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Nothing better than a cork!

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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26 August 2018 09:05
 

A devoutly analytical forum contributor recently claimed, almost parenthetically, to be religious. He didn’t explain what exactly he meant, so we can only guess. Maybe he meant that he trusts in the validity of his world views to an unusual degree. I don’t know if that’s what he meant, but if I’m close in my guess, it would seem that he shares something in common with Sam Harris. I haven’t named the forum contributor, as the policy of this forum seems to frown on such naming, rightly so.

Does a religious attitude—whether theistic, atheistic, or other—necessarily alter one’s perceptions? If so, to what extent? To what cogito-narrative result? To what extent does objective analysis become subjective analysis as a result of one’s religious temperament? To what extent does obsession influence things?

Aside from the above-mentioned forum contributor, Sam Harris does actually seem religious to me. He may not be a card-carrying member of any religious club, but he’s been fairly open about his keen interest in some aspects of Buddhism. As a result of these strong interests—perhaps “devotions” would be a better word—Harris’s writings at times meander around contextually-driven word meanings. He makes claims that adhere far more strongly to his apparent religious leaning than to his substantial analytical ability.
_________

“Nothing is better than a cork.”  - from a commercial for a winery

Those words, like most every other grouping of words, communicate a concept. “Nothing is better than a cork” efficiently and convincingly favors the use of corks in the wine-bottling process. But how can such a fact be known outside of the context of the commercial itself? That is, “Nothing is better than a cork,” outside of a winemaking context, could mean a variety of things. Had the commercial been sponsored by a fishing-tackle company, its meaning would be very different.

But what about staying within the context of wine making? Could “Nothing is better than a cork” be at all ambiguous? Certainly, a con artist or a madman—or both—could portray such a claim differently from its author’s communicative intent. “Nothing is better than a cork” could conceivably—though not realistically—mean that a wine bottle is best stored uncorked, open to the air for years while the bottle awaits its future purchase. Or, more realistically, it might conceivably mean that metal screw caps outperform traditional corks. Both of these alternatives of course ignore overwhelmingly basic contextual background bits and pieces, including metaphorical elements behind most any word or phrase. That is, they obviously twist the meanings of ordinary words.

It would amount to utter nonsense to switch contexts on a word without either openly or by implication admitting to such a thing. Humor, by the way, typically contains implied context switching. But Harris isn’t joking around in his long-form arguments that rely on unconventional definitions of key terms, such as “free will,” and “self.”

Am I off the mark here? I’d love to be argued away from my position. My 2nd-paragraph questions are not rhetorical.

EDIT:
I should have mentioned which contexts Harris subjectively manipulates . . . neuroscience vs. cognitive psychology.

[ Edited: 27 August 2018 06:04 by nonverbal]
 
 
EN
 
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26 August 2018 10:06
 

“A religious attitude” can mean different things to different people, and appear at different times. One might have a religious attitude toward a football team but not in other areas. It could mean devotion, or it could mean openness to things other than pure reason in one’s quest for truth or reality.  It usually means having some kind of faith component, as well.  In that regard, I don’t see Sam as religious, but he does have an openness to explore unconventional methods of experiencing reality.

 
burt
 
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26 August 2018 10:45
 

The questions you raise are, I think, important but there is a basic problem in the way you raise them. This is lack of specification of what is meant by the term “religious attitude.” As far as I can tell, you are using it in contrast to “employment of analytic abilities.” Or, perhaps, taking an attitude that requires all things to be subject to strict “objective” analysis. That creates a false dichotomy as I see it. Theologians certainly employ powerful analytical methods. You also seen to present this as a contrast between subjective analysis as opposed to objective analysis. But that simply transfers the issue to a differentiation between subjective and objective, which is itself a problematic distinction. Even the most objective analysis is carried out by a subject and so is framed within their subjective worldview.

To carry out any analysis, one needs initial assumptions. Where do those assumptions come from? They cannot themselves be the consequence of analysis, that leads to infinite regress. In modern science (as contrasted to medieval science) initial assumptions most often come from empirical work, taken as working hypotheses. But they also can come from speculative ideas. And both the empirical hypotheses and speculative ideas arise within the context of individual worldviews and group level paradigms (or worldviews, or idea systems). And what attitudes do people have toward the idea systems that form the context of their cultural/mental worlds? How do people view the very patterns of ideas that conform the worldviews within which their mental existence resides? Is it possible to take a detached attitude toward even that? The skeptical position of suspension of judgment perhaps comes close, which as EN comments is basically a position of openness. But at bottom we have the question of values: how and whence they arise.

