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Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 307641 times)

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #375 on: 28/09/2013 18:04:38 »
I don't believe that facts are the issue here Cheryl, and the more I read the more I am convinced by that. Your reference to "Satan", who neither myself nor anybody I know has ever met, are far more the issue.

This seems all about immovable objects and irresistible forces - Faith Vs. Science. It has been dressed up a bit, rather clumsily and transparently, but when a "scientific discussion" starts referring to souls, spirits, God and now Satan (a reference I accept as perfectly valid given the context) it really is time to call it a day.

What you all do not seem to be able to get, understand or grasp, even though it is an easy thing to understand , is that the core issue here is not about science proper , it is just about the materialist dogmatic belief system in science : can't you get just that ?
Science proper should be thus liberated from that materialist dogmatic belief system prison  , and then whole new vistas would open up for science   proper as a result , the latter that has been just held back by materialism, materialism  as a backward secular religion in science =
materialism as a conception ,or rather misconception of nature has thus nothing to do with science proper ...
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #376 on: 28/09/2013 18:13:42 »
My dear young sir, once again you have given a non-answer – I “don't understand”.

Of course, you don't say what I don't understand. You can't. You do not have any argument, just a “feeling” that I am wrong. Therefore you resort to dismissal. You will, indeed, dismiss this assertion in the same way; you have no choice.

Don't worry, it is a time-honoured tactic of preachers, be they skinheads preaching the virtues of racial purity or murderers preaching the “sinfulness” of western education. I don't mind – I know where it comes from.

This thread deals with “human consciousness”. Let us assume you did some research into the subject before you started writing. Research is, after all, what any sensible adult would do.

Your research into psychology no doubt made you aware of Transactional Analysis. Broadly speaking, it occupies the place in psychology that “materialist reductionism” occupies in other branches of science. You are, therefore, familiar with the parent/child/adult aspects of “character”, a fundamental feature of human consciousness.

(If these assumptions regarding your validity as a commentator are incorrect my apologies. However, an appreciation of psychiatric principles and methods is usual, nay, essential, in discussions on “human consciousness”, particularly if you add God to the mix - your third post.)

It is not hard to discern from your posts that your parent sits like a solemn giant on all the wisdom and truth that Creation possesses; it is the guardian of your value system. Your child believes implicitly in this body of “truth” and cannot comprehend how anybody could disagree with the certain “truth” that was fixed in your value system before you were ten years old. It behaves as a child behaves; yeah but, no but, yeah but “why bring God into the discussion” circular arguments and “It's not fair!” dismissals. Your adult, the would-be modifier of your value system, lies battered and bleeding in the corner where it has crawled to die. This is because it gets a good kick from your child every time it dares to think that there might be some other truth. Externally this manifests itself in your frequent recourse to “What are you talking about?” and “you don't understand”.

You have now added another name to Nagels to “prove” that everything you learned at your parents knee was the one and only solemn truth of Creation (including, but certainly not limited to human consciousness). In fact, Nagel and Sheldrake are the only ideas you can accept; anything else would mean that your parent was wrong and your adult is nowhere near strong enough to stand up to your implicitly-believing child.

A child can only preach that his daddy is the strongest – what else does he know that he can rely on? It is only with adulthood, after time and experience have modified its Weltanschauen, that a child realises that daddy was not always right.

Of course, you have no choice but to dismiss this as well; how can you, a grown man, be thinking childishly on such an important topic? You know the difference between preaching and discussing, right?

Wrong. You don't. You need to a) grow up and b) develop some humility – you have at least one good book on the subject; the best.

I won't quote any of the many evasive, rude and dismissive answers that you have given to back up my assertion but I will quote something you said recently (reply 357):

“ these people do not seem to be able to get it yet , so, they just distort my views ,or do not understand them properly “

It's not fair! Is it.

Now, I think it's reasonable to bring a little of the “science” of human consciousness into a discussion on the subject. You do not like it; you can't – you don't not have the ability to give credence to criticism of your beliefs or your style of argument; your adult is simply not strong enough.

Which means you have no choice but to dismiss this again. However, may I suggest that, this time, you bottle your child-like arrogance and try something a bit more adult than “you don't understand”. Your lack of common courtesy is most telling and very irritating.

Finally, there is a phrase in your last post: “Dispelling Dogmas and Opening New Frontiers”.
It's a good idea; you should try it when you're ready.

Dude, instead of writing these kindda absurd whole lengthy posts that make no sense whatsoever , just try to understand what the core issue here is ,we have been talking about :

Did you at least listen to what Sheldrake had to say on the subject ? I do not think so .
We are talking here about the fact that the materialist dogmatic belief system in science as a direct consequence of the materialist 's  misconception of nature , gotta be rejected ,simply because it is untrue and has thus nothing to do with science proper , and must be replaced by a more or less valid non -reductionist naturalist conception of nature ..........
What's wrong with you, people ?
How can't you understand these simple statements and obvious facts ? Unbelievable ...

« Last Edit: 28/09/2013 18:16:40 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #377 on: 28/09/2013 20:14:31 »
Excerpts from "Science Set Free : 10 Paths To New Discovery " By Rupert Sheldrake , Chapter 1 :" Is Nature Mechanical " :



Is Nature Mechanical?
Many people who have not studied science are baffled by scientists’ insistence that animals and plants
are machines, and that humans are robots too, controlled by computer-like brains with genetically
programmed software. It seems more natural to assume that we are living organisms, and so are
animals and plants.

. Organisms are self-organizing; they form and maintain themselves, and have their
own ends or goals. Machines, by contrast, are designed by an external mind; their parts are put
together by external machine-makers and they have no purposes or ends of their own.
The starting point for modern science was the rejection of the older, organic view of the universe.
The machine metaphor became central to scientific thinking, with very far-reaching consequences. In
one way it was immensely liberating. New ways of thinking became possible that encouraged the
invention of machines and the evolution of technology. In this chapter, I trace the history of this idea,
and show what happens when we question it.
Before the seventeenth century, almost everyone took for granted that the universe was like an
organism, and so was the earth. In classical, medieval and Renaissance Europe, nature was alive.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), for example, made this idea explicit: “We can say that the earth has a
vegetative soul, and that its flesh is the land, its bones are the structure of the rocks … its breathing
and its pulse are the ebb and flow of the sea.”1 William Gilbert (1540–1603), a pioneer of the science
of magnetism, was explicit in his organic philosophy of nature: “We consider that the whole universe
is animated, and that all the globes, all the stars, and also the noble earth have been governed since the
beginning by their own appointed souls and have the motives of self-conservation.”2
Even Nicholas Copernicus, whose revolutionary theory of the movement of the heavens, published
in 1543, placed the sun at the center rather than the earth was no mechanist. His reasons for making
this change were mystical as well as scientific. He thought a central position dignified the sun:
Not unfittingly do some call it the light of the world, others the soul, still others the governor.
Tremigistus calls it the visible God: Sophocles’ Electra, the All-seer. And in fact does the sun,
seated on his royal throne, guide his family of planets as they circle around him.3
Copernicus’s revolution in cosmology was a powerful stimulus for the subsequent development of
physics. But the shift to the mechanical theory of nature that began after 1600 was much more radical.
For centuries, there had already been mechanical models of some aspects of nature. For example, in
Wells Cathedral, in the west of England, there is a still-functioning astronomical clock installed more
than six hundred years ago. The clock’s face shows the sun and moon revolving around the earth,
against a background of stars. The movement of the sun indicates the time of day, and the inner circle
of the clock depicts the moon, rotating once a month. To the delight of visitors, every quarter of an
hour, models of jousting knights rush round chasing each other, while a model of a man bangs bells
with his heels.
Astronomical clocks were first made in China and in the Arab world, and powered by water. Their
construction began in Europe around 1300, but with a new kind of mechanism, operated by weights
and escapements. All these early clocks took for granted that the earth was at the center of the
universe. They were useful models for telling the time and for predicting the phases of the moon; but
no one thought that the universe was really like a clockwork mechanism.
A change from the metaphor of the organism to the metaphor of the machine produced science as
we know it: mechanical models of the universe were taken to represent the way the world actually
worked. The movements of stars and planets were governed by impersonal mechanical principles, not
by souls or spirits with their own lives and purposes.
In 1605, Johannes Kepler summarized his program as follows: “My aim is to show that the celestial
machine is to be likened not to a divine organism but rather to clockwork … Moreover I show how
this physical conception is to be presented through calculation and geometry.”4 Galileo Galilei (1564–
1642) agreed that “inexorable, immutable” mathematical laws ruled everything.
The clock analogy was particularly persuasive because clocks work in a self-contained way. They
are not pushing or pulling other objects. Likewise the universe performs its work by the regularity of
its motions, and is the ultimate time-telling system. Mechanical clocks had a further metaphorical
advantage: they were a good example of knowledge through construction, or knowing by doing.
Someone who could construct a machine could reconstruct it. Mechanical knowledge was power.
The prestige of mechanistic science did not come primarily from its philosophical underpinnings
but from its practical successes, especially in physics. Mathematical modelling typically involves
extreme abstraction and simplification, which is easiest to realize with man-made machines or
objects. Mathematical mechanics is impressively useful in dealing with relatively simple problems,
such as the trajectories of cannonballs or rockets.
One paradigmatic example is billiard-ball physics, which gives a clear account of impacts and
collisions of idealized billiard balls in a frictionless environment. Not only is the mathematics
simplified, but billiard balls themselves are a very simplified system. The balls are made as round as
possible and the table as flat as possible, and there are uniform rubber cushions at the sides of the
table, unlike any natural environment. Think of a rock falling down a mountainside for comparison.
Moreover, in the real world, billiard balls collide and bounce off each other in games, but the rules of
the game and the skills and motives of the players are outside the scope of physics. The mathematical
analysis of the balls’ behavior is an extreme abstraction.
From living organisms to biological machines
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #378 on: 28/09/2013 20:17:55 »

