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What is the human soul?

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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Azio wrote: »
    Glal wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    The trick is, with a certain level of complexity in any system comes ambiguity and strange-loopiness, which is what Godel proved. This also applies to the brain, claims the author.
    Fixed.
    I don't see how this is such an outrageous claim since the human brain is a part of nature and every particle in your skull is governed by the same rules as other particles. Except that it possibly disagrees with whatever 2,000-year-old ideology you were instilled with from birth.
    Yes, and math is not part of nature, not aside from "is run on natural constructs". It's a theoretical language that can be used to deal with the real world in symbolic terms, it's not a bijection where properties from the former can be directly applied to the latter Just Because A Part Of The Pattern Fits. We'd like to believe they can, because humans both love patterns and love things to be explained in a simple manner, but it's still poppycock.

    Glal on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu, I will posit that the soul is the agent which allows subjectivity; this, in turn allows for existence, reason, emotion, experience, and relationship. These are all things which allow humanity to flourish, to integrate some good old Aristotelianism, and achieve their telos: fully embracing existence. So perhaps to be human means to exist.

    I use ego as a term which means the human soul in it's ontic nature of existing and it's ontological subjective existence in all relationships.

    By mentioning the souls of others, you bring up a good point: do the objects we intend have souls? They certainly, apodictically by virtue of our phenomenologically ontological existence, exist. But is a soul a desideratum for existence. Perhaps Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty are wrong in their use of ontic and ontological: perhaps only humans, by virtue of having a soul, exist ontically. Can a chimpanzee ever exist in a system in which it is a subject? I would say no, but I cannot rigorously defend this position. I think that the ego exists because it intends, and everything else can be intended. This is what the human soul is: it allows for existence. This does not deny existence for other things; nevertheless, they need the human soul for their existence.

    I do not know if your stance on science is fully justified. After all, you can use phenomenology and deconstructivism to say that science is fully a social construct. I don't necessarily believe this, but it definitely has some merit. The soul can be captured paraphrastically, but will never be demarcated and fully explained, because you would have to literally categorize every relationship for every soul that has ever existed.

    Re: private and public souls. I was more just rambling on about how language seems to exist on it's own, and is as essential to our existence as are genes. (Could this open up a proof for the existence of God - that we need genes and lingual memes to exist? Maybe)

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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2008
    BODHIDHARMA sat facing a wall for nine years of meditation. At one
    time a Confucian monk came to him for teaching. But Bodhidharma
    sat unmoving and unspeaking for seven days and nights, while the
    monk pleaded for his attention. Finally the monk could stand no
    more, and to show his sincerity, he took a great sword, cut off
    his arm, and carried it to Bodhidharma.

    He said: "Here is a token of my sincerity. I have been seeking
    peace for my soul for many years, and I know that you can show me
    how to find it."

    Bodhidharma said, "Do not bring me your arm. Bring me your soul,
    so I can give it peace as you request.

    "But that is the very trouble," said the monk,

    "I cannot grasp my soul or find it, much less bring it to you.

    "You see," said Bodhidharma, "I have given you peace of soul."

    Irond Will on
    Wqdwp8l.png
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    Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    Take that, thread.
    That was really interesting. Might have been a bit more satisfying is the conclusion wasn't "fuck if we know" but still.

    And I have to admit, I'm not convinced by the response you gave to the knowledge argument. There are two parts that don't really sit well with me. One is the idea that you can have (or gain) cognitive capabilities without having (or gaining) knowledge. The other is that, assuming it makes sense to say that you can gain cognitive capabilities without gaining knowledge, Mary isn't learning anything.

    The second issue is simpler, I think. We can imagine that Mary might be given a test where two swatches of fabric, one blue and one green, are placed in front of her (say that this happens before she is let out and sees that delicious apple). If she's asked if either one is red, she won't know because she doesn't know what red looks like or what the visual difference is between red and blue and green. She might be able to find out after testing the light waves reflected by the swatches, but she's not able to mobilize the knowledge that other people can: the knowledge of what red actually looks like.

