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Tonight my biology professor told us how much he enjoyed the Creation Museum we have here, how he was fascinated by their arguments without believing in them, and it was completely sincere. I’m always amazed by how open minded other people turn out to be, and it makes me feel real ashamed of how frequently I’m simply annoyed by opposing views.
 

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I think the main thing that disturbs me about behaviorism (besides its denial of free will) is its desire to completely erase the concept of reason(s) from any consideration into human or animal behavior.

When you read anything written by a behaviorist, you're likely to find the term 'folk psychology' or 'mentalism' tossed around purely as an pejorative. It seems like it's the part of training of any professional behaviorist to develop an antipathy towards folk psychology, i.e. our everyday way of thinking about and explaining our behavior.

If I say, "I want to go to the movies" and end up going to the movies, most of us would agree that my wanting or desire to go had something to do with me actually going to the movies. This is a folk psychological explanation, which behaviorists have absolutely no respect for. They wouldn't deny that I wanted to go, but they would deny that it had anything to do with me going - behavior is to be explained purely in terms of environmental variables basically, if that makes sense. So I think there's a lot of truth to the stereotype that they see us and animals in a really mechanical way.

The thing is, behaviorists regularly complain in their journals about being misunderstood by mainstream cognitive psychology, and to a certain extent they're right. I've seen several philosophers or psychologists declare "behaviorism is dead" only to be mocked by behaviorists for saying that (in an academically acceptable kind of way of course). I came across an article that was dedicated entirely to examining introductory psychology textbooks, and complaining about the misconceptions of behaviorism in there. Many mainstream psychologists simply don't know that behaviorism is still a thriving school of psychology (although behaviorists prefer "science of behavior" or "behavioral analysis" to "psychology) - they may know about applied behavior analysis (ABA) and how it's a common treatment for autistic children (itself a pretty controversial thing I think), but they aren't aware of the growing number of behaviorists who are attacking the very foundations of their field, mainstream psychology, in their own journals.

To elaborate on that last point - behaviorists see mainstream psychology as being too much influenced by folk psychology. A lot of the concepts behind mainstream therapies like CBT are criticized for relying on "hypothetical constructs", basically another pejorative you'll find in behaviorist papers. For example I came across an article by a behaviorist complaining about the distinction between "intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation" and basically the concept of "motivation" in general being used to explain behavior, because again behaviorists don't like the idea of behavior being caused by thoughts or feelings.

I did come across one behaviorist (M. Jackson Marr) who seems to have a bit more respect than others for our ordinary ways of talking and thinking about ourselves, it was relieving to see a behaviorist say things like this:

These essential aspects of human behavior [wants, intentions, and purposes] referred to by Hacker, and many others, are facts, not fictions, and the task of a behavioral science is not to dismiss them as wrong-headed, but to incorporate them properly and attempt to understand the controlling variables, including verbal history, that bring them about.
...to deny the role of, say, contemplating, recollecting, day-dreaming, and much of what we call problem solving as activities with causal outcomes would be perverse. Because we spend most of our waking hours in such activities, there are numberless examples. How, for example, would we account for the moves we see in a chess match? Would we say that the players were doing nothing between moves because we saw no overt movements? Perhaps even worse is to assert something like, "We can never know exactly what the players were doing (whatever it is, it's not "external"), so we must
dismiss such 'private events' as being improper in a science of behavior."
Let's face it, "mind" and "mental" do have proper uses in the
language and cannot be dismissed tout court, especially by a behavioral science
which claims to be "thoroughgoing."
found at: https://www.researchgate.net/public...CAPE_OF_METAPHYSICS_COMMENTARY_ON_BURGOS_2016

But still, the fact that he has to come out and defend innocent words like "mind" and "mental" really demonstrates how his fellow behaviorists view those concepts as explanations for behavior.

This is partly why I'm interested in phenomenology, or those articles by Barry Smith examining common sense in a respectful way (folk psychology would fall under common sense). Our ordinary ways of thinking about the world (and that includes us) are far from infallible, but they are an indispensable and precious part of how we make sense of anything, science being just one way we do that. The idea that things are "out there" and continue to exist even when we aren't observing them is just one example of how common sense and science overlap. The similarities cognitive psychology shares with folk psychology shouldn't be thought of as the result of bad theory, but rather just another way science and common sense mutually depend on each other.
 