The vision of mechanical nature developed amid devastating religious wars in seventeenth-century
Europe. Mathematical physics was attractive partly because it seemed to provide a way of
transcending sectarian conflicts to reveal eternal truths. In their own eyes the pioneers of mechanistic
science were finding a new way of understanding the relationship of nature to God, with humans
adopting a God-like mathematical omniscience, rising above the limitations of human minds and
bodies. As Galileo put it:
When God produces the world, he produces a thoroughly mathematical structure that obeys the
laws of number, geometrical figure and quantitative function. Nature is an embodied
mathematical system.5
But there was a major problem. Most of our experience is not mathematical. We taste food, feel angry,
enjoy the beauty of flowers, laugh at jokes. In order to assert the primacy of mathematics, Galileo and
his successors had to distinguish between what they called “primary qualities,” which could be
described mathematically, such as motion, size and weight, and “secondary qualities,” like color and
smell, which were subjective.6 They took the real world to be objective, quantitative and
mathematical. Personal experience in the lived world was subjective, the realm of opinion and
illusion, outside the realm of science.
René Descartes (1596–1650) was the principal proponent of the mechanical or mechanistic
philosophy of nature. It first came to him in a vision on November 10, 1619, when he was “filled with
enthusiasm and discovered the foundations of a marvellous science.”7 He saw the entire universe as a
mathematical system, and later envisaged vast vortices of swirling subtle matter, the ether, carrying
around the planets in their orbits.
Descartes took the mechanical metaphor much further than Kepler or Galileo by extending it into
the realm of life. He was fascinated by the sophisticated machinery of his age, such as clocks, looms
and pumps. As a youth he designed mechanical models to simulate animal activity, such as a pheasant
pursued by a spaniel. Just as Kepler projected the image of man-made machinery onto the cosmos,
Descartes projected it onto animals. They, too, were like clockwork.8 Activities like the beating of a
dog’s heart, its digestion and breathing were programmed mechanisms. The same principles applied to
human bodies.
Descartes cut up living dogs in order to study their hearts, and reported his observations as if his
readers might want to replicate them: “If you slice off the pointed end of the heart of a live dog, and
insert a finger into one of the cavities, you will feel unmistakably that every time the heart gets
shorter it presses the finger, and every time it gets longer it stops pressing it.”9
He backed up his arguments with a thought experiment: first he imagined man-made automata that
imitated the movements of animals, and then argued that if they were made well enough they would
be indistinguishable from real animals:
If any such machines had the organs and outward shapes of a monkey or of some other animal
that lacks reason, we should have no way of knowing that they did not possess entirely the same
nature as those animals.10
With arguments like these, Descartes laid the foundations of mechanistic biology and medicine that
are still orthodox today. However, the machine theory of life was less readily accepted in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries than the machine theory of the universe. Especially in England,
the idea of animal-machines was considered eccentric.11 Descartes’ doctrine seemed to justify cruelty
to animals, including vivisection, and it was said that the test of his followers was whether they would
kick their dogs.12
As the philosopher Daniel Dennett summarized it, “Descartes … held that animals were in fact just
elaborate machines … It was only our non-mechanical, non-physical minds that make human beings
(and only human beings) intelligent and conscious. This was actually a subtle view, most of which
would readily be defended by zoologists today, but it was too revolutionary for Descartes’
contemporaries.”13
We are so used to the machine theory of life that it is hard to appreciate what a radical break
Descartes made. The prevailing theories of his time took for granted that living organisms were
organisms, animate beings with their own souls. Souls gave organisms their purposes and powers of
self-organization. From the Middle Ages right up into the seventeenth century, the prevailing theory
of life taught in the universities of Europe followed the Greek philosopher Aristotle and his leading
Christian interpreter, Thomas Aquinas ( c. 1225–74), according to whom the matter in plant or animal
bodies was shaped by the organisms’ souls. For Aquinas, the soul was the form of the body.14 The soul
acted like an invisible mold that shaped the plant or the animal as it grew and attracted it toward its
mature form.15
The souls of animals and plants were natural, not supernatural. According to classical Greek and
medieval philosophy, and also in William Gilbert’s theory of magnetism, even magnets had souls. 16
The soul within and around them gave them their powers of attraction and repulsion. When a magnet
was heated and lost its magnetic properties, it was as if the soul had left it, just as the soul left an
animal body when it died. We now talk in terms of magnetic fields. In most respects fields have
replaced the souls of classical and medieval philosophy.17
Before the mechanistic revolution, there were three levels of explanation: bodies, souls and spirits.
Bodies and souls were part of nature. Spirits were non-material but interacted with embodied beings
through their souls. The human spirit, or “rational soul,” according to Christian theology, was
potentially open to the Spirit of God.18
After the mechanistic revolution, there were only two levels of explanation: bodies and spirits.
Three layers were reduced to two by removing souls from nature, leaving only the human “rational
soul” or spirit. The abolition of souls also separated humanity from all other animals, which became
inanimate machines. The “rational soul” of man was like an immaterial ghost in the machinery of the
human body.
How could the rational soul possibly interact with the brain? Descartes speculated that their
interaction occurred in the pineal gland.19 He thought of the soul as like a little man inside the pineal
gland controlling the plumbing of the brain. He compared the nerves to water pipes, the cavities in the
brain to storage tanks, the muscles to mechanical springs, and breathing to the movements of a clock.
The organs of the body were like the automata in seventeenth-century water gardens, and the
immaterial man within was like the fountain keeper:
External objects, which by their mere presence stimulate [the body’s] sense organs … are like
visitors who enter the grottoes of these fountains and unwittingly cause the movements which
take place before their eyes. For they cannot enter without stepping on certain tiles which are so
arranged that if, for example, they approach a Diana who is bathing they will cause her to hide in
the reeds. And finally, when a rational soul is present in this machine it will have its principal
seat in the brain, and reside there like the fountain keeper who must be stationed at the tanks to
which the fountain’s pipes return if he wants to produce, or prevent, or change their movements
in some way.20
The final step in the mechanistic revolution was to reduce two levels of explanation to one. Instead of
a duality of matter and mind, there is only matter. This is the doctrine of materialism, which came to
dominate scientific thinking in the second half of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, despite their
nominal materialism, most scientists remained dualists, and continued to use dualistic metaphors.
The little man, or homunculus, inside the brain remained a common way of thinking about the
relation of body and mind, but the metaphor moved with the times and adapted to new technologies. In
the mid-twentieth century the homunculus was usually a telephone operator in the telephone exchange
of the brain, and he saw projected images of the external world as if he were in a cinema, as in a book
published in 1949 called The Secret of Life: The Human Machine and How It Works .21 In an exhibit in
2010 at the Natural History Museum in London called “How You Control Your Actions,” you looked
through a Perspex window in the forehead of a model man. Inside was a cockpit with banks of dials
and controls, and two empty seats, presumably for you, the pilot, and your co-pilot in the other
hemisphere. The ghosts in the machine were implicit rather than explicit, but obviously this was no
explanation at all because the little men inside brains would themselves have to have little men inside
their brains, and so on in an infinite regress.
If thinking of little men and women inside brains seems too naïve, then the brain itself is
personified. Many popular articles and books on the nature of the mind say “the brain perceives,” or
“the brain decides,” while at the same time arguing that the brain is just a machine, like a computer.22
For example, the atheist philosopher Anthony Grayling thinks that “brains secrete religious and
superstitious belief” because they are “hardwired” to do so:
As a “belief engine,” the brain is always seeking to find meaning in the information that pours
into it. Once it has constructed a belief, it rationalises it with explanations, almost always after
the event. The brain thus becomes invested in the beliefs, and reinforces them by looking for
supporting evidence while blinding itself to anything contrary.23
This sounds more like a description of a mind than a brain. Apart from begging the question of the
relation of the mind to the brain, Grayling also begs the question of how his own brain escaped from
this “hardwired” tendency to blind itself to anything contrary to its beliefs. In practice, the
mechanistic theory is only plausible because it smuggles non-mechanistic minds into human brains. Is
a scientist operating mechanistically when he propounds a theory of materialism? Not in his own eyes.
There is always a hidden reservation in his arguments: he is an exception to mechanistic determinism.
He believes he is putting forward views that are true, not just doing what his brain makes him do.24
It seems impossible to be a consistent materialist. Materialism depends on a lingering dualism,
more or less thinly disguised. In the realm of biology this dualism takes the form of personifying
molecules, as I discuss below.
The God of mechanical nature
Although the machine theory of nature is now used to support materialism, for the founding fathers of
modern science it supported the Christian religion, rather than subverted it.
Machines only make sense if they have designers. Robert Boyle, for example, saw the mechanical
order of nature as evidence for God’s design.25 And Isaac Newton conceived of God in his own image
as “very well skilled in mechanics and geometry.”26
The better the world-machine functioned, the less necessary was God’s ongoing activity. By the end
of the eighteenth century, the celestial machinery was thought to work perfectly without any need for
divine intervention. For many scientifically minded intellectuals, Christianity gave way to deism. A
Supreme Being designed the world-machine, created it, set it in motion and left it to run
automatically. This kind of God did not intervene in the world and there was no point in praying to
him. In fact there was no point in any religious practice. Several Enlightenment philosophers, like
Voltaire, combined deism with a rejection of the Christian religion.
Some defenders of Christianity agreed with the deists in accepting the assumptions of mechanistic
science. The most famous proponent of mechanistic theology was William Paley, an Anglican priest.
In his book Natural Theology, published in 1802, he argued that if someone were to find an object like
a watch, he would be bound to conclude on examining it and observing its intricate design and
precision that “there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or
artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its
construction and designed its use.”27 So it was with “the works of nature” such as the eye. God was the
designer.
In Britain in the nineteenth century, Anglican clergymen, most of whom emphasized the same
points as Paley, wrote many popular books on natural history. For example, the Reverend Francis
Morris wrote a popular, lavishly illustrated History of British Butterflies (1853), which served both as
a field guide and a reminder of the beauty of nature. Morris believed that God had implanted in every
human mind “an instinctive general love of nature” through which young and old alike could enjoy the
“beautiful sights in which the benign Creator displays such infinite wisdom of Almighty skill.”28
This was the kind of natural theology that Darwin rejected in his theory of evolution by natural
selection. By doing so, he undermined the machine theory of life itself, as I discuss below. But the
controversy he stirred up is still with us, and its latest incarnation is Intelligent Design. Proponents of
Intelligent Design point out the difficulty, if not impossibility, of explaining complex structures like
the vertebrate eye or the bacterial flagellum in terms of a series of random genetic mutations and
natural selection. They suggest that complex structures and organs show a creative integration of
many different components because they were intelligently designed. They leave open the question of
the designer,29 but the obvious answer is God.
The problem with the design argument is that the metaphor of a designer presupposes an external
mind. Humans design machines, buildings and works of art. In a similar way the God of mechanistic
theology, or the Intelligent Designer, is supposed to have designed the details of living organisms.
Yet we are not forced to choose between chance and an external intelligence. There is another
possibility. Living organisms may have an internal creativity, as we do ourselves. When we have a
new idea or find a new way of doing something, we do not design the idea first, and then put it into our
own minds. New ideas just happen, and no one knows how or why. Humans have an inherent
creativity; and all living organisms may also have an inherent creativity that is expressed in larger or
smaller ways. Machines require external designers; organisms do not.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #379 on: 28/09/2013 20:19:23 »