    You might say then that here too she is just gaining a new cognitive capability when she sees the apple though. She's gaining the ability to distinguish between colours or something. But if we start going down that road is there going to be any kind of knowledge gain that can't be expressed instead as gaining a new cognitive capability?

    Grid System on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I agree: that is a weaker part of the paper. The best response to the knowledge argument is the one that appears in the section on dualism: if it proves anything, it proves too much.

    The best head-on response, in my opinion, is to make use of modes of acquaintance. Mary in the black-and-white rooms knows all the facts, but upon being released becomes acquainted with those same facts through phenomenal guises.

    MrMister on
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    Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Yeah, that seems like the best take. There's something weird about saying that there are no JTBs directly connected to sense experiences though.
    Podly wrote: »
    They certainly, apodictically by virtue of our phenomenologically ontological existence, exist.
    Now there's a fun sentence.

    Grid System on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    They certainly, apodictically by virtue of our phenomenologically ontological existence, exist.
    Now there's a fun sentence.

    Fredric Jameson's got nothing on me :P

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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    it's still poppycock.
    I'm curious to hear your theory on the soul.

    Qingu on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Mr: I didn't read all of it, but I stopped here because I have a big problem with this.
    MrMister wrote: »
    One curious tenet of Identity Theory is that my cat can’t feel pain. Pain is C-Fibers Firing, and C-Fibers are human anatomy. My cat might feel something when she meows and runs away, but it’s not pain—it may be that my cat feels something unpleasant, but again, it’s not the same thing I feel. Identity Theory doesn’t allow for the same mental state to be realized in disparate physical systems, which can be viewed as a serious disadvantage. After all, it seems like Martians, Robots, and my cat could all feel pain--even the same pain I feel.
    While I am not well versed in brain anatomy, this criticism seems incredibly flawed to me. Evolution tells us that mammal brains, especially intelligent mammals like cats and apes, are very similar in structure to ours. It seems silly to claim that just because a cat brain lacks structures that are identical to ours, that therefore we cannot say the cat does not feel pain.

    It may not be the exact same state of pain that I feel, but the sensantion is certainly similar. In the same way, my C-Fibers are not identical to yours; I may not experience the same exact sensation of pain, but this is hardly a valid criticism of the idea. We can tell that other people feel pain in the same way that we can tell that cats feel pain: by observing their behavior and reactions to stimuli (screaming, recoiling, fear afterwards, etc).

    Also, Functionalism doesn't seem to be mutually exclusive with identity theory. Functionalims defines pain in terms of observable behavior; identity theory defines it in terms of physiological phenomena. But if pain is both, as identity theory holds, then they're both right.

    Qingu on
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    jotatejotate Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Warning: The following brings nothing to the discussion, but I couldn't help myself.
    picture005detail.jpg

    jotate on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Qingu, I will posit that the soul is the agent which allows subjectivity; this, in turn allows for existence,
    I disagree. I fail to see how something can be necessary for existence. In order for something to allow anything, it first has to exist.
    I use ego as a term which means the human soul in it's ontic nature of existing and it's ontological subjective existence in all relationships.
    You haven't posited an explanation for what that ego is or how it comes to exist from gray matter.
    By mentioning the souls of others, you bring up a good point: do the objects we intend have souls? They certainly, apodictically by virtue of our phenomenologically ontological existence, exist. But is a soul a desideratum for existence. Perhaps Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty are wrong in their use of ontic and ontological: perhaps only humans, by virtue of having a soul, exist ontically. Can a chimpanzee ever exist in a system in which it is a subject? I would say no,
    You would be wrong. Chimpanzees can recognize themselves in the mirror, fashion simple tools, and use language.

