forums related to metaphysics

The random philosopher is back!

I took a rather long break from writing about philosophical stuff. I actually had some problems figuring out what i want to believe in. To be honest, i still dont know. There’s way too much stuff going on out there in this world to actually believe in certainity. Even so, i got something today that i’d like to discuss.

You know, i was surfing through various internet forums regarding philosophy, psi and all that stuff in the last few months. There are lots of those out there – many of them are really really bad. Especially if you search for something that isnt so close to the mainstream opinion its getting really really hard to find a place where people try to discuss seriously.

Well in the end i found 2 places that i did stick to. Let me tell you about those.

Firstly, http://www.skeptiko.com .

The forum got a nasty reputation in sceptic circles, just like the podcast. Im not saying that this is totally unjustified – theres certainly a lot of biased opinion there. But well, who is without bias, right? If you take your time to acquaint yourself with the opinion of the person who’s producing the podcast and you are able to dig through his opinion you get a lot of good stuff out of it. As a note on the side, its obviously a proponent-podcast. Dont exepct pro-materialism or pro-physicalism opinions here, even so people like Shermer, Coyne or Churchland where on the podcast. Even so, the mentioning of these names shows atleast that widely known people were engaged in discussions here.

Thats the podcast. The forum to that…ah well. Thats a different story. I heard it used to be a lot better a year ago. I joined it like in autumn last year. Its actually nearly equally divided when it comes to opinions. Theres one half that believes in psi and all those things and theres the other half that doesnt. The latter group dominates like 1-2 sub areas of the forum due to a restriction on several parts of the forum for sceptics. Certainly a good idea – i imagine that proponents sometimes just want to discuss among themselves without any snarky comments.

The 1-2 areas where sceptics are allowed, well… its rather typical. Sceptics pretty much flood the sections with stuff like “i dont believe in this, theres no proof for that…” and so on and so forth. If you are into that, go for it. I actually stopped writing there; its not helping at all to engage in discussions with people that arent even considering other opinions. I really tried that before; i actually can understand their opinions quite well. I used to (and sometimes i still do) believe vividly in these opinions aswell. Its rather hard for me to get away from them btw. Even so, just clobbering others with your opinion instead of enganging in serious discussions wont get you anywhere. No one is willing to budge just a tiny little bit there; and if you are willing to do that you will get “eaten” by them. Give them one finger and they’ll take the whole hand. But thats just my take on that.

A second forum i’d really enjoyed visiting in the last few months is the forum of bernardo kastrup: http://www.bernardokastrup.com/

He got a blog where hes writing about his opinion on all sorts of philosophical questions. As much as i know hes a idealist – you know, hes believing that everything is in consciousness. He got a google group attached to his blog website.

To be honest, im not visiting that forum enough. They are discussing about highly interesting things there while being quite nice to each other. I rarely see a worthless discussion over there. And if your question isnt too weird you will actually get honest answers. Note though that the people there are NOT all idealists. They value the fact that everyone there is free to keep his or her own belief. Its a rather unique community that helps Kastrup to discuss his opinions and to talk about his books. Even so, its highly sophisticated from time to time. I cant keep up with many of those discussions there and sometimes i believe their discussing about things that are too far away from reality.

Got to add to that, i really enjoy Kastrups google group because there are no “extremists” there. There are materialists (atleast there used to be, i dont know about right now), sure, but those guys arent bad if they engage in a normal way with you.

Even so, thats it for now. There are tons of interesting topics there and i used to pick some lines or posts from those forums to discuss about them here. Maybe ill do that again. Lets see. If you really like to engage in serious discussions and you are not sure about what you should believe i suggest Kastrups forum and blog. Really good stuff.

And well, if you want to work for your information a bit more and engage with sceptics that are used to discussions with proponents, use the first forum i mentioned.

Parapsychology online course Presentation 1

Hi.

Just noticed that those great people from the parapsychology course uploaded their second video to the ongoing course:

I sadly dont have the will to sit through all those courses every evening. Will try to watch a few of those presentations this weekend though. They are certainly interesting, although i admit that it could bet tiresome to sit down for that every evening after work.

