Reason / Science / Religion

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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#341  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 22, 2010 2:28 pm

archibald wrote:I do like this though, from the wiki page:

The classic statement of scientism is from the physicist Ernest Rutherford: "there is physics and there is stamp-collecting."


That's a domestic dispute amongst those who deal in the empirical, and is not about woo-heads. People who collect artifacts are not woo-heads, but they are, for all of that, collecting and collating. We are told, "this will be a science, real soon now".
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#342  Postby IanS » Nov 22, 2010 2:54 pm

sanja wrote:
Will S wrote:
quas wrote:Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?

I can't answer that, until you've defined science. For more about this, see the OP.

why do you have to presume that people who do not agree with you do not know what science is?


Can you quote the part where WillS said that people who do not agree with him do not know what science is? Because I did not notice him saying that. Where did he say it?

sanja wrote:
As I've said, Niels Bohr was scientist.
And he said this:

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.



If Bohr ever said that (and I don't know if he did), then what do you think he meant by it?

What do you think it might mean to say that nothing is “real”?


sanja wrote:
It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature.


Same question again - if Bohr ever did say that (and I don't know if he did), then what do you think he meant by it?

By the way - in neither of your quotes is Bohr attempting to define what he understood by the word "science"
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#343  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 22, 2010 4:48 pm

IanS wrote:
sanja wrote:
As I've said, Niels Bohr was scientist.
And he said this:

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.



If Bohr ever said that (and I don't know if he did), then what do you think he meant by it?

What do you think it might mean to say that nothing is “real”?


The problem is not with the word 'real', on whose meaning no one can agree, but on the words 'made up' (composed), also a term on which no one can agree. This is a discussion about the semantics of imprecise terms at this point.

We either talk about models for the structure of matter or we wibble. A structure is a model. If a model isn't good enough, we can go find a less-pricey whore.

Or we can be left wibbling about the words used by famous scientists outside the context of anything like a model. It is only disingenuous to suggest that scientists are incapable of using metphors and clearly indicating use in context.
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Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#344  Postby IanS » Nov 22, 2010 6:30 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
IanS wrote:
sanja wrote:
As I've said, Niels Bohr was scientist.
And he said this:




If Bohr ever said that (and I don't know if he did), then what do you think he meant by it?

What do you think it might mean to say that nothing is “real”?


The problem is not with the word 'real', on whose meaning no one can agree, but on the words 'made up' (composed), also a term on which no one can agree. This is a discussion about the semantics of imprecise terms at this point.

We either talk about models for the structure of matter or we wibble. A structure is a model. If a model isn't good enough, we can go find a less-pricey whore.

Or we can be left wibbling about the words used by famous scientists outside the context of anything like a model. It is only disingenuous to suggest that scientists are incapable of using metphors and clearly indicating use in context.


Without saying whether I agree with you or not ;) - the point of that post was that I specifically want to know what Sanja thinks those two statements might mean, and why he is endorsing that meaning. ... I am asking him directly to explain what he posted.

:popcorn:
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#345  Postby Bud's Brain » Nov 23, 2010 8:17 pm

:coffee:
So many Christians, so few lions.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#346  Postby Hugin » Jan 20, 2011 1:35 pm

I very much agree with the OP - science is simply applied reason to the natural world. But I'm doubtful about the notion of reason being the same thing as common sense. Is it really?
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#347  Postby Will S » Jan 20, 2011 2:12 pm

Hugin wrote:I very much agree with the OP - science is simply applied reason to the natural world. But I'm doubtful about the notion of reason being the same thing as common sense. Is it really?

To be honest, I rather wish I hadn't used the phrase 'common sense' - it's a bit woolly.

All I can say in self-defence is that I did qualify it by saying: Of course, some of the results of using 'applied common sense' may seem to violate other conclusions which we've reached using common sense – but that is a different issue.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#348  Postby Hugin » Jan 20, 2011 6:40 pm

Will S wrote:
Hugin wrote:I very much agree with the OP - science is simply applied reason to the natural world. But I'm doubtful about the notion of reason being the same thing as common sense. Is it really?