Ironically, the belief in the divine design of plants and animals is not a traditional part of
Christianity. It stems from seventeenth-century science. It contradicts the biblical picture of the
creation of life in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. Animals and plants were not portrayed as
machines, but as self-reproducing organisms that arose from the earth and the seas, as in Genesis 1:11:
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit trees yielding fruit
after his kind, whose seed is in itself.” In Genesis 1: 24: “God said, Let the earth bring forth the living
creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth after his kind.” In theological
language, these were acts of “mediate” creation: God did not design or create these plants and animals
directly. As an authoritative Roman Catholic Biblical Commentary expressed it, God created them
indirectly “through the agency of the mother earth.”30
When nature came to life again
Followers of the Enlightenment put their faith in mechanistic science, reason and human progress.
“Enlightened” ideas or values still have a major influence on our educational, social and political
systems today. But from around 1780 to 1830 in the Romantic movement there was a widespread
reaction against the Enlightenment faith, expressed mainly in the arts and literature. Romantics
emphasized emotions and aesthetics, as opposed to reason. They saw nature as alive, rather than
mechanical. The most explicit application of these ideas to science was by the German philosopher
Friedrich von Schelling, whose book Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797) portrayed nature as a
dynamic interplay of opposed forces and polarities through which matter is “brought to life.”31
A central feature of Romanticism was the rejection of mechanical metaphors and their replacement
with imagery of nature as alive, organic and in a process of gestation or development.32 The first
evolutionary theories arose in this context.
Some scientists, poets and philosophers linked their philosophy of living nature to a God who
imbued Nature with life and left her to develop spontaneously, more like the God of Genesis than the
designer God of mechanistic theology. Others proclaimed themselves atheists, like the English poet
Percy Shelley (1792–1822), but they had no doubt about a living power in nature, which Shelley called
the Soul of the universe, or the all-sufficing Power, or the Spirit of Nature. He was also a pioneering
campaigner for vegetarianism because he valued animals as sentient beings.33
These different worldviews can be summarized as follows:
Worldview
Traditional Christian
God
Interactive
Nature
Living organism
Worldview
Early mechanistic
God
Interactive
Nature
Machine
Worldview
Enlightenment deism
God
Creator only
Nature
Machine
Worldview
Romantic deism
God
Creator only
Nature
Living organism
Worldview
Romantic atheism
God
No God
Nature
Living organism
Worldview
Materialism
God
No God
Nature
Machine
The Romantic movement created an enduring split in Western culture. Among educated people, in the
world of work, business and politics, nature is mechanistic, an inanimate source of natural resources,
exploitable for economic development. Modern economies are built on these foundations. On the
other hand, children are often brought up in an animistic atmosphere of fairy tales, talking animals
and magical transformations. The living world is celebrated in poems and songs and in works of art.
Nature is most strongly identified with the countryside, as opposed to cities, and especially by
unspoiled wilderness. Many urban people dream of moving to the country, or having a weekend home
in rural surroundings. On Friday evenings, cities of the Western world are clogged with traffic as
millions of people try to get back to nature in a car.
Our private relationship with nature presupposes that nature is alive. For a mechanistic scientist, or
technocrat, or economist, or developer, nature is neuter and inanimate. It needs developing as part of
human progress. But often the very same people have different attitudes in private. In Western Europe
and North America, many people get rich by exploiting nature so that they can buy a place in the
countryside to “get away from it all.”
This division between public rationalism and private romanticism has been part of the Western way
of life for generations, but is becoming increasingly unsustainable. Our economic activities are not
separate from nature, but affect the entire planet. Our private and public lives are increasingly
intertwined. This new consciousness is expressed through a revived public awareness of Gaia, Mother
Earth. But goddesses were not far below the surface of scientific thought even in its most materialist
forms.
The goddesses of evolution
One of the pioneers of evolutionary theory was Charles Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who
wanted to increase the importance of nature and reduce the role of God.34 The spontaneous evolution
of plants and animals struck at the root of natural theology and the doctrine of God as designer. If new
forms of life were brought forth by Nature herself, there was no need for God to design them. Erasmus
Darwin suggested that God endued life or nature with an inherent creative capacity in the first place
that was thereafter expressed without the need for divine guidance or intervention. In his book
Zoönomia (1794), he asked rhetorically:
Would it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living
filament, which the great First Cause endued with animality, with the power of acquiring new
parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions and
associations, and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent
activity, and of delivering down these improvements by generation to its posterity, world without
end!35
For Erasmus Darwin, living beings were self-improving, and the results of the efforts of parents were
inherited by their offspring. Likewise, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in his Zoological Philosophy (1809)
suggested that animals developed new habits in response to their environment, and their adaptations
were passed on to their descendants. The giraffe, inhabiting arid regions of Africa,
is obliged to browse on the leaves of trees and make constant efforts to reach them. From this
habit long maintained in all its race, it has resulted that the animal’s fore-legs have become
longer than its hind legs, and its neck is lengthened to such a degree that the giraffe attains a
height of six metres.36
In addition, a power inherent in life produced increasingly complex organisms, moving them up a
ladder of progress. Lamarck attributed the origin of the power of life to “the Supreme Author,” who
created “an order of things which gave existence successively to all that we see.”37 Like Erasmus
Darwin, he was a romantic deist. So was Robert Chambers, who popularized the idea of progressive
evolution in his bestselling Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation , published anonymously in
1844. He argued that everything in nature is progressing to a higher state as a result of a God-given
“law of creation.”38 His work was controversial both from a religious and scientific point of view but,
like Lamarck’s theory, it was attractive to atheists because it removed the need for a divine designer.
But Chambers, Lamarck and Erasmus Darwin not only undermined mechanistic theology, they also,
perhaps unwittingly, undermined the mechanistic theory of life. No inanimate machinery contained
within it a power of life, capacity for self-improvement or creativity. Their theories of progressive
evolution demystified the creativity of God by mystifying evolution.
Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection (1858)
attempted to demystify evolution. Natural selection was blind and impersonal, and required no divine
agency. It weeded out organisms that were not fit to survive, and favored those that were better
adapted. The subtitle of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was The Preservation of Favoured Races in
the Struggle for Life. The source of creativity was within animals and plants themselves: they varied
spontaneously and adapted to new circumstances.
Darwin gave no explanation for this creative power. In effect, he rejected the designing God of
mechanistic theology, and attributed all creativity to Nature, just as his grandfather had done. For
Darwin, Nature herself gave rise to the Tree of Life. Through her prodigious fertility, her spontaneous
variability and her powers of selection, she could do everything that Paley thought God did. But
Nature was not an inanimate, mechanical system like the clockwork of celestial physics. She was
Nature with a capital N. Darwin even apologized for his language: “For brevity’s sake I sometimes
speak of natural selection as an intelligent power … I have, also, often personified the word Nature;
for I have found it difficult to avoid this ambiguity.”39
Darwin advised his readers to ignore the implications of his turns of phrase. If, instead, we pay
attention to their implications, Nature is the Mother from whose womb all life comes forth, and to
whom all life returns. She is prodigiously fertile, but she is also cruel and terrible, the devourer of her
own offspring. She is creative, but she is also destructive, like the Indian goddess Kali. For Darwin,
natural selection was “a power incessantly ready for action,”40 and natural selection worked by
killing. The phrase “Nature red in tooth and claw” was the poet Tennyson’s rather than Darwin’s, but
sounds very like Kali, or the destructive Greek goddess Nemesis, or the vengeful Furies.
Charles Darwin, like his grandfather Erasmus and Lamarck, believed in the inheritance of habits.
His books give many examples of offspring inheriting the adaptations of their parents.41 The neo-
Darwinian theory of evolution, which developed from the 1940s onward, differed from Charles
Darwin’s theory in that it rejected the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Instead, organisms
inherited genes from their parents, passing them on unaltered to their offspring, unless there were
mutations, that is to say, random changes in the genes. The molecular biologist Jacques Monod
summarized this theory in the title of his book, Chance and Necessity (1972).
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #380 on: 28/09/2013 20:20:29 »

