Some scientists conclude that the sciences of the human nervous system and psychology have nullified the old, traditional belief that humans can act freely; i.e., that ‘free will’ is a myth that must be discarded by any scientifically informed person. This is a philosophical inference from the work of science, and like many such inferences from the data of sciences it should be subject to critical scrutiny. A good example of the nullification view (of free will) is given by James Miles (a British evolutionary theorist).
Insofar as our coherent language and thought allows, the so-called “phenomenal world” is the real world, i.e., the world in which we exist, the one we experience and one accessible to human understanding. Of course, our concept of this reality can be refined through analysis, mathematical modeling, scientific theorizing and investigation. The resulting picture or model, a refined one when compared to our untrained intuitions, will be a picture or model of the world of experience. It does not point to a “world-in-itself.”
I offer a quick way with this issue (‘mystery’ of consciousness) which I present by way of a short dialogue between a ‘Mysterian’ — who claims that consciousness is a mystery not explained by the sciences —- and a First-Responder (e.g. scientist) who shows a way to defusing the putative mystery.
I am very suspicious of the often repeated claim that mystical experiences always have some object or referent, natural or supernatural. This implies that there is more here than just an extraordinary experience, that it is an experience of something which is real. All are very questionable claims.
In an article titled “A conversation: consciousness and the connection to the universe” Deepak Chopra interviewed Dr. Stuart Hameroff of the Center for Consciousness Studies of the University of Arizona.
The interview is interesting on a number of points, e.g., Hammeroff’s attempt to explain perceptual consciousness in terms of quantum physics. This is an ambitious project that cries for scrutiny and critique. But presently I shall focus on another aspect of the interview. The interviews discloses some fundamental misconceptions and fallacies committed by both men. They fall into old traps and confusion.
One dictionary definition of ‘therapy’ is the treatment of a disease, physical or mental, by medical or physical means, usually excluding surgery. A more general definition refers to ‘therapy’ as the effort to alleviate some disorder, usually mental in some sense, by some use of a therapeutic method or technique. It is doubtful that the […]
William James wrote a well-known essay “The Will to Believe,” in which he defended certain religious belief as compelling even if not rationally grounded beliefs; for example, the decision to belief in God as a vital choice that many persons make, despite lacking good rational grounds to support that belief. We will to believe in God.
In one sense of the term “belief,” what James contends may strike us as being absurd. For in ordinary circumstances our belief that something is such & such (e.g., that it will rain today, or that my car has enough gasoline to get me home) is not a matter of choice or of our willing it, but rather a case in which we base the belief on supporting evidence. Here making a decision to believe irrespective of the evidence could get us in trouble.
If the unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates), then it may follow that the examined life (the “philosophical life”) is worth living. This could be seen as suggesting that philosophical thought results in a form of personal fulfillment and good psychological health.
Contrary to this we have the view (mostly the prevailing view) that philosophy is an intellectual discipline which has little or nothing to do with anyone’s striving to achieve some form of personal, psychic fulfillment. Add to this the fact that most people who work in philosophy (e.g. academic philosophers or professors of philosophy) are not especially noteworthy for lives of psychic well-being.