Is Man Part of Nature

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romansh
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Post by romansh » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:41 am

jonsjourney wrote: Romansh...I think we do have to ask ourselves is it possible that our human consciousness allows us the ability to act in ways that are effectively unnatural?
Hi Jon
The more I think about it natural and unnatural (like supernatural) are false dichotomies.
jonsjourney wrote: I am not trying to dispute evolutionary origins and the operations of natural selection on how human consciousness may function. Maybe, as I said, it just appears that we are capable of operating outside of nature. Maybe, we actually are capable of this paradox. I cannot really be objective about this because I am the observer attempting to describe both the observer and the observed. Scientific agreement helps us to uncover truths, but when we get to the bottom of it all, just like in philosophy, we seem to circle back upon ourselves and only find more questions.
I'm not denying consciousness by any means; I will use it on a day to day basis to 'survive'. But that definitely does not mean what we perceive or experience is in any way accurate.
jonsjourney wrote: This really, it seems to me, is a philosophical question, which in many ways precludes a right or wrong answer. Is life simply biology or something more? In terms of human consciousness (or in more ancient times the idea of a soul) the proponents of any view have precious little solid ground to stand on. It feels like their is a ghost in the machine, but it looks like chemistry. I think that for me, in the end, it is a better proposition to think in terms that it is possible that man has evolved to a place in which his actions can transcend what is natural, then to rule it out based on the idea that if man comes from nature, all resultant actions are derived likewise.
"It seems ... a philosophical question" ... OK we'll never know with absolute certainty whether we have free will or not. Speaking personally, on a day to day basis I behave as though I have free will. Fair enough. But does it not beho(o)ve us to explore the consequences of a lack of free will? Then we can adjust our attitudes accordingly.

If we end end up considering the absence of free will, then the self disappears logically in an instant. this seems in accord with say Buddhist interpretations of reality? I'm woefully uneducated on this aspect.
jonsjourney wrote: We can still walk side by side and have the discussion, right? I can come from a particular view and you can come from a particular view. A nice scenario involves a mutual consideration of each others views and the potential to learn something new. "I do not know, so lets explore it..." is still one of my favorite answers! :D
For what it's worth Jon, I think you are asking the right sort of questions. Now our answers may differ, so be it. bot I'm having fun.
:)
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Post by romansh » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:57 am

Andreas wrote: How you define universe here? If universe is the biological function yeah then our thoughts are shaped by it.
Definition of the universe? - If the exchange of energy or information is possible then it is part of the universe.
Andreas wrote: However we have the potential of putting others before us. Sacrificing like a mother will do for her child without thinking about her own safety, her own survival. If the universe is society and shapes our thoughts then we are in big trouble and we have to drop all the barriers society has put forth in order to find our own unique way of thinking.
Yes these sort of things do make us feel 'good'. But then (almost) ultimately it is the exchange of potassium and calcium ions that are our thoughts and our emotions.
Andreas wrote: So we do have a choice on the micro level and how we shape our lives... on the macro galaxies upon galaxies we don't have a choice we haven't even been to Mars, yet we know the universe is "infinite", one more reason to approach it with humility and respect.

We have a choice at many levels. Some would argue we are choice making machines. But that is NOT the question. Do we make those choices freely, somehow separate from the universe?
Andreas wrote: It is not because we try to make an accurate representation of the universe (whatever that means) that we will kill everything that stands in our way. Don't confuse greed with honestly trying to understand what we are, if we can. And to be honest the universe doesn't need an accurate representation, it is us, the rational mind, that needs to confirm our superiority or curiosity.
Again you mention the rational mind. I would argue another false dichotomy. But then again I would consider myself rational. Does that mean I consider myself greedy or superior (Well perhaps superior .. :roll: )
Andreas wrote: I would argue this is false too. You can see the same amount of creation acts in nature as you can see of destruction.
So is our destruction unnatural?
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Post by Evinnra » Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:15 am

Andreas wrote:

