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Offline Jeff Corkern

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SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« on: 02/05/2006 04:18:35 »
If none of the forum members here object, I would like to discuss the question of the existence of human souls from an entirely theoretical standpoint. My ultimate goal is to establish a theoretical foundation supporting the existence of souls and to stimulate scientific experiments to detect souls in the lab.

If souls exist as real, physical entities, then it MUST be possible to deduce their existence in a completely objective, unemotional, rational fashion, i.e. a scientific fashion.

I think I have done this, by deducing what the theoretical effects of souls would be on human behavior and showing that these effects are indeed present in humanity, in human action.

I wish to lay these ideas in front of a forum of scientists for their consideration and critical analysis.

I realize how incredibly radical this sounds. I do. But give me a chance and an open mind, and you might discover I have done it.

As a partial demonstration that I might really be able to do this, please consider the following statement as a statement of pure, ice-cold logic, and rank it as "True" or "False."

"If there are no souls, the only rational thing to be is a sociopath."

If there are no scientists here who are willing to read my posts and consider this subject, let me know and I will move on.

Thank you for your time.

Jeff Corkern

"Either war goes away, or the human race goes away."---^NMG^Dark_Hunter


 

Offline ukmicky

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #1 on: 02/05/2006 04:38:13 »
Hello Jeff and welcome to TNS

You've started off well by placing it in the right forum, so i very much doubt anyone would object to you continuing and I'm sure their will be a few people who would be happy to discuss your ideas with you although you may have to wait a while for any replies due to the time as most of our members are from the uk ,although  saying that we do have many members from the USA and various other countries.

Good luck

Michael
 

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #2 on: 02/05/2006 04:40:58 »
Hi Jeff,

Welcome.

I think it's difficult to send you on your way, based on just your post above and without even hearing about what you have to say.

Please proceed and if anybody has any objections then please voice them. I think the premise of your study sounds fascinating based on you initial post, so please elaborate and enjoy your stay  here too.


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another_someone

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #3 on: 02/05/2006 09:11:35 »
quote:
Originally posted by Jeff Corkern
If none of the forum members here object, I would like to discuss the question of the existence of human souls from an entirely theoretical standpoint. My ultimate goal is to establish a theoretical foundation supporting the existence of souls and to stimulate scientific experiments to detect souls in the lab.



Nothing wrong with asking questions, but the basis of the question should start with the presumption that you do not know the answer.  If you ask a question with the objective of positively proving something to be true (rather than asking whether something is true), then you do not act as an impartial philosopher.

quote:

If souls exist as real, physical entities, then it MUST be possible to deduce their existence in a completely objective, unemotional, rational fashion, i.e. a scientific fashion.



Before you can determine whether something exists, you must define what it is that you believe you are looking for.

It is easy to say X exists, or that X does not exist; but you can neither prove nor disprove whether X exists until you have an unambiguous definition of how you would describe X, and how X differs from anything else that is known.

quote:

I think I have done this, by deducing what the theoretical effects of souls would be on human behavior and showing that these effects are indeed present in humanity, in human action.



Does this mean (as you have made no statement to that effect, but seem to have assumed it here) that only humans have souls?

quote:

As a partial demonstration that I might really be able to do this, please consider the following statement as a statement of pure, ice-cold logic, and rank it as "True" or "False."

"If there are no souls, the only rational thing to be is a sociopath."



Since humans are not the only social animal, then you will have to tell me how you believe this statement should be interpreted with regard to other social animals?  Do you believe that the amount of soul an animal posses can be deduced by the size or complexity of the society it partakes in?



George
 

Offline Jeff Corkern

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #4 on: 03/05/2006 04:49:05 »
Okay, I shall proceed.

Thank you for your consideration. I guarantee you all an interesting read and at least food for thought.

I'd actually prefer a fairly slow discussion, as that fits in with my situation perfectly. I have other things to attend to and am not able to devote a lot of time to this. Although it would be nice.