    And in any case, it's not as if there's a bright-line between chimpanzee and human when it comes to cognitive ability and souls. Somewhere along the line humans evolved from apelike ancestors—at which point in this evolution did humans gain what you call the ego?
    I think that the ego exists because it intends, and everything else can be intended. This is what the human soul is: it allows for existence. This does not deny existence for other things; nevertheless, they need the human soul for their existence.
    This is all very confusingly worded. A minute ago you were defining ego as "the human soul in its ontic nature." The human soul in its ontic nature requires the human soul to exist? I have a feeling we are talking past each other.
    I do not know if your stance on science is fully justified. After all, you can use phenomenology and deconstructivism to say that science is fully a social construct. I don't necessarily believe this, but it definitely has some merit.
    The merit being? "You can't know anything for sure because everything is a social construct?" Psh.
    The soul can be captured paraphrastically, but will never be demarcated and fully explained, because you would have to literally categorize every relationship for every soul that has ever existed.
    You can say the same thing about any phenomenon or interaction. We'll never know everything: check. Moving on....
    Re: private and public souls. I was more just rambling on about how language seems to exist on it's own, and is as essential to our existence as are genes. (Could this open up a proof for the existence of God - that we need genes and lingual memes to exist? Maybe)
    How on earth would that prove the existence of a deity?

    Qingu on
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    Deviant HandsDeviant Hands __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    If you were to teleport a person by breaking them down into atoms at one location, making note of all the atoms used, and then using other atoms at another location to build their body back up perfectly like it was before, and you throw away the original atoms, you will have killed the original soul. Murder.

    Deviant Hands on
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    GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    The soul is synergy. It is Gestalt. It is nothing and it is everything.
    TomRiddle.jpg

    And it is VERY. MUCH. ALIVE!

    Glyph on
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    ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    It's strange to see a militant atheist like Qingu all angst ridden over what precisely constitutes "the soul."

    Passing strange.

    Shinto on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I disagree. I fail to see how something can be necessary for existence. In order for something to allow anything, it first has to exist.

    The ontic comes before the ontological; something must exist before existence is capable. The very notion of an object presupposes the existence of a subject. Existence can be extracted from a subject, however, as something that purely exists. Here is where Descartes is correct: existence is proved by self - recognition. When something can, in an abyss in which there are no objects, BE -- whether that is though, reasoning, self-recognition -- there is existence. This is an ontic existence; it is the nominal existence, the ego, the ability to say "I" and recognize oneself against a void of non-existence. However, we do not live solely against the void of non-existence. We have relationships with things around us. We interact with them. We intend them. From this, ontological existence arises, where this computer, this coffee cup, this paper exist. They exist on so many levels it so confounds one that capturing all existence seems impossible.

    The main problem here, of course, is whether this cup exists on it's own right. I say yes. It is completely impossible to conceive of a world in which humans do not exist. This seems wrong: a few books have recently come out postulating how ecology would be effected were humans to stop existing. It seems scientifically wrong, as humans have only been around for less than 1% of history. Did the universe not exist before humans existed?

    This question can only be answered by the answer to another question: does the soul arise from the brain. Is the soul programmed by our genes, does it arise from a specific arrangement of neurons and functions? No. Classic religious reasoning gives the obvious genesis of the soul, but this is never accepted by scientific standards. So where does this soul, this agent of existence, come from. The only possible explanation is that the soul always, at least ontically. Here, I state that I am not smart enough to prove how the soul always existed without using something akin to Plato's cyclical argument. It could be that we have a shared experience which is hindered by our subjectivity. The soul exists ontically, but it exists in accord with our human body only ontologically.

    Is this really as mystical and illogical as it seems? Perhaps not. For most of history, the universe has "existed" (to use the vulgar definition), but there was no life. Life seems to have came when the first nucleotides were zapped by lightning and started to pass on the genetic code. But can there be existence without life? The two concepts, so commonly assumed to be together, may be completely different forces. Life is biological, purely biological and subject completely to biochemistry. Existence proceeds life. Existence is. Existence is possible because there is something that is not "non-existence."

    This introduces another set of now philosophically interesting terms: is the absence or negation of something "non-existence?" No. "Non-existence" is just that - zero, nothing. Until humans arrived, there was an "absence of existence." Which is not to say that there was no existence, just that there was an absence of an agent capable of existing. But remember, existence exists, because it is possible. It potentiality that makes all potentiality possible, it is the rule from which existence stems. So until humans arrived, there was life without existence.

    This life was fully exercised through evolution by animals like apes. They used all the tools to live: they recognized themselves amongst others - they recognized that they were alive. Crows can solve complex puzzles in order to get food to stay alive. Monkeys have communities in which they communicate (I would hesitate to call it a language. I do not think sonic communication is specifically a "language.") in order to allow for their species to prosper. They, to slightly change the meaning of the phrase, "live life to the fullest."

