20150401

Critique of TSW Part 28b The Last Chapter

Blog 20150401 

Bill suggests that without free will, the natural world would be fatalistic. Like most indeterminists, he relies on the Myth of Exceptionalism to claim that science, particularly in the form of univironmental determinism, can say nothing about the evolution and character of human consciousness and sapience. Finally, Bill awaits arguments that presumably would get him to become a univironmental determinist overnight. We will not be holding our breath in anticipation.  

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked “TSW: “are from "The Scientific Worldview" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

The Last Chapter (Part 2 of 2)

BW:
F. Biopoesis has been proven false, while abiogenesis is an unmitigated truth, even if not demonstrated.

[GB: Either term is correct according to Wikipedia: “Abiogenesis or biopoesis is the natural process of life arising from non-living matter such as simple organic compounds.” “Abiogenesis” is now more popular than “biopoesis” (414k vs. 12k Google results), so I will use that in the future. Sorry, but neither of them has been proven false and neither of them is “unmitigated truth,” since there is no such thing except in the heads of indeterminists who hold fast to absolutism.]

BW:
G. UD doesn't provide any "scientific solutions" to consciousness or ethics; it is inherently fatalistic.

[GB: False. Univironmental determinism is the only correct way to understand both topics. It is founded upon the assumption that there are material causes for all effects, which is a basic requirement for providing “scientific solutions.” As always, your free will hypothesis denies that we, as exceptions, are not governed by the same material interactions that govern everything else in the universe. I have explained consciousness in enough detail to encourage any reasonable person to consider it as the motion within the brain. Of course, it is a special project of indeterminists to use the infinite complexity of such motions to claim that only a supernatural explanation would be sufficient. You can believe that all you want, but in practice, such as in psychiatry, the material causes are sought in order to provide solutions to mental illness. And as I have also explained endlessly, ethics are road maps that are guides to the behaviour that allows us to survive within society. None of this is fatalistic. I define fatalism as the belief that only the macrocosm (our environment) controls what happens to us and solipsism as the belief that only the microcosm (ourselves) controls what happens to us. In truth, what happens to us is controlled by our interactions with our environments. Even if one believed that the natural state of the universe is “inherently fatalistic,” the adoption of supernatural thought as a remedy would still be useless.]

BW:
H. Rejection of "exceptionalism" is poorly defined and untrue by common definitions.

[GB: The Myth of Exceptionalism is the belief that humans are not subject to univironmental determinism, the universal mechanism of evolution stating that what happens to a portion of the universe is dependent equally on the matter in motion within (the microcosm) and without (the macrocosm). That is perfectly well defined, although indeterminists have tried to escape that reality by proposing that we have some “super” natural character that would allow us to step out of the universe and its laws of physical existence.]  

BW:
I. Aristotle, Rand, and libertarianism are frequently misrepresented.

[GB: So sorry about that. I admire Aristotle greatly—he was the greatest scientist to precede Newton and was one of the first to propose the infinite subdividability of matter. My only objection to his work was his idea of absolute chance, which was a contradiction of causality and uncertainty.

I only included a reference to Rand as an example of an analysis burdened by a huge microcosmic mistake—similar to the free will hypothesis itself. A scientific, univironmentally balanced view would have emphasized selfishness and altruism equally. I realize, of course, that the purpose of her book was political, not scientific, so in that respect, one could consider it a misrepresentation. She was merely taking sides with regard to the eternal political question: “Should we do it together or apart?” In politics, we should be free to argue the case for either approach. Rand and her libertarian friends have some strong arguments for doing things apart, while others have strong arguments for doing things together. The answer to that question can be known only by experiment. Science can never give a fixed answer to that question because the univironment keeps changing. Here are the paragraphs deemed to be “misrepresentations”:

With this philosophy we can be "our own chemists"; we can gain the feeling of "controlling our own lives." Because we realize that the self and the world form an inseparable univironment, we can avoid viewing personal success or failure microcos­mically, as something independent of our surroundings. For us, the answers to human fulfillment do not lie solely in The Virtue of Selfishness,[1] Winning Through Intimidation,[2] or Looking Out for #1.[3] We realize that we cannot wreak havoc with the macrocosm without wreaking havoc with ourselves. The macrocosm always beats back.” (p. 312)
[1] Rand, Ayn. The Virtue of Selfishness. New York: New American Library, 1964.
2 Ringer, R.J. Winning through Intimidation. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Book Publishing Company, 1974.
3 ________, Looking out for #1. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1977.

