The fact that we as adults still have the inclination to treat certain inanimate objects as conscious entities appears to be a left-over of our cognitive development.
When we were between 2 and 7 years old we talked to our teddy beer, believed Walt Disney and knew that some trees could talk.
So, the fact that we are religiously sensitive to images, statues and idols in rituals may quite well be a by-product of the way our brain has developed and is wired.
But there is more. In a conversation with a friend of mine we discussed who said what when and she found it. She sent me this:
The guy was Malebranche (1638 - 1715). Quote from the book: "In order to account for the appearance of causal interaction between minds and bodies...
they are like two clocks wound up by God and kept in synchronicity with each other through divine acts. Whenever I will to move my arm, God causes the arm to move on that occasion." -end quote-
This is a quote from “Philosophy, 100 Essential Thinkers” by Philip Stokes. The book I used for my first project.
It is a really peculiar line of thinking, but people believed it. The cause of such ideas was the famous invention of Descartes (1598 -1650): DUALISM.
Malebranche, but Descartes himself in the first place, had to deal with a serious problem, because on the one hand you had that inanimate object: the body.
On the other hand you have the mind. Both made of completely different material. The body is of course real material: bones, blood, skin….and so on. You can touch it. It uses space.
But the mind, that is another piece of cake. That could not be the same material as the body. It has to be some substance all right, because it exists. To have it in Descartes own words:
“I knew, that I was a substance, the whole essence or nature of which is to think, and that for its existence there is no need of place or any material thing.
That is to say, the soul by which I am, what I am, is entirely distinct from the body.” -end quote -
And there is our problem: how do these two, body and mind, interact? Malebranche came up with a really extraordinary solution.
Did he really believe, that god kept himself busy with for instance, say, 8 billion blinking eyes? What else may keep him busy, I leave to your own imagination.
Although Descartes was the philosopher, who created probably the most influential misconception in the history of philosophy, we can not blame him for that.
Let me ask you a simple question: Where are you? You might answer…Well, obvious…here in this room.
That is not what I mean. Yes I see your body, but where are YOU! Ohhhhh…I see….well I AM here…..
and in many cases people point at their head, some at their chest, but nobody at their feet.
We experience ourselves as a body and a mind. Our language is peppered with dualism. “My knee hurts, but don’t worry, I feel fine”. Just by looking in a mirror we already can say…that is my body.
It seems, that a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in a body, is a default setting of the human mind.
So, apparently we are born dualists and from an evolutionary point of view this isn’t so weird at all.
To be able to live together in a group, we have to observe what others think, what goes on in their mind.
Much more important than how their body acts. We even deduce from the body language how people feel and think.
Furthermore I can have a conversation in my mind with you, while you are not present at all or I can have a conversation with my deceased mother.
And all this based on the belief that the mind is a different entity from the body. Maybe even not subjected to the laws of nature.
You can imagine how easy it is to hijack this natural tendency of the mind? In no time we believe that we can be talking to some god.
And in that sense, this way of thinking can be regarded as a by-product of our natural need of empathy to make a social existence possible.
Thank you…. the floor is yours… ^_^
[2015/01/29 13:14] Daruma Boa: claps
[2015/01/29 13:14] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): wow..thank you Herman
[2015/01/29 13:14] Max Chatnoir: Treat everything as if it could think because you never know.
[2015/01/29 13:15] Max Chatnoir: When you are little.
[2015/01/29 13:15] Max Chatnoir: Sort it out as you get older.
[2015/01/29 13:15] herman Bergson: We will get to that too Max....
[2015/01/29 13:15] herman Bergson: it is the pragmatic approach of belief :-)
[2015/01/29 13:15] herman Bergson: Also called Pascal's Wager...
[2015/01/29 13:16] herman Bergson: Well....I think I didn’t challenge you with controversial ideas today :-)
[2015/01/29 13:16] Max Chatnoir: So how does the idea of a mind with NO body arise?
[2015/01/29 13:17] Max Chatnoir: Which is what God would have to be.
[2015/01/29 13:17] Max Chatnoir: Well, I guess the old gods lives some place else, like on Olympus.
[2015/01/29 13:17] herman Bergson: In fact Descartes showed you how, Max....
