are you sure that those assumptions really have no connection with the
real world?

Let me remind you that if the world is essentially non-deterministic
there's no sense on spending large amounts of money on sciences.
Not only on LHC, but also on GARP or NARE (see Atlantic Tropical Experiment,
North Atlantic Regional Experiment). Perhaps you don't care, but some
people prefer to know when they are to move away from flooded region.

More complex things happen in some part of society when the latter
accepts some philosophical ideas as its prime ideology.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru> wrote on Sun, 17 Oct 2010:
> Let me remind you that if the world is essentially non-deterministic
> there's no sense on spending large amounts of money on sciences.

Huh?

Pretend that the outcome of a coin flip is non-deterministic.  That just
means, for a single flip, we can't predict whether it will come up heads
or tails.

But you get science by noticing that, over the course of thousands of
coin flips, pretty close to 50% of them come up heads, and 50% tails.

That's the situation here.  The non-determinism in physics (if it
exists) happens at very tiny scales.  Pretty much any phenomena of
interest is composed of trillions of these basic actions, so you can "do
science" in a "non-deterministic" world, simply by predicting
statistical averages.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Those of you who think that you know everything are particularly annoying to
those of us who do.
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:

> Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru> wrote on Sun, 17 Oct 2010:
>> Let me remind you that if the world is essentially non-deterministic
>> there's no sense on spending large amounts of money on sciences.
>
> Huh?
>
> Pretend that the outcome of a coin flip is non-deterministic.  That just
> means, for a single flip, we can't predict whether it will come up heads
> or tails.
>
> But you get science by noticing that, over the course of thousands of
> coin flips, pretty close to 50% of them come up heads, and 50% tails.
>
> That's the situation here.  The non-determinism in physics (if it
> exists) happens at very tiny scales.  Pretty much any phenomena of
> interest is composed of trillions of these basic actions, so you can "do
> science" in a "non-deterministic" world, simply by predicting
> statistical averages.

I got the impression that at the quantum level things were not that
deterministic, that there was some essential randomness.  (Not only
randomness due to lack of information).

Then we have some macroscopic scale where randomness is averaged and you
can compute the temperature and pression of a sizeable volume of gaz in
a deterministic way.

But then on an ever bigger macroscopic scale, you get human beings, and
appearently, non determininstic behavior.

But then you've got societies of human beings and you get some
deterministic behavior, and if some randomness remains, probably we have
here chaotic behavior.

And just go up one level, and the behavior of the planet, the solar
system and the galaxy is deterministic, unless you watch it at a longer
time scale in which case it's then chaotic.

So it seems to be that determinism, chaos and randomness may occur at
different scales for different systems, and that you can sometimes
render a system deterministic (eg. by constraining it, or by changing
its scale), and you can also render it chaotic or random again, by
increasing its complexity up a level (and sometimes, you don't even need
a lot of added complexity to get the change of phase).

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```Pascal J. Bourguignon <pjb@informatimago.com> wrote:
> Tamas K Papp <tkpapp@gmail.com> writes:
>
>> On Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:10:52 +0000, Peter Keller wrote:
>>
>>> Philosophy predicts what societies spend their time upon.
>>
>> I find that interesting.  Can you give me a few references to papers
>> from philosophers who wrote on this topic?
>>
>> We generally have a really hard time predicting what people do -- see
>> eg the literature about time-use survey data (such as the ATUS, the
>> American Time Use Survey).  I was not aware of philosophers working on
>> surprising.
>
> There's certainly a lot of noise in philosophy, but I think that Peter
> is right and we could find some signal effectively predicing or
> prescribing what subject the society would spend time on, at least in an
> indirect way (but sometimes in quite a direct and harsh way, eg. the
> French revolution and its imitators).

I'm out of this thread, but North Korea is a good example of a
whole society acting with the philosophy (Juche, if I recall) of the
rulers. It is probably the best example we have.

-pete
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
> You, as is typical with philosophers, confidently "answered" the
> question ("yes, because of quantum randomness").

> But the truth is, all
> you really did was redefine the term "free will".

Well, frankly, you keep redefining the conditions under which
philosophy can be agreed upon as having provided solutions to real
world problems so you can skirt accepting any answer.

So I think we're even.

-pete
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote:
> I'm out of this thread, but North Korea is a good example of a
> whole society acting with the philosophy (Juche, if I recall) of the
> rulers. It is probably the best example we have.

And to be clear, the people there don't actually live by Juche, but it is the
means by which the government elevated the leader to God-like status and
keeps him there.

Other plain examples are the fact that muslims pray 5 times a day,
the populace entire nations will stop what they are doing, pull out
a little mat, and pray towards Mecca. Everyone stops, everywhere,
and does this.

I can predict in western nations on Dec 25th, 2010, many families
will come together who were otherwise apart for the rest of the year.

Many of the behaviors a society performs are due to a philosophy of some kind.

-pete
```
 0

```pjb@informatimago.com (Pascal J. Bourguignon) wrote on Sun, 17 Oct 2010:
> I got the impression that at the quantum level things were not that
> deterministic, that there was some essential randomness.  (Not only
> randomness due to lack of information).

That's oversimplified, but I was taking it to be true as a hypothetical.

> Then we have some macroscopic scale where randomness is averaged and you
> can compute the temperature and pression of a sizeable volume of gaz in
> a deterministic way.

Yes.

> But then on an ever bigger macroscopic scale, you get human beings, and
> appearently, non determininstic behavior.
[...]
> But then [...] you get some deterministic behavior
[...]
> And just go up one level [...] is deterministic
[...]
> So it seems to be that determinism, chaos and randomness may occur at
> different scales for different systems

Just to be clear, the cases are:
1. Deterministic (= predictable in theory), and predictable (in
practice)
2. Deterministic (in theory), but not in practice (aka "chaos")
3. Non-deterministic (in theory, and thus in practice as well)

Once a system goes to one of the deterministic cases, it doesn't really
ever go back to non-deterministic at higher levels of scale.  It might
go back to chaotic, but that's about it.

To get back to the original point, physics being non-deterministic at
the lowest level (which may or may not be true), doesn't really affect
whether humans are predictable (in practice) or not.  At the scale of
humans, it's really a question of chaos vs. predictability, not a
question of non-determinism.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
How many legs does a dog have, if you call the tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a
tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.  -- Abraham Lincoln
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
> I'm out of this thread [...]

I do not think that phrase means what you think it means...
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I've had a perfectly wonderful evening...But this wasn't it.  -- Groucho Marx
```
 0

```Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sun, 17 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
>> You, as is typical with philosophers, confidently "answered" the
>> question ("yes, because of quantum randomness").
> Veild ad hominims now, eh?

Wait a minute ... giving you the label "philosopher"  is an insult?
Perhaps my work here is done...

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Thought for the day:  What if there were no hypothetical situations?
```
 0
Reply don8867 (556) 10/17/2010 5:39:00 AM

```Tamas K Papp <tkpapp@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:10:52 +0000, Peter Keller wrote:
>
>> Philosophy predicts what societies spend their time upon.
>
> I find that interesting.  Can you give me a few references to papers
> from philosophers who wrote on this topic?

Here are some papers from someone who, apparently, doesn't exist,
according to Don Geddis. :) He is sifting through various sub-disciplines
and trying to reconcile philosophical questions with the answers
found by the hard scientists and using that data to predict how humanity
will change as time progresses.

His website:
http://www.nickbostrom.com

Some work he wrote:
http://www.nickbostrom.com/papers/future.pdf
http://www.nickbostrom.com/old/predict.html

-pete
```
 0

```On 16 Oct, 00:07, Don Geddis <d...@geddis.org> wrote:
> Mark Tarver <dr.mtar...@ukonline.co.uk> wrote on Fri, 15 Oct 2010:
>
> >>> Is philosophy only justifiable by being useful to things other than
> >>> philosophy?
> >> In essence, yes.......
> > The nub here is that you haven't made clear what you mean by 'useful'
>
> We don't need to be precise.  "Affects a significant fraction of
> humanity (or even a single society."  Or perhaps, in a capitalist
> society, "creates wealth" (i.e., something people would pay for).

My last word.

Well I think you do need to be precise.  Neither of these definitions
would do the job you seem to want it to do.  They are of course non-
equivalent. Marxism has had a huge impact on society.  Buddhism is as
much a philosophy as a religion and that has had an enormous impact
too.   So by your first criterion, philosophy is very useful.

Your second criterion 'something people would pay for'; people do pay
to
attend courses on philosophy and read books on it, so presumably it is
useful by your second criterion too.

Some philosophical thinking to be done ;).

Mark
```
 0

```On Sun, 17 Oct 2010 06:05:08 +0000, Peter Keller wrote:

> Tamas K Papp <tkpapp@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:10:52 +0000, Peter Keller wrote:
>>
>>> Philosophy predicts what societies spend their time upon.
>>
>> I find that interesting.  Can you give me a few references to papers
>> from philosophers who wrote on this topic?
>
> Here are some papers from someone who, apparently, doesn't exist,
> according to Don Geddis. :) He is sifting through various
> sub-disciplines and trying to reconcile philosophical questions with the
> answers found by the hard scientists and using that data to predict how
> humanity will change as time progresses.
>
> His website:
> http://www.nickbostrom.com
>
> Some work he wrote:
> http://www.nickbostrom.com/papers/future.pdf
> http://www.nickbostrom.com/old/predict.html

Thanks.  I have skimmed through those articles, and I don't really see
the predictions being better supported or more precise than a
reasonably good sci-fi book.  So yes, these things make an interesting
read, but I see no attempt at doing anything remotely quantitative;
consequently, the claims are hard to evaluate.

For example, starting on page 10 of the first article, he speculates
about the extinction of humanity, but all the numbers he uses seem to
be pulled out of thin air.  He cites other people (mostly
philosophers), and quotes their numbers too, but makes no attempt at
reconciling or explaining the differences between them.  I get the
impression that if I became a philosopher with tenure at a decent
articles like this -- even if I just made them up.  I find that
disturbing (to be fair, similar things happen in the natural and
social sciences to a certain extent).

I see little value in statements like "Nanotechnology will have
wide-ranging consequences for manufacturing, medicine, and computing."
(p17).  Certainly true, but also quite trite in 2007, 12 years (!)
after Neal Stephenson wrote The Diamond Age.

Please don't get the impression that I am trying to dismiss the work
of all of those who call themselves philosophers.  I have read some
good books from people who are employed at departments of philosophy,
eg on religion (by Dennett) or the history of science.

Best,

Tamas
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:

> pjb@informatimago.com (Pascal J. Bourguignon) wrote on Sun, 17 Oct 2010:
>> I got the impression that at the quantum level things were not that
>> deterministic, that there was some essential randomness.  (Not only
>> randomness due to lack of information).
>
> That's oversimplified, but I was taking it to be true as a hypothetical.
>
>> Then we have some macroscopic scale where randomness is averaged and you
>> can compute the temperature and pression of a sizeable volume of gaz in
>> a deterministic way.
>
> Yes.
>
>> But then on an ever bigger macroscopic scale, you get human beings, and
>> appearently, non determininstic behavior.
> [...]
>> But then [...] you get some deterministic behavior
> [...]
>> And just go up one level [...] is deterministic
> [...]
>> So it seems to be that determinism, chaos and randomness may occur at
>> different scales for different systems
>
> Just to be clear, the cases are:
> 1. Deterministic (= predictable in theory), and predictable (in
>    practice)
> 2. Deterministic (in theory), but not in practice (aka "chaos")
> 3. Non-deterministic (in theory, and thus in practice as well)
>
> Once a system goes to one of the deterministic cases, it doesn't really
> ever go back to non-deterministic at higher levels of scale.  It might
> go back to chaotic, but that's about it.

I was thinking of emergent properties, which may be possibly random.
But perhaps real randomness in emergent properties can only be
reintroduced by use of real physical randomness with a lowleveler device?

> To get back to the original point, physics being non-deterministic at
> the lowest level (which may or may not be true), doesn't really affect
> whether humans are predictable (in practice) or not.  At the scale of
> humans, it's really a question of chaos vs. predictability, not a
> question of non-determinism.

Or the influence of physical non-determinism on the human behavior, or
the question of the soul (an entity external from the physical universe,
influencing it), which cannot be discarded, so far.