    But they did not yet exist. See, science is limited because it thinks that it is objective - it tries to remove all human interaction from it's knowledge. This, however, has lead to the confusion over "living" and "existing." The human soul is that which exists. Humans accessed this ontic knowledge (through reason, divine providence, sheer luck, who knows?) and were able to comprehend existence. The chimp who recognizes himself recognizes the himself as a particular amongst the universal. However, this distinction does not necessitate that the chimp recognizes himself as an ego. The chimp recognizes himself as the living particular, but not as a unique existing agent, nor as a a subject in ontological existence. Perhaps a chimp is an object interacting with an object, philosophically speaking. There is no relationship between the chimp and himself or another chimp. That can only come with human intension, with a subject interacting with objects.

    Perhaps this is why humans have culture - ontic awareness creates fear of ceasing to exist, and thus we build monuments to glorify our own intellect.

    I think that you feel everything is subject (to use another form of the word) before science - that everything has to be justified scientifically, Qingu, and I think it hinders your ability to form a complete argument. Don't take this as an insult, because I am waaay too dumb to even accurately say what I am trying to.

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    ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    I really think that this topic is insincere. It's like a proxy for some other question, framed as a discussion of the soul in order to lure people in.

    What's the real question here? Because "soul" is one of those words like "beauty" or "love" that can be endlessly redefined.

    Frankly, I suspect this is just a hook for Qingu to lure people to his cave and then club them to death with some version of hard line materialism in the hopes that people will finally just say "Alright fine. The idea of 'soul' is a crock. We are just fancy chimpanzees. We must expunge this word of eldritch superstition from our vocabularies so we can progress out of darkness into the light of Reason."

    Shinto on
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    ChurchChurch Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Wait wait wait we're not just fancy chimpanzees?

    Church on
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    CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Church wrote: »
    Wait wait wait we're not just fancy chimpanzees?

    We are Dire Chimpanzees.

    Couscous on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Shinto wrote: »
    I really think that this topic is insincere. It's like a proxy for some other question, framed as a discussion of the soul in order to lure people in.

    What's the real question here? Because "soul" is one of those words like "beauty" or "love" that can be endlessly redefined.

    Frankly, I suspect this is just a hook for Qingu to lure people to his cave and then club them to death with some version of hard line materialism in the hopes that people will finally just say "Alright fine. The idea of 'soul' is a crock. We are just fancy chimpanzees. We must expunge this word of eldritch superstition from our vocabularies so we can progress out of darkness into the light of Reason."

    Tis why we fight the good fight!

    387px-Rudyard_Kipling.jpg

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    ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Church wrote: »
    Wait wait wait we're not just fancy chimpanzees?

    Of course not.

    We have souls.

    Shinto on
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    ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    titmouse wrote: »
    Church wrote: »
    Wait wait wait we're not just fancy chimpanzees?

    We are Dire Chimpanzees.

    I laughed so hard. You've won the thread.

    Shinto on
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    ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Tis why we fight the good fight!

    Well then, in the words of a friend of C.S. Lewis' at a meeting of the Socratic Club, "Go get him Jack!"

    Shinto on
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    AgemAgem Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Godel's Incompleteness Theorem states that any organizationl system—language, philosophy, mathematics, science, anything really—is necessarily incomplete, that is, it cannot describe everything and cannot be perfect.
    This isn't what Godel's incompleteness theorems do. First off, Godel's proofs apply to certain formal systems of mathematics and logic. You're taking it much further than what it works if you apply it elsewhere (for example, something like language would very obviously not apply unless you formalized your own version of language with strict rules that real language would still not abide by). In fact, there are even some very weak mathematical theories that Godel's theorem doesn't apply to - theories that are both consistent and complete, such as Presburger arithmetic.

    The human brain is not subject to Godel's theorem (unless you can first prove that, for example, the human brain is consistent and can never possibly hold two contradictory views [don't actually try to do this]).

    I won't comment on the rest of what you've said, but I think you're really misusing the incompleteness theorem if you're trying to use it to say anything about the soul or the way the brain works.

