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Comments by edmundjessie

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edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by edmundjessie

If journalists had more of a desire to use the powers of free speech to expose corruption at a high level in politics and corporate businesses, then i might be more interested in signing the petition. What puts me off is the strong suspicion the primary upshot of such reform would be having to suffer more drivel about premier league footballers and non-celebrities.

Sat, 25 Jun 2011 08:30:32 UTC | #842444

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 381 by edmundjessie

Perhaps Richard could revive something similar to the 'The Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest' which sadly only seems to have been run from 1995 to 1998. It could rely on students suffering under the pretensions of particularly verbose and pretentious post-modernist tutors to contribute the worst passages of writing they encounter each year.

'The Richard Dawkins Annual Mindwankery Award' has a certain ring to it wouldn't you agree?

Fri, 17 Jun 2011 10:15:44 UTC | #639538

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 267 by edmundjessie

It's rather ironic given his theory that Said seems to be providing a preposterous caricature of Western culture while criticizing Western culture for creating a preposterous caricature of Orientalism and the east. He also seems to be stating something that would be plainly obvious to the majority of modern, rational thinking humans with a interest in enquiry: the media has a distorting effect on the truth. Thank you Edward for that pearl.

Comment 257 by PaulinSydney: 'So, in this instance, an understanding of Said allows us to see the very obvious constructedness of these images, and perhaps to seek a more complex understanding of the events happening in Middle East at the moment which does take into account the whole complex relationship between the West and the Arab world.'

The key words in your statement are 'very' and 'obvious.' I had already sought a more complex understanding of the events happening in the Middle East without ever having heard of Said or his theory. What is he adding from the perspective of post-modernism that is new and unique, that i couldn't have worked out myself without prior knowledge of his text? What exactly is the special perspective that the framework of post-modernism is supposed to bring to this area that requires deep understanding of the theory behind it?

I could not, for example, pretend to have a genuine understanding of physics without having first studied in depth the maths/ theory behind it. I could not pluck quantum theory out of thin air using my own rationality and cognition alone.

So what is there in this respect that could be considered comparable in post-modernism? What line of enquiry is there unique to post-modernism that i could not have a comprehension of without first reading the theoretical texts that should make it an academic subject worthy of my time?

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 15:49:13 UTC | #638883

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 233 by edmundjessie

Comment 217 by Richard Dawkins

"But in any case, once again, how can it help your argument if you deliberately obscure it rather than striving to make it clear?"

There is a definite irony in the ultimate goal of practitioners of subjects whose ideas are very complex being to simplify things (in science, to their most fundamental laws/ the equations that describe them), while practitioners of subjects whose ideas are very simple (which i believe post-modernism at essence to be) feel compelled to complicate things to give the appearance of comparable profundity.

I think the contrast is fundamentally between subjects whose ideas have already largely been expressed and exhausted and subjects that still have a lot more to discover.

In this case, i would put the discipline i studied, History, squarely into the former bracket. The longer i studied it, the more i realised how deeply entrenched my tutors and their academic peers were in arguments of monumental insignificance, blown up out of all proportion as if they were arguing about the most powerful, history altering event conceivable. And the reason was because they had nothing of any real importance to add to their discipline.

In my opinion, the post-modernist approach has utterly infected and destroyed history and the humanities as academic subjects in general.

It took me until my second year to realise all my tutors wanted me to do was churn out the same mechanical essays describing the classical, revisionist, counter-revisionist and all the other post-modern conceptual framework approaches to history. I knew less about my subject than i did it's practitioners. By that point i was utterly disillusioned with academia as a whole.

If Graylings New College of the Humanities can escape these same pitfalls then, £18,000 or not, it will be doing a far better job than the majority of universities and become a worthy enterprise. I would like to stress to RD if he has any influence in the direction Grayling is taking this college to consider these points from a former disillusioned student of the humanities:

  1. Give your students freedom to approach their subject creatively, in the way they desire as much as possible, not to some proscribed formula. Have faith in your students.

