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All posts for the month August, 2012

Really grown on me from this year’s “This is PiL” release. I don’t think I even mentioned it making any particular impression when I listed the setlist from Newcastle ? (Has the making of a future crowd-pleaser, I said in fact.)

When I try to explain to people why PiL are so worth seeing, some cannot get their minds beyond “that punk Johnny Rotten” – some albatross. Whilst John may now be a national treasure, the English eccentric, light relief on Question Time, what is beyond doubt is that John, Lu, Scott and Bruce are a top drawer band with top quality material, both lyrically / subject matter-wise and musically. Having seen this “best PiL ever” three times now I can also report that the live experience is second to none, and it’s not just the music, it’s the respect. John demands a little respect from his audience but it’s repaid in spades – the band returns passion and genuine appreciation for an audience that turns out to see them.

The setlist on Monday at the O2 Academy in Newcastle [Aug 16, 2012] had five numbers from the latest “This is PiL” album amongst the tried and tested mix of crowd-pleasers and personal favourites. (This is Not a Love Song, Deeper Water, Albatross, Reggie Song, Disappointed, Warrior, Flowers of Romance, Lollipop Opera, Death Disco, Bags / Chant and Religion, with Out of the Woods, One Drop, Rise and Open Up as the encores.)

The order seems to vary from gig to gig, but the collection seems to have crystallised around the set first aired in April 2012 at Heaven. Out of the Woods and One Drop have the makings of future crowd favourites, Reggie Song fits the set like a glove, and Warrior, Religion and Open Up remain magnificent; the irresistible, pile-driven arrangements so tight.

Can you resist dancing and singing along to these ?
Find out for yourself. You’d be mad not to catch them live on this tour.

Wonder if upcoming trips to US might provide an opportunity to catch them there ?

[PS One of the other reviewers that night mentioned the omission of Public Image itself from the set list. I found that weird too. It’s the blistering opening track on the 2011 Isle of Wight – Live Album – smashing through the lousy sound system feedback problems in the opening numbers – maybe what actually fried the monitor mixer – stunning, literally. It says something about PiL’s depth of material when they can leave out a number like this and still wow their audience.]

An excellent RSA (Royal Society of Arts and … ) “RSAnimation” of a lecture by Iain McGilchrist. (Hat tip to David Morey on Facebook for the link.)

Blogged several references to reading McGilchrist’s “The Master and his Emissary” but never wrote a complete review in one post – It so knocked me out, it led me into other connected readings immediately. The lecture animation covers the essential beauty of his view. The halves of the brain have forgotten who’s in charge – neither. The right brain appreciates why it needs to collaborate with the left, but the left has forgotten why it needs the right. And this is a “western” mental illness.

Or, in McGilchrist’s words (after Einstein)

We honour the servant (rational mind)
but have forgotten the gift (intuitive mind).

Distinct but also vitally important point – the interconnection between the two (the corpus callosum under control of the frontal lobes) is inhibitive – permissive management control – that preserves the necessary distance between the two halves. [Very consistent with the view of free-will actually being free-wont.] There is actually more in the book than the lecture too, naturally.

[Post Note – 4th March 2013 – see also this Dr. Dave NPT Interview with Iain McGilchrist. Also hat-tip to David Morey. Biggest new point discussed – ~35:30 – is the gender differences !!! Women have “broader” corpus-callosum structures than men, so the connection / inhibition balance is significantly different – because women have different evolutionary survival needs from men – women are more robust and less expendable than riskier men. Don’t recall reading that in the book? The reference to Julian Janes too “Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind” – no, but yes – not so much breakdown or loss of the divided brain, more an exaggeration of the division, coupled with an increasing emphasis on using the left, and to ignore the “voices of the gods” coming from the right. A breakdown of the optimal, balanced and enlightened functioning of the increasingly bi-cameral mind. Characterised as behaviour you’d only expect to see in autism – another recurring theme. Interesting Dr Dave also admits to being “blown away” by McGilchrist’s work too – so “knocked-out” I said. Full 55 mins interview plus additional 20 mins discussion by Dr Dave and commenters. Really, really good stuff.]

