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Plato's Cave - The Orlando Philosophy Meetup Group Message Board › Is it possible for the conscience to transcend its accepted bounds?

Is it possible for the conscience to transcend its accepted bounds?

Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 448
For example, when they say cast out demons, we should reinterpret in terms such as releasing bad memories of past traumas. And sins are all those negative emotions and bad habits and so forth. Then old traditions make sense to modern man and their wisdom may be applied successfully.
I think you are on to something there Jairo.
A former member
Post #: 22
Fascinating stuff. I was reading a little about Ian Stevenson's work investigating reincarnation. I'm guessing you have heard of him? Can anyone recommend a good book of maybe essays from different authors stating their arguments for and against reincarnation? I'd like to read a little bit about the debate on it.

Also if you have heard of Stevenson's work, what are your thoughts on it?

Happy holidays, BTW. :)
Jairo M.
JamyangPawo
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 1,497
I am on to something, and some say I am on something. And I wrote the last one this morning when I should have been out doing things needed to be done. But when I get inspired, everything else must wait.
This has been an inspiring thread.
Now I am listening to Ave Maria, because I heard Stevie Wonder do it beautifully, and so I am all over YouTube and lyrics websites trying to learn something about it. Seems like there are two versions, perhaps the more popular version is derived from the less well known. Not sure yet. Since a week before Thanksgiving, I have been choosing to sing primarily Karaoke Christmas songs and carols at my favorite Karaoke places before Christmas, I guess I could continue annoying folks at the Post Time Lounge by trying some more Christmas songs until January 6. I didn't get around to singing Ave Maria. But I will try it next time, and others I didn't get to.

Now does a song have a soul? Well, there are spirituals, and soul singers, so why not consider that songs may have souls? Ave Maria is one which must have a powerful but compassionate soul.
I think beautiful melodies are wonderful and must come to composers from dreams, and they were given away to them by spirits or by angels or by Buddhas.

And what about the words that go with soulful songs? Which usually comes first, the words (lyrics) or the melodies. What about the case of the pop partners Elton John and his lyric writer partner "Bernie" Taupin. Or Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. Now John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I venture to guess, sort of trade places, or simply one did the whole song and the other made some recommendations or suggested improvements. Or they traded lyrics in a conversation dialog between each other, as in "I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends" Eventually, classic songs from these composers become part of peoples minds and the songs develop some kind of soul, not only for their melodies but for their lyrics, and what they might suggest to people who have listened to them many times. Same goes for mantras. I think the reason why mantras are repeated often is to have the soul of the mantra live in the hearts or minds of the mantra practitioner. A mantra is like a short prayer repeated very often, and the more it is repeated the more beneficial it is for the practitioner. One mantra that I hope to repeat very often especially tonight and the following night is Om Mani Padme Hum, which has many layers of meaning, but it also is considered a manifestation of a holy being, a Buddha, so the mantra itself has a soul, and IS the soul of that Buddha, to the practitioner.

Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 506
Having found a particularly good one, I am sharing the following definition of a soul:
Our soul consists of our mind, will and emotions.
- The Soul Versus The Spirit
- The Need For Separating the Soul from the Spirit
- What Is the Difference Between the Soul and Spirit of Man?
- Soul, mind, emotions, will affect your body
- The Three Parts of Man

Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Orlando, FL
Post #: 273
Such quaint supernatural beliefs (with much unfortunate baggage related to deplorable concepts such as Original Sin, demonic possession, etc.) may still remain unjustifiably appealing to some... but thankfully there is no good evidence supporting them (and massive amounts of sound evidence from every relevant branch of science mitigating against them).cool





Kat
Katlaya
Altamonte Springs, FL
Post #: 12
Ben... I see you rely a great deal on proviable science. Some of my greatest heroes are Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku, and Bill Nye, the science guy. I have read a couple of Dr. Kaku's books and find them very fascinating, however, I will say one thing.... There is no one so lost as a scientist with the hubris to even contemplate that he knows it all.

Actually, as it turns out, the universe (or even multi-verse) is a whole lot more complex than our wildest dreams. Think dark energy, not to mention dark matter. Let me please remind you that once "science" believed that the sun rotated around the earth and that the earth was flat. We had no idea about bacteria or cleanliness... and the stories of discovery go on.

