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How To Overcome Human Suffering

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Thanks Paul,

 

I found it very insightful and at the core of most religious / spiritual thought.

 

Joseph

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Good talk but no new information I haven't heard before from people like Fritjof Capra and which traditions like Hinduism have been talking about for a couple of thousand years. Some may dismiss Deepok Chopra and Eckart Tolle as being new age flaky but again they've been saying the same thing essentially. Also look at The Perenniel Pholosophy of the theosophists. When the speaker asks us to think about things we will do and thus makes us unique from other organisms...well why limit consciousness to human beings? That's myopic thinking. We do not know the consciousness of other brings (plants, animals from the microscopic to the ____ fill in the blank.) Maybe that is the essence of the evolutionary process. Maybe the universe is doing the same with us and we are just part of a chain of ongoing evolution.

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http://feeds.feedburner.com/matrixmasters/iGAG

 

I hope this feed works. It is a talk given by Terence McKenna in 1989 and can be accessed on the Psychedelic Salon podcast.

 

My favorite term he uses is "the banality of modernity" which is a great criticism of scientism. It is interesting that the speaker of the Tedx talk represents how scientism is finally waking up.

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I broadly agree with the speaker.

 

Some of the detail I would have to think about.

 

In line with his thoughts is a question that comes to mind, how does this "energy" have free will?

 

Carl Sagan

... the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.

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And in the question is the seed of faith. The enemy of faith is certainty whether irbid the certainty the religious fundamentalist, the progressive, or the follower of scientism. Certainty for me is just a temporary grounding in what has no ground. A foundational foundationallessness that is a temporary stop on the ongoing journey.

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And in the question is the seed of faith. The enemy of faith is certainty whether irbid the certainty the religious fundamentalist, the progressive, or the follower of scientism. Certainty for me is just a temporary grounding in what has no ground. A foundational foundationallessness that is a temporary stop on the ongoing journey.

Frankly I think scientism is a strawman that is errected by those that don't understand science.

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How so?

Lack of study?

Lack of thought?

Misconceptions about science itself. I am not saying that some scientists don't succumb to the some of these things as well,(I did).

 

Fundamentally, while science may strive for the truth, it is essentially agnostic.

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Can the scientific method prove everything?

 

This question demonstrates the basic misunderstanding people have about science.

 

Science (or the scientific method) proves nothing. It can disprove certain models we might hold dear.

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Here's an interesting thing I heard from a progressive christian pastor. Basically he said that if anything about faith cannot be proven by the scientific method then it should be discarded from the faith community. People can have their own personal experience blah blah blah but if only one person in the community has the experience which cannot be tested and repeated then it was more or less irrelevant. That to me us insane. That to me is objectivist and even expressed a fascistic thinking about what it means to be a human being. I can understand rejecting literalism, supernaturalism, fundamentalism, but it seems that there are some theistic and atheistic paradigms which are indistinguishable when placed side by side. Someone like Daniel Dennett is an example of scientism. His book Consciousness Explained really explains nothing about consciousness. It is provisional in that it simple describes the mechanism of parts that can be observed but it presumes too much to say that is all there is.

 

When you look at a room full of people what you see in the differentiations is not all there is. You cannot measure the experience of that room scientifically.

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This is the definition of scientism which I distinguish from science. With scientists and scientismists. I'm not talking about the religion/science b******t debate. I am talking about an authoritative worldview. That to me reduces life itself as nothing if any value. Carl Sagan is a scientist. Richard Dawkins is a scientismist.

Edited by matteoam

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I would argue your pastor almost got the logic right.

We can't prove stuff in the real world.

And we may not know how (have a method) to test stuff ... fair enough.

 

But if that said stuff does not respond to cause and effect, it may as well not exist.

 

According to wikipedia scientism is a perjorative (or is used as one). Simply, it is a belief that the scientific method (science) is the best way to evaluate existence.

 

Typically science follows the following method

1) observation

2) hypothesise

3) more observation (data)

4) evaluate, if the data does not fit go back to (2, if the data does fit go back to 3).

 

Notice, there is no end statement here.

 

I would class Dennett as a philosopher first. For me Consciousness Explained did not live up to its title but there were lots of ideas in it that we should go to step 3) with.

 

And as for Dawkins, while I don't find him a sympathetic person, he is a scientist by training and his role has changed over the decades. From what I gather his principal objection is to what are for him nonsensical interpretations of the our religious texts. I also would argue in his way he is every bit as spiritual as you claim to be.

 

Looking down a microscope or seeing 120 million year old dinosaur footprint work for me. Who is anyone to claim otherwise?