[Post Note – that lecture includes my whole agenda – scary – HOW DO WEjoin up the dots” between this thinking and the narrow “simplisticated” view that objective rationality is everything – rather than the definition of its own limitations. Say, in the naive but very public – faith vs science wars, the global economic & environmental “crises”, art and science funding, education, education, education, or crime & morality, responsibility & punishment debates. Some dots worth joining: Pirsig’s Quality before Objects, Nick Maxwell’s Scientific Neurosis, Alan Rayner’s Natural Inclusion, Iain McGlichrist’s Master and Emissary, Jill Bolte-Taylor’s Stroke of Insight, Dave Snowden’s Cynefin Framework, Dr. James Willis’ Scylla and Charybdis, Daniel Wegner’s Free Will as Free Won’t, Mary Parker-Follet’s Integration not Compromise – will do for now – ignoring many of the more explicitly philosophical and metaphysical resources.]

Dave Gurteen has a stream of daily quotes on KM subjects, and this one from Dave Snowden always catches my eye when it comes round.

“The way we know
is not the way
we report what we know.”
Dave Snowden

That is so true, and pretty fundamental to the Psybertron agenda “What, why and how do we know?” The way we know things is invariably complex, but we inevitably express it (or are expected to communicate it) in rational objective terms.

Good piece by Mark Lewis in Time.

Yes, in terms of the individual (multiple) crime, the victims and Norway’s liberal justice system the sentencing is right and safe. If he doesn’t “reform” his view of events, or get terminated by an insider, he’s there for life. The curtailment of his liberties – imprisoned with limited outside communication – is about protecting society from him and his worldview until such time as he is rehabilitated (if ever), not about punishment.

We could argue the pros and cons of punishment, and whether it’s a good thing or not that a liberal justice system shuns it, but one reason to have a proportionate penal element is “pour encourager les autres”. A message to the world, beyond Utoya, beyond Norway, beyond 2011/12.

The real issue here goes beyond the specific case to future cases of “nutters” rationally justifying mass killings or other “evil” in some personally perceived cause or other, even before any actual action. Insanity is a grey scale, a spectrum disorder. Frankly, I don’t accept the importance of any distinction between evil and less than sound mind. Surely most capital crimes are neither, even pre-meditated (murder) killings, are culpable but circumstantial lapses of good order. Evil and/or insane are surely the minority case. Rational justification of evil is madness. Rational justification of human killing by an individual is evil.

(Case in point – uneducated mouthy lout in a bar last night “Can’t see what the fuss was about – they were all liberal lefties. Should’a been acquitted.” and “Can’t understand why they were calling him a Nazi, he didn’t kill any Jews.” Breivik needed the smirk wiping off his face. Strong messages are needed to educate.)

[Post Note – in terms of my own agenda on what makes for a sound mind, when it comes to rational morality, if rehabilitation includes the offer of therapeutic help with his mental disorders – coming to terms with the rational madness of his motivation and justification – then the achieved outcome matches my preferred outcome. The only downside is that whilst not being formally “insane”, the fact that his not being completely sane really does benefit from psychotherapy, becomes effectively invisible.]

Mark Lewis tweets the accepted refrain – accepted in the sense that the existing legal situation appears to demand this choice. But no reason the judiciary shouldn’t do the right thing ?

Mad or bad:
#breivik will be sentenced tomorrow.
He wants prison.
Prosecution wants compulsory mental healthcare

Right thing is – he’s guilty (culpable, responsible, rational, aware) and insane (morality based on narrow rationality alone). He gets (more we get him, it’s not about him) imprisoned for the protection of society (life or until deemed not dangerous) – he gets offered therapy for his mental health. If he doesn’t see his problem he declines the offer, when he does, he gets the therapy. No risk to society, he’s in prison.

