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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5479723 - 10/19/12 11:37 PM

With this post, we will be at 300 posts for this topic, which will make it the second longest in this forum's history/catalogue. It has been good, stimulating, and well moderated. For me, and I believe a few others have witnessed as well, it has been informative and enlightening.

Permit me, the originator of this thread, to close this thread one short of the record, with this last word.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5479732 - 10/19/12 11:45 PM

Good threads don't get closed per se -- who knows if someone will think of something else to add at some point.

It's certainly been one of our more memorable discussions!


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5479737 - 10/19/12 11:49 PM

I stand corrected. Gratefully corrected! Thanks Dave.

Otto


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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5480779 - 10/20/12 06:13 PM

I don't think any serious scientist thinks we are alone. Life is but chemistry and chemistry is universal.

Intelligent life is relative. My dog excels far better than I at being a dog. Does this make him more intelligent?

Most people I know can not make a fire out of surrounding natural materials...yet Neanderthals were quite nifty at manipulating fire. Does this make most people dumber than Neanderthals?

Pese (Never mind, I withdraw the question.) Mist


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Pess]
      #5480973 - 10/20/12 08:37 PM

Doug (Pess? Pese?) You wrote, "Life is but chemistry and chemistry is universal."

We cannot say life is chemistry; if by this statement we are saying that life is reducible to chemistry; i.e. that life is nothing but chemistry. What we can say is that life on earth has coincided with the chemistry we find on earth. We can even go so far as to say that life seems to occur whereever the chemistry-we-associate-with-life (i.e. water, energy) appears regardless of how apparently inhospitable the environment. But even then, we cannot equate coincidence with cause.

There are three reasons we cannot equate the coincidence (of terran chemistry and life on earth) with terran chemistry being the cause of life on earth. The most scientific of the reasons we cannot equate the two as regards life on earth and terran chemistry is because we have not been able to replicate it. We can't seem to create life by just doing chemistry. The other two reasons are philosophical. I will append those reasons at the end of this for the interested reader.

Even if we could say "life is chemistry", and even with the knowledge that life seems to appear in the most inhospitable of conditions on earth where water and energy are found, we still cannot say that life must, therefore appear in the extra-terrestrial environments where water and energy are found (e.g. Mars, Europa, exo-planets). The reason we cannot is because of the n=1 issue which was raised very early in this thread and the mathematics of which, Jarad explained simply and elegantly. Because life appears here under these conditions, we can conclude the odds of life appearing elsewhere are better than 0. But, because we have as yet, no evidence of life appearing elsewhere in the universe, we know the odds are not 100% (i.e. 1), and we know we have no idea where between 0 and 1 the odds lie.

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

A philosophical reason we cannot equate coincidence with causality (external cause, as in cause and effect) was first given by the British philosopher David Hume. It goes like this. David Hume in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding wrote that if we saw two events occur one after another in time, only once, we probably wouldn't draw the conclusion that the one caused the other. It is only a sequence of such events that lead us to draws the conclusion that the first was the cause of the second. But, Hume asserts that this causal connection is drawn not because of any scientific reason but only because of a psychological connection; a feeling; an affective relation, not a necessary or substantive relation.

He says consider the case of a white billiard ball moving and striking a blue billiard ball which causes the blue billiard ball to move. Hume asserts if we had never experienced such motions and collisions at all, we would not draw the conclusion that the first (the movement of the white ball) caused the second (the movement of the blue ball) to occur. Now he says, what if we saw the same a dozen times, a hundred times. He says we would draw a conclusion that the first caused the second; not because of any scientific reason but because of a psychological conditioning to see it that way.

One might summarize Hume's conclusion in this manner, if no (i.e. "0" "zero") conclusion of causality is created in our minds in the witnessing of one experiment, it logically follows that if the same happens a hundred times, we cannot logically say the first (white ball movement) caused the second (blue ball movement) because zero ("0")multiplied by a hundred (100) is still none.

