Friday, January 26, 2007

Doggerel #56: "You Want to Disprove Love!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless. Forgive me if this entry is extra-rambly.

One of the most bizarre, yet still strangely common, accusations against skeptics is that we're trying to disprove love, joy, art, or some similar good thing completely unrelated to whatever we're arguing about.

First, skepticism is one of the cardinal virtues of science. Without it, we'd only be milling over possibilities, rather than solving mysteries and using that newfound knowledge to discover and unravel new mysteries. Without skepticism, life would be full of stale, meaningless sophistry. It'd also be much shorter.

Second, woos who use this doggerel implicitly or explicitly claim that skeptics can't experience the abstract item in question. This is nothing more than a base attempt to dehumanize skeptics.

One of the recent videogames I've played was Okami for the PS2. It is a truly rare experience to see a game that has such beautiful imagery, stirring music, creative spirit, driving story, and innovative play style. Another experience of mine is with the last episode of Futurama before its cancellation: The last line of dialog simply makes my heart ache from the beauty and sorrow (soon to be turned to joy) of it: "Don't stop playing, Fry... I want to hear how it ends."

I'm on the verge of tears just thinking about some of this stuff. The fact that countless woo trolls would deny my capacity for such things is appalling, and leaves me wondering if they're at all capable of the things they pretend to revere. After all, I've noticed a tendency for the people who talk about art while bashing science to come across as hacks with no creative impulse.

Among the skeptical community, I've noticed it's exceedingly common for us to be fans of science fiction. Science fiction is a truly special genre, since it allows us to think about the implications of our hopes, dreams, and even fears coming true. Star Trek, even though it features a lot of dodgy "science," is built on a sentiment that many skeptics share: With the knowledge and wisdom that comes from science, we can solve many of the problems that plague us and rise above many of the petty disputes that divide us. I doubt it'll be nearly as easy in the real world as it was in Star Trek, but I think mankind can achieve something roughly like that.

Woos, however, seem to go by the motto of "ignorance is bliss," are content to live in a stale world, and vehemently attack anyone who seeks to expand their horizons.

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Doggerel Index

63 comments:

TheBrummell said...

I met something like this for the first time about 8 years ago.

A long-time aquaintance, upon being informed of my lack of belief in her or any other gods, immediately told me:

"Then you don't believe in Love! So you can't fall in love, or feel love." (I could hear the capitalization of the word the first time).

Needless to say, I was very surprised by this. Apparently, her 'logic' was:
a) God is love
b) TheBrummell does not believe in God
c) therefore, TheBrummell does not believe in love
d) therefore, TheBrummell cannot experience love.

Basically insulting, really.

Tom Foss said...

Oh, I recognize that one!
P1: God is Love
P2: Love is blind
P3: Ray Charles is blind
C1 (P1-P3): Ray Charles is God.

The updated Nietzschean version continues:
P4: Ray Charles is dead.
C2 (P3, P4): God is dead.

I think the "you don't know love" thing comes out of Star Trek, sadly. To the woos, logical=emotionless. The rational must be like robots, incapable of feeling or expressing human sentiment.

Except anger. We can always be angry. Debunkers are in, like, pon farr all the time, y'know?

Bronze Dog said...

I think Next Gen countered that Vulcan thing quite well, with a little subtlety: Data isn't terribly expressive, but we all know he's quite emotional underneath that exterior.

Love one little thing they stuck in when Data met his "Grandpa": He mentioned the song "If I Only Had a Heart" and the context: The Tin Man seeks a heart, and finds out that he always had one after all.

austinatheist said...

"One of the most bizarre, yet still strangely common, accusations against skeptics is that we're trying to disprove love, joy, art, or some similar good thing completely unrelated to whatever we're arguing about."

They might also be unable to distinguish between thorough-going skepticism and logical positivism. But perhaps I'm giving them too much credit by assuming they know what logical positivism was, and that it is commonly said to have "died the death of a thousand refutations."

Rockstar Ryan said...