If choice is enforced – then “mad” is the best option – so long as the the mental institution is actually as secure as a prison, and the sentence is still “life or until not dangerous” – with some good checks and balances on any non-dangerous decision. Once deprived of his freedoms (*), don’t see why the “health care” should be enforced – offered yes, enforced no.

(*) This is the real question – what human “rights” does this kind of criminal have ? Very little external communication so long as he remains “dangerous” clearly. Being declared insane – or with his sanity suffering from a specific disorder or two – against his wishes, is part of the rights-deprivation punishment – depriving him of the right to be considered sane.

[I’m repeating myself.]

[Post Note : As claimed earlier, Breivik’s defence  confirm today that he will appeal if found insane, but not if found plain “guilty”. A fact which confirms – ie no surprise – that insane is the greater punishment for him, depriving him of one important satisfaction. Be interesting to see if the judges rationalise that guilty is the better verdict simply to avoid the ongoing limelight of an appeal – but I hope not. Provided for the victims the less than sound mind verdict doesn’t relieve him of any culpability, then the world needs the insane verdict – insanely culpable, culpably insane.

Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be in prison.
Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be guilty.
Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be of less than sound mind.
Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be offered therapy.]

[Post Note 24th – Verdict – Guilty / Prison and of Sound Mind. Typically Norwegian bureaucratic sentencing, with no “judgement” by the judges, just a list of penal code sections and subsections applicable.

Boy does the world need a redefinition of “sound mind”.]

Honour among thieves – and you don’t steal innocent young lives. Bring me the head of Anders Breivik – the subject is London gangster Danny Wollard (who?). Technically insane or not, Breivik is guilty / responsible, and he’ll need solitary confinement if he expects, or we expect him, to live on the inside. Hat tip to Trygve Sorvaag. (Topical because the sentencing is tomorrow 24th August).

BBC Magazine piece on the recent US poll on religious belief comprising (mainly) two comments by religious conservative Ron Dreher and moderate atheist David Dickerson.

I’m constantly baffled that sexual orientation and marriage is a central issue on both sides – surely it takes all sorts, and normal is a numbers game that needn’t be a judgement, just fact that “abnormal” has to be a minority by definition. Fidelity to norms – conservatism – is as fundamental to evolution as the fecundity of new opportunities. Just not even contentious. More to the point, surely we have bigger moral fish to fry?

Some interesting interpretations of the numbers – now and in the direction of youth becoming the future population. Good to see the atheist pointing out that the new atheist / four horseman effect is probably minimal and not representative of majority atheist positions – hear hear.

What’s more, as a person who has read Harris and Dawkins—who both treat saying grace at dinner as if it were morally adjacent to slapping Galileo—you can hardly claim that the New Atheists have mounted an unusually empathetic charm offensive. I give them credit for a 1% atheism bump, max. Maybe two.

Absolutely. My mantra – constant fighting “against” doesn’t win friends and influence people – evolving constructive long-lasting added-value.

It was only when three of my friends came out of the closet in one month that I was forced to look at the consequences of my theology. It was “The Literal Bible As I Understood It v My Friends”, and my friends won. Historically, friends always win.

Or as I say “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding?”

(The source of the survey is David Kinnaman’s book “unChristian.)

[Post Note :]

Woodrow Wilson (1919)
“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”
“We are citizens of the world. The tragedy is that we do not know this.”

Terrible flirts both of them, but great to see the chautauqua tradition continue. Humans having intelligent conversation that educates. Larry is moved to say:

Most things humans have written over the ages (mythological or otherwise) contain some “wisdom” …. Science isn’t wisdom – just one of the raw materials.

Wow. He’s good. A chameleon who works with his current audience. And he does distinguish himself from Dawkins and from Gould. Distinction between science informing and the doing, the application being more than science. Even the Q&A with sceptics works well. Whatever works for you! Wow, as I said.

