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Reply #35: I will indeed feel free.. [View All]

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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-16-03 10:03 PM
Response to Reply #31
35. I will indeed feel free..
Edited on Thu Oct-16-03 10:15 PM by Selwynn
to point out a great many things. :D


That most certainly does not rule out faith healing. First, it doesn't have to involve a stranger. For example, Christian Scientists withholding care from their children. Second, faith healing doesn't have to involve "super-physical or psychic power". It could easily be argued that God/Satan/Zeus/<insert deity or universal force here> works via natural means to cure disease. And third, while you recommend going to a doctor for cancer, you aren't ordering someone to do so, I assume you're giving them a choice.


If your primary point is to assert that there is never a situation in which prayer, or any prayer related activity, by any definition, is an appropriate substitute for medical care, of course I agree with you. But neither am I quick to dismiss those who feel that pray plays an important, real, and natural part in their lives.

And to be quite frank, I'm not real worried about protecting a point of view from a slippery slope argument such as the one your suggesting (hypothetically) here. I'm not going to lie and start denying the liminations of human beings and science (right now at this point in history) to fully and completely apprehend the world and every element of it just becuase someone might manipulate that true obersvation into justification for something unjustified. There is just a whole hell of a lot we don't have a clue about, and I feel it is important to intellectual and scientific honesty that we occaisionally remember that fact.


Non-science can tell us many things about the human condition, and how we relate to each other. But it doesn't say a thing about how the universe works. And that's my point. Any time you push the non-falsifiable "non-sciences" into the realm of the measurable, the observable, it will fail EVERY time. Guaranteed.


You continue to imply a disparity where none exists, and I think that's the biggest point I'd like to make. The human condition, and how we releate to each other are a part, however big or small, of how the universe works. Every time you attempt to close the book on "the world" and think that the box of science today acutally does encompass our whole experience of the universe, you are guilt of the most excessive huberis fathomable.

Our existentice-in-the-world is a multi-faceted thing. And a full and wizened appreciation of such a world does not snub its nose at the tools of apprehension. scientific inquiriy is one of those tools - a critical tool, with a very critical but not all encompassing function. Philosophy and intellectual thought is another tool, a very critical tool, with an equally critical but not all encompassing function. And so too, the arts - music, poetry and all forms of artistic expression, are also a critical and tragically (in this society) overlooked tool, but also one that is not all encompassing.

My argument is: I think it is the hallmark of foolishness to argue that science and science alone is the only true and appropriate tool for telling everything that needs to be told about the world in which we exist, and disparage philosophy or the arts as trivial and really unable to shed any relevant insight into the reality of "being" (ontologically speaking) withint the framework of Being, i.e. existing in existence - a subject which is every bit as much related to understanding the universe as anything else - and probably much more personally so.

My further arugment, or I should say a stipulation to my argument is: I also, very strongly believe it is utter foolishness to argue that philosophy or the arts alone are the only true or important tools for saying everything that needs to be said about the world, and thus disparage, criticize or mock science as trival or misguided.

Notice nowhere did I say anything about religion. I left it out of my argument above, because our point of disagreement was more foundational than that. But from my argument above I can say that because I know first hand the significance and crucial importance of science and philosophy and the arts in truly understanding the universe in the fullest possible ways, I am therefore not quick to turn up my nose at or scoff those who have used religious language as yet another means of apprehension. I can be misused, but so can any tool if weilded inapprporiately.

Because of this, there are a lot of reasons why meditation (which I am deliberately exchanging with the word "prayer" to better refect exactly what I am talking about when I think of the word prayer) and a spirit of relfectiveness may be very beneficial for the indvidual exploring the mysteries of the world and seeking to understand concrete truths about both the mechancial operation of the world and the situation of his or her experience within that structure.

If a person does not find this tool to be useful, then discard it. But do not tritely condemn or mock others who do find the tool useful, that would be my thought on the matter.


Typically, the response is like yours - you blame the limitations or short-sightedness of science. And then throw in a bunch of language accusing the science-based mind of being incapable of feeling or appreciating all that there is to experience.


First, my response is not "typical." Second, the reason why I say it is not typical is because I too, have heard the same kinds of responses that you are reacting against. But you are making two deeply fundamental errors in your assumptions. First, I am not pro-faith and, anti-science. I am in no way trying to establish the validity of one over the other. And I see no hard lines between what you call "science" and the rest of human existence. Secondly I am not accusing the "science-based" mind of being "incapable" of anything. What I am saying arguing against is the erroneous and frankly arrogant assertion that there is a division of superiority between the "scientific" endeavors and the philosophical or artistic ones. Each plays a crucial role in fully experiencing the universe, and if any one is missing, it would be a great and tragic poverty of experience. It is ridiculous to claim that someone who embraces rational inquiry is incapable of feeling anything. Absolutely not. However, someone who rejects and utterly mocks the other imporant tools of human existence for existential apprehention, is.

