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Without Ontology, What Do You Expect?

 
Sophocles
 
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Sophocles
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13 February 2019 03:14
 

I have the authoritative take on the Vancouver discussions: Not full philosophy.

Hitch noted on the real machine language of philosophy, only in irony do we proceed after understanding the conflict between determinism and free will.

So what? Sam said in BC that we could be in reverse time, offhandedly. He soldiered on. It was not the only instance of fatal dismissiveness.

I hear your engines revving so here’s the part you’ll try to fight: the Moral Landscape is a metaphor. It’s hypothetical.

Theres no objective, identified worst possible misery point on the 3D graph (Cartesian not coincidentally). There’s no reason to think there aren’t multiple worst points. Parallel worst points, etc. You can’t say which direction to go, though it’s a pretty timely presentation in this age of tech.

So it’s a metaphor. But I hear Descartes in Sam’s excellent, valuable, commendable words. He touches on the Cogito.

Here’s the thing. The Cogito was not surpassed, to my knowledge. I mean Sartre was pretty recent, right? So everything but the fact of our consciousness is always a metaphor if you like, a hypothesis. A what if.

So why, oh why, take the position you must eschew the literature most important to human history? Even as a metaphor?

Sam answers this, I must say through satisfying barbs at ignorant people. And whether utilitarian, Pragmatic, or otherwise, well… nine eleven.

But it’s not philosophy. It’s policy.

And as an attorney, I find it interesting how important this still is over two hundred years after the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written.

But as for a durable, philosophical argument, you don’t really save yourself by saying, ‘in the absence of known, objective truth, I’m relying on my own personal sensibility hypothesis, period, and excluding my own personal hypothesis on literature.’

Plus, Peterson’s open-minded commitment to finding what he may in the traditions seems not only to accommodate the massive scale of history’s unknowns, but also to inform him quite admirably on the various real life topics that emerged in debate (though it could be his experience in clinical psychology that does it).

On Sam’s score, I think he’s right about evil. My theory is everything anyone does, that’s proof they think it’s right. Hitler thought he was right. And I should add, it’s jolly good to disagree often!

But that’s my takeaway from the great event, for which I am thankful.

It’s choose your metaphor. But why put your head in the sand? My cynical side would suggest it’s a branding decision -cynical about me, as I assume I’m no smarter than Sam.

Like, he must know the Moral Landscape merely helps the reader feel his own belief in rational thinking and quant metrics so strongly that they miss the fact that it’s a map with no actual, known, corresponding places.

How utterly like a software engineer.

Psychology is powerful though. Look at the institution here on this website. Is this not what Sam is fighting for?

Sam! You need to tie your philosophy to something other than the opinion that, right now, we need to be very careful about certain religious groups. But I haven’t read all of your stuff, I should say.

If you’re looking to simply expand your agenda, i think youd be great at PC in general, and the really scary big tech + identity politics situation.

Funny that’s Peterson’s springboard, as the U.S. seems to be kicking serious terrorist ass now these years after your own initial public relevance.

Ha! You may already be a bit of tradition yourself.

THANKS AGAIN

[ Edited: 13 February 2019 04:36 by Sophocles]
 
burt
 
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burt
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13 February 2019 07:58
 

Note that the deconstructive argument leading to the cogito was made by al Ghazali about 500 years earlier.

Thomas Huxley pointed out that the content of the cogito was only that “something that thinks exists.”

What can we know for sure and can’t say nay?
I think, therefore I am, some people say.
When shove comes to push
Heed the burning bush…
I AM that I AM’s the surer way.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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14 February 2019 17:50
 

It’s often useful for someone to offer a different take on important ideas. You never know which take will cause someone to “get it”.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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15 February 2019 19:55
 
burt - 13 February 2019 07:58 AM

Note that the deconstructive argument leading to the cogito was made by al Ghazali about 500 years earlier.

Thomas Huxley pointed out that the content of the cogito was only that “something that thinks exists.”

