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A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science

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A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science sawfoot _ 6/13/15 11:26 AM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Stick Man 6/13/15 12:38 PM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Daniel M. Ingram 6/14/15 7:10 AM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Daniel M. Ingram 6/15/15 3:44 AM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Daniel M. Ingram 6/15/15 3:43 AM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ 6/16/15 9:35 PM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Dada Kind 6/13/15 12:57 PM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Dada Kind 6/14/15 12:06 PM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Dada Kind 6/16/15 11:08 AM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Stick Man 6/16/15 8:44 AM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Stick Man 6/16/15 9:31 PM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Mark 6/17/15 2:14 AM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Daniel M. Ingram 6/17/15 2:41 AM
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RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer 6/16/15 10:26 PM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science John Wilde 6/16/15 11:02 PM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer 6/16/15 11:07 PM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science John Wilde 6/17/15 2:11 AM
RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ 6/17/15 12:27 AM
Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science

From <http://opensciences.org/about/manifesto-for-a-post-materialist-science>
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-pruett/toward-a-postmaterialistic-science_b_5842730.html

(Manifesto in bold, my comments in not bold)

1. The modern scientific worldview is predominantly predicated on assumptions that are closely associated with classical physics. Materialism—the idea that matter is the only reality—is one of these assumptions. A related assumption is reductionism, the notion that complex things can be understood by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things such as tiny material particles.

Reductionism is an important part of scientific explanation, but is not all encompassing in the scientific worldview. Much of scientific explanation does not rely on reductionism. Many complex systems operate at different levels, where the explanations of the behaviour of one level of the system cannot be reduced to behaviours of the system at a lower level. While not explicitly stated, one inference from this statement is that the writers of the manifesto believe that materialism entails reductionism.

2. During the 19th century, these assumptions narrowed, turned into dogmas, and coalesced into an ideological belief system that came to be known as "scientific materialism." This belief system implies that the mind is nothing but the physical activity of the brain, and that our thoughts cannot have any effect upon our brains and bodies, our actions, and the physical world.

A classic phrase of the anti-materialist here: "nothing-but". Paired with preceding statement, the assumption is this: reductionism reduces or eliminates our mind, and ourselves, to the material.

The second statement is our first introduction to the dualism of the post-materialist worldview. Implicit in the statement argued to represent a materialist worldview is that thoughts cannot have an effect upon our brains, that thoughts are separate from our brains and the physical world.

Note the terms used here (and elsewhere below) to describe materilaism - an "ideology", "a dogma", but those terms are not used in this manifesto to describe the post-materialist paradigm.

3. The ideology of scientific materialism became dominant in academia during the 20th century. So dominant that a majority of scientists started to believe that it was based on established empirical evidence, and represented the only rational view of the world.

It is true that a majority of scientists believe that materialist science is based on established empirical evidence and represents the only rational view of the world. Central to that rational vision is the idea of naturalism - everything that exists is part of the natural world, and a rational view of the world is a naturalistic view.

4. Scientific methods based upon materialistic philosophy have been highly successful in not only increasing our understanding of nature but also in bringing greater control and freedom through advances in technology.

No disagreement here.

5. However, the nearly absolute dominance of materialism in the academic world has seriously constricted the sciences and hampered the development of the scientific study of mind and spirituality. Faith in this ideology, as an exclusive explanatory framework for reality, has compelled scientists to neglect the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature.

In the case of mind sciences, there has been enormous growth (near exponential in many fields in terms of publication rates) indicative of the great success in applying materialist principles to the scientific study of mind. This appears inconsistent that the materialist view has been constricting. This progress has been applied to understanding the nature of spirituality in human experience. Central to that progress has been a materialist view, with much progress in psychology, cognitive neuroscience and consciousness studies leading to an increased understanding of the subjective dimension. And from that view, a strong argument can be made we have a deeper perspective of ourselves and our place in nature.

6. Science is first and foremost a non-dogmatic, open-minded method of acquiring knowledge about nature through the observation, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Its methodology is not synonymous with materialism and should not be committed to any particular beliefs, dogmas, or ideologies.

This appears reasonable at first glance, but the extent to which you support this statement relies on interpretation of some of the key terms. For example, anti-materialists will often describe those that are skeptical of their claims as not being "open-minded".

7. At the end of the nineteenth century, physicists discovered empirical phenomena that could not be explained by classical physics. This led to the development, during the 1920s and early 1930s, of a revolutionary new branch of physics called quantum mechanics (QM). QM has questioned the material foundations of the world by showing that atoms and subatomic particles are not really solid objects—they do not exist with certainty at definite spatial locations and definite times. Most importantly, QM explicitly introduced the mind into its basic conceptual structure since it was found that particles being observed and the observer—the physicist and the method used for observation—are linked. According to one interpretation of QM, this phenomenon implies that the consciousness of the observer is vital to the existence of the physical events being observed, and that mental events can affect the physical world. The results of recent experiments support this interpretation. These results suggest that the physical world is no longer the primary or sole component of reality, and that it cannot be fully understood without making reference to the mind.

QM led to an advance in our understanding the material foundations of the world. QM did not introduce the mind into its "basic conceptual structure". This point belies a confusion often found in discussions of QM by anti-materialists, of confusing an conscious observer with a measurement. In one interpretation (the Copenhagen interpretation), the physical act of measurement can cause a change to the physical system (i.e. a wave function collapse), but measurement does not imply a conscious observer.

8. Psychological studies have shown that conscious mental activity can causally influence behavior, and that the explanatory and predictive value of agentic factors (e.g. beliefs, goals, desires and expectations) is very high. Moreover, research in psychoneuroimmunology indicates that our thoughts and emotions can markedly affect the activity of the physiological systems (e.g., immune, endocrine, cardiovascular) connected to the brain. In other respects, neuroimaging studies of emotional self-regulation, psychotherapy, and the placebo effect demonstrate that mental events significantly influence the activity of the brain.

Whether conscious mental activity can casually influence behaviour is a non-straightforward question, but the explanatory power of agentic factors is undeniable.

The assumption underlying this class is that of dualism - the idea that our thoughts and emotions are separate from physiological systems and the brain, but that these separate thoughts can influence the brain and body. This contrasts with the dominant materialist perspective which is that that conscious mental activity is the activity of the brain and not something separate from it. A consequence of such a view is that it resolves the problem of the mind can influence the brain, since the mind is the brain. Dualism, on the other hand is left with a problem which no dualist as been able to solve (Descartes, for example, thought it was all done via the Pineal gland).

9. Studies of the so-called "psi phenomena" indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Psi research also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are nonlocally correlated, i.e. the correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). These events are so common that they cannot be viewed as anomolous nor as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated exclusively on materialism.

If there was clear evidence for "psi phenomena" then it might suggest the need for a broader explanatory framework. This is the nature of science and materialist outlook. Whatever wasn't explained before, gets explained and incorporated into that framework. However, currently evidence for "psi phenemona" is highly contested.

10. Conscious mental activity can be experienced in clinical death during a cardiac arrest (this is what has been called a "near-death experience" ). Some near-death experiencers (NDErs) have reported veridical out-of-body perceptions (i.e. perceptions that can be proven to coincide with reality) that occurred during cardiac arrest. NDErs also report profound spiritual experiences during NDEs triggered by cardiac arrest. It is noteworthy that the electrical activity of the brain ceases within a few seconds following a cardiac arrest.

It is false claim hat electrical activity in the brain ceases within a few seconds following a cardiac arrest. As noted in wikipedia, brain activity can still be measured in dogs for about 20-40 seconds following arrest. And interestingly, recent research on this issue has found that the unusual experiences (which can be interpreted as profound spiritual ones) described in NDE's may be due to unusual electrical activity in the brain rather than its absence.

11. Controlled laboratory experiments have documented that skilled research mediums (people who claim that they can communicate with the minds of people who have physically died) can sometimes obtain highly accurate information about deceased individuals. This further supports the conclusion that mind can exist separate from the brain.

Such research has been highly contested.

12. Some materialistically inclined scientists and philosophers refuse to acknowledge these phenomena because they are not consistent with their exclusive conception of the world. Rejection of post-materialist investigation of nature or refusal to publish strong science findings supporting a post-materialist framework are antithetical to the true spirit of scientific inquiry, which is that empirical data must always be adequately dealt with. Data which do not fit favored theories and beliefs cannot be dismissed a priori. Such dismissal is the realm of ideology, not science.

Currently, the scientific status of some of these claims is highly contested. It is true that many scientists do reject the possibility of these claims out of hand due to them incompatible with a materialist theoretical framework. Whether such rejections are antithetical to the spirit of scientific inquiry is debatable. They most definitely do reflect a tendency towards skepticism amongst scientists towards data which have limited theoretical and/or empirical support.

13. It is important to realize that psi phenomena, NDEs in cardiac arrest, and replicable evidence from credible research mediums, appear anomalous only when seen through the lens of materialism.

If there was clear and indisputable evidence for these phenomena, they would appear anomalous through the lens of materialism. However, at present, evidence for such phenomena is highly contentious.

14. Moreover, materialist theories fail to elucidate how brain could generate the mind, and they are unable to account for the empirical evidence alluded to in this manifesto. This failure tells us that it is now time to free ourselves from the shackles and blinders of the old materialist ideology, to enlarge our concept of the natural world, and to embrace a post-materialist paradigm.

Consciousness studies is a relatively young field, but is growing at a fast rate and making significant progress in understanding the relationship between consciousness and the brain using a materialist paradigm. At present given the success of that ongoing and recent research programme, it is not clear that a new paradigm is needed. It is true, however, that current materialist theories would struggle to account for the empirical evidence discussed in this manifesto.

15. According to the post-materialist paradigm:
a) Mind represents an aspect of reality as primordial as the physical world. Mind is fundamental in the universe, i.e. it cannot be derived from matter and reduced to anything more basic.
b) There is a deep interconnectedness between mind and the physical world.


It is not clear from this statement whether mind is more fundamental or primordial than matter or they have approximately equal status. But such a phrasing implies a separation, which is countered by the suggestion that they are deeply interconnected.

c) Mind (will/intention) can influence the state of the physical world, and operate in a nonlocal (or extended) fashion, i.e. it is not confined to specific points in space, such as brains and bodies, nor to specific points in time, such as the present. Since the mind may nonlocally influence the physical world, the intentions, emotions, and desires of an experimenter may not be completely isolated from experimental outcomes, even in controlled and blinded experimental designs.

Note a point here in regard to the possibility of falsification of "psi phenomena" - failure to find evidence for "psi phenomena" in the hands of skeptical researcher may actually be evidence for "psi phenomena".

d) Minds are apparently unbounded, and may unite in ways suggesting a unitary, One Mind that includes all individual, single minds.
e) NDEs in cardiac arrest suggest that the brain acts as a transceiver of mental activity, i.e. the mind can work through the brain, but is not produced by it. NDEs occurring in cardiac arrest, coupled with evidence from research mediums, further suggest the survival of consciousness, following bodily death, and the existence of other levels of reality that are non-physical.


In e) we have a clear statement of dualism, which seeks to acknowledge the evidence that our minds are linked to brain activity, yet still somehow separate from it.


f) Scientists should not be afraid to investigate spirituality and spiritual experiences since they represent a central aspect of human existence.

