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Culture, Shmulture
Posted: 06 August 2011 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Is culture made by us, or are we made by culture?  It’s bizarre to hear arguments from rationalists about culture as if it is some untouchable, mystical phenomenon.  Nothing exists but the physical universe, so it would seem that all human culture is formed from the stuff of the physical universe, what else is there? Essentially, we cannot seperate nature and culture without being intellectually dishonest.  The nature vs nurture debate turns on the same axel; nurture matters enormously, but the ability to be nurtured at all is natural (genetic). I’ve read that in the past, this was an extremely controversial topic in acadaemia, for example,  E O Wilson was attacked by some college students for saying what I just said, and I know that Steven Pinker took flack several years ago for discussing this. The scientific world has accepted it, but it seems the humanities are still weary of it.  Basically the Madonna song is right;  We live in the material world and we are all material girls!!!

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Posted: 06 August 2011 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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mid atlantic - 06 August 2011 07:58 AM

Nothing exists but the physical universe,

Science does not exist (it is not material, at most it is about matter).

Your posting does not exist.
As this reaction does not exist either, it does not need an explanation.

Or…?

Please think again.

oops, thoughts do not exist.

Might it be that you mix up ‘existing’ and ‘existing independently’?

[ Edited: 06 August 2011 09:00 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 06 August 2011 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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GdB - 06 August 2011 08:58 AM
mid atlantic - 06 August 2011 07:58 AM

Nothing exists but the physical universe,

Science does not exist (it is not material, at most it is about matter).

Your posting does not exist.
As this reaction does not exist either, it does not need an explanation.

Or…?

Please think again.

oops, thoughts do not exist.

Might it be that you mix up ‘existing’ and ‘existing independently’?

I’m not sure if I follow you, are you suggesting that nothing really exists?

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Posted: 06 August 2011 10:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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mid atlantic - 06 August 2011 07:27 PM

I’m not sure if I follow you, are you suggesting that nothing really exists?

No. I am suggesting that your limiting view of ‘existence’ in the sense that only the physical universe exists leads to the conclusion that thoughts, arguments, postings, meanings, science, persons etc etc do not exist either, as these are also not physical.

It is bizarre to hear from a rationalist that science, as an example of a cultural phenomenon, does not exist, and called ‘mystical’.

Sorry, you must be consequent: if nothing exists, except the physical universe, then science does not exist either.

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Posted: 07 August 2011 12:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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GdB - 06 August 2011 10:17 PM
mid atlantic - 06 August 2011 07:27 PM

I’m not sure if I follow you, are you suggesting that nothing really exists?

No. I am suggesting that your limiting view of ‘existence’ in the sense that only the physical universe exists leads to the conclusion that thoughts, arguments, postings, meanings, science, persons etc etc do not exist either, as these are also not physical.

It is bizarre to hear from a rationalist that science, as an example of a cultural phenomenon, does not exist, and called ‘mystical’.

Sorry, you must be consequent: if nothing exists, except the physical universe, then science does not exist either.

I disagree with you GdB, I think our qualia exists , but it arises from matter. The fact that qualia can’t be measured is because of how our brains make our experience. That doesn’t mean that there is anything more truthful to it.

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Posted: 07 August 2011 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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mid atlantic - 07 August 2011 12:13 AM

I disagree with you GdB, I think our qualia exists , but it arises from matter. The fact that qualia can’t be measured is because of how our brains make our experience. That doesn’t mean that there is anything more truthful to it.

Wow!

So now you say qualia exist. Something like that I said when I said that you are mixing up ‘existing’ and ‘existing independently’.

And qualia exist, but culture does not?

Living beings are implemented in matter, but that does not mean they do not exist. Behaviour is implemented in animals. Doesn’t behaviour exist? Consciousness is implemented in brains, so it does not exist? Culture is implemented in the relationship of humans with each other, so doesn’t culture exist? That everything in the end is implemented in matter, does that really matter?

Do you understand the essence of a computer program by applying the physical laws on the physical hardware, calculating how electrons move through the processor, or by understanding the logic of the program? Now, do computer programs exist?

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Posted: 07 August 2011 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I see culture as an extended phenotype. It is to us what a beaver damn is to a beaver. Islam or Christianity are obviously more complicated than a beaver damn, but that’s simply because we are more complicated than beavers.

Culture can obviously have a huge influence on us, but only if we have the necessary genes to register and respond to to whatever is being thrown at us. Which is basically why a dog will never learn how to read or why I will never understand Joyce’s Ulysses or quantum mechanics and why there will always be good and bad students no matter how many Head Start Programs we’ll try to waste our money on.

