Friday, April 22, 2016

Scott Adams — Science Proves Science is an Illusion

This is a pretty fair summary of the position of perennial wisdom, although PW is moe sophisticated. Scott Adams seems to have stumbled upon it. However, it doesn't seem to have realized yet that this implies that "consciousness"is primary rather than "matter," and that it's all done with "smoke and mirrors." The quotes mean that these terms are ambiguous in ordinary language and needs further specification to be meaningful. In a sense, that is what the history of world thought is about. "Philosophy" is too restrictive.

Anyway, Scott's post is a fun read. Make what you want of it.

Scott Adams' Blog
Science Proves Science is an Illusion
Scott Adams


Six said...

On a side note, Tom ... Is MMT economics or is it accounting? Perhaps the descriptive part is accounting and the prescriptive part is economics?

Peter Pan said...

If i kill myself, is my death an illusion?

Tom Hickey said...

MMT includes operational analysis of monetary systems based on accounting and institutional arrangements as the foundation. Accounting identities don't say anything unless they are interpreted wrt to causality. This is the theoretical part. Prescription is based on operational and economic analysis and norms (values). There is no value-neutral policy. Policy is essentially normative but to distinguish "good" policy from pure ideology an objective basis must be provided. MMT does that in arguing for the possibility of achieving reason growth, true full employment and relative price stability simultaneously using functional finance based on SFC macro modeling. A JG mops up residual UE, resulting in the potential for achieving true full employment.

Ryan Harris said...

PBS created a series called "Closer to Truth" where Robert Lawrence Kuhn poses some of these interesting questions to physicists and they have some ideas on the topic as well.

Bas van Fraassen - What are the Scope and Limits of Science?
David Deutsch - Can Science Provide Ultimate Answers?
Marvin Minsky - What are Possible Worlds?

Matt Franko said...

"If i kill myself, is my death an illusion."

Nooooo.... It is the whole enchilada in this era.....

Anonymous said...

I found the link within the article to the David Hoffman interview interesting: - the visible universe, as a conditioned symbol of Reality.

Our ... "internal simulation of external 'reality' .... all roads leading back to the observer .... objective reality is just conscious agents ... [the problems with] classical notions under Newtonian physics, where time is absolute and objects exist absolutely ('We’ll stick with Newton, thank you. We’ll stay 300 years behind in our physics')".

And ... "as a conscious realist, I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world. I’m claiming that experiences are the real coin of the realm. [my bold] The experiences of everyday life — my real feeling of a headache, my real taste of chocolate — that really is the ultimate nature of reality."

What is joy?

Tom Hickey said...

Yes, an excellent article. This has been debated for millennia in the history of thought that reaches intro the mists of time, for example, Purusha Sukta of Rig Veda (10:90). Now scientists are looking at these questions using rigorous methodology, not that thinkers were not rigorous before, but new tools lead to fresh discoveries.

There are two major POVs in the history of thought idealism and realism. Idealism has actually predominated among thinkers since rigor lead in that direction. But most people are realists of the naïve sort. Attempts to state philosophical realism generally lead to either idealism or instrumentalism, such as nominalism.

Hoffman notes: But most of us, you know, we’re born realists. We’re born physicalists. This is a really, really hard one to let go of.

Hoffman has not been able to let go of realism himself:

As a conscious realist, I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world. I’m claiming that experiences are the real coin of the realm. The experiences of everyday life — my real feeling of a headache, my real taste of chocolate — that really is the ultimate nature of reality.

Hoffman identifies himself as a realist but in philosophy this position is called subjective idealism. George Berkeley was a chief exponent, holding that to be is to be be perceived (Latin esse est percipi). But Berkeley could not explain this scientifically in his day other than on the basis of perception and optics.

Hoffman believes he has. However, he is not the first to venture a scientific explanation. See, for instance, Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe (available at as Holographic Model of the Universe here ) on the thought of David Bohm and Karl Pribram. It's a bit dated but interesting.

Berkeley needs some ground for subjective idealism to account for the fact that subjects agree regarding perception is there is no underlying "material" reality. The good bishop posits God as the grand perceiver who sustains reality. Of course, this will not do for scientist. Hoffman's ground is intersubjectivity, and he has theory about how it works.

BTW, Lord Keynes has commented on Berkeley's subjective idealism here, in response to Philip Pilkington.

Berkeley’s Idealism: A Critique

Anonymous said...

I think I agree with the holographic idea of the universe. At the centre is the Divine, who from itself creates the ‘matter’ that will be layered into grosser strata, and the consciousness (energies) that will work this matter into form and cause it to evolve. For various reasons, I like the Tibetan’s presentation of the persona of man, as physical-emotional-mental on the lower three planes of our solar system, the soul in the causal body on the fourth, and the triadal reflection of the persona as atma-buddhi-manas, as the sheath of atma, on the higher three. Philosophy, science, religion (everything on planet earth is a religion of one kind or another) I view as activity on the lower mental plane. It is the work of consciousness to establish itself on the fourth; then open itself to the higher. The most important aspect of all of this is that life is meant to be enjoyed – Purusha which gives birth to the human soul, is the energy of Love and Wisdom; the persona is a child of the energy of Active Intelligence; atma, a spark in the flame of Spirit, Will.

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]

Gives me goosebumps .... ! We are experiencing machines.

Kaivey said...

Whenever I think of the divine and and the afterlife I realise that it is impossible. What gives me real pleasure is problems and then finding solutions to them. But what problems are there in heaven, and so what pleasure is there to be had in paradise? None, because I would be bored stiff.

Put it this way, what would bunnies do in heaven? Not much.

Anyway, I have to rush now because I have to re-adapt my PC workstation cabinet to hold my synthesizer keyboard better, then I can carry on working on my masterpiece. Now that's heaven.

But don't despair because I do believe in the afterlife even if my rational mind says it can't be true. But Divinity can never be rational, it's spiritual. A big difference.

Anonymous said...


Got a link to any of your music K. ?