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ColoHank
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Shadowalker]
      #5456245 - 10/05/12 09:03 AM

Yeah, but then we'd get into a discussion about the definitions of "pin" and "head" and "aliens," and about how large the pinhead is and what it's made of, if it's flat or nearly flat or gently domed, how large aliens might be, and whether all aliens are the same size, etc. The discussion would be endless.

Which inevitably raises the question: what are the definitions of "endless" and of "discussion?"

And so it goes...


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llanitedave
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5456309 - 10/05/12 10:18 AM

We define those by example, e.g., this thread.

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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Napersky]
      #5456398 - 10/05/12 11:33 AM

Jarad's comment is useful, "there is no reason science can't identify something as natural vs. artificial, which is how we would determine if a signal is from extraterrestrial intelligence."

What follows is a summary of the historical development of the modern and prior understandings of the word "nature". Should you decide you do not want or need this information, just jump to "conclusions" at the end.


1. Scientists understand, as do all thoughtful persons today, that the word "nature" means "all things which are not human made" i.e. non-artificial. For later purposes let's refer to this modern notion of nature as "nature-4".

2. This definition of nature (i.e. nature-4) only came into existence when the concept of artifice entered human awarenes; i.e. when man became aware of what he was doing, making things that last.

3. Prior to the modern understanding of a distinction between natural (i.e. nature-4) and artificial, the understanding man had of his world was that there was a difference between things-which-last and things-which-don't-last. Those-things-which-don't-last was what the word "nature" meant prior to modernity. Let's refer to this understanding of nature as "nature-3".

4. Before the human awareness of the concept of nature-3, there was no understanding or even use of the word nature. At this pre-philosophical period there was simply a plurality of "ways". All ways were equal in reality. It was the way of dogs to wage their tails, it was the way of women to menstruate, it was the way of Jews to not eat pork, etc. Man was not aware of, nor used, a generic concept of nature at this pre-philosophic time.

5. By hindsight, when humans become aware of a concept of nature (i.e. nature-3), by hindsight the pre-philosophical understanding of "ways" as all-that-there-is comes to be know as nature. For our purposes we will refer to this awareness-of-nature-by-hindsight, this awareness of the collection-of-all-things-having-individual-ways as "nature-2".

6. Within the Hebrew culture and parts of Greek philosophy, this understanding of nature (i.e. nature-2) will also go by the name of creation.

7. Once man becomes aware of the existence of an understanding of nature (i.e. nature-2) as creation of all that is, man begins to consider the possibility that before creation (nature-2) all that existence meant was God-alone; i.e. when all the being meant was God before God gratuitiously decides to do that he did not need to do; i.e. create. By a derivative hindsight, then, this notion of nature as God-alone "before creation" arises. Let's call this notion nature-1.


Conclusions:

A. The current understanding of nature is the latest in a series of ways human kind understood and understands the word nature.

B. All these understandings of nature are philosophical concepts.

C. In distinguishing between artificial and natural, modern science appropriates a philosophical concept it (i.e. modern science) did not discover.

D. Modern science's search for, discovery of, awareness of, and definition of extra-terrestrial-intelligence, will in part be dependent on this philosophical distinction of natural and artificial.

E. The person doing this search, making this discovery, having this awareness and making this definition, will likely be a scientist. But when she/he does these things, at that moment she/he will not be a scientist-qua-scientist but a scientist-qua-philosopher.


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Jarad
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5456459 - 10/05/12 12:14 PM

No, you are conflating two different concepts that use the same word in English.

Natural vs. artificial is not the same concept as "the way of Jews is not to eat pork". In fact, that is a conscious decision, so would fall under artificial in this context.

Science and philosophy are not mutually exclusive. There are areas of overlap between them. Both rely on logic, and both require precise definitions of concepts. Saying that we can't scientifically identify something without defining what we are identifying first doesn't take it out of science into philosophy. Both are in the definition business.

The difference is that science focuses only on those things that can be observed or measured, while philosophy tends to focus more on the unobservable and unmeasureable.

Jarad


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BillFerris
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5456468 - 10/05/12 12:20 PM

Quote:

When I began this thread and on one or two occasions throughout it, an issue I have raised is the question, "what will the impact be on human beings and the human community should it/they come to deeply internalize the idea we are alone? that there is no one else out there? or, for all practical purposes there is no one else out there."




This is a question that cannot be fully understood without including faith and religion in the discussion. On the issue of genuine physical isolation, no person is truly alone who lives and participates in a community. Each of us has the freedom to choose, shall I live in isolation or as part of a larger community? Choosing the former, it matters not that a person shares a planet with thousands of millions of fellow human beings. If a person chooses isolation, isolation can be found. However and regardless of the true nature of humanity's status as singular or as one among many intelligent species in the universe, if a person chooses to engage with and be active in a community of other humans, that person is not alone.