The rules of ethics are resistant to change just as they are changeable. Puritans need not fear the release of the untrammelled human spirit, just as libertarians need not fear the permanent stifling of their desires.” (p. 263)]

BW:
J. Consciousness as not the unique human trait; you totally ignore sapience.

[GB: Many other animals have consciousness and sapience (wisdom, intelligence, etc.). Just ask your dog or cat about that.]

BW:
K. Given your off-handed rejection of Free Will, you can't account for innovation, ethics, emotions, art, or beauty.

[GB: The hypothesis of uncaused free will adds nothing to any of those topics. Each can be studied by scientific methods that trace the causal chain that produced them. None of them just pop out of nowhere without physical causes.]

BW:
L. Equating ethics with altruism isn't argued or justified, nor even questioned.

[GB: Sorry, but it never occurred to me that the relationship between ethics and altruism needed justification. Ethics generally are considered to be the rules for getting along with others. Anything we do to acknowledge others and their needs might be construed as altruistic, while anything we do to ignore others and their needs might be construed as selfish. Obviously, a solitary individual would have no need for ethics or altruism.]

BW:
M. The "Univironmental interactions" you describe are standard Newtonian or conservation laws.

[Agree. Except for the inclusion of the Eighth Assumption of Science, infinity (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions), neomechanics is the same as classical mechanics. That inclusion, however, produces some profound interpretations that dispense with much of the indeterministic nonsense (immaterial fields, matterless motion, extra Euclidean dimensions, explosions from nothing, etc.) now common in the regressive physics that followed the overthrow of classical mechanics in the 20th Century. In addition, univironmental determinism is careful to treat both the microcosm and its macrocosm equally, eschewing the microcosmic mistakes inherent in today’s systems philosophy, which brought its archetype: a finite universe with nothing outside of it.]

BW:
So, overall, I agree with 90% of your propositions, but less than 60% of your arguments for them.

The book has been very helpful to me in clarifying my own views and I'd be happy to discuss any of these reservations whenever you'd please.

[GB: Bill, thanks so much for all your work reviewing "The Scientific Worldview." I am happy to be one of the few authors who ever gets the kind of detailed feedback you have so kindly provided. It is rare to find anyone nowadays with a knowledge of physics and philosophy who will entertain a re-evaluation of long-held, cherished interpretations of mainstream physics and cosmogony. You also have helped me to clarify my views and my writing in ways that will help future readers, many of whom no doubt have similar concerns and beliefs. Thanks also for conducting your review in a relatively civil fashion. Also, in the future, I would be pleased to hear of any arguments that might be useful for convincing you to become a full-fledged univironmental determinist.]

cotsw 070


2 comments:

Westmiller said...

GB: "Bill ... relies on the Myth of Exceptionalism to claim that science, particularly in the form of univironmental determinism, can say nothing about the evolution and character of human consciousness and sapience."

Of course, I don't believe in the "Myth of Exceptionalism", nor any other supernatural causation: I am an atheist. However, I do believe that humans are qualitatively distinct from other animals. Scientific investigation is the only means of determining the evolutionary cause for the sapient effect.

GB: "... Bill awaits arguments that presumably would get him to become a univironmental determinist overnight."

I don't disagree with the proposition that many effects are caused by factors "within and without", only that they are almost never "equal", as you state multiple times. Science is all about isolating effects to their fundamental causes, ignoring incidental and insignificant mitigating factors in reality. I don't think science is possible without that.

GB: Either term is correct according to Wikipedia: "Abiogenesis or biopoesis is the natural process of life arising from non-living matter ..."

That's true in common, modern usage. However, biopoesis specifically claimed that reproducing cells (living) evolved from viruses (non-living), which has been disproved: NO virus is capable of self-replication.

GB: "... your free will hypothesis denies that we, as exceptions, are not governed by the same material interactions that govern everything else in the universe."

Not true. My position is that sapience evolved by simple evolutionary processes which made Homo Sapiens qualitatively distinct from other animals, in the same fashion that animals became qualitatively distinct from plants. An animal is not merely a bigger plant; a human is not merely a bigger animal.

You skipped over my rather lengthy commentary about free will as compatible with determinism, not an exception. You're welcome to post that, if you wish.

GB: "... I define fatalism as the belief that only the macrocosm (our environment) controls what happens to us and solipsism as the belief that only the microcosm (ourselves) controls what happens to us ..."

