Harari and decomposition

This is the guy who wrote “Sapiens”, a very successful book on science. His comments on the future though, I think are not just bad, but dangerous. He creates a strawman of liberalism, then says “love is just chemical reactions” and then predicts that we will get increasingly better at predicting how our chemical reactions work, until those replace all of our previous ideas about what authority we should believe and follow.

It’s worth talking about, but he makes so many rhetorical comments, I would need to equal him in credentials and experience so I could counter his arguments and be heard. I think it’s pretty intuitive about what’s wrong with this speech, but he has the cred.

I made the comment when I was at 40 minutes. He finishes the talk part at 1 hour, and sort of admits his dogma. He says you don’t have to have the truth to take over the world. So, these algorithms and understanding of our chemicals that he is talking about may never be correct, but if someone can convince us that they have it right, they’ll control us.

Near the end of the Q&A he notes that at one time, we compared humans to steam engines, and now we compare ourselves to computers. We’re probably still wrong.

I’ve listened to the book a few times. He’s the guy that talks about how humans depend on fictions we create for ourselves, and so on. It’s worth noting this was recorded in 2015 - it would be interesting hearing him redo this talk in light of the past seven years worth of collective political social mental meltdown driven but religious fanatics. Trump is god, hooah.

Yuval Noah Harari’s talk starts with focusing on the history of ideas - and it reminds me of Dennett’s ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’, which turned out be a history of human’s ideas, although most are lead to believe it’s about understanding evolution.
The problem is jumping right into the history of ideas, is like trying to map a landscape without ever defining a Benchmark.

Before a truly constructive dialogue about the nature of science and thinking can take place I believe there needs to a moment to appreciate just where all these ideas happening, in our minds.
From there we need to stop to appreciate that there is a big divide between our Human Mindscape and Physical Reality.

The fact that we exist within a complex biosphere that took billions of years to evolve, is proof enough that a single all encompassing series of events unfolded in one particular manner. Period.

It is the human challenge to untangle the clues and try to draw as accurate (consistent with attainable and assessable facts) an impression as is possible.

Then we can go on to the actual adventure that has been human’s scientific journey of exploration.

1:30 - The most interesting place in the world today in regards to religious terms is Silicon Valley. This is where the new religions that will take over the world are being formulated. (I wonder if he’s every going to mention the geophysical reality of our suffering biosphere and how that will impact all of human’s self aggrandizement over the next years and decades.)

Yuval Noah Harari’s talk is about the new religions of the 21st century (my commentary)

2:15 - What is the main world view of religion - Liberal Humanism
2:50 - Liberalism core ideas. Believes in the individual. Individual being something you can’t divide.
Our inner voice is the source of all the meaning of the world. (unless you grasp yourself as simply being an individual element in the flow of life on Earth - in which case the inner voice takes on a slightly more humble tone thanks to a grounding that appreciates the physical reality above and beyond our self obsessed selves.)

3:50 - Liberalism tells you to listen to your inner voice and nothing else. (Seriously? What about the scientific process?) … Inner voice comes from a space of complete freedom. … We need to make our decisions on life out of this deep inner space of complete freedom. …

4:40 - Liberalism assumes only I can understand myself.

5:00 - Main value of liberalism is that it gives freedom.

6:50 - Liberal economics is the world view that the customer is always right.

11:40 - If it feels good do it.

13:40 - In liberal education, the student is the highest authority.

The source of all authority and meaning in the universe is the individual human
(without such a benchmark (Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide), we wind up with wavy gravy silliness like thinking we assign the universe its meaning. When we, at best, can hope to make the universe comprehensible to us.)

15:00 - The Liberal ‘package’ dominates global, human rights, believe in individualism, liberal democracy, free market economy. Not everyone accepts the package, but it is the dominate ideological package of the world today.
No real alternatives exist today
China offer no alternative
Radical religions don’t have any relevant alternative that can be offer of implemented in 21st century, (because they are centuries out of step with humanity)

~ Most important question in new world, what do we need people for in this new computer driven economy?

21:00 ~ details of why religions have failed and why they offer no answers in our modern world.

Maddy is calling, and I had promised myself to try to get back on my Dennett project.
Later.

Probably the biggest “off the rails” comment, and one that a lot hinges on afterwards. He introduces the idea that we are not individuals, and biology is showing that; we are a product of our biology and that connects to everything. He states this like he just figured it out and everyone else is missing it. But it’s him who is missing how liberalism was not just some sort of step away from religion, it required rethinking the idea that a few people with divine connections could interpret life for us and supplanted it with the idea that no one can do that, that we can’t even trust ourselves to do it, that we need each other, and that means all us, not some elite.