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> Peter Keller <psilord@cs.wisc.edu> wrote on Sat, 16 Oct 2010:
>> I'm out of this thread [...]
>
> I do not think that phrase means what you think it means...

On this. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Let me try to se if I can find the
meaning of it again....

-pete
```
 0

```On 15 Oct, 15:00, Giovanni Gigante <g...@cidoc.iuav.it> wrote:
> Mark Tarver wrote:
> > The first is that this is a form of knowledge from which you cannot
> > 'do anything practical'. =A0That is, you cannot fix your car, get a
> > better house or make money from it.
>
> I suspect that "has practical use" is the poor man's version of "it's
> true". A very weak version of Truth indeed but, at least, verifiable.
>
> By the way, I liked a lot your paper on gnosis. Will other writings follo=
w?
>
> gg

Thankyou.  That's possible.

Mark
```
 0

```RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote:

[...]

>
> How about Answers to the Great Questions (e.g. what is the meaning of
> life?)  Even if the answers that philosophy provides are baseless or
> even false ...

How do you determine that they are meaningless or even false absent
philosophy?  Meaning exists only in the mind.
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

[...]

>
> Philosophy has none of that.  There is no actual subject matter being
> studied.  There is no result that an anti-social philosopher could
> write, which would overcome his rejection of status games, refusal to
> participate in conferences, lack of publication in journals, etc.
>

Past performance isn't necessarily indicative of future performance.  As
you said, it took 100 years for Perelman to prove Poincaire.  Yes,
philosophy has been around longer than that, but:
1)  philosophy spins off new disciplines which detach themselves from
the root, and
2)  the problems of philosophy may be much harder than Poincaire or
Fermat. Just as one example, in the never-ending discussions on free
will, nobody can ever agree on a definition.  Why?

```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> I'm interested in the questions that philosophy explores.  I want to
> know, in what cases is it "right" for the minority to win over the
> majority?  Do humans have free will?  The questions very much interest
> me.  But what are the answers?  I look to philosophy ... and find no

The answer to both questions depend on the nature of reality.  If there
is a God, you get one answer.  If there are gods, you get another.  And
if there is no god, you get yet another.  Philosophy is like geometry --
the axioms control the reality.  Whether the mental construct
corresponds with the external physical world we call "reality" is yet
another question.
```
 0

```wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) writes:

> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>
> [...]
>
>>
>> Philosophy has none of that.  There is no actual subject matter being
>> studied.  There is no result that an anti-social philosopher could
>> write, which would overcome his rejection of status games, refusal to
>> participate in conferences, lack of publication in journals, etc.
>>
>
> Past performance isn't necessarily indicative of future performance.  As
> you said, it took 100 years for Perelman to prove Poincaire.  Yes,
> philosophy has been around longer than that, but:
> 1)  philosophy spins off new disciplines which detach themselves from
> the root, and
> 2)  the problems of philosophy may be much harder than Poincaire or
> Fermat. Just as one example, in the never-ending discussions on free
> will, nobody can ever agree on a definition.  Why?

Mathematical definition presupose a known structure.
It's just giving a name to some mathematical constructs that already has
a meaning (the first thing you do once you've made a definition, is to
check that it has a meaning, that you have effectively named a known
mathematical structure).  You may not know all the properties of that
mathematical structure, but nonetheless, it exists within the frame of
the theory you're working in.

Outside of mathematics, we try to name things, but unfortunately, they're
not in general inside a known theory, but outside, in the real world.
So our definitions are in general entirely inadequate to denote what we
want to denote.

The reason why two philosophers will give different definitions, and in
general not agree they're the same, is because they give them with a
preconceived theory.

This is not necessarily bad, we have the free-will element of the
quantum-mechanic universe, the free-will element of the universe as a
computer program run by God, or any other kind of free-will elements in
other theories, like we have the neutral element of (ℝ,+) and the
neutral element of (Z,×), and they're two entirely different
mathematical beings, but still both are neutral elements.   Remains to
be seen how these theories match reality.

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```* (Bob Felts) <1jqoha5.fbqud816jrwnhN%wrf3@stablecross.com> :
Wrote on Wed, 20 Oct 2010 20:41:30 -0400:

| Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
|
|> I'm interested in the questions that philosophy explores.  I want to
|> know, in what cases is it "right" for the minority to win over the
|> majority?  Do humans have free will?  The questions very much interest
|> me.  But what are the answers?  I look to philosophy ... and find no
|
| The answer to both questions depend on the nature of reality.  If there
| is a God, you get one answer.  If there are gods, you get another.  And
| if there is no god, you get yet another.  Philosophy is like geometry --
| the axioms control the reality.  Whether the mental construct
| corresponds with the external physical world we call "reality" is yet
| another question.

If you haven't recognized it yet, invariably Geddis' debating tactics on
CLL are a perverse variation of the diagnolization argument; this
involves subscribing and appealing to a particular set of (unstated,
restated, shifting) assumptions which are then used to contradict
opposing views.

--
```
 0

```wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Wed, 20 Oct 2010:
> Just as one example, in the never-ending discussions on free will,
> nobody can ever agree on a definition.  Why?

Because they're not actually discussing a topic in objective reality.
All they have is internal gut feelings and poorly-understood
introspection.  (Which they put far too much stock in.  Ever notice how
few philosophers ever question the reliability of their own
introspection?)

So they wind up playing games with language and words and definitions.

But the ACTUAL problem of free will, in the REAL external world, is one
that has a solution.  If you're ACTUALLY interested in the real question
of whether humans (or any other entity) has free will, there do exist
real answers.  For example, Eliezer Yudkowsky has given an explanation
in detail.  The background starts here:
http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Free_will
The solution series of posts is here:
http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Free_will_(solution)
If you're interested, but not willing to read all that background, the
critical post is probably this (long) one:
http://lesswrong.com/lw/rb/possibility_and_couldness/

And the answer, for those who don't have the patience for any long
posts, is basically that the internal human feeling of "free will" is
not an illusion, and does correspond to a real property about real
machines.  In particular, about machines that have decision procedures
that explore possible future worlds, and use their evaluation of those
future worlds to choose a current action.

Free will is: "I can do whatever I want".  Which can be made precise.
And is not incompatible with determinism (whether or not physics really
is deterministic), because, as Schoperhauer said, "Man can indeed do
what he wants, but he cannot control what it is that he wants."

So.  There's your answer.  And I know you'll be quick to say, "but
Yudkowsky was doing philosophy there!"  Sure he was.  But he was not a
professional philosopher, he never took philosophy classes, and the
thousands of years of "work" in philosophy never informed his own work
(except as an example of what not to do).  His work will never be
published in a philosophy journal.  Because it isn't the game with words

Yudkowsky is a computer scientist.  His insights came from his work in
CS, and in particular his work on AI.  Computer Science an actual
science, where results come and build on each other.  That's why he
could solve free will so easily, a problem that has vexed professional
philosophers for thousands of years.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
The brain is a wondrous thing, I admit, but please, keep it away from me.
-- Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey [1999]
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:

> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Wed, 20 Oct 2010:
>> Just as one example, in the never-ending discussions on free will,
>> nobody can ever agree on a definition.  Why?
>
> [...]
> And the answer, for those who don't have the patience for any long
> posts, is basically that the internal human feeling of "free will" is
> not an illusion, and does correspond to a real property about real
> machines.
> [...]

You two really seem obsessed with that free will question (bringing it
up again after it has been discussed to death not long ago).  And I'm
not sure at all who of you is the one with the stronger religious
background.

Nicolas

```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Wed, 20 Oct 2010:
> > Just as one example, in the never-ending discussions on free will,
> > nobody can ever agree on a definition.  Why?
>
> Because they're not actually discussing a topic in objective reality.

That's an interesting position, but based on the conversations I've had
regarding this, I think that's not a fair characterization.  I think
they are interested, but other things come into play:
1)  What is "objective reality"?  For example, does God objectively
exist, or not?
2)  The way our brains are programmed (which we've only begun to
explore) makes it hard to settle on an answer.

> All they have is internal gut feelings and poorly-understood
> introspection.  (Which they put far too much stock in.  Ever notice how
> few philosophers ever question the reliability of their own
> introspection?)

Well, yes, but there aren't enough philosophers who are versed in
philosophy and computer science, IMO.  CS is still a young field.

>
> So they wind up playing games with language and words and definitions.

That's all we have, Don.  That's why philosophy and mathematics are so
alike, except that philosophy hasn't incorported the rigour of math.
Yet.

>
> But the ACTUAL problem of free will, in the REAL external world, is one
> that has a solution.  If you're ACTUALLY interested in the real question
> of whether humans (or any other entity) has free will, there do exist

It's really annoying when you're pre-disposed to think that your
correspondent isn't ACTUALLY interested in a purported answer.

> For example, Eliezer Yudkowsky has given an explanation
> in detail.  The background starts here:
>         http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Free_will
> The solution series of posts is here:
>         http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Free_will_(solution)
> If you're interested, but not willing to read all that background, the
> critical post is probably this (long) one:
>         http://lesswrong.com/lw/rb/possibility_and_couldness/
>

I will read all of these.

> And the answer, for those who don't have the patience for any long
> posts, is basically that the internal human feeling of "free will" is
> not an illusion, and does correspond to a real property about real
> machines.  In particular, about machines that have decision procedures
> that explore possible future worlds, and use their evaluation of those
> future worlds to choose a current action.
>

Gosh.  I applied this same kind of methodology to the question of
morality and came up with a similar explanation of good and evil
(cf. http://stablecross.com/files/Eden.html -- the three introductory
links give the background information).  What I found interesting is
that the solution to the problem was suggested by John McCarthy (see --
I'd tie this in with Lisp, somehow) from a 1960 paper of his.  When I
get some time, I'll finish writing up how to dismantle Hume's
guillotine.

> Free will is: "I can do whatever I want".  Which can be made precise.
> And is not incompatible with determinism (whether or not physics really
> is deterministic), because, as Schoperhauer said, "Man can indeed do
> what he wants, but he cannot control what it is that he wants."
>

Is it?  First, how do you know that man cannot control what is is that
he wants?  If that's true, then Hume is right and ought does not follow
from is.  Second, we have to deal with conflicting wants all the time.
At the moment, I very much want to do something that I don't want to do.
I've been struggling with it for at least a week.  Do I have control
over which one I will end up doing?  What is the mechanism by which I
will decide?  Will it be by application of reason?  Will it be the
inputs to my neural net eventually resolving the stalemate one way or
another?  If so, what control do I have over that?

Second, that's not the interesting issue, anyway.  In an atheistic
only an issue if there are 1) ultimate goals and 2) some kind of penalty
for failing to reach those goals.

>  And I know you'll be quick to say, "but Yudkowsky was doing philosophy
> there!"  Sure he was.  But he was not a professional philosopher, he never
> took philosophy classes, and the thousands of years of "work" in
> philosophy never informed his own work (except as an example of what not
> to do).  His work will never be published in a philosophy journal.
> Because it isn't the game with words that philosophers play; it's about

The "real world" needs marketing.  It isn't just the discussion of
ideas; it's the dissemination of those ideas through the population so
that they can inform future work.  I've solved the problem of good and
evil; fat lot of good it does if nobody reads my blog.

>
> Yudkowsky is a computer scientist.  His insights came from his work in
> CS, and in particular his work on AI.  Computer Science an actual
> science, where results come and build on each other.  That's why he
> could solve free will so easily, a problem that has vexed professional
> philosophers for thousands of years.
>

I guess I don't make the same distinction between philosophy and other
disciplines that you do.  I've toyed with finding the time and money to
pursue some advanced degrees, but I don't know whether I want to get a
masters in CS or theology first.  And, frankly, I dont know that there's
a whole lot of difference between the two.

Like I said, CS is a young field.  I suspect it's going to start uniting
things that had formerly been considered separate disciplines.

```
 0

```wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> 1)  What is "objective reality"?

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
(Philip K. Dick)

Maybe you're "really" a brain in a vat, and all your sensations are fed
to you by computers.  Nonetheless, those incoming sensations follow
predictable patterns, which are independent of your own thoughts on the
matter.  There is something which exists, besides your mind.  That is
objective reality.