To be honest, I rather wish I hadn't used the phrase 'common sense' - it's a bit woolly.

All I can say in self-defence is that I did qualify it by saying: Of course, some of the results of using 'applied common sense' may seem to violate other conclusions which we've reached using common sense – but that is a different issue.


Yeah, though I've never put deep thought into what common sense means.

Another thing to your defense is that in Swedish, "common sense" is called "sunt förnuft", which literally translates as "sane reason".

Anyhow, since science is based on reason, why does Dawkins call his foundation "... for Reason and Science"? :ask:
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#349  Postby Will S » Jan 20, 2011 8:43 pm

Hugin wrote:Anyhow, since science is based on reason, why does Dawkins call his foundation "... for Reason and Science"? :ask:

I can't see why not. After all, we naturally speak of 'food and drink', even though there's no absolute difference between them. At what point does a thick soup become a thin stew? :angel:
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#350  Postby Hugin » Jan 20, 2011 8:59 pm

Will S wrote:
Hugin wrote:Anyhow, since science is based on reason, why does Dawkins call his foundation "... for Reason and Science"? :ask:

I can't see why not. After all, we naturally speak of 'food and drink', even though there's no absolute difference between them. At what point does a thick soup become a thin stew? :angel:


Sure, but in the case of science and reason, the former is a subset (or form) of the latter, whereas I guess none of food and drink are a subset of the other.

EDIT: By your analogy, it would be like if a restaurant said they offered food and pizza. Pizza is a kind of food, obviously.

Btw, another thing: If science is a form of reason, how does this apply to the old rationalism vs empiricism debate? Of those, science surely seems to be closer to empiricism.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#351  Postby Will S » Jan 21, 2011 8:53 am

Hugin wrote:Btw, another thing: If science is a form of reason, how does this apply to the old rationalism vs empiricism debate? Of those, science surely seems to be closer to empiricism.

I'm the wrong person to comment; it would need somebody who knows more about the history of philosophy than I do.

As an aside, when I posted the OP, I was fully expecting people to produce what you might call 'philosophical' objections to what I was saying. But, to my surprise, this has scarcely happened. I was, at one point, accused of 'scientism', but when I asked what exactly scientism is ... silence reigned. (see the discussion starting at the top of page 17).
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#352  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 21, 2011 12:08 pm

Hugin wrote: If science is a form of reason, how does this apply to the old rationalism vs empiricism debate? Of those, science surely seems to be closer to empiricism.


It's unreasonable to insist that one exclude observation from one's reasoning. Conversely, those who make observations outside the context of scientific theories are called 'abstract impressionists'.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#353  Postby Hugin » Jan 22, 2011 3:09 pm

Will S wrote:
Hugin wrote:Btw, another thing: If science is a form of reason, how does this apply to the old rationalism vs empiricism debate? Of those, science surely seems to be closer to empiricism.

I'm the wrong person to comment; it would need somebody who knows more about the history of philosophy than I do.


Basically, rationalism in a philosophical context at least used to refer to the view that knowledge could simply be deducted from reason, no observation was necessary. Empiricism (if I understand it correctly) is the view that our knowledge comes from the senses.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#354  Postby Between3&20character » May 26, 2011 6:43 am

Will S wrote:I think we have to accept that there may well be issues which reason can't address, and problems which it cannot solve. (Perhaps we should say human reason, but this isn't very helpful, because it's not easy to see how we could ever comprehend super-human reason!) This conclusion seems obvious once we recognise that our brains evolved to deal with a particular set of problems relating to reproduction and survival. So it seems likely that there are problems which our brains simply can't cope with – for example, perhaps the problem of consciousness is one of them. (Indeed, what seems to me to be so surprising is not that human reason is limited, but that, considering its origin, it can achieve so much.)

But if human reason is limited in this way, can the religious person tell us how to overcome these limitations? As far as I can see, he can't – he's in the same boat as the rest of us.