[PS – Re  previous post – he admits his something from nothing arguments are about “redefining” nothing.]

Disappointed in finishing Krauss’ “A Universe From Nothing”. He makes some good points (see previous post) but nothing entirely new – quantum fluctuations, big bang, matter asymmetry, inflation, flatness, cosmological constant, CMBR distribution – and most of the newer stuff is very speculative. If this is new to you then he is a strongly recommended read. (An updated Charlesworth & Gribben’s 1990 “Cartoon History of Time” for me; it’s proven hard to beat despite the amount of reading since.) He is a witty read, a cosmologist eyeing the funding of particle physics:

Particle physicists are way ahead of cosmologists. Cosmology has produced only one totally mysterious quantity: the energy of empty space about which we understand virtually nothing. However particle physics has not understood many more quantities for far longer!

The fact that a credible scientist takes anthropic indications seriously without dismissing them as mere truisms is a major leap forward. Of course as a good scientist, he’s always looking for the plausible speculations that may suggest or be suggested by empirical tests, however indirect, and obviously at these levels “evidence” is a hugely accumulative, constructed concept with the occasional empirical landmark. But, the bad taste is that the agenda is so clearly intentional and directed towards the anti-God agenda. Totally unnecessarily IMHO. The breathless afterword and sleeve notes from Dawkins, Harris and more compound the impression. Perhaps Larry is angling to be the 5th horseman, to replace Hitchens who died before he could write a foreward. Even philosopher Anthony Grayling describes it as

” … a triumph of physics over metaphysics (and theology) … “

Only Martin Rees (the “quisling” according to Dawkins, remember) is more neutral

” … deeply fascinating speculations … “

Ultimately, despite constantly saying he is talking about something from literally nothing, his nothing is a field of energy potential, a “quantum haze” – neutral zero energy “essentially”, as he keeps qualifying it, with balancing quanta and anti-quanta popping in and out of existence, blurred to “essentially nothing” within quantum time-scales. This “nothing” is inherently unstable, hence the existence of something other than this nothing. Whilst he liberally quotes heroes of science Feynman (his) and Bronowski (mine) his philosophy doesn’t progress beyond Plato and Aristotle. His faith (which I share) that science will constantly push back the boundary of where the first cause within physics can be described, however speculatively, is not a reason to deny the existence of the literally nothing boundary as a logical, metaphysical starting point. In fact he is effectively saying, it’s just not an interesting stance to take – it doesn’t tell you very much. True. In fact that’s a large part of my agenda, that there is little to argue about here. It’s just not contentious. So why turn it into an argument …. against …. anything else?

The real debate is what it means for a “universe” to “start” and what kind of universe you’re talking about, and the core of this question is how you respond to the anthropic “fine-tuning” in this universe. (That or radically non-intuitive models of causation and time.) If we’re talking totally disconnected (zero-inter-communicating) multiverses, where each may have totally independent physical laws, constants and boundary conditions – then we’re in the realms of pure metaphysical speculation as far as this universe is concerned. We just happen to be in the universe we are in, which happens to be the one in which we can come to exist, and the others just provide us with the convenient statistical population. (It still leaves first cause unanswered or any mechanisms outside any one universe that explains / causes the individual universes.) If we’re talking causally connected universes as part of one super-multiverse with common physical laws with constants and boundary conditions set by historical causality, then we have a meaningful physics story as to how universes arise each with their particular properties. (Still no first cause of course, which is why this is a separate non-science question.) This is Peter Rowlands stance in “From Zero to Infinity”

Again, we must reject the idea that a single cosmic creation event has structured the laws of physics in a particular way, and that they could have been different in different circumstances. The idea could, in principle, be true, but then we would have no abstract subject of physics, no generality, no absolute mathematics, and no meaningful concept of conservation, the process which makes physics universal. The very idea that we could discover a unified theory of physics is impossible in such a context. Physics is fractured in the very act of creation. In addition, such explanations have the habit of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. We simply refer difficulties to special conditions that occurred in the ‘early universe’, and deprive ourselves of understanding fundamental physical phenomena which ought to be valid at all places in all epochs.