The physicist Roland Omnes took a dictionary definition of the sacred as something that “…merits an absolute respect, which may be considered as an absolute value,” and points out that everything, no matter how apparently haphazard, is the result of the action of fundamental laws, which are absolute. Thus he asserts that:
“…the sacred is everywhere …and nothing is completely profane. Profanity is but an illusion of our own ignorance, the slumber of the mind or the madness of our false ideas.”

 
nonverbal
 
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26 August 2018 11:02
 
burt - 26 August 2018 10:45 AM

The questions you raise are, I think, important but there is a basic problem in the way you raise them. This is lack of specification of what is meant by the term “religious attitude.” As far as I can tell, you are using it in contrast to “employment of analytic abilities.” Or, perhaps, taking an attitude that requires all things to be subject to strict “objective” analysis. That creates a false dichotomy as I see it. Theologians certainly employ powerful analytical methods. You also seen to present this as a contrast between subjective analysis as opposed to objective analysis. But that simply transfers the issue to a differentiation between subjective and objective, which is itself a problematic distinction. Even the most objective analysis is carried out by a subject and so is framed within their subjective worldview.

To carry out any analysis, one needs initial assumptions. Where do those assumptions come from? They cannot themselves be the consequence of analysis, that leads to infinite regress. In modern science (as contrasted to medieval science) initial assumptions most often come from empirical work, taken as working hypotheses. But they also can come from speculative ideas. And both the empirical hypotheses and speculative ideas arise within the context of individual worldviews and group level paradigms (or worldviews, or idea systems). And what attitudes do people have toward the idea systems that form the context of their cultural/mental worlds? How do people view the very patterns of ideas that conform the worldviews within which their mental existence resides? Is it possible to take a detached attitude toward even that? The skeptical position of suspension of judgment perhaps comes close, which as EN comments is basically a position of openness. But at bottom we have the question of values: how and whence they arise.

The physicist Roland Omnes took a dictionary definition of the sacred as something that “…merits an absolute respect, which may be considered as an absolute value,” and points out that everything, no matter how apparently haphazard, is the result of the action of fundamental laws, which are absolute. Thus he asserts that:
“…the sacred is everywhere …and nothing is completely profane. Profanity is but an illusion of our own ignorance, the slumber of the mind or the madness of our false ideas.”

By “religious attitude,” I’m referring to levels of devotion to something. “I watch Curb Your Enthusiasm religiously” is of a mild flavor of devotion, perhaps. The forum contributor I referred to, I’m guessing, would represent a stronger devotion. I was not attempting to position religious attitude as by necessity lacking in the employment of analytic abilities.

 
 
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26 August 2018 11:03
 
EN - 26 August 2018 10:06 AM

“A religious attitude” can mean different things to different people, and appear at different times. One might have a religious attitude toward a football team but not in other areas. It could mean devotion, or it could mean openness to things other than pure reason in one’s quest for truth or reality.  It usually means having some kind of faith component, as well.  In that regard, I don’t see Sam as religious, but he does have an openness to explore unconventional methods of experiencing reality.

Yes—the term is ambiguous as hell!

 
 
nonverbal
 
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26 August 2018 12:27
 

Whoops . . . I just realized that I mistook a pin for a needle! My apologies.

 
 
burt
 
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26 August 2018 12:57
 
nonverbal - 26 August 2018 11:02 AM
burt - 26 August 2018 10:45 AM

The questions you raise are, I think, important but there is a basic problem in the way you raise them. This is lack of specification of what is meant by the term “religious attitude.” As far as I can tell, you are using it in contrast to “employment of analytic abilities.” Or, perhaps, taking an attitude that requires all things to be subject to strict “objective” analysis. That creates a false dichotomy as I see it. Theologians certainly employ powerful analytical methods. You also seen to present this as a contrast between subjective analysis as opposed to objective analysis. But that simply transfers the issue to a differentiation between subjective and objective, which is itself a problematic distinction. Even the most objective analysis is carried out by a subject and so is framed within their subjective worldview.

To carry out any analysis, one needs initial assumptions. Where do those assumptions come from? They cannot themselves be the consequence of analysis, that leads to infinite regress. In modern science (as contrasted to medieval science) initial assumptions most often come from empirical work, taken as working hypotheses. But they also can come from speculative ideas. And both the empirical hypotheses and speculative ideas arise within the context of individual worldviews and group level paradigms (or worldviews, or idea systems). And what attitudes do people have toward the idea systems that form the context of their cultural/mental worlds? How do people view the very patterns of ideas that conform the worldviews within which their mental existence resides? Is it possible to take a detached attitude toward even that? The skeptical position of suspension of judgment perhaps comes close, which as EN comments is basically a position of openness. But at bottom we have the question of values: how and whence they arise.

The physicist Roland Omnes took a dictionary definition of the sacred as something that “…merits an absolute respect, which may be considered as an absolute value,” and points out that everything, no matter how apparently haphazard, is the result of the action of fundamental laws, which are absolute. Thus he asserts that:
“…the sacred is everywhere …and nothing is completely profane. Profanity is but an illusion of our own ignorance, the slumber of the mind or the madness of our false ideas.”

