On Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 7:25 PM, Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.com>wrote:

> Evolution doesn't make decisions at all.

You may be pedantic about the use of anthropomorphic language but I am not.

> It's an emergent phenomena.

Emergent is another great buzz word that isn't of much use.

> And Evolution has no foresight, it doesn't understand one step backward 2
>> steps forward, it only understands if there is a advantage to the animal
>> right now.
> > That is debatable.

Like hell it is.

> There is the possibility of the evolution of evolvability,

Well OK, maybe you could look at the Evolution of segmentation as the
Evolution of evolvability, if you want to evolve a longer animal just do
more of the same and add more segments.

> > Why only two genders?

A better question is why there are as many as 2 genders, the greatest
mystery in Evolution is how and why sex evolved.

>> Richard Dawkins has said that in today's pop culture admitting to being
>> a reductionist is like admitting that you like to eat babies, but the fact
>> is that every disease science has found a cure for it has done so with a
>> reductionist approach,
> > This is entirely not the case. The most obvious example is the field
> of psychiatry, using drugs for which mechanisms of operation are not
> understood combined with therapy techniques that are completely based
> on practioner's experience and intuition. Yet it manages to get
> results above placebo for some classes of diseases, like depression.

OK, but what does that have to do with the "holistic approach" whatever
that is? As I said science is not the only way to gain knowledge, induction
works too. Usually.

> Being able to duplicate the brain does not imply that we understand it,

I believe it does, or at least it would mean we understand the brain as
well as we ever will.

> nor does understanding it imply that we can replicate it.

I agree in principle but in practice I think it probably will mean we can
replicate it.

> Actually understanding how the brain works means exactly the opposite:
> not having to consider all the billions of little details but instead
> understanding the fundamental principles -- which are holistic for sure.

That's the trouble with this list, everybody is a big picture man with
their own fundamental holistic theories about consciousness (but never
about intelligence because that's much too hard) that is completely useless
and doesn't advance science by one inch.

> How do you know that the universe can't think?

The same reason I believe a rock can't think, it doesn't behave
intelligently; but of course  I could be wrong, maybe the rock and the
universe are both just playing possum. But probably not.

> My view is that the difficulty in defining certain terms is a hint about
> where our ignorance lies.

You can define free will anyway you like and I will be happy to join the
debate about Human beings having this interesting property or not. But when
nobody knows what the hell "free will" is supposed to mean, not even
approximately, and then have long impassioned debates about people having
free will or not is just ridiculous.

When he was a student at Princeton Richard Feynman had an encounter with
philosophers, years later this is what he had to say about it:

"In the Graduate College dining room at Princeton everybody used to sit
with his own group. I sat with the physicists, but after a bit I thought:
It would be nice to see what the rest of the world is doing, so I'll sit
for a week or two in each of the other groups.

When I sat with the philosophers I listened to them discuss very seriously
a book called Process and Reality by Whitehead. They were using words in a
funny way, and I couldn't quite understand what they were saying. Now I
didn't want to interrupt them in their own conversation and keep asking
them to explain something, and on the few occasions that I did, they'd try
to explain it to me, but I still didn't get it. Finally they invited me to
come to their seminar.

They had a seminar that was like, a class. It had been meeting once a week
to discuss a new chapter out of Process and Reality - some guy would give a
report on it and then there would be a discussion. I  went to this seminar
promising myself to keep my mouth shut, reminding myself that I didn't know
anything about the subject, and I was going there just to watch.

What happened there was typical - so typical that it was unbelievable, but
true. First of all, I sat there without saying anything, which is almost
unbelievable, but also true. A student gave a report on the chapter to be
studied that week. In it Whitehead kept using the words "essential object"
in a particular technical way that presumably he had defined, but that I
didn't understand.

After some discussion as to what "essential object" meant, the professor
leading the seminar said something meant to clarify things and drew
something that looked like lightning bolts on the blackboard. "Mr.
Feynman," he said, "would you say an electron is an 'essential object'?"

Well, now I was in trouble. I admitted that I hadn't read the book, so I
had no idea of what Whitehead meant by the phrase; I had only come to
watch. "But," I said, "I'll try to answer the professor's question if you
will first answer a question from me, so I can have a better idea of what
'essential object' means.

What I had intended to do was to find out whether they thought theoretical
constructs were essential objects. The electron is a theory that we use; it
is so useful in understanding the way nature works that we can almost call
it real. I wanted to make the idea of a theory clear by analogy. In the
case of the brick, my next question was going to be, "What about the inside
of the brick?" - and I would then point out that no one has ever seen the
inside of a brick. Every time you break the brick, you only see the
surface. That the brick has an inside is a simple theory which helps us
understand things better. The theory of electrons is analogous. So I began
by asking, "Is a brick an essential object?"

Then the answers came out. One man stood up and said, "A brick as an
individual, specific brick. That is what Whitehead means by an essential

Another man said, "No, it isn't the individual brick that is an essential
object; it's the general character that all bricks have in common - their
'brickiness' - that is the essential object."

Another guy got up and said, "No, it's not in the bricks themselves.
'Essential object' means the idea in the mind that you get when you think
of bricks."

Another guy got up, and another, and I tell you I have never heard such
ingenious different ways of looking at a brick before. And, just like it
should in all stories about philosophers, it ended up in complete chaos. In
all their previous discussions they hadn't even asked themselves whether
such a simple object as a brick, much less an electron, is an "essential
object."  "

> Suppressing discussion about these definitions is a form of mysticism.

 Wow, calling a guy known for not liking religion religious! Never heard
that one before, at least not before the sixth grade.

> > >Philosophy is necessary but philosophers are not.
> >I don't know what to say here. Isn't philosophy a human endeavour?

Yes, and there have been many huge philosophical discoveries made in the
last 200 years, but not one of them was made by a philosopher,  the
discoveries were made by scientists and mathematicians.

> > what you mean by "philosopher"?

Somebody who puts  "philosopher" in the occupation line on his tax form

  John K Clark

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