On May 4, 4:42 pm, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 5/4/2012 12:39 PM, John Mikes wrote:
> > I see the development into more understanding (did I say: better? No)
> > of the belief miraculous that governed human thinking earlier.
> "Understanding" is one of those words often misunderstood.  It is used to 
> refer both to a
> feeling of familiarity and empathy and also to an ability to predict and 
> manipulate.  Gods
> and miracles were easily 'understood' as projections of the intuitive empathy 
> for other
> people onto agents behind natural phenomena (storm gods, volcano gods, illness
> demons,...).

Partly, but it's simplistic. Gods are projected as being associated
with human phenomena as well. Superlative strength, beauty, wisdom, as
well as skills like hunting, sailing, and metal working. What you are
talking about doesn't explain the iconography and pageantry, the
cultural significance of their stories and characteristics.

> Science and mathematics brought a much greater understanding in the sense of
> prediction and manipulation of natural phenomena, but at a loss of the easy 
> intuitive
> understanding.  Instead science and mathematics have to be studied and used 
> for a long
> time before intuition develops and one gains that intuitive 'understanding'.  
> Because one
> is easy while the other is hard and takes time,

You are right that there are different kinds of understanding (to me
they fall along the lines of subjective orientation vs objective
orientation) but I wouldn't say that one is inherently easy and the
other hard. Religious scholarship was extensive, and really gave birth
to academia. Science owes all of its discipline and precision to one
form of priestly monasticism or another. By the same token,
overspecialization of the sciences has promoted a culture that makes
it extremely easy for scientists to ignore all understandings outside
of their narrow range. You can be incredibly intellectually lazy
without appealing to religion or gods.

I'm not saying that science and religion are on an equal footing, but
I think it's a just-so-story to account for it by assuming that
religion must be easier to master and therefore more attractive. You
can of course go much further in the sophistication of science, but I
would say that is actually a selling point for the ego. What science
lacks is any satisfactory understanding of ordinary subjectivity, and
as long as that is the case, religion and fundamentalism will continue
to thrive in all of its forms.

> people tend to suppose that their empathy
> and other feelings are REAL understanding and scientific understanding is 
> ersatz, that
> computations can't produce REAL understanding.

No, computations can't produce real understanding because they aren't
computing for themselves, they are just doing what they are programmed
to do. It is us who produce understanding through their computation.


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