  2. Teach the subject, not just approaches to the subject and the framework that has been built around them

  3. 'Critical theory' and post-modernism does not improve the study of your subject, it warps the study of your subject. It does not make the subject more lucid, it makes it more muddled. DO NOT let 'critical theory' infect your syllabus in the way it has already infected to a deep level other academic institutions across the whole of this country. I am not idealistic enough to think it can be totally extirpated, but if you have the power to ensure it is de-emphasised, then do everything you can to do so.

If this new college can do these things then the £18,000 will be insignificant in my opinion and i will fully support it. If it does NOT differentiate itself in this way then the £18,000 will appear to be an unjustifiable mark up apparently founded on an association with 'big name' academics.

I have no idea if this is the sort of direction, counter to the current academic flow in the humanities, that Grayling is intending but i hope so, as it will restore my faith in him and the other associated people i had so long respected for their reason and clarity of thought.

edmundjessie.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 10:30:11 UTC | #638765

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 169 by edmundjessie

Comment 160 by DoctorChristian "Postmodernism has a clear meaning, a clear intellectual stance, it has its leaders, its followers, and its body of literature in a number of disciplines. It is real, it has happened, and it has influenced work in a number of disciplines for a generation."

The problem is you could substitute the word 'Postmodernism' in your sentence with the words 'Christianity,' 'Judaism,' 'Islam' etc. and those things could be said to apply equally to all of them. None of those things you mention seem to give it any evidential worth. Just because a movement has gathered a lot of supporters does not necessarily give that movement merit. Sometimes it only says something about the gullibility of it's supporters (a gullibility which in this case Sokal has already exposed).

I think our biggest problem is not a definition. I, like many other on this thread i suspect despite their protestations to the contrary, have what i suppose is a consensus definition of 'Post-modernism 'in my mind formed through association with those things that have already been mentioned in this thread as being 'post-modern.'

The problem is does post-modernism have real-world value and utility? I think what offends everyone most is the contrast between it's apparent real-world utility as a subject (which seems very minimal) and the level of pomposity and self-importance of it's most vocal proponents (as if it is some absolute truth over and above everything else). We look at post-modernism and wonder why it should see itself in equivalence to other academic subjects which seem to have far greater use.

I think what we'd really like you to show is that the subject has worth other than as a tool to keep the academics who teach it in a living.

edmund.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 19:26:06 UTC | #638546

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by edmundjessie

Comment 54 by Cartomancer

It seems to me that where this stuff thunders off the edge and plummets into the abyss is in extending these good, common-sense notions about mistaking subjectivity for objectivity and going on to assert that therefore there isn't any such thing as objective truth, and as a result the most valuable thing an academic can do is poke holes in the claims to objectivity harboured by anyone setting themself up as making an approach to the objective truth.

A good, objective (yes i will use that word) summary of the whole area Cartomancer.

Excellent post.

Mon, 13 Jun 2011 20:22:48 UTC | #638100

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by edmundjessie

As far as i'm concerned, if someone can't say something clearly then there's a good chance it's because they haven't really got anything worth saying at all. Verbose, post-modernist 'theory' is a particular pet peeve of mine, alongside certain forms of modern art and poetry which i equate it to for having ill-defined rule sets that even it's proponents probably do not understand.

The problem is, like dealing with the religious, it's almost impossible to make people with fuzzy thinking see sense. When the emperor's got no clothes on, often the only thing you can do is point and laugh at his small impotent willy and hope he realises he's got no clothes on for himself.

Mon, 13 Jun 2011 16:07:54 UTC | #637974

Go to: All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by edmundjessie

RE Jack G's original comments on Adam Curtis

I doubt he sincerely believes everything he says in these films, he just chooses beliefs that best fit/ can be distorted to fit the narrative key to each documentary he is making. His style has always been to present an entirely subjective approach to philosophical/ scientific/ historical events and the people they involved. He is not writing an ideological manifesto or holy book.

