The Instigator
mrmazoo
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
bsergent
Con (against)
Winning
30 Points

There are some things that we can NEVER understand through empirical science.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/19/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,846 times Debate No: 2787
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (62)
Votes (13)

 

mrmazoo

Pro

Empirical science has enabled us to get a sharper and sharper understanding of things in the world. Things like galaxies, atoms, cells, behavior, ecology, sociology, economics, and so forth. As we continue to study the world empirically, our knowledge will continue to grow and details that seem to be fuzzy now will continue to become more and more in focus. When it comes to the behavior of objects in the external world, there is scarcely anything which is impossible to understand and explain to a relatively large extent.

However, there are a certain large class of phenomena for which I believe science can NEVER shed light on. Although we can have absolute knowledge of the things in this domain, we can never prove that we have it. We can never truly share this knowledge with anyone else. We can't even come up with a scientific theory which might plausibly explain this class of phenomena. Moreover, this class of phenomena is a fundamental part of reality. In fact, it is the basis of all science!

If you disagree and believe there is no such domain of knowledge, accept this challenge and I will then make my case.
bsergent

Con

-=he Debate=-

Why I will win this debate is flawed wording in your topic. "Understand" is a very flexible word. While your opening argument seems to center on proof as a concept, understanding does not require proof.

Allow me to explain. While I agree that we will never be able to prove some things, such as the speed and position of any given particle simultaneously, we can understand them, for example, the particle while not provable in terms of speed and velocity is well understood and that understanding, though limited and without proofs, still leads to remarkable technical achievements.

Further, Godel has shown us via his incompleteness theorem that any abstract description system, if complete must contain statements that are both true and unprovable. But the awareness of this inherent resistance to proof actually and paradoxically enhances our understanding of the given system or event.

Further, since the data needed to arrive at and show these areas of unprovability were discovered empirically, that is, via experimentation or actually occurring situations, it is fair to say that this understanding was arrived at via what is now called empirical science.

So in summary, if you arrive at the conclusion that something can never be known or proven, via experimentation, then you have arrived at an understanding non the less.

My apologies for being somewhat sophist and restrictive in my attack on your topic, and leaping through the whole of understanding, but I think its fair given your equally underhanded attempt to shift the burden of proof, of existence, to your challenger. :)

-=Batch debate disclaimer v.01=-

To my opponent:
I am not attacking you, I don't know you, I am attacking your ideas. I am not trying to convince you of anything, therefore do not expect me to sugar coat anything for you with manners or any other euphemism for deception. I am writing for the record and for the future. If I say something unflattering about one of your ideas or your style of debate and you choose to be insulted that is your problem not mine. The very core of a debate could be seen as an insult because at the very least we question eachother's mind.

Some things are not a matter of opinion, some things are provable fact. The world being round is not the same as who you think it hottest on Lost. Also, some ideas flow logically from others. Your opinion can be attacked as if it were factual if it is in conflict with a previously stated opinion.

If you make a claim that is in conflict with one of mine please try to demonstrate how you arrived at it logically. Simply stating your opinion wastes time and proves nothing.

Do not think that simply because I reject your proof I reject all proof. I've debated these concepts my whole adult life, your arguments are probably not new, and nor are mine. Respect for your opinion is not the same as doubt in my own.

To my audience and the voters:
I'm not trying to convince you either. I expect you to vote as if this were a poll, or other equally unrelated reasons. I already know my skill level and I don't need your approval. I do this because my ideas flow best when I'm challenged. And I seek to be proven wrong if possible. Proven. In short the votes totally don't matter to me.

To those who would comment:
Please do not try to debate me in the comments, if you wish to bring up a point my opponent missed, feel free, but do not see my lack of answer as a concession of defeat. If you feel strongly enough, challenge me to a separate debate.

To the author of the site:
Can we have a separate place for disclaimers? Much like an email signature?
Debate Round No. 1
mrmazoo

Pro

Thanks for joining.

First, a clarification. I am not talking about proof here. I am talking about understanding. There is an entire class of phenomena that can never be understood through science.

Let me now go ahead and explain what this class of phenomena is that I'm talking about. I'm talking about the class of phenomena that I call raw experience.

For example: There is an apple on my desk. I am staring at the apple. The light in my office bounces off the apple and certain wavelengths are reflected into my eyes which get translated into electric signals which trigger something to happen in my brain. The effect of all of this is that I experience a vision sensation that contains a particular shade of color which I describe as red. There are other shades and shapes in my visual experience which I could describe to you as well.