Here’s an update from 2020. I listened to it while doing stuff in the shop, so, no comments for now.

I admit I stole this from a friend of a friend on facebook. He references a philosopher that dismantles Yuval’s notion that liberalism is about individual feelings.

Jonathan Rausch calls “liberal science,” the defining epistemology of the modern West. It posits that absolute truth does exist but can often only be approximated by creating ever more precise theories that we provisionally accept as “true” (or true enough) after doing our absolute best to falsify them through experimentation, observation, and logic, and knowing that, eventually, better theories will likely emerge. Liberal science is the only epistemology that isn’t an ideology… it rejects all claims to individual, institutional, and textual authority, subjects all ideas to scrutiny, and neither accepts any truth as final nor rejects the concept of truth as such. The idea that conviction is any evidence of validity is, at best, a nihilistic post-modern concept based on a deeper rejection of truth as such or is an outright case for fundamentalism where zealotry is the ultimate test of validity. It is a wretchedly bad idea, and one that has a lot of traction in the Marxian dominated academic social sciences insofar as they are grounded in the likes of Foucault, Derrida, and Marcuse, rather than, say, Levi-Strauss, Popper, Durkheim, Mill, etc.

I’ll check out the video when I can. Good quote, worth some open space.

To tell the truth, to arrive together at the truth, is a communist and revolutionary act.
From Gramsci, one of the main Marxist philosophe !

In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

From Georges Orwell, a Marxist revolutionary writer.

I have a Marxist academic background and i have never been taught that conviction was any evidence of validity.

Matter is that the truth can be uneasy to unveil. And sometimes, will never be known.

For instance, scientists have tried for more than 2000 years to find the path followed by µHannibal to cross the Alps .

When in physical sciences every hypothesis can be proved or disproved or will. In human sciences, it is very difficult to determine where is the truth, where ends the fact and begins the theory.

When a student i have read Durkheim.

And it is difficult even fort the greatest to separate their science from their ideology:

" Indeed, the sexual needs of the woman have a less mental character, because generally speaking her mental life is less developed. They are more immediately in touch with the requirements of the organism, follow them more than they anticipate them and consequently find an effective brake there. Because the woman is a more instinctive being than the man, to find calm and peace, she only has to follow her instincts." in Le suicide , 1897, page 306.

I have also been taught about epistemology and Bachelard. The idea that scientific research needs that the searcher be able to put some distance between himself, his beliefs, his prejudices and the subject of his studies has been fundamental for me since.

It does seem like this should be self-evident to any honest thinker.

I’m done with politics for a while, at least the brand of them where people use irrelevant events from decades ago to make their point. I have a ton of saved links that I’ve been reviewing lately, and I hit the “unread” link here and found a discussion with CC and Write4 about “earth centrism”. It’s really good, it has a hug graphic in it. Now I can’t find it. So, I’m sticking this here, instead of there.

It redefines, or maybe attempts to define, spirituality as " In a spiritual practice, people purposely attempt to deepen their lived sense of the superhuman order they experience. It is, literally, a practice. You work on it every day, perhaps using meditation or ritual or service to others. The methods differ but the daily application and aspiration are the same." Replacing supernatural with superhuman and noting that’s what science does, through math, " an order expressible in mathematics beyond the purely human"

Possibly the best point it makes, one that needs a ton of discussion, is that religions override these human senses of awe and wonder, the natural reactions to natural facts, suppressing the outcomes of the very practices they say lead to them. " Unfortunately, the politics of religion can sometimes keep this from happening"

When I took that science of religion course, they had no answer for how the nice lessons of compassion got folded into religions. They could explain how control mechanisms fit well with religion, but not the teachings on cooperation. I used to think religion could be fixed, stripped of the control and keep the good stuff. Now I agree more with this guy’s ideas; create new forms to support lifelong inquiry and inspiration.

I have a great love for nature and animals. I’m also a vegetarian and other animals are also my relations (almost like N.A. when they say, “All my relations”), because scientifically, the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds are all related. The chimp is my cousin and for that matter the cat is an even more distant cousin. I honour “Mother Nature”, respecting her, grateful the sustenance she gives and even fearing her, at times (a tornado is one example). We are part of the universe in that what we find in space is also in us. In the end, our bodies go right back to earth, even becoming food for some creatures in the process. This is my form of spirituality. So yes, I think one can be scientific and spiritual. It’s not my religion, of course, but I do feel the same feelings as a religious person concerning other animals, nature, the earth, the sky, space… the whole universe. The earth is living and she gives us many things, such as food and shelter. Yet humans treat her very badly, causing climate change, driving other animals to extinction or near extinction, and even destroying vast ecosystems. Sometimes we even do things that will lead humans to their extinction- such as polluting water with oil, when, as the N.A. say, “Water is life”.

