Friday, July 15, 2011

339: The materialist Brain 5

In fact it is an amazing observation, that a religion, a system of beliefs, in this case christianity, has been able to block the development of science for so many centuries.

The classic proof of this use of power is of course the case of Copernicus and Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642).

Not only in science was religious thinking powerful. Also in philosophy it was able to keep materialism as an ontology outside for at least 1500 years.

When the development of science couldn't be stopped anymore and Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) formulated a real materialist philosophy, Descartes (1595 - 1650) saved the day by introducing his Dualism.

In those days you could be ACCUSED of atheism. But then the term "atheist" was frequently applied to people who believed in God, but not divine providence,

or to people who believed in God but also maintained other beliefs which were inconsistent with such belief.

Religion in this context is not the personal belief of an individual, but the system of cultural, social and political power of an organization.

An organization that demands to believe in certain things and forbids to believe certain other things. It even had an Index, a list of books which, tho published, were forbidden for catholics.

In line with this historical development it is not at all surprising that in recent years books like "The End of Faith" (2004) by Sam Harris or "The God Delusion" (2006) by Richard Dawkins were published.

Today neuroscientists can stimulate certain parts of the brain, which gives people certain experiences, which can be describes as religious experiences. A subject I have elaborated on in my lectures 286 to 289.

This all is a general development in Western Europe and in science in general. The triumphant progress in the twentieth century of a materialistic biology and biochemistry has almost completely eliminated vitalist notions of living forms as governed by forces additional to, and distinct from, the purely physical forces operating
on inanimate matter.

The situation of earlier ages has been reversed; it now seems implausible to maintain that the vital functions of living organisms are different in kind from chemical (ultimately, physical) processes.

In the realm of the mind, a new challenge for immaterialists has also developed. The rise of cybernetics (the abstract theory of machines) and its applications in computers threatens the idea of a special status for mental activity.

In the 1920s and 1930s some logical positivists, led by Rudolph Carnap and Otto Neurath, espoused an epistemic materialism. They held that the meaning of any statement consists in the directly testable statements deducible from it.

Inner states, however, can not be tested directly. Thence , testable physical statements should be deduced from inner states.

With testable was meant statements that were suitable for intersubjective agreement. Therefor these logical positivist regarded statements about behavior suitable candidates as "translation" of inner states.

This meant, that In this way the philosophy of language led to a behaviorist materialism and as such became an important development in the philosophy of mind with for instance, a philosopher like Gilbert Ryle with "The concept of Mind" (1949).

Ryle asserted that the workings of the mind are not distinct from the actions of the body. They are one and the same.

Mental vocabulary is, he insists, merely a different manner of describing action. He also claimed that the nature of a person's motives is defined by that person's dispositions to act in certain situations.

This was one of the first modern attacks on cartesian dualism and the definite rise of materialism in philosophy and science.

