Author Topic: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer  (Read 1492 times)

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Offline Strawman

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Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« on: September 06, 2012, 03:55:36 PM »
I'm prepared to sound cult-ish here, but recently I feel like I've finally tied together all the loose ends in my mind and I've uncovered a way of thinking that creates an incredibly simple philosophy that is purely scientific and logical. It's only a slight change on what I've believed for years, and I have a hard time explaining nuances, so I feel like what I put forward wont seem radical in any way to almost everyone here, but it's profoundly affected my view of everything and given me an almost spiritual peace. (Uh oh he's lost it! &)) I think I understand now what really causes people to be irrational and how we should approach life. So before I start talking about crystals and shit :P here's my attempt at explaining my philosophy.

The error of religion is that it regards the interpretation of reality to be more important than the method of interpretation. Knowledge is not the mark of intelligence: most children today have more rudimentary knowledge of the universe than Sir Isaac Newton in his prime, but he was a master of method. The mind is not a box for storing information, it's an instrument for extracting meaning from reality. We each must learn to tune our cognitive instrument before playing. It matters not what a person thinks, but how they think.

If atheism is to be the true antithesis of religion and not merely irreligion, it must celebrate the mind, it must exemplify the scientific method as the ideal. It must not use knowledge as the basis for debate, but science. Our combined knowledge as a species is overwhelming and proves extremely beneficial, but we must remember that it is only a side-effect of the scientific method. Knowledge is temporary and ever-changing, yes there are things we know that will never change but there are also things that will, and even this discrepancy indicates that knowledge is not the main focus. This is the reason theists distrust science and turn to religion; they look for constants and balance within a dynamic universe. But change is our constant and the method our balance. Science continues to balance and refine the method itself along with what we call knowledge.

Time and space are impossible to quantify without inaccuracy, they embody the principle of our universe: everything changes and nothing is concrete. There is no knowledge, only interpretation; what matters is method. Our only control is over our cognitive process. We must be like the flying shuttle: hurtling across the loom - this way and that - forcing ourselves to change and work to weave the fabric of knowledge; not to bend and twist it to suit our will.

You've heard the saying "the journey is more important than the destination", this is very true and it's our direction and our actions that matter not what is achieved because there is no destination, there is no time and place.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 04:04:41 PM by Strawman »
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Online One Above All

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2012, 04:01:22 PM »
BM
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2012, 04:33:55 PM »
BM
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2012, 04:56:16 PM »
How does this philosophy get put in to your everyday life? How do you implement it? What outcomes have you witnessed?

Are you saying we should all have a collective mentality like The Borg? How would one go about transitioning society to a collective mentality when society thrives on individuality?
Thank you for considering my point of view; however wrong it may be to you.

Offline Garja

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2012, 05:27:33 PM »
^ Had a comment about the Borg, dropped it because I dont want to derail a good thread by what was basically going to be a long-winded BM  ;)
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

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Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2012, 05:54:43 PM »
What does BM stand for?

How does this philosophy get put in to your everyday life? How do you implement it? What outcomes have you witnessed?

Are you saying we should all have a collective mentality like The Borg? How would one go about transitioning society to a collective mentality when society thrives on individuality?
Interesting questions. I think this philosophy helps to eliminate logical fallacies and prevents becoming attached to theories as if they were absolute truth. It enables one to question everything and switches our reliance on facts or religious "truths" to reliance on the mental process, which removes bias. Focusing on the mental process allows it to be refined itself, based on evidence, so it is a continually improving system of thought.

How I implemented this philosophy was a slow process of learning how to think logically and rationally, with a lot of help from places like this on the internet and people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Everything I've ever learned points to a simple universe, so it seems like a natural progression to think in this way. We over-complicate things we don't understand, for example: a racist will construe ridiculous stereotypes and differences between races that don't exist, based on their personal experiences, but we now know there is just one human race. The same is true of theists who construct elaborate stories to explain what is actually the result of simple physics. So what appears to be an over-simplification is actually an over-complication. The barrier is knowledge, people prefer a simple answer over a simple question, and you can't make simple answers with bad science (not useful ones anyway).