The unavoidable conclusion is that, when we are trying to find out the truth about things, reason trumps everything, and nothing can trump reason.


Except better reason.

Will S wrote:It seems to me that, these days, only a very few people ever claim that the truth of religion can be established by reason, and these are mostly on the evangelical fringe. However, at one time the view was fairly widespread. For example, in Victorian times, a prize was offered for the best essay on 'the best way of proving Christianity to the Hindus'. Note the word prove; it's not easy to imagine even the Templeton Foundation funding such a competition today!

Indeed, you can see this approach largely preserved in the work of Christian apologists of the previous generation, who tended to argue that anybody who approached the subject with an open mind would probably end up a theist and a Christian. For better or for worse, they relied on reason. For example, C S Lewis wrote: ' I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it.' Also, he puts these words into the mouth of a senior devil advising a junior devil on how to bring a man to perdition: 'The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth'.


There's nothing like a man's most deep motive in the world to thoroughly screw up what was already screwed up thinking. Ayn Rand and Karl Marx both.

Will S wrote:Can you imagine many present day apologists putting it as clearly and baldly as that? Today, they seem to say, routinely, that 'reason can take you only so far …' They imply that, beyond reason, there's a … something – only we're never told exactly what it is.

So, in conclusion, and to put it a bit brutally, I suggest that a great deal of religious polemic is devoted to using reason in an opportunistic, even deceitful, now-you-see-it-now-you-don't, kind of way. Time and again, I find myself wanting to say to religious people, in the grim words which the Bible attributes to Festus: 'Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go!'


That's where they're going. But, be careful yourself. I wager that if sentience has as its ultimate ancestor non-sentience, then either no one can ever know anything about anything for what it really is, or anyone can (think that they can) become all-powerful over all the cosmos.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#355  Postby Sweenith » May 26, 2011 12:14 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
Hugin wrote: If science is a form of reason, how does this apply to the old rationalism vs empiricism debate? Of those, science surely seems to be closer to empiricism.


It's unreasonable to insist that one exclude observation from one's reasoning. Conversely, those who make observations outside the context of scientific theories are called 'abstract impressionists'.


Agreed, that would indeed be unreasonable (to insist on excluding observation). That's not the traditional rationalist view though. The empiricist says that there is no innate knowledge, and all is observational or derived therefrom; the only difference with the rationalist, is that he says there is innate knowledge.

But rationalism as such makes no exclusions with respect to empirical evidence - it merely affirms that we have both—knowledge which is a priori (known independently from our experience), as well as a posteriori knowledge (attained via exp). (That's not to say that there haven't been particular rationalists who were skeptics with regard to observational knowledge—there have been, but their skepticism was accidental to their being rationalists). So it's not as though one must choose "either knowledge is innate, or its observational" ; rather the issue has traditionally been "either there is innate knowledge (the rationalist camp), or there isn't (the empiricist camp)
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#356  Postby Cito di Pense » Jun 01, 2011 1:29 pm

Sweenith wrote:
But rationalism as such makes no exclusions with respect to empirical evidence - it merely affirms that we have both—knowledge which is a priori (known independently from our experience), as well as a posteriori knowledge (attained via exp).


That version of rationalism imports a kind of poorly-disguised dualism, in the form of a priori knowledge. What else could it be?
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#357  Postby Sweenith » Jun 01, 2011 2:59 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
Sweenith wrote:
But rationalism as such makes no exclusions with respect to empirical evidence - it merely affirms that we have both—knowledge which is a priori (known independently from our experience), as well as a posteriori knowledge (attained via exp).


That version of rationalism imports a kind of poorly-disguised dualism, in the form of a priori knowledge. What else could it be?

What do you mean by dualism? If you mean substance dualism, according to which persons are immaterial minds with material bodies, then I don't see how affirming a priori knowledge commits one to dualism (in that sense). While there are certain dualist theories which give an account of a priori knowledge, there are also certain materialist theories which affirm a priori knowledge (after all, the analytic/synthetic distinction wasn't really called into question by empiricists until Quine, if I recall). This shows that a priori knowledge doesn't entail (substance) dualism.