Or: maybe you (and the world) were constructed, completely as is, last
Thursday.  "Objective reality" is again, those predictable patterns that
happen to be embedded in your (false) memories, and in the structure of
the world (such as fossil layers).

> For example, does God objectively exist, or not?

No, but that's independent of your previous question, or our earlier
discussions on free will or (meta-)philosophy.

>> But the ACTUAL problem of free will, in the REAL external world, is one
>> that has a solution.  If you're ACTUALLY interested in the real question
>> of whether humans (or any other entity) has free will, there do exist
>
> It's really annoying when you're pre-disposed to think that your
> correspondent isn't ACTUALLY interested in a purported answer.

Sorry, I thought you just brought up "free will" as a mere example, but
I didn't realize you were directly interested in it on its own.  As it
turns out, I happened to provide pointers to the answer anyway.  I

> I guess I don't make the same distinction between philosophy and other
> disciplines that you do.

I've been trying to distinguish between:

1. People who call _themselves_ "philosophers", who get employed by
Philosophy departments at universities, who publish articles in journals
devoted to "Philosophy", etc; vs.:

2. Careful, critical thinking (in any discipline).

The latter has value, surely.  I think it's a mistake to label it
"philosophy", as that becomes so broad that it's hard to say much about
it.

My criticisms have been solely about people in category #1 (for the last
few centuries, anyway).

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
It is better to burn the flag while wrapped in the Constitution than to burn
the Constitution while wrapped in the flag.
```
 0

```In article <877hhb73in.fsf@mail.geddis.org>,
Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> > 1)  What is "objective reality"?
>
> "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
> (Philip K. Dick)
>
> Maybe you're "really" a brain in a vat, and all your sensations are fed
> to you by computers.  Nonetheless, those incoming sensations follow
> predictable patterns, which are independent of your own thoughts on the
> matter.  There is something which exists, besides your mind.  That is
> objective reality.
>
> Or: maybe you (and the world) were constructed, completely as is, last
> Thursday.  "Objective reality" is again, those predictable patterns that
> happen to be embedded in your (false) memories, and in the structure of
> the world (such as fossil layers).
>
> > For example, does God objectively exist, or not?
>
> No, but that's independent of your previous question, or our earlier
> discussions on free will or (meta-)philosophy.
>
> >> But the ACTUAL problem of free will, in the REAL external world, is one
> >> that has a solution.  If you're ACTUALLY interested in the real question
> >> of whether humans (or any other entity) has free will, there do exist
> >
> > It's really annoying when you're pre-disposed to think that your
> > correspondent isn't ACTUALLY interested in a purported answer.
>
> Sorry, I thought you just brought up "free will" as a mere example, but
> I didn't realize you were directly interested in it on its own.  As it
> turns out, I happened to provide pointers to the answer anyway.  I
> intended them for lurkers, but if you're interested too, help yourself!

For the benefit of lurkers it should be said then that these ideas are
not original with Eliezer, and whether or not they are correct is
debatable.

> > I guess I don't make the same distinction between philosophy and other
> > disciplines that you do.
>
> I've been trying to distinguish between:
>
> 1. People who call _themselves_ "philosophers", who get employed by
> Philosophy departments at universities, who publish articles in journals
> devoted to "Philosophy", etc; vs.:
>
> 2. Careful, critical thinking (in any discipline).
>
> The latter has value, surely.  I think it's a mistake to label it
> "philosophy", as that becomes so broad that it's hard to say much about
> it.
>
> My criticisms have been solely about people in category #1 (for the last
> few centuries, anyway).

Daniel Dennett calls himself a philosopher, was at one time employed by
a philosophy department (they changed the label to "cognitive science"
because that's more fashionable nowadays), publishes books that appear
in bookstores categorized as philosophy.  But I would say that Dennett
is a pretty clear, critical thinker.  Likewise for Bertrand Russell.

rg
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> > 1)  What is "objective reality"?
>
> "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
> (Philip K. Dick)
>

I'm not unfamiliar with PKD.

> Maybe you're "really" a brain in a vat, and all your sensations are fed
> to you by computers.

Or Descartes.  ;-)

> Nonetheless, those incoming sensations follow predictable patterns, which
> are independent of your own thoughts on the matter.  There is something
> which exists, besides your mind.

Not according to Bertrand Russell.  In "The Problems of Philosophy", he
wrote:

"In one sense it must be admitted that we can never prove the existence
of things other than ourselves and our experiences. No logical absurdity
results from the hypothesis that the world consists of myself and my
thoughts and feelings and sensations, and that everything else is mere
fancy."  (pg. 23).

> That is objective reality.

If it exists only in my (or your) mind, just how objective is it?
Objective means "independent of mind".

> Or: maybe you (and the world) were constructed, completely as is, last
> Thursday.  "Objective reality" is again, those predictable patterns that
> happen to be embedded in your (false) memories, and in the structure of
> the world (such as fossil layers).
>

Yet we take such predictability as an article of faith.  Russell
discusses this here:  http://www.ditext.com/russell/rus6.html

In part, he writes:

"It must be conceded, to begin with, that the fact that two things have
been found often together and never apart does not, by itself, suffice
to prove demonstratively that they will be found together in the next
case we examine. The most we can hope is that the oftener things are
found together, the more probable becomes that they will be found
together another time, and that, if they have been found together often
enough, the probability will amount almost to certainty. It can never
quite reach certainty, because we know that in spite of frequent
repetitions there sometimes is a failure at the last, as in the case of
the chicken whose neck is wrung. Thus probability is all we ought to
seek."

> > For example, does God objectively exist, or not?
>
> No, but that's independent of your previous question, or our earlier
> discussions on free will or (meta-)philosophy.
>

Beg pardon?  The issue of free will absolutely hinges on whether or not
God exists.  Either He "interferes" with some of our choices or He
doesn't.  Pascal has been trying to get this point across from some
time.  Calvinists say He does; Arminians say He doesn't.  I'm not sure
what Thomists mean.

And, as I said, the notion of free will in a materialistic universe is
really uninteresting -- it doesn't matter whether it's "free" (in
whatever sense that means) or not.

> >> But the ACTUAL problem of free will, in the REAL external world, is one
> >> that has a solution.  If you're ACTUALLY interested in the real question
> >> of whether humans (or any other entity) has free will, there do exist
> >
> > It's really annoying when you're pre-disposed to think that your
> > correspondent isn't ACTUALLY interested in a purported answer.
>
> Sorry, I thought you just brought up "free will" as a mere example, but
> I didn't realize you were directly interested in it on its own.  As it
> turns out, I happened to provide pointers to the answer anyway.  I
> intended them for lurkers, but if you're interested too, help yourself!
>

I've already started reading them.  So far, he says some things I agree
with, and some things where I think he hasn't sufficiently proven his
case.

[...]
```
 0

```RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> Daniel Dennett calls himself a philosopher, was at one time employed by
> a philosophy department (they changed the label to "cognitive science"
> because that's more fashionable nowadays), publishes books that appear
> in bookstores categorized as philosophy.  But I would say that Dennett
> is a pretty clear, critical thinker.

I agree.  Daniel Dennett is the best professional philosopher working
today.  Of course, he spends most of his time ripping apart the muddled
thinking of all the other philosophers.

He's "the exception that proves the rule", if I may misuse that phrase.
(Everyone else misuses it ... why not me?)

> Likewise for Bertrand Russell.

OK, I'll give you two.

:-)

If university Philosophy departments were filled with guys like Dennett
and Russell, "philosophy" would mean something totally different than it
does today.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Mistakes:  It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a
warning to others.  -- Despair.com
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> > Daniel Dennett calls himself a philosopher, was at one time employed by
> > a philosophy department (they changed the label to "cognitive science"
> > because that's more fashionable nowadays), publishes books that appear
> > in bookstores categorized as philosophy.  But I would say that Dennett
> > is a pretty clear, critical thinker.
>
> I agree.  Daniel Dennett is the best professional philosopher working
> today.  Of course, he spends most of his time ripping apart the muddled
> thinking of all the other philosophers.
>
> He's "the exception that proves the rule", if I may misuse that phrase.
> (Everyone else misuses it ... why not me?)
>

On the other hand, see "Dennett: the insult comic sophist"
(http://voxday.blogspot.com/2009/02/daniel-dennett-comic-superstar.html)
where person's opinion of Dennett is:

"Anyhow, I don't know why anyone would be surprised that Dennett didn't
respond directly to arguments put forth by an opponent. Avoidance and
evasion are standard New Atheist tactics. And it's obvious to anyone of
sufficient intelligence who has read Dennett's books that he isn't
capable of directly responding to counter-arguments because he's nowhere
nearly so bright as his fans, most of whom don't understand his
arguments, tend to think. Now, it's true that unlike Harris, Hitchens,
and to a lesser extent, Dawkins, Dennett seldom commits openly egregious
howlers, as his story-telling snow jobs are well suited to conceal his
baseless assumptions, naked assertions, factual errors, and outright
logical blunders. This is why TIA featured an entire chapter dedicated
to highlighting Dennett's mistakes, most notably his logically quixotic
attempt to justify a specific division of doxastic labor that he
declares to be otherwise immoral."

Maybe it's time to find a new hero?
```
 0

```wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> Nonetheless, those incoming sensations follow predictable patterns, which
>> are independent of your own thoughts on the matter.  There is something
>> which exists, besides your mind.
>
> Not according to Bertrand Russell.  In "The Problems of Philosophy", he
> wrote:
> "In one sense it must be admitted that we can never prove the existence
> of things other than ourselves and our experiences. No logical absurdity
> results from the hypothesis that the world consists of myself and my
> thoughts and feelings and sensations, and that everything else is mere
> fancy."  (pg. 23).

This is just a restatement of "brain in a vat".

Whether or not you are a brain in a vat, the point remains that it's
easy to set up situations where you are unable to predict what future
sensations you will experience.  And yet you eventually discover that
those future sensations follow a regular, predictable pattern.

It is that pattern of future sensations I'm talking about.  They are
independent of your prior introspection.  Whatever you believe the
future sensations will be, however much you have convinced yourself that
they will turn out in one way, often you discover that they turn out in
a completely unexpected way (which can only be understood as a pattern,
in hindsight).

This pattern of predictable sensations, which is not amenable to prior
introspection, is "objective reality".

Russell is saying that all we can know is that we have sensations, that
they don't need to correspond with anything at all "out there".  But
that's not quite right.  Because the sensations follow patterns which do
not appear to be present in our thoughts and feelings, prior to
receiving them via sensation.  So at the very least, there is some
pattern "out there", separate from our own thoughts.

>> > For example, does God objectively exist, or not?
>> No, but that's independent of your previous question, or our earlier
>> discussions on free will or (meta-)philosophy.
> Beg pardon?  The issue of free will absolutely hinges on whether or not
> God exists.  Either He "interferes" with some of our choices or He
> doesn't.

I understand that, for you, the question of free will is all about the
interference of God.  You take it as obvious that, if there is no God
(or if God doesn't interfere), then of course humans have free will.

> And, as I said, the notion of free will in a materialistic universe is
> really uninteresting -- it doesn't matter whether it's "free" (in
> whatever sense that means) or not.

This question doesn't appear interesting to you, but it has been of
great interest to many, many others.  Hence all the curiosity about
quantum randomness, and whether that provides an "out" for human free
will, in what otherwise appears to be a deterministic universe (which
seems, to many people, to imply no free will).

Your restriction of the question of free will, only to an interfering
God, is not the common conception of the problem.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
As the father of a girl -- a kind of "larval woman", I'm told -- ...
```
 0

```wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
>> > Daniel Dennett calls himself a philosopher
>> I agree.  Daniel Dennett is the best professional philosopher working
>> today.
> On the other hand, see "Dennett: the insult comic sophist"
> (http://voxday.blogspot.com/2009/02/daniel-dennett-comic-superstar.html)
> where person's opinion of Dennett is:
> "Anyhow, I don't know why anyone would be surprised that Dennett didn't
> respond directly to arguments put forth by an opponent. Avoidance and
> evasion are standard New Atheist tactics. And it's obvious to anyone of
> sufficient intelligence who has read Dennett's books [...]"
> Maybe it's time to find a new hero?

