samr

A metaphysical argument against objectivism

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I think it is rooted in "reactive, reverse psychology", yes.

Religion thrived on opposition, historically. It has as its basic premise

self-abnegation - practised or not. The harder it is to hold onto one's

faith, the 'Truer' it is perceived to be by many, I think.

A kind of trial by fire.

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I am trying to understand why people don't get this.

Paul,

It makes for a poor-ass story.

I'm serious.

Story is how we think. It's fundamental to our awareness.

To show how fundamental it is, think of all the wars throughout history. Most have been over differences in totally implausible stories that have no way of being proven. We humans literally kill each other in mass for not believing in each other's story.

If you want a cause for why people don't accept the claim that the underlying cause of everything does not, itself, have a cause, there it is. We need a story. No good guys or bad guys in the causeless universe formulation. It ain't sexy.

That's not the only reason, but I think it's a major one, if not the main one.

Michael

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I am trying to understand why people don't get this.

Paul,

It makes for a poor-ass story.

I'm serious.

Story is how we think. It's fundamental to our awareness.

To show how fundamental it is, think of all the wars throughout history. Most have been over differences in totally implausible stories that have no way of being proven. We humans literally kill each other in mass for not believing in each other's story.

If you want a cause for why people don't accept the claim that the underlying cause of everything does not, itself, have a cause, there it is. We need a story. No good guys or bad guys in the causeless universe formulation. It ain't sexy.

That's not the only reason, but I think it's a major one, if not the main one.

Michael

I have to give credit to the poster "Grames" who taught me this stuff on the OO forum, and I think he does illustrate it very well with somewhat of a story.

I recall first hearing about it in a "determinism/free" will thread when the pro-determinist was using the classic argument that there are know "consciousness cells" in the brain and therefore no scientific basis for the consciousness or free will. Grames then drew a parallel between consciousness and life in general. I am alive. The cells which make up my body are alive. Yet the atoms which make up my cells which make up my body are not alive. How is that so? Does this mean my own life is an illusion?

Of course not. Life is an emergent property of atoms which is not reducible. Even if scientists could find some "thing" which causes life in atoms, that would just beg the question as to what causes the "thing" and so on.

I've explained this to a few people with some success. Thus far it's the best illustration I've seen.

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From atoms we came to atoms we'll go.

--Brant

reduce, deduce, induce, conduce

don't define yourself into and out of an argument; wherever you came from here you are--don't shake a stick at it

causation is circular because it can't be rendered from existence itself nor existence from existence

there is no nothing--it's just an unobservable idea

"There is no first cause"--Barbara Banden--I'll go with that

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I am trying to understand why people don't get this.

Paul,

It makes for a poor-ass story.

I'm serious.

Story is how we think. It's fundamental to our awareness.

To show how fundamental it is, think of all the wars throughout history. Most have been over differences in totally implausible stories that have no way of being proven. We humans literally kill each other in mass for not believing in each other's story.

If you want a cause for why people don't accept the claim that the underlying cause of everything does not, itself, have a cause, there it is. We need a story. No good guys or bad guys in the causeless universe formulation. It ain't sexy.

That's not the only reason, but I think it's a major one, if not the main one.

Michael

That's it! God is sexy. Big bang is sexy. They make for exciting metaphors and dynamic plots. Earth as the centre of the universe is sexy. Mankind in general and men in particular, at the centre of the plan of the universe, is sexy (at least to men who envision themselves as special relative to other species and to women). Damn! Even tortoises all the way down is sexy.

There is also a history of devaluing causal thinking and elevating metaphorical, logical and mathematical thinking. Causal thinking is what your old time mechanic uses (when the computer diagnostic doesn't work) to diagnose the problems with you car by having a vision and modeling that penetrates the car's inner workings and seeks the cause of problems by unconsciously reverse engineering the cause of the symptoms. Causal thinking is how the renovator sees inside the walls to know the underlying structure of the house and to realize the water you are finding in your basement is due to a leak around a window on the second floor when the wind blows a certain direction. Causal thinking is what the intuitive wood worker uses to build a structurally sound and functional cabinet that resists woods natural tendencies to twist and warp while allowing for its tendency to expand and contract with changes in humidity. The same cabinet maker uses more metaphorical, aesthetic thinking for designing the cabinets form around the functionality. He uses mathematical thinking to increase precision and consistency. He uses logic to stop making the designs that don't sell.