[2015/01/29 13:17] Areyn Laurasia: Artificial intelligence?
[2015/01/29 13:17] herman Bergson: I can even doubt the fact that my body is real....
[2015/01/29 13:17] herman Bergson: but I can not doubt that I doubt...
[2015/01/29 13:17] Max Chatnoir: Ah, yes.
[2015/01/29 13:18] Max Chatnoir: So my mind is real.
[2015/01/29 13:18] herman Bergson: Even when I doubt that....:-)
[2015/01/29 13:18] Max Chatnoir: So from that, there are other minds who may or may not be accompanied by bodies?
[2015/01/29 13:18] herman Bergson: That led to Descartes conclusion that the mind is some kind of stand alone entity, yes
[2015/01/29 13:19] herman Bergson: "Other minds" is a whole chapter in philosophy, Max
[2015/01/29 13:19] herman Bergson: How can I know that you are another ind....?
[2015/01/29 13:19] Max Chatnoir: This just never ends, does it? :-)
[2015/01/29 13:19] herman Bergson: Am I not imagining you?
[2015/01/29 13:19] Max Chatnoir: It's a kind of virtual world.
[2015/01/29 13:20] herman Bergson: Fro me it ends when you have a materialist view on reality
[2015/01/29 13:20] herman Bergson: Most interesting in history is that materialism is always attacked by main stream philosophies and religions...
[2015/01/29 13:21] herman Bergson: Already happened in India 600 BC
[2015/01/29 13:21] Max Chatnoir: Well, the first philosopher in that book, Thales, talked about God being the mind of the world, so the world would be his/her body.
[2015/01/29 13:22] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): word in the form of the earth?
[2015/01/29 13:22] herman Bergson: Yes....Spinoza went in that direction too...
[2015/01/29 13:22] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): world..
[2015/01/29 13:22] herman Bergson: But what does it add to reality....
[2015/01/29 13:22] Max Chatnoir: You have a sort of super animism.
[2015/01/29 13:23] herman Bergson: The quintessential point here is a god who intervenes with our lives
[2015/01/29 13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why would he do that?
[2015/01/29 13:23] herman Bergson: that is not the point Beertje :-)
[2015/01/29 13:23] Max Chatnoir: I was thinking about that when I was thinking about talking to my car. I feel gratitude when the dome light turns on at night.
[2015/01/29 13:24] Max Chatnoir: But is the gratitude to the car itself or to whoever designed the car?
[2015/01/29 13:24] herman Bergson: The point is that a god who created this world and then went on vacation forever is rather uninteresting for a religion
[2015/01/29 13:24] Areyn Laurasia: without our thoughts and belief.. there would be no god?
[2015/01/29 13:24] Max Chatnoir: And whoever that was has nothing to do with me directly.
[2015/01/29 13:24] Max Chatnoir: So my car theology is deist, not theist.
[2015/01/29 13:24] Bejiita Imako: maybee it is because it does what its supposed to do without struggle
[2015/01/29 13:24] Bejiita Imako: like i had with internet before
[2015/01/29 13:25] herman Bergson: I would say yes Areyn...no god then...:-)
[2015/01/29 13:25] Bejiita Imako: id say both the car and its designers maybe u say thnx to
[2015/01/29 13:26] herman Bergson: After a 250km drive on highways and then safe home...I also sometimes say to my car...well done :-))
[2015/01/29 13:26] Areyn Laurasia: ^^
[2015/01/29 13:26] Max Chatnoir: Yes!
[2015/01/29 13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): depends on what car you have...
[2015/01/29 13:26] herman Bergson: And the funnyt hing is....
[2015/01/29 13:26] Max Chatnoir: Or if it gets me safely home when I'm low on gas.
[2015/01/29 13:27] Bejiita Imako: when any machine do what its supposed to do for long time and heavy work you tend to be grateful to it
[2015/01/29 13:27] herman Bergson: I really have a feeling that it deserves the compliment and will keep him doing what he does :-)
[2015/01/29 13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita ^_^
[2015/01/29 13:28] Max Chatnoir: Yes, isn't that a remnant of animism? I know the car isn't a person, but I certainly am not ever going to say anything mean to it. It wouldn't be nice.