I don't agree with Hume's reasoning, but I have used the following example with High School philosophy students which helps them at least entertain the notion that coincidence and cause are not the same thing. Let us suppose that St. Augustine was correct when he wrote that God's existence is timeless. Therefore, it necessarily follows from this first statement that each moment in human history must be the same timeless moment in God's existence. But, if every moment of human history is the same divine moment, then every moment in human history must be directly created by God; i.e. every moment in human history is the moment of creation. If every moment in human history is divinely created, then the connection between two events in human history, one happening just before the other, is found not in the first causing the second but in God causing both equally. Thus, what appeared to be a white billiard ball striking a blue billiard ball and which caused the blue ball to move, was not, in fact caused by the motion of the white ball. Rather, God caused the white ball to move, and God caused the blue ball to move; the one not causing the other.


A reason we cannot say life is reducible to chemistry is because this conclusion (i.e. life is reducible to chemistry) is a philosophical conclusion; not a scientific conclusion. The philosophical assumption on which the statement "life is reducible to chemistry" is based is called determinism or sometimes called, mechanism. This attitude, this assumption, is not a scientific assumption. How can I say that? Because the subject matter of science-as-science is matter (and the varying forms of matter such as energy) and motion (of matter). The methodological assumption of determinism/mechanism is neither "matter" or "motion" but something else. Thus, it necessarily follows, that this conclusion came from somewhere other than science. That somewhere is philosophy and the validity of "life is reducible to chemistry" must be proven philosophically since it cannot be proven scientifically.

So, let's look at this statement of "life is reducible to chemistry" philosophically. In the language of philosophy we are saying that life is the product of external causes. The word for external cause and effect is causality.

Causality seems to work really well when we are investigating very simple matters such as those taken up by the physical sciences of chemistry and physics. But when we begin to investigate life, and then animate life, and then intelligent life, and then sentient life, and then awareness, and then emotions, and then love....when we begin to consider these much more difficult to investigate phenomena, we begin to sense the inadequcy of causality (i.e. external causes) to explain these phenomena completely.

This is why classical metaphysicians such as Aristotle and Medieval metaphysicians such as Thomas Aquinas suggested that the essence of things and the causes of events were determined and explained by internal causes; specifically, four internal causes called formal, material, efficient, and final. This type of internal-cause-theory is referred to as causation, and not as causality (external-cause-theory).

They taught that simple matters such as those covered by the physical sciences could be adequately explained by talking about efficient causes which roughly are the same as the external causes of causation.

But they taught that as matters become more complex, that it become necessary to take into consideration other causes; the internal causes of causality, to fully explain and describe the essence of things and events.

The reason they were led to this conclusion was because of what is called the problem of change, which was first explored a few hundred years before Aristotle by three thinkers named Zeno, Heraclitus and Parmenides. Zeno suggested that time must be eternally divisible; i.e. a minute could be divided into 60 parts, or 100 parts, or 1 billion parts, or more; none of those divisions being any more or less arbitary than the other. Parmenides pointed out if all a thing (say an acorn) was, was acornness (an acorn-ness which ceases to exist when the acron ceases to exist), and that any change the acorn experienced (such as becoming an oak tree) that this change was purely external, that since time was arbitrarily divisible there must be a moment in which acorn ceased to exist and at which oak tree had not yet come into existence. If there was nothing "lasting" to bridge the gap between acorn-ness and oak-tree-ness, the acron could never become the oak-tree. The only way around this, according to Parmenides was to assert that something must always exist unchanged throughout the entire process of change. Aristotle would come to refer to this unchanging stuff as hulae (i.e. Greek for "stuff" or "prime matter"; an eternally potential stuff that underlies all change). Though this "stuff" could never be seen, it had to exist, otherwise, they concluded change could never occur; the acorn could never become the oak tree, the white ball could never cause the blue ball to move, etc. Thus, what they were saying was that all change required some internal causes so as to fully explain, describe, allow change, allow things to cease to exist, and allow other things to come into existence.