These seemingly abstract principles are the hidden goddesses of neo-Darwinism. Chance is the
goddess Fortuna, or Lady Luck. The turnings of her wheel confer both prosperity and misfortune.
Fortuna is blind, and was often portrayed in classical statues with a veil or blindfold. In Monod’s
words, “pure chance, absolutely free but blind, [is] at the very root of the stupendous edifice of
evolution.”42
Shelley called Necessity the “All-sufficing Power” and the “Mother of the world.” She is also Fate
or Destiny, who appears in classical European mythology as the Three Fates, who spin, allot and cut
the thread of life, dispensing to mortals their destiny at birth. In neo-Darwinism, the thread of life is
literal: helical DNA molecules in thread-like chromosomes dispense to mortals their destiny at birth.
Materialism is like an unconscious cult of the Great Mother. The word “matter” itself comes from
the same root as “mother”; in Latin the equivalent words are materia and mater.43 The Mother
archetype takes many forms, as in Mother Nature, or Ecology, or even the Economy, which feeds and
sustains us, working like a lactating breast on the basis of supply and demand. (The Greek root eco in
both of these words means family or household.) Archetypes are more powerful when they are
unconscious because they cannot be examined or discussed.
Life breaks out of mechanical metaphors
The theory of evolution destroyed the argument from mechanical design. A creator God could not
have designed the machinery of animals and plants in the beginning if they evolved progressively
through spontaneous variation and natural selection.
Living organisms, unlike machines, are themselves creative. Plants and animals vary
spontaneously, respond to genetic changes and adapt to new challenges from the environment. Some
vary more than others, and occasionally something really new appears. Creativity is inherent in living
organisms, or works through them.
No machine starts from small beginnings, grows, forms new structures within itself and then
reproduces itself. Yet plants and animals do this all the time. They can also regenerate after damage.
To see them as machines propelled only by ordinary physics and chemistry is an act of faith; to insist
that they are machines despite all appearances is dogmatic.
Within science itself, the machine theory of life was challenged continually throughout the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by an alternative school of biology called vitalism. Vitalists
thought that organisms were more than machines: they were truly vital or alive. Over and above the
laws of physics and chemistry, organizing principles shaped the forms of living organisms, gave them
their purposive behavior, and underlay the instincts and intelligence of animals. In 1844, the chemist
Justus von Liebig made a typical statement of the vitalist position when he argued that although
chemists could analyze and synthesize organic chemicals that occurred in living organisms, they
would never be able to create an eye or a leaf. Besides the recognized physical forces, there was a
further kind of cause that “combines the elements in new forms so that they gain new qualities—
forms and qualities which do not appear except in the organism.”44
In many ways, vitalism was a survival of the older worldview that living organisms were organized
by souls. Vitalism was also in harmony with a romantic vision of living nature. Some vitalists, like the
German embryologist Hans Driesch (1867–1941), deliberately used the language of souls to
emphasize this continuity of thought. Driesch believed that a non-material organizing principle gave
plants and animals their forms and their goals. He called this organizing principle entelechy, adopting
a word that Aristotle had used for the aspect of the soul that has its end within itself (en = in, telos =
purpose). Embryos, Driesch argued, behave in a purposive way; if their development is disrupted, they
can still reach the form toward which they are developing. He showed by experiment that when seaurchin
embryos were cut in two, each half could give rise to a small but complete sea urchin, not half
a sea urchin. Their entelechy attracted the developing embryos—and even separated parts of embryos
—toward the form of the adult.
Vitalism was and still is the ultimate heresy within mechanistic biology. The orthodox view was
clearly expressed by the biologist T. H. Huxley in 1867:
Zoological physiology is the doctrine of the functions or actions of animals. It regards animal
bodies as machines impelled by various forces, and performing a certain amount of work which
can be expressed in terms of the ordinary forces of nature. The final object of physiology is to
deduce the facts of morphology on the one hand, and those of ecology on the other, from the laws
of the molecular forces of matter.45
In these words, Huxley foreshadowed the spectacular development of molecular biology since the
1960s, the most powerful effort ever made to reduce the phenomena of life to physical and chemical
mechanisms. Francis Crick, who shared in a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA,
made this agenda very explicit in his book Of Molecules and Men (1966). He denounced vitalism and
affirmed his belief that “the ultimate aim of the modern movement in biology is in fact to explain all
biology in terms of physics and chemistry.”
The mechanistic approach is essentially reductionist: it tries to explain wholes in terms of their
parts. That is why molecular biology has such a high status within the life sciences: molecules are
some of the smallest components of living organisms, the point at which biology crosses over into
chemistry. Hence molecular biology is at the leading edge of the attempt to explain the phenomena of
life in terms of “the laws of the molecular forces of matter.” In so far as biologists succeed in
reducing organisms to the molecular level, they will then hand the baton to chemists and physicists,
who will reduce the properties of molecules to those of atoms and subatomic particles.
Until the nineteenth century, most scientists thought that atoms were the solid, permanent, ultimate
basis of matter. But in the twentieth century it became clear that atoms are made up of parts, with
nuclei at the center and electrons in orbitals around them. The nuclei themselves are made up of
protons and neutrons, which in turn are composed of components called quarks, with three quarks
each. When nuclei are split up in particle accelerators, like the Large Hadron Collider, at CERN, near
Geneva, a host of further particles appears. Hundreds have been identified so far, and some physicists
expect that with even larger particle accelerators, yet more will be found.
The bottom has dropped out of the atom, and a zoo of evanescent particles seems unlikely to
explain the shape of an orchid flower, or the leaping of a salmon, or the flight of a flock of starlings.
Reductionism no longer offers a solid atomic basis for the explanation of everything else. In any case,
however many subatomic particles there may be, organisms are wholes, and reducing them to their
parts by killing them and analyzing their chemical constituents simply destroys what makes them
organisms.
I was forced to think about the limitations of reductionism when I was a student at Cambridge. As
part of the final-year biochemistry course, my class did an experiment on enzymes in rat livers. First,
we each took a living rat and “sacrificed” it over the sink, decapitating it with a guillotine, then we cut
it open and removed its liver. We ground up the liver in a blender and centrifuged it, to remove
unwanted fractions of the cellular debris. Then we purified the aqueous fraction to isolate the enzymes
we wanted, and we put them in test tubes. Finally we added chemicals and studied the speeds at which
chemical reactions took place. We learned something about enzymes, but nothing about how rats live
and behave. In a corridor of the Biochemistry Department the bigger problem was summed up on a
wall chart showing the chemical details of Human Metabolic Pathways; across the top someone had
written in big blue letters, “KNOW THYSELF.”
Attempting to explain organisms in terms of their chemical constituents is rather like trying to
understand a computer by grinding it up and analyzing its component elements, such as copper,
germanium and silicon. Certainly it is possible to learn something about the computer in this way,
namely what it is made of. But in this process of reduction, the structure and the programmed activity
of the computer vanishes, and chemical analysis will never reveal the circuit diagrams; no amount of
mathematical modelling of interactions between its atomic constituents will reveal the computer’s
programs or the purposes they fulfilled.
Mechanists expel purposive vital factors from living animals and plants, but then they reinvent
them in molecular guises. One form of molecular vitalism is to treat the genes as purposive entities
with goals and powers that go far beyond those of a mere chemical like DNA. The genes become
molecular entelechies. In his book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins endowed them with life and
intelligence. Living molecules, rather than God, are the designers of the machinery of life:
We are survival machines, but “we” does not mean just people. It embraces all animals, plants,
bacteria, and viruses … We are all survival machines for the same kind of replicator—molecules
called DNA—but there are many different ways of making a living in the world, and the
replicators have built a vast range of machines to exploit them. A monkey is a machine which
preserves genes up trees; a fish a machine which preserves genes in the water.46
In Dawkins’s words, “DNA moves in mysterious ways.” The DNA molecules are not only
intelligent, they are also selfish, ruthless and competitive, like “successful Chicago gangsters.” The
selfish genes “create form,” “mould matter” and engage in “evolutionary arms races”; they even
“aspire to immortality.” These genes are no longer mere molecules:
Now they swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the
outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote
control. They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the
ultimate rationale for our existence … Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their
survival machines.47
The persuasive power of Dawkins’s rhetoric depended on anthropocentric language and his cartoonlike
imagery. He admits that his selfish-gene imagery is more like science fiction than science,48 but
he justifies it as a “powerful and illuminating” metaphor.49
The most popular use of a vitalistic metaphor in the name of mechanism is the “genetic program.”
Genetic programs are explicitly analogous to computer programs, which are intelligently designed by
human minds to achieve particular purposes. Programs are purposive, intelligent and goal-directed.
They are more like entelechies than mechanisms. The “genetic program” implies that plants and
animals are organized by purposive principles that are mind-like, or designed by minds. This is
another way of smuggling intelligent designs into chemical genes.
If challenged, most biologists will admit that genes merely specify the sequence of amino acids in
proteins, or are involved in the control of protein synthesis. They are not really programs; they are not
selfish, they do not mold matter, or shape form, or aspire to immortality. A gene is not “for” a
characteristic like a fish’s fin or the nest-building behavior of a weaver bird. But molecular vitalism
soon creeps back again. The mechanistic theory of life has degenerated into misleading metaphors and
rhetoric.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #381 on: 28/09/2013 20:21:38 »