Currently, we don't even know for sure what the brain can do and that's just the HUMAN RACE! This is why the current administration has put together "The Brain Project". Do we even create our own thoughts or are our brains just receivers of a greater power? We really have no clue. I know anethesiologists that wonder about what we actually know and don't know and believe me, they know about as much as anyone can when it comes to the brain function of someone. We all know that when half the brain is removed, the other half can take over functions it was never designed to do. We have no clue what really happens in the brain or even how it works accept for glimpses of rudimentary happenings from surgical procedures. I myself, as an RN working in a neuro step down unit, had a patient that a neurosurgeon never expected to recover beyond being a in a vegetative state. He told me that there had been too much bleeding sandwhiched in the brain layers. I had a gut instinct that he was wrong. I just felt it. I knew the man would come back one day. The doctor has science on his side and he had most certainly enough experience to tell him what was up, yet the man did recover and actually came to visit us in the unit... WALKING.

I'm a fan of Stephan Hawking, but that doesn't mean that I think he is even close to having all the answers. The spiritual part of this universe cannot be stuck under a microscope, though I do believe that there are portions of it, when it comes to quantum physics, that are repeatable (entanglement for instance) and do lend themselves well to spiritual concepts that have been known since the dawn of mankind. Spiritual concepts come to us from a place beyond where our human literal consciousness resides.

How does one measure feelings, exactly??? I cannot know your exact feelings and you cannot know mine, yet.... they exist. You cannot measure repeatedly with accuracy the same outcomes, my emotions on any given day, yet... I have them. It is my contention that when we throw out the potential for human spirit, we also throw out the potential for growth and knowledge.

Sure, much is not mainstream and scoffed at by scientists...NOW, but it wasn't that long ago that climate change was scoffed at as well as other scientific realities that are now part of what we know to be true. Consider:

In 1898, Charles Holland Duell was appointed as the United States Commissioner of Patents, and held that post until 1901. In that role, he is famous for purportedly saying "Everything that can be invented has been invented." However, this has been debunked as apocryphal by librarian Samuel Sass. In fact, Duell said in 1902:

In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold.

Here is a man of education and still, he realized that "we ain't seen nothing yet" and he was right! Imagine, the Iphone. At that time, our cell phones would have been considered magical and insane to even contemplate. Our biggest challenge in the scientific world, next to politics and funding, would be hubris.
Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Orlando, FL
Post #: 276
First, I make no apologies for demanding adequate evidence to justify claims, demanding extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims, and generally making every reasonable attempt that I can to always proportion my beliefs to the best currently available frontier of evidence so as to try to believe as many likely to be true things as possible and as few almost certainly or demonstrably false things as possible.smile

Your practical professional experiences and anecdotes aside, it doesn’t take a medical expert to be aware of the amply proven reality that we’re not nearly as clueless about how the brain works as you seem to think (in attempt to “leave room” for unsubstantiated and unlikely spiritual “possibilities” — I guess?). Even the most exceptional or surprising cases that may currently be hard to explain are not likely to be either inexplicable or supernatural. There is certainly much we still don’t know and would like to continue to learn about human brains, but we actually do know where many sorts of emotions come from in the brain, we understand the basics of how that biochemistry works (including a plethora of conditions in which they can be lacking, out of control, or destroyed), and their intensity can indeed be quite accurately measured in many cases with increasingly precise objectivity (as well as pharmacologically manipulated); there is some (again, largely known) degree of neuroplasticity regarding certain functions / parts of the brain, but severely damaging or destroying half the brain or even small parts of the brain with known crucial functions can have profoundly detrimental effects on nearly every aspect of cognition or anything one might care to imagine is part of our “personal” mental selves. There is no evidence of any “ghost in the machine” (and it seems unlikely that further discoveries will reveal any at this point).