First, I am NOT talking about the wavelengths, or the electric signals, or my brain. I am talking about the visual experience that it all results in. This is what I am calling a "raw sensation" or "raw experience." It is "what it feels like for me to be looking at an apple on my desk."

Now, like I said, I can explain to you what I am seeing, but you can never actually access it. I'm not saying I could be lying. I could be telling you the absolute truth about what it seems to me that this apple looks like. I can give you details about how I truly perceive the particular shade of red that the apple appears to be. But you can never directly access the experience. In fact, there is no empirical way for you to access my experience, or me yours.

Even if we put you on a gurney, open their skull, and connect the most sophisticated machinery imaginable to your brain and track every neuron, synapse, and neurotransmitter in your brain, we still would not have access to your actual experience. We could still never even come close to understanding what it feels like to be you remembering your first rock concert, or what it feels like to be you listening to Stairway to Heaven, or what it feels like to be you stubbing your toe.

Take religious ecstasy as another example. We can ask people who have had such an experience describe it to us. We can find out how people behave during such an experience and how they behave afterwards. We can, again, put them on a gurney and open them up and measure their brains while the experience is happening. None of these things will give us one inkling of what it really feels like to experience religious ecstasy (I'm an atheist by the way). We could have such an experience of our own and then we would know what it feels like for ourselves to have such an experience, but this is not empirical evidence. We can't use our experience to explain to someone else what religious ecstasy is like. We aren't a ecstasy-o-meter which we can simply take measurements from and plot on a graph. Or, scratch that...yes we can, but that doesn't add to our understanding of the experience itself.

We can measure how much we sweat during the experience. We can measure our vocalizations. We can measure our body temperatures. We can measure our brain activity. We can measure all sorts of things during the event and it will bring us no close to understanding the raw experience itself, because the raw experience is SOMETHING DIFFERENT than behavior.

Now, you said in your previous argument that "if you arrive at the conclusion that something can never be known or proven, via experimentation, then you have arrived at an understanding non the less."

I am perfectly willing to agree that raw experiences can be understood to be incapable of being understood via experimentation, but that doesn't disprove the point I am trying to make. I am not saying that raw experiences can not be understood at all. I am saying that they can not be understood through science. I have direct access to my own raw experiences and so I know what it means for me to be having this particular experience that I am currently experiencing right now.

I will not address your other arguments since they are not relevant to the discussion. This is not your fault since I had not actually made the domain of the discussion clear from the initial outset. I am not talking about proof and I am not talking about an abstract description system.

I am saying that raw experiences are absolutely inaccessible by empirical methods and, as such, can never be empirically understood. Since science relies on empirical evidence, science can never be used to describe raw experiences.

Why does this matter? Who cares?

Well, it matters in areas such as psychology and interpersonal relationships.

For example, while it might help if I try to understand what is happening to my girlfriend's brain when she is in a bad mood, it's also very important to understand how she is FEELING and what she is EXPERIENCING. The only way to do that is to communicate with her and try to understand what she is saying.
bsergent

Con

"First, I am NOT talking about the wavelengths, or the electric signals, or my brain. "

But that depends on the nature of your brain and if it includes the "I" you speak of. As a strict materialist determinist, I'm going to have to reject this 'raw experience' as evidence of something which can't be understood. There have been great strides in the study of the mind/brain relationship which seem to indicate when they indicate at all, that yes *I* am indeed my brain.

All you are doing it invoking the homunculus problem which is as futile as asking where a circle begins. It's nature precludes a beginning. There is no tiny little man in your brain behind your brain your brain IS the tiny little man.

"Now, like I said, I can explain to you what I am seeing, but you can never actually access it. "

Again you assume a fundamental mystery which is a form of an argument from ignorance. Like what you see as red I may see as blue but we've both been trained to call it green. The favor of your experience may be mutually exclusive but that does not mean that I cannot experience a precise analog of it.

Further, with sufficient understanding it may be possible to transfer memories, given that they clearly have a physical element since physical damage can destroy or alter them.

"But you can never directly access the experience. In fact, there is no empirical way for you to access my experience, or me yours. "

...yet

"Even if we put you on a gurney, open their skull, and connect the most sophisticated machinery imaginable to your brain and track every neuron, synapse, and neurotransmitter in your brain, we still would not have access to your actual experience. "

That is a matter of faith. One which I do not share. Statement of faith is not an argument.