All the foregoing being assumed correct, if something, such as life, has aspects which are internally caused, one cannot then conclude that life is reducible to chemistry; a purely external cause.


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Joad
Wordsmith
*****

Reged: 03/22/05

Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5481040 - 10/20/12 09:18 PM

You have an excellent knowledge of classical philosophy, Otto. I would propose a counter Aristotelian proposition, however. As you certainly know with expertise, Aristotle believed that every kind of thing had its own dunamis (capability, potentiality), which belonged to the kind (acorns all have the potential to become oaks, but due to contigency not all acorns actuate—energeia—that potential). In this sense, the actuation of potentiality can be said to be internal to the natural kind.

Let's modernize this. Inorganic chemistry (to speak broadly) has the potential to become organic (life), but not all chemistry in all situations becomes life. Researchers are getting a pretty good idea of what actual chemical compounds (kinds) in what sort of situations become life (though nothing is certain yet in this regard), but I would argue that the actuations of inorganic chemical potentiality are internal causes not external.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Joad]
      #5481096 - 10/20/12 09:53 PM

Joad (?),

Thank you for the complement. I never felt and still don't feel I have my mind-adequately-around the metaphysics of moderate realism.

I have a question I wish to discuss about referring to "chemistry" as an internal cause...but before I get there, would you be sokind as to educate me further, a bit.

Obviously, as you point out, there is contingency. Under normal circumstances the acorn becomes the oak tree. But sometimes it does not happen. Metaphysically speaking, what causes the acorn not to become the oak tree? I'm not asking about any of the possible "happenings" which might cause the same; e.g. a fire, my dog eating the acorn, a genetic defect in the acorn. Rather, I'm asking you to school me in the meaning of contingency.

That's my first request.

My second is this; I understand that metaphysically speaking, "stuff" if pure potentiality, i.e. able to assume any form; but that forms (formal causes) are pure actuality; i.e. they are what they are; the acorn is an acorn; the oak tree is oak tree.

But the word potential is also used to refer to what an actual thing "can become"; as in, "he actualized his potential", "he has the potential to be a good running back" "she has the innate ability to be an excellent human resources manager". I think the word potential is being equivocated here, but I am not sure. Are these two potentials the same or different?

Otto


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Joad
Wordsmith
*****

Reged: 03/22/05

Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5481140 - 10/20/12 10:37 PM

For Aristotle, contingency belongs to the earth, literally. That is, his geocentric universe meant that the earth alone was the realm of imperfection, accident, chance. Thus, on earth, while all things strive to imitate the perfection of the Prime Mover (which Aquinas decided to equate with his Biblical God, but really let's not go there because we don't have to and aren't allowed to here on CN) by actuating the potentiality that lies within their kind, they often fail due to the intransigent contingencies of the earthly realm. Untrammeled by contingency, the sun, the moon, the planets, and the fixed stars all move perfectly in their spheres in imitation of the Prime Mover's perfection (Galileo got into trouble with the Church because he said that he saw craters—imperfections—on the moon, when the Church, following Aristotle, believed that the moon had to be perfect and couldn't have craterly imperfections).

The modern notion of contingency is simply that chance, not determination, is the essence of universal development. Hegel has been tossed out, so to speak, and Nietzsche has taken his place—at least in Continental philosophy.

Now, as for form and matter. For Aristotle form (actuality) and matter (potentiality) are separable for analytic purposes but are never separate in reality (Aristotle distinctly opposed Plato in this respect). One might say that the actuality of the oak tree lies in potentia within the actuality of the acorn (this squares with modern genetic knowledge because our own bodies contain their potential for future development on the basis of our genetic codes). The oak too is an actuality, and it contains its own potentialities, to be actuated under certain conditions that I call "situations."

My own formulation, which I've published in a book, is to call everything a "this," which is an inseparable combination of potentiality and actuality(potentiality-and/also-actuality). These potentialities are multiple (not dualistic or dialectical) and they exist in dynamic (dunamis) relationship to numerous other actualities with their own potentialities (the set of relations is the situation). Our knowledge, then, is always a matter of probability rather than certainty, but it is not radically uncertain.