Something about me. I am really laid-back. All I'm going to do is lay my reasoning out for  you-all to follow. If you-all don't think I am right, that's going to be fine with me. I might argue back, but I will remain polite at all times. And I WILL be intellectually honest---if I think you have proven me wrong, I WILL ADMIT IT AS SOON AS I SEE IT. (I have discovered this last to be a rare thing.)

One more thing. I write stories, so I might post a story or a semi-story in here on occasion to help illustrate an idea.

Hmm. Where to start.

First off: What is the available experimental data? What is the current state of science when it comes to the question of the existence of souls? What experiments to detect souls---well-designed experiments, published by reputable scientists in refereed journals---have been done? As far as I know, NO such experiments exist. If anyone here knows of anything, please list a reference.


What I'm trying to establish is that---in the strict scientific sense---the question of the existence of souls remains undetermined.

another_someone, you are correct. You must start off by presuming not to know the answer.
That was what I did--ten years ago. I have worked out a solution and wish to present it to the forum members here for their own consideration.

You are also correct by stating I must start by defining my terms. I hereby define two terms.

"Soul": An eternally existing, thinking and feeling structure that cannot be destroyed by any means whatsoever. Souls can be created, but once created, they cannot be destroyed, period. Essentially, a "soul" is exactly the same as the, oh, call it the "embodied" person, except without a body.

"Rational": In conformity with physical law.

For example, trying to predict whether it will rain tomorrow by casting bones and trying to read the future is not rational because it's not in conformity with physical law. On the other hand, trying to predict whether it will rain tomorrow by measuring air temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and so forth, is rational because it's in conformity with physical law.

another_someone, I do NOT presume that only human have souls. My little logic chain (I believe) indicates humans have souls but does not exclude animals from having souls. The question of whether or not animals have souls is not what I'm considering, but whether or not humans have souls.

Actually, I find your question rather shocking because I once had quite an extraordinary personal experience that indicated animals really DO have souls. If y'all want to hear it, I will relate the story, but as this discussion is from the theoretical standpoint it really has no place here. In a strict scientific sense, it proves nothing. Although it does suggest animals could be used in soul-detection experiments, which would avoid a great host  of ethical problems which would arise in using human beings.

Allow me to expand a little on that proposition I made. This is the exact same place I started from, way back when.

"If there are no souls, the only rational thing to be is a sociopath."

Consider the following scenario:

A man named Michael Stone comes upon an anonymous man standing on a river bank in the fog. (This is a scenario from a recent story of mine.) They are utterly alone.

Michael Stone makes absolutely certain there's no way anybody can ever find out what he's about to do. (Take this as a given, that no human will EVER find out.) He then shoots and kills the guy, loots his body, and tosses his body into the river.

Question: Is Michael's action RATIONAL? Not good or bad, mind--but rational? Is he better off after shooting his victim than he was before he shot his victim?






Jeff Corkern

"Either war goes away, or the human race goes away."---^NMG^Dark_Hunter
 

another_someone

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #5 on: 03/05/2006 13:04:15 »
quote:
Originally posted by Jeff Corkern
I guarantee you all an interesting read and at least food for thought.



That's what we're here for :)

quote:

If you-all don't think I am right, that's going to be fine with me. I might argue back, but I will remain polite at all times. And I WILL be intellectually honest---if I think you have proven me wrong, I WILL ADMIT IT AS SOON AS I SEE IT. (I have discovered this last to be a rare thing.)



A man after my own heart. :)

quote:

"Soul": An eternally existing, thinking and feeling structure that cannot be destroyed by any means whatsoever. Souls can be created, but once created, they cannot be destroyed, period. Essentially, a "soul" is exactly the same as the, oh, call it the "embodied" person, except without a body.



Given the above ability to create, but not destroy do you believe the capacity of the universe to hold souls is infinite, or do you believe that the universe will one day become saturated with souls that cannot be destroyed, and will then lose its ability to create new souls?

quote:

another_someone, I do NOT presume that only human have souls. My little logic chain (I believe) indicates humans have souls but does not exclude animals from having souls. The question of whether or not animals have souls is not what I'm considering, but whether or not humans have souls.

