May 02, 2017

Jumping to a non-physical consciousness as the cause is a fallacy

Dear Bruno,

I suppose you mean that numbers and the universe are concomitant. This is akin to the Pythagorian perspective. However, if numbers were human constructions then this would not e the case. So, so we have to have a Platonist concept of numbers with only their representations or symbolization being human constructions? 

Vinod assumes a constructivist view, not only of numbers but also of laws of nature. According to him, if I understood him correctly, laws of physics are human constructions. And their human inventions are caused by consciousness and ultimately by cosmic consciousness. Further, for Vinod, Neither consciousness nor cosmic consciousness is a human construction, rather it is the cause of all constructions. 

Now, what he needs to do is to establish this somehow.. One could go the cosmological argument route as surely the universe existed much before humans came into existence. But how will we land up with cosmic consciousness in a cosmological type argument I do not know.
Priyedarshi
May 2, 2017

Srikanth,

You say "They may wish to accept that certain subjective realities, which while they are intimately and immediately true, are manifestly unprovable and hence have to be accepted by analogy to one's own subjective reality, rather than by the traditional scientific method of objective experimentation."

I am not a scientist but you have prudently and correctly used the word "may" as scientists may reject that there is some privileged subjective reality in what is called the "first person perspective". Many in the standard philosophy of mind debate make a distinction between the first person perspective and the third person perspective and go for the argument by analogy for the existence of other minds. However, Wittgenstein had rejected this, arguing that the criterion for my having a pain and another having a pain is the same, a type of behaviour and not a subjective feeling.
Priyedarshi 
May 2, 2017

Dear Priyedarshi Jetli ji
 Namaskar.

An animal will not bother so much about what is higher knowledge and what is lower knowledge because an animal only wants that much knowledge which is enough to satisfy its immediate biological needs. However, it is only in human society where we can see the systematic inquiry, which goes beyond the bodily plane and thus there are various religions and philosophical approaches that guide different individuals to understand the subtle topics like intelligence, knowledge, reason, consciousness, soul, God, happiness/fulfillment and so on. A human may live a life of an animal by maintaining all his/her attention towards the mere immediate biological needs only. A child who has undergone a developmental process which is completely devoid of behavioral-developmental training will only behave like an animal. However, there is also a possibility that a human being who has received proper training may also develop some systematic inquiries which go much beyond the immediate biological needs. Therefore, to know, what is higher knowledge and what is lower knowledge, one also needs proper training and education.

Your statement “Socrates was not a specialist in anything so he did not have knowledge in anything. There were specialists who claimed to have knowledge in their specializations but upon being interviewed by Socrates they were exposed to not have the knowledge that they claimed to have. This does not mean that Socrates knew more about their specialization than they did. The lesson is one should never be over confident nor dogmatic.” is self contradictory because how can a person who do not know anything can even interview a person. To properly interact with another person one needs to know at least the common language, which Socrates must have learnt from someone else – authority? You have also unintentionally agreed in the above sentence that Socrates had the realization (knowledge) that one should never become over confident nor dogmatic. Humility means accepting the authority. You must have also accepted the guidance of authorities to learn philosophy and the outcome of that humility is that you are now teaching the knowledge of philosophy to your students as an authority (Professor at MU). It will be only a display of hypocrisy to claim something against what one is practicing in his/her own life.

We mostly agree with rest of your arguments “At the time there was a sense, as there is perhaps today as well, that certain people like poets, statesmen, academicians and intellectuals had more knowledge than craftspersons. Socrates is also challenging this view as he interviews famous people not ordinary craftspersons. Plato in his dialogues also uses a lot of examples from crafts to make his points showing his great respect of craftspersons and knowledge by experience and hard work. There are multiple domains of knowledge and I just do not see why and how the knowledge of a carpenter is a lower knowledge than the knowledge of a laboratory scientist. Feels good to say this on May Day.” However, you must also realize that as compared to the learning from the experienced individuals, the learning by one’s own experience is lower form of learning. We do not have to experience ourselves to know that eating of poison will lead to our death. A wise man will humbly accept the knowledge from those who already have that knowledge and it will be prudent to acknowledge this fact by considering that even Plato was one of the prominent disciples (student) of Socrates (authority).       

Thanking you.

Sincerely,
Bhakti Niskama Shanta, Ph.D.                     
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Institute
May 2, 2017

Dear Priyedarshi Jetli ji
 Namaskar.