"We could still never even come close to understanding what it feels like to be you remembering your first rock concert.."

Argument from personal incredulity. The duplicate problem not withstanding, IE what happens if I were to BECOME you... I think I very well could capture with perfect fidelity the character of an experience with sufficient technology and understanding. In precisely the same way text is copied and pasted.

Granted human memory is orders of magnitude more complex but its there, and its very much a real thing.

"Take religious ecstasy as another example. "

Gladly, ESB time and again has been shown to induce religious experience.

"We can, again, put them on a gurney and open them up and measure their brains while the experience is happening."
Again, faith. To quote my favorite cyborg... "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

You seem to think there is something about being a thinking ape that absolves you from adherence to the physical constants, if so, why bother using logic at all?

"We could have such an experience of our own and then we would know what it feels like for ourselves to have such an experience, but this is not empirical evidence. "

Well, if I can read your knowledge, that is a brain state, from the outside, then yes, I can, because that reading would be evidence. Do not take the limits of technology as you understand it today to be the limits it will always have.

"I am saying that they can not be understood through science. "

All understanding comes from experience and thoughts related to that experience, and an experiment is simply a manufactured experience, so to say that something cannot be understood 'through' science is like saying that nothing can be understood at all, which is a valid position of sorts, but if you really are a solipsist, aren't you just talking to yourself? I mean why bother debating in the first place if you reject all experience?

Cogito Ergo Sum indeed, but What if I also think? What if I can define think, and what if I can put it into a rock, or a lump of conditioned sand.

"I am not talking about an abstract description system. "

Oh but you are, unless you feel that thinking of an apple means there is a literal apple in your head (or in your soul).

Thought is abstraction by its nature, and experience is thought influenced by reality (exterior or not, real or not).

"I am saying that raw experiences are absolutely inaccessible by empirical methods and, as such, can never be empirically understood. "

And I'm saying you're not up on your brain/mind studies. Neurophilosophy, MIT press is a grand read, and a good place to start.

P.S. I hereby formally recognize that "friar_zero " called it. :)
Debate Round No. 2
mrmazoo

Pro

Wow. Where to begin.

My opp has built quite a few straw men. I'll start with those.

He accused me of "invoking the homunculus problem." For those of you who don't know what that is, the homunculus idea is that there is an agent that is not ourselves that is in our brain making us do the things we do, or some such nonsense.

I am not claiming this, nor did I imply that I believed this anywhere in my previous post. My opponent is shamelessly mischaracterizing my position so that it is easier for him to tear it down.

Next, he says I am using the argument from ignorance fallacy. This would hold some water if there had been ANY advances or even theories in science which would even begin to explain the link between the brain and raw experiences. But there have been no such advances or theories. There are links between the brain and behavior, but not between the brain and experience. I'll get back to this point.

Next my opp goes on to say that my position is based on faith and faith alone. I'll get back to this one as well.

My opp's first honest objection is the following: What if he were to BECOME me? Then he would capture with perfect fidelity the character of my experience.

My rebuttal is simple. The idea of becoming me is absurd. It is logically impossible. You would not have to just be a clone of me. You would have to ACTUALLY BE ME. You and I would have to be absolutely identical. But this is impossible simply because you and I could never occupy the same position in time and space. I can not even imagine a universe where I can become someone else without annihilating the original (in which case, "you" would still just be "me" and we'd just be back to my original claim that you're/my internal raw experience is absolutely inaccessible through empirical methods).

I'm not going to address the rest of my opp's points because I think they are mostly unintelligible or further mischaracterizations of my position.

Keep in mind, I do not have to PROVE my position beyond a shadow of a doubt. All I have to do is convince you readers that my position is more likely than my opponent's position.

To reiterate what I am saying. a)I am saying that raw experiences like color, pain, smells, and the like are NOT equivalent to brain states. b)And if they are not brain states, then they are NOT physical. c)If they are not physical, then they can not be empirically measured. d)If they can not be measured empirically, then they can not be known via science.

If I can convince you of (a), the rest trivially follows. A quick word about (b) though in case you are wondering about that step. If experiences ARE physical, what other form could they take other than brain-states? Stomach-states? Skin-states? Something in the air? If experiences are physical, they must be brain-states (or nervous-system-states if you want). Anything else is just highly implausible. (Remember, I don't need to prove my case, just convince you that my case is more likely true than any alternative...if you would rather believe that our thoughts come from some physical entity besides the brain well...there ya go).