So we do have a choice on the micro level and how we shape our lives... on the macro galaxies upon galaxies we don't have a choice we haven't even been to Mars, yet we know the universe is "infinite", one more reason to approach it with humility and respect.
It all boils down how you feel Andreas ... though it does not make it an accurate representation of the universe, I don't like seeing forest destroyed either and my computer sits on nice mahogany dining table.
It is not because we try to make an accurate representation of the universe (whatever that means) that we will kill everything that stands in our way. Don't confuse greed with honestly trying to understand what we are, if we can. And to be honest the universe doesn't need an accurate representation, it is us, the rational mind, that needs to confirm our superiority or curiosity.
It is a rather inaccurate view that in order to find answers we destroy things in our path. We do more than that, we do good things as well. In other words, if we evaluate what we do here, we must realise that it is not all bad. If we choose not to evaluate, we not getting an accurate picture.

About what is natural, my thinking here is that evaluating things comes naturally to sentient beings - hence the term 'sentient'. If there is a Universe - and we can not think that there is not - then we have to accept that knowledge is Universal as well. It is not easy to come up with new mythologies since there is practically nothing new in the Universe, only the moments we experience are new. Therefore, returning to ancient knowledge is merely looking at the present from a different angle. Taking this approach is just as refreshing and informative as imagining our selves taking a step forward into something 'new' What is new is our current context, as it had never happened before and not going to be repeated ever again. Similar scenarioes did happen before and will happen again, but not the exact same scenario. Carpe diem.
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Post by Andreas » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:24 pm

Yes these sort of things do make us feel 'good'. But then (almost) ultimately it is the exchange of potassium and calcium ions that are our thoughts and our emotions.


ok, so I am talking to potassium or to calcium now? :D
We have a choice at many levels. Some would argue we are choice making machines. But that is NOT the question. Do we make those choices freely, somehow separate from the universe?
You cannot make any choice freely when you are bound to any socio-political-religious institutions, it seems to me. About our biology I think that there is a pre-determine path that has to do with the affirmation of life.
Again you mention the rational mind. I would argue another false dichotomy. But then again I would consider myself rational. Does that mean I consider myself greedy or superior (Well perhaps superior ..)
Fear and desire in my opinion play an important role in shaping our choices. Can you feel superior and at the same time have that gratitude for life? I don't know.
So is our destruction unnatural?
If our destruction is caused by fear or desire and this goes back to the affirmation of life concept then it must be unnatural at least in my opinion. One more question that comes into my mind is is it healthy? for our psyche or for our biology. However here would be nice to clarify that we are not talking about some comet falling from the sky. You say our destruction and I am guessing that you mean the destruction we cause.
It is a rather inaccurate view that in order to find answers we destroy things in our path. We do more than that, we do good things as well. In other words, if we evaluate what we do here, we must realise that it is not all bad. If we choose not to evaluate, we not getting an accurate picture.
Depends how you see it. Can we say that we can really evaluate something when we are bound from socio-political-religious institutions? The answers we get must be bound then to those beliefs to some degree. So from that point of view we only try to prove what is true to us not what is really true.
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
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Post by jonsjourney » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:11 pm

You know romansh...after some deep contemplation, I am thinking that your position makes more sense, ultimately. Our ability as humans to destroy ourselves does seem natural, after all. Lets look at it cosmologically, the universe began in the instant we call the big bang. Everything that we see as part of the physical universe comes from this instant. To the best of our knowledge, the universe will probably cease, as we know it, in a big crunch when gravity overwhelms expansion. The destructive aspects of the universe, which also create in the process of destroying, is completely natural in those terms. I was thinking about all this in the wrong way...as a fairly highly evolved hominid that would like to think I am capable of more than what is possible in our physical dimensions.