Comment 11 by Steve Zara If we were to use the (misleading) metaphor of genes having plans, then for humans the plan of the genes includes a huge brain and intelligence.The genes have said "let's see what a big brain can do!" So, using our intellect could be seen as going along with the genes' plan.

The plan may have included a huge brain and intelligence, but the genes could not have accounted for the many unforeseen consequences of giving their 'means of transportation' (the human individual) self-awareness and an ability to select for themselves at an individual and not gene level: for example, someone committing a great act of heroic self-sacrifice they know will put their name in the annals of history. It will give the individual a form of immortality reproduction cannot (transmission of the self/ identity through the historical record) but in doing so will betray the immortality of the self-replicating 'tyrant' (air quotations used very carefully).

I think however that we're ultimately over-thinking a metaphorical phrase whose primary purpose was to end the passage in question with a rhetorical flourish. This was a populist science book after all, i don't think it was written to stand up to overly literal scrutiny of every phrase used inside.

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 22:31:06 UTC | #635670

Go to: The Atheist Camel Rants Again!: more arguments and observations from the atheist front

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by edmundjessie

I agree. There's not enough to go on to decide whether it would be a worthwhile purchase. It could have done with a sample essay.

[Edited by moderator to remove the troll-feeding]

Tue, 31 May 2011 21:04:39 UTC | #632788

Go to: The Atheist Camel Rants Again!: more arguments and observations from the atheist front

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by edmundjessie

Comment Removed

Tue, 31 May 2011 20:24:42 UTC | #632772

Go to: Support what Ann McPherson stood for

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by edmundjessie

I wonder what percentage of negative attitudes towards the idea of suicide (however pragmatic it is in the face of human suffering) are still informed by religious dogma and indoctrination, even amongst those that don't consider themselves religious?

Tue, 31 May 2011 11:07:52 UTC | #632599

Go to: Islamists jailed for attack on RE teacher

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by edmundjessie

The religion of peace strikes again.

Thu, 26 May 2011 19:03:53 UTC | #631245

Go to: Why Dawkins disappoints

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 81 by edmundjessie

I'd like to see a debate with William Lane Craig that took the form of a one to one conversation (the kind Dakwins had with Krauss i think), where illogical points could be called out immediately rather than fifteen minutes later when they have been forgotten by the audience.

This is the biggest reason why there is no point in debating him at the moment. The formal style of debate he insists on is redundant. He makes the same arguments every time in his opening statement, returns to his seat, then when he comes back to the podium you find yourself up against a brick wall who whatever you have said will simply respond 'but Mr. XXX has not answered my five points' even if they have because this form of debate makes it impossible for you to issue the instant rebuttal that is required in a reasoned debate; the sort that would make him really squirm and show his sophistry for what it is.

Until someone is offered the chance to have this conversational style of debate with him where you can actually examine his points, then debating him will always remain redundant, and i commend Richard for doing so.

Wed, 25 May 2011 12:00:08 UTC | #630723

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edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by edmundjessie

Why should a rational society cover it's ears whenever it hears something it disagrees with? Our society should stand up to scrutiny from people who believe in ideas it opposes. If it can't, there's a problem with that society. If it can, it will make those ideas seem irrational and ridiculous and reinforce the reasonableness of it's own position.

In any case, this is a non-story being blown out of proportion by the journalist. Not anything worth getting worked up about.

Wed, 25 May 2011 10:25:36 UTC | #630686

Go to: My Take: Doomsdayers show what’s wrong with all religion

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by edmundjessie

Nice sunny day here in England. Four hours left for an apocalypse to show its face. Songbirds still singing peacefully in the garden. Gentle breeze causing light to dance playfully over the flora and fauna. This isn't exactly how i'd imagined it all after reading Revelation.

