Wednesday, October 20, 2010

279: supersense and the Body 2

In my previous lecture I stated that our natural way of thinking about life tells us that there are essences, which in living organisms are fueled by a life force (élan vital), while all is part of a whole.

With 'our natural way of thinking' I mean the way of thinking that is the result of how our brain is wired. There is a logical, scientific way of thinking, but you have to learn that.

The natural way of thinking you don't need to learn. It develops and emerges from childhood on and stays with us al our life. It is a mix of rationality and supernatural thinking.

One basic trait of the mind is to organize our experiences and put them in categories: male, female, herbivore, bird, fish and so on…And here we find a nice example in the bible book Leviticus.

There you find a detailed list of animals which are clean and which are unclean. One explanation was that certain animals were indicated as unclean because in the warm climate they could cause easily diseases.

But this explanation doesn't apply to all listed animals. One intriguing alternative is that the unclean animals didn't fit into the categories, which people had in mind.

When the cow is a clean animal, all clean animals of that kind have to fit to its properties: slip hooves and chewing cud.

This made the camel unclean, because it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split. Same with the pig…it has split hooves but doesn't chew its cud.

The jewish scholars in those days thought that such violations were abominations of the natural world. This is an example of our inclination to chop up nature into all kinds of categories which we think exist. And as you see, it may lead to conclusions which only can be justified by our supersense.

Take for instance the essence of being human , that invisible property that distinguishes us from nonhumans. We love to believe that, especially certain philosophers.

However, you can define an individual human being in a dozen ways, as a prince, an adolescent, a male, a neurotic, an athlete.

So which is the "right" definition. There isn't. The idea that there is only one true individual essence is nonsense.

Genetic manipulation is another example of how our supersense, our belief in essences works.

"When we hear about scientists inserting genes of fish into mice and potatoes, we feel squeamish. It just does not seem right. It’s not natural.", says Bruce Hood.

Related to the notion of essence is the idea of a life force, something that is in living animals but not in dead ones. This is vitalism, an ancient belief that the body is motivated by an inner energy.

We are not talking about the biochemical processes here, but about that extra, an "élan vital", or as you find in many religions, we are talking about the soul, often even understood as that force that makes us that unique individual we are.

Many believe that when somebody dies, something is leaving the body. In movies they love to show it as a half transparent copy of the deceased.

Don't you remember that movie where the deceased tries to warn his girlfriend. Forgot the title, only know that Whoopi Goldberg plays a part in it too and that scene at the potter's wheel.

herman Bergson : Anyone?
AristotleVon Doobie: Ghost
Qwark Allen : i remember
Qwark Allen : yes
Jozen Ocello : oh yes, ghost
Jozen Ocello : like that movie
herman Bergson : Yes Ghost...!
Bejiita Imako : ah ok
herman Bergson : I loved that movie...
AristotleVon Doobie: Patrick Swaysy
herman Bergson : yes and that girl...who was she...
Jozen Ocello : oh yeah... and Demi Moore?
AristotleVon Doobie: Demi Moore
herman Bergson : great!
Let me quote Bruce Hood on this intuitive vitalism: "... an emerging naive vitalism helps children to appreciate the nature of death as final and something that happens to everyone. Intuitive theories don’t have to be scientifically accurate to be useful.

Again I'll like to emphasize, in the realm of (scientific) knowledge ideas generated by supersense are nonsense, but on the other hand time and again it appears that we can't live as social beings without this nonsense (in an epistemological sense).

Let me quote Bruce Hood on this intuitive vitalism: "... an emerging naive vitalism helps children to appreciate the nature of death as final and something that happens to everyone. Intuitive theories don’t have to be scientifically accurate to be useful.

Again I'll like to emphasize, in the realm of (scientific) knowledge ideas generated by supersense are nonsense, but on the other hand time and again it appears that we can't live as social beings without this nonsense (in an epistemological sense).