This "science" is expressed in the Hindu creation myths almost exactly. With the universe coming into being in an instant from the void...going on its course for endless eons upon eons, only to be destroyed in a "big crunch" and the re-created again in an infinite cycle of creation and destruction. It is the human ego that cannot deal with such vast amounts of time, including mine. :wink:
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Post by Cindy B. » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:58 pm

"Big crunch?" Who's to say, Jon. Pick the scenario that best suits you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_f ... e_universe

***

As for free will and determinism, my view is that neither exists as absolutes. We are free to choose within certain bounds, from the level of nature and our place in it through every intervening level up through the cultural. (Yes, I said the same thing elsewhere on the board.)

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If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by S_Watson » Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:07 pm

The perception of an original "Big Bang" is an entirely Human one, limited by the Human capacities of perception. Just because the "Big Bang" is the limit of what we can see and/or theorise about, doesn't mean it was the origin of the "Universe".

And although contempory physics seems to accord somewhat with Hinduism, Hinduism is by no means the first nor the last word on cosmology, no more so than the Australian Aborigine metaphor of the "Dreamtime" which, unlike Hindu cosmology, contemplates NO temporal beginning NOR any temporal end! Methinks the various peoples of Bronze Age India who concocted Hindu cosmology, forgot some other wisdom of our ancient Human ancestors thousands of years before anyone lived in India at all. :wink: 8)
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Post by Evinnra » Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:31 pm

We have a choice at many levels. Some would argue we are choice making machines. But that is NOT the question. Do we make those choices freely, somehow separate from the universe?
You cannot make any choice freely when you are bound to any socio-political-religious institutions, it seems to me. - Andreas
....
It is a rather inaccurate view that in order to find answers we destroy things in our path. We do more than that, we do good things as well. In other words, if we evaluate what we do here, we must realise that it is not all bad. If we choose not to evaluate, we not getting an accurate picture.


Depends how you see it. Can we say that we can really evaluate something when we are bound from socio-political-religious institutions? The answers we get must be bound then to those beliefs to some degree. So from that point of view we only try to prove what is true to us not what is really true.
Freedom also depends on to what extent we are bound in the instant. For example, someone negotiating with kidnappers is far more bound in his or her choices than someone running in an open medow like a bunny. In addition, we must be doing more than proving what is true to us because normally we do not stop inquiring nor do we stop experiencing once we find out that something is the case. What comes naturally is to make an observation and test it, then make more observations, more theories and test these as well. How free we have to be from socio-political-religious influences on our thinking before we can say we are free from them? Before birth perhaps, or before conception?
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Post by romansh » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:29 pm

Andreas wrote: ok, so I am talking to potassium or to calcium now? :D
:) If you like. But that was not my point. I don't think we can consider ourselves somehow separate from calcium and potassium ions or rest of the universe for that matter.
Andreas wrote: You cannot make any choice freely when you are bound to any socio-political-religious institutions, it seems to me. About our biology I think that there is a pre-determine path that has to do with the affirmation of life.
You cannot make a free choices for many reasons, our experience dictates our choice (an exchange of mass, energy and perhaps information). Are your choices free at this very fundamental level?
Andreas wrote: Fear and desire in my opinion play an important role in shaping our choices. Can you feel superior and at the same time have that gratitude for life? I don't know.
Yes fear and desire are important factors in determining choices. What are the causes of fear and desire?
Andreas wrote: If our destruction is caused by fear or desire and this goes back to the affirmation of life concept then it must be unnatural at least in my opinion.
If that is your definition fair enough. But by my definition of "natural" putting any prefix on natural makes it an oxymoron.
Andreas wrote:One more question that comes into my mind is is it healthy? for our psyche or for our biology. However here would be nice to clarify that we are not talking about some comet falling from the sky. You say our destruction and I am guessing that you mean the destruction we cause.
Can I recommend "Survival of the Sickest" by Dr Sharon Moalem. He gives a slightly different view of a tleast health. But then some would argue a dualist point of view is ultimately unhealthy even from a psychological point of view.
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Post by romansh » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:01 pm