Edited by romansh
  • Upvote 1

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I agree with you. But I believe the certainty of the scientismist cannot be proved by their own tools. It is the authoritarian mentality behind the use of a method of observation that I contend is limiting. I think the belief or non belief in an agent irrelevant. It is the idea that there is a limit to consciousness that is limiting in and of itself. That's like saying since I drink from a glass which I hold there are no other glasses that exist in the world. The use of psychedelics for example is something the scientismist doesn't want to deal with because it doesn't fit in their paradigm.

Edited by matteoam

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I agree with you. But I believe the certainty of the scientismist cannot be proved by their own tools. It is the authoritarian mentality behind the use of a method of observation that I contend is limiting.

the certainty is ultimately the strawman that I referred to.

 

for example Dawkins:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9102740/Richard-Dawkins-I-cant-be-sure-God-does-not-exist.html

Edited by romansh

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From the article it argues against

 

The term scientism is anything but clear, more of a boo-word than a label for any coherent doctrine. Sometimes it is equated with lunatic positions, such as that science is all that matters or that scientists should be entrusted to solve all problems. Sometimes it is clarified with adjectives like simplistic, naïve, and vulgar. The definitional vacuum allows me to replicate gay activists flaunting of queer and appropriate the pejorative for a position I am prepared to defend.

 

Scientism, in this good sense, is not the belief that members of the occupational guild called science are particularly wise or noble. On the contrary, the defining practices of science, including open debate, peer review, and double-blind methods, are explicitly designed to circumvent the errors and sins to which scientists, being human, are vulnerable. Scientism does not mean that all current scientific hypotheses are true; most new ones are not, since the cycle of conjecture and refutation is the lifeblood of science. It is not an imperialistic drive to occupy the humanities; the promise of science is to enrich and diversify the intellectual tools of humanistic scholarship, not to obliterate them. And it is not the dogma that physical stuff is the only thing that exists. Scientists themselves are immersed in the ethereal medium of information, including the truths of mathematics, the logic of their theories, and the values that guide their enterprise. In this conception, science is of a piece with philosophy, reason, and Enlightenment humanism. It is distinguished by an explicit commitment to two ideals, and it is these that scientism seeks to export to the rest of intellectual life.

 

Now if you agree with my depiction of the scientific method and you think it does not meet your needs, how do you evaluate your ideas and beliefs?

Edited by romansh

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Despite how it satisfies my "needs" I stick to the open possibility of more belief, different belief, new ideas and different ideas. All I know is that I don't know.

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Despite how it satisfies my "needs" I stick to the open possibility of more belief, different belief, new ideas and different ideas. All I know is that I don't know.

So if you don't know, why would you criticize somebody else's point of view, eg scientism.

 

So how do you evaluate your position? Or do you?

Edited by romansh

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So finally I can submit a post. Taking the message I wrote to you romansh when I met my limit of posts in response to your question above, I explained that the reason I may "criticize somebody else's point of view, e.g. scientism" is because of an inner search. I think we all react to things outside of us because it is contained within us. That to me is part of the spiritual, for lack of a better word, quest for self-knowledge and ultimately a quest for God. Yes, I believe that God is everything. Sorry if that offends you. That all being said, I am willing to live my life with that and if something else comes along which offers a more useful alternative, then I will consider it.

 

For me, scientism, which is not all science, is a misuse of science. I think scientism is authoritarian and fundamentalist in its dogma. It is also reactive to some extent just like religious fundamentalism. I liked the article I mentioned about concerning Pinker because I think Massimo Pigliucci's criticisms are spot on, not just on Pinker but on scientism as a whole. I have no issue with Pigliucci's atheism. In fact I consider myself to be somewhat of an atheist in that I find limitations in the theist view of God. It for me is just another image which I have come to realize the in my own quest is something to transcend. It is not "wrong" or "right". That is why sometimes I find the whole argument that Christians and atheists, believers and non-believers, somewhat boring and limiting. But we are all on the same journey. Personally I think it is a distraction of the ego to deny the truth. What is that truth? Something veiled that draws us to it. I don't know how else to explain it.

 

http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v6/n12/full/7400589.html

 

This is another article I like very much and which made a strong impression on me when I came across it in 2006.

 

Again, Pigliucci is an atheist, and I appreciate his thoughts. I also appreciate the thoughts of Frans de waal who is equally critical of a certain type of atheism and religion. He doesn't really consider himself an atheist though. He considers himself an aptheist, which means he doesn't care if God exists. As an anthropologist, he thinks religion is something to study because it has benefits. He thinks atheism has to offer more than a rejection of religion, which is why I appreciate the position of some secularists and humanists. I've referred to his opinions in other posts. I consider myself a humanist as well to some extent, but a spiritual humanist.