I don't think any fatalist or solipsist would accept that definition. The fatalist believes we have no "control" and the solipsist believes we have total "control" over our choices. Your position seems to be that we have no "control" over any of the causes, within or without. That's fatalism.

GB: "... Rand and her libertarian friends have some strong arguments for doing things apart, while others have strong arguments for doing things together ..."

I'll let Rand's writings speak for herself, but she is very much in FAVOR of "doing things together" ... voluntarily. You conflate Robert Ringer's books ("Winning through Intimidation", etc.) with Rand's books, but they are quite distinct and in many ways contradictory.

GB: "Many other animals have consciousness and sapience (wisdom, intelligence, etc.). Just ask your dog or cat about that."

I did, but Bowser had no comment. He was certainly conscious of the fact that my lips were moving, but he didn't recognize any verbal commands in my question. Maybe your cat has an opinion. ;o)

GB: "... I am happy to be one of the few authors who ever gets the kind of detailed feedback you have so kindly provided."

I wouldn't have attempted it unless I had great respect for your arguments and overwhelming agreement with your premises. As I noted at the beginning, most of my reservations are mere quibbles over language, definitions or a minor disagreement on phraseology. Perhaps when I've finished my books, "Unimid Theory" and "Sapient Ethics", you'll return the favor. Civility preferred, but not required.

Glenn Borchardt said...

BW: The... "within and without"...are almost never "equal"…

[GB: Remember that when determining causality, the absence of something is just as important as the presence of something. This is clear from Newton’s First Law of Motion, in which Newton’s body moves in a straight line only because: 1) it exists and is in motion and 2) nothing exists in its path that would stop it. The goal of univironmental analysis is to focus on both sides of the univironmental boundary equally.]

GB: Either term is correct according to Wikipedia: “Abiogenesis or biopoesis is the natural process of life arising from non-living matter ..."

BW: …biopoesis specifically claimed that reproducing cells (living) evolved from viruses (non-living), which has been disproved: NO virus is capable of self-replication.

[GB: Obviously, your last sentence is false. If that was true, none of us would ever get a cold or flu. Your statement demonstrates one of the errors produced by systems philosophy and its overemphasis on the microcosm and ignorance of the macrocosm. Viruses replicate only within the host cell. In other words, they need a special macrocosm, an environment, that contains the proper ingredients, in the same way that a computer virus needs a special macrocosm (your hard drive?) for replication. DNA also requires a special macrocosm, a living organism, for its replication. You are correct that the hypothesized transition from virus to cell was not the pathway by which nonliving matter became living matter. It was a somewhat different pathway.]

BW: You skipped over my rather lengthy commentary about free will as *compatible with determinism*, not an exception.

[GB: Sorry, not interested. There is extensive literature supporting both sides of the interminable compatibilism-incompatibilism debate (e.g., https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/author/whyevolutionistrue/ ). The transition from compatibilism to incompatibilism takes place very slowly. Jerry Coyne is doing a wonderful job in that effort, despite his adherence to cosmogony, the destruction of which I believe to be a even more important step in human evolution.]

GB: "... I define fatalism as the belief that only the macrocosm (our environment) controls what happens to us and solipsism as the belief that only the microcosm (ourselves) controls what happens to us ..."

BW: I don't think any fatalist or solipsist would accept that definition. The fatalist believes we have NO "control" and the solipsist believes we have TOTAL "control" over our choices. Your position seems to be that we have NO "control" over any of the causes, within or without. That's fatalism.

[GB: Each of us, being portions of the universe, is controlled by the within and without regardless of what we can say about it. In other words, we exert control over the macrocosm and the macrocosm exerts control over us. Those univironmental interactions produce the causal chain responsible for who we are. They are what makes me a determinist and you an indeterminist. Without further significant inputs, neither of us will suddenly change our minds. Each of us must work with what we have: the information obtained from the macrocosm and stored in our brains as knowledge. I have the “feeling of freedom,” while you claim to have “free will.” In neither case do we have a real choice—we cannot exist without changing the macrocosm. Thus it is not true “that we have NO "control" over any of the causes…without”—that truly would be fatalism. On the other hand, like the eye that cannot see itself, we really cannot change ourselves. We cannot climb into ourselves and make rearrangements like we could do to the furniture in our house. The only way we can “change ourselves” is by changing our environments.]

[GB: Sorry to have gotten Rand’s sophisticated selfishness in the same pen with Ringer’s vulgarity. Thanks for inadvertently pointing out the connection between libertarianism, free will, and voluntarism.]

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