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Posted on August 23 at 9:35 a.m.
pk, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. The point I've made a few times in different ways is to me as plain as the nose on my face. Actually, a lot plainer b/c the nose on my face could be a simulation, or imagined... But the fact of my own awareness, and therefore, the fact of my existence as a being of some kind that is aware, is incontrovertible and undeniable. I don't understand how you can disagree on this, but so it goes. I've already stated that I agree with Russell's point about limiting Descartes's cogito, so maybe you're just being argumentative at this point?
On Something from Nothing?
Posted on August 23 at 9:32 a.m.
Scientifik, I don't think I'm misunderstood your point. Scientists have feelings and opinions about scientific matters. All human judgments are feelings and opinions - yes, all. That's my point and the reason for my carefully-selected language. For a scientist, it's all about plausibility of different conclusions based on the best evidence. As Krauss states above, all judgments are about more or less plausibility. This is one area where I agree entirely with him.
Posted on August 22 at 5:48 p.m.
Scientik, based on your comments I suspect you're not a scientist. Scientists are human and make decisions based on feelings and opinions as much as anyone else. The difference is that they're supposed to base feelings and opinions on facts. But facts are almost never 100%. They're always about plausibility and informed judgments and reasonable inference. Hence my qualified statements above that you quote. I'm not anti-science at all - I'm trying to get today's science to be a little more scientific. This is what I mean by "deep science." More to come in future columns.
Posted on August 22 at 5:45 p.m.
Thanks for the link. I agree entirely with Russell's statement (1927):
"What, from [Descartes’] own point of view, he should profess to know is not ‘I think,’ but ‘there is thinking’.... I think we ought to admit that Descartes was justified in feeling sure that there was a certain occurrence, concerning which doubt was impossible; but he was not justified in bringing in the word ‘I’ in describing this occurrence."
So if you agree with this too then we're on the same page. The sheer fact of experience leads us to conclude necessarily that there is an experiencer. This isn't necessarily any kind of permanent self or soul. Here's my earlier piece on these issues: http://www.independent.com/news/2011/...
On A Mini-Discourse on Spiritual Method
Posted on August 22 at 10:57 a.m.
pk, we may be hung on language here. For me, "awareness" is "self." What is it if not self/subjectivity?
Where I agree with you, delving a bit deeper, is that Descartes went a bit too far in concluding that there is a constant self. I have re-framed in previous columns and in my books, his statement, usually translated as "I think, therefore I am" to "There is thinking here, therefore there is a thinker." Or "There is experience here now, therefore there is an experiencer." The duration of the experiencer could be very brief, so we cannot conclude with certainty that there is any kind of constant self here. However, we know from the continuity of our experience that there is a fairly constant self present during our lives. That self changes constantly, but the continuity of experiences and memories provides some coherence to our experience of self. Anyway, this is a step beyond my key point: we can conclude, with absolute certainty, that there is an experiencer here, now, from the mere fact of experience being here, now.
Posted on August 22 at 10:52 a.m.
pk, I really don't see how you can disagree with my statement. How on earth can you not conclude from the mere act of thinking that there is a thinker? Who or what is doing the thinking?
Posted on August 21 at 8:21 a.m.
pk, your phrase "awareness of existence" contradicts your argument entirely. Awareness is primary. There is no existence without awareness of existence, from our human perspective. So I'm going one step further than you're going, under your own terms: we know, through opening our eyes, our ears, or through introspection, that there is an experiencing subject and that there is something that is being experienced. You call this something "existence," and that's fine, but what I'm suggesting is that the true nature of this existence is entirely inferred. What is not inferred, the only thing that is not inferred, is the sheer fact of our subjective awareness. Cogito, ergo sum.
Posted on August 20 at 11:56 a.m.
pk, your statement that "all we know with certainty is existence" may be the core of our disagreement. All we really know, I argue, is the pure fact of subjective awareness. If this is what you mean by "existence" we agree. But I suspect you mean some kind of objectivity by "existence." And that's what I'm denying. We could, as the famous thought experiment suggests, be a brain in a vat. We could be a simulation. We could be under a spell. We could be figments in the mind of God. But in any of these scenarios we could never deny the certainty of our own subjective experience. And I know this by the sheer fact of introspection in any waking moment. All else is inferred. So, yes, intersubjective confirmation is what science is about. But as I've written already a couple of times, the deep science I advocate recognizes that there is no real difference between the traditionally defined inner and outer worlds. All data are nothing but sense impressions that are received by the center of awareness. Some of those data come from dreams, illusions, visions, memories, imagination. And some come from the intersubjectively defined external world. But there is no clear dividing line here and I am suggesting that deep science should shift to more fully recognize the traditionally defined internal realm as capable of yielding real insights about the nature of reality.
Posted on August 19 at 5:30 p.m.
14noscams, that's right: my main gripe has been for the last few years in these columns that today's science has forgotten about the trick of "objectivation." Here's my essay where I make this most clear: http://www.independent.com/news/2010/....
What Schroedinger called "objectivation" was perhaps a necessary step in the development of science. But we're now at a point in our development that we need to abandon the trick of objectivation and instead embrace a view of the universe that includes the half of the universe that was excluded by objectivation: the subjective half.
Posted on August 19 at 5:27 p.m.
pk, I don't think I can add much more at this point. My last post stated my view about as clearly as I can. However, our discussion has inspired me to write a different column specifically about my preferred approach to a "deep science." So thanks for the good questions. I'll flesh out some further thoughts in my new piece.
I'll add one final thought here: I don't think you're understanding my key point about certain knowledge vs. reasonable inference. Again, literally all we know with certainty, mimicking Descartes, is the mere fact of our own subjective experience. There is experience here now. That's it. Everything else is inference. So what is normally considered subjective vs. objective in traditional science goes too far in my view. We should return to a more humble position and approach what is generally considered internal/subjective knowledge with a bit more of an open mind. And we can can pursue this path to knowledge through intersubjective confirmation, as traditional natural science has done for the traditionally defined external world.