I'm not sure what you mean by "outcomes". I would like to hear from others who have changed the way they think. I'm encouraged by the style in which I've progressed that I'm not special and there is great potential in the human mind for rationality and logic far beyond what I've achieved: I've just gotten on board! My only worry is the efficiency of human perception and our means to communicate; we have these amazing brains which can only be programmed using Stone Age tools. I feel like it's taken me a very long time to become a rational human being and that's down to my perceptions, I think we're all born with the ability to be rational but getting the philosophy inside our heads is the hardest part, that's why I really admire people like Dawkins and Hitchens who are such eloquent orators; I think they have done a great amount of good, and the internet have amplified their reach.

I don't see how individuality would be affected: this is a basis of thought that has already permeated the scientific community, and scientists are still individuals. We don't all need to agree, but we do all need to think. The only things that would be eliminated if everyone thought this way are authoritarianism, spiritualism and other "I just know" bullshit; It makes everyone irrevocably equal. A lot of people don't want any of that and would be lost without being able to use make-believe as justification or evidence, so it makes a society-wide transition difficult.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 05:59:11 PM by Strawman »
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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2012, 05:55:44 PM »
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2012, 06:10:59 PM »
BM = Bookmark (Not bowl movement like it constantly reminds me of.)

Strawman,

At some point does one not accept something as truth? Like I "know" I need to drink water. If I don't I feel sluggish. There are things we do "know" with absolute certainty. It seems overly complicated to remove that from ourselves. There are many things I don't claim to "know" and many things that I only "know" because I trust those feeding me the information.

Like at work. I have to make decisions off of reports. I pull the information out of a database. The information was entered by someone else. I have to assume that person knew what they were talking about and entered the information correctly. I have to trust that they did their job properly. Otherwise I spend too much time doing their job and I can never complete my own. Each individual contributer at my company provides me with data I use to form opinions on every day.

That's kinda how I view the scientific community. I can't personally study every possible form of education that is required to understand every single scientific theory. I have to assume that the sources are legit, unbiased, and individually trained to come to the conclusions they offer. I can come to conclusions that the data sounds like the truth but I can't really know. But I still feel safe in saying I know the moon has craters (A random example it was the first thing I could think of.). I've never been to the moon myself but I'd be a conspiracy theorist if I did trust the indisputable data available to me.

Any ways, that's my long winded version of saying I agree to the extent that there are some things I can't know. But most of the time I feel like it's a safe bet to imply knowledge for the sake of clarity.
Thank you for considering my point of view; however wrong it may be to you.

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2012, 06:27:18 PM »
We don't all need to agree, but we do all need to think.

Good luck with getting most religious believers to do that.

The problem with most religious believers is that they are insecure and gullible. They allow their desire for emotional comfort to override their reason. They fear uncertainty and the unknown, which is why they crave an answer to every question and why they prefer simple, unchanging, absolute answers to the complex, ever changing, relative knowledge science provides.

As long as there are insecure and gullible people in the world there will be religious, spiritual and pseudoscientific beliefs. I just don’t see this changing any time soon.

Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2012, 06:31:22 PM »
Kimberly,

Do you really know anything with absolute certainty? If an extremely abundant resource was discovered that hydrates better than water, you would no longer need to drink water. Yes we know with absolute certainty that the moon has craters, but that's a fairly vague concept: in the future we'll know far more about the moon and its craters, how and when they were formed and we might look up and see it in a completely different light (especially when the sun explodes :P). So even the nature of scientific knowledge we understand and use every day changes over time as we better understand it.
Knowledge is certainly useful but I see it as a pleasant side-effect of scientific endeavour, not the goal.
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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2012, 06:34:53 PM »
Knowledge is certainly useful but I see it as a pleasant side-effect of scientific endeavour, not the goal.