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Sorry for the late reply @Myosr , I read your post but had some trouble replying to it.

How do you imagine 'human beings' would be understood scientifically, say, 500 years from now (assuming a steady scientific progress)?
I really can't imagine the details, but I can at least say that I'd expect a revolution or paradigm shift in (neuro)psychology. Or perhaps more than a few of those, considering how there's already quite a few paradigms competing against each other at the moment.

My personal bet would not be on either theories about the mental or behavioral, but on studying the brain itself, and not as a biological organ, but in terms of information and the correlation of that information with behavior and with verbal reports about mental states (that sounds like some kind of behaviorism too, right? : P ).
My understanding is this is basically the whole idea behind cognitive neuroscience. I did mention behaviorists having a mechanistic view of us, but at the same time they're non-reductionistic in that they see behavior as something a whole organism does. We may not be able to walk without our legs, but that doesn't mean it's really our legs that walk, walking's ultimately something we do. They believe the same thing about thinking and perceiving, that those are behaviors we engage it. I mention this 'cause a lot of neuroscientists seem to believe that brains themselves do the thinking, seeing, etc, and perhaps that might be the main conflict between behaviorism and what you describe.

Btw a while back I came across a positive review of that "World Hypotheses" book by a couple of behaviorists who found it relevant. They identified behaviorism as belong both to a "mechanistic" and "contextualist" worldview if I remember correctly.

Also, I think I basically understand what you say about us knowing each other far better than computers do, and how perhaps that's the main reason computers being able to calculate large numbers so quickly doesn't really faze us or make us feel inadequate or something.

One of the articles by Barry Smith I posted about earlier talks about the task of teaching AI naive physics, the whole idea being that if you want a robot to interact with doors or anything like humans do everyday, it would be more fruitful to teach it the kind of unconscious understanding of physics we rely on than the more sophisticated, mathematical kind. I guess I'm not too worried about the future you describe because in order for AI to surpass humanity, I'm convinced they would have to become human themselves in a way - and folk psychology wouldn't necessarily be discarded (Hopefully that made sense).
 

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Alfred North Whitehead said:
... There is clear evidence that certain operations of certain animal bodies depend upon the foresight of an end and the purpose to attain it. It is no solution of the problem to ignore this evidence because other operations have been explained in terms of physical and chemical laws. The existence of a problem is not even acknowledged. It is vehemently denied. Many a scientist has patiently designed experiments for the*purpose*of substantiating his belief that animal operations are motivated by no purposes. He has perhaps spent his spare time in writing articles to prove that human beings are as other animals so that "purpose" is a category irrelevant for the explanation of their bodily activities, his own activities included. Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.
/
 

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I posted this in the general discussion quote thread before remembering this thread:

Sample 4 also included feeling thermometer ratings of frogs and robots. Although robots and frogs are not the typical targets of prejudice, their inclusion allows us to examine whether Agreeableness was associated with negative interpersonal or intergroup attitudes specifically,
In Sample 4, Agreeableness was unrelated to "prejudice" ratings of frogs, r(480) = .04, p = .462, and was weakly and positively related to "prejudice" ratings of robots, r(483) = .09, p = .041 (this weak positive relationship is opposite of what one would expect if low Agreeableness is associated with a general negativity bias).
https://sci-hub.se/10.1177/0146167219832335

:haha

I don't know why the frog thing just makes me laugh. Kekistanis will be happy.

Are cats liquid?