    Agem on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Shinto wrote: »
    I really think that this topic is insincere. It's like a proxy for some other question, framed as a discussion of the soul in order to lure people in.

    What's the real question here? Because "soul" is one of those words like "beauty" or "love" that can be endlessly redefined.

    Frankly, I suspect this is just a hook for Qingu to lure people to his cave and then club them to death with some version of hard line materialism in the hopes that people will finally just say "Alright fine. The idea of 'soul' is a crock. We are just fancy chimpanzees. We must expunge this word of eldritch superstition from our vocabularies so we can progress out of darkness into the light of Reason."
    Your claim presupposes that materialism and the concept of a soul are incompatible.

    I think I addressed your concern in the opening post: you don't have to call it a soul, you can call it "consciousness" or "I." But yes, as a materialist atheist, I actually rather like the term "soul." It's got soul to it.

    And yes, as a materialist I am going to Debate and Discourse people who have other views about what the soul/consciousness is.
    Fucking dualist.

    Edit: Also, fuck, man! I'm not a "militant" atheist! If you're going to denigrate my atheism with an epithet, call me an "evangelical atheist" or something. "Militant" implies I espouse violence. Also, I'm not "angsty" about this shit! Christ, man! Don't you know pothead philosophizing when you see it?

    Qingu on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Agem wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Godel's Incompleteness Theorem states that any organizationl system—language, philosophy, mathematics, science, anything really—is necessarily incomplete, that is, it cannot describe everything and cannot be perfect.
    This isn't what Godel's incompleteness theorems do. First off, Godel's proofs apply to certain formal systems of mathematics and logic. You're taking it much further than what it works if you apply it elsewhere (for example, something like language would very obviously not apply unless you formalized your own version of language with strict rules that real language would still not abide by). In fact, there are even some very weak mathematical theories that Godel's theorem doesn't apply to - theories that are both consistent and complete, such as Presburger arithmetic.

    The human brain is not subject to Godel's theorem (unless you can first prove that, for example, the human brain is consistent and can never possibly hold two contradictory views [don't actually try to do this]).

    I won't comment on the rest of what you've said, but I think you're really misusing the incompleteness theorem if you're trying to use it to say anything about the soul or the way the brain works.
    You could be right, and I very well could be wrong, or I could be mis-stating what Hofstader said about the incompleteness theorem.

    Is it correct to say that Godel's theorem applies to any formal system of sufficient complexity? (That's basically what Wikipedia says).

    Yes, we haven't shown that the brain constitutes such a formal system. However, I think Hofstader makes a convincing argument that the layered system of symbols in the brain can be such a system.

    I'm not trying to suggest that anyone has conclusively proved that the human soul works like Godel's strange loop. I just think this explanation seems to fit, and I haven't heard any other convincing explanations for what the soul is.

    Podly: I'll get to your post tomorrow. It's past my bedtime.

    Qingu on
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    Apothe0sisApothe0sis Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I wish to point out that you can't use deconstructionism for anything. Because it is empty and dumb. All of the relativist anti-science crap that comes out of it is the bane of the world of rational discourse. It is all without merit. ALL OF IT.

    Apothe0sis on
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    HozHoz Cool Cat Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    What you're describing seems to be self-realization. Only a handful of animals are capable of that. It's the ability to look into a mirror and realize, "this is me, these are my actions, I control me."
    Who the fuck are the other guys?

    We must end them.

    Hoz on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Glal wrote: »
    it's still poppycock.
    I'm curious to hear your theory on the soul.
    If by soul you mean self awareness, it's an illusion of a complex processing machine trying and failing to understand itself. Like proto religions, we attribute godlike properties and importance to what we fail to understand, rather than going "shit, we just simply don't understand how it works yet".

    Glal on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Glal wrote: »
    it's still poppycock.
    I'm curious to hear your theory on the soul.
    If by soul you mean self awareness, it's an illusion of a complex processing machine trying and failing to understand itself. Like proto religions, we attribute godlike properties and importance to what we fail to understand, rather than going "shit, we just simply don't understand how it works yet".
    You know, this isn't any different from what Hofstader is saying. He just goes into more detail and speculation as to how such an illusion would come about in the brain.