Uh, no.

You happened to choose one of the most emotionally laden topics, theism
vs. atheism.  Dennett was defending the atheist stance, but that's not
the sum total of his work as a philosopher.  In fact, it's hardly even
common in his work.  He's not usually named along with Harris, Hitchens,
and Dawkins as one of the prominent "New Atheists".

I'm not at all surprised that a committed, believing, theist was
outraged and offended by things Dennett said, and chose to ascribe evil
and incompetence to his opponent.  It's very similar to the kind of
outcome you would see in some emotional political debate, say if they
were debating abortion vs. right-to-life.

The passage you quoted is not an objective evaluation of Dennett.  As it
turns out, I've actually read some of his work directly myself.  And I
publications, not by a second-hand report from one of his opponents.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
If I had a kid, I think the most precious thing he could give me for Father's
Day would be a big bar of solid gold.  I guess that's why sometimes I wish I
-- Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey [1999]
```
 0
Reply don8867 (556) 10/22/2010 3:47:21 AM

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Thu, 21 Oct 2010:
> > Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> >> Nonetheless, those incoming sensations follow predictable patterns, which
> >> are independent of your own thoughts on the matter.  There is something
> >> which exists, besides your mind.
> >
> > Not according to Bertrand Russell.  In "The Problems of Philosophy", he
> > wrote:
> > "In one sense it must be admitted that we can never prove the existence
> > of things other than ourselves and our experiences. No logical absurdity
> > results from the hypothesis that the world consists of myself and my
> > thoughts and feelings and sensations, and that everything else is mere
> > fancy."  (pg. 23).
>
> This is just a restatement of "brain in a vat".

Yep.

>
> Whether or not you are a brain in a vat, the point remains that it's easy
> to set up situations where you are unable to predict what future
> sensations you will experience.

But that's completely irrelevant to whether or not those future
sensations are a product of the portion of the mind that we cannot
introspect.

[...]

>
> >> > For example, does God objectively exist, or not?
> >> No, but that's independent of your previous question, or our earlier
> >> discussions on free will or (meta-)philosophy.
> > Beg pardon?  The issue of free will absolutely hinges on whether or not
> > God exists.  Either He "interferes" with some of our choices or He
> > doesn't.
>
> I understand that, for you, the question of free will is all about the
> interference of God.  You take it as obvious that, if there is no God
> (or if God doesn't interfere), then of course humans have free will.
>

Actually, if there is no God, I'm still not sure whether or not humans
have free will.  It all depends on how much the application of reason
can control the weights in the part of our neural net that decides on
one goal out of many.  After all, every one of us has chosen to do
something that goes against reason.

> > And, as I said, the notion of free will in a materialistic universe is
> > really uninteresting -- it doesn't matter whether it's "free" (in
> > whatever sense that means) or not.
>
> This question doesn't appear interesting to you, but it has been of
> great interest to many, many others.

I'm sure.  The question is _why_ is it interesting?  What possible
difference does it make, except as a mental exercise?  Unless someone
can explain the thinking, it seems to me that it is the product of an
increasingly secular society running on the fumes of the past.

[...]
```
 0

```wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Fri, 22 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> Whether or not you are a brain in a vat, the point remains that it's
>> easy to set up situations where you are unable to predict what future
>> sensations you will experience.
>
> But that's completely irrelevant to whether or not those future
> sensations are a product of the portion of the mind that we cannot
> introspect.

Oh, sure, could well be.  It actually doesn't matter that much either
way.  Either way, we can call the patterns in our sensations "objective
reality".

Science offers theories of evolution, and theories of earth geology.
These are theories about "objective reality".  Put them together, and
they predict that you will never find fossil rabbits in Precambrian rock
samples.

The important point is that your introspective mind has no power over
whether or not your sensations are able to dig up Precambrian rabbits or
not.  No matter what you believe, no matter how convinced you are
.... you will still be unable to receive the sensation of digging up a
Precambrian rock and finding a fossil rabbit inside.

This is true, whether "reality" is "really" out there, or "just" a
product of some non-introspective portion of your mind.  Either way, the
sensations follow rules, and those rules don't include wish fulfillment
from your conscious mind.  And often (like in the case of quantum
theory) they include patterns of sensations that the conscious mind
never even imagined.

Either way, we can call this thing-different-from-our-conscious-mind
with the label "objective reality".

Science makes statements about objective reality.  Philosophy, far too
often, does not.  Instead, it makes statements that only have internal
consistency (at best), but don't actually make any testable claims about
objective reality.

>> > And, as I said, the notion of free will in a materialistic universe is
>> > really uninteresting
>> This question doesn't appear interesting to you, but it has been of
>> great interest to many, many others.
> I'm sure.  The question is _why_ is it interesting?  What possible
> difference does it make, except as a mental exercise?

Well, for many people, this influences their perception of ethics and
morals and justice.  If a human's behavior is a predictable consequence
of his genetics and environment, if there is no real sense that he
"could have done differently", then what is the justification for
punishing a criminal?  It would be like punishing a rock for rolling
downhill.

What is the purpose of the criminal justice system?  Is it revenge?
Rehabilitation?  Punishment?

For many people, the answers to these questions depend critically on
whether humans have some kind of "free will", in order to be
"responsible" for their own actions.

(I'm not saying that _I'm_ confused by these questions, but merely
trying to answer why even non-theists are interested in the free will
question.)

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Should array indices start at 0 or 1?  My compromise of 0.5 was rejected
without, I thought, proper consideration.  -- Stan Kelly-Bootle
```
 0

```In article <87y69qf36k.fsf@mail.geddis.org>,
Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Fri, 22 Oct 2010:
> > Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> >> Whether or not you are a brain in a vat, the point remains that it's
> >> easy to set up situations where you are unable to predict what future
> >> sensations you will experience.
> >
> > But that's completely irrelevant to whether or not those future
> > sensations are a product of the portion of the mind that we cannot
> > introspect.
>
> Oh, sure, could well be.  It actually doesn't matter that much either
> way.  Either way, we can call the patterns in our sensations "objective
> reality".

Again for the benefit of lurkers, this line of thinking is developed in
some detail in David Deutsch's book "The Fabric of Reality."  Chapter 4.
(Chapter 7 is also required reading for anyone who wants to argue

rg
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Fri, 22 Oct 2010:
> > Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> >> Whether or not you are a brain in a vat, the point remains that it's
> >> easy to set up situations where you are unable to predict what future
> >> sensations you will experience.
> >
> > But that's completely irrelevant to whether or not those future
> > sensations are a product of the portion of the mind that we cannot
> > introspect.
>
> Oh, sure, could well be.  It actually doesn't matter that much either
> way.  Either way, we can call the patterns in our sensations "objective
> reality".

Well, no, because that's an example of the "sloppy philosophy" that
you've been complaining about.  "Objective" means "independent of mind".
By calling that which _appears_ to be external to us and exhibits
certain patterns _objective reality_, you're basically assuming a
conclusion.

When you can offer a testable claim that reality is independent of mind,
then you can use the word "objective".  Until then, to be
philosophically honest, it should be just called "reality".

[...]

>
> >> > And, as I said, the notion of free will in a materialistic universe is
> >> > really uninteresting
> >> This question doesn't appear interesting to you, but it has been of
> >> great interest to many, many others.
> > I'm sure.  The question is _why_ is it interesting?  What possible
> > difference does it make, except as a mental exercise?
>
> Well, for many people, this influences their perception of ethics and
> morals and justice.

Sure.  Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.  Absent a
fixed goal (or goals), which the idea of God represents, man is left to
muddle along with whatever goal(s) the community can enforce.

>  If a human's behavior is a predictable consequence of his genetics and
> environment, if there is no real sense that he "could have done
> differently", then what is the justification for punishing a criminal?

Trivially easy.  Man is a fundamentally selfish animal: the selfish
individual against the selfish community.  If the community thinks that
it's goals are threatened, or thwarted, by an individual then the
community will take action.

>  It would be like punishing a rock for rolling downhill.
>

Apples and organges.  Rocks aren't goal seeking orgamisms, much less
organisms without a fixed goal that live in community with other
variable goal organisms.

> What is the purpose of the criminal justice system?  Is it revenge?
> Rehabilitation?  Punishment?

Remember, we are organisms with the built-in heuristic "all fixed goals
are wrong."  Unless you can change human nature, it doesn't really
matter which answer(s) you pick.  Generations from now, it will be
questioned.

>
> For many people, the answers to these questions depend critically on
> whether humans have some kind of "free will", in order to be
> "responsible" for their own actions.
>

I understand that.  But this is just more lousy philosophy.  Organisns
can be responsible by communal (or divine) fiat; no freedom necessary.
The problem is that this sets up a dissonance in our neural net; whether
or not that dissonance can be quieted by reason is an interesting
consideration.

> (I'm not saying that _I'm_ confused by these questions, but merely
> trying to answer why even non-theists are interested in the free will
> question.)

If you're not confused, then you've come to your conclusions by engaging
in philosophy.  Whether or not it holds up to scrutiny is another
matter.
```
 0

```In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%wrf3@stablecross.com>,
wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:

> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>
> > wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Fri, 22 Oct 2010:
> > > Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
> > >> Whether or not you are a brain in a vat, the point remains that it's
> > >> easy to set up situations where you are unable to predict what future
> > >> sensations you will experience.
> > >
> > > But that's completely irrelevant to whether or not those future
> > > sensations are a product of the portion of the mind that we cannot
> > > introspect.
> >
> > Oh, sure, could well be.  It actually doesn't matter that much either
> > way.  Either way, we can call the patterns in our sensations "objective
> > reality".
>