Materialist science investigates spiritual experiences and does not discount their importance in human existence. A relative lack of investigation may not represent fear, but rather their lack of scientific interest relative to other research topics.

16. Post-materialist science does not reject the empirical observations and great value of scientific achievements realized up until now. It seeks to expand the human capacity to better understand the wonders of nature, and in the process rediscover the importance of mind and spirit as being part of the core fabric of the universe. Post-materialism is inclusive of matter, which is seen as a basic constituent of the universe.

I am unclear on what the phrase "inclusive of matter" means, but the naturalist framework of materialism does not put mind/spirit as being part of the core fabric of the universe because it does not seek to place humanity at the centre of the universe. Instead, materialism reveals mind occurred in a purposeless universe through a process of natural selection. But we are products of the natural world, and mind, is part of that natural world also.

18. The shift from materialist science to post-materialist science may be of vital importance to the evolution of the human civilization. It may be even more pivotal than the transition from geocentrism to heliocentrism.

It is typical of proponents of fringe belief systems to have a strong sense of vision or purpose, and a strong sense of the importance of their work, which is clear here. In this case, what is ironic in the claim of evolution is that the shift from materialism to post-materialism is retroactive. The enlightenment that brought science and materialism led to the ridding of souls and dualism from the world, whereas the post-materialist paradigm wants us to turn backwards to a pre-scientific worldview, to what was "forgotten for four hundred years."

17. The post-materialist paradigm has far-reaching implications. It fundamentally alters the vision we have of ourselves, giving us back our dignity and power, as humans and as scientists. This paradigm fosters positive values such as compassion, respect, and peace. By emphasizing a deep connection between ourselves and nature at large, the post-materialist paradigm also promotes environmental awareness and the preservation of our biosphere. In addition, it is not new, but only forgotten for four hundred years, that a lived transmaterial understanding may be the cornerstone of health and wellness, as it has been held and preserved in ancient mind-body-spirit practices, religious traditions, and contemplative approaches.

Materialist science does not itself have a vision, and does not imply any specific vision. However, one can create various visions based on the findings of science, and those visions can be varied and contradictory. The vision that you choose does not have to conflict with the vision of the post-materialists, and could be one that fosters peace and compassion and so. And indeed, in regarding our understanding of ourselves and nature science has led to the movement away from a spiritual to a scientific world view, by bridging the gap between man and nature in understanding humans as animals.

The second sentence is perhaps the most revealing point in the manifesto. The phrasing is that a post-materialist paradigm can give back our "dignity and power" as humans, implying that a negative view that materialist science has taken away our dignity and power.
Why have the authors chosen to take that view? One could easily argue for that opposite. But the choice of taking that view seems to me the clearest indication of the motivations of the post-materialists. Any else want to speculate on that point?

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/13/15 12:38 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
What about this - Hoffman derives quantum physics equations from analysis of conscious agents. (I don't really follow that bit yet*) ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqDP34a-epI

He presents falsifiable hypotheses, by the way, for some clever buddhist mathematician or physicist to attack if they feel like having a go.

http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/

*... I probably never will.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/13/15 12:57 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Without a commitment to understanding the other side of this argument I doubt your view is ever liable to change. I can only offer recommendations for books, videos, articles, etc. If you have confidence in your view and a commitment to opening communication with differing views then it seem to me you should be willing to consume the media.

Bohm himself dedicated a major portion of his life advocating for fostering communication between groups. He believed it's one of our best chances of survival. I tend to agree, so I'm trying hard to understand your view.

1-3. I'd like to augment these points by adding that there seems to me to be a prevailing notion that science can operate without philosophy or any interpretation. This pernicious notion (among other factors) prevents scientists (and science fanatics) from examining their own assumptions.

5. Publication rates figure little to the public. Can you cite numerous examples of concrete results? Define 'increased understanding'. Can you demonstrate empirical results from this increased understanding?

6. Right. I tend to agree with your implied charge that the post-materialist science camp aren't acknowledging their own dogma. At least, not directly in this document. It seems to me that almost everyone is part of a belief system pointing figures at other belief systems for not being open-minded enough.

7. Highly contestable. Your post has already taken a position on the interpretation of QM. Interpreting the collapse of the wavefunction, afaik, is the major point causing the divergence of interpretation.

In my opinion, speaking productively on QM requires a deep understanding of the mathematics. I don't have that (yet) so I won't add to the muddle. But, I can link to resources that do contest your understanding. I can't force you to read them.

8. I don't get from 8 that they're assuming thoughts and emotions are separate from the physiological body.

9-13. Right. Dean Radin would argue that previously existing assumptions drive demands for ridiculous levels of statistical certainty and experimental rigor. In other words, the extent to which you can criticize an experimental design is unlimited.

Productive conversation on this point relies on willingness to read the papers.

The question of what constitutes a reasonable level of evidence is not itself scientific. I would argue that there's a dangerous, prevailing notion that science exists independently of philosophy and interpretation (see my response to 1-3). The combination of these two prolongs the contest.

14. See my response to 5


To all the charges of dualistic thinking: I see why you would get this impression. I doubt this short document intended to resolve the mind/matter dualism. I don't see any dualism as fundamental to a post-materialist science. Nor do I think one proposed resolution of the mind/matter dualism should constitute all of post-materialist science.

Your suggestion that materialist science has resolved the mind/matter dualism seems laughable to me. It seems to me that according to their view it's solved, just without any evidence about how, nor even a real belief at the unconscious level that mind and matter are inseparable. Please show me a materialist scientist who doesn't unconsciously, moment-to-moment, privilege some undefined notion above the rest of phenomena, whether it's 'mind', 'soul', etc.

And, I also dogmatically believe that widespread adoption of post-materialist science would have better results for the planet. I'm not currently interested in defending that.

If you'd like those recommendations let me know. Be a good timebinder and stop sawfooting around.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/13/15 1:12 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
What you have there is a philosophy of science post under a science & meditation section. I think you need to work the meditation angle a bit more. What's it all got to do with meditation ?

Without doing a survey, I speculate that the materialist camp have much fewer experiences of meditational bliss and ecstatic non-dual states, and are therefore very very boring and dweeby. I like my scientists to have had their minds blown and felt one with all of creation before offering their theories, the rest can go sit in the corner and bore each other.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 4:56 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Thanks for your responses Deklan. 

Without a commitment to understanding the other side of this argument I doubt your view is ever liable to change.

Please see the 18+ point response to the manifesto/other side of the argument) in the OP.

I can only offer recommendations for books, videos, articles, etc. If you have confidence in your view and a commitment to opening communication with differing views then it seem to me you should be willing to consume the media. 

You assume that I haven't read any relevant books, articles or watched videos. 

Bohm himself dedicated a major portion of his life advocating for fostering communication between groups. He believed it's one of our best chances of survival. I tend to agree, so I'm trying hard to understand your view.

1-3. I'd like to augment these points by adding that there seems to me to be a prevailing notion that science can operate without philosophy or any interpretation. This pernicious notion (among other factors) prevents scientists (and science fanatics) from examining their own assumptions.

I would disagree with the statement about interpretation. And I think there are some scientists that don't see much need for philosophy and some that do. What the prevailing view is hard to tell. But I don't think this blocks the ability to examine assumptions - examining your own assumptions seems difficult whoever you are.

But let's say we accept your first point. It appears that your (or the standard post-materialist) line of argument is that "science is just another dogma, and scientists don't realise it", ergo, it shouldn't be wrong. But it doesn't follow that because it is a dogma that "the materialist scientific worldview" is wrong or misguided.

5. Publication rates figure little to the public. Can you cite numerous examples of concrete results? Define 'increased understanding'. Can you demonstrate empirical results from this increased understanding?

You understand the point though? If the growth of something is exponential (e.g. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ssmngEIMlyg/U_teJ-EaXvI/AAAAAAAAaL8/MLBCQfm2Aoo/s1600/Neuroscience%2BPapers.jpg) the argument that the growth has been hampered falls flat, and parapsychology seems an unlikely saviour. However, I think their basic point about "mind" (though not spirituality) is correct. Consciousness used to be a dirty word in psychology (and in some areas perhaps still is), and neglecting it has hampered the development of consciousness studies. Part of the reason of such growth in consciousness studies in particular is seeing such rapid development is an element of "catching up".

I don't really understand the question though. There are journals that specialise in consciousness studies as part of an ongoing scientific enterprise, for example:
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/imp/jcs
http://www.journals.elsevier.com/consciousness-and-cognition/
Here is a recent open access review paper.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3814086/

6. Right. I tend to agree with your implied charge that the post-materialist science camp aren't acknowledging their own dogma. At least, not directly in this document. It seems to me that almost everyone is part of a belief system pointing figures at other belief systems for not being open-minded enough.

7. Highly contestable. Your post has already taken a position on the interpretation of QM. Interpreting the collapse of the wavefunction, afaik, is the major point causing the divergence of interpretation. 

In my opinion, speaking productively on QM requires a deep understanding of the mathematics. I don't have that (yet) so I won't add to the muddle. But, I can link to resources that do contest your understanding. I can't force you to read them.

I agree that mathematics are important. And I don't understand them. You can still talk a bit about it - just in a near hopelessly impoverished way. I reference the Copenhagen interpretation and that gloss on it because that misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the Copenhagen interpretation is often used in quantum woo (i.e. consciousness collapses the wave function). It is not representative of my own understanding.

If you have any resources that you think point to a post-materialist interpretation I would be happy to look at them.

8. I don't get from 8 that they're assuming thoughts and emotions are separate from the physiological body.

"mental events significantly influence the activity of the brain."

If you believed that mental events were brain activity events then you wouldn't say it in such a way.

9-13. Right. Dean Radin would argue that previously existing assumptions drive demands for ridiculous levels of statistical certainty and experimental rigor. In other words, the extent to which you can criticize an experimental design is unlimited.

Productive conversation on this point relies on willingness to read the papers.

The question of what constitutes a reasonable level of evidence is not itself scientific. I would argue that there's a dangerous, prevailing notion that science exists independently of philosophy and interpretation (see my response to 1-3). The combination of these two prolongs the contest.

Have you read all these papers? Do you think pointing to the list suggesting I should read all these papers isn't the start of a productive conversation? In some areas of science, some data and theories are not highly contested. With parapsychology, I would say all the evidence used to support post-materialist worldview is highly contested. It seems to me the problem is with the evidence not the contestation process, but you may beg to differ. But the existence of parapsychology has been very useful to our understanding of what science is what it is not. It also have helped us understand the nature of scientific evidence and scientific processes (e.g. uses and misuses of methodology and statistics) and where it can go wrong. See the furore following the publication of the Bem (2011). 

14. See my response to 5

To all the charges of dualistic thinking: I see why you would get this impression. I doubt this short document intended to resolve the mind/matter dualism. I don't see any dualism as fundamental to a post-materialist science. Nor do I think one proposed resolution of the mind/matter dualism should constitute all of post-materialist science.

The document isn't intended to resolve issues, but instead is a statement of a common vision shared by those that signed it. But I suppose some post-materialist might call themselves panpsychics, for example. However, I think the dualism is the key to understanding why the post-materialists are so confused.