[Update April 2014]

Taking a snip from the NYT review of Krauss book (linked by Rick in the comment below) confirms the view that not only is something from literally nothing a preposterous claim for science, but the act of writing the book, and acquiring hyperbolic endorsements from fellow horsemen simply exposes how utterly puerile their Science vs God agenda really is.

… it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, …. to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb..

Agreed. Dumb and dumber. The pity as I said is, that as a read in terms of popularising bleeding edge physics it does have some excellent content and style, marred by disingenuous claims, a puerile publishing agenda and a denial of the actual (scientific) questions raised.

I’m reading “A Universe From Nothingfollowing this post, and am 80% through already. Some quick notes summarising significant points he makes:

  1. Anthropic principles do warrant serious scientific consideration. (Despite the various “fine-tuning” questions, no updated mention of the CMBR correlation with earth’s orbit.)
  2. String theory(ies) are overblown in public consciousness well beyond their scientific credibility. (More of the Memetic Problem.)
  3. “Nothing” remains the infinitely recursive hard part of the “something from nothing” question – the nature of “space” – “quantum vacuum” etc … before the big bang; multiverses, etc. Literally meta-physics. (Same old, same old.)

Apologies for the headline, but since I tend to use Dawkins as my prime example of the arrogant scientist who doesn’t get the value anything other than science (and objective / deterministic logic), but by way of balance, this conversation with Larry Krauss from February this year, has some excellent content.

It does of course still have some cringeworthy moments – like the gratuitous mocking accusations of hypocrisy and madness of people, even scientific people, literally holding mythical truths – or that fact that the title “Something From Nothing” is completely misleading – they never really get past complexity from simplicity, or “matter” out of “nothing” (*) – but anyway … The nature of alternate life evolving anywhere other than life as we know it on earth; serious references (by both Dawkins and Krauss) to the Anthropic Principle and more. (Ordered Larry’s book on the strength of it.)

Krauss – Cosmic Humility. Excellent. Dawkins take note. At least Dawkins has the humility to admit his physics is 19th century.

(*) In fact Krauss does push back the nothingness … towards metaphysical cosmogeny (ie What’s this nothing from which something might come?). Good. Last time I majored on Krauss and Anthropic Principles was here: One of my more important posts.

Physics is science,
and cosmogeny is metaphysics or theology again
.

I’m pretty sure Krauss gets it and there is some hope Dawkins listens to him.

Mentioned earlier enjoying the output of Andy Martin – surfer, Cambridge languages don, writer, film-maker. Tremendous personally-engaging, witty style whatever the topic. His latest book is “Sartre vs Camus – The Boxer and the Goalkeeper (aka Philosophy Fight Club)

The premise of the book is typically personal – read the 5 minute memoir – extracted from the introductory chapter, published in a review in The Independent. (Funnily enough my own early career starts with the guilt of a “stolen” book – when in my final school year I was awarded a book as the school chemistry prize, I didn’t own up to a book I’d taken from the school library a couple of years earlier “Experimental Chemistry Laboratory Manual” and not returned when I left. Still on the shelf behind me as I type.)

Researching philosophy as I have been, I have been tempted to dip into the French existentialist canon, but every dip has been daunting. After trying Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus and finding sense in the later PoMo’s and Lacanian scholar Zizek, I’d concluded I’m already a PoPoMo and Proust, Sartre and Camus would remain left behind as the foggy-froggies I knew of, but would never really know.

