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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  00:19:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Libresco also thinks that the mind can exist outside the brain. Why nobody was able to convince her otherwise, I can't say.
That's a seriously mystical concept, very close to the idea of a "soul" and the vitalism that pretty much underlies all spiritualism and most religions, including Catholicism. If that belief was a "pre-existing condition" to Libresco's conversion, then, despite being an atheist, she had not been much of a modern scientific skeptic. Most formerly religious people who become atheists probably do so as part of their developing skepticism, with the atheism being just a part of their skepticism.

If Libresco didn't have much of a skeptical outlook, converting to Catholicism could be merely a quick and easy change of style.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/26/2012 00:21:10
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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

Saudi Arabia
1266 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  03:20:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sounds mystical, but a lot of philosophers claim that dualism and/or idealism are logically superior to monism/materialism. I've never read or heard a justification of this that didn't leave me more confused than I was to begin with, though. Philosophy at this level confuses me to the point where I don't know if they are just talking crap or it's just way over my head.

Edited by - On fire for Christ on 06/26/2012 03:25:14
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  04:35:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ

Sounds mystical, but a lot of philosophers claim that dualism and/or idealism are logically superior to monism/materialism. I've never read or heard a justification of this that didn't leave me more confused than I was to begin with, though. Philosophy at this level confuses me to the point where I don't know if they are just talking crap or it's just way over my head.
In this I sympathize. My attitude doesn't depend on complex and endlessly-arguable philosophy, but on the growing understanding by science of "mind" and consciousness being emergent properties of the brain. With apparatus we have these days, a thought may be seen as a series of brain node activities. Scientists can sometimes even make good guesses as to what was being thought of, by observing the images.

Neither the mind, spirit, soul, or consciousness, if considered separately from the brain, are observable or measurable. So, unless further evidence contradicts this, these are best thought of as either mythical or as things the brain does, not "real" things-in-themselves (noumena, or Ding an sich). So until and unless a scientist makes a good case for a disembodied soul, mind or consciousness, Occam's Razor suggests to me they are not to be taken seriously. Science is likely to continue sorting the matter out quite nicely.

Philosophers can waste their time on the question if they wish, but I hope my tax dollars aren't paying them to do so.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/26/2012 04:37:57
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ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1462 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  07:13:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Originally posted by On fire for Christ

Sounds mystical, but a lot of philosophers claim that dualism and/or idealism are logically superior to monism/materialism. I've never read or heard a justification of this that didn't leave me more confused than I was to begin with, though. Philosophy at this level confuses me to the point where I don't know if they are just talking crap or it's just way over my head.
In this I sympathize. My attitude doesn't depend on complex and endlessly-arguable philosophy, but on the growing understanding by science of "mind" and consciousness being emergent properties of the brain. With apparatus we have these days, a thought may be seen as a series of brain node activities. Scientists can sometimes even make good guesses as to what was being thought of, by observing the images.

Neither the mind, spirit, soul, or consciousness, if considered separately from the brain, are observable or measurable. So, unless further evidence contradicts this, these are best thought of as either mythical or as things the brain does, not "real" things-in-themselves (noumena, or Ding an sich). So until and unless a scientist makes a good case for a disembodied soul, mind or consciousness, Occam's Razor suggests to me they are not to be taken seriously. Science is likely to continue sorting the matter out quite nicely.

Philosophers can waste their time on the question if they wish, but I hope my tax dollars aren't paying them to do so.

A whole new meaning to thinking outside the box.

Dualism is a needless complex explanation for thought.




Edited by - ThorGoLucky on 06/26/2012 07:14:45
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  09:32:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ
Philosophy at this level confuses me to the point where I don't know if they are just talking crap or it's just way over my head.
It's not just you. I feel the same way every times I try to slog through this stuff. My feeling is that philosopher-academics are either a) poor writers, or b) making stuff up. Or both.

Edit:

I don't want to pick on this guy, because he seems smart and sincere in what he's doing. (Anyone who adjuncts at 4 universities in an academic year is clearly committed to teaching!) But I'm reading a bit about his own conversion-- this one from Christian to atheist-- and come across statements like this that blow my mind:
At this time in my life, rationalism was a dirty word for me. It would remain so for the first nine years of my atheism. I was deeply committed to being philosophically and personally truthful and to being rigorously intellectually honest, but at the time of my deconversion, I became the sort of nominalistic, anti-realist, immoralist emotivist that I excoriated in my post yesterday on Leah Libresco’s conversion to Catholicism. [bolding mine]
That's a lot of fancy words for a lay-person in philosophy. I understand that jargon is important in any field-- people need to have common terms for complex things (ideas, concepts, philosophical approaches, etc.). But this seems over the top for one person to talk about the philosophies they embraced.

Looking further, it seems more over the top. From wikipedia:

Nominalism: "Nominalism is a metaphysical view in philosophy according to which general or abstract terms and predicates exist, while universals or abstract objects, which are sometimes thought to correspond to these terms, do not exist. Thus, there are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals—things that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things (e.g. strength, humanity). The other version specifically denies the existence of abstract objects—objects that do not exist in space and time."
OK. The last part makes sense to me, I think-- an abstract object (e.g. kingship) doesn't exist in space and time. In fact, it seems odd to me that someone would even posit that such things did exist in space and time. But fine.