Sat, 21 May 2011 19:13:34 UTC | #629228

Go to: Eric MacDonald defends The God Delusion

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by edmundjessie

I've read a few of these reviews already. Many seem to begin by making the point 'Dawkins is not an expert in philosophy or theology.' If the people writing these reviews are supposed to be experts in philosophy or theology, Dawkins should consider that charge an honorific.

Where are these astonishingly sophisticated theological arguments that all of them keep making reference to but never go into putting forward? Are they so complex they cannot understand them themselves? If they constitute anything equivalent to the arguments of William Lane Craig then these so called 'experts in philosophy/ theology' can keep their redundant qualification, because even someone who they deridingly refer to as a 'sophomore' philosopher can see the holes in these arguments using basic human reason alone.

Fri, 20 May 2011 18:18:41 UTC | #628916

Go to: The sad jar of atoms and the spaniel of destiny

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by edmundjessie

NOTE: (apologies if none of that means a great deal i'm just trying to get into the spirit (sic: 'emergent phenomena') of things).

Fri, 20 May 2011 18:02:33 UTC | #628912

Go to: The sad jar of atoms and the spaniel of destiny

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by edmundjessie

In the beard full of butterflies that is the mind of man, a lone quail sleeps, and dreams of something more; to hear the sprightly melody of a merry lark, and be uplifted by it's song; not by the playful interactions of an indifferent parade of atoms marching in unison to create an illusory cognitive dance to the happy songbirds tune; but by something more: for this same sensation to be a touch from the hand of God, a supernatural epiphany enacted upon his immortal soul (beard).

But alas, it cannot be so, the atoms form too sensibly in his brain (quail) to accept the fanciful play of spectre upon spectre, and the poor phenotype is left to wonder instead: can a weeping android dream at least of a post post-modernist world? For that would surely be a world with slightly less suffering and that is all the android can think sensibly of now.

Fri, 20 May 2011 18:01:34 UTC | #628911

Go to: The sad jar of atoms and the spaniel of destiny

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by edmundjessie

We seem to have had a lot of these free will/ determinism discussions recently, though admittedly this is the first one to use the phrase 'spaniel of destiny.'

Fri, 20 May 2011 10:52:04 UTC | #628728

Go to: On all things wondrous strange: ghosts, mediums, and rubber hands

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by edmundjessie

"an experiment using such everyday household objects as ‘a table, a large coffee-table book, a towel, a rubber hand and an open-minded friend.’ The bizarre experiment proves that the sense of being inside your own body is simply an illusion created by your brain, based on incoming sensory information."

Can you explain a little more about this experiment?

Fri, 20 May 2011 09:40:59 UTC | #628713

Go to: Draw Mohammad Day 2... NEEDS YOU!

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 113 by edmundjessie

Comment 108 by danconquer "Would people who support 'Everyone Draw Mo Day' also support such a campaign? Afterall, it is an undeniable fact that many countries do strongly suppress, using the criminal law, Holocaust-denial. If unbridled free-speech is your aim, why support one campaign and not the other?"

Supporting the right of someone to draw a picture to illustrate the absurdity of an irrational belief is compatible with our position as rationalists. Supporting the creation of a day celebrating the denial of an historical fact would not be compatible with our position as rationalists.

The issue of offence is irrelevant in either case to coming to this conclusion. This should not be about causing offence it should be about rationality, and the concept of ridiculing the irrational by drawing a picture of Mohammed is sound in and of itself in achieving this end, as a society that condones death threats for drawing a picture is clearly a society that's become distorted by the absurd.

For this same reason, the approach taken; cheap, photo-shopped images whose purpose does occasionally seem to be to cause offence rather than highlight the above issues has failed in achieving this end, as it's purpose should unambiguously be to highlight the disproportionate irrationality of it's opponent not provide any avenue where opponents may argue they have an ulterior motive. Here i find myself in agreement with many others. Drawing sensible, non-humorous images of the historical personage Mohammed would provide a far more effective expose of the warped absurdity and danger of certain ideas in Islamic belief, and it's a shame they didn't take this approach.