I see it as the goal. My justification is based on the history of science. "We" figure things out for the sake of knowing more. Then we use that knowledge to obtain more knowledge and improve our lives.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2012, 06:41:42 PM »
I agree that the goal should be to continue finding more answers, better understanding, or more feasible resolutions. (Such as your water example.) But we can still know that water works for hydration. Although, now that you mention it I give my daughters pedialyte when they are sick because it's supposed to be better than water. IDK if there's any truth to that, see how I just blindly follow what the pediatrician tells me because I assume he knows what he's talking about?  :o

Your concept is an interesting point but I still don't see the practicality in day to day life. Especially in conversation. If someone were to ask me if I knew what they should do because they felt dehydrated I would tell them to drink water. I don't think I would want to live my day to day life questioning my knowledge on every single minute detail of life.
Thank you for considering my point of view; however wrong it may be to you.

Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2012, 06:50:05 PM »
We don't all need to agree, but we do all need to think.

Good luck with getting most religious believers to do that.

The problem with most religious believers is that they are insecure and gullible. They allow their desire for emotional comfort to override their reason. They fear uncertainty and the unknown, which is why they crave an answer to every question and why they prefer simple, unchanging, absolute answers to the complex, ever changing, relative knowledge science provides.

As long as there are insecure and gullible people in the world there will be religious, spiritual and pseudoscientific beliefs. I just don’t see this changing any time soon.
Yes I agree, but I hope it's something that will gradually fade out of existence. There's no reason for that kind of childish fear to exist in a world where we are all equal and subordinate only to logic and reason. Surely that would ensure that no man can claim authority over another? Of course it wouldn't be a utopia and there would still be conflict, but there would be no irrational wars or hate crimes if everyone had the cognitive tools of reasoning and the wherewithal to question.

I see [knowledge] as the goal. My justification is based on the history of science. "We" figure things out for the sake of knowing more. Then we use that knowledge to obtain more knowledge and improve our lives.
Do you see how you are explaining the goal of science to be the pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge itself? What amount of knowledge would be sufficient for science to end?

Your concept is an interesting point but I still don't see the practicality in day to day life... I don't think I would want to live my day to day life questioning my knowledge on every single minute detail of life.
I don't think you should question everything all the time either, you'd probably starve! Knowledge is always useful at any point in time, but just as we don't require perfect hydration from water, we don't require absolute knowledge to drink it.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 06:54:09 PM by Strawman »
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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2012, 06:52:15 PM »
Do you see how you are explaining the goal of science to be the pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge itself?

Indeed. That was not my intention, however.

What knowledge would be sufficient for science to end?

The same that would satisfy the truly curious: all of it.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2012, 06:57:33 PM »
So you are saying God is a simple and "real" concept that theists are over-complicating? or are you saying the truth about God(s) is out there it just has not been explained properly?
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

Offline HAL

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2012, 07:01:02 PM »
The error of religion is that it regards the interpretation of reality to be more important than the method of interpretation. Knowledge is not the mark of intelligence: most children today have more rudimentary knowledge of the universe than Sir Isaac Newton in his prime, but he was a master of method. The mind is not a box for storing information, it's an instrument for extracting meaning from reality. We each must learn to tune our cognitive instrument before playing. It matters not what a person thinks, but how they think.

What have you stated but to really recommend people use the scientific method?

Did I misunderstand your essay?

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2012, 07:40:05 PM »
I don't think you should question everything all the time either, you'd probably starve! Knowledge is always useful at any point in time, but just as we don't require perfect hydration from water, we don't require absolute knowledge to drink it.

Isn't this what we do already? I think I'm missing something here?!
Thank you for considering my point of view; however wrong it may be to you.

Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2012, 07:51:37 PM »
So you are saying God is a simple and "real" concept that theists are over-complicating? or are you saying the truth about God(s) is out there it just has not been explained properly?
I don't think I mentioned god, but I believe that the concept of a god is the one thing that can never be true. There may exist things in the universe which we would call gods, but god is just a term for a force we don't understand. We used to call the sun and moon gods; storms, earthquakes and lightning were all caused by god until we understood them. That's another subject though.

What have you stated but to really recommend people use the scientific method?
Did I misunderstand your essay?
Yes I am basically saying that, but I'm also saying that we focus too much on knowledge and not on the scientific method itself. I think this actually creates a false dichotomy between religion and science (when it should be a true dichotomy), we fight fire with fire by pitching our knowledge against theirs. This seems logical and we have a lot of knowledge that disproves religious claims, but it's the wrong battle: we're using static claims to promote a dynamic method of reasoning. (I presume the theist is probably steadfast in this type of debate because in a static battle of claims their religion makes the big ones, whether or not they are accurate.) Imagine an atheist scientist in 20 AD: what evidence would he have against these new religions? It's his scientific method that sets him apart, not his knowledge. I also believe that learning how to think is more important than what to think and that this should be the priority for schools. I think we just expect people to take to science without considering their cognitive process, and we also see science students who are far from logical in their thinking.
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Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2012, 08:12:06 PM »
I don't think you should question everything all the time either, you'd probably starve! Knowledge is always useful at any point in time, but just as we don't require perfect hydration from water, we don't require absolute knowledge to drink it.

Isn't this what we do already? I think I'm missing something here?!
This is a matter of how one perceives knowledge. It's difficult to explain but I've come to view knowledge as having a fluidity and being almost ethereal. It's obvious that knowledge changes but I almost want to say it doesn't exist at all. I think it's a label we've attached to make it seem concrete, but in reality it's like a point on a time-line: it doesn't really exist.

I don't think I'm explaining myself very well and it's time for bed.
G'night all.  :)
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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2012, 09:59:52 PM »
bm
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Offline Samothec

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2012, 10:18:27 PM »
The mind is not a box for storing information, it's an instrument for extracting meaning from reality.
Not quite correct. If the mind stores no information upon which to base its processing then it can not understand/comprehend reality.


If atheism is to be the true antithesis of religion and not merely irreligion, ...
You say this as if that is the goal for atheism but it is not. Atheism is only "irreligion" nothing more. Some atheists do work to eliminate religion but others are happy with just not believing in the lies.


It must not use knowledge as the basis for debate, but science. Our combined knowledge as a species is overwhelming and proves extremely beneficial, but we must remember that it is only a side-effect of the scientific method.
Science is knowledge. That knowledge is not a side effect of the scientific method but the goal. The scientific method is an incredibly useful process.


Time and space are impossible to quantify without inaccuracy, they embody the principle of our universe: everything changes and nothing is concrete. There is no knowledge, only interpretation; what matters is method.
This is inaccurate. We can and do quantify time and space. There is knowledge. There are some things that are concrete but much of the universe does change as does our understanding so we continually revise it.


Our only control is over our cognitive process.
Also inaccurate. Much of our cognitive ability is subconscious and we have no control over that portion. And our cognitive ability can be faulty or fooled which is what makes the scientific method so powerful: it gives us correct answers (if followed correctly and rigorously) in spite of problems with our cognition.


We don't all need to agree, but we do all need to think. The only things that would be eliminated if everyone thought this way are authoritarianism, spiritualism and other "I just know" bullshit; It makes everyone irrevocably equal. A lot of people don't want any of that and would be lost without being able to use make-believe as justification or evidence, so it makes a society-wide transition difficult.
Take a look for a moment at this forum ignoring the theists. While not every atheist here uses the scientific method rigorously with regards to everything they write here, I think most at least try to be logical. But some still retain a spirituality. Some tend to be authoritarian. Some go with "I know this" – not quite the same as the "I just know" which is usually code for "I'm bullshitting but don't want to admit that even to myself". The atheists here (and on other sites I read) do demonstrate those flaws to a far lesser degree than theists. I would very much like to think those problems would be eliminated if we got everyone to think logically but our brains evolved with certain traits that can undercut that hope.

