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.

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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.

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.

My take on beliefs and interpretations

Hi there.

Last time i did some definition-gibberish. Wasnt the most exicting stuff i assume, but its necessary if you want to talk about that kind of stuff (it would be even necessary to define it more clearly and to define even more… but lets do that when we need it, right?)

So, what will i write about right now? Well, if you are interested readers of all kinds of knowledge out there you might have noticed that proponents of various groups (that i described before) tend to swing at each other with several arguments all the time. They do it at debates since, i dont know, several hundred years. They do it in the internet since its possible there. And well, we all know those arguments that they trade. Materialists are arguing with neural correlations in the brain, dualists with NDE’s, theists with the bible (examples… these are not all arguments, obviously). Stuff like that. That kind of stuff did change in the last decades, im sure of it. But the essence of those arguments is always the same. People tend to take everything they can get to argue for their point of view. Im no different. I state it clearly for everyone to read: Im a dualist of some sorts. Of course i would try to use all the arguments i can get to argue for my opinion. And well, surely i will try to refute every other argument out there as good as i can. Im a human after all.

The thing with all this is: Every opinion, even if we think it is based on facts, is a belief. Believing isnt something that is exclusive to theism and religions. Everything we know is based on beliefs. Lets take physics for example. We believe that there are fundamental laws out there; and with those laws we are trying to explain the world. Gravity for example. Its there, right?  Well, in our subjective experience we believe so. We know these days how it works, right? We believe we know. We can explain it with the knowledge that we got from our research that is actually based on the belief of a fundamental system. And that very system is a belief in itself, filled with tons of assumptions. You know, our system of understanding of this world doesnt have to be true. I know that this is something where some are actually saying that it is not true and i actually should deliver facts to that, but ahm… Have you ever asked yourself if you could explain something differently? Something that you are certain of? There are possibilities to do so; those other explanations would still fit into the “knowledge” we have.

In the end its a matter of belief. And interpretations, of course. If you believe something; well, that something isnt anything else than a interpretation. Take the neural correlations that i already mentioned as a example. Materialism tells us that is a clear indicator for mind=brain, right? Well, is it? In the end there is a lot of propaganda involved too, i know, but materialism is a belief system that tries to explain everything with only matter; they try to interpret it within that system. No suprise here that this would be evidence; they interpreted it that way. The dualist would say that its awesome that science found out how to intercept the connection between the mind and the body.

If we are actually trying to be objective here, we are noticing though that science doesnt do anything of that at all. Both of them are wrong. Neural corellations are not proof of mind=brain or any stuff like that. We just map some cognitive and perceptive abilities to brainwaves and signals. Our thoughts, our memories and our consciousness isnt involved here (i know, there are people out there who are saying that they are involved, but ahm… if there are “interfaces” to our cognitive abilities and our perceptions, there may be some of the same sorts to memories, etc. too. Its like a computer; we are accessing interfaces) . And with this, mind isnt involved either. There are theories for that kind of stuff out there; some materialistic theories about that are kind of popular. But there are others too; and there are obviously tons of critics about every single one of them. They all make sense in their own belief system, thats for sure.

Fundamental to that all is though: Theories may be based on “known facts”, but they are speculations about how something else could be. Sadly, many people these days dont recognize this and take a lot of stuff for certain while it truly isnt.

Bottom line of this: We dont know as much as we think we do. We believe more than we think we do. People these days are actually just substituting these words for each other; the meaning of them isnt getting substituted.

Definitions related to the field of parapsychology

Hi there.

I actually wanted to do a post last saturday, but some stuff did hold me up.

Anyways, lets get into it. Ive got quite a lot of stuff i want to write about. But with what should i begin? Well, propably with the beginning. Lets define some fundamental things that will always pop up in discussions about parapsychology, consciousness and so on.

First of all, what are the current most popular beliefs out there?

If im allowed to do so i’d sepeate them into 3 groups. First of all, theism. You all know that one. In public its sometimes the only one of those groups that gets associated with the word belief, buts its clearly not the only one of them that fits the meaning of it. Theism is a broad field; fundamental to it is that there is atleast one god. There could be more though; it would be still theism. (Let me quote a source of wikipedia here… http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theism . Its not worth much since wikipedia is also kinda corrupted these days, but that one should get it kinda right). Its propably the largest group worldwide with various subgroups (you know, christianity, etc…).