On the question of humankind's isolation in the universe, we will never be truly alone as long as we continue, as a species, to embrace the idea of a compassionate, merciful God. To be sure, faith in a divine creator is not a universal quality of all humans. Nor is it the case that all people of faith share the same beliefs. These are obvious truths which I shall not delve further into in this forum. However, faith beliefs and organized religions have been and continue to be prevalent to such an extent as to significantly impact humanity's social and communal structures. So long as faith and religion play a significant role in shaping human society, we will never be alone in the universe. Aloneness is as much a state of mind as it is a state of being. A person of faith is never truly alone.

That said, the question of the existence of intelligent life beyond Earth is a fascinating one. It is, however, largely an intellectual exercise. The vast majority of humans will feel just as loved & connected or just as isolated & alone, whether or not intelligent life exists beyond Earth. Should intelligence be found elsewhere in the universe, I suspect the greatest impact would be on humanity's view of itself. The existence of extraterrestrial life would provide a context within which we would see people in other countries and of other cultures more as fellow human beings than as adversaries. The human community would come closer, the common bond of humanity would become stronger. At least, that is my hope for the impact such a discovery would have.

Bill in Flag


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Qwickdraw
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: BillFerris]
      #5456581 - 10/05/12 01:33 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Should intelligence be found elsewhere in the universe, I suspect the greatest impact would be on humanity's view of itself. The existence of extraterrestrial life would provide a context within which we would see people in other countries and of other cultures more as fellow human beings than as adversaries. The human community would come closer, the common bond of humanity would become stronger. At least, that is my hope for the impact such a discovery would have.

Bill in Flag




This is debatable of course as most people already consider it a foregone conclusion that extraterrestrial life exists and we know the state of the planet is currently far from what you describe. On the other hand if we were found to be the only life in the universe by whatever process would that not be a wake up call that we better all get along and start treating each other like our brothers and sisters instead of dog eat dog?


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Jarad]
      #5457124 - 10/05/12 09:19 PM

I delight, Jarad, in your efforts to invite/require me to articulate clearly, and simply. Thank you!

Now, let's go to your comments:


When you wrote, Jarad, "No, you are conflating two different concepts that use the same word in English...Natural vs. artificial is not the same concept as "the way of Jews is not to eat pork". In fact, that is a conscious decision, so would fall under artificial in this context."

I did not say they were the same concept. Perhaps you did not read closely enough what I wrote. Perhaps my wording was clumsy. Regardless; the concept of individual "ways", of which "Jews not eating pork" is an example, was a pre-philosophical understanding of nature before the concept of nature was known and used. This specific piece I quoted from Leo Strauss' Natural Right and History (pages 82 and 83).

.............................

The second point you made, I agree with. You wrote, "Science and philosophy are not mutually exclusive."

This point I have been emphasizing from the very beginning of this thread, scientists doing science appropriate on faith a wide range of philosophical assumptions. In fact, science as science cannot be done without the appropriation of a large number of philosophical assumptions.

Further, many if not most of the posts we find in this particular thread of this forum are philosophical observations and comments. [I am going to return to this point in my next post.]

...................................

You wrote, "There are areas of overlap between them. Both rely on logic, and both require precise definitions of concepts. Saying that we can't scientifically identify something without defining what we are identifying first doesn't take it out of science into philosophy. Both are in the definition business."

The piece here with which I quibble is that the concept and practice of defining (i.e. categorization by means of predication) and logic in their origins were the progeny of philosophy which only later were appropriated by modern science. The best first piece of evidence I can give is that when the librarians at Alexandria in Egypt collected the then known works of Aristotle, they grouped his writings into two groups; the first group of six books, dealing with logic, was called the Organon; the first "volume" of which was entitled kata-go-gay (category) and begins by dealing with predication.

The second best piece of evidence I can give is the principles of logic found in Aristotle's organon are identical to principles found in Aristotle's metaphysics. To drive this point home, the rules of logic which modern science uses find their origin in metaphysics.

.......................

Finally, you wrote, "The difference is that science focuses only on those things that can be observed or measured, while philosophy tends to focus more on the unobservable and unmeasureable."

I agree with this, but with one important change having been made; to replace the article "the" with "a".

This change is needed because philosophy does deal with many things/events/occurences/happenings; some are visible and measurable; others are not.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: BillFerris]
      #5457130 - 10/05/12 09:25 PM

I read quickly (not skimmed) through your post, Bill. I really liked it and think I agree with much of it. Perhaps we can find an appropriate acceptable away to continue a discussion of theological issues relevant to the existence of extra-terrestrial-intelligence.

But, whether or not we pursue this topic here, I/we am/are honored to make the acquaintance of a Lowell Observatory asteroid/comet discover, author, and, a producer of a PBS artcile on the deficit and ethics. Forgive me if I have missed more recent accomplishments.


Ah!! I just thought of a piece of grist into which we can sink our molars. Let's assume there is a modicum of truth to the statement that the 99-2.5s referred to in this thread, are on average way way advanced of us technologically.