Your suggestion that materialist science has resolved the mind/matter dualism seems laughable to me. It seems to me that according to their view it's solved, just without any evidence about how.

I would say that materialist science has resolved the dualism debate (though that depends on what is meant by that). But its not as if you can point to a paper and say it has found some evidence that has solved it, because thinking that is possible or will happen one day belies a conceptual confusion - thinking there is a problem is a large part of the problem.

nor even a real belief at the unconscious level that mind and matter are inseparable.

Please show me a materialist scientist who doesn't unconsciously, moment-to-moment, privilege some undefined notion above the rest of phenomena, whether it's 'mind', 'soul', etc.

Pretty much everyone (with perhaps the exception of those with mental illness and mystics) does what you say. The notion of mind being a cause of our behaviour is very ingrained in our thinking. Neuroscientists who should know better make this error all the time in discussing their scientific work. Over riding your common sense assumptions and intuitions is very difficult. Lots of physicists seem confused when they talk about quantum physics, which is another illustration of this.

And, I also dogmatically believe that widespread adoption of post-materialist science would have better results for the planet. I'm not currently interested in defending that.

I am puzzled by this, in that I am not sure what, in science terms, a post-materialist science has to offer the world. As I argued, the world view and implications are not contingent on the science - you can choose your worldview. And science wise, IMHO parapsychology has largely been a bust (see for example, the retreat from ganfield studies to the random number generator studies), so I can't see what significant impact it could have on society.

Also, care to speculate on my question that I posed at the end?  

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 4:51 AM as a reply to Stick Man.
Thanks John.

He seems to make two arguments. One is that the world we experience is a species-specific user interface not a window of objective reality. I agree with this, which is why the claims of Buddhists/Vipassanists that they can experience "reality as it really is" is misguided, but it isn't anything novel (e.g. have a look at any undergraduate textbook on perception and sensation). The second argument is rebadged idealism with a bunch of quantum inspired mathematics. I don't understand it but it is still idealism and suffers of all the problems of idealism.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 7:10 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Dear Sawfoot_,

While I will likely ban you and end this discussion shortly, still, the following thoughts come to mind:

Philosophy is useful to scientists and sometimes interesting in its own right. It is hard to argue against many of the basic Impiricist points made by Hume about experience, for example.

Further, much can be learned about mainstream science by remembering what mainstream science says.

There are no colors. There are wavelenghts. However, we experience colors. Colors have no true existence. They can't be found in the lists of the components of matter, not in the elements, not in the particles. While there is color theory in quantum physics, it has nothing to do with actual colors. Thus, if you experience colors, you experience something you believe doesn't exist, if you subscribe to scientific materialism, that is.

There are no smells. There are compounds and elements. However, we experience smells. Smells have no true existence. They can't be found in the list of the standard components of matter. Thus, if you experience smells, you experience something that doesn't exist from a materialist perspective. Sulfur doesn't smell like sulfur. Nor is it yellow for that matter. Those things are created in a mind somewhere, so says the standard scientific model.

There is no pain or pleasure. There are nerves somewhere, nerves that create signals. Those signals do something, but they don't actually represent pain. There don't even actually seem to be pleasure receptors, and yet we experience pleasure and pain. There are no material equivalents of pain and pleasure. If you experience those, you experience something that doesn't exist from a materialist point of view, as it has no material equivalent. Similarly, there are no textures.

There are no sounds. When you hear a sound, that is an illusion. There are oscillating pressure gradients in the air, in bone, in skin, in tissues. These have no actual tone, no sound. There is no material equivalent of sound, just materials oscillating. Thus, if you hear sound, you hear something that is illusory from a materialist point of view.

There are no thoughts. When you think a thought, that is illusion, so says materialism. There are no material equivalents of thoughts, no elements that make up thoughts, no atoms that make up thoughts, no particles that make up thoughts. Thus, if you think you think, that is a problem to a materlist, if they are a strict materalist.

In this way, we find that the sum total of our experience has no material equivalents. This is what science tells us most clearly and explicitly.

All these colors, sounds, textures, smells, etc: they all exist in a brain somewhere, so science tells us. That brain is the real mind, the real matter, the real reality. However, these things we experience in this seemingly 3D world are not that. They are in a brain somewhere that puts a bunch of brain centers together to create this illusory 3D space in which all these non-existent, non-material illusions occur. So says the standard model of the brain.

Here's the kicker: what is the spacial relationship between this 3D illusory, non-material, brain-created world and the actual brain? The head we experience can't be the actual thing, so says materialism. It isn't actually here. It is in a brain somewhere, but where? Are the spaces the same? Are the spaces different? Where do you think that brain is relative to all of this.

You might think it was out there somewhere: like the outside shell of a holodeck. You might try to say that the brain we think is in this head is the actual brain: that is the exact opposite of the standard materialist model.

As this entire sensate, experienced world is created non-material illusions in a brain somewhere else, anything the brain can create from an experiential point of view can occur anywhere in this brain, as it is just non-material stuff. Ironically, materialism leads directly to its profound opposite: that all this that we experience is totally non-material and brain-made. So, anything you can imagine a brain creating, which is pretty wide, particularly if you have dreamed, can occur in this field of non-materiality. Why do you have a problem with that, when materalism tells us this is so?

However, given that everything we experience is totally non-material and brain-made illusion, why not learn to mold and modify this reality to our tastes, as can be learned to some degree in meditation?

Amazing how few materialists know much of anything of the obvious and straightforward conclusions of materlism.

Thoughts?

Daniel

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 9:41 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Materialism has nothing to do with science. Science is about studying cause and effect. Take, for example, a study of the relationship between smoking and the grades of students in graduate school. Reducing such a study to physics would be absurd. Many studies in psychology, social sciences, economics, and so forth have no connection with physics or materialism. They involve studying cause-effect interactions between the physical world and/or the world of human experience.

In addition, some particularly effective tools for teasing out cause-effect relationships have been collecting data and applying statistical analysis to it. Using standard statistics often isn't sufficient, however, because statistics has to do with observing and not with taking action. Cause-effect relationships often have an aspect of taking some kind of action, like giving a person with a disease a particular drug and then measuring whether they recover or not. This aspect can result in misinterpretation of data in particular ways. Recent work in the field of Bayesian causality theory has come up with a calculus of causality that can be used to analyze causal models and, in particular, use them to determine whether a particular factor is causal or not.

Causality is actually what the Dharma is all about. The Twelve Nidanas are discussed throughout the Nikayas, see for example Brahmajala Sutta, verse 3.71. And in meditation is where you get to see causal factors arising, manifesting their effects, and passing away, in real time.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 11:44 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Thanks John.

He seems to make two arguments. One is that the world we experience is a species-specific user interface not a window of objective reality. I agree with this, which is why the claims of Buddhists/Vipassanists that they can experience "reality as it really is" is misguided, but it isn't anything novel (e.g. have a look at any undergraduate textbook on perception and sensation). The second argument is rebadged idealism with a bunch of quantum inspired mathematics. I don't understand it but it is still idealism and suffers of all the problems of idealism.


I think the claim of seeing reality as is doesn't necessarily mean seeing different perceptual forms - and of course reality is one of those words that is slippery because it gets used both for the perceptual construction, and for the underlying whatever. So for instance Dawkins will say "evolution is not a theory it's a reality" - whereas it's more precise in this case to say "what we perceive appears to evolve, and we infer that underlying reality is this way too". I think I'm safe on that one.

Hoffman says the textbooks are wrong, they are too close to naive realism. It's there in his talks and papers - with quotes, so you would be getting something a bit different in his undergrad classes.

"Those of our predecessors who perceived the world more accurately enjoyed a competitive advantage over their less-fortunate peers. They were thus more likely to raise children and to become our ancestors. We are the offspring of those who perceived more truly, and we can be confident that our perceptions are, in the normal case, reasonably accurate....
This is the consensus of researchers studying perception via brain imaging, computational modeling and psychophysical experiments. It is mentioned in passing in many
professional publications, and stated as fact in standard textbooks.
"

https://edge.org/response-detail/25450

Which strikes me as a problem for science, in that nature provides us with myriad examples of deception as being part of the survival game - yet the survival game of science claims to be outside of this larger game, that it weeds out deception via peer review and such. I would expect deception to be an integral part of science, and looking at the history of tobacco science and such money spinning frauds, I'm inclined to think scientists can't, indeed, step outside of the perception/camouflage arms race we find in the non human world.
The assumption is that working for those Nobel medals, salaries, corporate lab positions, prestigious positions and conferences full of mating opportunities - coupled with the scientific method - will reveal ever more truth about how things are in the universe - as we are the top point of evolution and rewarded for veridical perception - but why should it ?
But that's more of a sociological angle, and Hoffman's disagreements are with the perceptions of the scientist monkeys themselves and their visual cortexes, rather than their propensity to swindle bananas out of each other.

Not sure how to work meditation into that. I'll think on it, maybe on the stepping off of the wheel of karma, not take part in the volutionary arms race any more.

Does Buddhism set itself outside of the western evolutionary sphere ? It has it's own take on evolution, and stepping of the wheel of rebirth. Interestingly, like many religious traditions, chasing wealth and even chasing breeding are seen as antithetical to success, the ascetic lifestyle is eschewing - it seems - the fitness race. We have a long tradition of wise men and magicians advising the alpha apes in myth and history - Merlin and Arthur, the wise are always single and broke, and the powerful and promiscuous are always ignorant. In the stories anyway.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 11:34 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The post-materialists, as far I can tell, which is illustrated with the viewpoint in Daniel's post, have a particular view of what materialism entails or what materialist believe. Its often used in a straw man way. It is something like: everything that exists is physical/material, and since consciousness/thoughts/sounds/colours/textures don't exist ("have no true existence") or are illusionary. Why they think that is very interesting (at least to me) - which relates to the question of why in the manifesto they privilege a negative world view consequence of science.

I don't quite understand this formulation, because terms like "truly exist" and "illusion" leads one to a ontological quandary.

But it seems to stem from a misunderstanding of physicalism.. Daniel says "There are no material equivalents of thoughts" but the whole of point of a physicalist conception of mind is that there material equivalents of thoughts - the activity of your nervous system is equivalent to a thought. Caching out what equivalence means is what physicalist philosophers spend their day jobs doing. As svmonk hints to, a causal story regarding this can help avoid ontological quandaries.


In this view, our experience does have material equivalents - the activity of our brains. Our sensory experience can be explained by a story of the interactions of the world outside our brains (sound waves etc…) impinging on our neurons, in a causally closed loop, with no need for pineal glands.

Now, where it gets confusing is the limitations in our "common sense" folk-psychological understanding and the structure of language. As pointed out by Droll, we are natural born dualists. Even if you can see the errors in dualism, its extremely hard to not to influenced by dualism in thinking about the mind/brain.

From Daniel:
are in a brain somewhere…
It is in a brain somewhere, but where? Are the spaces the same? Are the spaces different? Where do you think that brain is relative to all of this.
experienced world is created non-material illusions in a brain somewhere else, anything the brain can create from an experiential point of view can occur anywhere in this brain, as it is just non-material stuff. 

So when most people talk about minds and brains, its very hard to avoid spatial container metaphors - this is idea that the mind is IN the brain, and that thoughts are "things". And that is where it gets confusing. Similarly, when people talk about the mystery of how brains can cause/generate/produce consciousness, you are led in thinking that consciousness is some king of "thing" that is separate from the brain. But given our dualist biases, its very hard to think otherwise and understand the implications of physicalism.