> Well, no, because that's an example of the "sloppy philosophy" that
> you've been complaining about.  "Objective" means "independent of mind".
> By calling that which _appears_ to be external to us and exhibits
> certain patterns _objective reality_, you're basically assuming a
> conclusion.
>
> When you can offer a testable claim that reality is independent of mind,
> then you can use the word "objective".  Until then, to be
> philosophically honest, it should be just called "reality".

You, Bob Felts, are the biggest fool that ever walked the earth.

Now, that sentence you just read is part of your reality.  There are two
possibilities:

1.  That sentence was a product of your mind.

2.  That sentence was not a product of your mind.

If #1 is true then you need to go have a long chat with yourself.  (I'd
suggest getting psychiatric help, but that doesn't work so good if
you're a solipsist.)  If #2 is true, then whatever it was a product of
is, by your own definition, objective reality.  Q.E.D.

> Sure.  Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.

Hogwash.  Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
survival and replication.

> Absent a
> fixed goal (or goals), which the idea of God represents, man is left to
> muddle along with whatever goal(s) the community can enforce.

Hogwash again.  Communities evolved because they facilitate survival and
replication.

> >  If a human's behavior is a predictable consequence of his genetics and
> > environment, if there is no real sense that he "could have done
> > differently", then what is the justification for punishing a criminal?
>
> Trivially easy.  Man is a fundamentally selfish animal

Three strikes, you're out.  Man has evolved instincts of morality and
altruism because they have survival value.  Cooperating groups of humans
survive and replicate better than individual humans.  (Religion, by the
way, evolved the same way.  There is survival value in inventing the
idea of a paternalistic supernatural being watching you all the time in
order to discourage antisocial behavior.  Nowadays we have cellphone
cameras, so God may have to look for a new gig.)

rg
```
 0

```On 24 Ott, 20:10, RG <rNOSPA...@flownet.com> wrote:
> (Religion, by the
> way, evolved the same way. =A0There is survival value in inventing the
> idea of a paternalistic supernatural being watching you all the time in
> order to discourage antisocial behavior. =A0Nowadays we have cellphone
> cameras, so God may have to look for a new gig.)

[side note, not directly related]

Atheism is a very recent faith (yes, it's a faith, the same as any
religion is a faith, because humans neither can scientifically prove
the existence nor the non existence of God -- simply because the very
definition of God is: a transcendent being, not scientifically
understandable -- if it were, it would automatically finish to be
God...)

Modern science would not be possible without it's fundamentals, quite
all(!) created by religious scientists of the past. And, as a recent
british study showed, still 3/4 of current scientists are *not* strict
atheists...

(I'm aware that the above will hurt many egos, but these are *facts*,
gentlemen.)
```
 0

```ok <java.oke@gmail.com> writes:

> Atheism is a very recent faith (yes, it's a faith, the same as any
> religion is a faith, because humans neither can scientifically prove
> the existence nor the non existence of God -- simply because the very
> definition of God is: a transcendent being, not scientifically
> understandable -- if it were, it would automatically finish to be
> God...)

Looks like a sloppy definition to me.  Transcending what, I wonder.

What do you mean by `scientifically understandable'?  Certainly people
can and do come up with claims about dieties' effects on the world
(e.g., the efficacy of prayer) and these claims are, in principle,
testable.  (Indeed, they have been tested.)  A complete, empirically
verified theory of deities is unlikely, but I suspect that a complete
theory describing the behaviour of a hamster is quite unlikely too, so
that doesn't provide a satisfactory separation.  Of course, a deity
which doesn't affect the world is indistinguishable from no deity at
all; but since it doesn't affect the world, its existence is, for
practical purposes, irrelevant.

Lack of `scientific understandability' doesn't anyway seem to be a
necessary condition for divinity.  The gods of ancient Greece, as
described in mythology, don't seem particularly hard to comprehend for
the most part.  I suspect you're referring to the Babel-fish `proof' of
the non-existence of God.

I'm an atheist because I've not heard any coherent and credible
definition of a `god' that's worth believing in.  Most of the
definitions I have heard involve some muddle-headed notion of the
`supernatural', which is an obvious non-starter.  But the problem is
certainly one of definition; and definition is a prerequisite for faith,
so my atheism is not a matter of faith.  Or, the other way around, if my
atheism were a matter of faith, I'd be able to tell you, clearly and
distinctly, what it was that I believed didn't exist; alas, I can't.

> Modern science would not be possible without it's fundamentals, quite
> all(!) created by religious scientists of the past. And, as a recent
> british study showed, still 3/4 of current scientists are *not* strict
> atheists...

Ummm... What has that do so with anything?  Scientific results stand on
their own merits, not on those of their discoverers.  Isaac Newton
doesn't seem to have been an especially lovely chap, but his work on
mathematics and mechanics is still brilliant.  He also believed some
fairly odd things involving alchemy; so it's probably best not to hold
the quaint beliefs of scientists of the past against their results and
theories.

-- [mdw]
```
 0

```ok <java.oke@gmail.com> wrote on Sun, 24 Oct 2010:
> humans neither can scientifically prove the existence nor the non
> existence of God

I wonder what you think you mean by "scientifically prove".  Science is
not actually in the business of "proving" anything.

As this is (supposed to be) a Lisp group, let me share with you a quote
from John McCarthy, Lisp's creator:

An atheist doesn't have to be someone who thinks he has a proof
that there can't be a god.  He only has to be someone who
believes that the evidence on the God question is at a similar
level to the evidence on the werewolf question.

Does that help?
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I have to get home quickly.  I think something terrible may have happened
to my Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
```
 0

```wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Sun, 24 Oct 2010:
> Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:
>> wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote on Fri, 22 Oct 2010:
>> > But that's completely irrelevant to whether or not those future
>> > sensations are a product of the portion of the mind that we cannot
>> > introspect.
>> It actually doesn't matter that much either way.  Either way, we can
>> call the patterns in our sensations "objective reality".
>
> Well, no, because that's an example of the "sloppy philosophy" that
> you've been complaining about.  "Objective" means "independent of
> mind".  By calling that which _appears_ to be external to us and
> exhibits certain patterns _objective reality_, you're basically
> assuming a conclusion.  When you can offer a testable claim that
> reality is independent of mind, then you can use the word "objective".
> Until then, to be philosophically honest, it should be just called
> "reality".

You're getting hung up on terminology again, which is the typical
failure of most philosophy.

Recall again how we started down this particular rabbit hole.  I was
criticizing philosophy, because most of it just deals with internal
constructions inside minds, where the most that you can say about such a
structure is that it is "consistent" -- and that's not saying very much.
As opposed to science, which makes testable claims about the external
world.

You complained: how do I know there is an external world?  Maybe all the
sensations just come from my own mind?

I believe I've now demonstrated the important points:
1. We start with Descartes, and realize that our own (conscious) mind
(at least) exists.  Perhaps nothing besides that exists.
2. But then we notice that our sensations follow patterns which are
often a complete surprise to our conscious mind, and which do not
seem affected by the desires of our conscious mind.
3. So we know that "something else" exists, besides our conscious mind,
which is not under the control of our conscious mind.

We seem to agree on this much, yes?

So then, restated, my criticism of philosophy is that it often deals
with things only in the conscious mind (which suffers from various
fantasies and other failures), and usually fails to make any claims
about the "something else" which is not under control of the conscious
mind.

Now, whether you want to call that "something else" by the term
"objective reality", or just "reality", or even "another part of my mind
but not the conscious part", does that really matter?  That's just a
matter of the label you use.  It doesn't seem to change your
anticipation of any future experiences, based on that label.  The
important part is that it is something which exists that is _different_

So don't fall into the usual philosophy trap of getting hung up on what
terms are used.  Try to think about what the words are actually
referring to.

You can now escape from this little rabbit hole of a digression, and
unproductive despite thousands of years of effort.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all
that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the
doings of mankind.  -- Albert Einstein
```
 0

```On Oct 11, 6:27=A0am, Don Geddis <d...@geddis.org> wrote:
> Xah Lee <xah...@gmail.com> wrote on Sun, 10 Oct 2010:
>
> >>http://www.paulgraham.com/philosophy.html
> > I find it LOL.
>
> And your opinion is ... so valuable, to others.
>
> > He says:
> >> Formal logic has some subject matter. I took several classes in
> >> logic. I don't know if I learned anything from them. [1]
> >> =A0 =A0 [1] In practice formal logic is not much use, because despite =
some
> >> progress in the last 150 years we're still only able to formalize a
> >> small percentage of statements. We may never do that much better, for
> >> the same reason 1980s-style "knowledge representation" could never
> >> have worked; many statements may have no representation more concise
> >> than a huge, analog brain state.
>
> > Eh?? What formal logic is he talking about? Taken at face value,
> > formal logic is synonymous to symbolic logic, mathematical logic, or
> > logic by formal languages.
>
> That's right. =A0And such logics don't capture very much at all about how
> humans reason, which was the original intent in developing them.

Actually, the original intent in developing logic (as stated by
Aristoteles) was to have a method for testing the strength of rational
arguments. In achieving this objective, logic was largely successful.

Logic wasn't developed in an attempt to capture every form of human
reasoning, even Aristoteles realized that there were types of
reasoning that couldn't be easly formalized.

Logic was also not developed to automate human thought, despite the
efforts of AI researchers and cognitive psychologists in the first
decades after the invention of computers. Later, it became clear that
producing an argument is substantially more difficult than checking
its validity.
That wasn't a fault of formal logic, but rather of the excessive
expectations that people had put into it. (In fact, you actually need
formal logic to state the P !=3D NP conjecture, which, with Cobham's
thesis, is the main cause of this failure).

> That logic may have had a few valuable offshoots, does not obscure
> Graham's main point that the development of logic completely failed in
> its original goal (which was to systematize the process of doing
> mathematics, aka meta-mathematics).

It seems to me that modern mathematics is mostly based on formal
logic. What do you mean by meta-mathematics?

