The Burnsville Socrates Cafe Message Board The Burnsville Socrates Cafe Discussion Forum › 1/4/11 discussion and questions

1/4/11 discussion and questions

Jon A.
Group Organizer
Saint Paul, MN
p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 18.0px Helvetica} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 18.0px Helvetica; min-height: 22.0px} 1. How is knowledge acquired?

2. What happens when we're not thinking?

3. Is the world better off with or without religion (or, was Kozinsky right)?

4. Would cutting the congressional population in half, replacing them with technology, be a good idea?

5. What is the "inner child?"

6. Should we remember to forget?

7. Is it better that 10 guilty men go unpunished than one innocent man be punished?


And tonight's winner:  "In a chaotic world what good are theories?" -- from David

David: can anything be proven? What are theories, how do they protect us? Does it matter that we can go further than what we presently believe, as have our ancestors?

Jon: the Scottish philosopher David Hume used logic to prove that causality can not be proven, that we instead proceed via inference. 

Amr: Hume said we can't know or prove anything. 

Dick: we test hypotheses and we settle for those results. 

AMr: the philosopher Carl Popper wrote: you can't prove anything, theories are valuable only if they are "falsifiable"

Jim: there's problem with how we're doing this. Chaos fights absoluteness. We can't predict the future. This doesn't mean we can't reach conclusions that are useful/helpful. 

Shannon: Hume said causality is in the mind, not in reality

Amr: thoughts don't lift cups

Jim: isn't that just a semantic difference?

Steve: everyday life includes assumptions

Jon: thoughts are not basic reality. Reality is more important (although, truth be told, thoughts themselves are part of reality).

David: Why does our critical thinking sometimes stop? Why are we "centered in self"?

Amr: we are interested in consistency, in certainty. 

Dick: what about gamblers?

Amr: B.F. Skinner said we all have different "schedules of reinforcement". Gambling is what he termed a "variable reinforcement".

John: when I was studying econometrics our teacher had us read Hume. I think Hume's idea is that when we theorize, we impute causality. Hume said that causality couldn't be proven ("correlation is not causation"). As to the different levels of analysis/awareness/assumption, the question is "does it predict reliably?" Question: is the global warming theory falsifiable?

Jon: I'd like to assert that  there can be negatives to do with our "normal" assumptions. I think we can miss very important details by refusing to proceed outside our given assumptions.

David: here's a destructive example -- Robert e. Lee only wanted things to stay the same -- that's why he fought the North. He didn't care for the welfare of the south, he only cared for familiarity

Amr: another question: how come people don't change? smokers, alcoholics, R. E. Lee: all of us have belief systems that are well-established in our conscious minds and they seem to work automatically.

Jim: most people don't want to think about this stuff. There's a good skepticism out there. liking philosophy isn't necessarily a strength. I trust the wisdom found in those of us who do not find philosophy interesting.

David: but if too many ignoramuses take hold we'll be at the mercy of their lack of knowledge

Jim: no, we'll figure it out, the dummies won't win the day

Shannon: ideas, people and personalities can mangle the theory, all theory is inevitably changed as it is made into something reality. Sometimes it changes for the better

Jon: what I'll call "fundamental knowledge" is not dependent on intelligence, anyone is capable of a pure experience of reality, the reality before thought.

Jim: but,there's no equivalence between individuals for this "fundamental knowledge"! Some people are just better at some things than others.

Jon: I'm unsuccessfully describing this. But even the least skillful, least intelligent person has a direct connection to what is happening to/around them. In this sense we can not be equivalent, perhaps. Then again, I suspect that agreements will be found more than not amongst individuals who "compare" their "pure experiences".


Afterwords, you asked me about the book I'm reading nowadays about this:

 Nishida, Kitaro: "Inquiry into the Good". Thanks to all who came. Hope to see you all again soon!
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