December 28, 2022 at 1:34 pm #238702
” It’s you who are being vociferous here by pedantically insisting that the word should only be used in its 18th century sense. Actually I agree with you that it can be confusing to use it other than in that sense but I don’t see the need to make a big song and dance about it. It doesn’t make the user a philosophical idealist.”
And what does someone who thinks of “free will” simply as volition do when he decides to try and tackle the arguments of writers like Voltaire, Holbach etc? He won’t understand and, like Paul Foot (and you a few days back), will dismiss Shelley’s necessarianism as sitting idly and just watching things go by.
Without the discipline to understand the philosophes, he’ll never be able to read them and really learn from them, because his language use is at odds with the processes of thought in the reading.
In my case, who have read and can appreciate the lines of argument in these books, I was never just imbibing them as extern “authority.” Instead, they bore out, and still do, my own self-analysis and contemplation of my thoughts and feelings and confirmed for me truths that my life experience made evident. This is how I came to understand my experience, my neuroses (which we all have in a variety of forms) and my tolerance of errors and mistakes in life.
And I can appreciate aspects of Buddhism too, instead of just scoffing: “What did Gautama contribute? How to best spin a prayer wheel?” and other ignorant and bullying smart-alec remarks.December 28, 2022 at 1:39 pm #238704
” philosophers sat in their armchairs contemplating.”
Something which I would recommend from time to time, instead of just being a smart-alec!December 28, 2022 at 1:50 pm #238706
Thinking preceding brain activity? Here we are again, the ghost in the machine.
Let me say as an 18th century person, that such a neurological quandary is nothing to worry about. Obviously, brain activity produces thought, which then produces brain activity. Neurons must likewise obey the laws of the universe: cause-effect-cause-effect-cause: the chain of causation, whether chemical, mechanical, electric or organic.
Unless, oh my! Your thoughts are independent First Causes …
One might as well say the Big Bang was not an effect, but only a cause!
Also, scientists are also products of a society and not always immune to its prejudices. Many experiments are futile attempts at defending those prejudices, like trying to “prove” free will exists so that human arrogance can be justified.
Descartes was a mechanist who affirmed the immortal human soul and tried to locate its habitation in the body. With other animals he didn’t bother, but just cut them up alive, because they don’t have souls!
Today this sort of thing continues, in the search for free will, because most who say they accept evolution are happy to think of it as a ladder, whereby Man keeps his throne, sitting proudly above the rest of nature. And some scientists are openly religious too.
We don’t need to dwell on the latest “marvel” that some are now engaged in to hold on to the illusion of the self for as long as possible: the head transplant.
The cherished illusion has never been sicker!
December 28, 2022 at 3:44 pm #238708ALBKeymaster
- This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by Thomas_More.
I never said that thinking proceeds brain activity. I just mentioned that as a possibility in the course of replying to LEW’s request to produce the scientific evidence that thinking was linked to physical brain activity.
Your answer seems to be that you know this from your own “contemplation” of how you feel when you think. Quite how you can know from that what is going on in your brain you don’t explain. In any event, only empirical research is going to provide the answer.
The most famous contemplative philosopher was of course Descartes who came up with the conclusion “I think, therefore I am” and so started off the “ghost in the machine” myth that the next century materialists demolished.
He also forgot that he was only to able to think because he was a member of society. He thought in words and words and their meaning are a social product. He should have concluded. “I am a member of society, therefore I think”.
The word “contemplation” reminded me of what Joseph Dietzgen had to say about “philosophic speculation”:
“When we retire to the solitude of our cell to search there in deep contemplation, or, as it were, in the inner-most of our brains, for the right way we want to follow the next morning, we must remember that our mental effort can be successful only because of our previous, if involuntary, experiences and adventures which we, by help of our memory, have taken along into our cell.
That tells the whole story of philosophic speculation or deduction. These philosophers imagine they have drawn their theories, not from concrete material, but from the innermost of their brains, while, as a matter of fact, they have but performed an unconscious induction, a process of thought, of argument not without material, but with indefinite and therefore, confused material. Conversely, the inductive method is distinguished only by this that its deduction is done consciously.“December 28, 2022 at 3:52 pm #238710
What does LEW think produces thinking? Something non-material?December 28, 2022 at 3:58 pm #238711
” Quite how you can know from that what is going on in your brain you don’t explain. In any event, only empirical research is going to provide the answer.”
I know simply that I have not ever been responsible for a single thought or feeling i’ve ever had. And I know that every thought or feeling has emerged from a prior impulse. Philosophy tells me that, without my needing a doctorate in neurological science.December 28, 2022 at 4:01 pm #238712
He should have said, “I am, therefore I think.” He expressed it as an idealist, not a materialist, and contemporaries like Gassendi proclaimed him a cruel oaf and a hack.
Descartes spat his venom at the dead too, urging the posthumous anathematization of Montaigne, a far superior thinker and, unlike the hack, a principled man.
December 28, 2022 at 4:04 pm #238714
- This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by Thomas_More.
” we must remember that our mental effort can be successful only because of our previous, if involuntary, experiences and adventures which we, by help of our memory, have taken along into our cell.”
Quite so.December 28, 2022 at 4:08 pm #238715
” These philosophers imagine they have drawn their theories, not from concrete material, but from the innermost of their brains, while, as a matter of fact, they have but performed an unconscious induction, a process of thought, of argument not without material, but with indefinite and therefore, confused material. Conversely, the inductive method is distinguished only by this that its deduction is done consciously.“
Who, the materialists? Their entire corpus is about impressions from without resonating like a harpstring (Diderot) on our organs and producing thoughts and feelings. So I don’t know which contemplatives you are talking about. The Carthusians?December 28, 2022 at 4:27 pm #238716
As Ronnie Ross said, the trouble is people spend too much time working and not enough time thinking.December 28, 2022 at 4:51 pm #238717ALBKeymaster
I don’t suppose he meant spending too much time carrying out scientific experiments rather than contemplating.December 28, 2022 at 5:07 pm #238718
If those experiments are futile and injurious to live beings, and are aimed at finding “proofs” to shore up myths like free will, the keystone of human supremacist prejudices, then contemplation would be better.
And contemplation of nature and its processes, both outside and within us, is surely to be encouraged.
I can see you are not a fan of quiet and sustained thought. Is that why you, or another member, said some time ago that classic novels can be junked in socialism, because they are bourgeois?
(Echoes of Maoism there?)December 28, 2022 at 5:15 pm #238719December 28, 2022 at 11:23 pm #238723
Excellent:December 28, 2022 at 11:28 pm #238724
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