I think a few thousand or so Anthony Gormley style faceless clay models labelled 'Mohammed' and all made by different people would also be a successful approach.

Wed, 18 May 2011 17:54:00 UTC | #628065

Go to: Draw Mohammad Day 2... NEEDS YOU!

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by edmundjessie

Comment 28 by shams Comment 21 by edmundjessie Christianity is an EASY target. Criticising Islam is FAR more dangerous. "No this is false....criticizing both christianity and islam is easy in a country where freedom of speech is the rule of law."

How exactly do you consider it easy for Salman Rushdie to be forced to live under police protection for writing a book that mentioned a few verses that Islamic scholars did not like; to have to live in anonymity as a result and suffer death threats and assassination attempts against him and his family? And yes, all this happened in England, a country "where freedom of speech is supposed to be the rule of law". How exactly do you consider it easy for the Jyllands-Posten cartoonists and those that helped publish their drawings to suffer the same treatment for drawing cartoons, and for Kurt Westergaard to be attacked by a Somalian Muslim with an axe and knife in his own home? And yes, all this happened in Denmark, a country "where freedom of speech is supposed to be the rule of law". How many examples are there of someone suffering comparative treatment in the modern western world for drawing a picture of Christ, or mocking Christianity in general?

Living in a country where freedom of speech is the rule of law does NOT make you magically immune from being attacked by someone who comes from a country where it is not, and I find it staggering you could make such a blase statement in a world of open borders where every psychopath in the world is no more than a 24 hour flight away from everyone else, and EVEN more staggering when you are making such comments on a thread about a campaign inspired by the actions of the Danish cartoonists whose subsequent treatment is enough in itself to disprove the preposterous statement you have just made.

Wed, 18 May 2011 12:24:19 UTC | #627913

Go to: Balm for the psyche

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by edmundjessie

Very beautiful. Thanks for posting.

Tue, 17 May 2011 22:27:51 UTC | #627670

Go to: Draw Mohammad Day 2... NEEDS YOU!

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by edmundjessie

Comment 7 by madmungo "Yes it is the right approach. Maybe a 'draw a Jesus' day too. that would be great. It seems that we only want to poke fun at the Muslims? Because we live in a Christian society maybe and it is socially acceptable within the west to be offended by the Muslims? Grow a set, and lets end the political correctness around the Christians et al too. Anyway if you read Richard Dawkins book which mentions the whole 'cartoon' affair, it was a lot of hate crime nonsense anyway. Dreamt up by a couple of extremists, of which none of the media even checked before running away with their tail firmly fixed between their legs."

You are winding us up aren't you? In my experience of western society the problem is the complete opposite to the scenario you suggest: many people are willing to freely ridicule Christianity without fear of reprisal but very few have the balls to stand up in a public forum and ridicule Allah or Mohammed or the beliefs of Muslims in general. That in itself should speak volumes about the relative threat posed by each religion, and which we should prioritise as our primary target.

In England at least the church has become almost beyond ridicule: it is hardly on anyones radar, like an ageing dog waiting to be put out of it's misery propped up by pensioners from a bygone era where going to church was the done thing. I know it is a slightly different situation in America, but in my opinion the only place Christianity can be considered of causing a comparable evil to elements of Islam is in Africa, and even there Islam is equally disseminated across the continent and causing the exact same problems.

Christianity is an EASY target. Criticising Islam is FAR more dangerous. This is why we must make criticising it our absolute priority in seeking to chisell away at the preposterous walls of faux-sanctity it has somehow managed to erect around itself, because by skirting around these issues and treating it reverentially compared to other religions society is only providing Islam an unspoken mandate in support of it's 'special' status and seriousness and we are only going to keep feeding the monster for the next generation of Muslims that comes along.