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Posted: 07 August 2011 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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GdB - 07 August 2011 09:04 AM
mid atlantic - 07 August 2011 12:13 AM

I disagree with you GdB, I think our qualia exists , but it arises from matter. The fact that qualia can’t be measured is because of how our brains make our experience. That doesn’t mean that there is anything more truthful to it.

Wow!

So now you say qualia exist. Something like that I said when I said that you are mixing up ‘existing’ and ‘existing independently’.

And qualia exist, but culture does not?

Living beings are implemented in matter, but that does not mean they do not exist. Behaviour is implemented in animals. Doesn’t behaviour exist? Consciousness is implemented in brains, so it does not exist? Culture is implemented in the relationship of humans with each other, so doesn’t culture exist? That everything in the end is implemented in matter, does that really matter?

Do you understand the essence of a computer program by applying the physical laws on the physical hardware, calculating how electrons move through the processor, or by understanding the logic of the program? Now, do computer programs exist?

  I didn’t claim that culture doesn’t exist, I claimed that it arises from nature, and that nature is all there is.

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Posted: 07 August 2011 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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mid atlantic - 07 August 2011 04:21 PM

I didn’t claim that culture doesn’t exist, I claimed that it arises from nature, and that nature is all there is.

Such as: culture is sustained by nature and can’t function without a bountiful nature to support it.

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Posted: 07 August 2011 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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yea, that same nature that society has been doing its damnedest to consume as fast and completely as possible.


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Posted: 07 August 2011 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 07 August 2011 04:58 PM
mid atlantic - 07 August 2011 04:21 PM

I didn’t claim that culture doesn’t exist, I claimed that it arises from nature, and that nature is all there is.

Such as: culture is sustained by nature and can’t function without a bountiful nature to support it.

  That’s not really what I meant, but I absolutely agree!

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Posted: 07 August 2011 08:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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That is why throughout history there have been pockets of brilliant cultures. Mostly due to an abundance of raw materials, crafts, trade, exchanging knowledge, all resulting in advanced thinking, philosophy, education, invention, arts, crafts.

[ Edited: 07 August 2011 08:41 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 07 August 2011 10:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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mid atlantic - 07 August 2011 04:21 PM

I didn’t claim that culture doesn’t exist, I claimed that it arises from nature, and that nature is all there is.

No?

mid atlantic - 06 August 2011 07:58 AM

Nothing exists but the physical universe

Don’t you see that in complex material structures, new ‘laws of nature arise’? With some exaggeration, one could even say that entropy, heat and pressure arise from nature: in the end, they all can be analysed as moving particles. The nature/nurture debate has nothing to do with the fact that we and our culture in the end are implemented in a physical universe. Again, take the parallel with a computer and software: would you like to take sides in a nature/nurture (hardware/software) debate for the functioning of a computer? That makes no sense either, does it? Software has some intrinsic properties, that cannot be analysed in physical terms, even if it is true that a computer program must be realised in matter somehow (a computer, a brain, by ink spots on paper).

In the real nature/nurture debate, it is about finding out how much of our behaviour is ‘hardware’, and how much is ‘software’. That is an empirical question to be investigated, not something to be stated based on a physicalist worldview. That you speak English, and not Swahili depends on the environment you grew up in, not by your genes, i.e. it depends on culture.

[ Edited: 07 August 2011 11:06 PM by GdB ]
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Posted: 07 August 2011 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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George - 07 August 2011 03:12 PM

I see culture as an extended phenotype. It is to us what a beaver damn is to a beaver. Islam or Christianity are obviously more complicated than a beaver damn, but that’s simply because we are more complicated than beavers.

Culture can obviously have a huge influence on us, but only if we have the necessary genes to register and respond to to whatever is being thrown at us. Which is basically why a dog will never learn how to read or why I will never understand Joyce’s Ulysses or quantum mechanics and why there will always be good and bad students no matter how many Head Start Programs we’ll try to waste our money on.

It is not false what you say, but with the same right I could say that I see genes as extended molecules. Pity enough, that does not help to understand evolution. I am missing the essence of what evolution is when I do not see the wider and abstracter context of DNA molecules. In the same way seeing culture as an extended phenotype misses the point of what culture is. Again (see my posting above) it is a denying of the arising of new intrinsic properties in complex structures, even if these properties need a substrate of lower level structures to exist.

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Posted: 07 August 2011 11:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Oh, no. Now I pushed the wrong button. If Doug comes along please delete this message…

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Posted: 07 August 2011 11:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Fractals (triads) can make the most beautiful curving spirals…..who woulda thought. Complexity from simplicity.

sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt.

[ Edited: 07 August 2011 11:33 PM by Write4U ]
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