« SD Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat, Ready to Retire | Main | Greg Gutfeld on Jim Carrey: "Coward" »
March 25, 2013

Interesting Stuff: Materialist Left Freaks Out When America's Most Famous Philospher Questions the Completeness of Materialism

I saw @drawandstrike and @adamsbaldwin discussing this. I think I might read the book.

To be honest, I'm not sure what it's about. I could just quote this article but that would be hiding my ignorance. My guess is that it's about this idea: That scientific materialism is a method of discovering the sorts of things that scientific materialism is good at discovering, but it is a process and a tool, and not, as many would have it, a complete philosophy of everything. It can discover many truths, but not Truth. Not Meaning.

But maybe I just think that because I read Carl Jung saying something similar, so I'm just summing up according to what my brain has already digested. *

Anyway, it sounds like an interesting controversy, at the very least. It's always nice to have the Pieties of the Smug tweaked and undermined. They really freak out when someone with credentials tweaks them.

* Though I'm not sure why there would be such a furious freak-out at such a (frankly) stodgy idea. It's not exactly novel.

Ah: At first I thought maybe he wasn't questioning evolution so much as questioning evolution as a philosophy of being. But he does seem to be rejecting evolution. I think. I'm actually not sure because he remains an atheist so... he would replace evolution-by-random-chance with some sort of evolution-by-fundamental-necessity-of-the-code-of-the-universe? (How could that not be God's work, if it existed?)

Anyway, The New Republic's longtime cultural critic Leon Weisthaler attacks the "Darwinian dittoheads" who are attacking Nagel.

Yup: My guess about "the code of the universe" inclining towards self-awareness was right:

His way out of this thicket is the most controversial part of Mind & Cosmos – and the ripest target for critics – as it seems to verge on the fanciful, suggesting consciousness is not an accidental by-product of evolution, but was somehow written into the universe from the beginning.

“Each of our lives is a part of the lengthy process of the universe gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself,” he writes.

The reason I was able to guess this is not that I am brilliant, but because it's an old, old idea. I don't understand all the pants-wetting about it.

This is the sort of things philosophers write about, for God's sake. Read a book, dummies.

I think Weisthalter has it right when he suggests the reaction is from scientists (or those who claim to Love Science) who actually have zero reading in philosophy so that this all comes as Quite the Shock to them.

Again, This Isn't New: Tipler is considered a crank by many but the Strong Anthropic Principle is quite old.

In astrophysics and cosmology, the anthropic principle (from the Greek, anthropos, human) is the philosophical consideration that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. Some proponents of the anthropic principle reason that it explains why the Universe has the age and the fundamental physical constants necessary to accommodate conscious life. As a result, they believe it is unremarkable that the universe's fundamental constants happen to fall within the narrow range thought to be compatible with life.[1]

The strong anthropic principle (SAP) as explained by Barrow and Tipler (see variants) states that this is all the case because the Universe is compelled, in some sense, for conscious life to eventually emerge. Critics of the SAP argue in favor of a weak anthropic principle (WAP) similar to the one defined by Brandon Carter, which states that the universe's ostensible fine tuning is the result of selection bias: i.e., only in a universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings capable of observing any such fine tuning, while a universe less compatible with life will go unbeheld. English writer Douglas Adams, who wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, used the metaphor of a living puddle examining its own shape, since, to those living creatures, the universe may appear to fit them perfectly (while in fact, they simply fit the universe perfectly).

I think some of these guys have to diversify their reading. This is like having a freak-out that Bob Dylan used an electric guitar on his last album... in 2010.

Not new, guys. In fact it's such a common idea it was bruited in... The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom. And no, that's not where I heard it. I'd already heard it. (I think Carl Sagan mentioned it in the book-of-the-show of Cosmos!)

What the hell is this freak-out about? Why the wig-out over an idea being discussed casually as lunch-chatter on a sitcom?

Is Dr. Sheldon Cooper the next for the stake?

Weisthaler is right -- this isn't about a theory being right or wrong. Something can be rubbished as wrong without the ginning up of a moral panic about it.

This is about Heresy.

digg this
posted by Ace at 06:41 PM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
Duncanthrax: "[i]Doof, also: lately MisHum doesn't stick aroun ..."

All Hail Eris, Sans-Culottes (except for the Book Thread): "'Thanksgiving Represents The Dark Shadow of Genoci ..."

FenelonSpoke: "MisHum-I found this online by plugging in "Scriptu ..."

Kindltot: "stupid muppet sock . . . ..."

clutch cargo - processed in a facility that may contain lead: "[i] Time to go see the grandkids. When they ask fo ..."

The UnVaxxed Who We Do Not Speak Of: "so you probably have someone like me who would hav ..."

Quint: "Yes, b/c you probably could have scored 2 free mea ..."

Anonosaurus Wrecks Now With Pumpkin Spice! [/s] [/b] [/i]: "USA Today: 'Thanksgiving Represents The Dark Shado ..."

micky: "Mass psychosis is now the default. When the previo ..."

clutch cargo - processed in a facility that may contain lead: "[i]Filled up my gas tank this afternoon. The pump ..."

11B40: "Greetings: There's no such thing as a pre-need ..."

Doof: "[i]Sadly, I have to keep an account to post HS reu ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64