Re: Randy to Grigor/reason
Oct 24, 1999 07:32 AM
In a message dated 10/24/99 7:41:05 AM Central Daylight Time, WLR7D@aol.com
> Creates peace
> Expresses love, kindness, justice, mercy, forgiveness
Why do you put these things under subjective? Most traditions
say morality or ethics (despite the travesty most traditions have
made of it) is an objective cosmological structure in which we
participate. So, in Buddhism, it is not the ordinary human being
that is the microcosm but the bodhi-seed in him or her. The bodhi
seed is sometimes given another term which translates as conscience.
In Zoroastrianism, the microcosm is den (conscience) as well as
syneidesis is in Orthodox Christianity and conscientia (as the
core skeletonal outline of a complete scientia) is in medieval
western philosophy. Conscience is part of our inside information about
the cosmos in these traditions. The point is that it seems an important part
of our sense of how it hangs altogether is moral or ethical. First,
we make true or false moral statements expressing judgments.
So, since true statements express what is real and some of these
are ethical ones, the ethical seems to be an objective dimension
of the real. Second, we often reject someone's arguments and
worldview (like the NAZIs) on moral grounds. Third, some of the
sense we use to raise questions about different theories or religious
"answers" or to protest them or to reject them because they
don't make sense is because they seem morally absurd or
objectionable. So, maybe our moral sense is part of our
objective truth-finding compass, part of our inner organon like
> Fits the world I perceive
That just you perceive? That seems a bit narrow. So whether
or not I perceived the place of my childhood in the Caucasus is
determined by whether you saw it?
>Fits science that has been proven
Several comments. I would argue that the idea of something "proven"
in science is a misconception of the whole enterprise. Scientists are
not "true believers" in their theories like religious fundamentalists.
We take a provisional, tentative, and even skeptical attitude to them.
Models and theories are themselves provisional. They have some
standing in that they have not yet been disconfirmed in testing. But
that does not make them in part or in whole proven to be true. For
300 years, Newtonian physics had this status. Second, what do you
mean by "fits"? Some take the line that if science hasn't "accepted"
it, it should be rejected. Others take the more generous line that
even if it goes beyond current science, if it does not contradict it
then it can be accepted. And to both these epistemic tactics,
there are exceptions. For example, there are always anomalies
and often new discoveries that conflict with established theories.
When should we stop regarding anomalies as that and begin to
see them as counter-evidence and same with discoveries? The point
is there seems to be a lot to unpack behind that little word
"fit" (three letter words are worse than four letter words).
>Fits experiences I have had or can have
What is the scope of human experience? Most traditions
say our waking state is like being asleep. We can study
the sleep world, build a science of it, explore it, but when we
wake up, we find such to only be part of reality based on
a lower level or inferior quality of experience. So what do you
mean by "can experience"?
> Fits logic
That leaves a lot. Anything that is not contradictory fits.
>Fits evidence that can be marshaled
> Fits intuition or common sense
Peoples intuitions can conflict and common sense
is a suspicious quantity. It appears to be a mixed
bag of widely held social beliefs, practices, prejudices,
and expectations that comes from a variety of sources
of varying epistemic quality which if systematized reveals
a number of these elements of common sense to be
contradictory. For example, a number
of studies in the "physics" of common sense showed
a number of beliefs that were wrong, or based on
a medieval superstition, or out of date physics. The
case I have in mind was people's common sense
about how a household thermostat worked (with
a cross section of people from various walks of
life and degrees of education). And there were
studies of the common sense conceptions
of how economics and money works that were
more myth than true. One striking aspect of
this was the common sense about lotteries and
contests and card games. Common sense seems
almost incapable of not committing the gamblers
fallacy and the laws of large numbers seem to also
be counter-common sensical. That's why Plato
downgraded common sense to the rumors of the
Cave. Its reliability is not its truthfulness but its
collectivity in getting masses to react and respond
the same to social situations. Just like traffic lights,
common sense seems to be a social means of
getting on and getting along smoothly with others.
When I visited south in 1950s, segregation was
common sense. Not knowing or understanding
the situation, I'd have blacks and whites ask me
where my common sense was out of concern for
my safety. So, it seems common sense is
functionally social (common) instinct (sense).
Hardly a well-founded theory.
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