Actually, I find your question rather shocking because I once had quite an extraordinary personal experience that indicated animals really DO have souls. If y'all want to hear it, I will relate the story, but as this discussion is from the theoretical standpoint it really has no place here. In a strict scientific sense, it proves nothing. Although it does suggest animals could be used in soul-detection experiments, which would avoid a great host  of ethical problems which would arise in using human beings.



But it has sidestepped a key part of my question if you regard social behaviour as an indicator of a soul, then do you regard complexity of society as a quantitative indicator of soul?

In other words, do ants have more soul than polar bears, because ants live in more complex society, and display more altruistic behaviour to their social group than do polar bears?

quote:

"Rational": In conformity with physical law.


Allow me to expand a little on that proposition I made. This is the exact same place I started from, way back when.

"If there are no souls, the only rational thing to be is a sociopath."

Consider the following scenario:

A man named Michael Stone comes upon an anonymous man standing on a river bank in the fog. (This is a scenario from a recent story of mine.) They are utterly alone.

Michael Stone makes absolutely certain there's no way anybody can ever find out what he's about to do. (Take this as a given, that no human will EVER find out.) He then shoots and kills the guy, loots his body, and tosses his body into the river.

Question: Is Michael's action RATIONAL? Not good or bad, mind--but rational? Is he better off after shooting his victim than he was before he shot his victim?



I cannot see how the question of rationality comes into it.  Whatever Michael does, it will be in conformity with the physical laws of the universe.

You are equating rationality with self interest.  Rationality (by your own definition above) is totally separate from self interest.

There has been a lot of research amongst evolutionists about the nature of altruism, and the evolutionary imperatives that might lead to altruistic behaviour, but none of this either requires a violation of the known laws of physics, nor requires any belief in a soul.



George
 

Offline Jeff Corkern

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #6 on: 04/05/2006 03:29:55 »
Before I start, I have to say I am going to be out of town for the next week.

I will not be back here until next Tuesday or Wednesday depending on how burned-out I am.


quote:

Given the above ability to create, but not destroy do you believe the capacity of the universe to hold souls is infinite, or do you believe that the universe will one day become saturated with souls that cannot be destroyed, and will then lose its ability to create new souls?



These are certainly good, solid questions.

But I haven't a clue what the answers to them are. I am focused on  first trying to establish the existence of souls. When I have done that, then I can worry about what the further implications, like the ones you mention, are.


quote:

But it has sidestepped a key part of my question if you regard social behaviour as an indicator of a soul, then do you regard complexity of society as a quantitative indicator of soul?



How MUCH soul does a person have?

My answer: Build a soul-detector and MEASURE it.

But to answer your question, yes, I do regard the complexity of society---the existence of the very concept of "society" itself, actually---as a quantitative indicator of soul.

But that is just what I think, that is NOT what I can prove. Anything I have to say is pure speculation. Right here, in this thread, I want to stay focused only on what I can prove.

quote:

In other words, do ants have more soul than polar bears, because ants live in more complex society, and display more altruistic behaviour to their social group than do polar bears?



There's an easy way to solve this.

Build a soul-detector, put the animals you mention in it, and MEASURE it.

quote:

I cannot see how the question of rationality comes into it.  Whatever Michael does, it will be in conformity with the physical laws of the universe.



You're saying Michael can't change the laws of physics.

No, of course he can't.

But what he CAN do is choose whether or not to act in conformity with them. Trying to predict the weather by examining chicken entrails is NOT rational, trying to predict the weather by measuring air temperature and humidity IS rational.

Perhaps we should refine the definition of "rational"?

"Rational": Acting in conformity with physical law

You are equating rationality with self interest.  Rationality (by your own definition above) is totally separate from self interest.



Yes, I am, and yes, they are, the way I state them. I am certainly equating them. I am assuming it is ALWAYS in a person's best self-interest to be completely rational at all times. Is this not true?

But tell you what. Ignore that question. I am willing to completely toss the word "rational" and substitute "self-interest" if that makes this easier to understand and judge whether or not it is "True" or "False." (Which is still the goal. If you please, ladies and gentlement, I still want an answer to this question from everybody involved in this thread.)