    Qingu on
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I don't see how Qingu's idea is meaningful even if it is correct (and I think Agem is right in that it is a gross abuse of math; it is pseudo-mathematics in the same way astrology is pseudo-science). Let us say that the human brain is indeed described (somehow, in some weird alternate universe) by Godel's incompleteness theorem. Let's further say that our brains do indeed create a "strange loop".

    What, then, does this strange loop have to do with consciousness? You say that consciousness (the "soul") is (or is a product of) this "strange loop", but on what basis do you argue that a strange loop has the ability to create "the soul"? What property of these loops results in the soul?

    It seems to me that you've just replaced "God did it" with "A Strange Loop did it", and gone no further. Until we have reason to believe that strange loops are somehow capable of creating souls and that they are caused by human brains, we might as well be explaining things with "a wizard did it".

    CycloneRanger on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    I disagree. I fail to see how something can be necessary for existence. In order for something to allow anything, it first has to exist.

    The ontic comes before the ontological; something must exist before existence is capable. The very notion of an object presupposes the existence of a subject. Existence can be extracted from a subject, however, as something that purely exists.
    What the hell are you even talking about man.

    This is a thread about souls, not fucking metaphysics!
    The main problem here, of course, is whether this cup exists on it's own right. I say yes. It is completely impossible to conceive of a world in which humans do not exist. This seems wrong: a few books have recently come out postulating how ecology would be effected were humans to stop existing. It seems scientifically wrong, as humans have only been around for less than 1% of history. Did the universe not exist before humans existed?
    Again, what the hell are you talking about? Does the cup exist on its own or doesn't it? You say it does, but then you go on to claim that all existence is predicated on our existence, from which I take it that you don't think the cup could exist if we don't. Are you contradicting yourself or am I missing something?

    In any case, the idea that there is something special about humans that allows some level of metaphysical existence is nonsense, as the theory of evolution shows. There is no bright-line between humans and our apelike predescessors. Therefore, this existence-complex you're talking about, whatever the fuck it is, is not an all-or-nothing binary state, it is a gradient.
    This question can only be answered by the answer to another question: does the soul arise from the brain. Is the soul programmed by our genes, does it arise from a specific arrangement of neurons and functions? No. Classic religious reasoning gives the obvious genesis of the soul, but this is never accepted by scientific standards. So where does this soul, this agent of existence, come from. The only possible explanation is that the soul always, at least ontically. Here, I state that I am not smart enough to prove how the soul always existed without using something akin to Plato's cyclical argument. It could be that we have a shared experience which is hindered by our subjectivity. The soul exists ontically, but it exists in accord with our human body only ontologically.
    This is nonsense. You've just asserted that the soul exists before the body. Separate from the body? Zygotes have souls? What about sperm? At which point in the mixing of sperm and egg does the soul float down and encase itself in the developing cellular structure?

    And again, you are ignoring the implications of evolution: do chimpanzees have immortal souls that float down when their zygots are conceived? Ants? Sponges? How far down the evolutionary line does your immortal soul explanation go?
    Is this really as mystical and illogical as it seems? Perhaps not. For most of history, the universe has "existed" (to use the vulgar definition), but there was no life. Life seems to have came when the first nucleotides were zapped by lightning and started to pass on the genetic code. But can there be existence without life? The two concepts, so commonly assumed to be together, may be completely different forces. Life is biological, purely biological and subject completely to biochemistry. Existence proceeds life. Existence is. Existence is possible because there is something that is not "non-existence."
    I fail to see what this broad metaphysical statement has to do with the existence of souls.