Whatever its remaining mysteries (and there are some profoundly interesting ones worthy of study rather than speculation), all the evidence so far indicates that consciousness happens at the chemical/cellular level in brains; ergo, as yet insufficiently understood quantum weirdness at the subatomic level is totally irrelevant to consciousness as far as our best scientists know — and it’s a fallacy (of either composition or division) to presume that mysterious quantum fluctuations, etc. “support” any sort of dualism (unless one makes the preposterously speculative claim that the entire universe is “conscious” at the subatomic level, and good luck meeting the burden of proof with that one: where is the universe’s brain? How does its “pantheistic universal consciousness” work if without any brain? How do you know? Why is it oblivious/cataclysmically-evil/aloofly-u­ncaring compared to our “consciousnesses” (which are the most sapient currently known to exist)? Do you honestly think inanimate/inorganic objects are “conscious” like brains just because of gaps in our understanding and remaining mysteries in quantum mechanics or the cosmology of dark-matter/dark-energy? If so, I think that is clearly an ad ignorantiam fallacy). Essentially, I surmise that you cannot satisfactorily answer these and many more pertinent questions raised by your hypotheses that are not raised by better and more parsimonious natural explanations which don't pretend to know things we don't know (or assert that supernatural speculations should be considered plausible without adequate evidence).

As far as I'm aware, there is zero actual evidence that “spiritual concepts come to us from a place beyond where our human literal consciousness resides” (unless you merely mean that they are primitive and antiquated anthropocentric human attempts to comfortingly “explain” observable reality) — if you purport to have “evidence” (that is neither subjective nor anecdotal) supporting the extraordinary claim of metaphysical dualism, however, then please provide it (and have it replicated and confirmed so you can claim your Nobel prize)... since it seems to me there is plenty of sound and verifiable evidence indicating that this claim is unlikely to be true. What “place” — and how do you know? By what mechanism do you presume that this happens? Etc... Also, if you object to such a high standard of evidence, I invite you to consider why you don't believe every subjective or anecdotal supernatural claim that is put to you (no matter how incredible)? I surmise that you are skeptical about many things just like me; apparently, you just don’t take your skepticism quite far enough.

More specifically, Katlaya, you may pay lip-service to some great scientists advancing the frontiers of human knowledge (and drop their names in your post), but you seem to oppose much of what the best among élite scientists you say you admire as heroes actually stand for when it comes to the most reasonable methods of epistemology and the evidence-based provisional conclusions that result… and you badly misunderstand them and malign a fallacious straw-man of “their” views if you seriously think that any good scientist arrogantly claims to “know it all” — being truly openminded and inquisitive does not mean abandoning rational degrees of skepticism or embracing any sort of unjustifiable faith.cool

Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Orlando, FL
Post #: 277
Indeed Katlaya, I’m sorry to say that much of your response seems to be a misunderstanding of how much more genuinely humble and realistic provisionally conclusive yet falsifiable / revisable scientific methods of increasingly reliable discovery are — especially compared to the epistemically worthless and extremely dubious morass of mutually-contradictory and unfounded dogmatic religious assumptions and vacuously vague/noncommittal or “metaphorical” mystical sophistry of “woo” beliefs. The pattern of the intellectual history of ontology and epistemology has so far been inexorably and one-sidedly empirical: theology, deities, and all sorts of supernatural metaphysics have been shrinking into ever-smaller gaps for millennia (and exponentially faster with the rise of modern science)… As Sam Harris has succinctly summarized this issue in the form of a maxim:
“I would challenge anyone… to think of a question upon which we once had a scientific answer, however inadequate, but for which now the best answer is a religious one. Now, you can think of an uncountable number of questions that run the other way, where we once had a religious answer and now the authority of religion has been battered and nullified by science, and by moral progress, and by secular progress generally. And I think that’s not an accident.”
Can you meet his challenge? If so, please feel free to bring on a response…smile

