[lit-ideas] Re: This is a post in which I am not even going to mention Popper

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2010 11:52:44 -0500

I am not a philosopher, as some of you may have already guessed,
nevertheless I have no problem waxing philosophical when it suits my
prejudice.  It seems to me that Mr Yost wants a real God, not just an
electrical one.  If Mr. Yost had ever been hit by 480 volts he would surely
believe that God is electricity.  But then what is electricity?  It's
usually defined as "electron flow" but that's a child's view.  It's not like
water flowing through a hose -- well, OK, yes, metaphorically  it is.
Almost all of existence is dependent upon  a difference in temperature and
pressure.  Pressure and temperature rule the universe -- not just
refrigeration. Pressure and temperature are the products of physicality.  If
either changes, the universe at hand changes.  As do our brains.  They
either boil or find friendly environments or freeze over. But Mr.Yost
desires to know how to account for the pressure difference in our neuronal

How the hell would I know.  I still depend on Spell Checker.

Mike Geary
still doing the pressure-temperature thing in Memphis

On Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 5:38 AM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

> --- On Tue, 19/10/10, Eric Yost <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > Physicalist explanations are essentially materialist
> > explanations with energy thrown in, to allow the speaker to
> > be appear to be more precise and make a big hit at cocktail
> > parties, line dances, and shotgun weddings. It's another,
> > better, term for materialism, especially after the old E = m
> > times and a constant discovery.
> > However, exactly what physicalist explanations seem to
> > consist of also seems to change, given the slightly more
> > recent and stunning stuff like Bell's Theorem, which capped
> > the EPR-Bohr debate.
> Popper might agree that physicalism shares with materialism a 'reductive'
> approach to explanation of the universe, and emphasise that this kind of
> reductive explanation is commendable where it produces more falsifiable
> theories in science but is not so commendable when posited as metaphysics
> which reduces falsifiability by reducing the range of entities we need to
> understand in order to understand the universe [e.g. by saying the only
> entities we need consider are matter or physical]. As he argues it,
> 'scientific reductionism' is a methodological position that is inextricably
> linked with the advantages of increasing falsifiability; whereas, outside of
> this, 'reductionism' is a metaphysical position that logically does the
> opposite by decreasing falsifiability.
> But, in terms of the history of ideas, Popper is explicit that materialism
> has been most important and beneficial, for example as a research programme;
> and while he thinks materialism [i.e. the view all entities are matter
> (perhaps in the void)] is prone to undermine a humanist ethics, the great
> materialists were often great humanists where their opponents sadly often
> were not.
> The shift from materialism to physicalism is linked, Popper suggests, to
> the fact "Materialism transcends itself" (see P's "The Self and Its Brain"):
> that is, the initial programme to explain all as matter broke down as its
> pursuit revealed a need to posit the existence of physical forces, such as
> gravity, which are invisible and are not 'matter' in the sense of the
> initial programme. We might observe that "atomism" has transcended itself
> also, with the atom no longer the indivisible end-stop of matter but a
> product of sub-atomic activities. This kind of transcendence is the result
> of a breakdown in the pursuit of a kind of reductive explanation and
> furnishes an intuitive, albeit inconclusive, argument against dogmatic forms
> of reductionism.
> For Popper, the history of the universe (as we presently guess it) refutes
> the idea that 'There is nothing new under the sun'. From physics emerges
> chemistry, later biology [all in World 1]; then from the biology of nervous
> systems and proto-cognition emerges the World 2 of human conscious and
> unconscious mental states; and from this World 2 emerges the World 3 of
> cultural artefacts, of 'thought-contents' considered in the abstract. These
> World 3 entities in turn causally can affect World 1 through the development
> of theories and their implementation [via World 2] that lead, for example,
> to the building of cities or to their obliteration [Hiroshima]. It is the
> 'downward causation' exerted by these emergent entities on the physical
> world that provides one of the strongest arguments for their reality: the
> destruction of Hiroshima is no more comprehensible without positing a World
> 3 theory about 'splitting the atom' than a Mozart symphony is comprehensible
>  as merely an arrangement of noises or marks on a score that be understood
> using only the laws of physics.
> Donal
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