[2015/01/29 13:28] herman Bergson: But to get back to Areyn's remark....no thoughts ...no god....
[2015/01/29 13:28] herman Bergson: Interesting idea....
[2015/01/29 13:28] Max Chatnoir: yes, that is interesting.
[2015/01/29 13:28] herman Bergson: Ohh sure it is animism pur sang Max :-))
[2015/01/29 13:29] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[2015/01/29 13:29] herman Bergson: But as I said before....
[2015/01/29 13:29] Max Chatnoir: So the idea of a disengaged God is less satisfying than an engaged one.
[2015/01/29 13:30] herman Bergson: the remark is only interesting when you believe in a god that really actively influences your life....
[2015/01/29 13:30] herman Bergson: Like islam people often say.....it is Allah's will
[2015/01/29 13:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): that's easy to say
[2015/01/29 13:30] Max Chatnoir: we don't want to be left all alone. It's scary.
[2015/01/29 13:31] Areyn Laurasia: just a way for them to accept things they cannot change
[2015/01/29 13:31] herman Bergson: Not only that....it is also a way to accept the hardship you ar ein for instance
[2015/01/29 13:31] Max Chatnoir: God is testing me.
[2015/01/29 13:31] herman Bergson: Yes..things like that...
[2015/01/29 13:32] herman Bergson: and a good excuse for all kinds of actions....
[2015/01/29 13:32] Ciska Riverstone: or the force you put on others - but we need no god for that - companies argument the same: well for the people in balngladesh thats a lot of money we do only the shareholders will
[2015/01/29 13:33] Bejiita Imako: ah
[2015/01/29 13:33] Ciska Riverstone: its the same psychological mechanism
[2015/01/29 13:33] Max Chatnoir: I heard a congressman quoted on NPR. The environment isn't government's responsibility; it's God's responsibility.
[2015/01/29 13:33] Areyn Laurasia: That's quite shocking
[2015/01/29 13:34] herman Bergson: Nice example Max
[2015/01/29 13:34] Bejiita Imako: now thats nuts
[2015/01/29 13:34] Bejiita Imako: so he an be free from responsibility
[2015/01/29 13:34] Bejiita Imako: by saying its gods will
[2015/01/29 13:34] Ciska Riverstone: or the shareholders ;)
[2015/01/29 13:34] Ciska Riverstone: its the same mechanism
[2015/01/29 13:34] Max Chatnoir: and we don't have to worry about energy use.
[2015/01/29 13:35] Bejiita Imako: no wonder the markets crash
[2015/01/29 13:35] Bejiita Imako: if they think that way
[2015/01/29 13:35] Bejiita Imako: that god controls it
[2015/01/29 13:35] herman Bergson: Well...I guess now you have some idea how we can come to religious ideas...
[2015/01/29 13:36] herman Bergson: It IS a part of our system...
[2015/01/29 13:36] Ciska Riverstone: well - its a way of organizing a lot of people
[2015/01/29 13:36] Max Chatnoir: Yes, that makes sense.
[2015/01/29 13:36] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): are we talking about 1 god or several gods?
[2015/01/29 13:36] herman Bergson: It can have that effect indeed Ciska
[2015/01/29 13:36] Ciska Riverstone: of course
[2015/01/29 13:36] Ciska Riverstone: so we need to think how to replace it
[2015/01/29 13:37] herman Bergson: Doesn’t matter Beertje
[2015/01/29 13:37] Max Chatnoir: It seems to be hard to replace gods with anything but other gods.
[2015/01/29 13:37] Ciska Riverstone: when we want to have a different world
[2015/01/29 13:37] herman Bergson: That is an often heard remark Ciska...
[2015/01/29 13:37] herman Bergson: the idea that we have to "replace" religion
[2015/01/29 13:37] Ciska Riverstone: yes max
[2015/01/29 13:37] Ciska Riverstone: right now we just replace one with the next
[2015/01/29 13:38] Areyn Laurasia: or we should just take up responsibility for our own thoughts and actions
[2015/01/29 13:38] Bejiita Imako: and reject science
[2015/01/29 13:38] herman Bergson: How can you replace where there in reality IS nothing....
