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repost: "everything"

Sej Mac skring at banet.net
Tue Jul 21 18:20:35 EST 1998

F. Frank LeFever wrote:

> - - - - - - - (snip)- - - - - - - - -
> >>. . . Fechner    had a sudden conviction that he knew how to prove that
> >>                 everything in the universe was conscious.  He wasn't
> >>                 thinking clearly--just woke out of a deep sleep--but
> >>                 his method DID prove useful)(i.e. the psychophysical
> >>              method)
> - - - - - - -  - - -(snip) - - - - - - - - -
> > I disagree with Frank's value assessment of psychophysics. Fechner &
> >Weber were outrageously idiotic with their "equations."  At their
> time, as
> >today, the nonphysical sciences (knowledge pursuits) were very
> covetous of
> >the physical sciences' success . . . and mistakenly
> believed
> >that it was due to "math."  This misapprehension continues today.  The
> >success of the physical sciences, IMO, is that they *observed.*
> >Carefully, with their *minds.*  The seeking and relatively unfettered
> mind
> >is capable of controling variables on its own.  It "instinctively"
> >utilizes the scientific method of REASONING.
> >
> FURTHER COMMENT: Well, here we have the problem in a nutshell.
> "Reasoning" is NOT the scientific method

The scientific method of REASONING was promoted heavily in the first 6
decades of this century.  It is not "the scientific method" thought of
today.. The former begins with the cardinal OPEN MIND, proceeds to the
gathering of already known relevant facts, moves to formulating an
hypothesis (under-idea), and an equal and opposite null hypothesis so as to
help counter any implicit tendencies toward bias.  Only THEN does it move
to methodology qua methodology to gather more data.  The young punks doing
"science" today feature the methodology, only---the scientific method of
REASONING seems to have been forgotten.  Let me give you two simple
examples among *legions* of what this kind of cultural fogetting in
instituuional science can lead to:   1.  Several  young punks in different
branches of the sciences have relatively recently referred to Pavlov's
dogS.  Ivan Pavlov's informal study involved only ONE dog.  The young punks
are so indoctrinated with "the scientific method" that they *assume* that a
statistically representative sample of dogs   were used;   2. In an issue
SciAm (no less!)  a few years ago, a writer said something to the effect, "
the Indo-European languages are based on an alphabet. . . .," assuning that
the alphabet came first, and the language next!  (Among other errors.)

> .  It is the method of
> philosophers and (for that matter) the man in the street, in his
> armchair, re-inventing not only round wheels but also square ones and
> generating nothing much but endless arguments basically incapable of
> resolution.

I beg to differ; philosophers for the most part did (do) NOT reason.  They
called it that, but it was not reason, rather, a stream-of-consciousness
spouting of guesses, speculations, hunches, imaginings, and intuitions (the
last being mainly correct except that they could not articulate it in their
copious and copiously abstruse vocabularies)---all based more on what they
read of others' nonreasoning than on their own, direct, first-hand
observation..  I think Kant, and so-called "Rationalism" demonstrates this
very well, even in its very doctrine.  One thing about most of the early
Greek philosophers: they DID draw from their own first-hand observations.
Only the Sophists did not.

> Only in the past 2-3 centuries, with acelerating pace, has
 rigorous application of the scientific method begun to answer those

> questions which are susceptible of answers.

Yes, the Empiricists did give rise to a return to first-hand witness.  That
was about 4 Cs ago.  But even before that were Gallileo et al. who, without
such "academic formality," nonetheless drew implicitly on what later became
the "scientific method of reasoning."

> The psychophysical method, as a METHOD, has contributed to our
> knowledge of how our senses work, and continues to do so . . .

The general field of neurology has done this. "Psychophysics" is a wasteful
term, and a reification.  It is true that increasingly, psychologists---who
were really beginning to amass some useful data on epistemological and
related issues---followed the yellow brick road of neurology---without
formally giving up their precious field, of course.  It remains, however,
neurology.  And endocrinology, too, of course.

> --Fechner's own
> applications and conclusions (as well as his bizarre inspiration) are
> really not relevant and do not detract from this fundamental
> accomplishment.

Again I say, I'm not sure it was so bizarre.  Many greats have been
inspired by conceptual dreams.  Alas, Fechner and Weber were not among

> >>          COMMENT: I tend to believe Barbie Dolls are still without
> >>          consciousness; and consciousness may be rather limited in
> >>          adults who play with them or attribute consciousness to
> them.
> >>
> >>           Frank
> >
> FURTHER COMMENT: What follows is just plain silly.  You would base your
> understanding of the universe on figures of speech and/or careless
> anthropomorphisms of the (basically unthinking) masses?

If you think that I was suggesting that autos, etc., really have mind, you
were mistaken.  I was pointing out only that WE DO NOT *KNOW.*  To believe
that they do, and to believe that they do not, is sheer ideology.

As for anthropomorphism, it is highly anthropo*centric* to assume that
nucleotides do not have mind.  I *conjecture* that they do, based on solid
evidence unnoticed by the basically unthinking "scientific"  masses.  It is
a highly complex conjecture, so will not fit into a ng. post.  But a
conjecture is just that; it is not an assertion.

I wouldn't be too hasty (and too unhumble) to assume that the general
population is "basically unthinking."  A., you do not know to whom you are
speakimg, and B., many of our historic greats were part of the "basically
unthinking" masses until their *thinking* distinquished them culturally and
historically.   Einstein was one.

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