```
 0

```On 25 Ott, 06:51, Don Geddis <d...@geddis.org> wrote:
> I wonder what you think you mean by "scientifically prove". =A0Science is
> not actually in the business of "proving" anything.

OK, if you really think this to be true, then there is no real
difference between science and fantasy... (and why oh why am I not
surprised by that fact? current science and current fantasy don't
really differ anymore...)
```
 0

```On 25 Ott, 03:17, Mark Wooding <m...@distorted.org.uk> wrote:
> ok <java....@gmail.com> writes:
> > Atheism is a very recent faith (yes, it's a faith, the same as any
> > religion is a faith, because humans neither can scientifically prove
> > the existence nor the non existence of God -- simply because the very
> > definition of God is: a transcendent being, not scientifically
> > understandable -- if it were, it would automatically finish to be
> > God...)
>
> Looks like a sloppy definition to me. =A0Transcending what, I wonder.

Transcending *my* *own* *intelligence*, *your* *own* *intelligence*.

Then, define "sloppy". This is the most clean (read: simple &
concrete) definition possible.

This is a programming news group. We all here know the difference
between *theory* (read: phantasy) and *practice*, don't we??
```
 0

```ok <java.oke@gmail.com> wrote on Mon, 25 Oct 2010:
> On 25 Ott, 06:51, Don Geddis <d...@geddis.org> wrote:
>> I wonder what you think you mean by "scientifically prove". �Science is
>> not actually in the business of "proving" anything.
> OK, if you really think this to be true, then there is no real
> difference between science and fantasy.

That doesn't follow at all.  Just because you can't imagine any other
alternative, doesn't mean that there aren't any.

Science establishes likelihoods.  What is the chance that one
description of the world is true, vs. another?  Even without absolute
proof, there's a big difference between one theory being 99% likely,
while another is only 1% likely.

Also, science regularly _dis_proves theories.  You can make a testable
assertion about the world, and then run an experiment and find out that

There are more possibilities than just your ideas of either absolute
proof, or else complete fantasy.

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself.
Mankind.  Basically, it's made up of two separate words---"mank" and "ind".
What do these words mean?  It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.
-- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey
```
 0

```ok <java.oke@gmail.com> writes:

> Transcending *my* *own* *intelligence*, *your* *own* *intelligence*.

Could you unpack that for me?  Right now it looks very grand and all,
but doesn't actually mean very much of any real use.  What does it mean
for something to `transcend' my intelligence?

I suspect that the endpoint of this is that someone's going to tell me
that God is simply not definable in a way that I find satisfactory.
Since I can't sensibly believe in something I can't even describe
coherently, I think that wraps things up nicely.

> Then, define "sloppy". This is the most clean (read: simple &
> concrete) definition possible.

It's sloppy because it uses other terms and concepts which are
themselves poorly defined.  Was I right on `scientifically
understandable', by the way?

-- [mdw]
```
 0

```Mark Wooding <mdw@distorted.org.uk> writes:

> ok <java.oke@gmail.com> writes:
>
>> Transcending *my* *own* *intelligence*, *your* *own* *intelligence*.
>
> Could you unpack that for me?  Right now it looks very grand and all,
> but doesn't actually mean very much of any real use.  What does it mean
> for something to `transcend' my intelligence?
>
> I suspect that the endpoint of this is that someone's going to tell me
> that God is simply not definable in a way that I find satisfactory.
> Since I can't sensibly believe in something I can't even describe
> coherently, I think that wraps things up nicely.

That's quite simple to understand.

The brains are finite devices, therefore have a finite number of states,
a finite number of bits of memory.

If you have to represent in your brain anything that requires more bits
or has more states, then it's OUT-OF-MEMORY error, the thing trancends
your intelligence.  You can still store a handle such as "God", and
apprehend some partial properties, but you won't be able to know or
imagine what it is or what it can do.

Notice in the case of the physical universe how lucky we are.  The rules
to run it can be written on a page of paper. (Like the rules to run a
Lisp).

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```On Tue, 26 Oct 2010 18:28:10 +0200, Pascal J. Bourguignon wrote:

> Notice in the case of the physical universe how lucky we are.  The rules
> to run it can be written on a page of paper. (Like the rules to run a
> Lisp).

Can you send me a copy of that page?  PDF will be fine.

I was under the impression that physicists were still looking for
those rules, so I guess that by publishing them in a piecemeal
fashion, I could get a few Nobels.  I would use that money to get a
really fancy bike, so it would be for a good cause.

Incidentally, we could also turn the LHC off, economize on the
electricity bill, and use the tunnels for really awesome parties.

Tamas
```
 0

```Tamas K Papp <tkpapp@gmail.com> writes:

> On Tue, 26 Oct 2010 18:28:10 +0200, Pascal J. Bourguignon wrote:
>
>> Notice in the case of the physical universe how lucky we are.  The rules
>> to run it can be written on a page of paper. (Like the rules to run a
>> Lisp).
>
> Can you send me a copy of that page?  PDF will be fine.
>
> I was under the impression that physicists were still looking for
> those rules, so I guess that by publishing them in a piecemeal
> fashion, I could get a few Nobels.  I would use that money to get a
> really fancy bike, so it would be for a good cause.

No, they're looking for a single rule.  They find a page of equation to
much, they want a single equation (a "Grand unification").

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Model_%28mathematical_formulation%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Exceptionally_Simple_Theory_of_Everything

> Incidentally, we could also turn the LHC off, economize on the
> electricity bill, and use the tunnels for really awesome parties.

describes the whole universe, actually a whole class of universes like
ours, you still have to solve it and find concrete solutions.  So there
is still a lot of work to explore the actual universe once it's done,
(and exhaustively confirm that no exception exist).

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```On 26 Ott, 14:44, Mark Wooding <m...@distorted.org.uk> wrote:
> ok <java....@gmail.com> writes:
> > Transcending *my* *own* *intelligence*, *your* *own* *intelligence*.
>
> Could you unpack that for me?

Some Qs:

Q: Do you think of yourself to be the most intelligent being on Earth?

Q: Do you think that the most intelligent person currently living on
Earth will ever be beaten by another, more intelligent person, in some
future coming?

Q: Taking the above a dimension further: do you think that -- zooming
a little -- in some infinitely far away future, some persons (maybe
together) will finally have gotten all the requisites to finally
understand all the unknown mysteries of past, future, present?

P.S. atheistic science -- under the hood -- thinks *exactly* *that*

--

Q: Now -- zooming back -- do YOU SEE THIS HAPPEN WITH CURRENT
HARDWARE?

Q: Is it needed for *current* hardware (to run the *software* on) to
be BUILT BY SOMEONE?

Q: Would you be able to run ANY SIMPLE PROGRAM without SOME KIND OF
HARDWARE?

Q: So, can we agree that CURRENT HARDWARE (not even talking about the

Q: [zooming, zooming, zooming back to *crude*, *violent*, *bloody*
*reality*] Can we agree that our BIOLOGICAL HARDWARE, being able to
run BIOLOGICAL SOFTWARE, had an AUTHOR?

P.S. atheist science thinks: no, no author needed.

(IF YOU ONLY COULD FEEL HOW THIS HURTS ANY STILL SANE BRAIN!!!)
```
 0
Reply java.oke (196) 10/27/2010 8:43:06 PM

```ok <java.oke@gmail.com> writes:

> On 26 Ott, 14:44, Mark Wooding <m...@distorted.org.uk> wrote:
> > ok <java....@gmail.com> writes:
> > > Transcending *my* *own* *intelligence*, *your* *own* *intelligence*.
> >
> > Could you unpack that for me?
>
> Some Qs:
>
> Q: Do you think of yourself to be the most intelligent being on Earth?

No.  If you meant `cleverer than me', you could have just said that.
(Of course, I'm not completely sure what `intelligence' actually means,
if anything, or whether we have a useful way of measuring it if it does
in fact mean something.  But I'll let that one slide for now, because
there's more than enough to keep us going.)

> Q: Do you think that the most intelligent person currently living on
> Earth will ever be beaten by another, more intelligent person, in some
> future coming?

Beaten?  Future coming?  The former sounds unnecessarily
confrontational, and the latter somewhat portentous.  Be that as it
may...

I'd say that, if we assume that there are more humans to be born than
have lived so far (i.e., we don't kill ourselves stupidly in the near
future), and that intelligence continues to be distributed in a similar
way then as it appears to be now (not a foregone conclusion: I've seen
suggestions that lower intelligence might be correlated with greater
breeding success), then we might expect a cleverer human to appear in
the future.

There are some really big assumptions in there.

> Q: Taking the above a dimension further: do you think that -- zooming
> a little -- in some infinitely far away future, some persons (maybe
> together) will finally have gotten all the requisites to finally
> understand all the unknown mysteries of past, future, present?

Don't know.  Doesn't really seem useful to speculate.  Certainly I
wouldn't want to bet on any particular problem never being solved.  See
below.

> P.S. atheistic science -- under the hood -- thinks *exactly* *that*

This is just wrong.  Firstly, there's no such thing as `atheistic
science'.  There's just science.  Saying `God did it' isn't science:
it's a just-so story.

Secondly, I think you've mischaracterized the position.  The `scientific
method' (making observations, building models, making predictions,
testing the predictions, refining the models, and all the other stuff)
seems to work pretty well.  It lets us make 400 tonne lumps of metal
which fly between continents.  It also lets us have idle conversations
with people we've never met and exchange humorous pictures of cats.  The
basic assumption is straightforward: stuff over there, ages ago or years
from now, will basically work the same way as stuff does here and now.
It's an assumption, not an article of faith.  It might not be true (and
wouldn't that be interesting?).  But betting against it hasn't usually
been clever: the usual case is that it turns out we didn't understand
how stuff here and now works quite so well after all.

Anyway, it's a method, and it seems to come up with the good stuff
pretty well.  So I'm not going to bet on it not being able to solve any
/particular/ problem.  But, chances are, there'll be /some/ questions we
don't have answers to.  Some of those might be questions we have at the
moment; some I'd guess to be ones we don't even know how to ask right
now.

There'll be questions like `why does everything exist?' which I suspect
don't have an interesting answer.  There doesn't have to be a reason.
Sorry.  I reckon that teleologists will be disappointed.

> Q: Now -- zooming back -- do YOU SEE THIS HAPPEN WITH CURRENT
> HARDWARE?

Where did the HARDWARE come from?  And why is your caps lock key stuck?

> Q: Is it needed for *current* hardware (to run the *software* on) to
> be BUILT BY SOMEONE?

jumped the tracks somewhere?

> Q: Would you be able to run ANY SIMPLE PROGRAM without SOME KIND OF
> HARDWARE?

I can run some simple programs in my brain, if that's what you mean.

> Q: So, can we agree that CURRENT HARDWARE (not even talking about the

No, apparently not.

> Q: [zooming, zooming, zooming back to *crude*, *violent*, *bloody*
> *reality*] Can we agree that our BIOLOGICAL HARDWARE, being able to
> run BIOLOGICAL SOFTWARE, had an AUTHOR?

What's this BIOLOGICAL SOFTWARE?

> P.S. atheist science thinks: no, no author needed.

There's certainly no author needed.  In fact, I'd say the evidence was
against it.

Human brains aren't actually very good.  In fact, they suck at some
things, like introspection, which any sane designer would have made sure
they were good at.  For some stupid reason, parts of our brain are so
poorly wired together that it actually helps if we move our lips when we
read or draw pictures and talk to ourselves when we think hard about
stuff.

Parts of our brains have to do work to keep other parts from noticing
various hopeless deficiencies which could only be a result of a Friday
afternoon job by the designer.  `Intelligent Design' proponents like
they're wired back to front.  There's this handy screen, full of
light-sensitive stuff, and, right in the middle of it, an enormous
bundle of nerves sticks out, loops round, and vanishes through a hole to
the other side.  Result: pointless waste of valuable screen space, and a
blind spot which you think you can see stuff in but you can't really.
It doesn't have to be like that: mollusc eyes, like an octopus has, are
wired the right way round and don't have the problem.  If he can get it
right for the octopus, why do we have to put up with the second-rate
job?

And don't get me started on giant pandas.  Any designer who thinks it's
clever to give an animal a predator's digestive system and then have it
eat pretty much nothing but bamboo needs his head examined.

(This is the `argument from piss-poor design'.)

> (IF YOU ONLY COULD FEEL HOW THIS HURTS ANY STILL SANE BRAIN!!!)

There you go: introspection failure.  If we were designed properly,
you'd be able to show me /exactly/ how it felt. ;-)

There's this philosophical thought experiment; I can't remember whose
offhand, and it's late.  The subject of the experiment is brought up in
an artificial world that has no blue in it (or is it green or red? --
doesn't really matter).  She's given extensive literature on colour
vision (carefully censored to make sure it doesn't have blue in it) and
she's allowed to dissect (brown or green!) eyes and study people's
brains and stuff.  The question is: can she work out what it's actually
like to see a blue thing?

The question is asked I think because the questioner wants to establish
some kind of special treatment for `qualia' and argue something about
mind/brain separation.  For me, it's just an introspection failure: if
she could take a recording of someone's sensory input as he sees
something blue, and play that into her own brain, or run some kind of
internal simulation, she'd know what it's like.  It's just that brains
didn't evolve to be able to do that sort of stuff because it turns out
(who knew?) that it doesn't really help you gather nuts and berries or
throw spears at things.

-- [mdw]
```
 0

```On 28 Ott, 01:03, Mark Wooding <m...@distorted.org.uk> wrote:
> ok <java....@gmail.com> writes:
> > On 26 Ott, 14:44, Mark Wooding <m...@distorted.org.uk> wrote:
> > > ok <java....@gmail.com> writes:
> > > > Transcending *my* *own* *intelligence*, *your* *own* *intelligence*.
>
> > > Could you unpack that for me?
>
> > Some Qs:
>
> > Q: Do you think of yourself to be the most intelligent being on Earth?
>
> No.

These were all mere rhetorical questions...

(Either you understand the "encrypted-unveiled" Truth sitting behind
---- or you don't. Nothing in-between possible...)
```
 0

```ok <java.oke@gmail.com> wrote on Thu, 28 Oct 2010:
> These were all mere rhetorical questions...
> (Either you understand the "encrypted-unveiled" Truth sitting behind
> ---- or you don't. Nothing in-between possible...)

For those of us who aren't as clever as you ... would you mind spelling
out your Truth more clearly?  Can you just state it plainly, so we can
understand what it is you're trying to say?

Or do you not know of any possible way to communicate, besides this
encrypted thing?  Because clearly your attempts at encrypted
communication aren't succeeding, with those of us readers who aren't on

-- Don
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
Ashley's Question: When a guy says GO MAKE ME A SANDWICH, what's a good
comeback?  He's sexist and I'm trying to be witty.  Any good comebacks?
Best Answer (by Alex): Well you better COMEBACK WITH A GOD DAMN SANDWICH!
```
 0

```* Don Geddis <8762wly8ei.fsf@mail.geddis.org> :
Wrote on Thu, 28 Oct 2010 20:39:33 -0700:

| ok <java.oke@gmail.com> wrote on Thu, 28 Oct 2010:
|> These were all mere rhetorical questions...
|> (Either you understand the "encrypted-unveiled" Truth sitting behind
|> ---- or you don't. Nothing in-between possible...)
|
| For those of us who aren't as clever as you ... would you mind spelling
| out your Truth more clearly?  Can you just state it plainly, so we can
| understand what it is you're trying to say?
|
| Or do you not know of any possible way to communicate, besides this
| encrypted thing?  Because clearly your attempts at encrypted
| communication aren't succeeding, with those of us readers who aren't on

Another impossibilty requirement.  The sort of communication you are
requesting, in order to succeed, requires more honesty on Geddis' part,
beyond Stanford-Debate clubs levels

--