Daniel: "However, given that everything we experience is totally non-material and brain-made illusion, why not learn to mold and modify this reality to our tastes, as can be learned to some degree in meditation?"

This is why idealism doesn't work - there are constraints on our experience of the world due to the nature of the world and due to the nature of our experiencing apparatus. The apparatus can be bent a lot though (e.g. hallucinations) and through experiences, beliefs and practices, such as meditation.

Svmonk - the Dharma is about everything. Its about whatever you want it to be about. Its everything! Its experience! And because it is about everything, it can kind of end up being about nothing?!

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 12:06 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
It seems Daniel doesn't want the philosophizing here. I believe that what we can roughly call View is important to practice, but admittedly not in the ratio of 20:1, View: Practice. This is partially my fault for posting the Post-Materialist Science in the first place. I still think it's relevant to meditation.

For my only public response: I didn't imply that we're "natural born dualist". I'm not sure if that's the case or if socialization (esp. language) is the culprit.

I'll PM you with my responses, sawfewty

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 2:19 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
"As pointed out by Droll, we are natural born dualists."
...is that really true ? What is the perception of an infant like - fully dualist or lacking a sense of self - which comes later as it learns to construct a reality from.... what ?

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 2:43 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
"Thanks, John"

Y' welcome.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 8:14 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Dear Sawfoot_,

While I will likely ban you and end this discussion shortly, still, the following thoughts come to mind:

Philosophy is useful to scientists and sometimes interesting in its own right. It is hard to argue against many of the basic Impiricist points made by Hume about experience, for example.

Further, much can be learned about mainstream science by remembering what mainstream science says.

There are no colors. There are wavelenghts. However, we experience colors. Colors have no true existence. They can't be found in the lists of the components of matter, not in the elements, not in the particles. While there is color theory in quantum physics, it has nothing to do with actual colors. Thus, if you experience colors, you experience something you believe doesn't exist, if you subscribe to scientific materialism, that is.

There are no smells. There are compounds and elements. However, we experience smells. Smells have no true existence. They can't be found in the list of the standard components of matter. Thus, if you experience smells, you experience something that doesn't exist from a materialist perspective. Sulfur doesn't smell like sulfur. Nor is it yellow for that matter. Those things are created in a mind somewhere, so says the standard scientific model.

There is no pain or pleasure. There are nerves somewhere, nerves that create signals. Those signals do something, but they don't actually represent pain. There don't even actually seem to be pleasure receptors, and yet we experience pleasure and pain. There are no material equivalents of pain and pleasure. If you experience those, you experience something that doesn't exist from a materialist point of view, as it has no material equivalent. Similarly, there are no textures.

There are no sounds. When you hear a sound, that is an illusion. There are oscillating pressure gradients in the air, in bone, in skin, in tissues. These have no actual tone, no sound. There is no material equivalent of sound, just materials oscillating. Thus, if you hear sound, you hear something that is illusory from a materialist point of view.

There are no thoughts. When you think a thought, that is illusion, so says materialism. There are no material equivalents of thoughts, no elements that make up thoughts, no atoms that make up thoughts, no particles that make up thoughts. Thus, if you think you think, that is a problem to a materlist, if they are a strict materalist.

In this way, we find that the sum total of our experience has no material equivalents. This is what science tells us most clearly and explicitly.

All these colors, sounds, textures, smells, etc: they all exist in a brain somewhere, so science tells us. That brain is the real mind, the real matter, the real reality. However, these things we experience in this seemingly 3D world are not that. They are in a brain somewhere that puts a bunch of brain centers together to create this illusory 3D space in which all these non-existent, non-material illusions occur. So says the standard model of the brain.

Here's the kicker: what is the spacial relationship between this 3D illusory, non-material, brain-created world and the actual brain? The head we experience can't be the actual thing, so says materialism. It isn't actually here. It is in a brain somewhere, but where? Are the spaces the same? Are the spaces different? Where do you think that brain is relative to all of this.

You might think it was out there somewhere: like the outside shell of a holodeck. You might try to say that the brain we think is in this head is the actual brain: that is the exact opposite of the standard materialist model.

As this entire sensate, experienced world is created non-material illusions in a brain somewhere else, anything the brain can create from an experiential point of view can occur anywhere in this brain, as it is just non-material stuff. Ironically, materialism leads directly to its profound opposite: that all this that we experience is totally non-material and brain-made. So, anything you can imagine a brain creating, which is pretty wide, particularly if you have dreamed, can occur in this field of non-materiality. Why do you have a problem with that, when materalism tells us this is so?

However, given that everything we experience is totally non-material and brain-made illusion, why not learn to mold and modify this reality to our tastes, as can be learned to some degree in meditation?

Amazing how few materialists know much of anything of the obvious and straightforward conclusions of materlism.

Thoughts?

Daniel

Sawfoot,

Nice to read you again!

Second, I'm not often in the position of "fan girl" so I'm highlighting Daniel's reply because, well, I like it a lotit's useful and making plain a basic and steadily overlooked point, unveiling an assumed perspective.

(...) a causal story regarding this can help avoid ontological quandaries.

I don't see such an avoidance possible. Everyone has a one-of-a-kind ontology as far as one can tell (e.g. we don't appear to all be have the same life) and we sort of bargain around word meanings to merge our ontologies for certain occasions (probably for some rewarding occaions, including herd safety).

And here I see your statement here ("Its everything! Its experience!") with Daniel's last point ("However, given that everything we experience is totally non-material and brain-made illusion, why not learn to mold and modify this reality to our tastes,") and I would add that the ontologies you each have around "to mold" and "to modify" are key. For example, he did not write "Completely alter reality" (Oy, there's an ontology quagmire).

That's all from me. I didn't quite get your reply to Daniel though. I'm not running defense for anyone, but his post is very clear to me and I'm not really understanding your reply to it and the tragectory your ontology is driving. Try again?

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/14/15 8:54 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Dear Sawfoot_,

While I will likely ban you and end this discussion shortly, still, the following thoughts come to mind:

Philosophy is useful to scientists and sometimes interesting in its own right. It is hard to argue against many of the basic Impiricist points made by Hume about experience, for example.

Further, much can be learned about mainstream science by remembering what mainstream science says.

There are no colors. There are wavelenghts. However, we experience colors. Colors have no true existence. They can't be found in the lists of the components of matter, not in the elements, not in the particles. While there is color theory in quantum physics, it has nothing to do with actual colors. Thus, if you experience colors, you experience something you believe doesn't exist, if you subscribe to scientific materialism, that is.

There are no smells. There are compounds and elements. However, we experience smells. Smells have no true existence. They can't be found in the list of the standard components of matter. Thus, if you experience smells, you experience something that doesn't exist from a materialist perspective. Sulfur doesn't smell like sulfur. Nor is it yellow for that matter. Those things are created in a mind somewhere, so says the standard scientific model.

There is no pain or pleasure. There are nerves somewhere, nerves that create signals. Those signals do something, but they don't actually represent pain. There don't even actually seem to be pleasure receptors, and yet we experience pleasure and pain. There are no material equivalents of pain and pleasure. If you experience those, you experience something that doesn't exist from a materialist point of view, as it has no material equivalent. Similarly, there are no textures.

There are no sounds. When you hear a sound, that is an illusion. There are oscillating pressure gradients in the air, in bone, in skin, in tissues. These have no actual tone, no sound. There is no material equivalent of sound, just materials oscillating. Thus, if you hear sound, you hear something that is illusory from a materialist point of view.

There are no thoughts. When you think a thought, that is illusion, so says materialism. There are no material equivalents of thoughts, no elements that make up thoughts, no atoms that make up thoughts, no particles that make up thoughts. Thus, if you think you think, that is a problem to a materlist, if they are a strict materalist.

In this way, we find that the sum total of our experience has no material equivalents. This is what science tells us most clearly and explicitly.

All these colors, sounds, textures, smells, etc: they all exist in a brain somewhere, so science tells us. That brain is the real mind, the real matter, the real reality. However, these things we experience in this seemingly 3D world are not that. They are in a brain somewhere that puts a bunch of brain centers together to create this illusory 3D space in which all these non-existent, non-material illusions occur. So says the standard model of the brain.

Here's the kicker: what is the spacial relationship between this 3D illusory, non-material, brain-created world and the actual brain? The head we experience can't be the actual thing, so says materialism. It isn't actually here. It is in a brain somewhere, but where? Are the spaces the same? Are the spaces different? Where do you think that brain is relative to all of this.

You might think it was out there somewhere: like the outside shell of a holodeck. You might try to say that the brain we think is in this head is the actual brain: that is the exact opposite of the standard materialist model.

As this entire sensate, experienced world is created non-material illusions in a brain somewhere else, anything the brain can create from an experiential point of view can occur anywhere in this brain, as it is just non-material stuff. Ironically, materialism leads directly to its profound opposite: that all this that we experience is totally non-material and brain-made. So, anything you can imagine a brain creating, which is pretty wide, particularly if you have dreamed, can occur in this field of non-materiality. Why do you have a problem with that, when materalism tells us this is so?

However, given that everything we experience is totally non-material and brain-made illusion, why not learn to mold and modify this reality to our tastes, as can be learned to some degree in meditation?

Amazing how few materialists know much of anything of the obvious and straightforward conclusions of materlism.

Thoughts?

Daniel

Hey Dan, I have some thoughts, and I'd like to pick your brain (har har) a little bit, since you work in the medical field...

A non-materialist would say that I am not my brain, that I am something other than my brain. (This is an exceedingly vague and general statement, but I think it's reasonable to put it out there for the sake of discussion.) However, if I sustain a head injury, undergo a procedure such as a lobotomy, or ingest pyschedelics, my experience of reality-- perhaps even the "I" itself-- will be greatly altered in profound and unusual ways. However, if I am not my brain, how is it possible to experience such profound changes when the brain itself is physically altered in some way?

I'd like to mention that I'm not a materialist by any stretch of the imagination, quite the opposite when you get right down to it, but this little puzzle has always been interesting to me. I'd like to know what you think.

Eric

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 3:42 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:

Sawfoot,

Nice to read you again!

Second, I'm not often in the position of "fan girl" so I'm highlighting Daniel's reply because, well, I like it a lotit's useful and making plain a basic and steadily overlooked point, unveiling an assumed perspective.

(...) a causal story regarding this can help avoid ontological quandaries.
Hi!

I don't see such an avoidance possible. Everyone has a one-of-a-kind ontology as far as one can tell (e.g. we don't appear to all be have the same life) and we sort of bargain around word meanings to merge our ontologies for certain occasions (probably for some rewarding occaions, including herd safety).

Sure - I didn't say completely avoid, just help - in trying to avoid discussions about what "truly exists" means. But then you can get discussions about what "causality" which are just as bad, so... 

And here I see your statement here ("Its everything! Its experience!") with Daniel's last point ("However, given that everything we experience is totally non-material and brain-made illusion, why not learn to mold and modify this reality to our tastes,") and I would add that the ontologies you each have around "to mold" and "to modify" are key. For example, he did not write "Completely alter reality" (Oy, there's an ontology quagmire).

