Saturday, August 8, 2020

Scientism: On getting lost within the Mindscape.

It’s an odd sensation, periodically rediscovering how some things that I find self-evident, seem absolutely foreign (if not invisible) to most others.  When I embraced the term “Mindscape” a couple years back, I thought I did a good job of capturing a metaphor for those universes of thoughts that we possess just beyond our physical brain with its neurons, synapses and electro-chemical cascades.  The seat of ego, emotions, thought, reflection, god seeking, knowledge seeking, love seeking, success thirsting, the sense of self, our life’s spirit, our soul, whatever labels you want to tag onto it.  

The world flowing through our physical senses and then getting sorted through our genetic and environmental filters before being reflected against the metaphorical retina of our brain and infusing through our body.  The thing that thinks it’s telling our body what to do, when most the time it’s the other way around.  The thing that believes it’s in control of us, or out of control, as the case may be.  The thing that is us, but has yet to be found by scientist or philosopher.  

I’ve discovered that suggesting we should categorize it differently than the stuff of atoms and the laws of physics invites the wildest mental gymnastics intent on drawing the discussion away from the essence of acknowledging the ephemeral nature of our human mind, that thing that animates our bodies during our short dance across physical reality’s stage, or more specifically, Earth - and then disappears when we die.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Mindscape" it's a psychological thing.

I need to correct some unfortunate misunderstanding regarding my use of the term "Mindscape" and why it matters.  This is a continuation of the discussion at Center for Inquiry's forum and I appreciate the opportunity to reconsider and restate something that's important to me.

Lausten:  August 4, 2020 at 4:19 pm - at CFI

Not too clear to me either Tim. I see “opposed to” and take it as something separate from, something “not”. 

I agree there is a lot we don’t know, and you could say that is conceptual or theoretical, or I would say that, but anyway, but I don’t really draw a line at “human desires”. 

Human desires arise from the physical, so there is no separation. 

It’s almost like CC thinks you are making a case that human thoughts cause things to occur in the physical world. I think you would say that but only in the most circular way, that is, thoughts are created by physical particles interacting, and physical particles act on each other.

Or am I getting too far out there?


Okay please give me the benefit of the doubt, lets backtrack on all this and start at home base again.

Forget about the organism of our brain and our little gray cells and all the marvelous things they do that (together with the environment it’s dealing with) produces the mind, thought, consciousness, sentience, memory, mindscape. 

First step,

It’s about me and the way I look at the world.  There’s my body and then there’s that “sense of self” that is constantly thinking and talking, ‘me’ – where does it reside?  All my learning happens through it, heck seems like all I am radiates out from there.  And all the world must enter through my senses and get translated into something my “sense of self” can do something with.

My “sense of self” (mindscape) reinhabits my body when I wake in the morning.  I then through my body proceed to deal with all the environmental requirements of my day to days.  Where do I get my sense of self from?  First I think of my sight that takes in the world and my other senses smell, taste, sound, touch filtering the world that arrives in my consciousness.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Debating the Mindscape

One of my frustrations is the intellectual isolation, so it’s always refreshing getting a little serious pushback and challenges.  This past week at the Center For Inquiry's Forum, my virtual corner pub so to speak, my term “Mindscape” along with my contention of a fundamental divide between Mindscape and Physical Reality has received a thrashing.  In particular, D.R.Hansen thinks "Mindscape" is an awful term, though he bases that on some misconceptions that I'm happy to clarify.

Since I’ve been wanting to better enunciate those conceptions anyways, I'm taking the opportunity to share highlights from our discussion at “So, what the heck is Scientism?.”  A title meant to entice visits and discussion regarding "scientism", but that was detoured into a discussion about the validity of coining the term "Mindscape."   Enjoy.  Visit CFI to join the discussion.

July 27, 2020 at 10:14 pm



On the concept of “mindscape”:

I have serious issues with the concept of “mindscape” that are both linguistic and conceptual.

Some definitions describe it as referring to (if you will pardon my oversimplifying paraphrasing) “stuff that goes on in the mind.” 

Yes, the “stuff that goes on in the mind” please refer to appendix 1 for more technical descriptions.

I would regard such definitions as including this “stuff” as a elements of physical reality, products of the neurological structures and activity of the brain. 

They may feel like something different than physical reality since we can’t touch or see them, and since we have a very limited knowledge of how the brain manifests them, but it does not follow that because those feelings seem mysterious and because there are gaps in our understanding of them that they exist as things outside physical reality, … any more than our distant ancestors’ sense that meteorological phenomena or the presence of stars in the sky were the work of some being or force outside their physical reality.

Yes, I agreed.  *I can also see where my clumsy wording, and in particular employing “vs” was a counter-productive choice in my original essay. (also see TimB at the bottom of this page)

It was a mistake, I wanted to be provocative but instead was misleading.  

I will point out that I’ve never written that the “Mindscape” is outside of reality or that it’s part of a separate metaphysical reality.  Though I can see how others could have misunderstand. 

I have always spoken about recognizing the profound boundary between Physical Reality and our individual and collective Mindscapes.  This is about psychology, this is about us recognizing personal limitations and gaining a better perspective for the grand stage of reality that we exist within.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Of Liberalism, Faith, Erik Lindberg and Earth Centrism

These days Leftist and Liberal gets bandied about as an insult with little thought given to what it actually means.

I believe in family, in community, civic participation and responsibility.  I believe we are an interconnected society and need to take others into consideration, even though I have a huge independence streak running through me, the two can go together.