All that said, underlying your new philosophy seems to be a hope for everyone to think more logically/critically. I heartily agree.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2012, 04:44:53 PM »
Samothec,

Some good criticisms here.

The mind is not a box for storing information, it's an instrument for extracting meaning from reality.
1. Not quite correct. If the mind stores no information upon which to base its processing then it can not understand/comprehend reality.

It must not use knowledge as the basis for debate, but science. Our combined knowledge as a species is overwhelming and proves extremely beneficial, but we must remember that it is only a side-effect of the scientific method.
2. Science is knowledge. That knowledge is not a side effect of the scientific method but the goal. The scientific method is an incredibly useful process.

Time and space are impossible to quantify without inaccuracy, they embody the principle of our universe: everything changes and nothing is concrete. There is no knowledge, only interpretation; what matters is method.
3. This is inaccurate. We can and do quantify time and space. There is knowledge. There are some things that are concrete but much of the universe does change as does our understanding so we continually revise it.

Our only control is over our cognitive process.
4. Also inaccurate. Much of our cognitive ability is subconscious and we have no control over that portion. And our cognitive ability can be faulty or fooled which is what makes the scientific method so powerful: it gives us correct answers (if followed correctly and rigorously) in spite of problems with our cognition.

5. We don't all need to agree, but we do all need to think. The only things that would be eliminated if everyone thought this way are authoritarianism, spiritualism and other "I just know" bullshit; It makes everyone irrevocably equal. A lot of people don't want any of that and would be lost without being able to use make-believe as justification or evidence, so it makes a society-wide transition difficult.
Take a look for a moment at this forum ignoring the theists. While not every atheist here uses the scientific method rigorously with regards to everything they write here, I think most at least try to be logical. But some still retain a spirituality. Some tend to be authoritarian. Some go with "I know this" – not quite the same as the "I just know" which is usually code for "I'm bullshitting but don't want to admit that even to myself". The atheists here (and on other sites I read) do demonstrate those flaws to a far lesser degree than theists. I would very much like to think those problems would be eliminated if we got everyone to think logically but our brains evolved with certain traits that can undercut that hope.

If atheism is to be the true antithesis of religion and not merely irreligion, ...
6. You say this as if that is the goal for atheism but it is not. Atheism is only "irreligion" nothing more. Some atheists do work to eliminate religion but others are happy with just not believing in the lies.

7. All that said, underlying your new philosophy seems to be a hope for everyone to think more logically/critically. I heartily agree.

1. Of course we need to store information, I was trying to highlight that learning isn't just remembering facts and formulas.

2. Since you're the second person to say that I think this is a semantic error on my part. What I call science is the discipline itself; knowledge is the product of science. I look at science on three levels: knowledge is at the bottom, it changes often, giving and receiving feedback from the layer above: science (logic, reasoning, the scientific method) which changes at a much slower rate. The top layer is a very strange place where nothing changes, where science and knowledge fuse into one and everything is known about the universe. I imagine all of science being condensed to a single equation or thought, which answers everything about the universe: a theory of everything. We already have examples of this, such as electro-magnetism: the amalgamation of two distinct fields into one. I don't think it would even be a what we think of as a theory: it would be so incredibly simple and intuitive that there would no longer be any meaning to theories, measurements or data. :police: I've gone all wishy-washy!

3. There is always a degree of inaccuracy when measuring anything, no matter how precise the equipment is. There's no such thing as one metre or three seconds, these are approximations for utility.
"There is no knowledge" - it's hard for me to explain what I mean by this, and I'm really arguing against semantics. There are things we know that will never change but we thought the same about things that did. Knowledge is damn useful but it's not set in stone, none of it (that doesn't mean it will all evaporate either). It's like a reflection of the universe that we catch glimpses of but can never capture; like a river that runs through us, surrounding us with water, but flows by and not a single drop can be named or laid claim to.