Andy’s book provides a sympathetic introduction and summaries as well as the personal back-stories. No surprise to find the reaction to Platonic / Aristotelian ontological certainties mired in the nihilism of suspension in language beyond epistemology and experience of the real. If all philosophy is footnotes to Plato (clearly not true), then all PoMo philosophy Derrida et al, really is footnotes to Nietzche and Wittgenstein. Sartre comes across as grotesque – provocative and experimental living-philosophy sure, but all in-your-face back-story – hopeless – little chance I will actually seek out to read in the original, but Camus, with his balance and mystical Zen interests, comes across altogether more interesting. (Must revisit The Outsider).

Camus realized that in [the] very act of thinking, he was still in some sense a prisoner. Was he not a prisoner now of Plato, of the idea of the philosopher, to some extent chained to these thoughts? … A strange thought – or not even a thought, something more like the opposite of a thought. Camus had the realization, lying in bed, that if he wanted to be a philosopher – seriously – he had to break free of philosophy. He had to overcome thought itself, to somehow outwit and out-manoeuvre the forms of language he had worked so hard to acquire over many years. … In England about the same period, Wittgenstein said that if you wanted to become a philosopher, you should become a car mechanic. For Camus this was too much like hard work and it was enough just to lie there. And light a Gitanes.

He watched the smoke curling upwards towards the ceiling …

Then all at once there was a flash of light as the sun broke through from behind a cloud and illuminated a yellow vase of mimosa in the room. And it was like a bolt of lightning striking the young Albert – a coup de foudre. Transforming him, as if in a magical metamorphosis. He was ‘flooded with a confused and bewildering joy’. He became for a moment something other than he was.

‘I am the world.’

(Ibid, P54/55) Evocative of Pirsig’s motorcycle maintenance and his exhaustion “attempting to outflank the entire body of western thought”. Lots more in there – Peirce, James and pre-conceptual radical empiricism, Kafka, even Ramchandran. And such great chapter titles “Bad Hair Day”, “Fight Club”, “Pen Envy”, “An Octopus and Some Trees”, “New York, New York” and “Philosophers Stoned” to name a selection. About 2/3 through so far. Loving it.

[Post Note : Loved it. This from Stuart Kelly’s very positive review in The Scotsman:

Sartre and Camus are almost a parody of opposites. Camus, the pied noir, had the Bogart-like good looks; Sartre, the Parisian, was notoriously, unashamedly ugly (and usually unwashed). Camus died too young; Sartre lived too long. Camus’s engaged directly with the Resistance as editor of Combat; Sartre “intellectually” resisted (or, as Camus quipped, “aimed his armchair in the direction of history”). Sartre was an indefatigable, profuse writer while Camus aspired to silence, to “writing degree zero”. Sartre joined the Communist Party while Camus declined to be doctrinaire; Camus accepted and Sartre declined the Nobel Prize for Literature; Sartre constantly sought radical disjunctions while Camus looked for underlying continuities. Martin is too subtle a writer (and thinker) to allow these binary opposites to determine the story: time and again we see their positions reversing, merging and shifting.

(Andy Martin’s elegant study of the pair … is one of the most accessible and intelligent books on philosophy I have read this year, as alert to the human drama as the intellectual conflict, and unfailingly observant to the nuances and subtexts.)]

Fascinating piece from Errol Morris on NYT Opinionator today.

Picked-up from a cross hit on Psybertron for David Deutsch. One of his quotes is used as an example, but in fact it is tangential to the subject of the article – why the experienced quality, value and truth in a text depends on the font used. Not new clearly, font selection always affects the character of the communication but a fascinating, thorough example.

(I have a recollection of the referenced Phil Renaud article The Secret Lives of Fonts from an earlier encounter, but can’t find my link.)

This is surreal and ironic on many levels.

Sam is probably my second favourite amongst the four horsemen, a real moral philosopher. No prize for guessing my least favourite, but it was he who tweeted the link picked-up by Ricky. (Dan, Sam, Hitch and the Dawk in that order in case you’re interested.)