By “religious attitude,” I’m referring to levels of devotion to something. “I watch Curb Your Enthusiasm religiously” is of a mild flavor of devotion, perhaps. The forum contributor I referred to, I’m guessing, would represent a stronger devotion. I was not attempting to position religious attitude as by necessity lacking in the employment of analytic abilities.

I think you’re referring more to “attachments” then. Which are all around in religion, but some would claim that they actually contradict a truly “religions” attitude.

 
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26 August 2018 13:08
 
nonverbal - 26 August 2018 12:27 PM

Whoops . . . I just realized that I mistook a pin for a needle! My apologies.

I think the point was made.  Anyone with an eye can follow the thread of a metaphor whereas unnecessary jabs from pricks sews discontent that leads to the shaft.  Although, it keeps us all in stitches.

 
 
burt
 
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26 August 2018 15:20
 
LadyJane - 26 August 2018 01:08 PM
nonverbal - 26 August 2018 12:27 PM

Whoops . . . I just realized that I mistook a pin for a needle! My apologies.

I think the point was made.  Anyone with an eye can follow the thread of a metaphor whereas unnecessary jabs from pricks sews discontent that leads to the shaft.  Although, it keeps us all in stitches.

Booooooooooo!

 
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26 August 2018 15:52
 
nonverbal - 26 August 2018 11:03 AM
EN - 26 August 2018 10:06 AM

“A religious attitude” can mean different things to different people, and appear at different times. One might have a religious attitude toward a football team but not in other areas. It could mean devotion, or it could mean openness to things other than pure reason in one’s quest for truth or reality.  It usually means having some kind of faith component, as well.  In that regard, I don’t see Sam as religious, but he does have an openness to explore unconventional methods of experiencing reality.

Yes—the term is ambiguous as hell!

Setting aside Ontology for reasons of endless futility, the “problem” with a lot of the lack of clarity in this kind of discussion tends to be a matter of ‘epistemology’ (The branch of philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge; theory of knowledge, asking such questions as “What is knowledge?”, “How is knowledge acquired?”, “What do people know?”, “How do we know what we know?”.).

To [roughly] paraphrase Camus, all ‘logical’ epistemology is essentially absurd. If someone is operating based on a flawed rationale, and is unwilling to accept the possibility that they are fallible, then I would tend to think that they are stuck in some sort of solipsism. There’s really not much of a possibility to convince a solipsist of anything.

 
 
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27 August 2018 09:21
 

From the OP (nv):

Does a religious attitude—whether theistic, atheistic, or other—necessarily alter one’s perceptions? If so, to what extent? To what cogito-narrative result? To what extent does objective analysis become subjective analysis as a result of one’s religious temperament? To what extent does obsession influence things?

Aside from the above-mentioned forum contributor, Sam Harris does actually seem religious to me. He may not be a card-carrying member of any religious club, but he’s been fairly open about his keen interest in some aspects of Buddhism. As a result of these strong interests—perhaps “devotions” would be a better word—Harris’s writings at times meander around contextually-driven word meanings. He makes claims that adhere far more strongly to his apparent religious leaning than to his substantial analytical ability.

I can’t say much about what Harris has been saying recently. (I think he’s consistently screwing up by thinking that he can simultaneously moderate and participate in debates.) But when I first started listening to him and reading him, what I came away with was the impression of a person who had thought a lot about core values and who was a strong defender of those values. (I still find it wonderful and powerful to think in terms of scientific values!) So at least in the past I wouldn’t have said he seemed religious to me, but i would have said that he was extremely committed to working within the framework of scientific values. A key point is that amongst those values is valuing evidence, and that’s where scientific thinking parts ways with religious thinking.

 
 
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27 August 2018 12:03
 

I am looking forward to a a week of leisurely holiday posting.

nonverbal - 26 August 2018 09:05 AM

Does a religious attitude—whether theistic, atheistic, or other—necessarily alter one’s perceptions? If so, to what extent? To what cogito-narrative result?

The flexibility is not in attitude but rather in the machinery of the brain. I would flip your question over.
The manner of operation of one’s perceptual abilities determines the manner in which one is religious.

It is an endless and lost cause to try to explain or even imagine how various people experience religion if we assume that everyone’s perception works the same way.

To what extent does objective analysis become subjective analysis as a result of one’s religious temperament?

Staying within your context, it is completely responsible. You say ‘temperament’ as if there is some minimally defined manner of emotional variation within us to blame. I think the variation is in our perception and the way we use it.