Yes, e.g. the ontology about what is "real" - i.e. the materalist (though let's not hung up on that word) assumption that the world "out there" is "real" (i.e. the moon exists when we aren't looking at it).

That's all from me. I didn't quite get your reply to Daniel though. I'm not running defense for anyone, but his post is very clear to me and I'm not really understanding your reply to it and the tragectory your ontology is driving. Try again?

I said in my post I didn't understand parts of it. There was the niave ontolololgy "truly exists" which doesn't make any sense to me. There was a bit about "here is the kicker" trying to raise the mind body problem. There was a straw man characterisation of what a "strict materialist" has to believe. Then there was the bit it all seems leading to at the end, which could be interpreted to be very trivial, as you point out, depending on how far you go with mold. 

I did try, but if you can explain what I am missing, please go ahead!

Perhaps he is trying to get at niave realism? If you understand the scientific worldview, how can you maintain niave realism?! Because experience is just some kind of amorphous field...

Just as we natural born dualists, we are also natural born niave realists. And its a very hard illusion to overcome. Meditation is one way to incorporate that scientific understanding of a perspective on what we are (a 3D simulation created in a brain) and our experience, and see the constructed nature of it all. 

But when I hit technical 3rd passsage in my MetaCog MetEngage Practice, I realised that all this talk of illusion is a bit of a misnomer. Mystics like to talk about the world being an illusion so that they become the special ones that see through the illusion and see the "world" (e.g,. experience as non-dimensional amorphous field or whatever you want to call it) as it "truly" is. But if your practice is deep enough, you can realise that all this is just this - my experience, my niave realism, is real. Yes, its also an "illusion". But its also "real". 


RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 3:43 AM as a reply to Eric M W.
Clearly there are correlates, clearly associations, clearly something is related between the non-experiential things we call atoms and the like and the sensations that we actually do experience, and some of them seem absolute, such as when we appear to have our heads cut off our body slumps to the floor and we die, so, yes, clearly there is something going on here.

However, we have as yet no complete theory that pulls together things like thoughts and consciousness and material atoms and molecules. Lots of fascinating things to be observed by EEGs, Pet Scans, fMRIs, psychotherapeutic pharmaceutical studies, and studies of neurotransmitters: all amazingly interesting, all clearly relevant to the question, but all clearly incomplete. None explain why red looks red to us, why roses smell like roses, why neurotransmitters are associated with thoughts that have meaning: there is a huge gap there left to be filled in one day. Show me the precise biology of how I composed this email, for example: we are a long, long way from that.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 3:44 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Sawfoot: tie this into practice, please.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 4:37 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Thanks John.

He seems to make two arguments. One is that the world we experience is a species-specific user interface not a window of objective reality. I agree with this, which is why the claims of Buddhists/Vipassanists that they can experience "reality as it really is" is misguided, but it isn't anything novel (e.g. have a look at any undergraduate textbook on perception and sensation). The second argument is rebadged idealism with a bunch of quantum inspired mathematics. I don't understand it but it is still idealism and suffers of all the problems of idealism.

On the contrary: "reality as it really is" (which, btw, is a mistranslation*) actually does refer precisely to what's going on on the "species-specific user interface" (which is a very apt term, thanks for that). This is 'ultimate reality' (in both the Abdhidhamma and phenomenological sense). Awakening to that involves realizing that it's the case, and learning to discern how the interface is conditioned and functions, shapes what appears, and how to train it in other directions.

(I thought you were to supposed to have some understanding of these things?)

* yathābhūtaṃ -- alternative might be something like "just as it has become" or, even better, considering 'it' as pure 'sensation' or phenomena, "according to how it has manifested".
yathā -- adv. as; like; in relation to; according to; in whatever way; just as.
bhūta
-- pp. of bhavati - become; existed.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 4:54 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Clearly there are correlates, clearly associations, clearly something is related between the non-experiential things we call atoms and the like and the sensations that we actually do experience, and some of them seem absolute, such as when we appear to have our heads cut off our body slumps to the floor and we die, so, yes, clearly there is something going on here.

However, we have as yet no complete theory that pulls together things like thoughts and consciousness and material atoms and molecules. Lots of fascinating things to be observed by EEGs, Pet Scans, fMRIs, psychotherapeutic pharmaceutical studies, and studies of neurotransmitters: all amazingly interesting, all clearly relevant to the question, but all clearly incomplete. None explain why red looks red to us, why roses smell like roses, why neurotransmitters are associated with thoughts that have meaning: there is a huge gap there left to be filled in one day. Show me the precise biology of how I composed this email, for example: we are a long, long way from that.

Science explains why, it does not explain what something is. Consider lightening, science will not tell you what lightening is, it will explain how lightening is generated from electricity. Science always explains one thing in relation to others, it never gives an absolute definition.

So science is not going to define red in terms of red but is going to show how that perception comes about e.g. light frequency, electrical signals, brain activity.

If we explain lightening in terms of electricity then a lot of people accept it as science understanding ligtening. But science is not describing lightening in terms of lightening it is using relative terms. If we chase the definitions all the way down then science does not have the answers - we end up with untestable theories about simulations, multi-verses etc.

The concept of emergence has helped me get more comfortable with this. Basically interactions can result in properties emerging that would not otherwise be predicted by looking at things in isolation. 

So rather than trying to explain red in reductionist ways e.g. correlating it with brain activity, we could consider red to be an emergent property of brains.

As I understand it science relies on emergence when reductionist explanations fail. For example we have physics and chemistry as separate disciplines not only because chemistry is really complicated physics but because physics cannot predict what will happen in chemistry. Many properties observed in chemistry are emergent. Once there is enough interraction going on in chemistry we need biology to deal with the emergent properties and so on.

So for example hydrogen and oxygen each studied independently would not predict water. Hydrogen and oxygen atoms also seem a very poor description of what water is. But it is largely accepted. Likewise I suspect we'll eventually accept brain activity as an explanation for how qualia like red occur. If that becomes widely accepted then science will take the credit for explaining why color happens and the general public will believe science knows what red is.

"Show me the precise biology of how I composed this email, for example: we are a long, long way from that." You could apply that to ANY finding of science and it will fail because the description can't be grounded. For obvious reasons people don't want science to explain consciousness, likewise they did not want it to explain evolution or earth oribiting around the sun. I think we are setting the bar a lot higher for explaining consciousness than we accept for many other "scientific facts".

As I understand it there is no good explanation for what gravity is or even how it works. Newton killed the dream of a purely materialistic explanation of nature. Yet most people including scientists have become comfortable with gravity as being understood - because we can accurately predict things. I guess we will eventually get comnfortable with quantum theory and explanations of consciousness. There was absolute outrage at Newton's theory in his day and gravity still remains a mystery.

Today's post-materialists seem a few hundred years late. An issue in the teaching of history more than in science.

I'm all for getting comfortable with don't know!

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 6:31 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
My, brother, knows, Karl Marx,
He met him eating mushrooms in the peoples park,
He said 'What do you think about my manifesto?'
'I like a manifesto, put it to the test-o.'

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 7:42 AM as a reply to Mark.
Science explains why, it does not explain what something is. Consider lightening, science will not tell you what lightening is, it will explain how lightening is generated from electricity. Science always explains one thing in relation to others, it never gives an absolute definition.

I'm curious - are you saying that science does not explain the experience of lightning? Or are you saying science never actually defines anything at all and that science only explains how things get to be what they are by referencing other things?

TIA

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 12:35 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
sawfoot _:
Thanks John.

He seems to make two arguments. One is that the world we experience is a species-specific user interface not a window of objective reality. I agree with this, which is why the claims of Buddhists/Vipassanists that they can experience "reality as it really is" is misguided, but it isn't anything novel (e.g. have a look at any undergraduate textbook on perception and sensation). The second argument is rebadged idealism with a bunch of quantum inspired mathematics. I don't understand it but it is still idealism and suffers of all the problems of idealism.

On the contrary: "reality as it really is" (which, btw, is a mistranslation*) actually does refer precisely to what's going on on the "species-specific user interface" (which is a very apt term, thanks for that). This is 'ultimate reality' (in both the Abdhidhamma and phenomenological sense). Awakening to that involves realizing that it's the case, and learning to discern how the interface is conditioned and functions, shapes what appears, and how to train it in other directions.

(I thought you were to supposed to have some understanding of these things?)

* yathābhūtaṃ -- alternative might be something like "just as it has become" or, even better, considering 'it' as pure 'sensation' or phenomena, "according to how it has manifested".
yathā -- adv. as; like; in relation to; according to; in whatever way; just as.
bhūta
-- pp. of bhavati - become; existed.


Thanks Chris. I realised afterwards that was clumsy wording - "objective reality" in my post wasn't quite right. I think your presentation is one of many possible within Buddhism (e.g. there are lots of different Buddhist schools which take a stance with a different position on this). But with your take on it - So the species specific interface is an interface to a phenomenological "ultimate reality" (or the interface is "ultimate reality"). But (IMHO) its misguided that it is a subjective enterprise - the understanding of the interface, its conditions and shapes and so on (catalogued in the Abhidhamma) is irrevocably shaped on the tools and assumptions used. But that’s a somewhat different point to that in my original post.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/15/15 1:17 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hi Chris,

These are views that I don't often express so lack of clarity assured. It is more your second point - that science does not deal in absolutes. There is no grounding in science, mathematics and logic can't be grounded (as I understand Gödel's incompleteness theorems). 

The view is partly based on the idea that human's ability to understand the universe is limited (well presented by Chomsky). I think evolution provides a strong bias to that conclusion. As we can appreciate more complex concepts than monkeys so it should be possible for more advanced brains than human brains to make further leaps in ability.

So the challenge of science is not one of understanding reality but understanding the limits of human potential. Of course there could still be a lot more accessible to discovery! Along the same lines I would say that language (including mathematics) is more limited than the human mind so we can probably expect to always having doubts that science has it all covered. It seems reasonable to me that there would be concepts that our brains are just not going to be able to model. A bit like a monkey trying to understand the internet.

Your term of "how things get to be what they are" seems close to what I mean. But I buy into this idea of emergence which means that science does not and cannot explain things completely through reduction. I suspect it is a popular myth amongst lay people that science has a much more solid explanation that it actually does.

I do think science has relative truths and given that we lead relative lives this is relatively useful. I suspect our education systems repress don't know mind into the shadow so people want absolute answers.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 3:19 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
So rather than trying to explain red in reductionist ways e.g. correlating it with brain activity, we could consider red to be an emergent property of brains.

This is one class of explanation for handling qualia, and popular with some philosophers. 

As I understand it science relies on emergence when reductionist explanations fail. For example we have physics and chemistry as separate disciplines not only because chemistry is really complicated physics but because physics cannot predict what will happen in chemistry. Many properties observed in chemistry are emergent. Once there is enough interraction going on in chemistry we need biology to deal with the emergent properties and so on.

So for example hydrogen and oxygen each studied independently would not predict water. Hydrogen and oxygen atoms also seem a very poor description of what water is. But it is largely accepted. Likewise I suspect we'll eventually accept brain activity as an explanation for how qualia like red occur.

See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision

Unless you believe in spirits and souls, then there isn't really any other game in town. But there is a way to go, given, for example, that over 70% of Americans say they believe in God. 