Every living entity is endowed with certain degree of intelligence and it is not a presumption but is a scientifically confirmed fact (you may read the paper “Bacteria are small but not stupid”). Hence, it is obvious that bees are also intelligent.  As far as comparing the intelligence of nonhuman creatures with human being is concerted, please note that intelligence is a subjective quality of the living entity and there are no standard units (like meter or kilogram) to measure and compare the same. We can only compare it with respect to different point of views. It is an observable fact that as compared to human beings different nonhuman living entities are very expert in fulfilling the immediate biological needs: eating (a pig can eat anything and everything), sleeping (a python can happily sleep for long long time), mating and defending. They do not need any special education and scientific research to perform these tasks and yet our modern education and scientific research works are mostly focused towards fulfilling these immediate biological needs only. Hence, you are correct in that sense that many of nonhuman creatures are more intelligent than human beings. But in another sense we human beings also systematically pursue philosophy, science, religion and so on, which we do not find in nonhuman creatures. So the judgment of the intelligence of different living entities depends on the angle of vision.
May 1, 2017
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Dear Vinod,

This string is getting rather cumbersome and I am getting lost. I just saw that you had written something on Lokayata under the heading of 'ontology'. I think what you have posted there is right on the mark. I had only one comment on this. Yes, it is correct that to jump from inability to know that there is a soul to accepting the non existence of the soul is a fallacy. The same would be the case with the existence of God. But when you talk about the burden of proof, it does not rest on anyone to prove that the soul does not exist or God does not exist but on the believers to prove that the soul exists or God exists. Hence, there have been numerous attempts to prove the existence of the soul and of God, many more in the case of the latter. Plato gave a proof for the existence of the soul in the Phaedo. However, all proofs have some premises that can be questioned. And that is where the debate then turns to. The type of arguments you have been giving for the existence of consciousness or cosmic consciousness basically commit the fallacy of begging the question. That is, you assume the conclusion that there is a consciousness, which is what you are trying to prove. You say something like: there must be a cause for my existence, then you jump to the conclusion that consciousness is the cause of my existence. So, you have begged the question. You have assumed the existence of consciousness, which is what you are trying to prove. What you can argue is to say first there must be a cause of my existence. Then say whatever is the cause of my existence you call 'consciousness' and whatever is the cause of the existence of the universe you call "cosmic consciousness". But first, the assumption that everything must have a cause is questionable as then consciousness and cosmic consciousness would also have to have a cause. And to say everything except these must have a cause will again be a fallacy of begging the question. This is why I suggest a token move rather than a type move in your argument. You begin with an experience like my having a toothache. You can then go on to say that though physical causes can be pinned down as to why I have a toothache, my feeling or experience of a toothache cannot be explained in physical terms. What is the cause of this awareness or feeling. Since nothing physical can be pointed out it must be non-physical and this is what you call consciousness. Well, this debate has been going on in contemporary philosophy of mind for the last half century. Here again we must be careful, as I have been pointing out, that not being able to find a physical cause for any phenomenon does not mean that in principle a physical cause will never be found. Hence, jumping to a non-physical consciousness as the cause is the fallacy of jumping to the conclusion. I hope I have been a bit more logical and used a bit more of reason than in my past emails. Incidentally, inspired by Bruno, I have also used the principle of charity here.

Priyedarshi 
May 2, 2017
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Veda - In the words of Sri Aurobindo
At the root of all that we Hindus have done, thought and said through these many thousands of years, behind all we are and seek to be, there lies concealed, the fount of our philosophies, the bedrock of our religions, the kernel of our thought, the explanation of our ethics and society, the summary of our civilisation, the rivet of our nationality, a small body of speech, Veda.


The Greatness of India and Its Culture (28)
The Age of Darshanas, Smritis and Sutras
“THE VEDA… the spiritual and psychological seed of Indian culture and the Upanishads the expression of the truth of highest spiritual knowledge and experience that has always been the supreme idea of that culture and the ultimate objective to which it directed the life of the individual and the aspiration of the soul of the people: and these two great bodies of sacred writing, its first great efforts of poetic and creative self-expression, coming into being at a time preceding the later strong and ample and afterwards rich and curious intellectual development, are conceived and couched in the language of a purely psychic and spiritual mentality. 
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