History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Neurologica on brain/mind

October 25th, 2008 · No Comments

From Neurologica blog, Reports of the Demise of Materialism Are Premature, another response to Jeffrey Schwartz’ thinking on the brain/mind dualism.
I addressed this issue yesterday in Many dualisms. It can be a waste of breath, this kind of discussion. Learn the hard way, and ask yourself why, centuries after Newton you are arguing with the Bible Belt about the brain.
I am often struck by the logical rigidity of scientists on such issues. Obviously, it comes with the territory.
Also, there is no debate here, as I know from getting none from these scientists. Why on earth do their argue with Discovery Institute and not someone like me? Because they aren’t arguing at all, and must attack a rival propaganda system. Peons who dissent have to be rigorously ignored.
The ‘debate’ therefore is on the level of NCSE boilerplate, with all the usual blah blah on both sides of the ‘debate’ divide.

Arguing with religionists over ‘materialism’, ‘duality’, ‘naturalism’, etc, is by and large a waste of time. It is like tap-dancing, you don’t need it to eat. Or fiddling with climbing gear, without heading up the mountain. The issue is to solve a problem, not fiddle with methodology so that the answer is forced to so conform.
It is trap, in many ways, to refute the obvious errors in proponents of anti-materialism. Their jargon is often muddled, but what they point to is going to prove devastating to scientific dogmatism. The solution might be to teach ‘dialectic’ to scientists. Not Hegel’s brand.
Dialectic means transferring the ‘debate’ between antitheses into your own mind, by takingn P and not-P as zigzag enquiries. That kind of logic is a cloud surrounding crystallization into finalized logical arguments, and it is latent in all thought. Look at yogis, they often do that routinely with all positions. Start young.
The point is that something to this effect will broaden thought, force you to experience different universes of discourse, and rescue scientists from narrow positions where history isn’t really on their side. It is devoutly to be hoped for that Cartesian dualism can be laid to rest but it is not likely to happen, and isn’t really the issue.
In any case, brain science hasn’t solved the problem yet. So why the dogmatism?

Also, with reference to this article. New Age thinking can be a problem. But Buddhism isn’t new age thinking. It is quite old, old age, and didn’t come mixed with quantum mechanics, materialism, or naturalism, although, with its kinship with Samkhya, it tended toward non-theism, Samkhya naturalism (or materialism), and, as did all the ancient yogas, resolved the issue of ‘dualism’ by paying not attention to it, by climing the mountain instead of bickering over climbing gear at the foothills.
They did that by increasing the factor of self-consciousness to the point where the problem of dualism dissovled in a more expansive understaing of the greater totality of man.
Let’s put it with brutal simplicity, does reductionist neuroscience reject Buddhist psychology? Is ‘enlightenment’ a superstition?

Meanwhile, the best approach here for scientists is a figure such as Schopenhauer, minus his metaphysics of the will. The noumenal/phenomenal issue might resolve the point on which they are stuck, condemned back to the bush leagues of arguing with fundamentalists.

Meanwhile, I haven’t the foggiest here. I had long balked at challenging neuroscience, unlike Schwatz, because I was waiting for some big breakthrough that could really clarify the issues.
I am still waiting
Etc… more on this later

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