Both Heisenberg and Popper have offered similar conclusions. And Morin has also argued for an internalized principle for universal change and development.

When we speak of someone's personal potential it all depends upon how careful and specific we are being. When we say that anyone can become president (has the potential to be), that's just sloppy. But if a seven foot tall eighteen year old shows up for the basketball team and doesn't trip over his feet when running, we can say that he has a high probability (potential) for becoming a successful basketball player. I, however, being well over a foot shorter than that, do not have any realistic potential of the sort.

So I'd just toss Zeno, who was great at paradoxes but was no scientist, out the window, along with Parmenides, and stick with Aristotle, who doesn't get enough credit for pioneering the empirical method even if he never fully adopted it. Potentiality is real and it is measurable as probability. It belongs to all things and situations. The relationships can get maniacally complex, but the basic principle is really quite simple. I don't think it is any different than searching for a Unified Field Theory by which all actualities can be defined in terms of a handful of related "forces" within a unified system within which lies the potentiality for all the various actualities in the universe.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5481225 - 10/21/12 12:15 AM

Quote:


We cannot say life is chemistry; if by this statement we are saying that life is reducible to chemistry; i.e. that life is nothing but chemistry.



Sure we can. Life IS chemistry, but remember there are emergent properties associated with any complex phenomenon. A system "reduced" to chemistry can be still amazingly complicated, and still exhibit other complex emergent properties that are not predictable from the individual components.

Life is the set of emergent properties that arise from the particular set of organic reactions that capture and dissipate external energy. That's not a definition, but I think it's a pretty decent summation.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5481799 - 10/21/12 11:40 AM

Let us define the words "Life IS chemistry", as meaning that life is reducible to chemistry and chemistry alone; that life is nothing but chemistry.

Life, defined as it is above, would be an incorrect definition. The only thing we can say about the relationship of chemistry and life is that on earth life appears in many places, many of which are very inhospitable, but in each case it seems life appears where the chemistry associated with life appears (i.e. water, energy). Simpler, on earth, where the chemistry-associated-with-life is found, life is found.

But this is not a causal relationship, until it is proven to be a causal relationship. One of the things which would prove the relationship to be causal would be if we could finally take chemicals, water, energy, pressure, etc and create life. Though not definite even then, it would be a significant step toward saying life is reducible to chemistry.

Another reason we cannot say that chemistry is what creates life because we see such chemistry present where life is found; we can't say this because it violates logic; specifically, it engages in that fallacy called affirming-the-consequent.

[For the reader who is interested in logic: consider the argument symbolized as "If P, therefore Q. P. Therefore, Q." P is the antecedent. Q is the consequent. Consider now the example: "If it rains, the sidewalk will be wet. It rains. Therefore the sidewalk is wet." However to say, it rains because the sidewalk is seen to be wet is the fallacy of affirming the consequent. In such a fallacy one is saying, symbolically writing it out "If P, therefore Q. Q. Therefore, P." That this is self-evidentally fallacious can be seen in the following dialogue; "I went outside and the sidewalk exposed to the sky, is wet. It must have rained." To which another responds, "I don't think so. I saw someone spraying the grass near the sidewalk with a hose."]


The following statements which you made, I can agree with. You wrote,

"there are emergent properties associated with any complex phenomenon."

"A system "reduced" to chemistry can be still amazingly complicated."

"A system "reduced" to chemistry can...exhibit other complex emergent properties that are not predictable from the individual components."

I agree with these, as long as the person making these statements does not intend to say that "emergent properties", "complex system", "complicated", and "[un] predicatable" are equivalent to life. One can only say these qualities seem to be associated with life, seem to describe the behaviors of life, seem to appear whereever life is found.



You wrote, "Life is the set of emergent properties that arise from the particular set of organic reactions that capture and dissipate external energy." I will only agree with this statement if the word "is" is defined in this instance or replaced by the word "coincides".