```
 0

```RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:

> In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%wrf3@stablecross.com>,
>  wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:
>
>> Sure.  Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.
>
> Hogwash.  Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
> survival and replication.

I'm sorry, but how does a man replicate?

If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
uniform most likely don't appreciate it.

Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my personal
survival.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```pjb@informatimago.com (Pascal J. Bourguignon) writes:

> Mark Wooding <mdw@distorted.org.uk> writes:
>
>> ok <java.oke@gmail.com> writes:
>>
>>> Transcending *my* *own* *intelligence*, *your* *own* *intelligence*.
>>
>> Could you unpack that for me?  Right now it looks very grand and all,
>> but doesn't actually mean very much of any real use.  What does it mean
>> for something to `transcend' my intelligence?
>>
>> I suspect that the endpoint of this is that someone's going to tell me
>> that God is simply not definable in a way that I find satisfactory.
>> Since I can't sensibly believe in something I can't even describe
>> coherently, I think that wraps things up nicely.
>
> That's quite simple to understand.
>
> The brains are finite devices, therefore have a finite number of states,
> a finite number of bits of memory.

What do you count as brain's constituents? Do you count electrons?
Does brain have discrete spectrum?

> So your suspition was correct.

Non sequitur.

> Notice in the case of the physical universe how lucky we are.  The rules
> to run it can be written on a page of paper. (Like the rules to run a
> Lisp).

Was SM fixed to describe gravitation?
Was it fixed to describe matter-antimatter asymmetry?

What may be written on a page of paper is far from being complete even at
target level.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```In article <87y69esdvo.fsf@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru>
wrote:

> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:
>
> > In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%wrf3@stablecross.com>,
> >  wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:
> >
> >> Sure.  Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.
> >
> > Hogwash.  Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
> > survival and replication.
>
> I'm sorry, but how does a man replicate?

> If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
> outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
> many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
> uniform most likely don't appreciate it.
>
> Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
> examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
> or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my personal
> survival.

It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your
than personally impregnating women.  Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard
Dawkins if you really want to understand this.

rg
```
 0

```On 2010-10-31, RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> wrote:
>
> It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your

Right.  We're just the envelope, the letter's the genes (but god's the
stamp, and we've all got postage due.  Hallelujah, brother!).

> than personally impregnating women.  Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard
> Dawkins if you really want to understand this.
```
 0

```RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:

> In article <87y69esdvo.fsf@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru>
> wrote:
>
>> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:
>>
>> > In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%wrf3@stablecross.com>,
>> >  wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:
>> >
>> >> Sure.  Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.
>> >
>> > Hogwash.  Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
>> > survival and replication.
>>
>> I'm sorry, but how does a man replicate?
>

What if I don't know my farther? Perhaps never have known?
You didn't think about it, did you?

What makes you think that you're so superior that you know yours?

>> If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
>> outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
>> many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
>> uniform most likely don't appreciate it.
>>
>> Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
>> examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
>> or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my personal
>> survival.
>
> It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your
> than personally impregnating women.  Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard
> Dawkins if you really want to understand this.

How do my genes survive if I don't?

You assume that my genome is identical to the one of my neighbour,
what makes you think so? He belongs to quite another ethnic group, that
has different history and thus may have little overlapping other than
basic genes (like heat shock proteins). You can't prove that I don't bear
an useful mutation of some gene either, thus you don't know whether it
is better (for population) to kill me or to make more copies. Neither do I,
and thus I don't have any other way to test it otherwise than personally
impregnating as many women as possible.

Nevertheless you observe examples of such "suicidal" collective behaviour
as above despite the quality of genes, both personal and communal.
In case of communities it doesn't differ much between U.S. Americans and
Zimbabwe negroes.

Do you mean that genes have deterministic influence on man's behaviour?
Neither you nor Dawkins demonstrate how it happens so that so many men
put their "replication" task aside and go fighting those who don't think
the same way. Furthermore, by strange coincidence in developed communities
they don't just kill their opponents, instead wasting more efforts on
holding men with allegedly defective genes in jails instead of sterilising
them like it was done a century (or half century) ago.

Also, by strange coincidence all eugenic programs were closed in developed
countries, and the list is quite impressive, it doesn't include Germany alone,
U.S.A. is on the same list. How come that your genes didn't work?
This is another fact Dawkins and followers don't explain without handwaving.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:

> In article <87y69esdvo.fsf@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru>
> wrote:
>
>> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:
>>
>> > In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%wrf3@stablecross.com>,
>> >  wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:
>> >
>> >> Sure.  Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.
>> >
>> > Hogwash.  Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
>> > survival and replication.
>>
>> I'm sorry, but how does a man replicate?
>
>
>> If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
>> outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
>> many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
>> uniform most likely don't appreciate it.
>>
>> Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
>> examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
>> or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my personal
>> survival.
>
> It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your
> than personally impregnating women.  Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard
> Dawkins if you really want to understand this.

That's the point.  We are not our genes.  It's probably good for our
genes to be wanting to replicate and survive, but fuck them!

We are mortal!

If our genes had taken care of us, and made us immortal, perhaps we
could have been grateful and tried to help them survive and replicate.

But since they were so selfish as not making us immortal, then screw
them!

That's the reason why as soon as we can upload our minds in computers
and robots, the flesh bodies will be discarted, and we will supersede
genes on the evolution path.

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__                     http://www.informatimago.com/
```
 0

```In article <8739rmrtyx.fsf@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru>
wrote:

> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:
>
> > In article <87y69esdvo.fsf@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:
> >>
> >> > In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%wrf3@stablecross.com>,
> >> >  wrf3@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:
> >> >
> >> >> Sure.  Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.
> >> >
> >> > Hogwash.  Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
> >> > survival and replication.
> >>
> >> I'm sorry, but how does a man replicate?
> >
>
> What if I don't know my farther? Perhaps never have known?

Then I guess you're SOL.

> You didn't think about it, did you?

Nope.

> What makes you think that you're so superior that you know yours?

What makes you so sure I know my father?  You didn't think of that, did
you?

> >> If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
> >> outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
> >> many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
> >> uniform most likely don't appreciate it.
> >>
> >> Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
> >> examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
> >> or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my personal
> >> survival.
> >
> > It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your
> > than personally impregnating women.  Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard
> > Dawkins if you really want to understand this.
>
> How do my genes survive if I don't?

Because there are copies of your genes inside other people's bodies.

> You assume that my genome is identical to the one of my neighbour,

No, I don't.  You clearly haven't done your homework.

rg
```
 0

```On 31 out, 21:35, p...@informatimago.com (Pascal J. Bourguignon)
wrote:
> That's the point. =A0We are not our genes. =A0It's probably good for our
> genes to be wanting to replicate and survive, but fuck them!
>
> We are mortal!
>
> If our genes had taken care of us, and made us immortal, perhaps we
> could have been grateful and tried to help them survive and replicate.
>
> But since they were so selfish as not making us immortal, then screw
> them!
>
> That's the reason why as soon as we can upload our minds in computers
> and robots, the flesh bodies will be discarted, and we will supersede
> genes on the evolution path.

we'll then exchange genes for logic gates and those will ultimately
dictate the limits of our thought and behaviour. :p

Natural Selection will also still be working upon us, creating new
environments and forcing us to adapt or die (or turn off).
```
 0

```I too embrace this view :

On 10/15/10 21:10, Peter Keller wrote:
> I assert that they aren't their own disciplines, but sub-disciplines of
> Philosophy created to answer the questions put forth by Philosophy.
> Philosophy askes Why, the subdisciplines state How.

"Concept"
"Dialectic"
"Ontology"

None of these words would carry meaning to us without the help of
numerous (more or less) abstract philosophers shaping and carving them
in the semantic space of our human minds.

To those still seeking the results of philosophy, you are looking too
Our own vocabulary was shaped by these philosophers. They are useless as
some judge them but we actually use their results every time we think,
speak, read, do something useful, or not.

Abstract philosophy is necessary to understand the human mind and its
workings.

My point comes from a certain definition of Philosophy. I understand
that "Philosophy" means, by etymology : "to love the wisdom that comes
from knowledge".

Should you find no violent, contradictive, mind-bursting reaction while
reading Nietzsche or Lautreamont, I would not be surprised to hear you
failed a Turing test. These reactions in your mind, are they not true,
tangible, verifiable "results" of their work as philosophers ?

To make a stupid parallel with Lisp, abstract philosophy stances are the
macros of the human mind !  =)  They affect our parsing of new semantics
to which we confront the ever changing heap of data our brain processes
into information.

Can you eval my writings as a macro, or are you just reading a list of
words ?

--
Thomas de Grivel
http://b.lowh.net/billitch
```
 0

```RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:

> In article <8739rmrtyx.fsf@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru>
> wrote:
>
>> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:
>>
>> > In article <87y69esdvo.fsf@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru>
>> > wrote:
>> >
>> >> RG <rNOSPAMon@flownet.com> writes:
>> >>
>> >> If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
>> >> outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
>> >> many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
>> >> uniform most likely don't appreciate it.
>> >>
>> >> Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
>> >> examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
>> >> or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my personal
>> >> survival.
>> >
>> > It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your
>> > than personally impregnating women.  Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard
>> > Dawkins if you really want to understand this.
>>
>> How do my genes survive if I don't?
>
> Because there are copies of your genes inside other people's bodies.

I may have a single useful mutation that all other people lack.
By your words this "gene" should affect me in a way, that I avoid
getting into fire to make this gene spread. All available data
contradict this, social behaviour isn't dominated by genes,
not to that extent at the very least.

>> You assume that my genome is identical to the one of my neighbour,
>
> No, I don't.  You clearly haven't done your homework.

Perhaps, you don't understand what gene is, yet it isn't a mysterious substance.
Gene is (basically) a pattern in DNA, if you think that DNA never changes
accidentally, you're wrong, it does. That's why you have those roses
with dozens of petals (even hundreds) and with long stems.

In practice it takes a great amount of work to replicate particular gene
and study what it brings. If you don't create special conditions for mutants,
you may be sure that you will never get a sort of, e.g, potato, more resistant
to its usual diseases. If you don't create special conditions, you lose
your first mutant, hence losing all subsequent results. Thus practice
refutes your naive understanding of individual gene replication.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```Thomas de Grivel <billitch@gmail.com> wrote on Thu, 04 Nov 2010:
> Abstract philosophy is necessary to understand the human mind and its
> workings.

No ... cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience are used to
understand the human mind.

Philosophy is a study of ... something else.
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd like to see more and more planets fall
under the ruthless domination of our solar system.
-- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey [SNL]
```
 0

```On Nov 1, 6:24=A0am, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:
> RG <rNOSPA...@flownet.com> writes:
> > In article <87y69esdvo....@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru>
> > wrote:
>
> >> RG <rNOSPA...@flownet.com> writes:
>
> >> > In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%w...@stablecross.com>,
> >> > =A0w...@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:
>
> >> >> Sure. =A0Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.
>
> >> > Hogwash. =A0Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
> >> > survival and replication.
>
> >> I'm sorry, but how does a man replicate?
>
>
> What if I don't know my farther? Perhaps never have known?
> You didn't think about it, did you?
>
> What makes you think that you're so superior that you know yours?
>
> >> If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
> >> outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
> >> many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
> >> uniform most likely don't appreciate it.
>
> >> Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
> >> examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
> >> or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my persona=
l
> >> survival.
>
> > It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your
> > than personally impregnating women. =A0Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richa=
rd
> > Dawkins if you really want to understand this.
>
> How do my genes survive if I don't?
>
> You assume that my genome is identical to the one of my neighbour,
> what makes you think so?

No he isn't. You're taking the reference to genes that was intended
abstractly and taking it holistically. Your combination of genes (the
one actually being expressed) is unique, (or near unique if you have
an identical twin) but most of them a shared by other members of not
just your species but also many others.

If you have a brother or sister, and sacrifice your own life to save
theirs, a great many of your genes have a statistically greater chance
of survival that if you'd both been killed.

It's really very simple.

Matt
```
 0

```On Nov 5, 10:30=A0am, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:

> I may have a single useful mutation that all other people lack.
> By your words this "gene" should affect me in a way, that I avoid
> getting into fire to make this gene spread. All available data
> contradict this, social behaviour isn't dominated by genes,
> not to that extent at the very least.

Now you're making assumptions about some arbitrary beneficial
mutations behaviour to support your argument.

Do you know what a straw man is ?
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> wrote:

> Thomas de Grivel <billitch@gmail.com> wrote on Thu, 04 Nov 2010:
> > Abstract philosophy is necessary to understand the human mind and its
> > workings.
>
> No ... cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience are used to
> understand the human mind.
>
> Philosophy is a study of ... something else.

I'll just leave this here, duck, and run...  :D

There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science
whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.
-- Daniel C. Dennett