So, re-wording, is the following statement, judged in an ice-cold, objective, logical, unemotional fashion "True" or "False?"

"If there are no souls, a person best serves his self-interest by being a sociopath."

Let me make my scenario even more clear.

Before Michael shoots his victim, he hasn't a penny in his pocket.

After he shoots his victim---after acting like a sociopath---he has $500 he looted from his victim's pockets.

And there is NO chance any human will ever find out what he's done. He has escaped ALL human justice.

Michael is up $500---and that's the ONLY PHYSICAL change.

Has Michael done the smart thing? Acted in his own best interest?


quote:

There has been a lot of research amongst evolutionists about the nature of altruism, and the evolutionary imperatives that might lead to altruistic behaviour, but none of this either requires a violation of the known laws of physics, nor requires any belief in a soul.[/quote]

There is a factor the evolutionists are NOT considering.

The influence of intelligence of human behavior.

Whether or not, assuming an altruism gene or genes exists, to CHANGE the gene or genes. This is THE difference between humans and all the other animals. We understand all the physical laws, and how they affect our behavior, and we have the option of changing the forces affecting our behavior should we so decide.

another_someone, you are a bad boy.(shaking finger) You have seduced me into wandering off the subject. This is something I could go on about at great length---BUT I CAN'T, in this thread. In this thread, I want to stay focused on the central problem.

In another thread someday, after this one has concluded.


Jeff Corkern

"Either war goes away, or the human race goes away."---^NMG^Dark_Hunter
 

another_someone

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #7 on: 04/05/2006 04:17:46 »
quote:
Originally posted by Jeff Corkern
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone
Given the above ability to create, but not destroy do you believe the capacity of the universe to hold souls is infinite, or do you believe that the universe will one day become saturated with souls that cannot be destroyed, and will then lose its ability to create new souls?



These are certainly good, solid questions.

But I haven't a clue what the answers to them are. I am focused on  first trying to establish the existence of souls. When I have done that, then I can worry about what the further implications, like the ones you mention, are.



But yet you can state with certainty that souls cannot be destroyed?

How can you know that souls, in all possible circumstances, cannot be destroyed; unless you can say how they will survive in extreme circumstances (e.g. at the point where the universe might become saturated with souls)?

quote:


How MUCH soul does a person have?

My answer: Build a soul-detector and MEASURE it.


There's an easy way to solve this.

Build a soul-detector, put the animals you mention in it, and MEASURE it.



So, if I were to build a machine tomorrow, and it showed that you had a soul quantitative measure of 3.16, and the guy down the road has 3.12, and an ant had 4.23, and a polar bear has a measure of 1.17; how could you say whether those values were valid.

If someone else built a very different soul-detector, and came up with different measures how could you determine which is the more accurate measure?

Unless there is some yardstick you can use to validate the reading you would consider reasonable, and those you consider unreasonable; how can you verify the correctness of such a soul-detector?

quote:

Yes, I am, and yes, they are, the way I state them. I am certainly equating them. I am assuming it is ALWAYS in a person's best self-interest to be completely rational at all times. Is this not true?



Yes, it is true that it is in his self interest to act rationally; but that is not the same as saying that all rational acts are in his self interest.

quote:

But tell you what. Ignore that question. I am willing to completely toss the word "rational" and substitute "self-interest" if that makes this easier to understand and judge whether or not it is "True" or "False." (Which is still the goal. If you please, ladies and gentlement, I still want an answer to this question from everybody involved in this thread.)

So, re-wording, is the following statement, judged in an ice-cold, objective, logical, unemotional fashion "True" or "False?"

"If there are no souls, a person best serves his self-interest by being a sociopath."



But why would you assume that a person always acts according to their narrow self interest.

Most people act as much out of habit as out of any calculated self interest (this is why we teach children a moral code, in order to train their habits to behave in a certain way just as, in the extreme, soldiers are trained to give their lives to whatever cause they are fighting for).

quote:

Let me make my scenario even more clear.

Before Michael shoots his victim, he hasn't a penny in his pocket.