I will now give some arguments for (a) above:

1) Imagine you wake up one morning and find that every color is reversed. Everything that used to look red, now looks green; blues look yellow and so forth. You go to the doctor and they find that nothing about your eyes or brain or entire nervous system has physically changed.

If you can imagine this happening, then it is logically possible. We're not talking about a circle with angles or becoming another person.

So, assuming you can imagine the scenario I just described above, it is logically possible.

Now, since it is possible to imagine that raw experiences are not related to brain states (as in the scenario above), therefore raw experiences and brain states are different from one another because if they were the same, you could not imagine one without the other. (For example, if I told you to imagine a shape with four equal sides and four right angles but that wasn't a square, you couldn't do it, because they are identical.) But, if they are different, then raw experiences are not physical unless you want to say that they are identical to spleen states, or liver states, or some-other-part-of-the-body-states, which is clearly absurd.

Not convinced?

Argument 2)

Mary is a scientist studying vision and color. She has corresponded with thousands of people gathering enormous amounts of data on how color works. She knows literally everything there is to know about how color is experienced by other people, from how color affects peoples' behavior to the specific pattern of neuron firings that happen in a persons brain when they experience a specific color. However, she has spent her entire life confined to a room with stark white walls and black and white furnishings. She can only correspond with the rest of the world through a computer terminal that only displays black and white.

Now Mary is allowed to leave her room and go outside for the first time and experience color directly.

My question to you is this: Does Mary learn anything new when she leaves the room?

If she does, then experience is NOT the same as brain-states and is non-physical.

Just for fun, here's a 3rd argument:

Imagine a zombie clone of you. This zombie looks, talks, and behaves just like you except there is nothing going on in its head. They don't experience colors or thoughts or pain (although they still shout "OWWW!" when you drop a brick on its toe).

Again, if you can imagine it, then it is logically possible. If it is logically possible, then experience is not the same as brain states because if it were the same, you would not be able to imagine one without the other (see above). If they are not the same, then they are different. But if experience is different than brain-states, then experience is not physical (unless you believe they come from your colon, or your eye-balls, or from a man with a big white beard in the sky).

4) This is not really an argument but an appeal to common sense. Ask yourself if your experiences feel like brain states. How can a brain state appear blue in your mind? How can a brain state explain the way you feel when you hear your favorite song, or the way you feel when you contemplate the hugeness of the universe? Yes, we can easily show that certain patterns in the brain correspond to those feelings, or even cause them. But are they really THE SAME thing? I'm not appealing to logic here. I'm appealing to something MORE certain, for what could be more certain to us than what we are feeling right now? Take a couple of minutes and introspect. Wait. Don't introspect. That's still taking a 3rd person approach to your own experience. Just take a couple of minutes and experience your experience. Observe your mind. Is it really your BRAIN that you are observing??? To me, the idea seems absurd. My brain is made of meat. What I am experiencing is not meat.

-----------

I have given four arguments defending my case that raw experiences are not the same thing as brain states. If any of them has convinced you (I personally favor argument #2), then you must vote for me unless my opponent is able to successfully challenge each argument.

My opponent has one more turn. I'm done. Do me a favor. After you read my opponent's rebuttal, go back and just read these arguments again before submitting your vote.

And remember, I don't have to prove my case. I only have to convince you that it is more likely that I am right than I am wrong.

My opp's condescending tone aside, don't judge based on which of us you believe has read more mind/brain books. Judge us based on our arguments.
I look forward to reading my opp's rebuttals.
bsergent

Con

"My opp has built quite a few straw men."

Did not. :)

"He accused me of "invoking the homunculus problem." ..."

You are. Ask yourself, is your arm you? No then whats it attached to? Your (part part part) brain. Is your brain you? You claim not, but I'm sure you grant that brain parts are required for moving your arm, and that those parts can be damaged while 'you' remain, how far back must we go to find the seat of the will? You appear to claim its a soul at the end of the chain, which exists behind your brain, in exactly the same manner as the tiny man.

If your "raw experience" occurs in the brain, then its a simple (not easy) matter of physical reactions, all of which that can be empirically studied and potentially duplicated. If not then they must exist outside the brain and body, as per a soul, or, the exact logical equivalent of the tiny man in the homunculus problem.