But there is a difference between answering how and why questions. My suspicion is that the question of why does it feel like something being a brain is similar to a questions about the universe such as "why is there something rather than nothing". i.e. a question we can never answer. But, as you say, people like to deal in absolutes, and many aren't satisfied with this. Which is why a lot of people to turn to God (though that doesn't explain anything either). 

If that becomes widely accepted then science will take the credit for explaining why color happens and the general public will believe science knows what red is.

Many philosophers believe there is always going to be a discord between 1st person and 3rd person accounts of "what red is", so perhaps that will never happen (see how vs. why). 


As I understand it there is no good explanation for what gravity is or even how it works.

I would say this is incorrect (though I am not a physicist). I object because its often used by woosteirs, e.g. "we have no idea what gravity is/works, ergo, woo", in the way same way as "we have no idea how the brain works, ergo, woo". 

See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_gravity

The problem is that we have a good field theory of gravity but the field is very very weak, which makes it very difficult to empricially verify theories that explain what is underlying the field (e.g. the existence of gravitons).

Newton killed the dream of a purely materialistic explanation of nature. Yet most people including scientists have become comfortable with gravity as being understood - because we can accurately predict things. I guess we will eventually get comnfortable with quantum theory and explanations of consciousness.

I don't think this will ever happen, because they are counter to our common sense experience of the world/mind and the conceptual framework and language we have for experiencing it. But you make a similar point in your response to Chris. 


There was absolute outrage at Newton's theory in his day and gravity still remains a mystery.

Not mystery exactly (see above) - more an incomplete theory where there are some empirical phenomena that it struggles to account fo

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 5:31 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Mark:
So rather than trying to explain red in reductionist ways e.g. correlating it with brain activity, we could consider red to be an emergent property of brains.

This is one class of explanation for handling qualia, and popular with some philosophers. 



It seems a useful concept for how science could deal with qualia. But there is also questions about "artificial qualia" that pop up. What are the necessary conditions to have qualia emerge and there is no real insight into that yet (so it seems). I guess we'll eventually have enough of an understanding of the brain to try and reproduce similar functionality in other substrates e.g. silicon and that might give answers.



As I understand it science relies on emergence when reductionist explanations fail. For example we have physics and chemistry as separate disciplines not only because chemistry is really complicated physics but because physics cannot predict what will happen in chemistry. Many properties observed in chemistry are emergent. Once there is enough interraction going on in chemistry we need biology to deal with the emergent properties and so on.

So for example hydrogen and oxygen each studied independently would not predict water. Hydrogen and oxygen atoms also seem a very poor description of what water is. But it is largely accepted. Likewise I suspect we'll eventually accept brain activity as an explanation for how qualia like red occur.

See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision

Unless you believe in spirits and souls, then there isn't really any other game in town. But there is a way to go, given, for example, that over 70% of Americans say they believe in God. 



I'm not sure you need to go to spirits and souls. Some people would like there to be a "consciousness" property to all matter. I'm not sure there is any testable hypothesis for this but it is a popular view e.g. Ken Wilber. So it takes what I consider to be an emergent property and tries to push it all the way down to a fundamental property like maybe strings in quantum theory. This does not seem to fit with how other things behave under reductionist analysis e.g. solid objects end up being atoms which is a long way for what a solid object appears to be. That is one reason I don't buy the consciousness all the way down line. But it is an alternative that does not need spirits and souls.




But there is a difference between answering how and why questions. My suspicion is that the question of why does it feel like something being a brain is similar to a questions about the universe such as "why is there something rather than nothing". i.e. a question we can never answer. But, as you say, people like to deal in absolutes, and many aren't satisfied with this. Which is why a lot of people to turn to God (though that doesn't explain anything either). 

If that becomes widely accepted then science will take the credit for explaining why color happens and the general public will believe science knows what red is.

Many philosophers believe there is always going to be a discord between 1st person and 3rd person accounts of "what red is", so perhaps that will never happen (see how vs. why). 



The point I'm trying to make (poorly) is that "what anything is" is not something science answers - it can reduce things until it runs out of useful theories. It can identify relationships between things. But it does not give absolutes so if you want an absolute "what red is" you should also be asking science for an absolute "what are atoms" and then don't accept any answer that explains atoms in terms of things that are not atoms. Explaining atoms in terms of quarks does not seem any more bizarre to me that explaining red in terms of brain activity. Why quarks would give rise to atoms is as much as mystery - the answer from science is "it is like that" well the answer for red could simply be the same. That science does not answer all our questions seems obvious and I'm not sure if any scientist would argue that science does, will or could answer them all.



As I understand it there is no good explanation for what gravity is or even how it works.

I would say this is incorrect (though I am not a physicist). I object because its often used by woosteirs, e.g. "we have no idea what gravity is/works, ergo, woo", in the way same way as "we have no idea how the brain works, ergo, woo". 

See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_gravity

The problem is that we have a good field theory of gravity but the field is very very weak, which makes it very difficult to empricially verify theories that explain what is underlying the field (e.g. the existence of gravitons).



This is perhaps the part of the conversation most worthy of exploration. I basically stated that the general public has been fooled into believing that we understand gravity. You pretty much are defending the view that we do have a good explanation of gravity. Perhaps we can get to a solid answer on this.

I'm pretty much taking the view I heard from Chomsky on this. I didn't go into great depth verifying his sources. Mainly because I have a lot of faith in what Chomsky says but let's install some doubt.

Following my theory Wikipedia would be expected to give the impression of gravity being well understood. So I'll need to look to other sources.

I'll quote part of an interview with Chomsky in the hope it might be more credible to you than me defending this view http://www.chomsky.info/debates/20060301.htm :


In fact, if you look at the history of science seriously, in the seventeenth century there was a major challenge to the existing scientific approach. I mean, it was assumed by Galileo and Descartes and classical scientists that the world would be intelligible to us, that all we had to do was think about it and it would be intelligible.

Newton disproved them. He showed that the world is not intelligible to us. Newton demonstrated that there are no machines, that there’s nothing mechanical in the sense in which it was assumed that the world was mechanical. He didn’t believe it — in fact he felt his work was an absurdity — but he proved it, and he spent the rest of his life trying to disprove it. And other scientists did later on. I mean, it’s often said that Newton got rid of the ghost in the machine, but it’s quite the opposite. Newton exorcised the machine. He left the ghost.

And by the time that sank in, which was quite some time, it just changed the conception of science. Instead of trying to show that the world is intelligible to us, we recognized that it’s not intelligible to us. But we just say, ‘Well, you know, unfortunately that’s the way it works. I can’t understand it but that’s the way it works.’ And then the aim of science is reduced from trying to show that the world is intelligible to us, which it is not, to trying to show that there are theories of the world which are intelligible to us. That’s what science is: It’s the study of intelligible theories which give an explanation of some aspect of reality.

I find Chomsky pretty compelling but the above is not proof of the claim "he left the ghost"

I think the question regarding gravity is "how does it interact at a distance". There is some theories about that but as you point out the theories are "incomplete". 

If you have an incomplete theory that does not explain observations (the wiki article you linked to points out 7 "Anomalies and discrepancies") then this is more likely a major issue. In general, theories do not tend to slowly get better at explaining things - there tends to be major jumps in understanding. For example newtonian physics, relativity, quantum physics. 

I'm guessing you would agree that quantum physics is not well understood. In a wiki article you linked to "However, this approach fails at short distances of the order of the Planck length,[18] where a more complete theory of quantum gravity (or a new approach to quantum mechanics) is required."

I don't know if you are going to get a clearer statement that the current theories are wrong. It is phrased nicely "a more complete theory" and I guess you could argue that relativity is just a more complete theory of newtonian physics. But I would argue relativity was a revolution not an incremental improvement - it points to fundamental misunderstandings in newtonian physics. I strongly suspect that if someone can create a theory explaining gravity in relation to relativity and quantum theory it will lead to a major revolution.



Newton killed the dream of a purely materialistic explanation of nature. Yet most people including scientists have become comfortable with gravity as being understood - because we can accurately predict things. I guess we will eventually get comnfortable with quantum theory and explanations of consciousness.

I don't think this will ever happen, because they are counter to our common sense experience of the world/mind and the conceptual framework and language we have for experiencing it. But you make a similar point in your response to Chris. 



There is a risk of getting personal here but I think you will shrug it off emoticon If we accept that Chomsky is correct about gravity being perceived as a absurdity for quite some time then let's consider how you perceive it now. You basically are very comfortable with it. But even the wiki tells us we don't have a coherent explanation for it - that makes it a mystery. But because you and I grew up in an environment where gravity has been accepted we can't see it as a absurdity. In reality the spooky action of gravity at a distance is just as weird as quantum physics - in fact you could argue that it is weirder because it also points out that quantum physics is "incomplete".

So something like gravity that is counter-intuitive and not at all common sense is now considered to be common sense knowledge. Why in several generations could the same not happen for quantum physics and consciousness ? Evolution and earth going around the sun etc were absurdities in their day. I think you might be underestimating how socially conditioned our "reality" is.



There was absolute outrage at Newton's theory in his day and gravity still remains a mystery.

Not mystery exactly (see above) - more an incomplete theory where there are some empirical phenomena that it struggles to account fo

This is quite an interesting interpretation. The idea in science is for theories to be testable i.e. they can be right or wrong. When they are wrong, even in a single situation, then the theory is no longer valid and a new theory is needed. This is not comfortable (the don't know mind) so it seems there is a new category of "incomplete theories" which I hear as "let's pretend we know what we are doing while we try to figure out what is actually going on". I think we could see through this for what it is. 

Here is a theory - the biggest resistance to science is when science displaces humans from the center of the universe. Over time we've gone from believing gods created us "as is" with the earth at the center of it all, to the earth going around the sun and there being a great many more suns, to evolution telling us we are a slightly (very slightly) more complex monkey, and now science is trying to tell us that consciousness is not a fundamental relationship with the universe but a very complicated simulation. I can sympathize with the the outrage and I can't help but see the relationship between the outrage for scientific explanations of consciousness for yogis and the outrage over evolution for creationists. But if we take a step back and look at what science is really capable of we can be comforted that there is and always will be plenty of room for mystery.

I suspect we'd all be a lot better off if "don't know" was part of what was taught in schools. So science would less often end up being treated like a religion.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 8:44 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Mark:
So rather than
trying to explain red in reductionist ways e.g. correlating it with
brain activity, we could consider red to be an emergent property of
brains.

This is one class of explanation for handling qualia, and popular with some philosophers. 



It seems a useful concept for how science could deal with qualia. But
there is also questions about "artificial qualia" that pop up. What are
the necessary conditions to have qualia emerge and there is no real
insight into that yet (so it seems). I guess we'll eventually have
enough of an understanding of the brain to try and reproduce similar
functionality in other substrates e.g. silicon and that might give
answers.
I think you both miss that the brain as we see it is a qualia too. As is any postulation of matter that gives rise to it. All you will ever have is qualia giving rise to qualia. So... emergent property of what brain - the one you see in the operating room (qualia), or the one you postulate on a chalk board (also qualia) ?

As soon as you postulate that there is a matter causing consciousness you're fucked if you want it to be a scientific idea because you will never see it, it only works as a philosophical game.