Historically, the popular distinction between states of matter has been made based on qualitative differences in bulk properties. Solid is the state in which matter maintains a fixed volume and shape; liquid is the state in which matter maintains a fixed volume but adapts to the shape of its container; and gas is the state in which matter expands to occupy whatever volume is available. Following these common sense definitions, a meta-study untitled "Cats are liquids" was recently published on boredpanda.com. I propose here to check if the panda's claim that the cats are liquid is solid, by using the tools of modern rheology.
https://www.drgoulu.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Rheology-of-cats.pdf
 

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If an act isn't immoral, it shouldn't be illegal.
I agree, but what about the opposite? I think adultery is immoral, but I don't think it should be illegal. It oughta be a legally recognized ground for divorce, but that isn't the same as being criminal. Am I being inconsistent for thinking this way? :um
 

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reposting this from my tumblr

Here are two competing views on the topic of essence in mathematics. I think Aristotle would argue that whenever we ask what something is, we're interested in its essence.

Timothy Gowers:

 


emphasis on the last paragraph:
 


Adolf Reinach:

 


Summary of his lecture:
 


I think this might be one of the problems people have with mathematics - they really want to know "what" they're dealing with but don't get those answers. "It is the pride of mathematicians not to know - in its material essence - that of which they speak".

When I first read Gowers' "Very Short Introduction" to Mathematics I was disappointed with how he just gave the algorithm for getting logarithms and purposely didn't explain 'what' a logarithm actually is I feel like a got a better understanding of that when I googled it and found a short definition. :/
 

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We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry. - W.B. Yeats
 

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Karl Popper said:
"It is important to realize that science does not make assertions about ultimate questions - about the riddles of existence, or about man's task in the world. This has often been well understood. But some great scientists, and many lesser ones, have misunderstood the situation. The fact that science cannot make any pronouncement about ethical principles has been misinterpreted as indicating that there are no such principles while in fact the search for truth presupposes ethics." (Karl Popper, Dialectica 32: 342)
Hilary Putnam makes the point that science presupposes epistemic values like clarity, relative simplicity, explanatory power, etc. I'm not sure about morality unless Popper is using 'ethics' in a broad sense.

Martha Nussbaum said:
One sentence in Leviticus condemns some (male) homosexual acts. Hundreds of sentences in both Testaments condemn greed. And yet we do not hear that the greedy, or those who perform greedy acts, are an infestation in our community, that they are subverting our cherished values, and that a compelling interest in public morality leads us to deny them equal civil rights.
- Martha Nussbaum, Hiding from Humanity
 

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On holding on to anger:

“…By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.”
Buddhaghosa, Visuddhimagga IX, 23

I want to try keeping this in mind from now on, I have a bad habit of getting burnt and stinky tbh.
 

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Peter Hacker and Maxwell Bennett on Aristotle, the soul, and modern neuroscience:
 





David Woodruff Smith on how Husserl's ontology unites our physical, conscious, and cultural selves:

 



 

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T.L. Short, Peirce's Theory of Signs:



 

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"My book is dedicated to Thomas Prufer because so much of it is a record of my conversation with him. His suggestions about details have removed blemishes, satisfied some deficiencies, and improved expression; the thoughts that support the book I have learned from or with him. As the Philosopher says, 'with friends men are more able to think and to act.'"

Just about every philosopher I've read recently credits casual conversation with people like this, it's one of the many things that I find inspiring yet makes me loathe my social isolation all the more.
 

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Erwin Straus about 50 years ago -

The physiology of the brain…ignores the possessive-relationship; it replaces-generally without giving an account of it-my, your, or his [her] brain with a or with the brain…the reference to the possessive relationship may not be dismissed as a sentimental claim…the elimination of the possessive relationship distorts the phenomena, narrows down the problem area, and thus tacitly anticipates a theoretical judgment. If my, your, or his [her] brain is replaced by the brain, then the brain is generally viewed not as an organ of an experiencing being, but rather as a steering apparatus of a movable body…In every anatomical and physiological observation of the brain, two brains are involved: the brain of the observer and the observed brain. The elimination of the possessive relationship compels one to ignore this fundamental fact…The violence in the way behavior has been treated finds a necessary compensation in an anthropomorphic interpretation of the brain [e.g., the unacceptable term "the schizophrenic brain" is surely a scientific category error with consequences involving imprecise, reductionistic trends]. One grants less to behavior than is due to it, and gives the brain more than belongs to it.
oof.
 
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