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Re: Science and "smallness" ( not much room at the inn for subjectivity )?

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  • ouinon_janein
    I wrote:
    Message 1 of 36 , Jun 1, 2010
      I wrote:
      <Why do you refer to such beliefs as "pleasant"? Do "I am not good
      enough" and "I will never succeed" sound pleasant to you?

      David Nye wrote:
      <I was referring to statements you made such as:"We don't believe in things because we think that they are "true", we believe in them because they seem useful/helpful, they seem to work, and we have learned to apply the value judgement "truth" to our beliefs."

      So at least in that post, it didn't seem that you were referring to
      unhelpful beliefs such as "I will never succeed".>

      "I will never succeed" etc might not sound very helpful in the light of day, but the reason someone would believe in such beliefs is because at some point they were useful, either because they protected some other more primordial belief, ( about themselves or another, usually a parent ), or because they acted as a refutation of/defence against another, more frightening, one. For instance if someone has learned to believe that their success at something might threaten their parent, or that success has costs that they can not face, then believing that they cannot succeed will "feel" useful.

      David Nye <nyeda@...> wrote:
      <If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you can make anything "subjectively true" just by choosing to believe in it. Could something then be for you "subjectively true" when it is not "objectively true"? Could you just make something "subjectively
      true" just because it pleased you to assume that attitude, even if you really knew deep down that it was objectively false?>

      Do you mean that someone might have another belief which contradicted it ... I think that we have a lot like that: "I am not good enough" for example might run at some moments, and "I am brilliant" might run at others depending on our chemical state etc. Each will tend to feel subjectively true whenever they are "running". I suppose the "depth" and therefore relative "force" of each might depend on which one arose "first", as refutation or self-protection or whatever. But believing that I am "not good enough", or that "I will never succeed" etc aren't subject to objective analysis/study anyway.

      Or do you mean that someone might have a belief about the world which science has debunked, eg. that the sun orbits the earth ... and that this could be subjectively true at the same time as knowing that it isn't objectively true? I think most people must "categorise" the data so that they are not in conflict.

      You'll have to give me an example of the kind of beliefs that you mean, because I am having difficulty imagining a case.

      Most of the things which people believe in for which no objective evidence has been found; god, spirits, auras, justice, race, love, etc don't come under the remit of objectivity anyway. What kind of belief do you mean?

      I do find it impossible to reconcile my "objective" belief that this table is made of light/energy with my subjective belief that it is solid, but that probably isn't what you are referring to either.

      But I can believe in god, and god be subjectively real to me at the same time as believing that god has no objective existence.

      I suppose that someone who believes that their child is still alive after they have died might be said to be doing something like you describe ... : believing that might feel useful, for a while at least, because painkilling ... but obviously/probably would cost far more over time than believing in their death. I'm trying to think if I have any beliefs like that.

      Like my belief that smoking isn't doing me as much harm as eating sugar would might be seen by some as a "pleasant", ( but dangerous ), delusion. I tell myself stories all the time about me and life, but if they are ( important and/or conscious beliefs ) about objectively measurable things I usually tend to have "objective" arguments to back me/my belief up. I don't know how partial they are. I don't think, for example, that anyone has studied the relative harm of sugar and tobacco! Both are bad; I just believe that it is far more important that I cut sugar, and dairy, out than tobacco, ( like William Dufty did, who wrote "Sugar Blues"! ;) )

      Anyone who's read anything about diet, and eats sugar, is telling themselves some sort of story to justify it, but the objective "jury" is still out on what is worse, sugar or tobacco, so there is no "deep down" contradiction ... not unless they say that sugar is actually *good* for them. ... What about people who drive cars? ( I don't ). They believe that it is ok for them to do so, despite the widely available and visible data about how bad for the environment it is. But that is ... what? ... merely a value judgement about their own behaviour, not about the poisonous impact of car fumes etc on the environment.

      ... What kind of belief were you thinking of?
    • ouinon_janein
      PS. ( as usual :lol ) ouinon wrote:
      Message 36 of 36 , Jun 20, 2010
        PS. ( as usual :lol )

        ouinon wrote:
        <Which do you believe? That our models/theories are the same thing as, ( or as close as makes no difference to ), the "one"/ultimate reality ... OR that they are *not*, that our models can never ever "contain"/convey/express/describe the "one"/ultimate reality? ...

        I believe that there is something, the "one"/ultimate reality, out there that we will never be able to grasp or even see, with all our tools/models however advanced/complex. I do not believe that I can see outside my/our human models. I believe that the "one" reality/god is indescribable.

        You seem to believe that the "one"/ultimate reality is both indescribable and describable.>

        I think that the story of the Tower of Babel is a very good metaphor for this issue; the way in which a great many people believe that if they can just build a model sufficiently complex it will manage to contain/describe the whole of the "one" reality, but that however awesomely complex and immense the model is the "one" reality will always bring it to its knees, either reducing it to smithereens/rubble or to smaller component parts which clearly do not describe it all, do not manage to contain/describe it.

        Your position appears to consist of an unresolvable contradiction; that on the one hand the "right" model would be able to describe/contain the "one"/ultimate reality, we just haven't built it yet, and on the other hand that we will never be able to ( "we can never certainly know nature" ).

        The interesting thing about the Tower of Babel story is that it is generally understood to mean that the tower was destroyed by god/the "one" reality *because* it would have managed to reach god, but I think this take on it depends on a widespread belief/faith that we can build, are in fact building, a "tower"/model which *will* succeed. That belief once dropped, or seen for what it is, a belief, it becomes clear that the story simply shows/tries to teach that any such model will be shattered by ultimate reality itself. I think that the story is the account of someone's own experience of this "shattering", couched in powerful literary form, extended metaphor.

        It is obviously a matter of faith/belief; you can, and will, if that model of life is what you need, believe that the "right", ( sufficiently complex etc ) model could describe/contain the "one"/ultimate reality. Or you can believe that no model, however complex, etc, could. I think that which one you believe in depends on what kind of reality you need in order to handle life. I need the latter.

        I think that a lot of the chronic psychological pain that I experienced, on a daily basis, before believing in god, ( the fundamentally indescribable "one" reality" eternally beyond all our models ), was because I was permanently and deeply invested in one model or another, or parts of several, always anxious that I might not be believing in the "right" one(s), checking and rechecking developments to models because new ideas/findings would mean that the "one" reality was not what I had thought it was.

        How do you feel holding two such fundamentally contradictory beliefs as you do? ( that the "right" models can and do describe/contain the "one" reality, and that therefore a disagreement over models either means someone is wrong or that there are two or more "one" realities, and its opposite that the "one" reality is, and always will be, something beyond all our models ).

        I realise that *within* models certain things are either true or false, ( or "don't knows" ), but my point is that this has nothing to do with the "one" reality; that models belong to/construct individual, subjective, ( whether subjective on the individual scale or subjective on the large and complex social organism level, eg. science ) realities, of which there are as many as there are people, but that the "one"/ultimate reality is not subject to the laws belonging to models.
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