Our universities are built on arts and sciences: metaphorical, logical and mathematical thinking. Causal thinkers are redirected to the trades. I work with a group of very intelligent renovators, electricians, landscapers, carpenters, etc, who have pursued careers through the university route only to find themselves drawn back to the trades in midlife because of a need to use their brains in ways that were discounted throughout their education and in their professional careers.

Causal thinking has a very low status in our society. It is all but washed out in our education system. I had to fight my way upstream through school every step of the way because I refused to let go of my causal thinking. I was fortunate to find adjusting my thinking to the requirements of school work easy but, motivationally, it was hard. It required that I turn off my causal learning for higher education and I fought this every step. No surprise that I was attracted to AR and NB's causally innovative metaphysics, ethics and politics. As it turns out, also no surprise that I find myself in a world where the people who have attained a higher level of education tend not to get causal thinking or the value of AR and NB's contribution in this area.

For the most part, I think causal thinking has been weaned out of the higher educated and advanced causal stories may have less metaphorical sex appeal to those who have simpler causal models. Our stories are based on our underlying sense of causality and on our metaphorical feel of what fits our experience. This operates on the level of vision and feeling: at the core of our unconscious processes. I see this as a combined cause of people not appreciating any vision of a universe without a first cause, whether without God or without big bang.

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Causal thinking is what your old time mechanic uses (when the computer diagnostic doesn't work) to diagnose the problems with you car by having a vision and modeling that penetrates the car's inner workings and seeks the cause of problems by unconsciously reverse engineering the cause of the symptoms. Causal thinking is how the renovator sees inside the walls to know the underlying structure of the house and to realize the water you are finding in your basement is due to a leak around a window on the second floor when the wind blows a certain direction. Causal thinking is what the intuitive wood worker uses to build a structurally sound and functional cabinet that resists woods natural tendencies to twist and warp while allowing for its tendency to expand and contract with changes in humidity. The same cabinet maker uses more metaphorical, aesthetic thinking for designing the cabinets form around the functionality. He uses mathematical thinking to increase precision and consistency. He uses logic to stop making the designs that don't sell.

I am at sea here. Paul, can you put forward a definition of 'causal thinking'? I am stuck with the Wikipedia entry that goes on about Kant:

Causal thinking for solving problems proceeds in three steps:

  • Causal thinking as basis for making decisions starts with observing an effect or problem which needs a decision. The effect is observed as an isolated event since monitoring refers generally to isolated components or subsystems of the whole.
  • Once a problem is observed, a search for the cause is started. Again each component or subsystem of the whole is examined and finally "the cause" is detected.
  • The third step consists of eliminating the cause and as soon as it is eliminated, the normal operations are resumed.

Is 'causal reasoning' the same thing (in your mind) as 'causal thinking'?

Edited by william.scherk

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I am at sea here. Paul, can you put forward a definition of 'causal thinking'? I am stuck with the Wikipedia entry that goes on about Kant:

Causal thinking for solving problems proceeds in three steps:
  • Causal thinking as basis for making decisions starts with observing an effect or problem which needs a decision. The effect is observed as an isolated event since monitoring refers generally to isolated components or subsystems of the whole.
  • Once a problem is observed, a search for the cause is started. Again each component or subsystem of the whole is examined and finally "the cause" is detected.
  • The third step consists of eliminating the cause and as soon as it is eliminated, the normal operations are resumed.

Is 'causal reasoning' the same thing (in your mind) as 'causal thinking'?

William,

It's funny, by asking me to put forward a definition you are asking me to translate causal thinking into logical thinking terms. Causal thinking is what we are born with. We see causal thinking processes as intuition or insights from our unconscious. It works along side metaphorical thinking beneath the layers of what we would consider conscious thought: logical thinking and mathematical thinking. In fact, it is metaphorical thinking restricted to realistic models of our experience, built from flowing images rapped around a causal framework.

Picture clearly in your mind what would happen if you were driving along the highway and you swerved into oncoming traffic. Your ability to visualize this is causal thinking. Picture clearly inside you how you would react if, through you choices and actions, the person you care about most in the world was injured in some way and blamed you for it. Your ability to experience this is again causal thinking.

Kant thought about causality but did not employ causal thinking. Hume got it all wrong and Kant was responding to Hume. Rand and N. Branden got it right.

Causal thinking is the ability to imagine entities, observed or created, with specific identities that act in specific ways and in specific contexts, and setting them in motion in the mind's eye to see how they act and interact.