"...if there had been ANY advances or even theories in science which would even begin to explain the link between the brain and raw experiences..."

Are you kidding? Put _esb experience brain_ in Google. I'm sorry you find this unpleasant, but experience occurs in the brain. In order to defend the existence of these 'raw experiences', you must first show that there is something outside the brain that is capable of experiencing, or put another way you must prove the soul. I don't think you've done that.

"But this is impossible simply because you and I could never occupy the same position in time and space. "

Does that mean you as you were 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago is not you any more? Careful how you answer, if yes then the concept of the individual dissolves as you grant that the number of individuals you represent is equal to the number of discrete units of time one can imagine. And since time is an analog that number is infinite. Planck time not withstanding. If no then you grant that there is a set of constraints other than location (both temporal and physical) that define an individual, and if those conditions are met in an outside organism, would that be you?

All you're doing is as I said before bringing up the duplicates problem. Which will devolve your argument into a series of child like subjectives. "Yes but thats still not REALLY me."

"I'm not going to address the rest of my opp's points because I think they are mostly unintelligible..."

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke
" Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Same thing here, just because you don't get it doesn't mean its wrong or cannot be gotten.

"Keep in mind, I do not have to PROVE my position beyond a shadow of a doubt. All I have to do is convince you readers that my position is more likely than my opponent's position."

No, the voters are supposed to vote on who debates better, not who they agree with, this is not a poll. They should vote on who has proven their point with greater skill and accuracy. And in order to show yours with any accuracy at all, because of the harsh limits you've presented yourself in choosing such a metaphysical stance, you're going to have to prove some things that are frankly unprovable because they are simply incorrect.

You've effectively made the positive claim that there is a soul, and the burden of proof is therefor yours. If you abandon it you abandon the debate.

"1) Imagine you wake up one morning... and find that every color is reversed....You go to the doctor and they find that nothing about your eyes or brain or entire nervous system has physically changed."

This is an example of what would happen in a hypothetical universe of your creation in which the soul does exist. Or the doctors is incompetent, or, the current level of technology cannot detect the subtle change in neural architecture or what have you that is there. Not proof of any kind.

Your claim is like saying "Imagine you found a perfect circle with 4 corners." Being able to type that does not make it any more possible.

"If you can imagine this happening, then it is logically possible."

Thats strikingly similar to the ontological defense of god's existence, so I'll use the same rebuttal.

Simply put, a thing does not exist unless it can be observed, or it is provable in logic. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This and your related statements are in themselves related to the argument from ignorance.

If you're going to reject logic and shrug off the burden of proof then this is not a debate.

"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof". - Christopher Hitchens

Which would put us in a state of balance, which I would then destroy were I to present even the slightest shred of evidence for the seat of consciousness resting firmly in the brain. Which I already have. So, if you abandon logic, I win, if you accept it, I win.

"If she does, then experience is NOT the same as brain-states and is non-physical."

False dichotomy. Abstract knowledge and experiential memory are different types of brain states. Obviously there is a qualitative difference between the understanding of something and the memory of experiencing something, but this is in no way evidence to support the claim that experiential memory is non-physical. It is simply a different.

Lecture time:

As a side note this type of experience effect via memory can be exemplified by deja vu. When a memory is stored, various tags are stored along with it, which allow the brain to recall it. One of these tags is a rough time stamp. This can be observed with a simple thought experiment. Recall something from your early childhood, ok, now recall something from yesterday. How do you suppose your brain found those memories? And how does it know this memory is old while this memory is young? It must be tagged in some way.

Now, the brain does not have a clock exactly but it is aware of the flow of time, and so it tags the memory chemically, with a "before now, by this much" type of tag. But since this is a chemical process with millions of variables including toxicity, diet, radiation, temperature, pressure, etc etc, sometimes there are slight errors, and the "by this much" value is distorted. Like misplacing a decimal point or adding a zero, a small change has a radical meaning. So what happens is, the memory is recorded as normal but with the time stamp making it 'feel' much older than it actually is, and since we reprocess working memories many times, after the first formation with the flawed tag, the new tag gets loaded into the conscious mind before time itself has elapsed to match the tag. The greater the variance the more distant the memory feels. "My god I was here hundreds of years before!" "Have I met you before?"

Lecture over:

The bottom line is, just because it feels mystical doesn't mean it is.

"Ask yourself if your experiences feel like brain states."