4. That was a mistake and I can't remember what I was trying to say there.

5 and 6. This is really what urged me to make this thread. I want to see what people think it means to be an atheist. I think merely stating a lack of belief in deities is a grossly vague understatement. There must be a philosophy behind that reasoning: everyone has a philosophy whether they realise it or not. It seems apparent to me that to reject theism one must be of the philosophy that scientific evidence trumps assertion; I take this further to mean that method trumps knowledge ("knowledge" in this sense is whatever people think they know, whether supported by evidence or not).

7. Yes, I believe that there is no such thing as human nature: we adapt to our surroundings and become cruel or kind, rational or irrational depending on our culture and circumstances. It's always preferable to be kind unless culture imposes some restriction on kindness i.e. money. Bearing that in mind, I don't see why we couldn't have an entire world full of kind and rational human beings. The difficulty is that we're not born that way, each person has to be trained for it.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 04:47:08 PM by Strawman »
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Offline kindred

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2012, 09:51:10 PM »
All good in theory but without any compromises to reality, shit won't fly.

Science is already a well polished and balanced tool. You could be the next great revolutionary of scientific philosophy, highly unlikely. Chances are, you are not.
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Offline Samothec

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2012, 09:59:01 PM »
2. I look at science on three levels: knowledge is at the bottom, it changes often, giving and receiving feedback from the layer above: science (logic, reasoning, the scientific method) which changes at a much slower rate. The top layer is a very strange place where nothing changes, where science and knowledge fuse into one and everything is known about the universe.
For clarity, I will not be using your definitions, I will use the standard ones where science is the body of knowledge and scientific method is the analytical process. I would not agree that the knowledge changes often – there are many very small changes fairly frequently but science changes only gradually. Radical theories can pop up that make us question things but until evidence is produced and then reproduced science does not change. The scientific method does not change – generally speaking – any "changes" are in how the process is applied in a specific field if errors are found in how it used to be applied. Your top layer is either nonexistent or a weird way of saying "reality".


3. There is always a degree of inaccuracy when measuring anything, no matter how precise the equipment is. There's no such thing as one metre or three seconds, these are approximations for utility.
If this was true we wouldn't be able to make the current (or future) generation microprocessors. We are very capable of making incredibly accurate measurements.


5 and 6. This is really what urged me to make this thread. I want to see what people think it means to be an atheist. I think merely stating a lack of belief in deities is a grossly vague understatement. There must be a philosophy behind that reasoning: everyone has a philosophy whether they realise it or not.
You are attributing to atheism aspects which are not there. Coughing is a symptom, not the disease and not the symptom from just one possible disease. Theists, this is just analogy and not at all indicative of atheists' philosophies. In this analogy, coughing = atheism. But there are several possible philosophies that the atheism could be a "symptom" of. It would be possible to catalog and analyze the various philosophies held by atheists to see what similarities and differences there are between them – if you were interested in that.


7. Bearing that in mind, I don't see why we couldn't have an entire world full of kind and rational human beings. The difficulty is that we're not born that way, each person has to be trained for it.
Take a look at kids again. We have innate moral senses and are open and curious. But adult morality and sanity are different than that of children so we train them to match the society they are living in. Kids are fairly universal in their behavior around the world while adults demonstrate the greater cultural differences.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline Cyberia

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2012, 10:51:12 PM »
The product of the Scientific Method is Knowledge, and therefore represents reality most directly.  Knowledge is reality in many cases, and while knowledge can change, it is bounded by other knowledge.  An electron, for example, won't be found to actually have a positive charge, but may be a composite of particles....but our knowledge of the composite whole, an electron, would remain valid. 