Rand came to see this because she was a fiction writer. She created characters (imagined entities) with specific identities that acted in specific ways according to the nature she gave them, in specific contexts, and she set them in motion to see how they would act and interact while flowing within an idealized framework towards a climax that allowed her to illustrate her vision of existence and her values. She watched as the story unfolded inside and put words to the unfolding images. This is causal thinking.

Paul

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Paul,

You just described what I call story thinking.

Michael

Michael,

I've always known we are on the same page using different language.

Paul

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Michael,

We are talking about the same thinking looked at from different directions. Looked at from the perspective of working from the whole to the parts you would conclude it is "story thinking." Looked at from the perspective of the parts to the whole you would conclude it is "causal thinking." Either way it is fluid, reciprocally causal, whole-to-part/part-to-whole thinking. It is why we both are drawn to discuss interconnected holistic systems.

Paul

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Paul,

I thought I had posted the following quote on OL, but I can't find it anywhere. Here is a most interesting observation from Kendall Haven in Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story. (My bold.)

Unconscious portions of our human brains process raw sensory input and pass it to intermediate processing areas of the brain. These areas (also in the unconscious portion of our brains) are the exact areas that are activated when humans create stories. (Pinker 2000; Newquist 2004; Kotulak 1999). The output of these regions is fed to the conscious mind for consideration. In other words, the brain converts raw experience into story form and then considers, ponders, remembers, and acts on the self-created story, not the actual input experience!

Our brains make stories before we are even aware. That's a helluva thing.

The three works referenced are:

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker

The Great Brain Book: An Inside Look At The Inside Of Your Head by HP Newquist

Inside the Brain: Revolutionary Discoveries of How the Mind Works by Ronald Kotulak

Story Proof was written in 2007, so I am sure when a newer version comes out, it will be supplemented by more recent research. But I doubt he will change his conclusion.

This quote turned all my thinking about thinking upside-down. Facts are facts and once I perceive them as such, I just can't ignore them.

Michael

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Thanks Michael. As with your previous post on stories, I am very interested. Today is Thanksgiving up here in The Great White North and I'll be shot if I go AWOL with a party for 16. I'll have to find time as the story of my day and my week unfolds.

One thought: Our story of causality shapes how all our stories unfold. Our sense of causality shapes how we unconsciously process our experiences, shapes the options for action we project and shapes our available choices. This is why it is so important to explore and creatively shape our story of causality.

Paul

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Paul,

Some things escape objective definition, and all one can do is point and say: THIS is what

I mean. I think you have elicited an element of Objectivism which spoke to us early on, that

we never quite lost, though it may have become buried in time.

It is the "story" of one's 'placing' in the world - the imaginative and creative interplay back-

and-forth between macro to micro planes of our existence and all existence. The one to the all, and all to the one.

I'd never have thought of this as "causal thinking", but it is clearer to me now. Always more

self-evident, than it is evident, this speaks to aspects of awareness, self-awareness (the inner eye, I've called it) and not so strangely - the state of rationality.

A rationality which implies (to me) the full range one is capable of. Logic, but also much,

much more.

In a sense you've captured the spirit of Randian and Brandenian thought ~ of Objectivism ~ which inspired them in those early, innocent years of discovery, and inspired us in turn.

Most valuable, thank you.

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One thought: Our story of causality shapes how all our stories unfold.

Paul,

It's not just the story of causality. I'm beginning to believe story exists in a metaphysical format, sort of like a holon, which--to oversimplify--is a whole embedded in a larger whole.

The thing is, the larger whole can be embedded in an even larger whole and so on.

Notice that this is how Rand's theory of definition works. You have the genus (a larger "whole") and a differentia--the individual "whole" within the larger one.

I'm currently studying James Bonnet, Stealing Fire from the Gods: The Complete Guide to Story for Writers and Filmmakers (2nd Edition).

Bonnet talks about a concept you don't see addressed much in works on writing or story. He talks about the story of the larger entity being transformed, not just the main character. The larger entity is usually a collective of some sort, but it can be an entire galaxy (like in Star Wars).

Basically, you have an individual story embedded within a larger story. An example is a WWII story. You have the larger story of the world being transformed by the war. This story has a beginning, middle and end and plays out irrespective of the existence of the individual whose story is within it. Sometimes what the individual does impacts the outcome, but that individual is not necessary for the larger entity to exist and have a transformation story of its own.

This larger entity can be a family, a company, a society, a world, a galaxy or any number of other groupings of individuals.

In Atlas Shrugged, for instance, it was the USA (and by extension, the world) gradually being transformed into a collectivist society. This larger story would have all the history that made this transformation happen. Then along came Galt...

