Q. What is naturalism, anyway?
Posted: 18 October 2014 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Considering that I’ve made a few flippant remarks about “naturalism” along the way, I want to set the record straight and make it clear that I completely agree with the following… well maybe not completely, but it has more to do with semantics and subtle nuances.

I also want to post this hoping that it might spur some further discussion.

From the Center for Naturalism
http://www.centerfornaturalism.org/faqs.htm
Q. What is naturalism, anyway? And keep it straightforward!

A. Ok, naturalism is simply the understanding that there exists a single, natural, physical world or universe in which we are completely included. There are not two different worlds, the supernatural and natural. Since we are completely included in the natural world, there’s nothing supernatural about us.

For instance, we don’t have immaterial souls that survive after death. We are fully physical, material creatures, and everything we are and do can be understood without supposing that we have souls, spirits, or any other sort of immaterial supernatural stuff inside us.

Your thoughts, experiences, feelings, decisions, and behavior are all things your brain and body does. How they do all this is of course a very complicated story that’s still being discovered by science, but naturalism says there’s nothing non-physical involved. That the material world has produced creatures that are conscious, can reason, feel emotions, and ask questions is a pretty amazing fact. The “merely” physical isn’t so mere after all. Naturalism re-enchants the physical world.

“everything we are and do can be understood without supposing that we have souls, spirits, or any other sort of immaterial supernatural stuff inside us.”
? ? ?

“Immaterial supernatural stuff”

How would “Love” be defined, just saying it’s synapses and hormones, explains the mechanism, but there’s more to love.
What it is…  who would dare define it ?
It’s immaterial for sure,
but it’s also real
My question: can we at least be clear that immaterial and supernatural aren’t necessarily the same?


I don’t feel totally comfortable with that sentence, because I do believe in the ghost in the machine, in that the whole can be more than the sum of it’s parts.  I believe on this Earth, this unfathomable biological marvel, that indeed some immaterial spirit exists as a result of all that intermingled complexity, those folds within folds of harmonic complexity as they cascade down the stream of time.

Nothing to with anything people would call God, just some essential element, unrecognized by us, but still some all infusing “spirit” that grew out of those first four billion years of evolution, which set the stage for the wonders of the development of complex life and then oxygen enabled life these past half billion years.

[ Edited: 18 October 2014 12:37 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 18 October 2014 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Let me ask you this: What creatures have a soul or spirit?  Are they exclusive to humans?  What about chimpanzees or bonobos?  Cats and dogs?  Fish?  Insects?  Coral?  Trees and ferns?  Plankton?  Amoebas?

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-Carl Sagan

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Posted: 18 October 2014 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Scott_Pryor - 18 October 2014 12:26 PM

Let me ask you this: What creatures have a soul or spirit?  Are they exclusive to humans?  What about chimpanzees or bonobos?  Cats and dogs?  Fish?  Insects?  Coral?  Trees and ferns?  Plankton?  Amoebas?

I would say it’s a directly related to the complexity of the organisms.

But you are trying to button hole me into Understand this isn’t about a supernatural soul (that god is worried about) thing -
that’s different!

Corrected.
Sorry about that Scott.

[ Edited: 18 October 2014 05:21 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 18 October 2014 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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http://www.naturalism.org/determinism.htm
Neuroscience suggests that the brain, all on its own, constructs the experience of a mental me, my thoughts and emotions.

What about the body’s imitate interconnectedness with the brain?  What about the environment’s interconnectedness with the body?

When certain neural networks are lesioned or temporarily shut down, these experiences cease or get attenuated, evidence for the physical basis of mental phenomena.

Hmmm, is this the best they have to go on?  It seems rather a gross experiment, not deserving of the far reaching claims made about it.

My objections have to with the feeling that this mindset misses so much of the dynamics that go on as we traverse our days, lest I start repeating myself:  http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/201964/


Here’s an example of a concept that for me “clicks” right into place, as opposed to the confusion all this philosophy offers.

http://bigthink.com/videos/the-interconnectedness-of-our-bodies-and-our-minds
The Interconnectedness of Our Bodies and Our Minds

by ANTONIO DAMASIO
NOVEMBER 2, 2010,

And so the idea of mind and body comes from that very peculiar relationship. Mind is not something disembodied, it’s something that is, in total, essential, intrinsic ways, embodied.  There would not be a mind if you did not have in the brain the possibility of constructing maps of our own organism.  And of course, those maps exist for a very simple reason, you need the maps in order to portray the structure of the body, portray the state of the body, so that the brain can construct a response that is adequate to the structure and state and generate some kind of corrective action.

Intrinsically, no mystery here, you need to deliver to the brain images of the body and the brain needs to use those images in order to make corrections.  So as a result of this, there’s a very tight bond between body and brain, and that tight bond occurs at a number of structures in the brain and what I am defending these days and is very, very intrinsic to my thinking now, is the kind of bond that you generate at the level of the brain stem, which have been by and large ignored, certainly ignored a good part of cognitive neuroscience. So a lot of the work that has dealt with, say the mind/body problem, has dealt with it as if the mind were strictly something that happens in the cerebral cortex, and the rest is stuff that happens in the brain stem, not being very important, you know, sort of animal stuff. And I think this is completely wrong.  I think that where the most seminal contributions come from is from the brainstem, which is indeed very old and very animal because we basically have a got a brainstem that is designed in the model of reptiles. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important, on the contrary.  It’s very, very important.  But that’s where it starts. ...

