A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

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Symmachus wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 12:21 am
It didn't predate it; its devotees just hadn't discovered the idea of empiricism yet.
Oh good Lord.
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

Post by Symmachus »

Kishkumen wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 12:22 am
Symmachus wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 12:21 am
It didn't predate it; its devotees just hadn't discovered the idea of empiricism yet.
Oh good Lord.
Couldn't help myself :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

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Symmachus wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 12:24 am
Couldn't help myself :lol: :lol: :lol:
Neither could I, domine.
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

Post by Physics Guy »

To me materialism seems perfectly compatible with most, if not all, of what people actually mean when they refer to things that they think must be immaterial. Thinking that a materialist can't believe in God or the soul, for example, is like thinking that a materialist can't believe in information. Books and hard drives consist of nothing but atoms, but that doesn't stop them from holding all kinds of meaning.

As far as I can see, most religions predate science, and so naturally tend to describe things in pre-scientific ways. Precisely because the old religions predate science, though, their apparent statements on scientific questions were really only figures of speech, because that was the only speech available at the time. Bearing that in mind, it seems to me that an awful lot of pre-scientific religious and philosophical thought is actually platform-agnostic. It doesn't care about the hardware on which God or souls or karma may be running. It's talking about the software, or even just about the user experience.

And, on the other hand, materialism seems to me to be perfectly compatible with Berkeleyan idealism—that everything is only ideas, that only information is real. As a physicist I'll happily tell you how familiar things are made of electrons, but if you ask me what electrons are made of, I have no answer at all. I can only tell you about the mathematical rules that electrons obey. If you dig down to the bottom of current scientific materialism, it is idealism.
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

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Physics Guy wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 7:15 am
To me materialism seems perfectly compatible with most, if not all, of what people actually mean when they refer to things that they think must be immaterial. Thinking that a materialist can't believe in God or the soul, for example, is like thinking that a materialist can't believe in information. Books and hard drives consist of nothing but atoms, but that doesn't stop them from holding all kinds of meaning.

As far as I can see, most religions predate science, and so naturally tend to describe things in pre-scientific ways. Precisely because the old religions predate science, though, their apparent statements on scientific questions were really only figures of speech, because that was the only speech available at the time. Bearing that in mind, it seems to me that an awful lot of pre-scientific religious and philosophical thought is actually platform-agnostic. It doesn't care about the hardware on which God or souls or karma may be running. It's talking about the software, or even just about the user experience.

And, on the other hand, materialism seems to me to be perfectly compatible with Berkeleyan idealism—that everything is only ideas, that only information is real. As a physicist I'll happily tell you how familiar things are made of electrons, but if you ask me what electrons are made of, I have no answer at all. I can only tell you about the mathematical rules that electrons obey. If you dig down to the bottom of current scientific materialism, it is idealism.
Interesting thoughts. So let me preface this that I've gotten most of my understanding of physics from Sean Carroll. He's written a lot about how physics would deal with religious or spiritual questions. As I understood electrons aren't made of anything. They are considered leptons but are created by energy interaction. They have mass as a result of a concentration of energy. YOu would't be able to break into an electron because there is nothing that composes it. Now that I read your ideas here, though, I don't know what that means. And if at bottom the mass of atoms are nothing more than energy fields interacting(?) in some concentration, then what is really materialism anyway? So interesting thoughts.

So when we talk about what is spiritual or spirituality, I don't know where this takes us. I have too much to learn on this level. I've read Carroll to say, essentially, that our brains composed of atoms do not run on spirit. Our minds are our brains and they materially are composed of atoms. We know how atoms work (I can hear him singing that line in my head). There are no questions there (which it sounds like you'd suggest is overstating things). When we die, our brains just stop working. Nothing leaves the brain, our atoms composing the brain and being the source of energy which causes our brain activity stay physically in place as decomposition takes place. On Carroll's take (if I've picked up what he's been putting down) there is no reason to think we have anything other than brain activity explaining what is our minds, and it's almost as if he'd say, the only reason why we propose the spiritual is because we really want something other than what we can find.
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

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There isn't really any such thing as an "energy field". Energy isn't a kind of stuff; it's a property. As I say in lectures, you don't have energy in the way you have blood. You have energy in the way you have height. The old Star Trek line about "a being made of pure energy, Captain!" makes no more sense than a being made of pure height. Nothing whatever could ever be made of energy, even in principle.

There are fields; lots of them, actually. There is a field for every type of particle, and for every field there are particles. Particles are quantised excitations of fields, in kind of the way that digital music is carried by sound waves. It's not really true to say that the fields are made of the particles, though. That would be kind of like saying that sound waves were made of musical notes. It's not a completely crazy thing to say but it's not a good way to explain the relationship to anyone who doesn't already understand it clearly.