To many people, especially gardeners and people who keep dogs, cats, horses or other animals, it is
blindingly obvious that plants and animals are living organisms, not machines.
The philosophy of organism
Whereas the mechanistic and vitalist theories both date back to the seventeenth century, the
philosophy of organism, also called the holistic or organismic approach, has been developing only
since the 1920s. One of its proponents was the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947);
another was Jan Smuts, a South African statesman and scholar, whose book Holism and Evolution
(1926) focused attention on “the tendency of nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the
parts through creative evolution.”50 He saw holism as
the ultimate synthetic, ordering, organizing, regulative activity in the universe, which accounts
for all the structural groupings and syntheses in it, from the atom and the physico-chemical
structures, through the cell and organisms, through Mind in animals to Personality in man. The
all-pervading and ever-increasing character of synthetic unity or wholeness in these structures
leads to the concept of Holism as the fundamental activity underlying and co-ordinating all
others, and to the view of the universe as a Holistic Universe.51
The holistic or organismic philosophy agrees with the mechanistic theory in affirming the unity of
nature: the life of biological organisms is different in degree but not in kind from physical systems
like molecules and crystals. Organicism agrees with vitalism in stressing that organisms have their
organizing principles within themselves; organisms are unities that cannot be reduced to the physics
and chemistry of simpler systems.
The philosophy of organism in effect treats all nature as alive; in this respect it is an updated
version of pre-mechanistic animism. Even atoms, molecules and crystals are organisms. As Smuts put
it, “Both matter and life consist, in the atom and the cell, of unit structures whose ordered grouping
produces the natural wholes which we call bodies or organisms.”52 Atoms are not inert particles of
stuff, as in old-style atomism. Rather, as revealed by twentieth-century physics, they are structures of
activity, patterns of energetic vibration within fields. In Whitehead’s words, “Biology is the study of
the larger organisms, whereas physics is the study of the smaller organisms.”53 In the light of modern
cosmology, physics is also the study of very large organisms, like planets, solar systems, galaxies and
the entire universe.
The philosophy of organism points out that everywhere we look in nature, at whatever level or
scale, we find wholes that are made up of parts that are themselves wholes at a lower level. This
pattern of organization can be represented diagrammatically as in Figure 1.1. The smallest circles
represent quarks, for example, within protons, within atomic nuclei, within atoms, within molecules,
within crystals. Or the smallest circles represent organelles, in cells, in tissues, in organs, in
organisms, in societies of organisms, in ecosystems. Or the smallest circles are planets, in solar
systems, in galaxies, in galactic clusters. Languages also show the same kind of organization, with
phonemes in syllables, in words, in phrases, in sentences.
FIGURE 1.1 A nested hierarchy of wholes or holons.
These organized systems are all nested hierarchies. At each level, the whole includes the parts; they
are literally within it. And at each level the whole is more than the sum of the parts, with properties
that cannot be predicted from the study of parts in isolation. For example, the structure and meaning
of this sentence could not be worked out by a chemical analysis of the paper and the ink, or deduced
from the quantities of letters that make it up (five as, one b, five cs, two ds, etc.). Knowing the
numbers of constituent parts is not enough: the structure of the whole depends on the way they are
combined together in words, and on the relationships between the words.
Arthur Koestler proposed the term holon for wholes made up of parts that are themselves wholes:
Every holon has a dual tendency to preserve and assert its individuality as a quasi-autonomous
whole; and to function as an integrated part of an (existing or evolving) larger whole. This
polarity between the Self-assertive and Integrative tendencies is inherent in the concept of
hierarchic order.54
For such nested hierarchies of holons, Koestler proposed the term holarchy.
Another way of thinking about wholes is through “systems theory,” which speaks of “a
configuration of parts joined together by a web of relationships.”55 Such wholes are also called
“complex systems,” and are the subject of a number of mathematical models, variously called
“complex systems theory,” “complexity theory” or “complexity science.”56
For a chemical example, think of benzene, a molecule with six carbon and six hydrogen atoms.
Each of these atoms is a holon consisting of a nucleus with electrons around it. In the benzene
molecule, the six carbon atoms are joined together in a six-sided ring, and electrons are shared
between the atoms to create a vibrating cloud of electrons around the entire molecule. The patterns of
vibration of the molecule affect the atoms within it, and since the electrons are electrically charged,
the atoms are in a vibrating electromagnetic field. Benzene is a liquid at room temperature, but below
5.5÷C it crystallizes, and as it does so, the molecules stack themselves together in a regular threedimensional
pattern, called the lattice structure. This crystal lattice also vibrates in harmonic
patterns,57 creating vibrating electromagnetic fields, which affect the molecules within them. There is
a nested hierarchy of levels of organization, interacting through a nested hierarchy of vibrating fields.
In the course of evolution, new holons arise that did not exist before: for example, the first amino
acid molecules, the first living cells, or the first flowers, or the first termite colonies. Since holons are
wholes, they must arise by sudden jumps. New levels of organization “emerge” and their “emergent
properties” go beyond those of the parts that were there before. The same is true of new ideas, or new
works of art.
The cosmos as a developing organism
The philosopher David Hume (1711–76) is perhaps best known today for his skepticism about
religion. Yet he was equally skeptical about the mechanistic philosophy of nature. There was nothing
in the universe to prove that it was more like a machine than an organism; the organization we see in
nature was more analogous to plants and animals than to machines. Hume was against the idea of a
machine-designing God, and suggested instead that the world could have originated from something
like a seed or an egg. In Hume’s words, published posthumously in 1779,
There are other parts of the universe (besides the machines of human invention) which bear still a
greater resemblance to the fabric of the world, and which, therefore, afford a better conjecture
concerning the universal origin of the system. These parts are animals and plants. The world
plainly resembles more an animal or a vegetable, than it does a watch or a knitting-loom … And
does not a plant or an animal, which springs from vegetation or generation, bear a stronger
resemblance to the world, than does any artificial machine, which arises from reason and
design?58
Hume’s argument was surprisingly prescient in the light of modern cosmology. Until the 1960s, most
scientists still thought of the universe as a machine, and moreover as a machine that was running out
of steam, heading for its final heat death. According to the second law of thermodynamics,
promulgated in 1855, the universe would gradually lose the capacity to do work. It would eventually
freeze in “a state of universal rest and death,” as William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, put it.59
It was not until 1927 that Georges Lemaître, a cosmologist and Roman Catholic priest, advanced a
scientific hypothesis like Hume’s idea of the origin of the universe in an egg or seed. Lemaître
suggested that the universe began with a “creation-like event,” which he described as “the cosmic egg
exploding at the moment of creation.”60 Later called the Big Bang, this new cosmology echoed many
archaic stories of origins, like the Orphic creation myth of the Cosmic Egg in ancient Greece, or the
Indian myth of Hiranyagarbha, the primal Golden Egg.61 Significantly, in all these myths the egg is
both a primal unity and a primal polarity, since an egg is a unity composed of two parts, the yolk and
the white, an apt symbol of the emergence of “many” from “one.”
Lemaître’s theory predicted the expansion of the universe, and was supported by the discovery that
galaxies outside our own are moving away from us with a speed proportional to their distance. In
1964, the discovery of a faint background glow everywhere in the universe, the cosmic microwave
background radiation, revealed what seemed to be fossil light left over from the early universe, soon
after the Big Bang. The evidence for an initial “creation-like event” became overwhelming, and by
1966 the Big Bang theory became orthodox.
Cosmology now tells a story of a universe that began extremely small, less than the size of a
pinhead, and very hot. It has been expanding ever since. As it grows, it cools down, and as it cools,
new forms and structures appear within it: atomic nuclei and electrons, stars, galaxies, planets,
molecules, crystals and biological life.
The machine metaphor has long outlived its usefulness, and holds back scientific thinking in
physics, biology and medicine. Our growing, evolving universe is much more like an organism, and so
is the earth, and so are oak trees, and so are dogs, and so are you.
What difference does it make?
Can you really think of yourself as a genetically programmed machine in a mechanical universe?
Probably not. Probably even the most committed materialists cannot either. Most of us feel we are
truly alive in a living world—at least at weekends. But through loyalty to the mechanistic worldview,
mechanistic thinking takes over during working hours.
In recognizing the life of nature, we can allow ourselves to recognize what we already know, that
animals and plants are living organisms, with their own purposes and goals. Anyone who gardens or
keeps pets knows this, and recognizes that they have their own ways of responding creatively to their
circumstances. But instead of dismissing our own observations and insights to conform to mechanistic
dogma, we can pay attention to them and try to learn from them.
In relation to the living earth, we can see that the Gaia theory is not just an isolated poetic metaphor
in an otherwise mechanical universe. The recognition of the earth as a living organism is a major step
toward recognizing the wider life of the cosmos. If the earth is a living organism, what about the sun
and the solar system as a whole? If the solar system is a kind of organism, what about the galaxy?
Cosmology already portrays the entire universe as a kind of growing super-organism, born through the
hatching of the cosmic egg.
These differences in viewpoint do not immediately suggest a new range of technological products,
and in that sense they may not be economically useful. But they make a big difference in healing the
split created by the mechanistic theory—a split between our personal experiences of nature and the
mechanical explanations that science gives us. And they help heal the split between the sciences and
all traditional and indigenous cultures, none of which sees humans and animals as machines in a
mechanical world.
Finally, dispelling the belief that the universe is an inanimate machine opens up many new
questions, discussed in the following chapters.
Questions for materialists
Is the mechanistic worldview a testable scientific theory, or a metaphor?
If it is a metaphor, why is the machine metaphor better in every respect than the organism metaphor?
If it is a scientific theory, how could it be tested or refuted?
Do you think that you yourself are nothing but a complex machine?
Have you been programmed to believe in materialism?
SUMMARY
The mechanistic theory is based on the metaphor of the machine. But it’s only a metaphor. Living
organisms provide better metaphors for organized systems at all levels of complexity, including
molecules, plants and societies of animals, all of which are organized in a series of inclusive levels, in
which the whole at each level is more than the sum of the parts, which are themselves wholes at a
lower level. Even the most ardent defenders of the mechanistic theory smuggle purposive organizing
principles into living organisms in the form of selfish genes or genetic programs. In the light of the
Big Bang theory, the entire universe is more like a growing, developing organism than a machine
slowly running out of steam.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #382 on: 28/09/2013 20:58:41 »
Rupert Sheldrake - The Science Delusion BANNED TED TALK



