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Proof versus Evidence
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MDS
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Sep 17, 2019
@windar12q My understanding was that the question was: "describe an intelligent species that exists using the one emotion of love". I thought I had done that. I do not mean to not answer your question, and I don't understand how a "yes or no" would be an answer. Perhaps you could rephrase or tell me what was lacking in my previous answers. Thank you for sharing your views of religion. I think it helps to know where each other is coming from, so I'll share some of mine. Here are a couple things I believe: 1. I exist. 2. Morality (or some portion of it) is objective. I'm afraid I can't prove these in any sort of absolute, logical sense. I guess you could call them religious claims. In the same vein, I also believe in the existence of other minds besides my own, and in the objective reality and persistence of the observed universe apart from my conscious observance of it. I hope you'll allow me these presuppositions. It's clear to me that my existence is contingent. I wouldn't be here without my parents, who wouldn't be here without their parents, and so on. That idea extends to the idea of existence itself. Everything in the universe is contingent. But almost everyone agrees that the universe had a beginning. If that's true, I think it comes down to two options: 1. There is an un-caused cause. Something whose existence is not contingent on something else from which everything ultimately derives its existence. 2. Universes just happen for no reason sometimes. I'm happy to read about the latest investigations on the second hypothesis, but from a philosophical point of view, the first one seems more likely. Rationally speaking, of course. I could just take the second view on pure faith. The second belief (morality is objective) is complicated by epistemological questions, but I find that logically I see only two possibilities: 1. Morality has a foundation in something objective outside humanity. 2. There are no immoral acts and morality is just an illusion. I find that most people are willing to grant that right and wrong exist, but I don't think its logically provable with philosophy or science apart from a theistic presupposition. Even if I tried to pretend I didn't believe these two things (an un-caused cause and objective morality), I have to admit that I live my life as if I did. Science is built on the presupposition that things have causes. Society is built on presuppositions of morality. I try to align the way I live my life with what I believe, and similarly, the way I live indicates what I truly believe. There are some principles of intellectual virtue that I try to live by: valuing truth for its own sake; refusing to believe something because one wants it to be true; not allowing fears to dictate what one believes; recognizing one's limitations as a seeker of truth; holding truth propositions to the same standard. I try to honestly analyze data, accurately identify presuppositions and assumptions, and follow the data to rational conclusions, even if I don't particularly like what those conclusions turn out to be. In this approach, being proven wrong is a good thing: I don't like being wrong and I'd like to stop as soon as possible, so I appreciate when I'm corrected. Perhaps you'll be able to correct a flaw in my thinking.
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Proof versus Evidence
In Open Forum
MDS
Commentator
Commentator
Sep 15, 2019
@windar12q Your reference to the Hamiltonian operator leads me to believe your taking a deterministic, materialistic view of emotions (and everything else). This seems consistent with everything else you've said, but correct me if I'm wrong. In this framework, I assume you see emotions as the consequence of the biochemistry in the brain and not "real" unto themselves in a sense. In this view then, emotions are in some sense illusions, like free will. Consequently, defining emotions becomes arbitrary. How can an intelligent species exist with just one emotion (love)? Define every other emotion as derivative from that one. It becomes akin to the way we have multiple words describing degrees on a spectrum or or facets of a similar experience. To use my former analogy, we have words like "dark", "light", "bright", or "dim" that all refer to different experiences of a the relative presence or absence of photons (even more words when you include derivatives of these experiences like "radiant", "luminescent", "glowing", "dazzling", "glaring", "gleaming", "shining"). Even though there is a diversity of experiences of light, it's really just experiencing different facets of the same phenomenon. Analogously, one could argue that there is just one fundamental emotion, and all other emotions are derivatives or facets of that one. Are you happy? It's just love directed at some circumstance. Are you sad? Just the opposite. Do you hate someone? It's just a way of saying you have an absence of love for them (like saying you're cold even though you're really experiencing an absence of heat). Thus there would still be the same diversity of emotions, despite the ultimate reality being that it's different experiences of the same single underlying emotion. I think this answers your question of how it could be done. Whether it's true or not may be another matter. Unfortunately, I do not yet understand why the answer to this question is important or how it relates to the broader discussion about providing evidence to prove a point. Perhaps I am still misunderstanding it. If that's the case, it would help me if you could give an example of how an answer to your question might look. I'd also appreciate a little more explanation of how you're connecting the Hamiltonian to emotions. Is it just by analogy, or do you have something else in mind? The point of a Hamiltonian isn't ultimately about energy, but rather it's a function that generates equations of motion for any function of the canonical coordinates when you stick it in a Poisson bracket. It's a single function that tells you how the whole system moves. And since I'm talking about it, there are some cases where the Hamiltonian is not equal to the total energy in a system. The usual example is in optics (and the Wikipedia page on Hamiltonian optics is excellent, if you're interested). Or maybe it would help clarify things if you could tell me more about "the energy system that drives our emotions".
