Back Off Science

The missing link

Posted in mind by backoffscience on October 19, 2009

The split of subjective and objective seems a bad one for everyone. It goes like this. There are things that can be verified by everyone. Science finds them out. There are things that are only known to me. This is consciousness – a mystery and probably best left alone.

The reality is that we share our lives with lots of people in a variety of ways. Our reality is communal. There is truth in both the subjective and the objective perspective, but only as extreme positions on an otherwise ambiguous spectrum.

Is the full explanation of a painting in an art gallery to be found in the chemical structures of the materials? Nope. Is it found in the interpreted colour patterns we sense? Nope – and I don’t know how you managed to experience just the colours anyway.

No, it is found in the experience of an object about which you have already learned a massive amount from other people – the story of the artist, the ways we look at art, the history of art, the objects from other places we see in it, what we know about the specific work from what other people have told us.

http://www.jaist.ac.jp/~g-kampis/ActiveP/DuckRabbit.gifThe missing link in all of this is aspect perception. This is an everyday phenomena which somehow no-one talks about. Here’s the duck rabbit – the first of many. You see a duck. Then you see a rabbit. The two experiences are different and yet nothing has changed.

The important bit is not the aspect shift, which is quite an interesting feeling. The interesting bit is thinking about a drawing with a non-ambigous aspect. Then you realize that every other experience you have is jam packed full of concepts. So our idea of there being no concepts in the world is wrong. Concepts are everywhere. And how do they get there? Well our world is organised conceptually, and we get our concepts from… everyone. The connections between you, me and everyone and everything we know run so deep into our lives that it is impossible to escape them.

So it is not rational to be objective, because that completely misses a massive section of our reality. And it is certainly not rational to be subjective, because we don’t live in a world by ourselves. The truth is much harder. Whether we want to or not, we directly experience a shared world, and we’re going to have to make the most of it.

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2 Responses

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  1. Marco Otero said, on November 28, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I think I know where you are coming from now and believe it or not, we are not in complete disagreement.

    Science, naturalism, etc, will not answer everything. Science, by definition only deals with the natural, material world. This DOES leave out some things.

    However, this is where I think that you just go nuts on the idea and completely loose perspective. Science IS, whether you like it or not, the best method we have to determine is something is true or not. Science exists for that very reason, to explain, to understand and to make predictions etc.

    You seem to think that it is ok for people out there to believe in whatever stupid shit they can come up with. That is fine, that is your prerogative and you have the right to believe that. The reality is still very plain and simple: Science gives results, faith does not. You can bitch about it all day, until you are blue in the face, its still true.

    Just because science does not and cannot answer EVERYTHING, doesn’t mean that every explanation we can make up on the spot is equally valid.

    And, I think that being objective is rational. You seem to make the assumtption that one cannot be objective, and still enjoy the other side. I try to be as objective as I can. I do not claim to be objective all the time, I am sure there are an infinite amount of things that I believe in that are not entirely true and maybe others that are completely false and wrong. At least I can say I am trying to recognize which beliefs are false and which are true. And science, reason and logic are the tools (not real tools, they dont exist, dont get too exited) that give reliable results.

    LIke it or hate it, science is not here to ruin your worldview. Thats not its purpose or mission, but if science does that… why do you fight it? WHy would you be such an anti science advocate when you seem to know that science does work?

    • backoffscience said, on November 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

      You’re bitchy, Marco, hope it makes you happy.

      “Science gives results, faith does not.” I wasn’t saying you use faith as an investigative tool, you dick. Faith just creates one kind of certainty in humans science another. The results you should be interested in are the ones about the meaning of our lives. You still have to decide what to do with the facts.

      How many times do I have to say it. I love science. It is wonderful. But it is our tool. Its results are useful to understand how to use things, how to develop new technology, to know what things are made of. But that is not the same as defining reality. Defining reality is not something science can, or even wants to do. What is real, and what stuff is made of, is not the same question.

      Your definition of objective is absolute crap. It is a poor quality picture of the world. Subjective – me alone in the lightbox. Objective – everything that exists separate from my experience of it. It just isn’t what our lives are like. Any idea of total objectivity has to include the things more than one, but not everybody, has in their lives as well.

      A novel, for example, is something in almost everybody’s world. But to natural science it is indistinguishable from textbooks, manuals, to random marks on paper. So you’re putting all your chips on the human sciences? But we both know that there answers have a completely diferent kind of certainty to those of natural science. So what is it then? What is a novel?

      I can explain it. It is a concept. Concepts are real things in the world. (its not pretty I’ll grant you) What’ve you got?


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