söndag 20 maj 2012
The meaning of Ahura and Monism vs Dualism in Neuroscience
Dear Thomas I'm neither a materialist nor an idealist, I believe those definitions are dated. I'm a monist. There is one substance but it can come in an infinite number of attributes. As Spinoza so cleverly said. And I don't see in what way science should be any different? Why should we take dualism as a given in some pathetic post-Carteisan way when it is perfectly feasible that the mind is the by-product of a brain's activity to secure its own survival and reproduction? Thoughts are proven to affect materia and vice cersa. So what is ths problem with declaring them all as one substance? Why go for hocus-pocus when it is completely unnecesseray? For what reason? And we still have the one problem left with dualism that it never overcomes: If there were indeed two substances, how would they communicate with each other? THROUGH WHICH SUBSTANCE? Just like two parallell universa can't communicate with each other, neither can two separate substances. Body and soul never meet anywwhere and can therefore not interact. So philosophically speaking, you will always be thrown back to the ONE substance, and I don't understand what's so upsetting about that, unless you're desperate to save an Abrahamic-Platonist paradigm which is dying anyway? As for the meaning of "Ahura" as "source", I guess you will have to go with source (or "supreme being") and not with lord if the word is used in a context which is still pre-written language and pre-permanent settlements and therefore pre-feudal. Which is what Zarathushtra's society in Central Asia was, since his words were written down much later long after he was gone. Later meanings of the term are after all meaningless if we what we set out to do is to understand HIM and HIS TEXT. And that is the basis to which contemporary Zoroastrianism is returning to after all. Don't you agree? Ushta Alexander 2012/5/17 Thomas Mether
The specialization of knowledge in the sciences does not allow an expert in one filed to decide what the implications are their science implies in another filed. Neuroscience is a separate filed of expertise. The materiliast version of it holds that when physicists claim mental exists and just exists physically, they ar either confused or speaking outside their area of expertise and that the SCIENCE of neurosocience states there IS NO such thing as "mental" at all. I'm sorry people who claim materialism are not science literate in the primary field defining contemporary scientific materialism. It is not physics. In fact, world-class physicists are divided over the issue of whether the mental is an indiependent reality from the physical (standard interpretations of how the wave function collapses and breaks the von Neumann chains as implied in the mathematical foundations of quantum theory in von Neumann's "bible" of quantum theory the Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics and by those like Nobel laureate Brain Josephson in England and the quatum cosmologist Nesteruk at Cambridge) or whether if monism is true it must somehow be a mind-only monism (Bohm) or neutral monism. The majority of working physicists just don't want to get into the issue. So, from the standpoint of physics, if one is a materialist it is not on scientific grounds. And if one IS a materialist on the basis of the primary science responsible, then one must be on neuroscience grounds, of course, then, not only is there no "mental" - you also have no materialist "viewpoints" or can be a "convinced" monist.
And to several, yes, I know Ahura/Asura means "source". What kind of source is meant depends on the outcome of the as yet not fully settled genealogical relationships between Proto-Indo-European 1, whether or not there is also a Proto-Indo-European 2, which depends on when and how Indo-Anatolian split off early, which leads to the internal evolution of Proto-Indo-European into either PIE 2 or PIE 3 (if PIE 3, it is also called by some linguistists "Mature Proto-Indo-European" or simply "Indo-European"). From that last base, one then gets the descendent Western Indo-European, North Central Indo-European, and Eastern Indo-European (also called by linguistists "Eastern Graeco-Aryan" or "Graeco Indo- Iranian"). At issue is the original meaning of the PIE root for "ahura" depending how one weighs the evidence between the Indo-Anatolian languages of Hittite, Luwian, Palaic, and Etruscan and the Eastern Graeco-Indo-European languages of Greek, Phyrgian, Armenian, and Indo-Iranian (from which Avesta and Vedic Sanskrit come). If weight is goven to Indo-Anatolian languages as a more ancient branch that broke away earlier and how the issue is solved for whether Armenian for ahura that is not a Persian loanword comes is indeed an Armenian word and not an earlier loanword imported from the Indo-Anatolian group, then "source" as the original meaning or ahura/asura means two very different things.It is either "source" related to breathe or exhale or it is, reflecting Indo-Anatolian