The argument from personal incredulity. Covered above.

"I'm appealing to something MORE certain, for what could be more certain to us than what we are feeling right now?"

I don't know, feelings are pretty complicated and far from certain in my experience.

"My opp's condescending tone aside, don't judge based on which of us you believe has read more mind/brain books. Judge us based on our arguments."

For once we totally agree. In fact a chapter of my book is all about my loathing of people listening to who seems smarter without actually critically evaluating their positions. I call this the lab coat effect. I know I have glasses, but to offset that realize that I am also from Kentucky and probably sound like a total hick to you. That should nicely offset any unjustified "smart guy" flavor.

Good debate man, it took real sand to go after such a massive topic.

I really think the character limit needs to be doubled.
Debate Round No. 3
62 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TonyX311 9 years ago
TonyX311
lol, this is the second time you've been done. I wonder if you mean it this time...

I think you sound sufficiently subdued for my tastes. You're welcome for my playing.

-Tony
Posted by bsergent 9 years ago
bsergent
mrmazoo, you're an absolute treat. Keep up the good work.

Suggestion.

This is a neat mental exercise that could lead to great understanding for you and the planet.

Design an experiment to prove, not demonstrate but fully prove, that the brain causes experience.

The brain does not cause anything. It is a reaction machine. And you've opened the door to a fully developed materialism debate, that's also interesting.

Obviously you are not a materialist. Are you a determinist? Is this embodied spirit made of something other than matter or energy?

P.S. I love how everyone keeps calling me rude while at the same time calling me names, that's priceless. especially when you consider I've not said a word about either of you that I cannot prove from information you've provided.

In any event, I'm done with this debate. have your last words, if you want to talk more you're gunna have to debate me.
Posted by bsergent 9 years ago
bsergent
Yea, they were typos, you know what I meant.

I'm done trying to help people in general.

Thanks for playing :)

Yes it is faith because personal experience is not evidence. Ask a magician.

You're totally ignorant of what is meant by anarchy, not at all surprising from an agent of the state.

Different how snowflakes are different maybe, but not different like chocolate and concrete different.

You chose to work for the law, that tells me a lot about you. In much the same way choosing to be a serial rapist, or ER nurse would.

"The Articles of Confederation lasted barely ten years by comparison because it did not work."

Work is a subjective term, but since you work for the state you're used to unilateral thinking. The articles were very good for people and freedom, that's why they were replaced.

In conclusion...

I'm thrilled that you've totally chickened out on debating me and still insist on a flame war. That's also quite common for lawyers. Your profession attracts those inclined towards intellectual dishonesty, and ethical weakness.

On any one of these points of disagreement we could have a full fledged debate and perhaps we could have learned from each other, but that's not the point for a lawyer is it.
Posted by TonyX311 9 years ago
TonyX311
PS:

When saying "If you set you're hair on fire odds are it will hurt."

You're should be "your." Unless you really meant to say "If you set you are hair on fire odds are it will hurt."
Posted by TonyX311 9 years ago
TonyX311
Name-calling is such a good way to win arguments BS. Kudos.

"Your faith is touching, but it does not constitute evidence."

I never said I had faith, I said I had personal experience of the system being changed from within. There is evidence all over the place of this happening, e.g. judicial activism, class action and personal injury suits, special interest groups. How do you think laws get changed?

"Cop out. We should try anyway, or abolish government."

My whole argument was that government isn't perfect but we should still try. No government at all would lead to society's regress into what it was before governments existed. Though I believe anarchy is idealistically good, it would not work because the selfish and strong would do what they wanted without consequence.

"Wow, you really love to argue from ignorance."

No I don't. The fact that I'm studying law, that I am not unnecessarily rude to people, that I live in Iowa and not Kentucky, and that I have worked with the system apparently make our life experiences much different.

"But I wouldn't expect a lawyer to understand :)by definition you are an agent of the state, and therefor(e) you'll personally identify with criticisms of it."

What makes you think I am an agent for the state? And why do you assume a lawyer would not be unable to understand? It's just a profession, not any kind of definition of character. We sure like to assume.

"Longevity does not equate to validity. The Spanish inquisition also lasted over 200 years."

I know it does not necessarily equate, but it is a piece of evidence among others that a system is working. The Articles of Confederation lasted barely ten years by comparison because it did not work.

"Doublethink much?"

