Ideapod – Looking for enlightenment.

Ideapod – Looking for Enlightenment – Continued.

new activity in the longest running thread in Ideapod

Hi Tim

Welcome to the conversation.

For me, the problem I have here exists in the different sorts of understandings and meanings that are often wrapped up in common words. Often terms can mean things that are logically incompatible to different people.

The term “why” is a prime example.
The term is sometimes used as a synonym for “how”, in the sense of asking “why is ‘x’?” meaning what is the set of pre-existing conditions that lead to ‘x’ coming into existence.
“Why” has another level of meaning that is applicable only to a subset of reality, the set of intentional beings {of which all participants here are probably members} which relates to the set of intentions that an intentional being has for doing something.

Because we are intentional beings, we tend to think in terms of this latter sense, and many make the category error of applying it to processes which do not have intentionality.

It seems probable to me that the notion of god derives from this sort of error.

And in the broader sense of understanding generally, yes certainly all understanding appears to be limited and based in probability. It seems clear from studies of the many levels of how brains function, that our experiential reality is not reality itself, but a subconsciously created model of reality that is usually informed by both past and current experience, and the expectations derived from them, and is capable of “drifting” from “reality” for all sorts of physical and psychological reasons; mostly related to the various levels of expectation functions in different levels of brain function.

In simpler terms, to a very large degree, we tend to see what we expect to see, and ignore anything that is different and doesn’t appear to be a threat. This just seems to be part of how brains seem to have evolved to deal with this complexity we find ourselves in.

[followed by]

Hi Tim,

And equally from my perspective, I would like to see far more people being willing to question all assumptions, and to put as much effort as possible into learning the various tools of logic, probability, mathematics, technology and observation to explicitly test as much as possible, and be prepared to re-evaluate if probabilities change.

I don’t work with “truth”, I work on probabilities, best guesses, intuitions, supported and tested by the best tools I can find.

And while I can see a certain utility in Damian’s addiction to the concepts of right and wrong, it seems clear to me that a more strictly probability based approach is more appropriate.

I find Damian’s use of the term “believe” misleading in this context. I don’t have beliefs in the classical sense, I simply have currently useful paradigms and heuristics that have not yet been falsified – it doesn’t seem sensible to me to use the term “truth” with any of them.

[followed by]

Hi Mark,

It seems to me that the evidence is quite strong that the idea of “Truth” (as in universal and eternal – Plato style) and to a lesser degree even “truth” are illusions.

At the physical level:
The evidence seems quite strong that what we experience as hard causality at the macro scale of our normal experience is really just an artefact of vast collections of randomness within probability distributions.

Reality does not seem to do hard causal rules.
At the fundamental level reality seems to be both unknowable and random (within certain probability distributions).
And at the macro scale vast sums of populations of events deliver probabilities that are a very close approximation to hard causality in many instances.

At the human level:
It seems we have no direct access to reality.
It seems our only experience is of a model of reality that our brains assemble.

In such a realm, what might “truth” mean – really ???

Useful approximations work for me.

[followed by]

Hi Mark,

Our brains seem to be many things.

They seem to be Bayesian inference engines.
They seem to come preconfigured with linear predictors, and a host of other faculties that were great for survival on a savannah but not quite so useful in an exponentially changing technological and conceptual civilisation.

Certainly we all have things that are very reliable in the normal contexts of our lives. These things are what make the idea of “truth” seem plausible.

And yet when we take ourselves out of our normal realms, and into novelty, our “truths” often don’t work so well.

Once I’d been through that process a few dozen times, it started to dawn on me that maybe this whole idea of truth isn’t what it seems.

Logic and mathematics are great tools for modelling, for map making – and as we have discussed elsewhere, the map is not the territory.

And there is no certainty in this place of uncertainty. A statement both simple and profound!!!

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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