Not to worry, you can still get paid for promoting that view so the idea fulfills it's evolutionary function.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 11:08 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Rupert Sheldrake and Michael Shermer Dialogue

Practice tie-in: save time for practice by reading these dialogues instead of rehashing them ad nauseam on forums

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 11:24 AM as a reply to Stick Man.
John:
Mark:
So rather than
trying to explain red in reductionist ways e.g. correlating it with
brain activity, we could consider red to be an emergent property of
brains.

This is one class of explanation for handling qualia, and popular with some philosophers. 



It seems a useful concept for how science could deal with qualia. But
there is also questions about "artificial qualia" that pop up. What are
the necessary conditions to have qualia emerge and there is no real
insight into that yet (so it seems). I guess we'll eventually have
enough of an understanding of the brain to try and reproduce similar
functionality in other substrates e.g. silicon and that might give
answers.
I think you both miss that the brain as we see it is a qualia too. As is any postulation of matter that gives rise to it. All you will ever have is qualia giving rise to qualia. So... emergent property of what brain - the one you see in the operating room (qualia), or the one you postulate on a chalk board (also qualia) ?

As soon as you postulate that there is a matter causing consciousness you're fucked if you want it to be a scientific idea because you will never see it, it only works as a philosophical game.

Not to worry, you can still get paid for promoting that view so the idea fulfills it's evolutionary function.

Hi John,

It is a subtle point but emergence is not the same as matter causing consciousness. That is a little like saying tires cause traffic jams. Traffic jams are an emergent property of having lots of cars. It is more about the process than a mechanical view. 

To some extent your argument that everything is qualia makes sense to me. Everything we will ever experience is qualia. I also like the idea that consciousness itself is just another qualia.

Where your argument fails for me is regarding the independent confirmation of qualia. You may have qualia of angels singing over my head. But if you are the only perosn who sees them I will not be taking those qualia very seriously. However if my qualia and your qualia confirm there is a shark in the water I will not be going swimming. 

Because science can't be grounded and can't give absolute answers it disappoints some people. Science is not claiming to be able to explain everything - see the quote from Chomsky  - science gave up on that a long time ago. Science does provide a huge amount of relative truths and those are very useful. 

Another way to look at it is that you are running a simulation of a map. The map is not reality but it is related to reality and it is what we have. Better to use the map rather than not use the map. Science is continually improving the map. Accepting "don't know" as an answer to "what is reality" make the pill easier to swallow! It is basically a poorly formed question because reality can't be defined so to ask "what is it" is meaningless. 

I don't think you will find scientists who make an argument for matter causing consciousness. Firstly scientists can't define matter. Secondly they can't define consciousness. So it would be a very brilliant scientist who could come up with a testable hypothesis. There is a sort of "straw man" presented in the document that started this thread. But my impression of scientists is much closer to people who are aware of limitations in science. It is people who don't work in science who make the sorts of claims that you are critical of. 

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 5:13 PM as a reply to Mark.
To Mark,

We are in agreement on a lot of stuff.

And yes, I think artificial qualia is perhaps where we might make a lot of conceptual and empirical progress in understanding consciousness.

Yes I would defend we have a good understanding of gravity.

I think the idea is not that theories are right or wrong, Well, some philosophers of science would say we can't prove a theory, though we can falsify it.

So I don't think incomplete is a polite way of saying wrong.

We can never know reality as it "truly is" - we can just have better descriptions and models of it. So we can have a theory, and know that its incomplete.If it’s a good theory, then it accounts the evidence well, and makes predictions that can be tested. Newtonian gravity was a really good theory, but general relativity was a better one, as it could account for phenomena that the old theory couldn't (and made some nice predictions). And we don't understand how gravity works at the planck level. But levels above that, we do. And since there are still phenomena that we don't currently have a good explanation for, people are still striving for a better (more complete) theory. As I understand it, there are some good theories of quantum gravity that explain how it works at very small scale, but we lack the means of testing them.

Thanks for the quote from Chomsky - I didn't understand your initial reference to machines before.

So yes, I would say that quantum physics is well understood. As is gravity. Of course, this depends on what you mean by understood.

On these points, see the case Sean Carroll makes, which runs counter to a few of your points (e.g. a new theory of gravity will lead to a major revolution - though it depends on the scope of what you mean). Also Droll, this is partly a response to you.

http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/23/the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-are-completely-understood/

(and see the following posts linked in this, the quote below is the last one).
If you were to ask a contemporary scientist why a table is solid, they would give you an explanation that comes down to the properties of the molecules of which it is made, which in turn reflect a combination of the size of the atoms as determined by quantum mechanics, and the electrostatic interaction between those atoms. If you were to ask why the Sun shines, you would get a story in terms of protons and neutrons fusing and releasing energy. If you were to ask what happens when a person flexes a muscle, you would hear about signals sent through nerves by the transmission of ions across electromagnetic potentials and various chemical interactions.
And so on with innumerable other questions about how everyday phenomena work. In every single case, the basic underlying story (if that happens to be what you’re interested in, and again there are plenty of other interesting things out there) would involve the particles of the Standard Model, interacting through electromagnetism, gravity, and the nuclear forces, according to the principles of quantum mechanics and general relativity.

One hundred years ago, you would not have heard that story, because it hadn’t yet been put together.
But — here’s the important part — one thousand years from now, you will still hear precisely that same story.
There might be new layers underneath, but it won’t be necessary to refer to them to give a sufficient answer to the original question. There will certainly be much greater understanding of the collective behavior of these underlying particles and forces, which is where most of the great work in modern science is being done. And hopefully there will be a deeper story about why we have the laws we do, how gravity and quantum mechanics play together, how best to interpret quantum mechanics, and so on.

What there won’t be is some dramatic paradigm shift that says “Oops, sorry about those electrons and protons and neutrons, we found that they don’t really exist. Now it’s zylbots all the way down.” Nor will we have discovered new fundamental particles and forces that are crucial to telling the story of everyday phenomena. If those existed, we would have found them by now. The view of electrons and protons and neutrons interacting through the Standard Model and gravity will stay with us forever — added to and better understood, but never replaced or drastically modified.

Re: Common sense

I would say our experience of gravity is part of our common-sense understanding of the world. Are mathematical theory of it isn't. Our experience of magnetism also isn't (e.g. magnets, how they fuck do they work).

So I think you may be using "common sense" in a different way to how I would use it.

Here is an article about why we are natural born dualists (sorry Droll for putting words in your mouth about this) - and somebody else asked about this:

https://edge.org/conversation/natural-born-dualists

It is very interesting and the replies are worth reading too. I think it helps to explain the appeal of the soul for the post-materialists and why they reject a modern understanding of the mind/brain, along with the point you raise in that we like to think we are centre of the universe. I also see this in elements of pragmatic dharma - which partly seems a revolt against the manifest image of man brought by science e.g. thinking you can access "ultimate reality" and mold it to your wishes.

EDIT: practice tie in - save time for practice by not reading anything and spend that time meditating

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 9:31 PM as a reply to Mark.
Where your argument fails for me is regarding the independent confirmation of qualia.
Fair enough. Big problem for science too.
Another way to look at it is that you are running a simulation of a map.

I'm less and less inclined to think that there is anything but map.
I don't think you will find scientists who make an argument for matter causing consciousness.
I wouldn't let you take my money to a betting shop.
Firstly scientists can't define matter.
Well somebody is going round defining** it....

https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/matter
[mass noun]Physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy:the structure and properties of matter

** I suppose what you mean is they can't explain it. Indeed many scientists seem to have trouble with that. Some of them are idealists who think consciousness is primary and includes everything we call matter - which solves that quandary in short order.

I'm also less and less interested in scientists and philosophers who have never really tried to alter their consciousness.
Frequently they claim such things are of no importance because it's all "hallucination" or some such. Doesn't stop them wank fantasizing themselves to sleep every night, does it - if the value of hallucinations is the issue ? Eh ?

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 8:05 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel:
There are no sounds. When you hear a sound, that is an illusion. There are oscillating pressure gradients in the air, in bone, in skin, in tissues. These have no actual tone, no sound. There is no material equivalent of sound, just materials oscillating. Thus, if you hear sound, you hear something that is illusory from a materialist point of view.

Jenny, quoting George Berkeley, the great philosopher:

When a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, is there a sound?
When you touch a flame and feel pain, is the pain in the flame?
No.
When you touch a flame and feel heat, is the heat in the flame?
No.

Berkekey's famous work on immaterialism: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4724?msg=welcome_stranger

Daniel:
If you die in your sleep and didn't notice it, are you still dead?
Ontologically and epistimologically speaking, no.

Jenny 
If there are always one of Six Doors through which fruitions are entered, but only Daniel and Claudiu ever see them, can Daniel nonetheless simply slap down the unbracketed word always to posit the irrecoverable yet somehow objective reality of the Six Doors for us all?

And at least mine is a practice-related question (and a serious one).

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 9:35 PM as a reply to Mark.
"The concept of emergence has helped me get more comfortable with this. Basically interactions can result in properties emerging that would not otherwise be predicted by looking at things in isolation. "

In case I missed it, it may be important to clarify which definition of emergence you are referring to. I'm posting this simply because emergence is a very fun idea in and of itself, but I formally declare not to participate in the broader thread for time limit reasons.

There are usually two definitions of emergence: weak and strong. As I understand it, weak emergence is computable. That is, for weak emergence, emergent properties born out of complex systems, say, a clock is a system that computes time. The clock is an emergent property of its underlying mechanisms. However, it is a computable machine and is directly reducible to its component parts. Weak emergence implies reductionism. Emergence is a form of abstraction of complexity in service of informational tractability. Its easier to reason in the language of chemistry or biology than the language of physics. (Or at least, that's how I've come to understand it, could be dreadfully wrong, so don't take my word too seriously.)

Strong emergence implies the notion that the system (the whole) can have downwards causality to the constituent parts. The whole can affect the parts. In weak emergence, if one theoretically can understand the underlying parts one can effectively understand the whole system with enough computational power. However, in the strong emergence case, the whole can causally effect different parts of the system, so you have a sort of non-linear causality going on.

From the wikipedia:

Usage of the notion "emergence" may generally be subdivided into two perspectives, that of "weak emergence" and "strong emergence". In terms of physical systems, weak emergence is a type of emergence in which the emergent property is amenable to computer simulation. This is opposed to the older notion of strong emergence, in which the emergent property cannot be simulated by a computer.
Some common points between the two notions are that emergence concerns new properties produced as the system grows, which is to say ones which are not shared with its components or prior states. Also, it is assumed that the properties are supervenient rather than metaphysically primitive (Bedau 1997).

Weak emergence describes new properties arising in systems as a result of the interactions at an elemental level. However, it is stipulated that the properties can be determined by observing or simulating the system, and not by any process of a priori analysis.

Bedau notes that weak emergence is not a universal metaphysical solvent, as weak emergence leads to the conclusion that matter itself contains elements of awareness to it. However, Bedau concludes that adopting this view would provide a precise notion that emergence is involved in consciousness, and second, the notion of weak emergence is metaphysically benign (Bedau 1997).