No. Why do you ask? It must be an honest question as I can't imagine this being an attempted insult. You trying to insult someone to win an argument? Naw, you wouldn't sink so low...

Lollerskates,

Tony
Posted by mrmazoo 9 years ago
mrmazoo
"So where does experience occur then if not in a material brain or in an immaterial external self (or what the rest of the planet calls a soul)."

The brain is the cause of experience. But experience can not be reduced to brain states. A soul implies something that exists even after the body dies. That's ridiculous to me. I don't believe in disembodied spirits.

However, it seems to me that there must exist EMBODIED spirit.

Perhaps everything in the world has both an external and an internal facet; something that can be measured and something that--roughly speaking--"it feels like to be."

I can't prove it of course, but neither can you prove the converse. However, I do have evidence. My evidence is that these raw experiences (colors, sounds, pains, feelings, etc) don't SEEM like brain states. I can't even imagine a way that they could be brain states.

Now, you might point your fat finger and say "argument from ignorance" again, as you love to do, but if, for example, color was a totally physical phenomenon, then it ought to be possible to demonstrate to a blind person precisely what it feels like to experience it, WITHOUT actually having them SEE a color. Again, I can't even think of an experiment or bit of data that would even begin to approach such a demonstration.

Yes, there is lots of evidence that the brain is the cause of the mind. There is a mind/brain link. And I agree that this evidence is quite interesting but it does not address the issue I am speaking of and until you, dear reader, understand what that issue is, this debate is meaningless.

All you have are a bunch of people who read my posts and think "This guy believes in souls! Well, I'm a materialist so I can't buy that! Therefore, I vote con."

The problem is that your thinking is not subtle enough and your presuppositions about my stance made you miss the entire point.
Posted by mrmazoo 9 years ago
mrmazoo
The worst thing about this is that I think BS is an A-hole version of me.

I majored in philosophy in college.
I also don't believe in working within the system.
I, despite what BS thinks, also do not believe in souls and spirits and ghosts and such.
I also am an anarchist.
I also prefer Go to Chess.

That said BS, I find your arrogance and disrespect for other people to be utterly repugnant. It makes me wonder if I was like you 10 years ago.

You are in for a rude awakening, I think. The future doesn't care what you think. And you don't know half as much as you think you do.
Posted by bsergent 9 years ago
bsergent
"I happen to believe that you CAN improve the system by working from the inside and I have seen evidence of this."

Your faith is touching, but it does not constitute evidence.

"I don't expect you to understand because we have obviously had far different experiences with life."

Wow, you really love to argue from ignorance.

News flash, I may have experienced all of the same things and merely arrived at a different conclusion. That's the nature of individuality.

But I wouldn't expect a lawyer to understand :)

By definition you are an agent of the state, and therefor you'll personally identify with criticisms of it.

"No system of government will ever be perfect."

Cop out. We should try anyway, or abolish government.

"has been good enough to adapt and survive for over 200 years"

Longevity does not equate to validity. The Spanish inquisition also lasted over 200 years.

"Instead of talking about it, I am out there doing it."

*confused* But, you talk for a living. Is talking now 'doing' or isn't it? If it is, then I'm doing as much as you are, probably more, if it isn't, then you're just as ineffectual as I am.

Doublethink much?

-Bsergent

You know, just in case you didn't know that I'm the guy writing this post and signing it so he can see his own name in print or make sure that you know who I am just in case you're too stupid to look left and read those little letters under my picture.

Also...

-This post was written in English. And if you can understand English, you are now reading these words.

-If you set you're hair on fire odds are it will hurt.
Posted by TonyX311 9 years ago
TonyX311
BS, yes I have seen the movie "The Life of David Gail." It was a good movie, but it really doesn't matter to me what a movie says about our system. I happen to believe that you CAN improve the system by working from the inside and I have seen evidence of this. I don't expect you to understand because we have obviously had far different experiences with life. I also happen to believe that although our federal legal system is flawed, it is still a good system, it has been good enough to adapt and survive for over 200 years. Additionally, my state's Constitution and legal system is actually quite sensible and provides adequately for the needs of its citizens. Could it be better? Sure. No system of government will ever be perfect. At least I am brave enough to take the points of view of others and try to make a change. Instead of talking about it, I am out there doing it.

-Tony
Posted by bsergent 9 years ago
bsergent
http://www.largecow.demon.co.uk...

Cool comic about the homunculus thing.

heheh
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