    If souls are purely biochemical then they are ultimately subject to the exact same forces that life is—biochemistry. Also, life is subject to the same forces that atoms are.
    Until humans arrived, there was an "absence of existence."
    Because our predescessors on the evolutionary line did not actually exist....
    But they did not yet exist. See, science is limited because it thinks that it is objective - it tries to remove all human interaction from it's knowledge. This, however, has lead to the confusion over "living" and "existing." The human soul is that which exists. Humans accessed this ontic knowledge (through reason, divine providence, sheer luck, who knows?) and were able to comprehend existence. The chimp who recognizes himself recognizes the himself as a particular amongst the universal. However, this distinction does not necessitate that the chimp recognizes himself as an ego. The chimp recognizes himself as the living particular, but not as a unique existing agent, nor as a a subject in ontological existence. Perhaps a chimp is an object interacting with an object, philosophically speaking. There is no relationship between the chimp and himself or another chimp. That can only come with human intension, with a subject interacting with objects.
    And here's your reason. And what a completely arbitrary and illogical reason it is. Existence is only possible with human culture—you heard it here first, folks.

    I reject your criteria for existence out of hand. I see absolutely no reason why we should define the word "existence" in these terms. Nor do I see any reason to frame a discussion about the emergence of human culture and language from evolutionary ancestors in metaphysical terms.
    I think that you feel everything is subject (to use another form of the word) before science - that everything has to be justified scientifically, Qingu, and I think it hinders your ability to form a complete argument.
    I think science provides the best vocabulary we have for talking about these things, and also provides us with the best means to ascertain their (tentative) truth or falsehood. I don't think things are "subject" to science, I think science is the best strategy we have to understand things.

    But this isn't even a scientific debate, it's a philosophical debate that refers to scientific theories like evolution. Hofstader's argument for a materialistic soul is not scientific, it's not a theory that's supported by evidence, it's purely philosophical. And I think it makes a lot more sense than what you've said about human souls, which seems a confused mess.

    I'm going to try to restate your claim: you believe that existence is only possible with ontological awareness (that is, a tree only falls in a forest if someone is there to hear it). You believe that only humans and not any other animals or proto-human evolutionary predescessors possess this ontological awareness. And you believe that there is a non-physical force which descends upon human bodies (at conception? After 3 months? At birth?) which grants them the power of ontological awareness.

    You have given us no reason to take your presupposition about the nature of existence. You've given us no reason, in light of evolution, why there should be a strict, black-and-white demarcation between human cognitivie abilities and our evolutionary predescessors. And you've certainly given us no support of your claim that there is a supernatural force separate from the physical universe which enligthens humans and humans alone. Every part of your argument is both unsupported and contradicted by known reality. And I don't need to invoke the scientific method to reject it.
    Don't take this as an insult, because I am waaay too dumb to even accurately say what I am trying to.
    Ha, no worries. Similarly, I hope you don't take anything I say personally either. I'm way too dumn to understand Godel's theorem or much of what Hofstader writes.

    Qingu on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Glal wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Glal wrote: »
    it's still poppycock.
    I'm curious to hear your theory on the soul.
    If by soul you mean self awareness, it's an illusion of a complex processing machine trying and failing to understand itself. Like proto religions, we attribute godlike properties and importance to what we fail to understand, rather than going "shit, we just simply don't understand how it works yet".
    You know, this isn't any different from what Hofstader is saying. He just goes into more detail and speculation as to how such an illusion would come about in the brain.
    Yes, except he does so with the slimmest of correlations between math and consciousness, besides "math can be used to describe nature". It's bad science, like the assumption that bands with magnets in them will alter your mood and health.

    Glal on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I don't see how Qingu's idea is meaningful even if it is correct (and I think Agem is right in that it is a gross abuse of math; it is pseudo-mathematics in the same way astrology is pseudo-science). Let us say that the human brain is indeed described (somehow, in some weird alternate universe) by Godel's incompleteness theorem. Let's further say that our brains do indeed create a "strange loop".
    Hold it!

    I didn't mean to say that the brain is "described" by Godel's theorem. This certainly isn't what Hofstader argues. It's just an analogy, nothing more.
    What, then, does this strange loop have to do with consciousness? You say that consciousness (the "soul") is (or is a product of) this "strange loop", but on what basis do you argue that a strange loop has the ability to create "the soul"? What property of these loops results in the soul?
    I'm not saying a strange loop creates the soul. I'm saying that the soul is a strange loop. That the nature of the soul, of consciousness, can perhaps best be described or thought of as a strange loop.
    It seems to me that you've just replaced "God did it" with "A Strange Loop did it", and gone no further. Until we have reason to believe that strange loops are somehow capable of creating souls and that they are caused by human brains, we might as well be explaining things with "a wizard did it".
    I disagree, because unlike "God/wizard did it" we know the mechanism for how a strange loop-soul might arise. To recap: as animal brains evolve, they develop more complex ways to categorize and abstract incoming physical stimuli, and eventually even memories. At a certain stage of evolution, brains can categorize and abstract their own process of categorization and abstraction—the mirror turns onto itself, and this simply is the soul/consciousness.