Fact : internet enabled comment on blogs directly and via social media is a major source of miscommunication – an insidious spread of misinformed ideas. (aka The Memetic Problem). Apart from comic entertainment value – most are without value or with meta-value only or, more importantly, with negative content value, unless they can be editorially moderated. Life’s too short.

Weird : Sam reckons PZ Myers “shepherd of trolls” (Pharyngula Blog) to be odious. PZ is clearly on the side of (evolutionary) science in the god debates, so you might think an ally of Harris, along with the other three horsemen. But I’ve noted before the “baying mob” mentality of PZ and his commenters (similar to Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science and many Guardian “Comment is Free” contributors.) Makes intelligent debate hopeless. The baying mob is odious – see the memetic problem.

As I say, I have a lot of respect for Sam, but I have taken exception to some of his “narrow” rationality – a recent example here. I am really intrigued as to the reality of Sam’s take on PZ. Must have missed a significant spat or irony here?

The Memetic Problem ? Sam says:

The Internet powerfully enables the spread of good ideas, but it works the same magic for bad ones—and it allows distortions of fact and opinion to become permanent features of our intellectual landscape.

I say, it’s even worse than that, because the ideas that spread more easily tend to be the inferior ones. Too simplistic, too reductionist, too comfortable fit with existing prejudice and fashion, etc. all make such ideas easier to communicate and receive and re-communicate, and “stickier” when received. Evolutionary fidelity and fecundity both benefit from simplistication of the message and its fitness.

Here we go again. BHA and its negative campaigning. Removal of Bishops from the Lords this time.

The second (revising / conservative) chamber needs a cultural heritage component and a constituency representation component that is separate from “popular voting”, and – being political  – reflecting human psychology separate from “scientific” fact. When the churches have crumbled into the ground and church asset dwindled away in a hundred years or two, then sure, there will no longer be church representatives in the second chamber.

Ban this, ban that – BHA fascists.
We need to get the horse before the cart here.

No time for review now, but thanks to David Morey for the link to this piece including Hillary Lawson.

Post Review: Contrary to the blurb, Giles Fraser (the theologian) is not really against the three metaphysicians, he’s just against Plato’s narrow metaphysics. Join the very large club.  Not listened to the “particle physics” section yet, but the only part of this I see differently is the idea of “ultimate map” I see “best available map” of reality – so it’s always the story of the journey, never the final destination. So many of the issues are linguistic and semantic (definitional), they’re not problems with reality or its map. Looks like the main areas of contention are the atomism / reductionism / upward-causation from “physics” being the one true story …. continuing

A recurring theme, and target in the various naive God vs Science debates, I last mentioned it here, but it’s just not an issue for this atheist /scientist. It’s like this:

We are our minds; “our” minds are concentrated in our brains but distributed throughout “our” bodily electro-chemical systems; the content and consciousness of our minds is the sum total of our memes. Our memes live on in recorded copies, physically, including in the minds of others, even if we never create our own magum opus for posterity. We have a duty of care to the next generation for these memes, how we create, acquire and modify them, how we hold, express and communicate them. They live on when our body dies. No argument.

We (our mind) can rest when that happens, in the sense that “we” no longer have any role in how those memes are marshalled and used in the afterworld. Our minds are no longer a coherent set managed by us, but they are out there distributed in the world, living on from the state we left them in. Is that a reward,  an escape from responsibility in this life, a credit to wipe the slate clean the moral failings of our memes and deeds in this word, an excuse not to take that moral responsibility in this world?

Hell no, quite the opposite, but at death “we” can at last rest in peace, our job is done.

Just not a source of debate or argument worth any major disagreement, ‘cept maybe a few details for sure. This is good science – and consistent with the history of human psychology – start with Dennett if the idea is new to you. Co-create, onward and upward.

Which brings us to “we” as opposed to “us & them”, “me & other” …. Copernican revolution ? Pah!

[Post Note : http://rorysfindings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/secular-humanism-and-life-after-death.html ]