Speculations about certain arguments for specific philosophical paradigms

Hi guys.

I got a bit of time on my hands, thats why ill write down a few of my thoughts again.

This time i like to talk about the “evidence” from materialistic and physicalistic believers (atleast one or two arguments from them since i like to stray of a bit). Stuff that is highly emphasized by them. Note that i call them believers on purpose. Many of them arent sceptics at all. If i would want to talk about those guys that are really sceptics i’d call them like that. No, i wanna talk about that stuff that is brought forward every time someone mentions arguments against alternative theories from other philosophical viewpoints like idealism or dualism, e.g. the filter model. There are also things that are speaking for those theories out there; thats not the topic for this blog post though.

So, what is this “evidence” that im talking about here? Many materialists are blurry about that. You got to poke them a bit to get a decent answer to that. Be careful there though, since many dont appreciate it when you ask for reasons. Thats not a materialistic phenomena though; many people out there just want to spout out a opinion. They get all angry and stuff if you ask them why. But luckily enough there are also those people out there that do want to answer here. That means that there are things that non-materialistic believers have to ponder about. Some of them are not as easy to dismiss. I wouldnt and wont call them evidence though, simply because there isnt anything like real evidence out there in my opinion. Thats kind of wobbly, i know that. Even so, it seems the most reasonable point of view for me. No evidence, just interpreations of certain data. Im 100% sure that i can interpret every piece of data out there in atleast two kind of ways. Just because i say that cheese is tasty doesnt mean that you have to say the same, right? Thats pretty much the same. Also note that scientists are also interpreting research data. If one scientist states that milk is bad for us it doesnt have to be true. Even so, the mechanics the scientist discovered that are related to milk could be real. The effects and conclusions though could be different.

Keep that in mind when you think about scientific facts as evidence.

Well, so, a few of those arguments of materialists out there that seem to favor their theory are related to our brain. Our thoughts, memories and our consciousness seem to be related to it; the materialistic theory is that those things are not just related to the brain, they are based on it. Some even say that consciousness and those other things emerge from the lump of matter we call our brain. Many who are not used to thinking about that stuff propably will say now “of course! It seems reasonable like that!”. Ask yourself though: Is that correct?

Propably the strongest argument for the materialistic theory of ourselves out there is that we can damage our brains and with that change our personalities and our consciousness. I have to admit here, i never experienced brain damage myself. I got hit a few times on my head, but i dont believe that i actually got influenced by that. Even so, there are certainly cases where peoples behaviour did change after they got brain damaged. Thats in fact one of the strongest arguments for the materialistic theory. Propably.

But does that really point us to a neurological explanation of ourselves? Of course i cant go on and say “absolutely no”. I dont believe in facts, remember? 🙂

Even so, ill try to think about that a bit right now. The whole thing can be easily explained with e.g. a soul-based theory. The body just restricts our minds there. If our brain gets damaged, our mind just cant express itself as good as before anymore.Idealism also got no problem with that since everything is in consciousness there. It would be just a restriction placed upon ourselves for unknown reasons.

If we try to “analyze” it from a more material-related view though, that kind of stuff seems rather intriguing. Can we verify that the consciousness/mind of those persons did change due to the damage? We cant “measure” consciousness or anything related to our subjective experiences until this very day; i atleast dont know of any scientific method to do that. Note that EEG’s and stuff like that only measures our brainwaves; those correlate to our thoughts and stuff like that. Even so, we cant produce a thought by just feeding in electronical signals. We also cant “decode” a thought by recording and analyzing brainwaves. Electronic signals seem to only show us that our conscious activities are somehow connected to our brain. That does fit in many theories out there.

Point is, we cant verify the change in the mind of a person unless we take the behaviour of the persons body into account. That means that the mind could still be intact. The only person who would know about that for real is the person we try to verify. We simply dont know what the truth here is.