If that is true, our faiths/religions/theologies, philosophies, histories, politics, and arts will be much more interesting to them then our knowledge of science and math.

I think what I just said is a reasonable statement. But, I'm more interested in putting the preceding paragraph as a question and ask others' their reactions to this idea.

Otto

Edited by Otto Piechowski (10/05/12 09:45 PM)


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5457878 - 10/06/12 12:24 PM

OK...the silence is deafening...so I will play devil's advocate and argue against my own assertion....


PLEASEEEEEEE, Otto. Extra-terrestrial's a billion years advanced of us will have less interest in our religion, philosophy, and politics than most of us have interest in Greek mythology, whether or not otherness and thing-ness are transcendental properties of Being, and who Louis XVI's political advisor was. In short, they wouldn't and couldn't possibly care less about our philosophy, theology, and politics.

But, they would pore over our science and math just in case there was some little nugget (or big nugget) we latched on to which missed their attention.

ottO

Edited by Otto Piechowski (10/06/12 12:29 PM)


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Mister T
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5457914 - 10/06/12 12:53 PM

maybe there is an advanced society on a nearby planet that is right now debating whether to contact us or not, but the philosophers have been dragging the discussion out for millennia with no end in sight...

The scientists did the math and the engineers designed and built the system.

but it is buried in the red tape.



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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Mister T]
      #5457920 - 10/06/12 12:59 PM

"maybe there is an advanced society on a nearby planet that is right now debating whether to contact us or not, but the philosophers have been dragging the discussion out for millennia with no end in sight...The scientists did the math and the engineers designed and built the system. but it is buried in the red tape."

That was funny!

Wait! Why would they even have/allow philosophy?

Otto


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scopethis
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5458059 - 10/06/12 02:50 PM

they're called "lawyers"; appealing every scientific breakthrough and stalling it for centuries...

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Jarad
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5458062 - 10/06/12 02:52 PM

Quote:

This point I have been emphasizing from the very beginning of this thread, scientists doing science appropriate on faith a wide range of philosophical assumptions. In fact, science as science cannot be done without the appropriation of a large number of philosophical assumptions.

Further, many if not most of the posts we find in this particular thread of this forum are philosophical observations and comments.




Well, if we define philosophy broadly as the study of any issue using rational argument, then science is basically a subset of philosophy, confined to things that can be observed and subject to the scientific method of making falsifiable predictions.

By those two definitions, what we have been doing here, discussing the "what if's" of possible alien intelligent life in the absence of any observations, is philosophy.

When and if we actually observe a signal from an alien intelligence, then it will become science.

Jarad


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EJN
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Jarad]
      #5458176 - 10/06/12 04:51 PM

1) The terms "science" and "scientist" did not come into use until the early 19th century,
before that science was called "natural philosophy."


2) According to Monty Python, to be a philosopher meant drinking heavily.

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.
There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya'
'Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pi$$ed...
John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away;
Half a crate of whiskey every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am"
Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pi$$ed!


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llanitedave
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: EJN]
      #5458564 - 10/06/12 10:34 PM

I always liked the term "natural philosophy" as a synonym for science. I'm not sure why it fell out of favor, but I'd bring it back if I could.

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Otto Piechowski
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5458628 - 10/06/12 11:32 PM

me too

as in mathematica principia philosophiae naturalis (Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; I think that was his famous book in which he described gravity mathematically)

I do know that the Latin word for knowledge (scientia) was widely used long before the word science appears in English. The way I was taught it was scientia est cognitio per causas ["knowledge" is understanding through/by the causes"] , but I just read on line it was philosophia est scientia rerum per causa prima ["philosophy is knowledge of things through [their] first causes"]


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Qwickdraw
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5458836 - 10/07/12 06:22 AM

Quote:

"maybe there is an advanced society on a nearby planet that is right now debating whether to contact us or not, but the philosophers have been dragging the discussion out for millennia with no end in sight...The scientists did the math and the engineers designed and built the system. but it is buried in the red tape."

That was funny!

Wait! Why would they even have/allow philosophy?

Otto




You are right, Aristotle served absolutely no purpose in history (sarcasm intended)


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Qwickdraw
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: EJN]
      #5458844 - 10/07/12 06:34 AM

Quote:

1) The terms "science" and "scientist" did not come into use until the early 19th century,
before that science was called "natural philosophy."






And to add to that a scientist with several disciplines could have been referred to as a polymath.


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Man in a Tub
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5458862 - 10/07/12 06:58 AM

Quote:

I always liked the term "natural philosophy" as a synonym for science. I'm not sure why it fell out of favor, but I'd bring it back if I could.




Just don't get metaphysical about it!


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Mister T
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Reged: 02/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Man in a Tub]
      #5458905 - 10/07/12 07:57 AM

now I am confused:

http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2012-10-07/


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