What can we know for sure and can’t say nay?
I think, therefore I am, some people say.
When shove comes to push
Heed the burning bush…
I AM that I AM’s the surer way.

Break this down for me. “I think therefore I am” vs. “I Am that I Am” seems to be the difference between reasoning and revelation, or perhaps rationality and proclamation.  How do you see it?

 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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16 February 2019 08:31
 

We build things. A lot of things we make aren’t metaphors. A story is a type of thing we make. Fixation on the story is hubris. IMO the landscape is a decent attempt of keeping the stories from getting away from us.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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16 February 2019 10:56
 
Sophocles - 13 February 2019 03:14 AM

. . . the Moral Landscape is a metaphor. It’s hypothetical.

The landscape metaphor wasn’t why TML was criticized. It was the claim that science can determine human values.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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16 February 2019 11:04
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 February 2019 10:56 AM
Sophocles - 13 February 2019 03:14 AM

. . . the Moral Landscape is a metaphor. It’s hypothetical.

The landscape metaphor wasn’t why TML was criticized. It was the claim that science can determine human values.

Wasn’t the idea in TML that science could help determine values?

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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16 February 2019 11:33
 
icehorse - 16 February 2019 11:04 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 February 2019 10:56 AM
Sophocles - 13 February 2019 03:14 AM

. . . the Moral Landscape is a metaphor. It’s hypothetical.

The landscape metaphor wasn’t why TML was criticized. It was the claim that science can determine human values.

Wasn’t the idea in TML that science could help determine values?

No. The subtitle of the book is, “How science can determine human values.” And it’s clear not only from the book itself, but also from Harris’s speeches and debates that he’s claiming right and wrong don’t depend merely on belief and can therefore be determined by science. Furthermore, if his claim amounted to, “science can help determine values,” the book wouldn’t have been noteworthy or criticized.

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icehorse
 
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icehorse
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16 February 2019 12:21
 

Hey ASD,

I didn’t have the book handy (it’s still in an unopened moving box somewhere), but I did watch the TED talk again.

I think the implication throughout the TED talk is that Harris is not arguing in as black and white a fashion as you say he is. Of course publishers create provocative titles, and the title of the book does suggest a black and white claim. But I think Harris’s intention is that science can “help” provide answers.

- Around 5 minutes into the TED talk he acknowledges that some questions might never be answered.
- Several times he mentions many peaks in TML and that our brains might not be constructed to achieve all of the peaks.
- At around 9 minutes he talks about how there will always be exceptions, even in purely objective domains like chess.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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16 February 2019 15:21
 
icehorse - 16 February 2019 12:21 PM

Hey ASD,

I didn’t have the book handy (it’s still in an unopened moving box somewhere), but I did watch the TED talk again.

I think the implication throughout the TED talk is that Harris is not arguing in as black and white a fashion as you say he is. Of course publishers create provocative titles, and the title of the book does suggest a black and white claim. But I think Harris’s intention is that science can “help” provide answers.

- Around 5 minutes into the TED talk he acknowledges that some questions might never be answered.
- Several times he mentions many peaks in TML and that our brains might not be constructed to achieve all of the peaks.
- At around 9 minutes he talks about how there will always be exceptions, even in purely objective domains like chess.

He opens the talk with the following:

Now, it’s generally understood that, that questions of morality, questions of good and evil and right and wrong are questions about which science officially has no opinion. It’s thought that science can help us get what we value, but it can never tell us what we ought to value. And consequently most people, I think most people probably here, think that science will never answer the most important questions in human life. Questions like, what is worth living for, what is worth dying for, what constitutes a good life. So I’m going to argue that this is an illusion, that the separation between science and human values is an illusion, and actually quite a dangerous one at this point in human history.

Now, it’s often said that science cannot give us a foundation for morality and human values because science deals with facts, and facts and values seem to belong to different spheres. It’s often thought that there’s no description of the way the world is, that can tell us how the world ought to be. I think this is quite clearly untrue.