Anti-Realism: "In analytic philosophy, the term anti-realism is used to describe any position involving either the denial of an objective reality or the denial that verification-transcendent statements are either true or false. This latter construal is sometimes expressed by saying "there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not P." Thus, we may speak of anti-realism with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought. The two construals are clearly distinct and often confused. For example, an "anti-realist" who denies that other minds exist (i. e., a solipsist) is quite different from an "anti-realist" who claims that there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not there are unobservable other minds (i. e., a logical behaviorist)."
Man, philosophers truly are horrible writers. And I don't understand what it means to deny other minds. Or pasts, for that matter. I get "denial of an objective reality" but that somehow gets lost in this discussion of minds. Ugh.

I can't even find anything for "Immoralism" so I'm not sure what being an "immoralist" is (assuming he's not talking about some sort of hedonistic outlook where one doesn't care about the well-being of others, nor about societal norms (it's ok to lie, and if I'm known as a liar, who cares?)).

Emotivism: "Emotivism is a meta-ethical view that claims that ethical sentences do not express propositions but emotional attitudes."
Uh. I read through the wiki article and see some of the points, though not all are particularly compelling. But at least there were some examples to try and explain this philosophical stance, though.

But more to the point, I have to ask if it really helps in the discussion of anything to claim that you take a stand in the debate (?!?) about whether "ethical sentences express propositions" or something else. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that in 99% of all discussions of atheism and Christianity, my position on ethical sentences isn't a big deal. Indeed, I don't think that it has nudged me one way or the other in my atheism and can't imagine how it would.

I could keep ranting, but I don't have the time so I'll sign off.
Edited by - Cuneiformist on 06/26/2012 11:29:00
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26013 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  12:46:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Cuneiformist

But more to the point, I have to ask if it really helps in the discussion of anything to claim that you take a stand in the debate (?!?) about whether "ethical sentences express propositions" or something else. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that in 99% of all discussions of atheism and Christianity, my position on ethical sentences isn't a big deal. Indeed, I don't think that it has nudged me one way or the other in my atheism and can't imagine how it would.
Well, Fincke's beef is that Libresco sought out a consistent philosophy from atheists, was given none by the armchair philosophers, and so basically decided that Catholic philosophy was more robust and thus "better." Fincke thinks that if someone had directed her to a real philosopher who was up-to-date on atheistic philosophy, she'd still be an atheist. (Of course, given the appearance of logorrhea, she might still be an atheist just because she'd still be scratching her head over what all these words mean, like you and I.)

Anyway, as someone who still doesn't grok Fincke's assertion that something can be objective while still being entirely dependent on context, I can say that if one were to hammer out the entirety of a consistent atheistic philosophy, I have no friggin' clue as to whether it would include ethical sentences as propositions or as emotional attitudes. But, Fincke points out that most people (and probably all non-philosophers) use the answers to philosophical questions all the time, without even knowing it. For example, the question of whether science "works" depends upon some deep philosophy, but most people just take it for granted.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  14:03:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by Cuneiformist

But more to the point, I have to ask if it really helps in the discussion of anything to claim that you take a stand in the debate (?!?) about whether "ethical sentences express propositions" or something else. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that in 99% of all discussions of atheism and Christianity, my position on ethical sentences isn't a big deal. Indeed, I don't think that it has nudged me one way or the other in my atheism and can't imagine how it would.
Well, Fincke's beef is that Libresco sought out a consistent philosophy from atheists, was given none by the armchair philosophers, and so basically decided that Catholic philosophy was more robust and thus "better." Fincke thinks that if someone had directed her to a real philosopher who was up-to-date on atheistic philosophy, she'd still be an atheist. (Of course, given the appearance of logorrhea, she might still be an atheist just because she'd still be scratching her head over what all these words mean, like you and I.)

Anyway, as someone who still doesn't grok Fincke's assertion that something can be objective while still being entirely dependent on context, I can say that if one were to hammer out the entirety of a consistent atheistic philosophy, I have no friggin' clue as to whether it would include ethical sentences as propositions or as emotional attitudes. But, Fincke points out that most people (and probably all non-philosophers) use the answers to philosophical questions all the time, without even knowing it. For example, the question of whether science "works" depends upon some deep philosophy, but most people just take it for granted.
Yeah, OK. I get that. I'm sure that my position on X-- whatever that might be (objective reality, or whatever)-- has probably been hashed out a thousand times in philosophy PhD dissertations and the like. I could no doubt go down the list of two dozen philosophical positions-- What is reality? Is there an absolute good and evil? Blah blah blah-- and point to what makes sense to me based on what I think and what I've read, etc., and give myself a dozen different -ist labels. It just seems over the top.

And I do get that Fincke's issues are that she seems to have gone the blogger/message board route when considering atheist answers to questions of morality, while going hard core big name theologian route when considering Catholic answers to questions of morality (if only she'd read his blog!). But in trying to slog through all of this to see why she's wrong, I'm left struggling not just with the atheist philosophical answers, but I'm not even sure of the questions.