Concurrently, committing repeated argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacies is not a persuasive argument for any religious or “spiritual” tenet even arguably being hypothetically possible, let alone ostensibly more plausible than any alternative (and historically always more likely) *natural* possibility (and that includes even the most minimalist and non-interventionist deism conceivable). People who are insufficiently skeptical would do well to learn more about Bayesian methods of inference. It’s okay to admit when we don’t yet (and may never) find the almost certain truth of multifarious particularly difficult philosophical questions; however, it should not remain socially acceptable in a more progressive and enlightened future for people to pretend to “know” things based on insufficient evidence without being critically challenged (and in some cases even mocked) for doing that — and it’s even less okay if presumed religious “explanations” (which almost always raise more questions than they “answer” and are inferior to natural explanations if for no other reason than parsimony) too often operate to stifle rigorous empirical inquiry or detrimentally teach things that are already known to be demonstrably false as purportedly “compatible with science” in public schools. As Tim Minchin has trenchantly quipped: “Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. / Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.” If you show a rational person who properly values evidence that something is demonstrably true and actually works, and can explain (even partially) how it works and why it's the best available explanation (most compatible with all the pertinent evidence we know of, with no compartimentalization or fallacious special-pleading allowed) — then he may be surprised or embarrassed at how stubbornly or ignorantly wrong he was, but his mind should change to appreciate your idea (and, even if it doesn't in some cases, the consensus of the best available cutting-edge science is very likely to adapt and improve, and will at that point leave denialists behind as deluded crackpots as our most objective and rigorous understanding of humankind's intersubjective reality advances).biggrin

Similarly, as Isaac Asimov said: “To surrender to ignorance and call it god [or spirituality] has always been premature, and it remains premature today.” It's fallacious reasoning, plain and simple. Faith does not give reliable or maximally plausible answers, it just stops people from asking adequately skeptical questions (including logical questions about what sorts of deities are “insufficiently compatible” with the cosmos we observe to be plausible — or even impossible by self-contradictory definition). Many believers aren't guilty of all of the particular sorts of flawed or deplorable thinking detailed in the following video, but many of the salient critical points it makes specifically apply to some of the most important issues raised on this thread...

Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Orlando, FL
Post #: 278
P.S.
To address another point you raised Katlaya (with the Duell quote) about uncertainty vis–à–vis the future, I would certainly agree with J.B.S. Haldane when he said: “I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” We have plenty of good reasons to predict that there will be some surprising paradigm shifts in the future that will enhance, hopefully connect, and significantly revise the explanatory and predictive power of some of our best theories in amazing ways… and (unlike orthodox dogmatisms) science embraces this reality, despite initial reluctance that’s only human, in some individual cases. However, these shifts will invariably be brought about by compellingly persuasive new evidence, not by insufficiently persuasive or completely insupportable unbridled supernatural speculations (and the fact that science will never rest on it’s laurels or consider anything it finds to be eternally epistemically “perfect” should not be a temptation to indulge in falsum in uno, falsum in omnibus fallacies as an attempt to “justify” unlikely or insupportable supernatural speculations by attempting to discredit science by predicting how dramatically it may change as it advances). Guess what we will call what are presently seemingly “supernatural” or “paranormal” phenomena IF they’re ever actually proved and demonstrated to exist and adequately understood to truly operate in particular ways: they will (then, and ONLY then) be realized to be “natural” — i.e. they will be subsumed into our best concepts of known empirical reality at its frontier (if and when that is warranted), and perhaps harnessed to drive awesome new technologies as yet unimagined. Similarly, Arthur C. Clarke was right to quip that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” However, that is not a good reason to engage in or advocate unjustifiable magical or supernatural thinking — OMNE IGNOTUM PRO MAGNIFICO!

Moreover, the scientific method is the best method humans have to compensate for hubris or ego and reliably discern truth with maximally predictive and explanatory epistemic power. In contrast, there is more unbridled and obnoxious hubris in religious thinking (sometimes even insidiously masquerading under the guise of “humility” or “open-mindedness” yet lacking any reality-check) compared to any other mode of ontological or epistemic thought I can think of. In summary, research funding and politics (both too often dumbed down by particularly ignorant sorts of religiosity) are much bigger problems in science than anyone’s alleged hubris or ego. If we taxed all *profitable* religious organizations fairly as they deserve (with no double-standards or special privileges) and used the increased revenue gains for scientific research or social-welfare programs, that would be a wonderfully beneficial reform.

Finally, even Richard Dawkins (arguably not the least hubristic atheist and not without some egotistical tendencies at times) has written some excellent advice to his daughter on this subject!biggrin
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 512


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