Why do Republicans need to demonize me?  I believe economically all pockets need to have holes in them or capitalism becomes dysfunctional, as we see in America these days.  The rampant hoarding by the super rich is an abomination and self-destructive in the long run.  

I also believe that our planet’s biosphere is our life support system and deserves to be understood, appreciated, protected and nurtured with the future in mind.  What’s so demonic about all that?

Though, at the same time, when I’m listening to this or that liberal spouting off, too often I find it too easy to roll my eyes and understand why so many on the right are repulsed.  That’s why I’ve been looking around to see what thinkers have to say about liberalism in order to get a better handle on the term and how much of it still fits with my perceptions.

In stepped Erik Lindberg who wove together many threads to form an excellent coherent 3,600 word essay that resonated with my experience driven thoughts throughout.  His parting shot, 

with the historical conviction that something like true belief must be adopted

serves as an excellent segue into a review of Earth Centrism and recognizing the fact of Earth being our fundamental touchstone with reality, not to mention the origin of our birth and our destination upon death - and to consider what can be done with such an insight. 

First, lets review key excerpts from Lindberg’s What is Liberal?

Originally published by Resilience (I’ve added paragraph breaks, highlights.)

  • May 22, 2017 
  • (Note: Lindberg’s entire essay is well worth reading.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A comet, the Universe and me.

I managed not to hear about comet Neowise in the western sky until two evenings ago after I arrived back at our home in Colorado.  When it got dark my wife took me outside to look at it.  Later during Maddy’s last walk of the day, we gazed at it a few more minutes, than retired to a good night sleep, after my rare nearly non-stop drive home from Phoenix.

From our 7,300' perch, we have splendid "Dark Skies" - (Though there are the glowing domes of surrounding towns off in the distance, heck if meteorological conditions are just right we can see the very distant glow above Gallup, NM some 130 straight arrow miles away and a thousand feet lower.) 
Last night we looked at it again, and then before bed I stepped outside for another look before turning in. But sleep didn't come, instead I was dreaming of tasting more of that night sky, so I snuck out of bed leaving my wife and Maddy behind and returned to the night.
With my naked eyes it was a hazy spot and smudge, but with the binoculars it took on size, brightness and details.  Quite a beautiful comet.  As a bonus the background took on oodles of stars and galaxies not visible to my naked eyes.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Republican Dependence on Demonizing. Why?

I saw a video today that's worth sharing and this seems as good a spot to insert it as any.
June 28th I read a letter to the editor that continues haunting my thoughts. Jeff begins his letter on a humorous note, “We have a national outbreak of leftism sweeping our country.”  Don’t I wish. Then it quickly turns ugly, claiming we “threaten to kill our democracy and way of life.” 

Leftism is Jeff’s pejorative for Liberal.  Ironically, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is about as Leftist as it gets!  America’s founders were children of the intellectual enlightenment, they believed in evidence over personal fancy and dogma.  

God was beyond their understanding and they believed in Providence.  They trusted the scientific approach to better understanding, based on honestly assessing and debating the facts.  All that is tremendously “Leftist” and liberal, and the stuff of American greatness and patriotism!

Some will say, ah but the Founders meant “Land” - they hid that sentiment behind a general community “Happiness” for political expediency.  Okay, there we have it!  America’s divide, the self anointed Masters vs. We The People, the right vs. the left.

American society has succeeded because

Monday, June 29, 2020

(Missing key to) A Scientific Explanation For God? | Joe Scott

Joe started 2016 with one of the biggest questions of all - does God exist?

I started Joe's video with a cynicism that evaporated as Joe’s perspective unfolded. His well told story impressed.  It helped that his words resonated with my own evolving experience.  

Still while listening, at times, an image of playing basketball in zero gravity crept into my imagination because, like so many others, Joe lacked a fundamental frame of reference to stabilize the mind boggling complexities and conflicting notions of our inner and outer worlds that he was doing his best to rationally discuss.

Something so fundamental it’s never thought about, ergo its implications remain lost to us.  Namely, recognizing the profound difference between our Human Mindscape (individual and collective) and Physical Reality.

This lack of a clear baseline appreciation for our own brain’s* place in the universe leads to all sorts of hubristic assumptions, and a reflexive disregard for information outside of one’s own realm. 

Let me go through that key again quoting from an essay I wrote a couple years ago.
“… missing was a much more fundamental division crying out for recognition.  Specifically, the magisteria of Physical Reality vs the magisteria of our Human Mindscape. …”
What’s important about that is that it forces us to recognize that both science and religion are products of the “realm of Our Mindscape.”
Science seeks to objectively learn about our physical world, but we should still recognize all our understanding is embedded within and constrained by our mindscape and all that we’ve learned through our minds.  
Religion is all about the human mindscape itself, with its wonderful struggles, fears, spiritual undercurrents, needs and stories we create to give our live’s meaning and make it worth living, or at least bearable.  
What’s the point? Religions, Science, political beliefs, heaven, hell, even God they are all products of the human mindscape, generations of imaginings built upon previous generations of imaginings, all the way down.  
That's not to say they are the same thing, they are not!  

Though they are both valid/necessary human endeavors, 
but they are certainly fundamentally and qualitatively different.

Religion deals with our interiors, inside our minds, hearts, feelings and souls,
Science does its best to objectively understand the physical world beyond all that.
*Or more specifically our mind, that thing our brain creates, during its short dance of life.