jonsjourney wrote: You know romansh...after some deep contemplation, I am thinking that your position makes more sense, ultimately. Our ability as humans to destroy ourselves does seem natural, after all.
When we say unnatural we tend to ascribing value judgement on it ... fair enough. eg is medicine natural, homeo and naturopaths would argue not? But then again are placebos natural? .. Anyway have fun :)
jonsjourney wrote: It is the human ego that cannot deal with such vast amounts of time, including mine. :wink:
Zaphod Beeblebrox wrote: If there's anything bigger than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.
I suspect ultimately consciousness is an illusion, so psychological explanations are simply descriptions of chaotic patterns we observe. There's no point your possibly non-existent ego worrying about the very same ego.... :)
Cindy B. wrote:As for free will and determinism, my view is that neither exists as absolutes. We are free to choose within certain bounds, from the level of nature and our place in it through every intervening level up through the cultural. (Yes, I said the same thing elsewhere on the board.)
Hi Cindy
Firstly as an agnostic I cannot say definitively that we do or do not have free will. But I can say that I cannot point to a mechanism that allows free will. (There is a circularity in this argument I admit).
For all practical purpose I'll behave as though I have free will and bear the resultant cause and effect. But I won't (as I have for fifty odd years) dismiss the possibility of the lack of free will. It leads to some very interesting perspectives, not just nihilism.

Also there are arguments that are not deterministic at the core, but lead to the conclusion to a lack of free will.

Here's a nice one by Galen Strawson in an interview.
Last edited by romansh on Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by romansh » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:08 pm

richard silliker wrote:Re; free will.
If there were a lack of free will, where every action has been predetermined, what would be the reason for forgiveness?
RS
Determinism and pre-determinism are not necessarily the same, but I have a sneaking suspicion they could be. Though I don't expect to find out in my lifetime.

Reason for forgiveness? ... try evolution. Genetic and perhaps memetic.
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Post by richard silliker » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:57 pm

romansh
(Well perhaps superior .. )
Nothing like the simple things in life that give us pleasure. Eh?

RS
"We sacrifice the whole truth of any given experience for the value to which we are constrained".
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Post by jonsjourney » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:53 pm

Yes obviously the jury is still out as to the origin of the universe and where it is headed. But I think that science has provided us with a pretty nice set of testable hypotheses that have pointed toward this likelihood. As to the Hinduism thing...It is just a matter of my opinion that their, and much of the Buddhist, cosmology makes some sense when integrated with scientific discoveries. Any systems flaws can easily be pointed out, the same is true of these, but they do seem to hold many similarities that are, well...intriguing. In the end the beliefs of others does not matter much to my mind in the spiritual sense as much as the scientific discoveries mean to my brain when trying to piece together the mystery of my existence.

The mythologies speak in metaphoric terms to the songs of my mind. The discoveries of science speak in testable terms to the inquiries of my brain.
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Post by Evinnra » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:12 am

romansh wrote:
Andreas wrote: If our destruction is caused by fear or desire and this goes back to the affirmation of life concept then it must be unnatural at least in my opinion.
If that is your definition fair enough. But by my definition of "natural" putting any prefix on natural makes it an oxymoron.
Was going to ask for some help with this sentense above but my post was kicked back. Did not want to end up double posting so here goes again the question: what does the 'it' signify in the sentence above?

- is it the destruction that is unnatural,
- is it the fact that sentient beings have fears and desires that is unnatural,
- is it the affirmation of life by sentient beings that is unnatural,
- or none of these ?

Please help me with this cyber-bro, I've lost track .... :oops:
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Post by romansh » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:26 am

Evinnra wrote: Please help me with this cyber-bro, I've lost track .... :oops:
Hi Ev
I would like help but it is Andreas' "it"
I think a much more interesting question might be what is our definition of natural?
Of course mine would be something (perhaps not terribly useful) like "everything".
Then an unnatural "it: might be something that is not part of everything.

Like I said not terribly helpful .... :roll:
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