Mod+ 256. DR. DONALD DEGRACIA, WHAT IS SCIENCE?

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Don has an interesting post that I think is worth a read:

    The Beginning and the End of Consciousness in the Brain


     
  2. Yoga can be useful as a discipline through which the mind may learn to control the brain. A problem that arises from the delusion that the mind is the same as the brain is that it hides the fact that the brain is a tool for the mind to use. Too many people allow the brain free reign to control the mind ... which can lead to unfortunate consequences. But the trick is understanding the right way to control the brain because it can be just as dysfunctional to try to control the brain with force as it is to allow the brain complete freedom.
     
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  3. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    I'll play devil's advocate here:
    I am not sure why do you assign to the brain these features. It sounds like the mind is held hostage by the moods of the brain? As if the mind embodied superior qualities while the brain the lowest ones?

    Isn't it all part of the same "I"?
     
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  4. More good stuff from Don Salmon, as we're discussing/debating whether the Hindu-inspired Nondualism accounts for intentionality as it relates to the Whole-Many problem.

    Mohrhoff presents a view about Consciousness & QM from what he calls an "Indian Perspective". (Guess I missed those Indian genes that would've let me know this was my perspective. ;))

     
  5. Thanks to George over at Kastrup's forum:

    Into nothingness


    In the 1940s, Japan’s search for a national philosophy became a battle for existence. Did Zen ideas create the kamikaze?




     
  6. Marcus Morgan

    Marcus Morgan New

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    I have no problem with falsifiability.
    It just means that it is most useful if the facts behind a theory can be tested to see if they are accurate, nothing more.
    Science is both rational and empirical, and the empirical aspect is falsifiable, which is desirable.
    The rational aspect tying the facts together into a theory is confirmed logically, for self-consistency in explaining the empirical facts.
    Logic and testing are both essential, but if you have no sufficient testing, you have an open slather to theories without sufficient bases.
    This is not difficult to understand, its science.
    In fact, the more falsifiable facts you can present, the more secure the theory, empirically.
    You can have "personal faith" in a particular theory, but we are talking here about objective confirmation and not subjective opinion, and it is essential in science.
    http://1drv.ms/1tnKM6f for more on this.
     
  7. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    I'm reading Hermann Weyl right now and he makes that point that a theory is a self-contained intellectual "package", if you will. There are only very few places a theory makes contact with our experience. Weyl talks about "derived quantities" that allow a theory to make contact with experience. Falsifiability is a reasonable criteria to reject a theory, but it is not so straight forward. Consider Newton's law of gravity. This was falsified by the orbit of Mercury. But people did not just throw Newton into the garbage. In the face of all the other successes, people just put up with this "irritation" in the theory. It was a historical irony really. We now know that radically different concepts of space, time and gravity were required to deal with the Mercury issue (e.g. Relativity theory). So, its cases like this that make Popper's ideas a bit too simple to deal with actual history. That is why people like Kuhn and Feyerabend are advances over Popper.

    Best wishes,

    Don
     
  8. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    What you speak of is not science. It is one particular approach to science that has been cultivated based on certain beliefs.
     
  9. Marcus Morgan

    Marcus Morgan New

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    Don

    I can't say I understand your reference to Weyl.
    Logic holds a theory together and falsifiable facts support it.
    It really is as simple as that, but I suppose you can "categorize" this and that about what I have said.
    Philosophers do that, often to no great use. Its just logic that holds Weyl's "package" together.
    The contact with experience exist or not - if not, what have you got? Useless abstracts!

    Newton was falsified "to some extent". You are using 20/20 hindsight, a bad error in historical assessments.
    If Newton worked "sufficiently" it was retained, that's how "theories" work, not how falsifications work.
    You have it the wrong way around.

    Falsification are dead simple and hopefully accurate, not like the logic of theories.
    This is particularly true when there is nothing as comprehensive to replace it.
    Not ironic, slow progress, retention of what is useful, and eventual overturn of the theory itself.
    Newton knew action at distance was strange, but he had no idea of fields or curvatures.
    He "framed no hypotheses" because he had none - no further progress to make, but not necessarily the end.