After he shoots his victim---after acting like a sociopath---he has $500 he looted from his victim's pockets.

And there is NO chance any human will ever find out what he's done. He has escaped ALL human justice.

Michael is up $500---and that's the ONLY PHYSICAL change.

Has Michael done the smart thing? Acted in his own best interest?



Whether Michael has done the smart thing depends upon what objectives Michael has in his life.

Certainly, Michael has acted to maximise his short term survival; but is it the case that all human beings, or all animals, or all organisms of any kind, always act solely to maximise their short term survival?

Why should they only act to maximise their own short term survival?  Such a goal is just as arbitrary as any other goal?

quote:

There is a factor the evolutionists are NOT considering.

The influence of intelligence of human behavior.

Whether or not, assuming an altruism gene or genes exists, to CHANGE the gene or genes. This is THE difference between humans and all the other animals. We understand all the physical laws, and how they affect our behavior, and we have the option of changing the forces affecting our behavior should we so decide.



But what has intelligence to do with underlying motivation?

As I said above, why would it be an intelligent thing to do to seek to maximise one's own lifespan?

Ofcourse, we do have a survival instinct; but that is an instinct, not an intelligent decision.  Intelligence can help us achieve the goal, but it cannot determine the goal for us.

We also have a reproductive instinct but that too, is an instinct, not an act of intelligence.  We can utilise our intelligence to seek to achieve our sexual desires, but intelligence cannot be the reason for having such a desire.

In your example above, Michael acted intelligently if his actions maximised his ability to achieve his goals; but intelligence alone cannot determine what those coals should be.  It is naively simplistic to assume that the only goal Michael would have is to maximise his life expectancy (all the more so, because it is a goal that one day is guaranteed to fail, since none of us are immortal).



George
 

Offline Jeff Corkern

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #8 on: 12/05/2006 03:56:48 »

Sorry for screwing that html up, I'm still working on getting that straight . . .

quote:
But yet you can state with certainty that souls cannot be destroyed?

How can you know that souls, in all possible circumstances, cannot be destroyed; unless you can say how they will survive in extreme circumstances (e.g. at the point where the universe might become  saturated with souls)?



No, I cannot state with certainty souls cannnot be created or destroyed.

I stated that as a postulate, a given, a definition. If you don't want to accept that defintion, that's fine with me, but there will be nothing else I can say that will make sense to you.

quote:

So, if I were to build a machine tomorrow, and it showed that you had a soul quantitative measure of 3.16, and the guy down the road has 3.12, and an ant had 4.23, and a polar bear has a measure of 1.17; how could you say whether those values were valid.

If someone else built a very different soul-detector, and came up with different measures how could you determine which is the more accurate measure?



I don't know.

Depends on what the physics of souls are, and I haven't a clue about that. It requires mathematical and experimental skills, and laboratory resources, I don't have. That's why I'm trying to interest physicists in solving this problem, because I can't. I would do it if I could.

(As bait for any experimental physicist who might be reading this: Surely the first physicist who detected the presence of souls in his lab would be able to wallpaper his office with his Nobel Prizes one day. Right? His/her name would be mentioned before Michelson-Morley, before Hertz. He'd have grant money running out his ears for the rest of his career.)

Another_someone, I am trying to establish the EXISTENCE of souls first. You can keep on asking me questions about souls themselves if you want, but I'll tell you right now I'm only going to have two answers.

1.) I don't know.
2.) Build a soul-detecting machine and measure it.


quote:

Yes, it is true that it is in his self interest to act rationally; but that is not the same as saying that all rational acts are in his self interest.



This is correct in my judgment.

quote:

But why would you assume that a person always acts according to their narrow self interest.



I am not asking you to assume a person always acts in his own narrow self-interest. I am asking you if MICHAEL STONE was acting in his own narrow self-interest in this one instance.<g>

Actually, you are striking close to the heart of the problem. Under what circumstances would self-interest no longer be a narrow thing?

quote:

Most people act as much out of habit as out of any calculated self interest (this is why we teach children a moral code, in order to train their habits to behave in a certain way just as, in the extreme, soldiers are trained to give their lives to whatever cause they are fighting for).