You reminded me of the saddest moment in gaming.

Off topic so I just posted it bad cop style.

Weapon of Mass Instruction said...

I recognize that one too!

Monkey has eyeball.
You have eyeball.
You must come from a monkey.

Bronze Dog said...

Further evidence that Weapon is still avoiding learning anything about evolution.

Tom Foss said...

Oh, you mean like:

P1: The Bible says God exists.
P2: The Bible is the infallible word of God.
C1: Therefore, God exists

Like that, right? Seems sound to me.

Nes said...

Oh, BD, I'm shocked! The ending of "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" is nothing compared to the ending of "Jurassic Bark!"

</futurama nerd>

Glorx 3:16!

Bronze Dog said...

You and others have already done what I've been trying to avoid ever since the premiere: I have been utterly unable to watch that episode a second time. I've been choking on the lump on my throat since it was brought up.

Davis said...

[delurk]

WoMI, you seem to have a problem with logic -- your argument is not at all of the same form. Not that it's any news that you have a problem with logic.

Nes said...

Yeah, I've seen "Jurassic Bark" about 5 times now, and I still tear up at the end. On the other hand, Amy and Leela's wrestling outfits make it all worthwhile.

Tom Foss said...

I got the last three Futurama season sets for Christmas. I watched "The Sting," but so far I haven't been able to bring myself to watch "Luck of the Fryrish," "Jurassic Bark," or "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings." Those aren't episodes you can just turn on when you're not doing anything important, you have to watch those.

It's that perfect mix of poignancy and humor that makes Futurama and Scrubs such great shows. I hope the new Futurama is able to maintain that level of quality (though I have little doubt).

Akusai said...

"Jurassic Bark" is one of the few episodes of any show on TV to really make me choke up a bit. Last time it ran on Adult Swim, a friend and I had a long conversation about how sad, it was, yet how incredibly good. Strange how so many of those few are episodes of Futurama. And, interestingly enough, a lot of the rest are from Scrubs. And then there's Joss Whedon's Buffyverse and Firefly. "Fool For Love" from Buffy season five never ceases to get to me no matter how many times I see it.

Anymore, I really feel that Futurama is far superior to the Simpsons, and not just the last few awful seasons, the entire run. It really makes you care about the characters, and mixed in with all the crazy absurdist humor are strains of real human emotion that the tortured, melodramatic pathos of most other awful shows just can't touch.

Dikkii said...

Funnily enough, there's not a lot of evidence supporting the existence of "love".

Is it an emotion? A bundle of emotions? Is it a creation of various religious types over the years? Can love exist independently of "lust" and "companionship"?

I'd suggest that love is a load of woo, if it wasn't possible that my wife might be reading.

Dikkii's wife said...

Dikkii, you're fucked.

I'll see you in court.

TheBrummell said...

Last night I watched "Leela's Homeworld" (Season 4, episode 2). Another good episode for an emotional shot at the end.

It also helped to cleanse my mental palate of the tripesome "Moment of Praise" I'd accidentaly stumbled upon.

Ruth said...

My art teacher required a degree of rationality and clear thinking, just as my science teachers did. Asthetics can be evaluated, if not measured on a voltmeter. How did thid artist use color? Line? Dark and Light? My math-gifted child is also far better than me at music, as music requires an understanding of math. And love is not random or blind. I love my children for good biological reasons.

Rockstar Ryan said...

I am "Futurama" deficient. Being a poor Rockstar does not allow me to have even the most basic of all necessities:

Cable.

But I have seen a few, and Leela's homeworld was certainly good!

Anebo said...

I came here from the skeptic's circle, so I am symapthetic to your point of view, but I find that you're defending yourself against charges of being culturally, morally, and emotionally deficient, by describing your intense emotional involvment with video games, Futurama, and Star Trek? Christ, go read some Horace!

Bronze Dog said...

This ain't about high brow versus low brow. This is about the alleged skeptical inability to experience intense emotions. I also think it's a bigger statement that I can see beauty in the here and now, rather than the old idols.

