How much freedom should people have?

This time i want to talk about another philosophical question: “How much freedom should people have?”.

This is a rather important question these days. Terrorism is everywhere, security and controls are thightening up and laws are limiting a lot of the things we can do (and rightfully so in many cases!).

There is another question that is propably related to that: “Can we be free at all?”, which is even more intriguing in my opinion since it begs a lot more the question of what freedom actually is. And that is something one can’t simply answer like that.

After a quick search on the internet there are a lot of descriptions of the word freedom, e.g.: “The absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action”. Which kinda opens up a lot more question than it actually answers. Do we really need to do things, is there any necessity at all ever to do anything?

One could argue for out biological needs as human beings here; we ‘need’ to eat, drink, all that stuff. But is that really necessary? I’d say no. It is just that we need to live with the consequences of our actions then; in this case this would mean the reduction of the functionality of our biological functions or later on death. Obviously this opinion is subjective.Everyone is free to think differently here.

Another question coming from that definition is related of the word choice – do we really chose what we do? This is heavily connected to the philosophical system you want to believe in and your pov on the matter of free will. Is there really any free will?

And really, there is no right or wrong there. A lot of things could be right here – e.g. I can try to argue from a science pov as much as as I want, but the matter won’t be resolved any time soon. Our choices could be the results of our biological body – components interacting with each other through chemical and electronical signals; they also could be the result of our personality or our consciousness as seperate entities trying to make a choice somehow. I’m not the one who will answer this and as much as others are trying to do so it propably won’t be happening anytime soon (There are of course lots of other theories, opinions and all of that to this topic out there!).

This kinda show some tiny little bits of how the word freedom is connected to various other issues out there. But of course this won’t stop us from answering the question, right?

For the sake of finding some sort of answer, let’s argue from the pov that humans actually can choose – that’s how the law does it aswell. I could never argue in court that im not being guilty because i got no free will as a being. So granted we as humans chose ourselves, there are still lots of questions left. The law is actually a good point there – where is the line when it comes to laws that limit us in our actions and how much effect do they really have?

E.g. there is a lot of talk out there regarding terrorism right now. Obviously we need to protect us against that. The question is how? In some places there is a discussion going on to change the law of assembly. Leeaving the question if that would really help aside, chaing laws like that would really limit our freedom. But maybe they do so because humans tend to do bad things sometimes if they can – one could argue for and against this for hours. The important point here is, laws limit our freedom. That leaves us as individual human beings a lot less choices to make in life. Related to that I actually believe that as long as there are 2 humans left on earth, 2 humans will argue with each other so that one of them can tell the other one what she/he should do. So even if there wouldn’t be a state and the laws of that, humans can’t be fully ‘free’ because of human nature. There are still choices that we can do ourselves, like what we want to eat and stuff like that.

So after me rambling about a lot of stuff I guess there is some sort of freedom for us humans these days; it is limited though. How much freedom everyone actually should have is something that depends on personality, beliefs and morals. It is also a question that should consider what I was going on about in this post, freedom isn’t really freedom.  And it could already limited by what we are.

Though there propably is a line that limitations and restrictions should never cross. I dont’t want to ask others what I should wear; I want to eat what I like and I want to believe what I want to believe in. As long as I don’t hurt others with it there shouldn’t be a problem, though sometimes there still should be limits. I never want to see my co-workers naked at work as a rather drastic example for that.

So, no definitive answer this time. Freedom isn’t easy – people tend to define differently what they should allowed to do and what not. So, everyone actually wants to be able to do a lot more than he/she should be able to do.

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.

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.

[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?

Alright…Let’s get started.

Hi there.

Im starting a philosopherish blog right now (as you can see i guess). This first post wont contain any discussions or information.

Im an rather active person that actually considers himself open-minded. Because of that im trying to investigate paths that people that are just blindly following one view of the world wouldnt even dare to go. While doing so im always hyper-sceptical. Im not talking about that kind of sceptical that is these days connected to people that are hard-core materialists/atheists. Im sceptical in a critical way. Im not going to believe until i got proof. Well, and because there is no final proof for anything out there(except for mathematics propably) i will never be satisfied.

My main interest is life after death and the survival of consciousness. I know that modern materialistic science doesnt believe in that kind of stuff, but surprisingly little is actually known if something survives or not. Why is that? Basically because in the end it isnt something that can be proven or disproven. You can collect hints for on or the other direction (and there are enough of them for both sides) if you want to.

So, what kind of hints and information am i going to collect and talk about right here?

Well, you’ll will know after i introduced myself. Im Michael, 25 years old. Im currently living in Germany; i also grew up here. I studied Computer Science for 5 years and got a masters degree from that (btw, that doesnt mean that im some sort of researcher; but i do know a tiny little bit about scientific work).

I grew up in a materialistic world and i always believed that stuff with everything i had. Its natural over here in germany to think like that; schools teach it like that to the kids, society suggests it too. My parents actually put me in all kinds of catholic stuff (that i didnt like at all). Thats propably another reason why i did believe in material>everything else.

So, why i am trying to write in past tense there? It would be a lie to say im not believing in materialism anymore. You cant get away from something that got clubed in your brain for 25 years. But a few weeks ago i had a weird experience.

I already had some sort of panic attacks because of death and everything for the last couple years. I was scared of it because of reason i do not even know now. It wasnt the usual fear of it though. It was a lot more intense. It fucked me good, believe that.

And well, at one point, right after i finished my master degree, i had a severe breakdown. I had constant panic and fear for several days. I couldnt think clearly anymore. It didnt matter that i knew that this wouldnt change anything at all, i still was scared. And then… you know, that may sound weird, but i had a few long and good talks with my father.

To be honest, i never thought that he would know of stuff like that, but he actually had the same problems when he was young. He told me what he did to handle it better and to deal with it: He confronted himself with it. And by that i mean that he researched the topic death. And even if you just get on the surface of it, you got to wonder: Is materialism really all there is to life? As you dive deeper in it you will find a lot of stuff that is actually quite interesting. Society and especially sciene these days isnt what it seems to be. It isnt allknowing and it certainly wont deliver all the answers we are expecting of it.

Well, my father actually found his answer to it. ITs a rather logical argument that i wont write about right now – just that much, its one of those things that cant be proven or disproven. And its related to the fine-tuning argument (which is a pretty controversal thing itself). But not only that. The final thing hes saying was that everything we are talking about could be god (the names are different, but its all the same. Matter, time, whatever).

Pretty good, huh? But since we are all science guys these days you will see that this isnt anything you can approach with science just like that(my father actually had some good reasons for believing in that stuff and i kinda guess that they are logical too). It may be logical to a lot of people out there, but it isnt scientific in a modern sense. You cant do experiments and you cant find any proof for it.

So, there must be anything else out there, right? This is basically where my journey led me till now. Im on a point where im trying to get away from materialism, but i really struggle with that since i knew that stuff for so long (and i thought for 25 years it would be the ultimate truth). And secondly, its freaking hard to find things and people that are also thinking like that that are knowing more about science then me. But they are out there (i found a few of them (: ).

So, what do you need and what is to be expected from this blog?

I’ll analyse and write about stuff regarding life after death and consciousness. Like i wrote, im not a scientist, so dont expect any new information. Im just summing it up with a ton of speculations. Even so, i made it clear that i think that materialism alone cant be the answer, didnt i? So dont expect me to say that something isnt possible just because modern science tells us so.