So yes, I think we can be both, scientific and spiritual, but this also depends on how one defines spirituality. If one has to throw in a deity, then we’re talking about religion, but without a deity, it can still be spiritual. Nature itself, for example, can trigger the same neurochemicals as a church service with candles, motions, music, call/response, etc., causing the same feelings as a religious person has. These feelings can be part of spirituality, but keeping it on the science part, it can’t be attributed to any deity.

I hear you. That’s why another key to this is

Deeply appreciating the reality of our God’s being products of our own minds, and not the "universe."

So what does that leave of us as human beings? An understanding that we are elements in the flow of Earth’s Evolution we have be gifted with this moment of awareness and our particular body and circumstances, in this particular moment in time, make of it what you can.

What the point of all the striving?

Perhaps simply being able to die with an awareness Earth and her story, along with what we ourself had just experienced, during our preceding decades of dancing across Earth’s stage. I don’t want to die, and know I can move real fast to avoid it, and the few times the choice was in front of me, without fail, I reached for life with passion. Perhaps it’s why I strive to savor every moment, even the shitty ones, they allow one to truly appreciate the good days.
So when it’s time to die, the tapestry of my life will comfort me and make me smile {in satisfaction, despite my varied short comings and mistakes along . Guess I’ve also learned how my failings are actually linked to some valuable strengths that have helped me survive in a world full of predators, so they don’t bite anymore.}, along with a nice collect of people who’ll miss me some.

That’s where I see my “spiritual afterlife”, in the hearts of folks I’ve touched along the way - while I’m in that (anthropocentric) deep deep eternal sleep from which there is no return.

Oh as for spiritual, I see that getting invoked every time I try to make sense of the very tiny, or the complex large systems (global heat and moisture distribution engine) or small, like the Kreb Cycle

Try sketching out a timeline with 1mm equalling a million years and map out the pageant of evolution, while trying to absorb the enormity. That stuff brings forth spiritual challenges, challenges that can be resolved with continued effort and honest curiosity. With time this subtle spiritual awareness migrates through ones entire being, transforming how view the creation around us and our connection with it.
How about those videos of microscopic transportation proteins shuttling stuff around like so many stevedores - trying to absorb the dissonance between that tiny unfolding in milliseconds, then the Earth unfolding in billions of years, one day at a time. I mean that stuff touches one’s spiritual funny bone, along with occasionally providing insights that matter to one’s own perception of our day to days. All it takes is honest curiosity and the ability to be self-skeptical and appreciate tough love when it comes your way.

Yes, that is what it leaves us. As I said, as animals, we are all related, some not as close as other, but we’re still all related. We are part of everything.

No one wants to die or if one did, that would be cause for concern. That said though, there are circumstances in which people do want to die and it’s not a psychological issue. The person with incurable cancer, for example, may want to die before it becomes too painful to live. Why they’d want to, I don’t know, but there are some who do and it’s not a mental illness. It’s understandable, but not everyone wants euthanasia. Some do, some don’t. These people have savoured life and they ready to die before the point between life and death becomes painful. People who are in their 90s sometimes are in bad health and say, “I’m ready to go home” if they are religious and if not religious, they may say, “I’ve accepted death.”

Because, while we’re alive, bettering ourselves is a good goal. Bettering society is also good. Leaving behind a world that is better than it was before you were born is also good.

I look at life as being like a rose garden. Just like the rose, life has it beauty and thorns. The beauty eventually fades and the thorns might not be as sharp, and then eventually we die, going back into the earth, giving back what we took from it, just like the rose. One life is a rose, many lives is the garden and sometimes we experience things together, just as roses in a rose garden. A fungus can affect a whole rose garden. Dutch Elm Disease didn’t affect just one elm tree, but thousands, just like COVID affect all humans, cats (big, little, domesticated, wild), other apes and many other animals. The goal was to find a vaccine that would help the world survive COVID and maybe one day we’ll have a vaccine that will keep us from getting COVID. Just finding a vaccine and distributing it bettered society.

Not sure about this question. If it’s striving for perfection, or finding the ultimate answer, I don’t get it. I forget where I heard it first, but I’m fine with the regular old answers, just figuring out that caring for my neighbor is maybe the best I can do. Those aphorisms that get you through the day.