The Discussion

[13:19] herman Bergson: Thank you... ^_^
[13:20] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...the floor is yours :-)
[13:21] herman Bergson: Don't tell me you are speechless...^_^
[13:21] Qwark Allen: indeed
[13:21] Beertje Beaumont: were would we be without any supersense? gives us safety
[13:21] AristotleVon Doobie: This concept of soul then is a result of Supersense and not tutoring?
[13:21] Qwark Allen: still thinking about
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle...where would we be without our supernatural beliefs...
[13:22] Beertje Beaumont: it gives us a safe feeling..and we need that to survive
[13:22] herman Bergson: I really don't know unless I would say that we would be rational beings then
[13:22] AristotleVon Doobie: I agree with Beertje about the safety of the sentiment, but the roots of it must be in instruction
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes but these supersense ideas are also a source of great danger for our survival..
[13:24] herman Bergson: Just look at religious and nationalistic fanaticism..
[13:24] Beertje Beaumont: yes true
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: I can see that the primal brain gets involved in the formation of such things
[13:24] herman Bergson: Iran building nuclear plants to safe its nation ...
[13:24] Beertje Beaumont: but if there is nothing to live for..after we are dead..what is the use of living then?
[13:25] herman Bergson: let focus on Beertje's is most important....
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: ahh, the joy of living must be its own reward
[13:25] herman Bergson: What implies her remark....
[13:25] herman Bergson: One implication is that life has a goal...
[13:26] herman Bergson: a fundamental issue...
[13:26] herman Bergson: but the result of our supernatual thinking to believe that
[13:26] herman Bergson: there is nothing in this world that indicates that what is has a goal...
[13:26] herman Bergson: a final destiny
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: or hope that it does so that we can feel worthy?
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: religion for one tells you you are unworthy from the get go
[13:28] herman Bergson: One particular characteristic of monotheistic religions is that they tell you that you are bad, a sinner, unworthy, that you have to kneel down
[13:29] herman Bergson: and have you noticed...
[13:29] herman Bergson: now that religion is in decline we re establish the same system.....
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: the first thing a child hears once they can reach out is 'no'
[13:29] herman Bergson: Now we are the unworthy criminals destroying this planet..
[13:30] herman Bergson: God had been replaced by Earth
[13:30] herman Bergson: Sinner has been replaced by pollution creator
[13:30] Jozen Ocello: i wonder if this is where spirituality comes in? being spiritual rather than religious?
[13:30] herman Bergson: Our brain seems to be wired to think in such terms
[13:31] herman Bergson: May be Jozen.....
[13:31] Beertje Beaumont: writing a novel Itsme?
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: :) yes, seems sinful to destroy your support system
[13:31] herman Bergson: his memoirs Beertje...his memoirs
[13:31] Beertje Beaumont: lol
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: stuttering a lot
[13:32] itsme Frederix: Beertje, that might help
[13:32] herman Bergson: the more than an average of 17 words ^_^
[13:32] Daruma Boa: oh sorry 2 say that. i have to leave now.
[13:33] herman Bergson: Take care, Daruma
[13:33] itsme Frederix: my average is this sentence divided by ... all these lines shorter than 17
[13:33] Daruma Boa: hope 2 be here on thursday^^^
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ok cu Daruma
[13:33] Beertje Beaumont: i read that later Itsme..i need time to read english
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: spiritualty has to equate to religion somehow
[13:33] herman Bergson: there is a difference between spirituality and religion...
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: or could spirituality be merely appreciation and respect?
[13:34] herman Bergson: religion is always related to the group and to some kind of organisation
[13:34] herman Bergson: spirituality might mean the person way of using your supersense, having your own supernatural ideas to comfort you
[13:35] herman Bergson: Is that what you meant Jozen?
[13:35] Jozen Ocello: yes
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: well, I am certainly grateful for the sun, I don't really know to whom tho
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle...also such a supersense be grateful for the sun..for life, for your health
[13:36] herman Bergson: and indeed to whom????
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: yes indeed
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: to me I suppose
[13:36] herman Bergson: I think so too Aristotle....
[13:37] herman Bergson: But I think the word grateful should be replaced by 'happy'
[13:37] herman Bergson: I am happy with the sun , with life , with my health...that makes sense
[13:37] Jozen Ocello: i think religion and spirituality are very closely related and indeed similar in some ways depending on how people define them, but i think spirituality is perhaps more tied to supersense than religion
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: ahhh, then that is the purpose of life.....happiness and the sharing of it
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:37] itsme Frederix: the bright side of life
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes ...but some religions forbid us to feel have to stay aware of the fact that we are still sinners...
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: yes LOL I have seen it, you must be miserable to go to heaven
[13:38] herman Bergson: And others say...happy ? arrogant jerk...
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL, thats me
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:39] herman Bergson: great!
[13:39] Jozen Ocello: lol
[13:40] herman Bergson: As you see, our supersense can be comforting, but also endangering our existence
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: like most things, depends who is weilding it
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: yes Aristotle...and then we enter the realm of philosophy...of ethics for instance
[13:41] herman Bergson: We have to the face the ontological questions....Beertje's question..what is the purpose of life...
[13:42] herman Bergson: We'll come to that later
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: is Itsme still typing?
[13:43] herman Bergson: So I suggest we'll wait for the lecture of Thursday ..:-)
[13:43] itsme Frederix: thats the wood it hurts a little
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: :))
[13:43] herman Bergson: should we collect some money for Itsme, so that he can buy proper clothes?
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hhe
[13:44] Beertje Beaumont: lol
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ah all his clothes are probably just in the wash
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:44] itsme Frederix: All I want is that you leave me some sunshine ;)
[13:44] herman Bergson: we'll give him a landmark to a freebie store ^_^
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: :))
[13:45] Jozen Ocello: you would have two tans by the end of it, itsme hehe
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: hehe¨
[13:45] itsme Frederix: suckers
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well...thank you all for your participation again...
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you, always very interesting
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: nice as usual this ㋡
[13:45] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman
[13:45] herman Bergson: Class dismissed... ^_^
[13:45] Jozen Ocello: thanks look forward to Thursday's session
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: interesting
[13:45] herman Bergson: No homework today :-)
[13:45] Jozen Ocello: cool!
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: great I can Party
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[13:45] Jozen Ocello: lazy student here :P
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:46] Beertje Beaumont: yay!
[13:46] Qwark Allen: eheheh
[13:46] Qwark Allen: nice
[13:46] Qwark Allen: \o/
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