Besides, I don't think the distinction exists. Some art is simply more publicly revered than other art. I suspect there's a fair portion of the population that reveres the old stuff only because everyone else makes a display of it. If I rambled on about Shakespeare, I might risk sounding insincere.

Anti-nonsense said...

It seems some people think atheists/skeptics are like Daleks, only capable of feeling hate/anger.

Anonymous said...

I don't get your point. Are you trying to say that love is not reducible to chemical reactions in the brain? That sounds a bit wooish to me.

Bronze Dog said...

It is reducible. Knowing that, however, doesn't change my attitude towards it in any really significant way: Love is still valuable.

Anonymous said...

But from an objective viewpoint, I don't think there can be any grounds for saying that one chemical reaction is of any more value than another. Thus, there are no objective or scientific grounds for saying a particular chemical reaction is valuable.

Strictly speaking, it is meaningless to apply value to unverifiable concepts such as love (though of course, it can be useful to use the term as shorthand for particluar sequences of neurochemical reactions which have been selectively favoured due to the evolution of maternal bonding etc).

Bronze Dog said...

True. But I'm not talking about objective scientific value, of course. No such thing, since science is descriptive, not prescriptive.

Mostly this is a rant about how woos try to depict us skeptics as inherently inhuman and having no values, and why that's dead wrong.

Anonymous said...

hmmm. I think objective scientific value (ie that which the scientific community has accepted - provisionsally of course - as true) is the only real value. Other values are subjective, unverifiable and, ultimately, meaningless woo.

Bronze Dog said...

I think you're either unintentionally cloudy in what you're saying, or that you only value truth.

I see value in peace, love, yadda, yadda. (And yes, I recognize they're extremely difficult to define in a way people will agree on) Truth is one of the vital means towards reaching those ends. To solve a problem you have to be able to know something about the world it exists in.

Anonymous said...

I subscribe to the view that unless there is a finite procedure for conclusively determining whether a statement is true or false, it is meaningless. If something is meaningless then it is of no value.

Admittedly logical positivism is not as trendy these days amongst the skeptical comunity as nature- worshipping Saganism, pscychobabbling Shermerism or scientifically illiterate Randiism, but it has had many eminent supporters over the years and, if skeptics are really faithful to the need for logical consistency, deserves more.

Bob said...

"Admittedly logical positivism is not as trendy these days..."

Not only has logical positivism gone out of style, it's either dead, " or as dead as a philosophical movement ever becomes."

Anonymous said...

Whilst Logical Positivism main no longer exist as a unified movement, its central tenets remains as sound as ever.

The use of meaningless terms such as "God", "Love", "Peace", "Chakras" and so forth may provide satisfaction to people (much as reciting poetry or chanting mantras does). However it is fruitless to attempt to engage in rational discussion using such terms, as one position is as non-sensical as any other.

As Wittgenstein put it; "Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent".

Jacomo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Akusai said...

Sorry all; that last (deleted) comment was me but I posted under the wrong damn Google account. Anyway, here we go again:

I find it interesting that you have come here advocating a long-dead movement, one that is not dead without reason, and your only defense to a rather long article (did you even read it?) discussing why it was untenable is "It's still right!"

Not to mention that your only "arguments" against modern skepticism amount to a handful of ad hominem attacks on three famous luminaries of the skeptical movement. Rather than mount substantial criticisms of their positions, you dismiss them with insults.

"Nature-worshipping?" Provide evidence that Sagan was an animist or withdraw the claim. Of course, you might say "That was just hyperbole!" which I can understand fully, but then you're still left with a need to defend why Sagan's viewpoints were wrong. Likewise with Shermer ("Psychobabble?") and Randi. Please do explain why Randi is scientifically illiterate. Is it because he takes a Popperian viewpoint that falsifiability (rather than verifiability) is the major criterion in determining something's scientific status? Then I'd wager that the majority of scientists working today are "scientifically illiterate." If not that, what?