[2015/01/29 13:38] Bejiita Imako: science and religious people have always opposed each other
[2015/01/29 13:38] Ciska Riverstone: yes areyn - still that has to be organized somehow
[2015/01/29 13:38] Ciska Riverstone: wellthe question is are thoughts nothing?
[2015/01/29 13:38] herman Bergson: yes Ciska...
[2015/01/29 13:39] herman Bergson: Maybe by rules we make ourselves...pragmatic rules
[2015/01/29 13:39] Max Chatnoir: As much as I love science, I wouldn't want it to be treated like a religion. We get it wrong sometimes.
[2015/01/29 13:39] Ciska Riverstone: yes max
[2015/01/29 13:39] Max Chatnoir: Maybe philosophy is like religion without coercion.
[2015/01/29 13:39] Bejiita Imako: religion is belief in something we dont know really exist while science are hard facts about how things really work
[2015/01/29 13:39] Bejiita Imako: proven facts
[2015/01/29 13:39] Ciska Riverstone: science has no judgement
[2015/01/29 13:39] herman Bergson: Careful now......for here we need to keep a clear definition of religion in mind
[2015/01/29 13:39] Ciska Riverstone: not in a moral sense
[2015/01/29 13:40] Areyn Laurasia: well.. if the pope had gone for a science talk earlier.. he wouldn't have released a white dove.. and now have to use balloons instead
[2015/01/29 13:40] Daruma Boa: but also the hard facts of science changes^^
[2015/01/29 13:40] Bejiita Imako: sometimes yes but science is always about actual observation
[2015/01/29 13:40] herman Bergson: yes they do Daruma...
[2015/01/29 13:40] Daruma Boa: ja and religion mostly not^
[2015/01/29 13:40] Ciska Riverstone: bejiita - there we go with empathy - how can you prove that scientific?
[2015/01/29 13:41] Areyn Laurasia: why can't religion and science co-exist?
[2015/01/29 13:41] Ciska Riverstone: the amount
[2015/01/29 13:41] Bejiita Imako: like seeing quarks and bosons with a particle accelerator or material structure with an electron microscope
[2015/01/29 13:41] Ciska Riverstone: if its there
[2015/01/29 13:41] herman Bergson: You can see the difference between empathic and non empathic behavior Ciska
[2015/01/29 13:41] Ciska Riverstone: they do areyn - imho - but one wants to lead the other and that does not work
[2015/01/29 13:41] Bejiita Imako: but we cant observe god that way or with any instrument
[2015/01/29 13:41] Max Chatnoir: But what we see is marks on a screen that we interpret as particles.
[2015/01/29 13:41] Ciska Riverstone: but that depends on the culture herman
[2015/01/29 13:42] herman Bergson: Nevertheless....
[2015/01/29 13:42] Ciska Riverstone: it needs a reference system
[2015/01/29 13:42] Ciska Riverstone: and thats where things become difficult
[2015/01/29 13:42] Daruma Boa: and what it is found out about the bibel, does not work what we believe.
[2015/01/29 13:42] herman Bergson: Science and religion are two totally different languages...
[2015/01/29 13:43] Bejiita Imako: very different
[2015/01/29 13:43] Ciska Riverstone: and why herman?
[2015/01/29 13:43] herman Bergson: We'll get to that when we look at creationism
[2015/01/29 13:43] herman Bergson: One reason, Ciska is..
[2015/01/29 13:44] herman Bergson: that for instance the ideas about gods are contradiction all laws of nature.
[2015/01/29 13:44] herman Bergson: Like the idea of Malebranche....
[2015/01/29 13:44] Ciska Riverstone: lets look at the psychological reason
[2015/01/29 13:44] Ciska Riverstone: science tries to describe what is there - religion tries to describe things which are in flow
[2015/01/29 13:45] herman Bergson: Yes Ciska, we'll certainly discuss the psychology of religious behavior too...
[2015/01/29 13:45] Max Chatnoir: Somebody in the Bible did a sort of experiment. I can't remember who it was. There were the priests of Baal and him, and he said, OK we'll both ask our gods to do something and see who responds.
[2015/01/29 13:45] Max Chatnoir: Sort of hypothesis testing there.