But wait! There's more!

:smile:

(God... I'm becoming such a marketer... :smile: )

I see that the story of the larger entity is embedded like a holon within the story of an even larger entity. The story of the world is part of the story of the appearance and evolution of life in the world. And that is part of the story of the solar system. And so on.

Who knows where this all goes? But it seems to be a metaphysical characteristic of existence as a whole, from the smallest level to the largest.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that the two eventually meet on some kind of field or level or form of existence, but that starts getting into uga uga stuff. Whatever. Everything on that level is speculation regardless of how learned you are. But the concept does close a "circle of existential forms" in such a manner that you no longer need a beginning and an end.

btw - I have come up with another metaphysical form that I have not seen discussed anywhere. I know it must have been, but I have not seen it. I call it the small command blob on the big body blob idea. Notice that even atoms have a small command blob in the center with everything whirling around it (making up the big body blob). A submarine (body blob) has a control room (command blob). A person has a brain. And so on. But that's another story for another time. It could provide some light--or at least a direction to pursue in thinking--on the causality inherent in entities, though. Notice that if you destroy the command blob, the body blob eventually disintegrates.

Michael

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What I'm noticing is that not only is Faith mostly undisturbed by empirical evidence - but that, psychologically, the faithful grow stronger in their belief, precisely BECAUSE OF empirical evidence to the contrary.

I don't get this "empirical evidence to the contrary." Is it some kind of reactive, reverse psychology?

Empirical evidence to the contrary comes into play whenever religions present something as if it were fact, which they very often do.

Example: "God created the world in seven days". There exists ample empirical evidence to the contrary.

there can be no "empirical evidence to the contrary" for there is nothing actually to be contrary to--faith is blather, irrational and nuts--there is nothing referencing the metaphysical at all--and "faith in reason" is a contradiction in terms for anyone's information (FAI) too BTW (if anyone wants to bring that up)

If believers had never made any claims as to their beliefs being "true", there would be no problem at all. Nor would there be any problem if they had never actively tried to make others accept their beliefs as truth via indoctrination - as an alleged truth from which then rules of 'moral conduct' for others are derived.

That's why the epistemological challenge is so important. Religious dogmatists have always feared it - the history of independent rational thinkers who have in former times been burnt at the stake speaks volumes.

That books by Hawkins, Hitchens & Co. have become bestsellers in our time is a sign that people are more open to call religious premises into question.

I myself have exerperienced the power of epistemological challenge in controversial discussions with an atheist a few years ago when I was still a believer (not a very religious one, but I was still basically a theist). It was this 'burden of proof' challenge that, for the first time, got me to take a closer look at the premises I had accepted for granted because I had never bothered to think much about them.

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Xray,

Your story is one of the reasons I believe the Internet is changing the world and will, ultimately, do away with a lot of nonsense and even a lot of dictatorships.

The first condition to establishing a cult is to restrict a person's access to other knowledge and points of view. This also applies to more open religions and any society or organization where mind control is essential for it to continue existing.

The Internet allied to a human being's natural curiosity blows mental environment control by isolation all to pieces.

However, I like a lot of the stories in religion and a lot of the wisdom in them that has been polished by centuries and centuries and centuries of retelling. So, inside the inner world in my head, I am reframing a lot of them to have validity, not because they are factual exterior-wise, but because they are factual interior-wise. They reflect patterns of the mind like fairy tales do.

If you take that approach, you open a gigantic treasure chest that was closed before. That's what happened to me. And from that perspective, there's even a bit of a crossover. For example, the talking snake in the Garden of Eden looks an awful lot like the reptilian brain seducing the higher parts like the cortex with lower concerns and temptations.

Michael

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Xray,

Your story is one of the reasons I believe the Internet is changing the world and will, ultimately, do away with a lot of nonsense and even a lot of dictatorships.

The first condition to establishing a cult is to restrict a person's access to other knowledge and points of view. This also applies to more open religions and any society or organization where mind control is essential for it to continue existing.

The Internet allied to a human being's natural curiosity blows mental environment control by isolation all to pieces.

ITA with your assessment.

However, I like a lot of the stories in religion and a lot of the wisdom in them that has been polished by centuries and centuries and centuries of retelling. So, inside the inner world in my head, I am reframing a lot of them to have validity, not because they are factual exterior-wise, but because they are factual interior-wise. They reflect patterns of the mind like fairy tales do.

If you take that approach, you open a gigantic treasure chest that was closed before. That's what happened to me.