And it's not necessarily that a priori knowledge has to be thought of as the knowledge which somehow carried over from your past life (Plato's view); another way to think about it is that a priori knowledge is independent of experience in the sense that they are necessary truths, and thus in principle cannot depend upon any a posteriori evidence or considerations for their truth.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#358  Postby Cito di Pense » Jun 01, 2011 5:06 pm

Sweenith wrote:
Cito di Pense wrote:
Sweenith wrote:
But rationalism as such makes no exclusions with respect to empirical evidence - it merely affirms that we have both—knowledge which is a priori (known independently from our experience), as well as a posteriori knowledge (attained via exp).


That version of rationalism imports a kind of poorly-disguised dualism, in the form of a priori knowledge. What else could it be?

What do you mean by dualism? If you mean substance dualism, according to which persons are immaterial minds with material bodies, then I don't see how affirming a priori knowledge commits one to dualism (in that sense). While there are certain dualist theories which give an account of a priori knowledge, there are also certain materialist theories which affirm a priori knowledge (after all, the analytic/synthetic distinction wasn't really called into question by empiricists until Quine, if I recall). This shows that a priori knowledge doesn't entail (substance) dualism.

And it's not necessarily that a priori knowledge has to be thought of as the knowledge which somehow carried over from your past life (Plato's view); another way to think about it is that a priori knowledge is independent of experience in the sense that they are necessary truths, and thus in principle cannot depend upon any a posteriori evidence or considerations for their truth.


I don't do philosophy, Sweenith. I just recognise it when it comes my way. I don't say that postulating a priori knowledge entails anything except an assertion blown out of some philosopher's arse.

A priori knowledge is a postulate, and postulates are not a priori knowledge. They're just postulates.

I don't know why somebody would traffic in necessary truths unless he wanted to assume his conclusions.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#359  Postby Sweenith » Jun 01, 2011 6:57 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
I don't do philosophy, Sweenith. I just recognise it when it comes my way. I don't say that postulating a priori knowledge entails anything except an assertion blown out of some philosopher's arse.

A priori knowledge is a postulate, and postulates are not a priori knowledge. They're just postulates.

I don't know why somebody would traffic in necessary truths unless he wanted to assume his conclusions.


Hmm well if a priori knowledge is a postulate and a postulate is not a priori knowledge, that would mean that a priori knowledge is not a priori knowledge. so that can't be right.

'trafficing in' already makes it sound like the guy is being dishonest. But there's nothing sinister about necessary truths, we use them all the time (mathematical statements for instance). A necessary truth is just one that couldn't have failed to be true (e.g., that 2 and 2 make 4, that water is H20, etc.)
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#360  Postby Cito di Pense » Jun 01, 2011 7:03 pm

Sweenith wrote:
Cito di Pense wrote:
I don't do philosophy, Sweenith. I just recognise it when it comes my way. I don't say that postulating a priori knowledge entails anything except an assertion blown out of some philosopher's arse.

A priori knowledge is a postulate, and postulates are not a priori knowledge. They're just postulates.

I don't know why somebody would traffic in necessary truths unless he wanted to assume his conclusions.


Hmm well if a priori knowledge is a postulate and a postulate is not a priori knowledge, that would mean that a priori knowledge is not a priori knowledge. so that can't be right.

'trafficing in' already makes it sound like the guy is being dishonest. But there's nothing sinister about necessary truths, we use them all the time (mathematical statements for instance). A necessary truth is just one that couldn't have failed to be true (e.g., that 2 and 2 make 4, that water is H20, etc.)


Self-evident is not the same as necessary. Necessity is the result of deduction, and hence is not a priori.

Postulates are not the same as axioms. A postulate might be something you have decided to try to prove, otherwise, axioms and postulates would be the same. Why have two words if there is only one concept. Parsimony demands it.
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