Another thing that is rather weird about that argument is the very fact that according to that theory the whole brain is based on matter. What exactly is matter? I know that materialists usually counter that with questions like what is consciousness, but lets stay focused here. Consciousness could be many things; the main point related to consciousness though is propably self-awareness. I’d personally would also take thoughts and memories into account there.

Lets ask that again though: What is matter? A construct of many smaller parts, called Atoms, huh? Well there may be is more to that. Matter connects to each other and forms our bodies and everything we know (according to the materialistic theory of course). How can matter do that? Remember that matter got no specific properties in materialism. If we try to assign those kind of things we are drifting of into something different (panspychism? Not exactly propably). If we break the whole thing down to bin quantities, well – there are plenty of quantum operations happening, everywhere, all the time. They happen all around us. Some scientists even suggest that they are happening inside of us aswell. You propably know that already, but quantum physics are rather weird and i wouldnt dare to explain those. I obviously cant. Even so, matter is filled with operations. Various strange properties of those quantum operations allow for various new theories (->Quantum Soul). If materialism tries to take QM into account it got a huge hurdle to take. Due to certain rules and properties of QM there are open doors for all sorts of new theories. I dont believe that materialism or physicalism imply those. Surely, there are materialistic theories for that aswell that take those things into account. You can argue for ages here. I hope you saw though that it isnt as easy as many suggest to just say “well we are dead matter and thats everything there is”. If we look at matter a bit more closely we notice that matter  isnt such a definite thing as many suggest. It gets all wobbly and relative if we try to break it down. Especially when it comes to Quantum Mechanics nothing seems to be set in stone. A very fascinating field of science.

And that pretty much shows us what we are in for when we try to explain our reality. We can make it easy for ourselves and state a theory and be happy with that. However, if we examine the implications and everything related to that a bit further though we notice that my point of view of there not being a single fact out there might be not all that wrong (: So much room for speculations though. Dont even dare to believe that you know anything about reality! We humans can only see the tip of the iceberg.

Parapsychology online course introduction

Hey.

So i was talking about that parapsychology course a while ago.

They put up their introduction to parapsychology on youtube. Hopefully the other videos will follow. I had no time (and to be honest, i was lazy as well) to follow the other lectures till now. Even so, you can rewatch them afterwards. You just have to join the course.

Anyways, the video:

It explains a few fundamental things about parapsychology like a bit of the history or what belongs to parapsychology and more importantly what doesnt belong to it. The people that are talking are propably a bit hard to understand, but well, i blame the internet for that.

[Quote] intuition and proponents vs non-proponents

Hi.

So today im going to talk about a few things related to a specific quote from one of those many internet forums out there. As a note on the side before im getting started, im biased aswell. Im not stating that im objective since i never could be like that.

Our intuitions may be able to tell us how we feel about something, but that doesn’t tell us whether it is true. And whether or not someone is genuine does not tell us whether the events unfolded in the way they describe. I think that’s why you see a disconnect between the sorts of things which proponents are interested in – stories, feelings – and those things non-proponents focus on – events, validity. A non-proponent hears a story and asks, “I wonder what really happened?” A proponent hears a story and asks, “how does this story make me feel?” It becomes a puzzle as to why non-proponents aren’t interested in the story, and why proponents aren’t interested in whether the details are accurate.

I’m not sure that there is a way for the different perspectives to be compatible. Maybe all that can be accomplished is that we try to regard both perspectives as legitimate?

As you can see, its about intuition and the old battle between proponents and non-proponents (those guys are these days called sceptics, although that word isnt fitting for them). Lets talk about the contents of that quote. As a additional information, the person who wrote that isnt a proponent. That propably explains why she is seeing things the way she does.

Anyways, the first sentence is stating that intuition isnt telling us if anything is true or accurate. Obviously that got some truth to it, since intuition is everything except being accurate. Intuition is more like a feeling and feelings are pretty much never something  concrete. I got no problem with stating something like that; there are further investigations needed to explain certain things. Intuition alone isnt satisfing anyone.

Even so i got a problem with the second part of the post and thats also why im writing about it. Shes writing that non-proponents are interested in events and validity and propents dont care about that; instead they want to know about stories and feelings. I deem that to be wrong. To be accurate there, thats as wrong as it can be.