Once again, I've actually left religion out of the argument. And part of the reason for that is that I think we have very different concepts of religion. To me religion is a language game. If the language of religious metaphors and imagery better help you describe and articulate genuine living experiences in your life, then by all means use the tool. Rejecting the tool for some arbitrary reason would be foolish. However, if the language is nothing but dead to you, then by all means seek out the language that does in fact make sense to you. I do not however, see science, philosophy and the arts as a language game, but rather as a trifecta of tools, each of which is critical to the most thorough and complete understanding of both the world, and our fact of existence withing the framwork of existence that is possible.


The long and short is that we have to view the universe through our limited senses and our limited brain. Science attempts to figure things out without that bias. Non-science is (or should be) exclusively concerned with that bias itself.


Well the first thing that you should accept is that it is impossible to be perfectly unbiased. I reject your claim that the lens of our sense and brain is correctly identified as a bias. It is in fact, all there is when it comes to any inquiry. I am only interested in what the world looks like through my experience, and it is both impossible and linguistically meaningless to talk about doing anything outside the "bias" of our own reckoning. I refuse to even define a rigid separation between "science" and "non-science" because I cannot for the life of me think of any experience of life, even the most abstract, like say, the ways in which my own self-identity is shaped in part by my environment and relational interdependencies, wherein the tools of rational critical thought are not needed or valid.

Here is a dictionary definition of "Science."

"The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation , and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena. Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study."

If this definition has any merit whatsoever, it is applicable to any phenomena. Phenomena is said to be observable facts or events (Websters Dictionary). What does observable mean? I think I would not be in error to suggest that what you would mean by observable would be that which we can see with our eyes, smell with our nose, taste with our lips, feel with our touch or hear with our ears. And while I do not deny this is a reasonable definition of that which is observable it does seem to leave out a large piece of something important, namely our experience of observable phenomena.

I maintain that there is a significant difference between my recognition of a flower observed with my eyes and my experience of that flower. To me science can tell me a great deal about the flower and woefully little about my experience of the flower, whether emotionally evocative or something else. Likewise other tools may tell me little about the flower itself (which is why science is so crucial) but much about my experience of the flower. This is repeatedly true for things like emotions, or sociological structures, relationships, power structures, etc. Science observes and defines phenomena but does not interpret experience, and interpretation is greatly needed. Ethics for further example, is not the domain of science but is crucially relevant to the fullest discovery of the self-in-world.


(Heck, I'll even make a side note here and point out that scientific/environmental changes to the brain effect our observation and perception to a great extent. Head trauma can cause a change in personality. That, to me, says our personality - and therefore our "soul" - are intimately tied to physical matter, and fair game in the realm of science.)


I wouldnt at all deny this. I wouldnt deliberately deny anything that has been very well evidenced. Even in talking about the origianl post and the experiment in which prayer did not seem to contribute to the healing of patients, it is not my intention to dispute that. It was my intention to dispute the subsequent inference that therefore prayer does nothing, or is not a valid expression of human experience with genuine effects. I just believe those effects are very different than the creation of "miracles" of this direct nature.

I dont believe in mind-body dualism, but at the same time I do not have to much respect for polarized fights between science and religion nor arguments from one side attacking the validity of the other. I dont believe in the super-natural, little angels and daemons or anything else. I believe in the legitimacy of rational thought and critical inquiry, and in the merits of the scientific method. What I believe however, is that that natural world is a lot larger than some think it is, and that some religious expressions, while not being grounded in the supernatural do in fact remain legitimately part of a natural world we are still in the process of apprehending.

Why do I believe this? Because my personal quest drives me to continually seek answers that fit all the facts most simply. Certain experiences, phenomenological and ontological and existential, have not yet been sufficiently answered to account for the indisputable facts of my existence. I believe that sometimes, some people are guilty of excluding certain realities of our experience of life from their attempts to understand things, because they are not easily categorized. Emotion for example, or anything to do with personality or self-identity, relationship, sociology, etc are usually avoided like the plague because of their ambiguous and non-objective nature. I however, its probably impossible to come to truly meaningful answers about a plethora of existential questions that I care about and ignore these facets of being. Therefore I attempt to blend critical thinking, self-scrutiny, conjecture and refutation, and a honest accounting of different experiences into the real and absolutely natural dimensions of human experience that are not necessarily strictly observable.

Ah well I'm done for now. Feel free to point out again that I just can't appreciate the beauty of the world or whatever else.

I have no doubt that you appreciate the beauty of the world. And when you do, you do so thanks not only to the tool of science but also other tools equally crucial to a full appreciation of the human experience whether you pay homage to them or not.

--Edited to add a very desparately needed "not" into a sentence. :)
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