I grew up with Biblical stories, and many of them have fascinated me. No doubt stories from religious texts - like the fairy tales - can contain 'nuggests of wisdom'; and can also - often by using vivid symbolic imagery - reflect the psychological conditio humana, both in its potential for kindness (e. g. the Good Samaritan), but also in its potential for cruelty (e. g. Judith cutting off Holofernes's head).

It would be interesting to study those stories closer which one considers as still valid today.

My hypothesis is that they all convey 'messages' which stand on their own without a god premise.

For example, the talking snake in the Garden of Eden looks an awful lot like the reptilian brain seducing the higher parts like the cortex with lower concerns and temptations.

On the other hand, the snake is also, in several cultures, a symbol of wisdom, of knowledge.The Biblical snake 'seduces' Adam and Eve to more knowledge, and one effect of having knowledge is losing naiveté, losing an innocent, child-like belief.

On a symbolical level, the 'awakening' of Adam and Eve to more knowledge reflects the awakening of man to independent thinking, and the 'price' to be paid is the expulsion from the paradise of an imagined security and protection by a higher power.

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Paul,

You just described what I call story thinking.

Michael

Story thinking? As in fiction? Or as in a narrative? Or as in a tale?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Story thinking? As in fiction? Or as in a narrative? Or as in a tale?

Ba'al Chatzaf

This reminds me of what R. Waldo Emerson said:

“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Story thinking? As in fiction? Or as in a narrative? Or as in a tale?

Ba'al Chatzaf

This reminds me of what R. Waldo Emerson said:

“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Did he give any examples?

--Brant

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“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bob,

Especially when science tries to be religion. I believe our descendents will have a hoot from our generation, and it will go all down the ages. Can you imagine how boneheaded they will think we were with the big bang, with global warming, and so on?

But I was talking about story as the way we think, as the principal form of human cognition, not just religion (or science trying to be religion). That is merely one use of story.

Michael

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“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bob,

Especially when science tries to be religion. I believe our descendents will have a hoot from our generation, and it will go all down the ages. Can you imagine how boneheaded they will think we were with the big bang, with global warming, and so on?

But I was talking about story as the way we think, as the principal form of human cognition, not just religion (or science trying to be religion). That is merely one use of story.

Michael

The Big Bang hypothesis may turn out to be wrong. However is is currently supported by vast amounts of astrophysical evidence. It is not a crack pot theory by any means.

All scientific theories are provisional. The best one can say of ANY scientific theory is that it is currently unfalsified by empirical evidence.

Even dead and gone theories such as caloric, phlogiston and aether, were in their day reasonable theories. Later findings falsified them.

I have no doubt that the best of our current theories will be ultimately falsified by later factual findings.

There is more in Heaven and Earth than is dreamed of by any theory.

Ba'al CHatzaf

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The Big Bang hypothesis may turn out to be wrong. However is is currently supported by vast amounts of astrophysical evidence. It is not a crack pot theory by any means.

Bob,

I didn't say it was a crack-pot theory. It's as good as any, I suppose. But your "evidence" (did I perceive a genuflect when you wrote that word "evidence"?) is nothing but BS in terms of actual evidence we have for other stuff. Your dogmatic "evidence" is nothing but observation of some things, measuring them, then running the numbers backwards.

Good for speculation. Bad for proclaiming evidence-based fact. But that's another story.

I was talking about the way a HUGE number of scientists try to use something like the Big Bang as a religion.

First the Big Sexy Orgasm and fertilizing of the Universal Egg.

Boom!

The Universe is born.

(What came before is not known, nor is it something we think about. All we can do is sagely proclaim that we know not.)

Then...

Poof!

The God of DNA springs forth. It emerges, the veritable Love-Child of the Big Bang, just like its brothers and sisters, the planets and the stars. The God of DNA, not content to spin in circles, pushes through subparticles to become the very Act of Becoming.

DNA is that DNA is.

DNA Is Becoming so much that the God of DNA fabricated us humans through a long convoluted process of evolution where the little DNA suckers it set loose to do the pushing have to eat and hump each other to keep momentum. Otherwise the God of DNA can't keep Becoming.

Becoming what?

Us?

Not so fast. Our very awareness of our existence is nothing but a delusion, a mechanistic byproduct of meat. DNA created us for it's own purposes, nor ours.

But the Big Bang created the God of DNA for it's own purposes...

That's a hell of a story, all right.

An Origin Story totally resembling the Thetans of Scientology.

Michael

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