Electrons are points that can move. They have mass and electrical charge; they all have exactly the same mass and charge, in fact. They also have spin, which means that even though they are points they have a certain kind of internal directionality that can point in any direction. What are they made of? The question just doesn't come up. It's not clear if it even makes sense. It might be like asking what an inch or an hour is made of. Or maybe the only answer is that they are made of themselves.
What if fire is only the first of a million such things?
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

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Very helpful. Thanks, PG
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

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Physics Guy wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 7:15 am
To me materialism seems perfectly compatible with most, if not all, of what people actually mean when they refer to things that they think must be immaterial. Thinking that a materialist can't believe in God or the soul, for example, is like thinking that a materialist can't believe in information. Books and hard drives consist of nothing but atoms, but that doesn't stop them from holding all kinds of meaning.

As far as I can see, most religions predate science, and so naturally tend to describe things in pre-scientific ways. Precisely because the old religions predate science, though, their apparent statements on scientific questions were really only figures of speech, because that was the only speech available at the time. Bearing that in mind, it seems to me that an awful lot of pre-scientific religious and philosophical thought is actually platform-agnostic. It doesn't care about the hardware on which God or souls or karma may be running. It's talking about the software, or even just about the user experience.

And, on the other hand, materialism seems to me to be perfectly compatible with Berkeleyan idealism—that everything is only ideas, that only information is real. As a physicist I'll happily tell you how familiar things are made of electrons, but if you ask me what electrons are made of, I have no answer at all. I can only tell you about the mathematical rules that electrons obey. If you dig down to the bottom of current scientific materialism, it is idealism.
Thanks, PG. Yes, materialist cosmologies and theologies are very ancient indeed. One can bring up the Stoics in this context, for example. My thoughts were more about the impact of modern ideologies on systems of thought and belief. A materialist ideology has to be, in my view, considered a separate thing from the scientific method, which is not an ideology but a method. I am not making an argument against science, or saying that before the dominance of materialist ideologies everything was seen as non-material. I am instead saying that the dominance of materialist ideologies has distorted both popular theology and popular scientific discourse.

I don't think it would be correct to say that early philosophers were platform-agnostic. At least, this is not my impression from reading what little I have read about pre-Socratics and early proto-scientific thought. The important figures were very concerned about the composition of things.

As for Berleleyan idealism and materialism, I just have to confess this is above my pay grade. I don't know enough about the topic, other than to say that what I do know makes your statement surprising, to say the least.
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

Post by Kishkumen »

Physics Guy wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 2:34 pm
There isn't really any such thing as an "energy field". Energy isn't a kind of stuff; it's a property. As I say in lectures, you don't have energy in the way you have blood. You have energy in the way you have height. The old Star Trek line about "a being made of pure energy, Captain!" makes no more sense than a being made of pure height. Nothing whatever could ever be made of energy, even in principle.

There are fields; lots of them, actually. There is a field for every type of particle, and for every field there are particles. Particles are quantised excitations of fields, in kind of the way that digital music is carried by sound waves. It's not really true to say that the fields are made of the particles, though. That would be kind of like saying that sound waves were made of musical notes. It's not a completely crazy thing to say but it's not a good way to explain the relationship to anyone who doesn't already understand it clearly.

Electrons are points that can move. They have mass and electrical charge; they all have exactly the same mass and charge, in fact. They also have spin, which means that even though they are points they have a certain kind of internal directionality that can point in any direction. What are they made of? The question just doesn't come up. It's not clear if it even makes sense. It might be like asking what an inch or an hour is made of. Or maybe the only answer is that they are made of themselves.
I wish I were taking your introductory courses. Just having you here sharing your knowledge on this board is a real gift. Thanks much!
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Re: A New Smear Article: Interpreter Targets Givens and Hauglid

Post by sock puppet »

Kishkumen wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 6:12 pm
Thanks, PG. Yes, materialist cosmologies and theologies are very ancient indeed. One can bring up the Stoics in this context, for example. My thoughts were more about the impact of modern ideologies on systems of thought and belief.
I thought that was how you were using the terminology.
Kishkumen wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 6:12 pm
A materialist ideology has to be, in my view, considered a separate thing from the scientific method, which is not an ideology but a method. I am not making an argument against science, or saying that before the dominance of materialist ideologies everything was seen as non-material. I am instead saying that the dominance of materialist ideologies has distorted both popular theology and popular scientific discourse.
Could you expand on your thoughts about 'materialist ideology'? Is it the Epicurean view?
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