    You are unkind to Popper, and to history, and to Churchland.
    And thus far I don't see the basis for that attitude.
    Kuhn & Feyerabend are theory-centric. They like paradigms and they are correct that paradigms hold sway.
    For the reasons why Newton held sway despite "one" falsification.
    Then they eventually get overturned.
    I suspect your objection is with the meandering nature of progress, but humans are gradual.
    Inertia.
     
  10. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    And I am supposed to disagree with this? :)
     
  11. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Yeah, you would have to read Weyl to really appreciate what he says. It is very good stuff what he says. But it is hard to convey unless on actually uses mathematical physics on a practical level.

    It is the idea of "fact" that becomes complicated in Weyl's account. There is no such thing as a "fact" by itself. This is, as you call it, a "theory-centric" view. But it is true. The word one usually hears used in this context is "operational".

    The operational concept Weyl focuses on is "mass", By your account, if I have an apple in my hand, you would say that it was a "fact" that the apple had mass. But this is simply not true. The "fact" is, if I throw the apple, it will have a momentum = mass x velocity.

    I can measure the velocity, and thereby calculate the mass. But then there is a problem because I see the velocity changes when the apple moves. It gets faster and faster. This means the momentum gets bigger and bigger. It suggests, possibly, that the mass also increases.

    the velocity getting faster and faster is called acceleration. I then have to account for the acceleration of the apple. So Newton made up the idea of "gravity" to do so.

    So you see, it all unfolds into this complicated structure that started with Galileo defining mass as momentum = velocity times something. That something is mass.

    So, it is not an isolated fact that the apple has mass. It only has mass in the theory-context invented by Galileo and elaborated by Newton, and much later, by Einstein. This is what is meant by an "operational" definition.

    Mass, in fact, is nothing we can directly observe. It is only something we can calculate from how things move, usually before and after they bounce off of each other.

    You must not make the mistake taking your familiarity of these concepts as given. If you use the word "mass" without using the Galileo/Newton/Einstein framework, then you are using the word "mass" incorrectly. In fact, you ended with the word "inertia". This too is an operationally defined concept in the Galileo/Newton/Einstein framework that you have used in a colloquial, technically-incorrect fashion. Einstein showed it is the same as rest mass.

    Popper was a positivist and he believed that there was such a thing as a bare fact. Kuhn exploded that view and I don't think anybody today who is well-informed of these issues would disagree that Popper made a mistake. And I am not unkind to Popper. I acknowledge and use his contributions, and respect what he both did and failed to do.

    Also, Wely argues, convincingly, that math is greater than logic. In fact, Godel proved it. Math is not held together by logic. That program failed. That was Hilbert's program and Godel proved mathematically that it was impossible to achieve. Math is held together by what Weyl calls "intuition". To me, this is ambiguous. I think a more precise term is the Hindu term "buddhi", which very roughly translates as "meaning".

    I am not unkind to history. I learn history. I feel I am accurately reflecting history in all my comments. Are you aware of the history of Hilbert/Russel/Godel? If not, then perhaps it is you who are unkind to history.

    Yes, I am unkind to Churchland. She is a second-rate intellectual. She is a product of demographic factors that allowed a couple generation of mediocre people to become professional academics. Those macro-demographic factors have long ended, and such people are washing out of the system. All I can say to all of these people is "don't let the door hit you on the butt on your way out".

    I could go on and on, but won't. If you want more about Weyl's ideas, I just did a blog post on it:

    http://dondeg.wordpress.com/2014/11...ork-so-good-part-1-according-to-hermann-weyl/

    Thank you for the stimulating conversation.

    My very best wishes,

    Don
     
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  12. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    I dunno. Are you? :) Kidding aside, it was a response to another poster so ???
     
  13. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Oh. Duh. :eek: (hehehe)
     
  14. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi Everyone!

    Happy New Year to all of you! I just wanted to announce here that I recently did another interview about What Is Science? This was on John and Tommy Maguire's Pentamental podcast.

    Show link is: http://thesyncbook.com/?pagename=pentamental&ep=4

    John also opened up a forum for discussion here on the Skeptiko forum at:

    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/pentamental-ep-4-w-bill-klaus-donald-degracia.1635/

    We got more in-depth into the content of What Is Science? including talking quite a bit about the cosmology of Hinduism vs. the cosmology of Western science.

    Would love to hear anyone's feedback on the interview via the message board link above.

    Take care, Everyone,

    Don
     
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