All of these; "emergent" "complex" "unpredictable" et alia, seem to be associated with life, describe the behaviors of life, perhaps we can go so far as to say that these are necessary for life to appear. But even with this "association", "description of behavior", and "necessity" we are not allowed, logically, to say these are the essence of and/or cause of life.

Perhaps a few analogies will exemplify why we cannot equate these associations/descriptions of behavior, and necessity with life.

One must distinguish between necessary and sufficient properties.

Consider, "The Yankees are playing in the world series because oxygen exists." This statement is true, but it does not get at the essence of why the yankees and not the Twins are in the series. The presence of oxygen is a necessary quality of there being a world series and of the yankees being in it, but it is not sufficient to explain "why the yankees". Similary, chemistry is a necessary quality, so it seems, for the presence of life on earth, but chemistry is not sufficient to explain "why life exists or what creates life".

Consider, right this moment, the monitor at which I am gazing appears to contain informaton and "intelligence". But it, the monitor, does not. It only displays the information/"intelligence". The location of that information/intelligence is in the central processing unit and in the world wide web which, though attached to the monitor by a wire, are not in the monitor. Chemistry is to life, as the monitor is to the cpu and web.


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

Finally, let us approach this issue of equating chemistry and life by using a hypothetical premise drawn from theology.

<<< Edited by Moderator >>>

Edited by llanitedave (10/21/12 04:00 PM)


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Joad]
      #5481807 - 10/21/12 11:44 AM

Wow!

And, Good!

Now, would you explain to me/us what is meant by "substance" when speaking philosophically/metaphysically.

Second, would you explain (I have always had difficulty with this)...would you explain the place of second-matter (e.g. atoms/chemistry/etc) in a substance...and would you explain the relationship of second-matter to form/prime matter in the hylomorphic theory.

Otto


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Qwickdraw
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5481827 - 10/21/12 11:55 AM

Quote:

With this post, we will be at 300 posts for this topic, which will make it the second longest in this forum's history/catalogue. It has been good, stimulating, and well moderated. For me, and I believe a few others have witnessed as well, it has been informative and enlightening.

Permit me, the originator of this thread, to close this thread one short of the record, with this last word.




The Topix forum I directed you to a few posts ago has 13,347 Comments. The other one I have posted on there much more often has 383,067 posts. Now that is alot of posts.


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Joad
Wordsmith
*****

Reged: 03/22/05

Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5481883 - 10/21/12 12:36 PM

Quote:

Wow!

And, Good!

Now, would you explain to me/us what is meant by "substance" when speaking philosophically/metaphysically.

Second, would you explain (I have always had difficulty with this)...would you explain the place of second-matter (e.g. atoms/chemistry/etc) in a substance...and would you explain the relationship of second-matter to form/prime matter in the hylomorphic theory.

Otto




You already have a good grasp of the Pre-Socratic notion of substance that Aristotle inherited, worked with, and modified towards a more scientific direction. But it is no longer a useful concept. As our online friend deSitter can tell us, ultimate reality does not involve substance (if we think of substance as a fundamental underlying substrate to everything). Even the notion of the "atom" as some sort of underlying substance is obsolete. A lot of bright people have tried to propose "strings" as an underlying substance, but that just does not appear to be panning out.

My own proposal is that we will never "find" a fixed underlying anything, only dynamic relations of entities whose existence depends upon their relations: an eternal dynamism of potentiality-and/also-actuality (consider space/time: neither exists apart from a relation to other, and the gravity that produces the material things that we experience in space/time is not separate from the geometry of the space/time in which it functions.)

Thus, what you are calling "second matter" is what I would call actuated potential. Let's take the Higgs Boson, which may well have finally been detected according to the published evidence. That entity, which isn't mass itself but is a field, is necessary for other entities to achieve mass. Mass in relation to gravity (which isn't matter and doesn't have mass) becomes matter. I wouldn't call this a secondary phenomenon; rather, matter is a potential state that is actualized in a situation involving the Higgs Boson, gravity, and the subatomic stuff that achieves mass in the Higgs field.

