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A Scientific Refutation of John Locke's 'Tabula Rasa'

 
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 6 May, 2009 06:13 am
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,094 • Replies: 6
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 May, 2009 03:49 pm
@jeeprs,
Correction - life has been evolving through 1.5 billion years, 4.5 billion is estimated age of Earth
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 May, 2009 10:16 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

Our consciousness plays a central role in co-ordinating these diverse activities so as to give rise to the sense of continuity . . .
(bold mine)

This might stand for some further testing. I would yet continue to see this activity as being pre-consciousness level. The result of the formulative activity of the what pathway, for example, is a matter of consciousness, yet the activity in reaching that, while conscious activity, is not a matter of consciousness--we don't know of, have no recall ability of any of that activity.

Let me think over some of the other points. . . and please do allow me a little time (quite busy these days {sorry}).
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 03:16 am
@jeeprs,
Of course! Many thanks for your courtesy.
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Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 07:23 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;61645 wrote:
Correction - life has been evolving through 1.5 billion years, 4.5 billion is estimated age of Earth


I think life is thought to have been evolving for at least 3.5 billion years, someone found bacterial fossils in some rocks that old. But life stayed at this single-cellular stage for a loooong time and multicellular life really took off around the 1.5 bya mark (I guess) as you say.

In response to the OP.... excellent introduction, I agree with everything except the lest paragraph! Actually, it depends on what you mean by a couple of things...

I am not sure what philosophical "idealism" means.

And,
Quote:
'reality' cannot be said to exist independent of our perception of it
could be taken in two ways - either Reality, the World, does not exist independently of observation, OR, reality as we perceive it does not exist without that perception. Which did you mean?

Of course, the second interpretation is logically pointless to state, so I guess you meant the first way, and I would definitely disagree with this... though I have to say that after the excellent natural history intro I'm surprised you came to that conclusion. Smile

Let me ask a question: If perception (in the human sense) has only been around for the last 200,000, since the evolution of H.sapiens, how did 3.5 billion years of evolution occur if reality does not exist independently? (I may have the wrong end of the stick here, please forgive me if I'm going off on the wrong track!)
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 10:37 pm
@jeeprs,
Quote:
I may have the wrong end of the stick here


Not at all. It is a very tricky thing to consider.

Quote:
If perception (in the human sense) has only been around for the last 200,000, since the evolution of H.sapiens, how did 3.5 billion years of evolution occur if reality does not exist independently?


I think the trap is that if one says 'reality is a construct of consciousness' then the conclusion seems to follow 'well then if no-one is conscious does this mean reality does not exist?'

But really to do this is just to imagine the 'non-existence of reality'. You are thinking 'OK, then, if reality is something that exists in perception, and perception is something that exists in my mind, then prior to the existence of mind, nothing existed.' But that period we are referring to that existed for billions of years prior to existence of H. Sapiens - this too is now being considered, measured and imagined by the mind - your mind, in this case - as is also the idea of it not-existing.

So in this sense, 'mind' or 'consciousness' or 'conscious consideration' is actually one step back, so to speak. To consider the existence or non-existence of something, one obviously has to be conscious, and able to 'construct' its nature, dimensions, its existence OR non-existence, and so on, in one's mind.

So I guess I am saying, we can imagine the non-existence of the universe, but this is really just its 'imagined non-existence'. You're imagining this non-existence because you think you know what existence really is, therefore you think you know its opposite ('non-existence'.) But really the existence or non-existence of anything is created out of something prior to either.

So - whether the universe 'really' existed prior to emergence of H. Sapiens, or not, is not really knowable. What we have is our consciously-constructed knowledge and image of the universe present and past. And this is pretty good, and thoroughly consistent, and even 'real' - but it is not really, or utterly, 'objective'. The idea that reality is 'completely objective' is just a piece of modern dogma. it's kind of our substitute for what the Ancients would have called 'Truth' with a capital 'T'. But I don't really think it is holding up too well.

The point I was making about Locke and the 'tabula rasa' idea is that fact that the human mind is not a 'blank slate', not even when it is first born. It has the capacity to learn, to interpret, to do all kinds of things, and, most importantly, many of the things that different minds can do, are different. People are born with an aptitude, and talents, and different kinds of ability. Some are even born with memories of their previous existences; this has been proven. This supports Plato. So again, it really undermines a dogma that underlies a lot of modern epistemology and our current attitude to life, the universe and everything.

According to Wikipedia,

Quote:
In Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. The notion is central to Lockean empiricism. As understood by Locke, tabula rasa meant that the mind of the individual was born "blank", and it also emphasized the individual's freedom to author his or her own soul. Each individual was free to define the content of his or her character - but his or her basic identity as a member of the human species cannot be so altered. It is from this presumption of a free, self-authored mind combined with an immutable human nature that the Lockean doctrine of "natural" rights derives.


And a lot of 'modern life' hangs off this!

I am not pretending to have any final explanations for anything. I am just playing around with the idea.

---------- Post added at 02:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:37 PM ----------

Interestingly, Steven Pinker has written a book called The Blank Slate, arguing against the idea of Tabula Rasa on the basis that much of our psychology has been shaped by evolutionary forces. So in some ways this supports what I have been saying but for a different outcome.

Noam Chomsky also rubbishes the very idea of Tabula Rasa on the basis that language skills are obviously innate (e.g. try and teach words to a non-human).

However I am not an empiricist, and am more interested in re-interpreting some ideas of 'traditional philosophy' (which admittedly I don't understand very well yet) in support of the understanding of 'spiritual enlightenment' (which is largely taboo in a lot of places).
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KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 May, 2009 01:16 am
@jeeprs,
Just a quicky here, and I will try to tie in points with this, but they will be spread out across a number of threads, most likely, over a period of time; I hope all will accept my sincere apologies for that, in advance.

Pinker's book (though he is quite into Evolutionary Psychology, and recently had to respond to an article in Scientific American against that field) most deals with the neuroscience findings which show the Blank Slate and Ghost in the Machine to be obsolete theories for the most part.

A part of the pet theory about innate language by Chomsky has been petty much overturned as well, to a large degree, it seems.

The humanoid tracks left in Africa (I'll have to wait till I get home and check my files to get the name there) in what had been freshly spewed volcanic ash which solidified and 'rocked,' are generally put at around 3 something million years ago. That's bipedal, upright walking beings. We have no grounds for asserting that those animals would not have had a degree of perception (brain function) in the same sense that H. sapiens have had--which develops with time, of course.
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