To disregard knowledge is to disregard reality and invite the supernatural.
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Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2012, 12:50:33 PM »
For clarity, I will not be using your definitions, I will use the standard ones where science is the body of knowledge and scientific method is the analytical process. I would not agree that the knowledge changes often – there are many very small changes fairly frequently but science changes only gradually. Radical theories can pop up that make us question things but until evidence is produced and then reproduced science does not change. The scientific method does not change – generally speaking – any "changes" are in how the process is applied in a specific field if errors are found in how it used to be applied. Your top layer is either nonexistent or a weird way of saying "reality".
I accept the standard definition of science to include scientific knowledge, but this seems like a wasteful reduction of vocabulary. Science is a discipline, therefore: science is to knowledge as language is to literature -- one could call Shakespeare or Dickens "language". I think the inclusion of scientific knowledge, within the term "science", only exists to differentiate between actual knowledge and asserted "knowledge".

The frequency of "often" is open to debate, but knowledge has undeniably changed a great deal throughout human history. I think you would agree that the scientific method has not changed as rapidly as knowledge, but I also assert that it does change: it has changed over the centuries and millennia, I would assert that even pre-science was science in a crude form and that the scientific method is not a revelation that occurred during the middle ages but a continuously self-refining process that continues to this day. I think it would be arrogant to assume that the science of today is perfect, in method or knowledge.
It's very possible that my mysterious "top layer" doesn't exist at all, it's merely what I interpret as the logical conclusion.

There is always a degree of inaccuracy when measuring anything, no matter how precise the equipment is. There's no such thing as one metre or three seconds, these are approximations for utility.
If this was true we wouldn't be able to make the current (or future) generation microprocessors. We are very capable of making incredibly accurate measurements.
"Accuracy" is another subjective word. We've taken great leaps in improving our accuracy but there are always degrees of magnitude beyond our detection.

You are attributing to atheism aspects which are not there. Coughing is a symptom, not the disease and not the symptom from just one possible disease. Theists, this is just analogy and not at all indicative of atheists' philosophies. In this analogy, coughing = atheism. But there are several possible philosophies that the atheism could be a "symptom" of. It would be possible to catalog and analyze the various philosophies held by atheists to see what similarities and differences there are between them – if you were interested in that.
You are right, atheism is just the meeting point of many philosophies. The answer is not to build a philosophy around atheism, but move it aside for the philosophies that culminate in atheism. I guess I've become attached to the label. :angel:

Take a look at kids again. We have innate moral senses and are open and curious. But adult morality and sanity are different than that of children so we train them to match the society they are living in. Kids are fairly universal in their behavior around the world while adults demonstrate the greater cultural differences.
I don't think this is innate morality; I think children learn all their behaviour. Their minds are active and learning all the time, so they learn much on their own, and because our environment[1] is largely the same everywhere we see children behaving in the same way. Human communication is no where near efficient enough to intercept this independent learning.
 1. By which I mean our interaction with animals, nature and other humans
« Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 12:58:40 PM by Strawman »
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Offline Samothec

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2012, 04:25:03 PM »
... science is to knowledge as language is to literature -- one could call Shakespeare or Dickens "language". I think the inclusion of scientific knowledge, within the term "science", only exists to differentiate between actual knowledge and asserted "knowledge".

Your analogy[1] is flawed. Scientific knowledge is to technology as language is to literature. One uses the first to build the second in each case - this would be a more accurate analogy.

Something that is asserted is not knowledge, it is only an assertion - if it can be later supported, it is no longer an asssertion. So knowledge is only knowledge. I will acknowledge that scientific knowledge is more rigorously defined than "every day" knowledge.

I have a couple thousand books. That is a fact - somewhat vaguely stated because I haven't counted them in a long while and am probably off by a couple hundred. I can take photos to prove it to you and also count them to verify the accurate number. This is the sort of thing I mean by "every day" knowledge - maybe this is what you mean by "asserted knowledge". Given the way "asserted" is usually used[2] I will not use it in this way.