Brain connectivity
http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Brain_connectivity

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Posted: 18 October 2014 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 18 October 2014 12:38 PM
Scott_Pryor - 18 October 2014 12:26 PM

Let me ask you this: What creatures have a soul or spirit?  Are they exclusive to humans?  What about chimpanzees or bonobos?  Cats and dogs?  Fish?  Insects?  Coral?  Trees and ferns?  Plankton?  Amoebas?

I would say it’s a directly related to the complexity of the organisms.

But you are trying to button hole me into this supernatural soul (that god is worried about) thing - that’s different!

I’m not trying to do anything of the sort, I just want to understand where you stand. 

I would agree that the degree of conscientiousness is related to the complexity of the organism.  I would go so far as to say that single celled organisms like amoebas or plankton have zero conscientiousness.  So why would they be missing a spirit while something like a mushroom or a jellyfish (that might have some small level of conscientiousness) did?  Where did the spirit come from?

If conscientiousness is directly related to the complexity of the organism, then evolution is a good explanation that doesn’t require anything supernatural.  Is it immaterial?  I don’t think so.  Just as the program in a computer isn’t a physical thing, it’s still a thing whether you label it as material or immaterial.  I’m not really equating a program to conscientiousness, just their material/immaterial statuses.

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It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan

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Posted: 18 October 2014 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Scott_Pryor - 18 October 2014 01:34 PM
citizenschallenge.pm - 18 October 2014 12:38 PM
Scott_Pryor - 18 October 2014 12:26 PM

Let me ask you this: What creatures have a soul or spirit?  Are they exclusive to humans?  What about chimpanzees or bonobos?  Cats and dogs?  Fish?  Insects?  Coral?  Trees and ferns?  Plankton?  Amoebas?

I would say it’s directly related to the complexity of the organisms.

But you are trying to button hole me into  Understand this isn’t about a supernatural soul
(that god is worried about) thing - that’s different!

I’m not trying to do anything of the sort, I just want to understand where you stand. 
Fair enough I should have changed that right away because I really didn’t word it very well, and didn’t mean the words in any event.  I have a weird time with that picture of yours, but your comments have always been first class and worth listening to and thinking about. 
sorry.

Scott_Pryor - 18 October 2014 01:34 PM

I would agree that the degree of conscientiousness is related to the complexity of the organism.  I would go so far as to say that single celled organisms like amoebas or plankton have zero conscientiousness.  So why would they be missing a spirit while something like a mushroom or a jellyfish (that might have some small level of conscientiousness) did?  Where did the spirit come from?

Sure, don’t some claim fungi are among the largest organism (sharing connections and the same DNA, spreading out over acres, if not miles worth of territory)
The spirit comes from the interconnectedness, the echo symphony of the organism in unison with our biosphere . . .
hippy-dippy and wavy gravy for sure

but looking at evolution and the leaps and bounds - that relentless drive towards better comprehend and manipulate our surrounds, there’s a powerful something behind that drive, we just haven’t gotten close to figuring it out.  Spirit is just a label … might be a better word out there, but I haven’t found it.  Sterile “determinism” does it even less justice.

Scott_Pryor - 18 October 2014 01:34 PM

If conscientiousness is directly related to the complexity of the organism, then evolution is a good explanation that doesn’t require anything supernatural.  Is it immaterial?  I don’t think so.  Just as the program in a computer isn’t a physical thing, it’s still a thing whether you label it as material or immaterial.  I’m not really equating a program to conscientiousness, just their material/immaterial statuses.

Lost me on that one.

But, I tell you what really worked to re-ground me this afternoon.  Listening to a bunch of Antonio Damasio, even if some of the videos truncate his talk (very irritating, since the guy’s talks are nonstop fascinating).  Here’s a good summation.  See this stuff that Damasio talks about seems tangible to me and I can relate to.  Something that’s missing from me, in this “philosophical” approach to try understanding the self and our place in this universe.

Antonio Damasio: The quest to understand consciousness
TED -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMrzdk_YnYY
Uploaded on Dec 19, 2011
Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness—that is a marvelous fact—but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self.

[ Edited: 18 October 2014 05:24 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 18 October 2014 08:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Sorry about my picture, it’s just my face.  smile  My Pop-Pop always told me I could take my class pictures and put them in the basement to scare away the mice!

BTW, hippy dippy, wavy gravy literally made me LOL.

I’ll check out that video this weekend and get back to you.  Thanks!

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-Carl Sagan

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Posted: 19 October 2014 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Scott_Pryor - 18 October 2014 08:09 PM

Sorry about my picture, it’s just my face.  smile  My Pop-Pop always told me I could take my class pictures and put them in the basement to scare away the mice!

BTW, hippy dippy, wavy gravy literally made me LOL.

I’ll check out that video this weekend and get back to you.  Thanks!

sorry, I’d apologize more, but foot is stuck in mouth.  sick

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