meanings, "source" in the sense of authoritative distributor or apportioner (thus close in meaning to bhaga). If it is the latter, it is roughly synonymous to the Semitc "lord". Otherwise, it is the ahu- exhale as source. At the present time, the issue is undecided because we don't know if what appears to be the indigenous Armenian word for ahura (that is , not a Persian loanword) really is or not (if not, an Indo-Anatolian loanword). If Armenian had stayed with the eastern groups and not ended up in Anatolia at an early date, the the evidence would lean towards "source as exhalation". But since Armenian ended up inside the Luwian-Hittitee world, it is hard to tell if the Armenian word means "source as authoritative distributor" (akin to bhaga) and Hittite hassus (king, lord as distributor of food, grain, wealth). But since Indo-Anatolian is also the earliest branch and Indo-Iranian is comparatively late, some linguists give weight to the Indo-Anatolian meaning regardless of the Armenian issue. Others will concede that but claim that since PIE developed into Mature IE and Eastern Graeco-Aryan after that split, the original word may have evolved and changed in meaning so that the ahu of Indo-Iranian should be taken as normative for Indo-Iranian languages even if there was a change in meaning. Others still, however, counter that since Armenian is the older member of the Graeco-Indo-European family as an actually attested and existing language while Indo-Iranian is a hypothetical reconstruction that may never had existed, "lord as distributor" may well be the normative meaning for that group as well unless it can be shown that Armenian got it from the Indo-Anatolian branch. Unfortunately, the chart of the latest view of the genealogy of these languages from Oxford's textbook on Proto-Indo-European linguistics won't cup and paste into this email. I suppose I could upload it to the file section. Anyway, the meaning of ahura as "source" is in the middle of a lingustic debate as to "source as lord who distributes" from the Indo-Anatolian or as "breathe, exhalation" depending on the origins of the Armenian word for it.
From: Alexander Bard
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 1:15 PM
Subject: Re: [Ushta] Materialism
Two things: Ahura means "being" rather than the Abrahmic "lord". Possibly "being in a supreme state". The term lord however makes non sense since the word is obvioouly far older than agriculture and there are no "lords" in the English sense prior to agriculture.
And no, contemporary physics does not deny mental life. It just places mental life within the physical realm. The brain makes us believe "we exist" in a Cartesian sense, creating a mental life the same way "we see rainbows". You may not like this, but there is no other plausible theory. Feel free to read Thomas Metzinger's "Ego Tunnel" or my own work with Jan Söderqvist, "The Body Machines" now available from Amazon and lulu.com.
Or take ayahuasca to see what the brain is really capable of!
Have a good read!
Alexander/firmly and happily convinced monist
2012/5/15 Thomas Mether
P.S. Of course, if materialism (only matter exists) is true, there also is either no Ahura Mazda (there is no nonmaterial spiritual stuff - only matter exists) or Ahura Mazda is a material and nonconscious "zombie" biounit. But then, the name becomes problematic since "ahura" meaning something like "lord" denotes a social or interpersonal status between superior and subordinate persons, and ex hypothesi, there are no such things as persons or statuses and a nonconscious zombie also would not have another nonexistent property of wisdom, hence the "mazda" part also goes by the wayside since there is no such thing if materialism is true.
From: Thomas Mether
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 1:26 PM
Subject: [Ushta] Materialism
In light of others outside this forum who have no clear idea of what contemporary scientific versions of materialist neuroscience means in all its ramifications, it probably shouldn't be surprising some here have not read enough of the research literature or even just thought through the implications of their half-thought out and mostly unexamined materialist outlook.
Contemporary materialism is not a denial of the existence of the soul or an afterlife, it is a more thorough denial. It comes in two main flavors: eliminative and functionalism materialist neuroscience. In both versions, it is not only the existence of an immortal soul that is denied, it is a thorough-going denial of any mental life at all. There is no such thing as subjectivity, inner psychological life or interior life. There is no inner I as my subjective identity, no desires, beliefs, viewpoints, ideas, opinions, inner psychological states of any kind, no first-personal experience, and no consciousness. Death is just a transition from a nonconscious biological state maintaining a biological organism to another nonconscious biological state where the organism breaks down and is assimilated to the eco-sytems.