The Discussion

[2011/06/28 14:16] druth Vlodovic: well, science, since it often promotes change, is really the purview of young or transitional societies
[2011/06/28 14:16] Simargl Talaj: Nothing like a war to stimulate interest in technology.
[2011/06/28 14:16] druth Vlodovic: wb professor
[2011/06/28 14:16] druth Vlodovic: established societies will prefer changelessness because they like what they have
[2011/06/28 14:16] Carmela Sandalwood: when it comes to a question of existence or non-existence, societies will often allow questions they wouldn't otherwise allow
[2011/06/28 14:17] druth Vlodovic: in times of peace (or wars that don't actuallt threaten existence) then it is the other way around, questions become the greatest danger
[2011/06/28 14:17] herman Bergson: I am sorry....dont seem to have any stabe viewer at all anymore
[2011/06/28 14:18] druth Vlodovic: you should check your lag meter, see if it is server, connection, or your computer
[2011/06/28 14:18] herman Bergson: I am glad I maned through this lecture and discussion
[2011/06/28 14:19] herman Bergson: Druth..if I would tell you what I already had done.....
[2011/06/28 14:19] Tauto: i wish i could stay more and listen but need to leave now.
[2011/06/28 14:19] druth Vlodovic: lol, it was just a suggestion
[2011/06/28 14:19] Tauto: thank you herman and Simargl, Camela, druth for good discussion.
[2011/06/28 14:19] druth Vlodovic: please don't hit meeee!
[2011/06/28 14:19] Simargl Talaj: Herman would you be so kind as to give us the website once again that lists the books on neurobiology that pertain to this set of your lectures?
[2011/06/28 14:19] herman Bergson: take care Tauto
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: take care tauto
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: care
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: I have to go soon also...need to get dinner going
[2011/06/28 14:20] Tauto: thank you bye all~
[2011/06/28 14:20] Tauto: :)
[2011/06/28 14:20] herman Bergson: Byeeee!!! :-)
[2011/06/28 14:20] Doodus Moose: byeeee!!!!!
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: thank you very much for the class and discussion professor
[2011/06/28 14:21] herman Bergson: My pleasure were great
[2011/06/28 14:21] herman Bergson: interesting input....
[2011/06/28 14:21] Carmela Sandalwood: well, I am in math and physics and have a great interest in computers
[2011/06/28 14:21] Carmela Sandalwood: and am a materialist in the philosophical sense
[2011/06/28 14:22] herman Bergson: And have knowledge of history!
[2011/06/28 14:22] Carmela Sandalwood: *smiles* I try to learn
[2011/06/28 14:22] Carmela Sandalwood: it was a no more classes for a while?
[2011/06/28 14:23] herman Bergson: only coming thursday...last class
[2011/06/28 14:23] Carmela Sandalwood: ok...I will attempt to be there
[2011/06/28 14:23] herman Bergson: you are welcome :-)
[2011/06/28 14:24] Simargl Talaj: Thank you Herman.
[2011/06/28 14:24] Doodus Moose: Professor - you're the best. we'll talk before September
[2011/06/28 14:24] herman Bergson: ohh thank you Doodus...
[2011/06/28 14:25] Doodus Moose: looks like you're cleaning up, Prof!
[2011/06/28 14:25] Doodus Moose: byeeeee!!!!!!
[2011/06/28 14:26] herman Bergson: more cosy :-)
[2011/06/28 14:26] druth Vlodovic: :)
[2011/06/28 14:26] druth Vlodovic: have you ever heard the idea of "emergent properties"?
[2011/06/28 14:26] druth Vlodovic: it was last weeks topic at thothica
[2011/06/28 14:26] herman Bergson: yes...
[2011/06/28 14:27] herman Bergson: but it is a bit misleading idea...
[2011/06/28 14:27] druth Vlodovic: my first reaction was that it is a last ditch attempt to recover magical thinking in science
[2011/06/28 14:27] druth Vlodovic: misleading how?
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: has a dualistic character
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: to emerge is an action which needs a force....
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: so...emerging properties are properties created by some force...
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: and that is bull ^_^
[2011/06/28 14:29] druth Vlodovic: either from a smaller base or interaction with other factors
[2011/06/28 14:29] druth Vlodovic: oh, by "some force"you meant an unknown one
[2011/06/28 14:30] herman Bergson: It suggest that there is some mystic energy in matter that makes properties emerge...
[2011/06/28 14:30] druth Vlodovic: yes
[2011/06/28 14:30] herman Bergson: complete nonsense
[2011/06/28 14:30] druth Vlodovic: they didn't like my arguments ;-?
[2011/06/28 14:30] herman Bergson: lol
[2011/06/28 14:31] herman Bergson: you have been too long in my class perhaps :-)
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: it is a good kludge I guess, you can work with larger scale without learning smaller scale
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: but as an idea I think it leads to a type of thinking that is potentially damaging
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: I wish I could get to more of them
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: my RL schedule is weird
[2011/06/28 14:32] herman Bergson: doesn't matter...
[2011/06/28 14:32] herman Bergson: when you are here..all is good :-)
[2011/06/28 14:32] druth Vlodovic: :)
[2011/06/28 14:32] druth Vlodovic: you'll turn my head, I swear!
[2011/06/28 14:32] herman Bergson: turn your head???
[2011/06/28 14:33] herman Bergson: I'd love to keep it in place where it is!
[2011/06/28 14:34] druth Vlodovic: what are your big plans now your students have abandoned you?
[2011/06/28 14:34] herman Bergson: They didn't abandon just went home or elsewhere ;-)
[2011/06/28 14:35] herman Bergson: And I have no plans at all
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