Tue, 17 May 2011 22:23:02 UTC | #627668

Go to: Signed books and other collectabilia: What’s the big deal?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by edmundjessie

Comment 7 by Mark Ribbands "My point was that a desire to attract the opposite sex informs most of our actions, even when those actions might superficially appear to have absolutely nothing to do with it."

I understand your point i just think the example given is so tenuous as to be essentially not worth making: sometimes when an action superficially has little to do with a desire to attract the opposite sex then it really does have very little to do with a desire to attract the opposite sex.

"‘Directly’? What on earth does that mean? Three Martinis and a Buddha Bar CD? Oh please, how conventional! We need to drill deeper than this!"

By directly (if you'll excuse me a slightly indirect analogy) I mean a tiger does not waste time making himself an ornamental hat he is never going to show a female tiger when he can approach her directly and convince her to reproduce with him using 'conventional' courting techniques, 'conventional' meaning those that have proved themselves over thousands of years to be evolutionary stable strategies for reproducing with another tiger. Unlike making himself an ornamental hat.

"Yes, but ‘culture’ itself is informed by evolutionary pressure."

Of course culture is 'informed' by evolutionary pressure. Almost anything in the human sphere can be be said to be 'informed' by evolution, but equally everything in the biological sphere can be said to be 'informed' by chemistry and everything in chemistry 'informed' by physics, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't draw distinctions between them and that we HAVE to relate everything back to chemistry and physics.

We can draw qualitative distinctions between our biology and our culture even when the two things have an inextricable connection, and in this case i would think the desire to have a book signed by a famous author has more to with cultural pressures than evolutionary ones.

Sun, 15 May 2011 11:34:50 UTC | #626998

Go to: Which religion is the hardest to escape from?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by edmundjessie

Atheism.

Sun, 15 May 2011 09:47:19 UTC | #626963

Go to: Signed books and other collectabilia: What’s the big deal?

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by edmundjessie

So you are essentially saying your desire to get a signed copy of a Dawkins book is rooted in the evolutionary belief that in an encounter with a member of the opposite sex, a signed copy of The Selfish Gene will improve your chances of reproducing with her in a way that an unsigned copy of The Selfish Gene would not?

"So if we’re genetically programmed to go out into the environment and bring in the best of what we can find, and a signed book is perceived as ‘better’ than one which is not, we go after it, without conscious consideration."

But if the time, effort and energy spent in this act outweighs the reward it will get you in attracting a partner, and the time could have been better spent attempting to directly seduce a woman (without the aid of a signed copy of a biology book) then it is NOT advantageous from an evolutionary perspective.

You should consider that there are some actions influenced largely by the pressure put on us by human culture as an end in itself, where our brain overrides the single compulsion of our genes to ensure their continued propagation e.g. someone without family throwing away their life to save a stranger, or two fertile adults deciding they do not want to have children but just have fun the rest of their lives.

Evolution can be sloppily applied without scientific research to explain almost anything in the course of human development, but that does not mean it should be used to explain everything. I don't actually disagree with your premise, there's nothing wrong with wanting an authors signature on your book, though there is something slightly warped about your argument.

PS. I wish Dawkin's did wear a cloak. And I am not ashamed to admit i would find it hard to resist touching it if it was within the requisite distance.

Sun, 15 May 2011 09:43:48 UTC | #626961

Go to: The Case for Evolution

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by edmundjessie

Comment 5 by neil pharr :

Evolution is true. It is a fact of the natural world, however, scientists do not have the full picture. Science does not know of all the forces active in the processes of evolution. Science does not have an answer as to why life on Earth continues to evolve more and more toward subtle expressions of mind and "body" in the plant and animal kingdoms. Adaptation to nitche is an answer on the surface, but it lacks something. It is not a final theory of change.