I agree that we train people to act in a certain way, to be moral.

My question is WHY? Why do we do this? What is the physical origin of the concept of morality? Stars and planets have physical reasons for their existence. What is the corresponding physical force that brought the concept of "morality" into being?

I note this weird thing called "morality" often conflicts violently with the dictates of evolution---and that's flatly impossible, it never should've appeared, never should've happened.

I have an answer to all these questions. But it requires experimental verification, ergo my presence here.


quote:

Whether Michael has done the smart thing depends upon what objectives Michael has in his life.



Whatever it is Michael wants, he now has $500 more to get it with.

quote:

Certainly, Michael has acted to maximise his short term survival; but is it the case that all human beings, or all animals, or all organisms of any kind, always act solely to maximise their short term survival?



So he has.

No, they don't, surely. But in this particular instance, Michael has.

The question is, is it rational.

quote:

Why should they only act to maximise their own short term survival?  Such a goal is just as arbitrary as any other goal?



Now there's an OUTSTANDING question.

Why do people do what they do?

Try this one.

PEOPLE DO WHATEVER IT IS THEY DO IN ORDER TO TRY TO BE HAPPY.

This is not a trivial statement. I note so basic a document as the American Constitutions lists "life, liberty, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS" as the inalienable rights of Man.  This wasn't something they pulled out of their hat at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. There's decades of rigorous thought behind it.

quote:

But what has intelligence to do with underlying motivation?



It helps you satisfy whatever the underlying motivation is. Rigorously speaking, it helps you get what you want at minimum cost to you.

quote:

Ofcourse, we do have a survival instinct; but that is an instinct, not an intelligent decision.  Intelligence can help us achieve the goal, but it cannot determine the goal for us.



Hmph, I agree. I note also that while we possess instincts, we can also ignore them if we wish. So while instinct may push us in certain directions, in the end they do NOT control us.

quote:

We also have a reproductive instinct but that too, is an instinct, not an act of intelligence.  We can utilise our intelligence to seek to achieve our sexual desires, but intelligence cannot be the reason for having such a desire.



No argument here.

quote:

In your example above, Michael acted intelligently if his actions maximised his ability to achieve his goals; but intelligence alone cannot determine what those coals should be.  It is naively simplistic to assume that the only goal Michael would have is to maximise his life expectancy (all the more so, because it is a goal that one day is guaranteed to fail, since none of us are immortal).



No argument here either.

Still waiting for a judgement here so we can move on. "TRUE" or "FALSE." Not pushing, you understand, just reminding you of what the eventual goal is.

Jeff Corkern

"Either war goes away, or the human race goes away."---^NMG^Dark_Hunter
 

another_someone

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Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #9 on: 12/05/2006 05:03:52 »
quote:
Originally posted by Jeff Corkern
Another_someone, I am trying to establish the EXISTENCE of souls first. You can keep on asking me questions about souls themselves if you want, but I'll tell you right now I'm only going to have two answers.

1.) I don't know.
2) Build a soul-detecting machine and measure it.




But you cannot separate the issues.

I can assert that aksakharjemji exist, but unless I can define what  aksakharjemji are, the statement is meaningless, and proof as to the existence or nonexistence of  aksakharjemji depends upon whether something with the physical properties of  aksakharjemji exists.  If I cannot define the physical properties of an  aksakharjemji, then there is no way to prove or disprove the existence of  aksakharjemji.  Without a physical definition for  aksakharjemji, all it is is a meaningless word (which, in this case, it is exactly what it is).

Clearly, such a physical definition need not be complete, since it is not reasonable to expect you to know everything about any entity, whether it be a soul, or an  aksakharjemji, or a planet; but it has to be sufficiently complete that one can unambiguously identify the entity as belonging to the group of entities one seeks, and not to any other group of entities (for instance, one can define a planet as being an object that orbits a star that has an upper and lower limit to its mass and size; and within that one need not say much more, because that is a sufficient physical description that one can look at something through a telescope and unambiguously say whether it is or is not a planet).