 

How do I evaluate my position? I see what what works and what doesn't. I challenge myself not to create my own religion of sorts. I hope that I don't find myself being too much of a backslider when it comes to philosophy and spirituality. I try to transcend the paradoxes of the religious traditions and Christianity in particular because I believe, knowing I might be completely wrong, that there is more to this universe than meets the senses. Which is why I try to understand theoretical physics and the sciences as much as any layman can. I don't believe for a minute that science can explain "why" but I am all for the "how" of it. Philosophy only goes so far to, which is why spirituality has to be part of my ontological trinity - Spirituality/Philosophy/Science. I don't believe any one of them is more authoritative. To each his own and I respect other people's point of view, even if I can think some views are plain wrong. Present company not included.

 

For me, all science is not scientism. Scientism is making science into a religion. Scientism is to science as Jerry Falwell is to Christianity.

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... is because of an inner search.

On my inner searches I find when I look inside I see the universe silently staring back at me.

 

Yes, I believe that God is everything. Sorry if that offends you.

Why would that offend me? As far as I can tell the universe unfolded in a way to make you say that. If I were to succumb to express a god belief I suspect I would express a similar atheistic view. But then as our nemesis (Dawkins) points out:

Pantheism is sexed-up atheism.

I have read three of Pinker's books, How the Mind Works, The Stuff of Thought and The Blank Slate. What did you find in them that you would describe as Scientism? Here is a quote from How the Mind Works.

But genes are not imprisoned in bodies; the same gene lives in the bodies of many family members at once. The dispersed copies of a gene call to one another by endowing bodies with emotions. Love, compassion, and empathy are invisible fibers that connect genes in different bodies.

Does this sound like scientism to you?

 

I gave you an example where Dawkins describes himself as an agnostic. Dawkins has no problem metaphorical interpretations of our religious texts, though I suspect he would be against dogmatic interpretations. As Joseph Campbell describes it ... turns poetry into prose.

 

When people accuse others of scientism they mistake the word for people who are passionate about science. These summarise some of the reasons I think the pejorative scientism is a strawman.

 

I see what what works and what doesn't.

This I see as an abbreviated sentence of of the scientific method. Perhaps science is a little more rigorous in forming its hypothesis and gathering its evidence.

 

And answering the question why? This sort of presupposes that there is a purpose, does it not? Science deals in how?

 

 

 

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Paul thanks for the video. I liked the speaker; he had projected the energy and enthusiasm that he was alluding to. I like the instrument of science he used to see the North Star. Science is a wonderful tool to open the universe and mind to what is. The video is about what I believe, but every time I look through the telescope the North Star looks a little closer. Science is a great tool for observation, but not the only one. The telescope does not touch the North Star, it only observes it and the speaker was pointing to it. Beads, Scriptures, Candles, Incense, and Sacred Symbols are also great telescopes to assist the observation of the images seen in the mind. These instruments bring us beyond the limits of what we think is impossible. Science is a great tool and the instrument are not broken if we don’t see the North Star. It might be because we are pointing it in a different direction. We can point it where ever we want and everywhere is the Universe so there is no right or wrong just different. .

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As I've said all science is not scientism. Science is a conceptual tool to use to understand the natural world and open the possibility of other worlds - look at the work of Lord Martin Rees. I'm glad that this tool has enabled us to know things but we really don't know anything beviase there are more questions to be asked when something is known. I wish most of the scientismists were as humble. I grew up with Carl Sagan who despite his views of religion had a wonder and awe about the world that most religious people should have. Dawkins can be poetic and I get his reactionary tone toward religion. But when science presumes to be the final authority on everything. Well that's pretty absurd in its claim. Not all science claims this. It's the fundamentalists as I've said who like all fundamentalists in their respective fields ruin the party for everyone do to speak.

 

As I've said before or implied God is a concept ultimately too and creeds are less dogma than occupational hypotheses. I am more of a panentheist. The statement Dawkins made about pantheism may be true. I don't know ask a pantheistic. I have heard pantheists talk and well I think Dawkins displays his ignorance as he is apt to do despite his intelligence. Wow he's human!

 

Scientism is authoritarian in tone which is why I can tolerate its views for do long before getting really bored by it. To me it simply devalues human beings do it would be insulting to imply it contains humanist values. It reduces life to nothing. And not the good buddhist no-thing or the nothing of Laurence Krause.

 

Maybe I'm wrong. I think Pinker seems to not be a scientismist but I don't get that impression from the article I mentioned above. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't care either way because I have more pressing things in my life to be existential over.

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I would argue that science is a great way of evaluating whether beads, candles, incense and chicken bones are great at evaluating whether we should listen to those mind images.

 

While I have no way of "proving it" my adage of if science and and some other method divining the truth point in different directions then one or both of the interpretations must be wrong.

Edited by romansh

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