Strong emergence describes the direct causal action of a high-level system upon its components; qualities produced this way are irreducible to the system's constituent parts (Laughlin 2005). The whole is other than the sum of its parts. It follows that no simulation of the system can exist, for such a simulation would itself constitute a reduction of the system to its constituent parts (Bedau 1997).

However, "the debate about whether or not the whole can be predicted from the properties of the parts misses the point. Wholes produce unique combined effects, but many of these effects may be co-determined by the context and the interactions between the whole and its environment(s)" (Corning 2002). In accordance with his Synergism Hypothesis (Corning 1983 2005), Corning also stated, "It is the synergistic effects produced by wholes that are the very cause of the evolution of complexity in nature." Novelist Arthur Koestler used the metaphor of Janus (a symbol of the unity underlying complements like open/shut, peace/war) to illustrate how the two perspectives (strong vs. weak or holistic vs. reductionistic) should be treated as non-exclusive, and should work together to address the issues of emergence (Koestler 1969).

Further,
The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe. The constructionist hypothesis breaks down when confronted with the twin difficulties of scale and complexity. At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear. Psychology is not applied biology, nor is biology applied chemistry. We can now see that the whole becomes not merely more, but very different from the sum of its parts. (Anderson 1972)

The plausibility of strong emergence is questioned by some as contravening our usual understanding of physics. Mark A. Bedau observes:
Although strong emergence is logically possible, it is uncomfortably like magic. How does an irreducible but supervenient downward causal power arise, since by definition it cannot be due to the aggregation of the micro-level potentialities? Such causal powers would be quite unlike anything within our scientific ken. This not only indicates how they will discomfort reasonable forms of materialism. Their mysteriousness will only heighten the traditional worry that emergence entails illegitimately getting something from nothing.[9]

Meanwhile, others have worked towards developing analytical evidence of strong emergence. In 2009, Gu et al. presented a class of physical systems that exhibits non-computable macroscopic properties.[10][11] More precisely, if one could compute certain macroscopic properties of these systems from the microscopic description of these systems, they one would be able to solve computational problems known to be undecidable in computer science. They concluded that

Although macroscopic concepts are essential for understanding our world, much of fundamental physics has been devoted to the search for a `theory of everything', a set of equations that perfectly describe the behavior of all fundamental particles. The view that this is the goal of science rests in part on the rationale that such a theory would allow us to derive the behavior of all macroscopic concepts, at least in principle. The evidence we have presented suggests that this view may be overly optimistic. A `theory of everything' is one of many components necessary for complete understanding of the universe, but is not necessarily the only one. The development of macroscopic laws from first principles may involve more than just systematic logic, and could require conjectures suggested by experiments, simulations or insight.[10]
Emergent structures are patterns that emerge via collective actions of many individual entities. To explain such patterns, one might conclude, per Aristotle,[2] that emergent structures are other than the sum of their parts on the assumption that the emergent order will not arise if the various parts simply interact independently of one another. However, there are those who disagree.[12] According to this argument, the interaction of each part with its immediate surroundings causes a complex chain of processes that can lead to order in some form. In fact, some systems in nature are observed to exhibit emergence based upon the interactions of autonomous parts, and some others exhibit emergence that at least at present cannot be reduced in this way."

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 10:26 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Is there a tl;dr version of this thread? emoticon

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 11:02 PM as a reply to Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer.
Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer:
Is there a tl;dr version of this thread? emoticon

There can't be two supreme arbiters of peace and concord.

I'd better go.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/16/15 11:07 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
Don't worry we're the same person.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/17/15 12:27 AM as a reply to Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer.
tldr: some scientists feel more empirical research is needed for things like: http://www.richardwiseman.com/resources/staring1.pdf and http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2423692 Most scientists don't. Rest of topic goes into history and philosophy of science, something something philosophical zombies something something qualia something something tldr.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/17/15 1:13 AM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
Reafirms my suspicion that emergence is a desperation word thrown in to perpetuate philosopher's careers. Someone's got to feed them, it's not like they're capable of earning a living any other way, though I think some of them may be able to do low grade clerical work if given time and patience.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/17/15 1:41 AM as a reply to Mark.
...and while you're struggling with consciousness emerging from matter - let's throw in some "mater"ial that confuses exactly which matter we should be talking about.
"On the first day while I was in that state and more conscious of the things around me, I had the first most extraordinary experience. There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; they very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I almost could feel and think like the roadmender, and I could feel the wind passing through the tree, and the little ant on the blade of grass I could feel. The birds, the dust, and the very noise were a part of me. Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tyres; as the car went further away from me, I was going away from myself. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things. All day long I remained in this happy condition."
http://www.bodysoulandspirit.net/mystical_experiences/read/notables/krishnamurti.shtml

...being a part of everything definitely doesn't accord with the basic axiom of a live conscious scientist in a mechanistic universe of unconscious matter.

..sooo.... was the car, the mountain and the road mender's axe involved in the production of Krishnamurti's consciousness, or just his neural tissues - seeing as the car, mountains and axe were part of him ?

Is consciousness an emergent property only of neurons, or of the perceived objects too ?

And BTW where does that fit on the Theravada/DO map ?
I think by Daniel's definition that's an A&P and not even half way up the scale.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/17/15 2:08 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
To Mark,

We are in agreement on a lot of stuff.


Even about being in agreement on a lot of stuff.


Well, some philosophers of science would say we can't prove a theory, though we can falsify it.



That resonates for me.



So I don't think incomplete is a polite way of saying wrong.



Different definition of the words incomplete and wrong I guess. Maybe we could say a theory is wrong when is makes false predictions. So for example Newtonian physics is right within certain bounds. A theory could be incomplete when it lacks explanatory power i.e. it is unable to make predictions.



And we don't understand how gravity works at the planck level. But levels above that, we do.



This is perhaps the central point. To explain "how gravity works" science uses terms that are defined through reductionism. At the bottom of that stack there is no widely accepted explanation. Above the planck level we can make accurate predictions, we don't know how gravity works at those levels (because the explanation is going to again make reference to terms that eventually aren't agreed on). It is the leap from "being able to predict" to "understanding how it works" that I have an issue with. It seems very misleading and I think leads to science as a religion, the layperson can easily imagine science understands much more than it really does.

Most people who have deeply studied any area will accept that they are now aware of many more questions they can't answer than they were at the beginning. On one hand they have a deeper knowledge but on the other they also have deeper questions and doubts.



So yes, I would say that quantum physics is well understood. As is gravity. Of course, this depends on what you mean by understood.



Right. I agree we have some impressive predictive power but if you look at the wide range of interpretations in quantum theory and the lack of consensus amongst experts I can't imagine how you draw the conclusion it is well understood. The experts themselves don't seem to be claiming that. Perhaps we could say there are many solid relative truths but we can't ground them.



On these points, see the case Sean Carroll makes, which runs counter to a few of your points (e.g. a new theory of gravity will lead to a major revolution - though it depends on the scope of what you mean).



Results of new theories could have the impact of for example nuclear energy. The world would be extremely different if we never had nuclear weapons. I like one of the quotse in the comments "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Lord Kelvin, 1900. There is a very long list of people underestimating how strange the future is. I don't think anyone making claims of a predictable future has an appreciation of history. One point Carroll is missing is that technology exploits things at very different scales making them applicable to the human scale. So for example relativity theory is mainly concerned with conditions that our natural senses never experience yet with nuclear weapons we have plenty of people who have experienced a direct result. It seems more likely to me that new theories will fundamentally change the human condition rather than not - this is radical enough for me.

Consider CERN and the experiments they were running - this is perhaps one of the most impressive projects in the history of humanity. CERN exists because people doubted what Carroll claims. I agree the Standard Model is very impressive and has huge predictive power but it seems naive to imagine we will not learn to exploit things that are not yet discovered.


Re: Common sense

I would say our experience of gravity is part of our common-sense understanding of the world. Are mathematical theory of it isn't. Our experience of magnetism also isn't (e.g. magnets, how they fuck do they work).


Not sure I follow. Gravity is weirder than magnets - at least with magnets I can manipulate them and see interactions e.g. particles of iron showing the magnetic field. Gravity is action at a distance and you need to understand the theory of relativity to get even a basic model of understanding but that still does not explain why it is the way it is.



So I think you may be using "common sense" in a different way to how I would use it.


Not sure, I think you are assuming that because you experience gravity you understand it. Gravity is not seen as weird because you've been told it is not weird. Not because you can prove it is not weird.



Here is an article about why we are natural born dualists (sorry Droll for putting words in your mouth about this) - and somebody else asked about this:

https://edge.org/conversation/natural-born-dualists

It is very interesting and the replies are worth reading too. I think it helps to explain the appeal of the soul for the post-materialists and why they reject a modern understanding of the mind/brain, along with the point you raise in that we like to think we are centre of the universe. I also see this in elements of pragmatic dharma - which partly seems a revolt against the manifest image of man brought by science e.g. thinking you can access "ultimate reality" and mold it to your wishes.



Hmm, my belief that a non-dual experience is possible is what brings me here. I don't buy the ultimate reality line and I suspect that people like Daniel use those terms because they reached a non-dual experience with a naive understanding of what reality could be i.e. that qualia could be reality. So when they reinterpret their experience into words it can seem like hyperbole.

It is sort of a shame because it is a turn off for many people. Claiming "ultimate reality" puts you into a category of nut cases for many. But filtering out those interpretations makes the rest of the story much clearer.



EDIT: practice tie in - save time for practice by not reading anything and spend that time meditating

It was a fascinating exercise trying not to reply to Droll emoticon I feel like it was worth quite some time on the cushion!

In a later post in this thread the term "hard emergence" is what I've been referring to. It is unsettling to many current scientists and I see that in a similar way to how gravity was unsettling in Newton's day. It points to our lack of understanding - I mean if it is true then it is like the elephnat in the room. For example Carroll will need to do quite some back tracking.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/17/15 2:11 AM as a reply to Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer.
Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer:
Don't worry we're the same person.

You know, it's occurred to me that we might be... each in our own way.

Never mind, folks. As you were.

(Glaze on, John)

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/17/15 2:14 AM as a reply to Stick Man.
John:
Where your argument fails for me is regarding the independent confirmation of qualia.
Fair enough. Big problem for science too.
Another way to look at it is that you are running a simulation of a map.

I'm less and less inclined to think that there is anything but map.
I don't think you will find scientists who make an argument for matter causing consciousness.
I wouldn't let you take my money to a betting shop.
Firstly scientists can't define matter.
Well somebody is going round defining** it....

https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/matter
[mass noun]Physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy:the structure and properties of matter

** I suppose what you mean is they can't explain it. Indeed many scientists seem to have trouble with that. Some of them are idealists who think consciousness is primary and includes everything we call matter - which solves that quandary in short order.

I'm also less and less interested in scientists and philosophers who have never really tried to alter their consciousness.
Frequently they claim such things are of no importance because it's all "hallucination" or some such. Doesn't stop them wank fantasizing themselves to sleep every night, does it - if the value of hallucinations is the issue ? Eh ?

Defining matter scientidfically is different from defining the word for use in english communication. A scientific definition pretty much requires a theory of everything. At least it requires a widely accepted interpretation of quantum theory  - which we don't have. For example some claim matter is fundamentally binary information.

RE: A few comments on a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
Answer
6/17/15 2:41 AM as a reply to Mark.
Done.