BANNED TEDx TALKS: Real Truth, Science, Consciousness, etc.


 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #383 on: 29/09/2013 04:20:55 »

Who said that non-biological or non-physical processes cannot be studied scientifically ?
Quote


That's what we have been asking you to explain, how your theories can be studied scientifically! Explain that process instead of ranting about how science proper has been hijacked by materialists.

I cannot watch all of the videos you posted links for because of bandwidth limits, but like you, Sheldrake's arguments that I have seen so far rest on the absence of other kinds of evidence.

Sometimes lack of evidence prompts scientists to look for alternative explanations, which is entirely reasonable. If a new disease appears to be infectious in nature, and you can't culture it on any bacterial agar or find it under the microscope, it may be time to start looking for viruses or other types of pathogens, or even something in the environment linked to all of the patients . That still doesn't mean you have completely ruled out, 100% that it's a bacteria. When Legionnaires disease cropped up, they couldn't culture it on standard media, and couldn't see it under the microscope until one enterprising microbiologist used an old, uncommonly used stain called a silver stain, and there it was in all the patients' specimens and not there in the control samples.

Even if lack of evidence prompts a scientist to look elsewhere for answers, in the end, the validity of his theory rests on evidence that directly supports it. If one proposes that fibromyalgia is caused by evil garden gnomes, the credibility of the claim rests on evidence regarding garden gnomes, not the fact that so far no virus or autoimmune  process explains it.

See the difference?
« Last Edit: 30/09/2013 01:12:31 by cheryl j »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #384 on: 29/09/2013 18:09:24 »

Who said that non-biological or non-physical processes cannot be studied scientifically ?


Quote

That's what we have been asking you to explain, how your theories can be studied scientifically! Explain that process instead of ranting about how science proper has been hijacked by materialists.

I cannot watch all of the videos you posted links for because of bandwidth limits, but like you, Sheldrake's arguments that I have seen so far rest on the absence of other kinds of evidence.

Sometimes lack of evidence prompts scientists to look for alternative explanations, which is entirely reasonable. If a new disease appears to be infectious in nature, and you can't culture it on any bacterial agar or find it under the microscope, it may be time to start looking for viruses or other types of pathogens, or even something in the environment linked to all of the patients . That still doesn't mean you have completely ruled out, 100% that it's a bacteria. When Legionnaires disease cropped up, they couldn't culture it on standard media, and couldn't see it under the microscope until one enterprising microbiologist used an old, uncommonly used stain called a silver stain, and there it was in all the patients' specimens and not there in the control samples.

Even if lack of evidence prompts a scientist to look elsewhere for answers, in the end, the validity of his theory rests on evidence that directly supports it. If one proposes that fibromyalgia is caused by evil garden gnomes, the credibility of the claim rests on evidence regarding garden gnomes, not the fact that so far no virus or autoimmune  process explains it.

See the difference?