That’s a pretty clear and unambiguous claim that science can determine what we ought to value. That he later acknowledges that some questions might never be answered, or that our brains might not be constructed to achieve moral peaks doesn’t really have any bearing on whether science can determine human values, at least not that I can see.

Finally, his claim about exceptions in purely objective domains has to do with what he sees as conflating moral absolutism (“if X is wrong, then X is always wrong no matter the circumstances”) with objective morality (“if X is wrong, then it’s wrong even if no one believes X is wrong”). But it’s irrelevant to his claim that science can determine human values in the first place.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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16 February 2019 15:45
 

The section of the talk you quoted is ambiguous on the point we’re debating.

AND, you didn’t respond to what he said around minute 5 or 6, when he said that we probably won’t ever be able to answer some questions like having a second child or whether TED is tax deductible. To me, those indicate that he does NOT mean to convey that 100%, purely scientific answers can be had for all moral questions.

I suspect we’re gonna have to agree to disagree, but maybe another round or two would be fruitful..

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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16 February 2019 16:51
 
icehorse - 16 February 2019 03:45 PM

The section of the talk you quoted is ambiguous on the point we’re debating.

How so?

icehorse - 16 February 2019 03:45 PM

AND, you didn’t respond to what he said around minute 5 or 6, when he said that we probably won’t ever be able to answer some questions like having a second child or whether TED is tax deductible. To me, those indicate that he does NOT mean to convey that 100%, purely scientific answers can be had for all moral questions.

As I said before, “That he later acknowledges that some questions might never be answered . . . doesn’t really have any bearing on whether science can determine human values, at least not that I can see.” Does science not being able to answer all moral questions equate to science not being able to answer any moral questions? No. At best he’s still clearly claiming that science can determine some moral values. Which is the “controversial” (i.e., mistaken) thing about TML. Even if he narrowed his claim to science being able to determine only one, single human value—probably, stoning adulteresses is objectively wrong, his favorite wrongness—he’d still be mistaken. 

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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16 February 2019 17:54
 

ASD,

I take it that in the opening of the talk - the part you transcribed above - you inferred one thing and I inferred another, hence my claim of ambiguity.

On the example of adulteresses: My take on his idea is that science would have a lot to say about the aggregate well being of societies and how the addition of stoning into the mix would hurt such aggregate well being. But that such data from science would be used by humans to create solutions to the problem.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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16 February 2019 20:11
 
icehorse - 16 February 2019 05:54 PM

ASD,

I take it that in the opening of the talk - the part you transcribed above - you inferred one thing and I inferred another, hence my claim of ambiguity.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Near the end of the first paragraph, he says, “So I’m going to argue that this is an illusion . . . .” What is “this?”

icehorse - 16 February 2019 05:54 PM

On the example of adulteresses: My take on his idea is that science would have a lot to say about the aggregate well being of societies and how the addition of stoning into the mix would hurt such aggregate well being. But that such data from science would be used by humans to create solutions to the problem.

What exactly does “science would have a lot to say” mean?

 
 
nonverbal
 
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17 February 2019 07:46
 

Icehorse, wasn’t it already common knowledge that science can help determine what is morally upright before Sam Harris came along? For instance, consider the way courts have been making morality decisions for quite some time now, i.e., best practices for collecting evidence, use of DNA, etc.

But as with Harris’ opinions regarding human decision-making capability, he seems perhaps to be in the process of tempering his stark written opinions about science being able to determine proper morality.

 
 
icehorse
 
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17 February 2019 08:40
 

ASD said

Near the end of the first paragraph, he says, “So I’m going to argue that this is an illusion . . . .” What is “this?”

The “this” is that science has NOTHING to say about morals.

ASD said:

What exactly does “science would have a lot to say” mean?

To take one of Harris’s examples, today we might say that “science has a lot to say about nutrition”. Science might lead us to choose some foods over others, but science hasn’t given us a consensus on a single best diet.

 
 
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