[2015/01/29 13:45] Ciska Riverstone: and religion does that with moral and not materialistic things
[2015/01/29 13:46] herman Bergson: That is an important point Ciska....can there be morals without a god?
[2015/01/29 13:46] herman Bergson: btw...Max, who won? :-)
[2015/01/29 13:46] Daruma Boa: yes, we have that from the beginning of life.
[2015/01/29 13:46] Max Chatnoir: Not Baal.
[2015/01/29 13:46] Daruma Boa: scientists tested that with babies
[2015/01/29 13:47] Max Chatnoir: I can't believe I can't remember who the prophet was. Any of you know?
[2015/01/29 13:47] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[2015/01/29 13:47] herman Bergson: To my left are to pictures on the wall, which are URLs for Youtube movies...
[2015/01/29 13:49] herman Bergson: We still have along lists of subjects to deal with, as you see :-))
[2015/01/29 13:49] herman Bergson: But for today....may I thank you all again :-))
[2015/01/29 13:49] Bejiita Imako: nice again Herman ㋡
[2015/01/29 13:49] herman Bergson: Class dismissed .... ^_^
[2015/01/29 13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman
[2015/01/29 13:50] Daruma Boa: /me claps
[2015/01/29 13:50] Daruma Boa: dank je wel!
[2015/01/29 13:50] bergfrau Apfelbaum: very interesting! thank you herman & class
[2015/01/29 13:50] herman Bergson: /me smiles
[2015/01/29 13:50] Daruma Boa: interesting it was
[2015/01/29 13:50] Bejiita Imako: cu next time
[2015/01/29 13:50] Areyn Laurasia: Thanks for all the good points raised.
[2015/01/29 13:50] Bejiita Imako: yes very
[2015/01/29 13:50] herman Bergson: You are welcome Daruma
[2015/01/29 13:50] Ciska Riverstone: dank je wel herman
[2015/01/29 13:50] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Thank you Herman ㋡
[2015/01/29 13:50] Bejiita Imako: kee getting better and better
[2015/01/29 13:50] Bejiita Imako: keep
[2015/01/29 13:50] Max Chatnoir: Never a dull moment!
[2015/01/29 13:50] Bejiita Imako: no
[2015/01/29 13:50] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[2015/01/29 13:50] Daruma Boa: see u next week
[2015/01/29 13:50] Bejiita Imako: bye all
[2015/01/29 13:51] Max Chatnoir: Will you put the URLs on the blog?
[2015/01/29 13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight all:)
[2015/01/29 13:51] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Waves ㋡
[2015/01/29 13:51] herman Bergson: Bye Bejiita ^_^
[2015/01/29 13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): welterusten
[2015/01/29 13:51] Ciska Riverstone: welterusten ㋡
[2015/01/29 13:51] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje :-)
[2015/01/29 13:51] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye :-) and good weekend
[2015/01/29 13:52] Ciska Riverstone: enjoy everyone ㋡
[2015/01/29 13:52] Areyn Laurasia: It was Elijah
[2015/01/29 13:52] Max Chatnoir: Yes! thanks!
[2015/01/29 13:52] Max Chatnoir: It's actually in the Oratorio.
[2015/01/29 13:52] Max Chatnoir: The Priests Baal shouting out.
[2015/01/29 13:53] Max Chatnoir: My mind is going....
[2015/01/29 13:53] Max Chatnoir: OK, time for the door to open. See you all next week, Herman, Areyn, Bergie.
[2015/01/29 13:53] Areyn Laurasia: Good night :)
[2015/01/29 13:54] Max Chatnoir: Good night.
[2015/01/29 13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye :-)
[2015/01/29 13:54] herman Bergson: Night Areyn :-))
[2015/01/29 13:54] Object: Frans de Waal has just been used by Areyn Laurasia!
[2015/01/29 13:55] herman Bergson: Really worth watching, Areyn...
[2015/01/29 13:55] Areyn Laurasia: checking out the tedtalk
[2015/01/29 13:55] herman Bergson: ok...enjoy :-)
[2015/01/29 13:55] Areyn Laurasia: Thanks :)
[2015/01/29 13:55] herman Bergson: See you next Tuesday :-))
[2015/01/29 13:56] Areyn Laurasia: Have a wonderful week