Try to fix your post first :
What you still are not able to get so far , amazingly enough, even if it is in fact an extremely easy thing to understand , is that:  science proper and materialism as a secular religion in science are  2  totally different things , materialism that gets sold to the people as science proper ,ironically incredibly enough , materialism  that gets confused with science proper , with science results and facts , by many people , including yourself : how can't you see the difference , folks ?
When reasonable people are confronted with these facts , they first oppose them , deny them as such , ridicule them (That's a normal process ) ,simply because the materialist brainwash and indoctrination in that regard are so powerful and widespread ....and then they accept them as obvious evidence afterwards, in total contrast with  you , people, of all people :
 
Unbelievable lack of understanding of yours that should be reason enough to ban you from any science forum for that matter ,sorry .
See what Sheldrake and Nagel, among others , had/have  to say on the subject as well, while you are it .
I am not gonna do the job for you , (try to read what Sheldrake has to say here above  in that book of his on the subject , i did quote ), since you  cannot even understand simple facts and statements, people with below -average- intellect can  .
Why should i bother then ?
I am not gonna waste my time on people who cannot even acknowledge or recognize obvious simple facts ...
Got better things to do than that ...I'm fed up with you  , guys .
Try to figure all that out for yourselves ,or not , who cares ...
Science proper will be liberated from materialism as a secular religion  , no doubt about that = inevitable = only a question of time ... then, and only then, whole unimaginable new vistas would open up for science proper , the latter that has been seriously handicaped and held back within that materialistic backward dogmatic belief system prison it gotta be liberated from, sooner or later , your  silly denials and unbelievable lack of understanding on the subject won't prevent science proper from breaking free from that despicable untrue materialism as a false world view or ideology  , as a misconception of nature ................
Don't bother responding to this post , you will get no eventual reply  in return,for obvious reasons  .
Ciao





« Last Edit: 29/09/2013 18:48:24 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #385 on: 29/09/2013 19:48:27 »
Don Q

Are you, or have you ever been, a scientist?
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #386 on: 29/09/2013 23:36:00 »
Regardless of what you think I "get," or don't get, I stand by my challenge, because I know you can't explain how your theories can be studied scientifically. It's not that I don't understand the words that you are saying, it's that I don't agree with them, incredible as that must seem to some one as arrogant as you.
« Last Edit: 29/09/2013 23:41:13 by cheryl j »
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #387 on: 30/09/2013 00:13:28 »
Regardless of what you think I "get," or don't get, I stand by my challenge, because I know you can't explain how your theories can be studied scientifically. It's not that I don't understand the words that you are saying, it's that I don't agree with them, incredible as that must seem to some one as arrogant as you.
He puts me in mind of Macbeth's description of life (soliloquy; Act 5, Scene 5, lines 24-28) ;)
 

Offline Skyli

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #388 on: 30/09/2013 08:51:18 »
"Dude, instead of writing these kindda absurd whole lengthy posts that make no sense whatsoever , just try to understand what the core issue here is ,we have been talking about :"

Absurd? This "dude" finished complaining about my "lengthy" post before putting up 19 pages (yes folks, that's Nineteen!) of cut'n'paste.
One rule for us, one for you? Now what sort of person does that?

Young fellow, from where you stand the truth of these ridiculous conspiracy theories is as plain as the nose on your face or the air that you breath - so obvious that they cannot be rejected any more than sunlight can, so they can only be misunderstood. Just look at your answers: "You don't understand", "These people don't get it", "I can't believe that intelligent etc....". You don't challenge peoples arguments when they disagree with you, you challenge their intelligence. Now what sort of person does that?

You do not have enough reason or humility to accept that people REJECT your proposition - they see no conspiracy, they see nothing wrong with the way science is going - and you see that rejection as meaning that we can't understand. You sound like the little boy saying, "Of course my dads the strongest, and if you don't know that then you're stupid.".

There is tons of this rubbish in the "new" religious press; books slamming "the science of materialism", "materialist dogma/paradigm in science", all backed up with silly yeah-but-no-but arguments and ridiculous, pompous nonsense about how "science sees itself". Unreasoned, knee-jerk reaction from people who, like you, are not able to question "The Truth" that they learned as children; fools who are afraid that science is "against God", out to disprove God or some such nonsense.

Your idea is rejected, not misunderstood. What sort of a person has such a problem with rejection?

I don't really care whether you're a scientist or not, I would be more interested in your age, because you "debate" like a typically invincible, know-it-all teenager.

Ah. That sort of person.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #389 on: 30/09/2013 17:13:37 »
Life is short. Don't spend all of it here.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #390 on: 01/10/2013 19:33:33 »
Life is short. Don't spend all of it here.

Exactly , the more when one sees how these people are not even able to understand simple obvious facts and simple statements ...
I already lost my appetite for this ...really ...
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #391 on: 01/10/2013 19:45:02 »
Regardless of what you think I "get," or don't get, I stand by my challenge, because I know you can't explain how your theories can be studied scientifically. It's not that I don't understand the words that you are saying, it's that I don't agree with them, incredible as that must seem to some one as arrogant as you.
He puts me in mind of Macbeth's description of life (soliloquy; Act 5, Scene 5, lines 24-28) ;)

I thought that your "mind " was just a matter of physics and chemistry haha = can't be , physics and chemistry cannot account for such things or rather processes such as consciousness, cognition, mind , reason, love , feelings , emotions, free will, ethics ....life, ....their emergence evolution and  origins ...Can they ?
....................
No, i like to see myself sometimes as Shakespeare ' s fool haha
And i do see you as Alice in wonderland , in your reductionist wonderland  magical fantasy  ...
P.S.: Where have you been hiding all this time ? just to come out of your hiding place to utter this non-sense of yours .

 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #392 on: 01/10/2013 19:55:28 »
"Dude, instead of writing these kindda absurd whole lengthy posts that make no sense whatsoever , just try to understand what the core issue here is ,we have been talking about :"

Absurd? This "dude" finished complaining about my "lengthy" post before putting up 19 pages (yes folks, that's Nineteen!) of cut'n'paste.
One rule for us, one for you? Now what sort of person does that?

Young fellow, from where you stand the truth of these ridiculous conspiracy theories is as plain as the nose on your face or the air that you breath - so obvious that they cannot be rejected any more than sunlight can, so they can only be misunderstood. Just look at your answers: "You don't understand", "These people don't get it", "I can't believe that intelligent etc....". You don't challenge peoples arguments when they disagree with you, you challenge their intelligence. Now what sort of person does that?

You do not have enough reason or humility to accept that people REJECT your proposition - they see no conspiracy, they see nothing wrong with the way science is going - and you see that rejection as meaning that we can't understand. You sound like the little boy saying, "Of course my dads the strongest, and if you don't know that then you're stupid.".

There is tons of this rubbish in the "new" religious press; books slamming "the science of materialism", "materialist dogma/paradigm in science", all backed up with silly yeah-but-no-but arguments and ridiculous, pompous nonsense about how "science sees itself". Unreasoned, knee-jerk reaction from people who, like you, are not able to question "The Truth" that they learned as children; fools who are afraid that science is "against God", out to disprove God or some such nonsense.

Your idea is rejected, not misunderstood. What sort of a person has such a problem with rejection?

I don't really care whether you're a scientist or not, I would be more interested in your age, because you "debate" like a typically invincible, know-it-all teenager.

Ah. That sort of person.

Surreal and absurd as usual : Kafka would have been very jealous of you indeed .
Weird how you interpret and perceive statements of people : you distort them beyond any recognition ....God ...
Fact is : the fact that the materialist dogmatic belief system has been dominating in  science  ,many people do confuse with science proper , with scientific approaches and scientific results is an indeniable  obvious  fact ,  no conspiracy theory ...
No further comment , that would be just an utter waste of time .
Do you read what you write ? Unbelievable non-sense .
How can any sane average person for that matter utter such an amount of non-sense in 1 single post : amazing .
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #393 on: 01/10/2013 20:20:47 »
No further comment , that would be just an utter waste of time .
Do you read what you write ? Unbelievable non-sense .
How can any sane average person for that matter utter such an amount of non-sense in 1 single post : amazing .

Ipsi dixit, nemine contradicente.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #394 on: 01/10/2013 20:45:16 »
Regardless of what you think I "get," or don't get, I stand by my challenge, because I know you can't explain how your theories can be studied scientifically. It's not that I don't understand the words that you are saying, it's that I don't agree with them, incredible as that must seem to some one as arrogant as you.