Contemporary scientific materialism in neuroscience in both its forms agrees with nonmaterialists that a very long history of trying to "reduce" mental states to neural brain states has failed and is probably impossible. So, they deny the existence of any alleged "mental states" that need to be "reduced" to neural states at all (which means death is a nonevent since you were never conscious or psychologically alive in the first place).
Eliminative materialism in contemporary neuroscience is probably most well-known and represented by Paul and Patricia Churchland, authors of the neuroscience textbook The Computational Brain, and who recently retired last summer from the Salks research center in San Diego, CA. They are trained both as neurosicnetists and philosophers.
Functionalism is also known as token-identity theory. It arose because its earlier theoretical predecessor collapsed and was experimentally disconfirmed. Its predecessor was type-identity theory. It asserted that mind states just were neural states (we will get to what identity theorists generally mean when they use "mental" since they deny like the eliminative materialists that "mental" as most people does not exist) and that for every type or kind of "mental state" there was a corresponding type or kind of "neural state" in the brain. This turns out to be experimentally false. Luckily, computer science saved the day for this model. Software states just are hardware states; software processes just are harware processes but they have "multiple realizability". By "multiple realizability", a single computer can on two occasions be in the same computational software state but not in the same hardware state and any two or more computers can be in the same computational software states while being in different hardware states of even have different hardware. This means that every "token" instance of a software state or process is identical to a "token" hardware state even though every type of software state does not have a corresponding type of hardware state. So, the identity theorists revamped type-identity theory in light of these findings into token identity theory. Now, by mental they do not mean what we typically mean about it. They also deny the existence of consciousness, subjectivity, beliefs, desires, any "inner psychological states" (usually referred to in the professional literature as a denial of "inner qualia" or "privileged access" - the last means you have no inner private life only you have access to because apart from your body, "you" don't exist.) Thus, as one of the leading token-identity functionalists has famously put it, we are nonconscious "zombies". "Mental" states as a technical term means nonconscious "software" or "computational" states: just as a computer has more going on than just its hardware's electrical states and processes but is not conscious, so are people. Functionalism holds that the older behaviorism was inadequate because external behavior can't account for the complexity of the input and output conditions in the brain. So, as Heil (in his book on contemporary materialist models of "mind") puts it, functionalism posits "inner behavior" to supplement external behaviorist approaches. Thus, token-identity functionalism is also called "inner black-box behavorism".
Ethical, political, social consequences of these two versions of contemporary materialism in neurscience: if there is no inner private subjective life, no mental life, no personal identity or inner subjective I, then everything that presupposes the existence of such things is to go by the wayside as part of a superstitious "folk theory" that needs to also be eliminated. Thus, there are no ethical concepts (since there are no persons, there are no rights, no responsibility or obligations, no justice nor appeals to justice, no injustice or moral evil -- the Holocaust was not a moral horror but just a population reduction of biounits, heterosexuals and homosexuals have no rights nor has any rights been suppressed or denied by one group for another because there is no such thing,). Politically, since there are no persons and no rights, a cyber-technocracy should be put in place to "program" the biounits, eliminate defective biounits. There is no educational institutions because they maintain and foster the superstitious "folk theory" that there are persons that learn; rather programing of biounits is the replacement. Those biounits with interests in religion, spirituality, arts, social justice, and ethics will either be re-programed or eliminated as defective biounits. No criminal justice systems because they foster and continue the illusion of their being such things as persons, ethical responsibility, and right and wrong. Criminal behavior is defective biounit. Oddly, sometimes this contemporary materialism looks like it is "green" in what looks like a concern with the natural environment but it really turns out that since there are no such things as persons with intrinsic worth or rights, since there is no such thing as having "moral standing", a human biounit does not count for more than a rock or tree. Probably another population reduction of such defective biounits that breed until they are a pestilence on the planetary eco-system and whose activities have toxic side-effects is called for.
Finally, if you happen to disagree with these versions of materialism, or even, have just a comment or opinion, you really don't because there is no such thing as a "disagreement" or "opinion" or "you" you malfunctioning and defective biounit.
A fairly lengthy bibliography is available (except for those who are materialists since there is no such thing as "reading further" or "investigating further" or "learning".