Could it possibly be that not one of the three "lives up" to your standards; i.e. has completely excised subjective value from their lives?

If this is not, in fact, your viewpoint, please correct me. I am, however, left to understand that your claims is essentially "subjective value is worthless and none of you should talk about your emotions."

Funny how you'd be hard pressed to find a logical positivist who advocated such a brash and total dismissal of anything he didn't find "scientific." Take A.J. Ayer, for example, the formulator of the verification principle, who was a mover and shaker in British humanism, an outlook that requires things like "love," "ethics," "compassion," and "tolerance."

Anonymous said...

I concede that I have been using the term Logical Positivism loosely and that this viewpoint needs to be updated and supplemented with advances in evolutionary biology, neuroscience and contemporary philosophy. Do you think eliminative materialism and philosophers like the Churchlands have no contemporary relevance?

The central premise that only terms which have a procedure for their verification are meaningful remains as valid as ever.

What are these “subjective values” you are referring to? Is there an objective procedure which determines their meaning? If not, you are chanting mantras.

Folk psychology statements such as “he loves his wife dearly” are every bit as meaningless and woosterish as things like “thought waves are transmitted through the ether” or “God will punish sinners” (unless “love” here is taken to denote an observable arrangement of physiological events and motor behaviours). They all contain unverifiable and meaningless terms, so what’s the difference?

BTW as I said before, I’m not saying that chanting mantras does not have a soothing effect or play a socially useful function.

Bob said...

"...its central tenets remains as sound as ever."

"The central premise that only terms which have a procedure for their verification are meaningful remains as valid as ever."

Twice now you've baldly asserted as much.

According to the verifiability principle, the meaning of a proposition consists in the method of its verification. For a proposition to be meaningful it must be either tautological or empirically verifiable.

But that strikes me as self-referentially incoherent. Tell me, is the verifiability principle tautological, or is it empirically verifiable? If neither, then the verifiability principle is meaningless on its own terms. In other words, it fails to obtain under its own conditions.

And I defy you to formulate the verifiability principle such that it does not exclude historical propositions or scientific generalizations.

I anticipate that your response will be (in so many words) "The verifiability principle is exempt from itself." Perhaps it is meant as a proposal or recommendation. If so, then why accept it?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the self-referentiality issue is a problem, but no-one seriously believes you can pick yourself up by your boot straps these days.

I see the premise as a methodological presupposition which (along with others relating to induction, generalisability and so forth) is necessary for rational discourse, empirical investigation and the expungement of subjective concepts.

Bob said...

As Wittgenstein put it; "Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent".

Come to think of it, he also suggested that we throw away the ladder after we climb up it.

And so long as you're hoist by your own petard, you may as well put the cart before the horse.

"Since "propositions" had ordinarily been defined as "that which can be either true or false," it seemed odd to suggest that a proposition might be meaningless. Yet it was no less odd to suggest that a sentence -a set of words- could be verified, even if there was no doubt that it could be meaningless [...] it is a serious question whether "true," "false," and "meaningless" are alternative descriptions of the same kind of occurrence or whether to describe a sentence as "meaningless" is not tantamount to denying that any statement has been made, any proposition put forward. This would have the consequence that we can consider whether a statement is verifiable only after we have settled the question of the meaning of the sentence used to make the statement."

(See link above.)

Akusai said...

I see the premise as a methodological presupposition which (along with others relating to induction, generalisability and so forth) is necessary for rational discourse, empirical investigation and the expungement of subjective concepts.

As far as I can see, you still have yet to give us a reason why subjective concepts must be expunged.

I subscribe to the view that unless there is a finite procedure for conclusively determining whether a statement is true or false, it is meaningless.

Here you seem to be implying that subjective concepts should be expunged because the verification principle says they are meaningless.

But your latest comment would imply that we should subscribe to the verification principle because it allows us to expunge subjective concepts.

Such circular reasoning gives us no good reason to either subscribe to the verification principle or attempt to expunge subjective concepts.

Anonymous said...