First of all, you obviously still do not understand the core issue here that's obviously not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact : the materialist naturalist reductionism as a secular dominating religion in science , is obviously and indeniably  false .
That's  an indeniable obvious fact , only fools , materialists , or idiots can deny as such .
How can anyone for that matter deny such obvious indeniable fact ...
Facts are , per definition, indeniable .
See Nagel's book regarding the obvious logical and other evidence that supports such a claim : such logical and other evidence that proves the fact that materialism is obviously a false conception of nature in science , materialism as an incoherent ideology also .
Did science proper ever prove the materialist false ideological core assumption  that nature is exclusively biological physical ? = absolutely not = never .
Science does not have to be materialistic , the core true assumption of science  is that the universe or nature are intelligible = materialism in science offers no intelligible understanding or intelligible explanation of nature , obviously , simply because materialism is false = materialism has nothing to do with science proper , materialism that's only been holding science proper imprisoned within materialism's ideological false assumptions .
Second : Nagel and Sheldrake, among others , have already been introducing a non-reductionist naturalist alternative to the materialist false reductionist naturalism  .
Third : The implications of the first fact ,concerning the fact   at least that the materialist reductionist naturalist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is certainly false , for the materialist version of evolution, for the materialist version of the emergence evolution and origins of life , for the materialist version of the emergence evolution and origins of consciousness, to mention just that ...are obvious also, not to mention the fact that materialism is certainly intenable ,false and even intenable , even at the level of the physical sciences and biology .... ,simply because , once again, nature is not exclusively biological physical ,so, the purely physical sciences cannot account for such processes such as life , consciousness, human reason, .....and for their respective evolution origins and emergence = materialism in science just gives its own exclusively physical biological version of those and other processes , an exclusively material version which is obviously not only incomplete , but also false thus.

Fourth : reality is certainly not exclusively biological physical, otherwise , it can certainly and absolutely not account for the emergence evolution and origins of life itself, for the origins evolution and emergence of consciousness ...to mention just that , once again .
Fifth : Nagel had already proposed a non-reductionist naturalist alternative to that false naturalist reductionism in science thus .
Sheldrake has also been applying his non-reductionist approaches to phenomena such as telepathy , psychic skills , and to other so-called paranormal phenomena .
Note that some so-called paranormal phenomena can turn out to be just normal ones indeed + non-reductionist naturalism can , per definition, only exclude any phenomena for that matter  that is allegedly called paranormal in general : the word here is naturalism for non-reductionist naturalism as an alternative to the materialist reductionist naturalism,non-reductionist naturalism that , per definition, excludes any existence of so-called paranormal or from outside- of -nature -so-called- originating- phenomena : Got it ?
Non-reductionist naturalism as proposed by Nagel and others , is yet another doomed to fail attempt to explain or understand the universe as a whole .
After reading that Nagel's difficult and torturing book , i still do not see how that presumed non-reductionist naturalism can account for consciousness, life ,and for their respective origins evolution and emergence , within nature , either .
The materialist reductionist naturalist false conception or rather misconception of nature will be just replaced , as Nagel himself admitted , by yet another false conception of nature , either a non-reductionist naturalist one , the likelihood of the rise of which  in science is highly predictable indeed ,but , it will also encounter inescapable inevitable dilemmas and dead -end streets in relation to life , consciousness , human reason, ethics ....and their respective emergence evolution and origins of course , or worse : by some anti-reductionist  idealist conception of nature that assumes that all is mind = the very exact opposite of materialism thus ....anti-reductionist idealist conception of nature that's not only also false ,but unpractical too .
Do the "maths " then ...

In short :
That Eurocentric cultural historic philosophical...artificial created conflict  between religion and science is not universal = not true regarding all religions and science for that matter : no wonder that the scientific method itself originated directly from the Qur'anic epistemology .
I see no conflict between science and Islam thus :
I can assume that God created everything , including life , consciousness, , evolution ...while trying ,at the same time , to find out about their  secrets and signs of God in them within and without , while separating between science and Islam  in the process : a holistic synthesis that can be "extracted " afterwards from  both science and Islam + from all those elements of truth contained in all other religions, currents of thought ,cultures ,  including from all those relative truths contained in atheism and in the inherently intrinsically atheist reductionist materialism ....such a holistic synthesis thus can give us some better and holistic non-reductionist naturalist and beyond nature approach of reality as a whole ...=  Islamic theism going hand in hand with science proper , science proper as the historic legetimate natural daughter of Islam thus , while being separated from science proper at first , for scientific practical reasons , and going hand in hand with all those relative truths contained in all currents of thought , cultures, religions in general ...result = only such a holistic approach of the true reality as such can deliver some breakthroughs regarding all those eternal issues humanity has been struggling with for so long now : issues such as life , such as the relative degrees of consciousness in all living beings and non-living matter  , issues such as human reason , ethics .....and their respective emergence origins and evolution ....

In other words :
I see no reason why one cannot be a believer and a scientist at the same time, while being a cosmopolitan in the true sense in the process  .
The concept of a  true believer in Islam at least does not exclude science proper , knowledge in the broader sense = science proper and knowledge in the larger sense ...+ wisdom, personal experiences,hard work, endless restless dynamic search ...are even religious duties in islam = forms of worship of God :
The early muslims who "invented " science proper and did pradctice it as well, saw science as a religious duty , a form of worship of God , in order to find out about the secrets and signs of God within and without , while separating science from Islam in the process ....
All other approaches will obviously and , per definition, fail to "capture " or rather approach the true reality as a whole as such , relatively speaking then.

P.S.: I will even dare risk getting accused of preaching by adding the following fact ,that's rather no preaching , just a fact :
Islam is , per definition, a dynamic lifetime long evolutionary experience and journey :
Islam is positive science , in the sense that the only way to understand islam is by experiencing it , by going through it , by taking that dynamic restless endless search journey , combined with science proper , and with the relative truths contained in all currents of thought , religions, cultures, human experiences ...relatively speaking .
Plus , no Islamic experience of any given muslim individual for that matter is like that of another muslim individual ,as no adventure of any given adventurer for that matter is like that of any other adventurer .
You can read books, watch movies , ....about some adventures of some adventurers , you can even feel , taste , hear , smell , see , think about ....what those adventurers might have felt , thought , smelt , heard , saw, experienced  .....
But , fact is : you can never match what they actually felt , smelt , heard , saw , experienced ...via their whole individual unique beings and souls , not even remotely close .
You gotta take such holistic dynamic evolutionary lifetime long restless endless journeys yourself , in the above holistic cosmopolitan sense , that also includes science proper .............
« Last Edit: 01/10/2013 21:29:21 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #395 on: 01/10/2013 21:03:30 »
No further comment , that would be just an utter waste of time .
Do you read what you write ? Unbelievable non-sense .
How can any sane average person for that matter utter such an amount of non-sense in 1 single post : amazing .
Ipsi dixit, nemine contradicente.
[/quote]

Whatever :
Do you have some intelligent and relevant to say on the subject ?


 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #396 on: 01/10/2013 21:41:14 »
I see science proper moving ahead to meet religion ultimately ,as that famous quote of Whitehead so eloquently put it  , i cannot repeat here , for fear of being accused of ...missionary evangelism  again  ...the latter i do despise so much , either secular or religious evangelism for that matter .
Only the proper universal cosmopolitan  anti-reductionist theism combined with  science proper , while being separated from it , at the same time , can try to come up with true holistic universal cosmopolitan true approaches of those hard problems in science  and elsewhere ,and eternal issues humanity has been struggling with for so long now : issues such as life  in general  , consciousness in all beings and things , human reason , ....
All exclusively naturalist conceptions of nature for that matter , either reductionist or non-reductionist ones , the same goes for that anti-reductionist idealism ...will fail to approach the true reality as a whole out there , relatively speaking then .
« Last Edit: 01/10/2013 21:44:42 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #397 on: 01/10/2013 22:05:52 »
Folks :
I will say the following , but i am afraid you will neither understand it nor grasp it , you will just distort it beyond any recognition, since you were not even able to understand or acknowledge recognize the simple fact that science proper has been dominated ,since the 19th century at least , by that inherently intrinsically both atheist and reductionist materialistic naturalist conception, or rather misconception of nature :
Atheist Nagel's proposed alternative to that false inherently atheist materialist reductionist naturalist misconception of nature , or false materialist meta-paradigm in science , his alternative solution is : of course : the inherently atheist non-reductionist naturalism .
I say that the latter is not only false also , but it will fail too ultimately , if it is ever applied to science ,as a meta-paradigm or as a system of belief .
The ultimate solution is as follows :
The true proper universal cosmopolitan theism as a meta-paradigm in science ....in the future .
It does not take a genius to understand the latter , but i am afraid that you will not only misunderstand just that , but you will predictably also misinterpret it beyond any recognition as well ...
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #398 on: 02/10/2013 02:36:58 »

Facts are , per definition, indeniable .



Well, not if they're inaccurate or unproven.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #399 on: 02/10/2013 18:31:15 »

Facts are , per definition, indeniable .



Well, not if they're inaccurate or unproven.

I said that Nagel did prove that obvious indeniable fact to be true in that book of his, didn't i ?
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #399 on: 02/10/2013 18:31:15 »

 

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