You have not given an adequate physical description of a soul that one might be able to unambiguously say whether a thing one is observing is or is not a soul.

quote:

I agree that we train people to act in a certain way, to be moral.

My question is WHY? Why do we do this? What is the physical origin of the concept of morality? Stars and planets have physical reasons for their existence. What is the corresponding physical force that brought the concept of "morality" into being?

I note this weird thing called "morality" often conflicts violently with the dictates of evolution---and that's flatly impossible, it never should've appeared, never should've happened.



No, morality does not conflict with evolution.  The question you really have to ask is, the evolution of what?

Evolution acts on any system that is capable of arbitrary change, and is subject to environmental selection.  This is not only at the level of individual organisms (which themselves are actually no more than a collection of cells, and those cells have to co-operate, and even be willing to commit suicide, for the greater benefit of the larger organism).

Morality is a set of rules by which a society controls the individuals that form a part of that society.  Society, just as the individuals that are a part of it, are subject to evolution.  If being a part of a society is to the benefit of an individual organism, then that organism will (with some degree of variability) submit himself/herself to the rules of that society in order to maximise the gain from that society.  These rules are what you speak of when you talk about morality.


quote:

Whatever it is Michael wants, he now has $500 more to get it with.



He also has a corpse, and one less human being.  If his objective was to minimise the number of corpses, then he has failed in that, and the $500 does nothing to alter that.  It all depends upon what his objective was.

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Certainly, Michael has acted to maximise his short term survival; but is it the case that all human beings, or all animals, or all organisms of any kind, always act solely to maximise their short term survival?



So he has.

No, they don't, surely. But in this particular instance, Michael has.

The question is, is it rational.



But the point is that the question of rationality has no meaning unless one assumes an objective.

If I have a friend called Charlie, who lives to the north of me, and a friend called William, who lives to the south; then if I wish to visit Charlie, then travelling north is a rational thing to do, and travelling south is not; while if I wish to visit William, the converse is true.  What is rational depends solely upon the objective chosen, but the objective itself, at the most basic level, cannot be subject to rationality (i.e. the ends are never rational, it is only the means that are rational).

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Why do people do what they do?

Try this one.

PEOPLE DO WHATEVER IT IS THEY DO IN ORDER TO TRY TO BE HAPPY.




Not an unreasonable response but happiness itself is a biological function that is merely natures way of motivating us (i.e. it is the release of endorphins that is triggered by certain neurological conditions).

What makes a person happy is dependent upon what they have evolved to make them happy (excepting when we use drugs to bypass the normal processes, but when that happens, we end up with lots of other problems, such as addiction and a failure to properly function within society, because nature has created the processes of inducing happiness in order to allow a proper interaction within the social structure).

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Hmph, I agree. I note also that while we possess instincts, we can also ignore them if we wish. So while instinct may push us in certain directions, in the end they do NOT control us.




With this, I have to disagree with you we cannot ignore our instincts.

What we can have is a conflict of instincts, so that one instinct will override another instinct; but without one or other instinct to drive us, we are left without any driving force (like a computer that is missing its software without software, it does nothing, it is just a lump of pointless silicon and metal).

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In your example above, Michael acted intelligently if his actions maximised his ability to achieve his goals; but intelligence alone cannot determine what those coals should be.  It is naively simplistic to assume that the only goal Michael would have is to maximise his life expectancy (all the more so, because it is a goal that one day is guaranteed to fail, since none of us are immortal).



No argument here either.

Still waiting for a judgement here so we can move on. "TRUE" or "FALSE." Not pushing, you understand, just reminding you of what the eventual goal is.




Are you asking me to arbitrarily ascribe goals to Michael?  Michael is your creation you tell me what you think his goals are.  Once I know what goals you have ascribed to him, I can then tell you whether his actions were sensible/rational/intelligent/whatever, with respect to those goals.



George
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: SOULS CONSIDERED FROM A THEORETICAL STANDPOINT
« Reply #9 on: 12/05/2006 05:03:52 »

 

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