As I said earlier, I agree that LP needs to be updated and supplemented- this is consistent with my rejection of Wittgenstein’s bootstrapping.

I also do not see verificationism both demonstrating that subjective terms are meaningless and allowing them to be classed as so as a vicious circularity, because the former can be argued for on independent grounds.

But I’m not a dogmatist. If a position such as falsificationism (appropriately excised of Popper’s Platonic fantasies) can provide a more secure foundation for the philosophy of science and act as a bulwark against relativism, postmodernism, idealism, dualism, subjectivism, newageism, fundieism and other such rubbish, then I am happy to endorse it.

Once this foundation has been established, neuroscience and the likes of Dennett and Churchland can do the work of showing that subjective terminology does not refer to anything real.

The important point is that if you can’t prove it, it don’t mean nuth’n.

Which is why I think it is intellectually inconsistent to disparage Woos for using words like God, Chi and Chakras and then bandy about meaningless, subjective terms such as “love” and “Compassion”. This undermines the skeptical position.

Words are our weapons - we must use them wisely.

Bob said...

"...because the former can be argued for on independent grounds.

And until you do so, your argument remains circular.

"The important point is that if you can’t prove it, it don’t mean nuth’n."

Yet another bald assertion of the verification principle (that makes three). I maintain that it is incoherent and thus untenable for the above given reasons.

Or perhaps you misunderstand the falsifiability criterion. If you can't falsify it, it ain't science.

Anonymous said...

I was using "prove it" in the colloquial sense, which could apply to verification or withstanding repeated attempts at falsification, depending on one's preference.

Re the independent grounds, I'm not going to atempt to present a whole philosophy in a blog post. "Neurophilosophy" or "Consciousness Explained" are works I would recommend if you're interested.

Suffice it to say, once cognitive functions have been explained in terms of brain processes there is no need to expect a residuum of "subjective experience" that requires further explanation. Why do you think there is?

In any case, the onus of proof here is on the claimant. I cannot disprove the existence of subjective experience (and hence the meaninglessness of terms associated therewith) any more than I can disprove the existence of God.

It is up to those who claim a term such as "love" refers to something more than physically observable and measureable properties to substantiate their claim or, if not, join their Woo brethren at the next Sylvia Browne conference.

Bob said...

The way I see it, this post is about woos claiming that skeptics are trying to "disprove love" (in the colloquial sense), which is not the case. If anything, it seemed you had come over here with the express purpose of doing exactly that.

I am not a woo simply because I have emotions and express them in terms other than neurochemical reactions in the brain.

That said, I'm happy with the falsification criterion, which is to be distinguished from the verification prinicple. For a moment you seemed to be conflating the two.

Now I'm afraid we've derailed this thread in the process of talking past one another.

Anonymous said...

"I have emotions..."

Substantiate the claim or retract the statement, Mr Claimant.

Bob said...

I don't remember saying they were anything "more than physically observable and measureable properties."

Akusai said...

Anonymous,

You seem to want to project Platonism onto us when rather than claiming that "love" (happiness, sadness, etc.) is some external thing into which we tap when we experience emotions, we are instead taking the linguistically expedient of referring to a particular chemical state of the brain, a particular configuration of neurotransmitters that causes, in the consciousness emergent from the physical brain, a particular feeling, as "love."

How to establish? Perhaps hook subjects up to an fMRI, show them a picture of their mothers, and ask them what they feel. The neural activity registered is "love." Not some magical floaty goodness, that neural activity.

But really that's all beside the point. Demanding "Prove you experience emotion" is like demanding "Prove you can see," and, in a way, like demanding "Prove you exist outside my head." If you have it set in stone that I do not feel, see, and/or exist, nothing I do will be able to prove it to you.

And please do not try again to compare this to "feeling God" or "feeling chakras." It is one thing to say "What you feel is not the external presence of a deity/life force but rather something generated from your own brain that needs no further explanation" and another entirely to say "You don't feel anything and if you think you feel something you're being a woo."