Please note that I am not working with any preassumptions (especially of the theological sort) or by logic, which is an artificial manipulation of symbols. My thinking is a metaphysical description of what empirical science has observed. Reality, as it has been observed, is anything but "logical," and theology, no matter how rationally argued (yes, I know all about Aquinas and the Scholastics) is a matter of faith, and thus cannot be argued philosophically.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Joad]
      #5481896 - 10/21/12 12:45 PM

OK,

I think I see where we might part company here...and I emphasize the word "might" because you have thought these things (relationship of science and metaphysics, etc.) much more thoroughly than I.

As I vaguely understand hylomorphism, the essence of the thing is found in the form and prime matter. These are the things which cannot change as long as the substance "Ted" remains "Ted". However, his accidental properties, those qualities which do change, i.e. his hair color, his weight, are found in the secondary matter.

According to this definition of the relationship of second matter to prime matter, one (me) would then be correct to say that chemistry (which involves the weight ann hair color) are external aspects and not internal aspects; they are not internal because they do not constitute the essence of the substance "Ted".

So anyway, that, I think, is where we part company.

But forget about all the foregoing.

Talk more about how you understand physics and chemistry and science in philosophical and metaphysical terms.

Otto


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Joad
Wordsmith
*****

Reged: 03/22/05

Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5481907 - 10/21/12 12:56 PM

Well, I'm using up a lot of band width here. So, bottom line: once upon a time, philosophy (>Gr: love of wisdom) embraced both metaphysical and scientific (episteme) speculation. But those days ended in the modern era. Today, while many philosophers (philosophers of science) do attempt to philosophize about empirical science, I don't think that that is very useful at the moment because our knowledge, especially at the level of cosmology and fundamental physics, is quite uncertain at present. One can build a philosophical mountain atop the Big Bang, for instance, only to have the mountain topple because the Big never Banged. Besides, to really understand such stuff one must have very very very advanced mathematical abilities. I don't have those abilities.

Professionally, I stick to interpreting human, social reality. It is complicated enough and I am trained to "do the math" so to speak in relation to it.


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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Joad]
      #5481975 - 10/21/12 01:43 PM




There are three reasons we cannot equate the coincidence (of terran chemistry and life on earth) with terran chemistry being the cause of life on earth. The most scientific of the reasons we cannot equate the two as regards life on earth and terran chemistry is because we have not been able to replicate it. We can't seem to create life by just doing chemistry. The other two reasons are philosophical. I will append those reasons at the end of this for the interested reader.




You guys are making something simple into something really complex.

It does not follow that just because we can't presently do something it follows that that 'something' requires some special mystical ingrediant.

The chemistry of life is a hideously complex thing. But so is landing a man on MArs--something we all agree will be accomplished 'someday' but not possible today.

There is nothing about living organisms that can not be explained by chemistry..we don't know all the chemistry yet but we certainly have not come across any mystical magical mystery thingy that makes the chemistry of life different than any other chemistry,

Mysticism seems to be a fallback explanation for anything too complicated for present science to explain.

Pesse (Just an opinion from a bag of mostly water.) Mist


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Joad]
      #5482076 - 10/21/12 02:49 PM

Joad,

One philosopher of science whose writings I found very interesting was Thomas Kuhn who wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; the guy who coined the phrase "paradigm shifts". I don't recall the substance of any of the other philosophy of science works I read. Perhaps it was because I could not keep up or because they were confused and over their own heads when it came to science.

Having panned the philosophy of science movement, I have to now argue the other side by saying I had two courses at Catholic University of America in D.C. taught by a William A. Wallace. He is one of only two people I know of who had dual competency in science and philosophy.