```
 0

```mdj <mdj.mdj@gmail.com> writes:

> On Nov 5, 10:30�am, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:
>
>> I may have a single useful mutation that all other people lack.
>> By your words this "gene" should affect me in a way, that I avoid
>> getting into fire to make this gene spread. All available data
>> contradict this, social behaviour isn't dominated by genes,
>> not to that extent at the very least.
>
> Now you're making assumptions about some arbitrary beneficial
> mutations behaviour to support your argument.

Yes, I do make this assumption. By your naive understanding of genetics,
any beneficial mutation should affect me so that I never go into fire
just because this gene brings improvement to population and thus has to
spread. Neither I go raping women on streets with police helping me,
women not taking contragestives so on, just to help this mutation spread.

If your understanding of Dawkins as above were true, we'd have exceptions
in Criminal Code to handle these situations. Instead we have laws that know
no exceptions, and law practice is that you go into jail for 5 years,
because your "selfish gene" arguments will be declined, even if true.
Oh, and rape is _not_ appreciated in criminal culture, so you'd better
die before you're caught.

Also, last time I checked, eugenic experiments, exactly those that helped
better genes to spread, were condemned. Try questioning this somewhere
in genetic circle, watch for the reaction.

> Do you know what a straw man is ?

This isn't strawman, this is exactly your naive understanding of genetics.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```mdj <mdj.mdj@gmail.com> writes:

> On Nov 1, 6:24�am, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:
>> RG <rNOSPA...@flownet.com> writes:
>> > In article <87y69esdvo....@inbox.ru>, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru>
>> > wrote:
>>
>> >> RG <rNOSPA...@flownet.com> writes:
>>
>> >> > In article <1jqv6eo.gmujg6ju4r9kN%w...@stablecross.com>,
>> >> > �w...@stablecross.com (Bob Felts) wrote:
>>
>> >> >> Sure. �Man is a goal-seeking organism without a fixed goal.
>>
>> >> > Hogwash. �Man has the same fixed goal as any other living thing:
>> >> > survival and replication.
>>
>> >> I'm sorry, but how does a man replicate?
>>
>>
>> What if I don't know my farther? Perhaps never have known?
>> You didn't think about it, did you?
>>
>> What makes you think that you're so superior that you know yours?
>>
>> >> If you mean getting any woman pregnant, then everyone should be going
>> >> outside and raping each female one meets on his way. I don't think so
>> >> many other men share this idea. What is more important, those men in
>> >> uniform most likely don't appreciate it.
>>
>> >> Survival is as interesting. How does it align with all those numerous
>> >> examples of men going into suicidal missions, be it rescue, military,
>> >> or law enforcing? I fail to see how walking into fire helps my personal
>> >> survival.
>>
>> > It's not you personally who is surviving and replicating, it's your
>> > than personally impregnating women. �Read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard
>> > Dawkins if you really want to understand this.
>>
>> How do my genes survive if I don't?
>>
>> You assume that my genome is identical to the one of my neighbour,
>> what makes you think so?
>
> No he isn't. You're taking the reference to genes that was intended
> abstractly and taking it holistically. Your combination of genes (the
> one actually being expressed) is unique, (or near unique if you have
> an identical twin) but most of them a shared by other members of not
> just your species but also many others.

Most of them are shared, but they don't make source of population
improvement, it is those that are unique make it. This is why you have
multiple problems with inbreeding until population acquires and adopts
a mutated gene.

> If you have a brother or sister, and sacrifice your own life to save
> theirs, a great many of your genes have a statistically greater chance
> of survival that if you'd both been killed.
>
> It's really very simple.

If I sacrifice my life to save a sister, all genes on Y chromosome are lost,
if I sacrifice my sister to save my life, I raise chances that these genes
don't get lost, despite raising chances that I stay without sexual partner.
Now look around and see which of two alternatives is preferred.

Note that your explanation still doesn't explain connection between your
social behaviour and genetics, social rules dominate and genetics is
almost completely neglected.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```On Nov 6, 12:37=C2=A0pm, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:
> mdj <mdj....@gmail.com> writes:
> > On Nov 5, 10:30=C5=A1am, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:
>
> >> I may have a single useful mutation that all other people lack.
> >> By your words this "gene" should affect me in a way, that I avoid
> >> getting into fire to make this gene spread. All available data
> >> contradict this, social behaviour isn't dominated by genes,
> >> not to that extent at the very least.
>
> > Now you're making assumptions about some arbitrary beneficial
> > mutations behaviour to support your argument.
>
> Yes, I do make this assumption. By your naive understanding of genetics,
> any beneficial mutation should affect me so that I never go into fire
> just because this gene brings improvement to population and thus has to
> spread. Neither I go raping women on streets with police helping me,
> women not taking contragestives so on, just to help this mutation spread.

Utter nonsense. I don't know any geneticist or evolutionary biologist
who would argue such an absurdity.

OTOH, consider what happens to genes that make you take dangerous
risks like running into fire. There's no magical quality that the
beneficial genes have other than survival.

I'd recommend reading some books on the topic before you argue it any
further, and if you're getting this misinformation from some other
source, I'd recommend you stop listening to them.

> If your understanding of Dawkins as above were true, we'd have exceptions
> in Criminal Code to handle these situations. Instead we have laws that kn=
ow
> no exceptions, and law practice is that you go into jail for 5 years,
> because your "selfish gene" arguments will be declined, even if true.
> Oh, and rape is _not_ appreciated in criminal culture, so you'd better
> die before you're caught.

How do you get this from my understanding from what I've posted?
You're arguing with your own misinformed and incorrect understanding
of genetics and evolution.

> Also, last time I checked, eugenic experiments, exactly those that helped
> better genes to spread, were condemned. Try questioning this somewhere
> in genetic circle, watch for the reaction.

That would be because applying the selective breeding approaches used
on domesticated animals to humans produces a pretty poor approximation
of natural selection, and is usually employed to suit the ridiculous
prejudices of some megalomaniacal ruler.

> > Do you know what a straw man is ?

> This isn't strawman, this is exactly your naive understanding of genetics=
..

As you can see, that your charge is false, and my straw man accusation
holds.

Now go find a library.
```
 0

```Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru> wrote on Sat, 06 Nov 2010:
> Also, last time I checked, eugenic experiments, exactly those that helped
> better genes to spread, were condemned. Try questioning this somewhere
> in genetic circle, watch for the reaction.

Godwin's Law!  Godwin's Law!

Did I call it first?  I win!
_______________________________________________________________________________
Don Geddis                  http://don.geddis.org/               don@geddis.org
I guess we were all guilty, in a way.  We all shot him, we all skinned him, and
we all got a complimentary bumper sticker that said, "I helped skin Bob."
-- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey [SNL]
```
 0

```mdj <mdj.mdj@gmail.com> writes:

> On Nov 6, 12:37 pm, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:
>> mdj <mdj....@gmail.com> writes:
>> > On Nov 5, 10:30šam, Aleksej Saushev <a...@inbox.ru> wrote:
>>
>> >> I may have a single useful mutation that all other people lack.
>> >> By your words this "gene" should affect me in a way, that I avoid
>> >> getting into fire to make this gene spread. All available data
>> >> contradict this, social behaviour isn't dominated by genes,
>> >> not to that extent at the very least.
>>
>> > Now you're making assumptions about some arbitrary beneficial
>> > mutations behaviour to support your argument.
>>
>> Yes, I do make this assumption. By your naive understanding of genetics,
>> any beneficial mutation should affect me so that I never go into fire
>> just because this gene brings improvement to population and thus has to
>> spread. Neither I go raping women on streets with police helping me,
>> women not taking contragestives so on, just to help this mutation spread.
>
> Utter nonsense. I don't know any geneticist or evolutionary biologist
> who would argue such an absurdity.

Then get acquainted with them. You'll learn many interesting things.
For instance, you'll learn that first generation with mutations is
usually significantly less stable and has more chances to die out,
even if they bring genetic improvements.

> OTOH, consider what happens to genes that make you take dangerous
> risks like running into fire. There's no magical quality that the
> beneficial genes have other than survival.

Eventually, they'll die out. Or not.
And this doesn't depend on genetics alone.

For instance, many humans with sickle cell anaemia don't die contrary
to what expected by naive geneticist. Somehow they get treatment
necessary to stay living, grow up, and breed.

> I'd recommend reading some books on the topic before you argue it any
> further, and if you're getting this misinformation from some other
> source, I'd recommend you stop listening to them.

I recommend you to talk to real practising biologists, medics, and
lawyers rather than reading naive books on evolutionary biology.

>> If your understanding of Dawkins as above were true, we'd have exceptions
>> in Criminal Code to handle these situations. Instead we have laws that know
>> no exceptions, and law practice is that you go into jail for 5 years,
>> because your "selfish gene" arguments will be declined, even if true.
>> Oh, and rape is _not_ appreciated in criminal culture, so you'd better
>> die before you're caught.
>
> How do you get this from my understanding from what I've posted?
> You're arguing with your own misinformed and incorrect understanding
> of genetics and evolution.

No, I'm arguing with your naive understanding of evolution.
You assume that genetics does it all, while you can go out in wild and
see how it works in reality.

>> Also, last time I checked, eugenic experiments, exactly those that helped
>> better genes to spread, were condemned. Try questioning this somewhere
>> in genetic circle, watch for the reaction.
>
> That would be because applying the selective breeding approaches used
> on domesticated animals to humans produces a pretty poor approximation
> of natural selection, and is usually employed to suit the ridiculous
> prejudices of some megalomaniacal ruler.

Are Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill megalomaniacal rulers?

<<In the 1890s Indiana prisons were performing castrations on convicts,
both to "cure" them of masturbation, and to prevent them from  "breeding
more criminals." Dr. Albert Ochsner advocated the sterilization of
convicts "to eliminate all habitual criminals from the possibility of
having children."  In 1902 Dr. Harry Clay Sharp stated: "We make choice
of the best rams for our sheep... and keep the best dogs... how careful
then should we be in begetting of children!" Sharp also advocated that
every state institution should "render every male sterile who passes its
portals, whether it be an almshouse, insane asylum, institute for the
feeble minded, reformatory, or prison."

In 1902 Blood of a Nation was published in America by David Starr
Jordan. Jordan stated that, "The pauper is the victim of heredity, but
neither Nature nor Society recognizes that as an excuse for his
existence." Dr. J.N. Hurty, who was State Health Officer of Indiana and
also became the president of the American Public Health Association,
stated that, "Men and women are what they are largely because of the
stock from which they sprang."

....

In 1907 Indiana became the first place in the world to legalize forced
sterilization of the poor, prisoners, and mentally ill. Washington,
Connecticut, California, Virginia, Nevada, Iowa, New Jersey, and New
York all followed suit. In fact, New Jersey's eugenics bills were
signed into law by then governor, soon to be president, Woodrow Wilson.

American scientists began working with European scientists, especially
in Germany. In 1911 a meeting of the First International Congress on
Eugenics was held, including attendees from America, Belgium, England,
France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Norway. Winston Churchill, Alexander
Graham Bell, and other highly established individuals were in
attendance.

In 1912 the Rockefeller Foundation was created, supported by oil
billionaire John D. Rockefeller. The Rockefeller Foundation funded
eugenics programs, endorsed  by John Rockefeller Jr. himself.

By 1914 eugenics had been adopted in America as a valid field of study
and was even taught in high schools.

In 1915 D.W. Griffith's silent film, The Birth of a Nation, was released
and it quickly became a national hit. The film did cause controversy,
but went on to become the highest grossing silent film of all time.>>

These eugenic practices were common up until 1950s in various countries.

If you want more natural approaches, consider struggle for life in its
straightforward form. What is our the most famous recent event? Rwanda?
Which population bears better genes in your opinion? Tutsi or Hutu?

>> > Do you know what a straw man is ?
>
>> This isn't strawman, this is exactly your naive understanding of genetics.
>
> As you can see, that your charge is false, and my straw man accusation
> holds.
>
> Now go find a library.

Just who are you? A pontiff?
You haven't struck any of my arguments with your layman theories.

Dawkins wrote popular science book on genetics, you took it as final truth,
and now you feel yourself a grand in evolutional studies.
Have you ever heard anything about "critical thinking"?

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

```Don Geddis <don@geddis.org> writes:

> Aleksej Saushev <asau@inbox.ru> wrote on Sat, 06 Nov 2010:
>> Also, last time I checked, eugenic experiments, exactly those that helped
>> better genes to spread, were condemned. Try questioning this somewhere
>> in genetic circle, watch for the reaction.
>
> Godwin's Law!  Godwin's Law!

If you call U.S.A. regime of 1900-1960 national-socialist.

On the other hand, http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/rise_of_american_fascism.htm

> Did I call it first?  I win!

The problem is that legal eugenic practice started in that country called
United States of America with Woodrow Wilson and John Rockefeller as its
the most famous proponents.

--
HE CE3OH...
```
 0

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