Bronze Dog said...

I've largely left Bob and Akusai to deal with this guy, since they seemed pretty fired up in private discussions.

To use an analogy on the "prove emotions" thing, it strikes me as the same as demanding that I prove that I have Cave Story on my laptop because my hard drive only has 1's and 0's on it. It just has a particular arrangement of them that I call "Cave Story", just like my brain shuffles chemicals in collection of ways I call "love".

Akusai said...

And what a particular arrangement of 1s and 0s it is.

Wikinite said...

I put my 1 in your mom's 0

Anonymous said...

I don’t know WTF that last comment is supposed to mean.

Re the existing, seeing and feeling analogy - I think this is invalid because that you exist and see are objectively verifiable whereas having feelings (in the “subjective” sense) is not.

On the other hand, the God, Chakra and feelings analogy is quite valid - in all cases there is reference to immaterial, objectively unverifiable concepts. In fact in the “generation” of feelings from the brain there is a further fallacy in that the immaterial, rather than originating from it’s own domain, supposedly arises magically from the material.

I don’t see the problem with 1’s and 0’s in a computer program being converted to electrical signals on a screen, giving rise to photons hitting eye receptors which then cause electrical signals in the brain, which may then further lead to output signals causing motor behaviours such as hand and mouth movements.

The problem is when “feelings” or “inner experiences” are unnecessarily and redundantly interjected into the whole process.

Bronze Dog said...

On the other hand, the God, Chakra and feelings analogy is quite valid - in all cases there is reference to immaterial, objectively unverifiable concepts.

It's statements like that that convince me you're just a reverse-woo. You're defining stuff as "material" or "immaterial" before you even consider them.

If someone comes up with a chakra theory and can successfully do stuff with it, chakra is then material/natural/whatever. And scientific.

If someone comes up with a god theory and can successfully do stuff with it, the same is true.

The reason why deities and chakra are, thus far, woo is because the various hypotheses are either consistently falsified, expressed in an unfalsifiable manner, or simply lack empirical evidence. It's not because of some magic label. If labeling it as "supernatural" doesn't work as an excuse to accept it, I don't see how the same act serves as an excuse to reject it. You're supposed to do science: Test predictions.

In fact in the “generation” of feelings from the brain there is a further fallacy in that the immaterial, rather than originating from it’s own domain, supposedly arises magically from the material.

Who here defines feelings as immaterial? Hint: ONLY YOU!

I reject the idea of immaterial feelings. Feelings are chemicals bouncing around in our head and fuzzily labeled. Chemicals are material, therefore feelings, emotion, and so forth are material. The only person I see who's using "immaterial" in his arguments is you. Like "supernatural" it's essentially a nonsense word. The difference is that you're buying the woo line that certain things are "immaterial."

Material chemicals in our material brains interact in some material fashions we just label in different ways. One of those labels is "love." If you're against labels, why are you speaking in language?

Either take your "A != A" pseudophilosophy somewhere else or apologize for misrepresenting our views.

Akusai said...

Why must you continue ignoring what's really being said instead of projecting wooness onto us time and time again?

We are all materialists here, and none of us are Platonists.

I offered you an objective way to verify the presence of emotions, i.e. linguistic labels for particular chemical arrangements in the brain, i.e. material states of being.

You claim again "They are not verifiable! Boo hoo!"

If you're just going to come around here and continually say the same goddamn things while accusing us of believing shit we have not said or even implied all the while simply assuming your inherent rightness while not offering a single real argument in favor of your claims, you can go eat a sack of soggy dicks.

Seriously, fuck off, you arrogant douche.

Bronze Dog said...

Akusai said it a lot nastier, but I'll make this explicit, anonny: If your next post isn't an apology for misrepresenting our materialist views, you can join our favorite YEC troll, Cocksnack, on my ban list.

Somehow, though, I don't think your post-ban posts will be funny enough to allow, like his spasmatastic posts usually are.

Anonymous said...