I think you would agree that the scientific method has not changed as rapidly as knowledge, but I also assert that it does change: it has changed over the centuries and millennia, I would assert that even pre-science was science in a crude form and that the scientific method is not a revelation that occurred during the middle ages but a continuously self-refining process that continues to this day. I think it would be arrogant to assume that the science of today is perfect, in method or knowledge.

From the Oxford English Dictionary:
Quote
scientific method - noun - a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

So scientific method has not been around for millennia but only centuries. I do understand what you are getting at though. The method is unlikely to have any major changes although it would be arrogant to assume we can't refine it further in the future.


"Accuracy" is another subjective word. We've taken great leaps in improving our accuracy but there are always degrees of magnitude beyond our detection.

"Accuracy" is rarely subjective - in my experience. But I have encountered people using it in a sloppy manner.


I don't think this is innate morality; I think children learn all their behaviour. Their minds are active and learning all the time, so they learn much on their own, and because our environment is largely the same everywhere we see children behaving in the same way. Human communication is no where near efficient enough to intercept this independent learning.

I have seen science programs/videos showing toddlers and animals[3] displaying a sense of fairness. Given the early age at which this is displayed in humans and that animals have a more limited learning capability[4], this strongly indicates we (and higher animals that co-operate) have some innate morals. If this was purely learned then the children would more closely match the society they are born into. The societal environment is sufficiently diverse that children from dissimilar societies would have greater differences. Yet bring children together from those diverse societies and you see fewer differences than between adults from those same societies.


Please note, I am not trying to be contrary. I have had recent experiences where it seemed the other person was mainly just trying to be contrary - whether they intended that or not. It could have just been me. But considering how I felt and this being another post where I am only trying to present corrections and alternate views (but which you could take negatively), I want to make sure you are not feeling put upon.
 1. I might be using the wrong term here - I know there are a group of similar but distinct terms but they keep getting mixed up in my head so please, no flaming corrections, just calm factual ones
 2. to imply negatively that the assertion is false or unsupported
 3. higher animals that co-operate
 4. compared to humans
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Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2012, 07:07:41 PM »
Samothec,

Quote
"Accuracy" is rarely subjective - in my experience. But I have encountered people using it in a sloppy manner.
Apologies. I mean to say "accurate" not "accuracy". Who is to say we are incredibly accurate? It may seem incredible to us but what do we have to compare? How incredible will we be a century from now?

Quote
I have seen science programs/videos showing toddlers and animals displaying a sense of fairness. Given the early age at which this is displayed in humans and that animals have a more limited learning capability, this strongly indicates we (and higher animals that co-operate) have some innate morals. If this was purely learned then the children would more closely match the society they are born into. The societal environment is sufficiently diverse that children from dissimilar societies would have greater differences. Yet bring children together from those diverse societies and you see fewer differences than between adults from those same societies.
I'm not sure I'm entirely swayed by that. I'd argue that children quickly learn the advantages of fairness: sharing means there is no conflict, no one gets upset or angry, and peace is worth the cost of having a little less for yourself.
What is really interesting though is the chemical reinforcement of fairness: it feels good to share. Is this something we are born with or does what makes us happy change according to experience? It's an interesting subject but I don't know nearly enough to have a proper conversation.

Regarding "knowledge": To me it seemed like tweaking the meaning of "knowledge" and "science" made my philosophy easier to understand but I think I'm just confusing people.
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Offline Strawman

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Re: Mind Over Matter: Knowledge is not the answer
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2012, 01:11:54 AM »
Sorry to double post, but this should help clarify my views with regards to "method over knowledge" or "mind over matter" as I put it in the title:

Knowledge brings power, but not freedom. Freedom can only be experienced by a free mind. Knowledge is used to enslave, repress and bring injustice upon the world. But if we all had the power of free thought then we all would be free! The knowledge that once gave power to the few would empower us all! This is why all religions and ideologies that restrict free-speech and free-thought must be abolished: not because of the teachings they impart (whether they agree with science or not), but because they systematically enslave minds and impose inequality.
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