Which isn't to say that this is making me question my own stance on the topic all of a sudden. I came to my conclusions a long time ago-- and did so without lots of -isms, wondering about the nature of morality, or debating whether my imperative statement is an emotional one or not. It just leaves me feeling the same way about philosophy as I did back when I was an undergrad and had taken enough philosophy courses that I could have minored in it but decided not to because I hated it so much.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26013 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2012 :  16:26:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Cuneiformist

But in trying to slog through all of this to see why she's wrong, I'm left struggling not just with the atheist philosophical answers, but I'm not even sure of the questions.
Yeah, that's where I'll fault Fincke, too. His "answer" seems to be to link back to a dozen (or more!) previous blog posts of his, which would be fine if he were to indicate what order one should read them in. It seems to just be "here's a bunch of stuff you might want to read to get more information about what I've said, above." What I would want, instead, is "Atheist Philosophy 101" with lots of links to deeper expositions on the various subjects it hits on.

Maybe this will prompt me to finally comment on FtB.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26013 Posts

Posted - 06/28/2012 :  13:42:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
More Fincke: In Which I Answer Leah Libresco’s Moral Philosophy Concerns So You Don’t Become A Catholic Too.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/28/2012 :  21:57:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have serious doubts (in fact I provisionally wholly reject the idea) that Libresco became a Catholic because of philosophical concerns. I think practically nobody actually is converted to anything by philosophy. We convert for emotional or practical reasons, then create rationalizations. In this, Libresco is just being human.

Libresco's romantic interest is a Catholic, so she converted. The rest is commentary.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/28/2012 22:04:02
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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2012 :  00:50:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

I have serious doubts (in fact I provisionally wholly reject the idea) that Libresco became a Catholic because of philosophical concerns. I think practically nobody actually is converted to anything by philosophy. We convert for emotional or practical reasons, then create rationalizations. In this, Libresco is just being human.


I don't think this is true for those converting from religion to no religion, which isn't necessarily emotional and is hardly practical. It seems essentially philosophical, though likely not very involved philosophy. Not sure why the other direction couldn't be philosophical as well.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
Edited by - Machi4velli on 06/29/2012 00:51:36
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2012 :  07:55:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

I don't think this is true for those converting from religion to no religion, which isn't necessarily emotional and is hardly practical. It seems essentially philosophical, though likely not very involved philosophy. Not sure why the other direction couldn't be philosophical as well.
I still suspect it is true in most cases, but I admit that the nature of my point makes it all but impossible to prove. After all I would expect most people who underwent conversions to have very vivid rationalizations for them, sometimes outright philosophical ones, even though they were arrived at after the fact. So questioning people wouldn't help my thesis, even if I'm right.

My argument is based on the emerging understanding that people really don't make as many conscious decisions as they think, and that the conscious part only comes into play after more primitive portions of the brain have already acted. A conversion seems just the kind of thing the primitive brain would want to hog as its own.

But of course, I haven't consulted my primitive brain, so I could be wrong ...

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2012 :  23:00:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner
My argument is based on the emerging understanding that people really don't make as many conscious decisions as they think, and that the conscious part only comes into play after more primitive portions of the brain have already acted.


I think Schopenhauer argued this in philosophical terms. I didn't want to believe it but started paying attention to how I was thinking and caught myself building rationale after conclusions at times. Whether or not this is what we do is questionable on this basis clearly, maybe it's a matter of merely thinking consciously about rationale already built in the back of our minds.

Are you talking about science on the topic? I'd like to see it if you know where to find it because I've been curious here for years, and with no empirical evidence, it's hard to accept on philosophical arguments (that I probably don't understand well anyway).

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2012 :  23:46:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

Originally posted by HalfMooner
My argument is based on the emerging understanding that people really don't make as many conscious decisions as they think, and that the conscious part only comes into play after more primitive portions of the brain have already acted.


I think argued this in philosophical terms. I didn't want to believe it but started paying attention to how I was thinking and caught myself building rationale after conclusions at times. Whether or not this is what we do is questionable on this basis clearly, maybe it's a matter of merely thinking consciously about rationale already built in the back of our minds.

Are you talking about science on the topic? I'd like to see it if you know where to find it because I've been curious here for years, and with no empirical evidence, it's hard to accept on philosophical arguments (that I probably don't understand well anyway).
Yeah, I was referring to recent brain science on the subject. I don't know from Schopenhauer. I don't have any links to hand. I'll search.

(Anyone else who can, help is appreciated.)

Okay, this Wiki article, "Neuroscience of free will" looks like a start.

See especially the Retrospective construction section. That's essentially what I was writing about as later "rationalization" of decisions not made consciously.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/30/2012 00:13:43
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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 06/30/2012 :  00:44:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner
See especially the Retrospective construction section. That's essentially what I was writing about as later "rationalization" of decisions not made consciously.


Thanks, just knowing the phrase should make it easy to find

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
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