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Proof versus Evidence
In Open Forum
MDS
Commentator
Commentator
Sep 13, 2019
@windar12q I don't follow how the question about using the emotion of love in isolation connects to the debate about the underlying reasonableness or unreasonableness of religion, but I'll go along with it for the moment in the hope of understanding better later. . . I am unaware of an intelligent species that uses any emotion (including love, if we're defining love that way) in isolation. Perhaps that's conceding your point. If you mean that emotions are engaged within the context or matrix of other emotions, I agree. My analogies were assuming a definition of love that went beyond the emotion and approximated something more akin to a Platonic form. I think we would also agree that there are many religious statements that are made without back up except faith. I don't, however, think this is true of all religious statements (depending, I suppose, on how you define "religious"). Conversely, we (people in general) take most things on faith. I believe man landed on the moon, for example, but proving it to a skeptic's satisfaction is surprisingly tricky. I find it useful to define what constitutes "back-up" or evidence. I heard Richard Dawkins once remark that he couldn't think of anything that would convince him there was a god since if God appeared before him and told him "I exist" he would just think he was hallucinating. I have some sympathy for that position, but it really rests on the assumption that his current understanding of the nature of reality is so accurate in this regard that anything that challenges it is a priori not real. Do you share Dawkins' position, or do you have some ideas about the type of evidence that would convince you of the various religious claims? I also think there are useful distinctions between something being provable, something being rational, and something being true. I could tell you I thought about eating a cookie this morning, which is a true statement, but I could never prove it. The statement is still true, though, despite not being provable. It may be rational for you to believe my statement if you knew me to be a generally truthful person. We operate most of our lives with this kind of rationality. People have been rationally analyzing the potential existence of God for centuries (and I'm sure you're familiar with the common themes of the analysis), but every belief system requires a leap of faith somewhere. For example, the scientific method isn't strictly supported by the scientific method. There's no underlying reason to trust our own rationality. The data we get from our senses is taken as true based on faith. At some point you have to take a faith-based step. Many people, for example, believe in human rights, but I have no idea how to ground human rights in any sort of scientific reasoning.
2
Proof versus Evidence
In Open Forum
MDS
Commentator
Commentator
Sep 13, 2019
@windar12q I'm afraid I'm coming very late to this discussion, so I apologize if I rehash something that was already discussed earlier in this lengthy thread. As I understand it, the current question is "How can we know love without knowing hate". I would appreciate some definitions of terms ("know", "love", "hate") so I know exactly what we're talking about. For "love" and "hate", are we talking emotions, the intellectual concepts, some type of Platonic form, or something akin to the "God is Love" statement made earlier? Similarly when we talk about "knowing", what is our epistemological framework? Is this a "knowing by experience" (also, what kind of experience?), a purely intellectual "knowing", a scientific "knowing" (i.e., pure materialistic/deterministic, biochemistry-based knowledge), a philosophical knowing (i.e., rational, but not necessarily scientifically provable (something akin to a statement like, "I feel pain at this moment"--certainly could be as true as anything, but not necessarily provable in a scientific sense)), or something else? My personal view is that the love/hate dichotomy (or spectrum) is analogous to the light/dark or hot/cold spectrum in that they aren't opposite directions on an infinite continuum, but rather that one is ultimately the absence of the other. "Hate", "dark", and "cold", are useful words (they relate to real experiences), but I'm not sure their ontological foundation is completely solid. "Cold" is the absence of heat, and there's a limit to it, i.e., once you reach absolute zero (complete absence of heat), you can't get any colder. Similarly, when there are no photons around, that's as dark as it gets. Analogously, I think "hate" has a similar absolute limit: When there's no love at all, there's no more hate to be had. To your specific question, I can know love without knowing hate in the same way I know the vacuum of space despite never living there (as short a life as that would be). Obviously, this is not a "knowing by direct experience", but more so a rational knowing (I know the physics of pressure) combined with extrapolation from direct experience. Perhaps a better analogy would be "knowing" the cold of absolute zero despite never being close to that cold. I've been very cold before (and very warm for that matter), and from that experience I could extrapolate to even further cold. But in an absolute sense, how have I been cold? Perhaps it's more accurate to say I was just "less warm". Direct experience with something is not necessarily a prerequisite to knowledge unless your definition of knowledge requires direct experience--hence my interest in defining some terms upfront. So, to say I know love and hate is really to say that I know greater and lesser degrees of love. Perhaps money is also a good analogy: I can say I know being poor and being rich, but I'm really describing the experience of having more or less money. Poor and rich are not necessarily describing opposites so much as they're words describing a relative position on a one-dimensional spectrum. Honestly, though, I find this question much less interesting than a discussion on the underpinnings of morality itself. I think I saw you comment at one point on morals being strengthened in the absence of a god. Can you comment more on this? What's ontological foundation of morality? How do we discern what is "moral"? (We should also probably define what we mean by "moral" as well.) Have you read or do you have an opinion on Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape"?
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