How about if we describe the point (or extent) where objective analysis becomes subjective analysis as the moment we stop analyzing? We have to stop at some point, and there are differing reasons to stop analyzing. The best reason to stop, is because the coverage appears complete and the intentions of the analysis seem logically satisfied. Then others can test the analysis by stopping at the same point. This procedure reveals that we can at least be objective about our subjectivity.

The Boss wants to take this long-scale analysis to the whole spectrum of altered experience and Buddhism seemed the most intellectually cogent place to start. It is a matter of taste. He is like most of us in that it is no longer possible to be religious. It is incompatible with our perception.

Some create vast conceptual contraptions to desperately try to make religion something they can still see. I don’t think The Boss is doing that and we can grant some slack in how his pursuit unfolds.

‘Temperament’ seems like an aggressive choice of word that suggests devoutly religious people’s capacity to analyze is limited by unchecked emotion. I always thought so. How about ‘emotionally immature’ or ‘stuck on daddy figures’?

To what extent does obsession influence things?

That is another semi-polite term for ‘ruled emotionally’. It was all we had for an explanation. The problem with this conclusion is that it only explains how someone who sees things our way could be religious. If our perception can differ in manners of operation, then ‘seeing things differently’ can be taken literally and our analysis can move beyond a buffet of terms for ‘childish’.

If the analysis stops short, it is because that is the point where one’s perception of a process of analysis stops. There is an emotion component as well because an emotion serves as the ‘ping’ that says our brain is done analyzing. Imagine a microwave oven with a timer that only went to ten seconds. It is an oven, so what it does must be cooking. If you believe that, because it is the only oven you have ever known, why would you believe your food was undercooked?

 

 

[ Edited: 27 August 2018 12:06 by Nhoj Morley]
 
 
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27 August 2018 23:57
 
burt - 26 August 2018 10:45 AM

...

The physicist Roland Omnes took a dictionary definition of the sacred as something that “…merits an absolute respect, which may be considered as an absolute value,” and points out that everything, no matter how apparently haphazard, is the result of the action of fundamental laws, which are absolute. Thus he asserts that:
“…the sacred is everywhere …and nothing is completely profane. Profanity is but an illusion of our own ignorance, the slumber of the mind or the madness of our false ideas.”

That’s a tremendous take on sacred.

From my point of view (getting back on topic, sorta), reality is sacred, and the grounds for analysis is never completely fulfilled. Analysis merely pauses when one has managed to undermine the grounds from which one previously analyzed.

 

[ Edited: 28 August 2018 00:05 by Poldano]
 
 
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28 August 2018 08:44
 
Poldano - 27 August 2018 11:57 PM
burt - 26 August 2018 10:45 AM

...

The physicist Roland Omnes took a dictionary definition of the sacred as something that “…merits an absolute respect, which may be considered as an absolute value,” and points out that everything, no matter how apparently haphazard, is the result of the action of fundamental laws, which are absolute. Thus he asserts that:
“…the sacred is everywhere …and nothing is completely profane. Profanity is but an illusion of our own ignorance, the slumber of the mind or the madness of our false ideas.”

That’s a tremendous take on sacred.

From my point of view (getting back on topic, sorta), reality is sacred, and the grounds for analysis is never completely fulfilled. Analysis merely pauses when one has managed to undermine the grounds from which one previously analyzed.

Turtles all the way down.

 
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28 August 2018 10:53
 
Nhoj Morley, to nonverbal - 27 August 2018 12:03 PM

To what extent does obsession influence things?

That is another semi-polite term for ‘ruled emotionally’. It was all we had for an explanation. The problem with this conclusion is that it only explains how someone who sees things our way could be religious. If our perception can differ in manners of operation, then ‘seeing things differently’ can be taken literally and our analysis can move beyond a buffet of terms for ‘childish’.

If the analysis stops short, it is because that is the point where one’s perception of a process of analysis stops. There is an emotion component as well because an emotion serves as the ‘ping’ that says our brain is done analyzing. Imagine a microwave oven with a timer that only went to ten seconds. It is an oven, so what it does must be cooking. If you believe that, because it is the only oven you have ever known, why would you believe your food was undercooked?

Intense interests (mild obsession) are indeed closely tied to emotion, and clinical obsessiveness may or may not have equally intense connections to emotion centers of the brain, but serious obsession can take on a life of its own, manifesting no matter what the emotional state of mind is. Religion, when practiced devoutly enough, can have a tendency to engage obsessions such as “I must believe in God or else!” or “Aliens have control over planet Earth—what do I do?” which remain in place (the obsession, not religious faith itself) no matter what.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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28 August 2018 11:15
 

Nhoj, I should have added that I don’t mean to imply that religious faith amounts to clinical obsession, though “beliefs” can indeed be as strong as, or perhaps even stronger than nonreligious obsessions. But religious obsessions are not commonly thought of as obsessions, and that sort of takes them out of the running. They’re in their own category.

 
 
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