I think i have isolated the reason why your words come across as impenetrable and meaningless to most of us. I have no doubt you are sincere in your beliefs in the compatibility between science and Buddhist theology (or something quite equivalent), but you should realise that if you're going to set forward such beliefs on a site for science and reason, you have to do so in clear English, rather than in a form that appears to be illiterately aping the strange mechanistic style favoured by followers of Siddhartha Gautama; as if every line has to constitute a profound aphorism when really the words seem to form something empty and meaningless.

You are perfectly welcome here of course, but if you're going to come onto these sites and refer to meditation as 'intuitional science' and say matter of factly there is a problem 'when modern biologists try to understand evolution without reincarnation,' then you should at least attempt to rationalize those statements a little more so we have an opportunity to criticize them, rather than simply floating them out into the middle of a discussion in a squall of hazy verbosity it takes too much time to extricate any meaning or argument from.

Fri, 13 May 2011 22:20:41 UTC | #626593

Go to: Is science among the highest aesthetic experiences? - RD event, Weds 11 May

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by edmundjessie

Comment 31 by knockknock "If you'd spent a few weeks actually operating within scientific circles, or observing scientific debates - you'd recognise the form of expression, implicitly. Scientists can get embroiled in quite anal-retentive, indignant disputes over small matters in their field of interest."

THIS i certainly understand and recognise (though it should also be said it applies to every academic field not only science). Academia can often seem frustratingly petty and even farcical to outsiders. What i think was objected to was that if it was intended as irony, it would have had more impact on a thread where it would genuinely have been explicitly ironic, like the example i mentioned previously.

"Also, the obvious irony? You really think someone is HONESTLY going to bewail the lack of scientific rigour in someone innocently asking a question on how people feel about the aesthetic of science? You think they'd honestly start referring to probabilities, margins of error and the null hypothesis? Do you not see the irony in someone barging in with the scientific method in a thread about appreciation of science?"

If you spent any time on these boards, you would know they are occasionally frequented by WUMS, trolls and idiots operating entirely outside of the field of reason, and anything anyone has to say that is of this nature has initially to be treated with the utmost seriousness as yes, there are people who are genuinely stupid enough to seriously write what you have written without any hint of irony. Like here for example.

Tue, 10 May 2011 18:33:27 UTC | #625473

Go to: Entropy, complexity, and a science-based solution to the free will problem

edmundjessie's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by edmundjessie

Comment 50 by KenChimp "Again, a misunderstanding or misleading attempt to define 'free' and 'will' or 'free will' or 'choice'."

Where is it in the passage you quote that you find this misleading definition? I would like you to go back and pluck it out for me. My definition of free will is 'The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or stimuli.' This is what i would assume most people understood by it. It's the definition i have been taught.

What is confusing is exactly how your definition differentiates itself from this. I have no idea what definition it is of free will that you are defending, but if you could set it out more clearly, it would be helpful since, as has been noted, your semantic obscurantism has hampered the debate significantly.

As for the rest of your argument, Schrodinger's Cat has already summed up concisely why it makes no sense:

Comment 51 by Schrodinger's Cat "Oh dear. It seems I've just escaped. No, the existence of causal determinism does NOT exclude the existence of non-causal non-determined events. Causal determinism means that where there is causality an event A causes an event B. The opposite of causality is NOT 'choice'.....it is randomness. That is the entire essence of your error. You seem to think there is determinism, and then aside from that there is some property called 'choice' that can be impacted upon. What you steadfastly fail to grasp is that if a random event could be impacted upon by causal forces then it would not BE a random event....it would be a caused event!"

This is where you're not engaging in what we're saying. Your argument seems to be predicated on the idea that the existence of randomness proves that the universe is not strictly deterministic, and then you somehow leap to an assumption that this means we have choice, but this is a total non-sequitur. The fact that there is randomness has absolutely NO bearing on the existence of choice.

Tue, 10 May 2011 18:11:41 UTC | #625460