Ive met quite a few proponents in the last few months and discussed a lot of things with them. I also did that with a lot of non-proponents. I also read a lot of stuff from both groups.

I rarely saw a proponent that is saying that we shouldnt find out if the story is true. Most people agree that we shouldnt believe anything just like that. That means that validity is a thing for both groups. Its plainly wrong to say that proponents do not care about that. Even more it seems like the author of that post tried to discredit proponents by writing that. There are tons of studies and tests from the parapsychological sector out there. Its merely not true to say that those are not trying to prove that something is valid. I can imagine though why there is that impression; those kind of studies mostly include subjective experiences. Thats not a thing in normal science. That may be one of the reason why people think that they dont want to test validity. Another thing is that many parapsychological studies start their research under certain premises that arent conform to mainstream science. They are sometimes trying to prove things that many people deem to be wrong. Bias and misconceptions are playing a huge role here aswell.

Subjective experiences are also the thing that is making the difference between events and stories. A story always includes those, since its something a human being told to others. A event is something that tries to be more objective than that and is not taking subjective experiences into account as much as possible. The approach of events is based on the premise that subjective experiences could be wrong, since humans could tell lies or did see things that werent true at all(-> the brain is making it up, stuff like that).

In the end the difference between both approach isnt the struggle for validity, since both are involved there. The difference is the subjective experience. Those are always involved when it comes to anything involving human beings, true enough. But one approach is trying minimalize those experiences as much as possible, while the other one is trying to take those fully into account.

I dont know which one is getting us further. Thats up for everyone to decide themselves. I can state though what i would believe to be true here. And that would be the approach that tries to take subjective experiences fully into account. I cant wrap my head around the fact that some people try to explain subjective stories without subjective experiences. There may be a objective event behind it, true enough. Does that mean that we shouldnt consider that what humans are telling us about those events? Reality isnt a objective thing after all; why would we try to handle it like it is objective? And even if we consider reality as objective and we disregard everything that is telling otherwise, why wouldnt be consider the story of someone who witnessed the event? Im not saying that we should believe someone like that without any further investigations. Im saying that we should investigate subjective stories aswell. We are all humans, and without subjective experiences we wouldnt be able to percieve those “objective” events at all. Why would we try to exclude those very experiences then?

Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education – online course

Hi.

Just as a quick info for all those guys out there that are reading wordpress-blogs and are interested in parapsychology.

A online course, containing various presentations regarding that topic started yesterday. All of the people that will present there are researching several kinds of topics of the fields of parapsychology (so no random internet guys there; those people know what they are talking about). The first presentation that will contain a introduction to parapsychology will start in like 1 hour. I guess the name of that presentator is Carlos Alvarado.

My personal favorite before listening to any of those presentations is Dean Radin. I read a few things about and from him already. Hes talking about a lot of interesting things. He’ll presentating on a later day of the course, since the whole thing will be going on for several days.

So, if you are interested to learn a bit more about all those things, including obe’s and all that stuff, heres the link to the course:

https://www.wiziq.com/course/86144-parapsychology-and-anomalistic-psychology-research-and-education

I believe you need to create a account to take part in that. No worries though, its free to do that.

I propably will report back with some of my own impressions of those presentations in the following days. So if you dont have the time, you can read those. Or if you dont like that, im pretty sure that there will be youtube-videos of the presentations at some point. But im not sure about that.

Btw, today lecture started just now. Its about fundamental defintions in parapsychology and some other basic stuff.

The Ism’s – a humorous explanation

After i did that post regarding my problems with a few things, lets get some other stuff going. I thought it may be interesting to talk about philosophy at its core.

Especially the “ism’s”. They are the paradigms that are the foundation of what people in this world believe. Everyone is basing his or her opinion on something like that; Even if you dont recognize it or deny it, you still do.

So, to explain those i got a quote from one of those forums im discussing things with other people:

Idealism: You have two cow thoughts. Who needs milk? That’s more than enough.