Well now that I’ve clarified that you’re not claiming to have subjective feelings, I’m sorry.

But in case I’m tempted to indulge in any more of these inanities, thanks for banning me anyway.

Seriously though, you guys are cracking me up, so I’m going to have to end this.

I’m actually an experience loving property dualist (please don’t confuse this with substance dualism) and skeptic.

The fact that you took all that guff seriously confirms for me the poverty of materialism.

Cheers.

Akusai said...

So, in other words...You're just an asshole?

Bronze Dog said...

Declaring victory by fiat and irrelevant subject change. Just like a standard woo.

Why, oh why, do they never bother putting up actual logical arguments?

He wasn't even trying to debate us. He was just apparently waiting for a buzz phrase so that he could "creatively reinterpret" it, just like he's been "creatively interpreting" our stance by forcing his conception of "material" and "immaterial" on us.

So, yes, Akusai, this guy's an asshole.

Akusai said...

What I really like is how his "fake stance" kept claiming we were arguing for magical, immaterial woo emotions and was wrong, and now, in his "grand reveal" or something, he's claiming that we're arguing against subjective emotions, when (correct me if I'm wrong) the entire impetus of the debate in the first place was to defend subjective experience against a crazy logical positivist...

Somebody is missing the boat here. Claiming a materialist reduction of emotion is not the same as denying subjective experience. This guy wants us to be on the other side of the fence from him no matter which fence he's using.

Bronze Dog said...

This guy's certainly no skeptic. He used woo tactics through every step so that he could get a quote mine that only means what he thinks it means when you go by his crazy, arbitrary definitions of "material" and "immaterial", and probably an equally crazy definition of "subjective".

Of course, I tend to think the stuff is only "subjective" because we don't have the tools necessary to explore every possible brain state. Yet.

Incomplete knowledge is not that big a problem unless you claim to know everything. Like the typical woo implicitly claims.

Dunc said...

Of course, I tend to think the stuff is only "subjective" because we don't have the tools necessary to explore every possible brain state.

Well, that's a interesting issue... I'm not convinced that an infinitely advanced ability to inspect or modify brain states (up to and including a Culture-esque ability to store and reproduce them) gets you any closer to the subjective experience of any given brain state.

To give an extreme example - no matter how much you know about the biochemical action of LSD, the only way to know what it actually feels like is to take it.

Bronze Dog said...

That's kind of what I mean: It's 'subjective' because we don't have a magic machine that'll let the wearer go through every brain state.

Of course, given that 'subjective' gets abused or just honestly confused enough to merit a possible doggerel entry, I could be missing some other definition.

Wikinite said...

This seems appropriate

Anonymous said...

"Of course, given that 'subjective' gets abused or just honestly confused enough to merit a possible doggerel entry, I could be missing some other definition."

That'll be a laugh, considering how patently ill-informed and confused you are on the issue - I look forward to your doggerel.

Hint- before you write it, read up a bit on terms like "phenomenal consciousness" and "qualia".

Akusai said...

Hint- before you write it, read up a bit on terms like "phenomenal consciousness" and "qualia".

Translation: before you write it, read up on a bunch of pseudo-Platonic philosophical claptrap because some self-important philosophers think that they are not yet obsolete. You opinion will not matter until you pay respect to the subgroup of philosophers of mind, themselves already a subgroup of philosopers in general, who give a damn about qualia and phenomenal consciousness. Nevermind that there are philosophers of mind who think qualia and suchlike are silly; you, BD, cannot possibly take their side.

Remember, folks, if any philosopher says it, it must be paid due deference.

Bronze Dog said...

Well, checked my site traffic, and bumped into what appears to be a rough point of origin of our anonymous logical positivist. He was apparently a woo pretending to be an "ultra-skeptic". Not surprising in the least, since there's no woo out there too stupid to make you wonder if he's a fake. He also demonstrated zero understanding of skepticism. Glad I decided to err on the side of generosity and initially assume he was an inarticulate logical positivist (which qualifies as woo, though one don't specialize in).