The second group is materialism (nope, im not dividing that up into physicalism and naturalism and all that stuff). Fundamental to it is the assumption that everything is material. Everything. Including our consciousness. As much as i can say its pretty popular over in the US (Especially in various fields of science that are closely based on matter, like neuroscience). Europe seems to be a bit less aggressive about that, but its still here. Many people relate materialism closely to atheism; but in my opinion those two can be clearly seperated. You dont have to believe in a god to think that there isnt only material out there.

And that brings me to the final group. Some of you may say that its a subgroup of theism, but just like i already wrote, non-material-beliefs dont necessarly need a god. Two good words to describe that group propably would be spiritiualism/dualism. Those two words can be related to each other (depends on your definition of them), but they dont have to be. That group holds the belief that there isnt just only material out there. And thats basically it. Things like life after death and paranormal phenomena are getting related to it; the first one is propably one of the things thats pretty popular in that group, the second one not necessarly so. But besides that, both are not clear indicators for it.

Anyways, as you can see it seems like there are clear definitions. Reality is, there arent. There is way too many stuff out there that cant be clearly defined as a part of any of those groups. And well, there are propably many out there who would punch me for sticking their beliefs in any of those.

But basically these are the larger ones. If you go to a random internet discussion plattform that you know about, it will be basically two or more people of one of those 3 groups that are trying to boost their egos. If you really want to know more, read science papers or something. Not just the mainstream science, the others too. It will help you so much more doing that instead of discussing with people that are already sure what they want to believe. They wont budge anyways.

Anyways, since i want to talk a bit more about some ‘paranormal’ things, let me try to define some of that too:

Consciousness

I would gladly refrain from defining that if i could. Its propably one of the most talked-about things out there since humanity exists. So, what is consciousness? Some out there describe it as self-awareness, others as a combination of behaviour, emotions, awareness and all that other stuff. And well, there are also materialists out there that claim that it doesnt exist at all, but lets ignore them for now. If we take the rest of them, it may be a combination of various of that stuff. Self-Awareness and Awareness in general are propably a big part of it. And since self-awareness comes with various other things (like the act of thinking; did you ever try to be self-aware without thinking about youself?), they are propably included too.

What doesnt have to be included though are memories (and emotions dont have to be either; i know i mentioned them before though). But as always, it can be included since you cant clearly define those things unless you make assumptions.

Parapsychology

I already wrote that one (the title…), huh? Its basically the science of everything that is ‘paranormal’. Stuff like ghosts, life after death and especially psi are getting related to that. Western science usually treats that one like the black sheep of the family. Thats propably related to various frauds in the past (the rest of western science had those things too though; but as usual, no one cares about those) and the fact that this science is mainly based on subjective experience. Its not like the other kinds of science arent based on that; but most of them can be measured with machines or stuff like that. Most of parapsychology cant. Therefore most scientists of matter-related science fields wont take anything of it seriously (and thats a sad thing 😦 ).

NDE & OBE

Those 2 words are insanely common these days when you are talking with dualists about life after death. NDE stands for near death experience. That kind of stuff are the moments where people are being conscious while they are getting in life-threating situations (or while they are clinically dead). Moments where they shouldnt be capable of observing anything at all; but some of them still do. They are linked to quite a few symptoms like a bright light, seeing your dead relatives, etc. There are lots of theories for it out there (materialistic, dualistic…whatever.). Materialistic theories are often related to drugs and the effects of chemicals. Also science is capable of triggering a few of those described sympthoms (if its the same experience as living trough the real deal…i dont know, i never had something like that. Thats a subjective thing after all). Dualistic theories are based on the notion that there exists something seperate to our body. Therefore all of that is possible, no probs.

OBE stands for out of body experience. They are related to NDE’s in that way that they often occur while NDE’s are happening. They dont have to though. OBE’s are the act where people are leaving their body; or atleast they say so. Many of them are reporting various things they saw while the where flying around. There are cases where that stuff was accurate and true. A bit frightening in my opinion, but its out there. Materialistic theories try to explain it just like they do with NDE’s. OBE’s can also be triggered with the stimulation of the brain (and again, i dont know if that would feel the same as the real deal). And well, i heard that you can actually learn to do that stuff freely. Eastern spiritual science is propably something that could help here. Dualistic theories are trying to get around that with the notion that a spirit exists (not all of them of course).

To be honest, i dont know anything about theistic theories for both of them. I may assume though that those would be similar to the dualistic ones.

Thats propably enough for today (and im out of things to define for now anyways). You may want to remember at this point that these are not explicit answer to the meanings of those things. Especially consciousness is something that cant be clearly defined. Also, in all of that stuff there is a lot of subjective experience involved. Something that science these days likes to ignore. But well, i hope that i gave some of you a bit of insight on how you can define these things.