    In the same way, saying "evolution did it" is a significantly different and more powerful explanation than "God did it" because we actually know how evolution works. We might not know every single detailed step for how consecutive mutations selected by environmental conditions produced the human eye, but I'm sure you'll agree that this is a better explanation than "God made eyes."

    The explanation for the emergence of a soul, in the form of a strange loop, is not as robust as an evolutionary explanation. But I think it still has merit, it's certainly an interesting framework.

    Qingu on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    Yes, except he does so with the slimmest of correlations between math and consciousness, besides "math can be used to describe nature". It's bad science, like the assumption that bands with magnets in them will alter your mood and health.
    It's not science at all, it's a philosophical framework with analogies to math and references to evolution. And I'm having trouble understanding what your specific objection is.

    Do you disagree that animal brains evolve more complex symbolic frameworks?

    Do you disagree that a framework with a symbol for itself might produce an effect similar to consciousness or the soul?

    Do you disagree that this process of evolution is sort of like how mathematical theorums can recursively develop and eventually describe the process of recursive development, like in Godel's theorem?

    Again, I'm not suggesting that the incompleteness theorem governs brain or consciousness evolution, just that it's an interesting and potentially illuminating analogy. Maybe there are other better analogies, but Hofstader is a mathematician and that's the one he wrote about.

    Qingu on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Might produce? Is sort of like? Just how many "if we assume" steps are there in this? So far the only correlation between math and consciousness is "they're both complex". That demonstrates diddley.

    Glal on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    Might produce? Is sort of like? Just how many "if we assume" steps are there in this? So far the only correlation between math and consciousness is "they're both complex". That demonstrates diddley.
    There's more correlations than that. They are both recursive, with levels of abstraction capable of organizing and describing the levels below. Both also contain ambiguities that are inherent in the nature of abstraction (for example, the abstraction "tree" is inherently ambiguous because it can refer to a huge number of specfic things: an individual tree, the idea of a tree, a fictional tree, a metaphor for something that is like a tree).

    Am I correct in saying that similar ambiguities in the nature of Godel's recursive theorem generation are what result in the strange loop paradoxes that prove the theorem? (I don't have the book with me so I'm probably going to skewer this, but if I remember, he represents theorems and mathematical statements with numbers, then makes a number-statement that says the theorem described by the number cannot be true if the number exists—but the number does exist because it's the statement that says that. Right?) Anyway, the point is that he seizes upon the nature of abstraction, of using symbols to represent other symbols, to make a "loop." And since the brain also uses symbols to represent other symbols abstractly, we can see how such a similar "loop" might emerge naturally in the brain, through known physical/evolutionary processes.

    Qingu on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Okay, so it's "they're both complex and have recursion". And?

    Glal on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    Okay, so it's "they're both complex and have recursion" with levels of abstraction capable of organizing and describing the levels below. Both also contain ambiguities that are inherent in the nature of abstraction. And?
    No, that's about it I guess. Personally, I think those parellels are pretty fascinating, but to each his own. Anything else you'd like to contribute to this discussion?

    Qingu on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Describing the levels below is what recursion means in the first place. The second you'll have to go into a bit more detail for.

    Glal on
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    zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Glal wrote: »
    Okay, so it's "they're both complex and have recursion" with levels of abstraction capable of organizing and describing the levels below. Both also contain ambiguities that are inherent in the nature of abstraction. And?
    No, that's about it I guess. Personally, I think those parellels are pretty fascinating, but to each his own. Anything else you'd like to contribute to this discussion?

    Well, I've read over the last two pages, and I don't see what he could contribute more. He's pretty much won it.

    zeeny on
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