Panpsychism: You have two cows made up of thousands of cow particles. How this works, nobody knows.

Materialism: There are no cows, no milk, no you. Just atoms in the Void.

Dualism: You have two cows. You make a bunch of hamburgers, and now you have two infinitely precious cow souls which is way better than actual cows.

Creationist: Those cow fossils were put in the ground by Satan. Also, in the Garden of Eden cows gave out strawberry and chocolate milk.

Nondualism: By milking the cows, you are milking yourself….Stop snickering and get those filthy thoughts out of the One Mind!

Mysterianism: I think you have two cows, but I’m too lazy to check.

CSICOP: I saw the cows, milked them, and am now drinking the milk. Still, it’s too early to tell if you have cows.

Mediumship: I’m sensing your great grandfather had….a beloved cow as a pet….Oh, he was farmer? Lots of cows then – that counts as pets. What? Sorry, no refunds…

JREF: I won’t believe you have cows until I kill them and eat their meat. And you first have to make a check out to the “Amazing” Randi.

Dawkinsian: The cow only wants to pass on its selfish genes. Did I mention God sucks?

So lets explain those a bit more in detail. You may know one or the other already. Btw, some people may say that this isnt totally accurate, especially for materialism or stuff like that. My opinion is going form with that though.

Anyways, its starting with Idealism. You know, thats the stuff where everything is in consciousness. Therefore thoughts are enough. Its a form of monism. That means that there isnt anything else except things that are in consciousness. There is no separate objective world out there.

Panpsychism is getting more and more popular these days. Its basically descrbing that everything can be divided in its parts and everything got some sort of mind, soul or consciousness. Christof Koch would be one of those persons out there that believe in that. Note that human consciousness would also be a complex structure of many other things. I guess you could say that we achieve our level of consciousness due to the interaction of matter; matter would already be conscious, although the level of consciousness of a matter-particle would be on a primitive level.

Materialism? Do i need to explain that? Its the current mainstream paradigm; or well, its more like physicalism these days. Everything is matter or a interaction between several matter-parts. What is matter though? Well, who knows. There are explanations. But nothing explicit.

Dualism means that there are 2 several groups of things; a material group and a “soul” group. Science denies that kind of view these days; it was popular a few years ago(like, a few hundred years ago). William James was kind of a dualist, although im not totally sure there.

Creationism…well, thats basically what the church is talking about in some sort of way. The creation of everything due to a divine power. Although people laugh about that stuff these days it isnt like we can disprove that.

Nondualism.. monism. There is just one group. Idealism is propably something like that, just like materialism.

Mysterianism…everything is a mystery. Wooooo. I imagine that is the belief that we cant explain anything at all for real, even if we try.

CSICOP is a organisation for sceptics. In that case sceptics refers to people that are critical against everything. And with that i mean really everything. Im not sure if CSICOP is really like that, but they claim they are. Propably the guys that tell you that you can never be sure about anything at all.

Mediumship isnt really a philosophical group. Its more like people that like to believe in psi. Thats not really grounded in philosophy. You could categorize them in several other groups i guess. Although those people propably dont care about all that stuff. Btw, dont deny mediums and all that psi stuff just because it seems like pure madness. Theres a whole lot more going on than mainstream science tells us openly.

JREF is propably something like the new age fundamentalist organisation for atheists and all those other people that hold materialism/physicalism dear to their hearts. I personally would say they are on the same level than religious fundamentalists, but thats just me.

Dawkinsian..erf… i quote wiktionary for that:

“The concept of viewing genes as if they were the primary drivers and beneficiaries of the evolutionary process.” Its all about the genes. As the line above also states, it denies god.

Another philosophical view that didnt get mentioned is gnosticism. Thats basically about spritualism, although those guys think that they can achieve enlightment and stuff like that with being poor, sexual abstinence. Its also a approach that is related to a belief in god. The whole thing is a bit more complicated though. Dont blame me for not explaining that in detail right here.

These are not all views that are out there. Also its a bit of a humorous approach. Dont take everything serious. Even so, its a nice little overview of the most popular stuff out there.