His credentials on the one side included a Ph.D in philosophy and another in theology. On the other side, after earning his M.S. in physics, he became a researcher at Consolidated Edison Laboratories before a stint at the Naval Ordinance Laboratory before ending up on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, doing something that earned him the Legion of Merit. Somewhere in there he also was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton which, if memory serves me right was the same place Einstein worked while in the U.S.

The other guy with,possibly a dual competency which I knew and studied under was a professor of phenomenology (Ph.D. philosophy) who came to philosophy after service at the Los Alamos weapons laboratory. I don't know what he did there and he does not say, but I do know that, after becoming a phenomenologist, he was invited back to give something called The Enrico Fermi address at Los Alamos.

Anyway, especially Wallace, but possibly also Kuhn; I would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt when they start to talk about things scientific from a philosophical perspective.

I get the feeling you have mixed with (perhaps are) these same types of folk over the years. Would you mind giving me/us your candid impressions of say Popper, Kuhn, Harre, Feyerabend et alii? Since I don't remember much of what any of them said, I would appreciate a precis of their more egregious assertions if you would. Good assertions too.

Otto


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Joad
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5482100 - 10/21/12 03:09 PM

Popper is a major influence on my own thinking, especially on scientific potentiality and probability. His argument is that potentiality is real and testable, not metaphysical. I also like his notion of "negative utilitarianism" as a social philosophy.

Kuhn is ambiguous. He insists that he didn't mean to imply that science is entirely subjective, but TSoSR really does lend itself to that interpretation, and that interpretation dominates the postmodern Humanities.

Feyerabend is a former student of Popper who, in my opinion, has simply gone off the deep end in the direction of subjectivistic postmodern philosophy.


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llanitedave
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5482201 - 10/21/12 04:16 PM

Quote:


Consider, right this moment, the monitor at which I am gazing appears to contain informaton and "intelligence". But it, the monitor, does not. It only displays the information/"intelligence". The location of that information/intelligence is in the central processing unit and in the world wide web which, though attached to the monitor by a wire, are not in the monitor. Chemistry is to life, as the monitor is to the cpu and web.





In the interest of brevity, this is all that I really have time to respond to, although there was much in the previous portion of your post I would not agree with.

In this statement, however, I think you have your analogy completely reversed. If you are going to try to compare the chemistry of life with the workings of the computer, it's not just the monitor that's represented by chemistry: It's the power supply, it's the cooling fans, it's the heat sink, it's the usb ports, it's the graphics coprocessor, it's the motherboard, it's the RAM, it's the internal hard drive, and it's the CPU.

AND the monitor. Even the wall socket and cables.

What's not necessarily chemistry is the energy patterns that drive the data entry, or the patterns radiating from the monitor or the speakers.

Just to think about reading and understanding what I'm writing now, your brain cells need to be concentrating and releasing calcium ions along the selected synapses, while the cells themselves need to be generating and using ATP in order to open and close those channels. This chemistry is far from coincidental. And that's for powering some of the most abstract functions we have available. For most of the rest of the processes that we define as "life", there's nothing else in the definition that requires anything BUT chemistry. We certainly aren't requiring higher-order thinking from a bacterium in order to attribute the quality of being alive to it. Only its chemical activity.

Quote:


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

Finally, let us approach this issue of equating chemistry and life by using a hypothetical premise drawn from theology.





No, let's not. No can do. We've been skating on the edge of theology far more than what most of our TOS interpretations would normally allow, and we simply cannot be drawn into religious discussions here, no matter how abstract.

Beyond that, however, a hypothetical assumed premise, no matter how well thought out, cannot be used as a data point.

Edited by llanitedave (10/21/12 04:24 PM)


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Jarad
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Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5482203 - 10/21/12 04:17 PM

Quote:

Let us define the words "Life IS chemistry", as meaning that life is reducible to chemistry and chemistry alone; that life is nothing but chemistry.

Life, defined as it is above, would be an incorrect definition.




How so? What property of life do you see that cannot be explained by chemistry? I think that Dave's point was that "nothing but chemistry" is a bit of an oxymoron - chemistry can produce systems of incredible complexity.

Jarad


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