Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chomsky. Transcript. TheMachineTheGhostAndTheLimitsOfUnderstanding. Newton’sContributionToTheStudyOfMind. University ofOslo. Sep 2011.

Hope somebody finds it helpful or useful.

1.       Welcome, everyone. I’m OlavGjelsvik, I’m director of [Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature], and we’re extremelyhappy to haveProfessorNoamChomsky with us. Let me just say that he is themostquoted writer in academia alive. No comparison at all with anybody else, and I think it’s fair to say he’s numberone public intellectual in the world. So please, ProfessorChomsky.
2.       Okay. Sound of applaud. Omitted.
3.       I’ll talk some aboutIsaacNewton, and his contribution to the studyofmind. He’s not known for that, but I think a case could be made that he did make a substantial, indirect, nevertheless substantial contribution, and I’d like to explain why. There’s a familiar view that theearlyScientificRevolution in theearlyseventeenthcentury provided humans with limitlessexplanatorypower, and that conclusion is establishedmorefirmly byDarwin’sdiscoveries, TheoryOfEvolution. I have in mind specifically recent publiction, exposition of this view by two distinguished physicsts and philosophers, DavidAlbert and DavidDeutsch, but it’s commonlyheld with many variants. There’s a corollary. The corollary is ridiculed, what’s called by many philosophers asMysterianism, that’s an absurd notion that there are mysteries ofNature that humanintelligence will never be able to grasp. It’s of some interest to notice that this belief is radicallydifferent from the conclusions of the great figures who actuallycarried out theearlyScientificRevolution. Alsointeresting to notice how inconsistent it is what theTheoryOfEvolution implies and has always been understood to imply since its origin, and I’d like to say those twotopics in turn. Start withDavidHume’sHistoryOfEngland. Of course, there’s a chapter on theScientificRevolution and, in particular, the crucial role of[]Newton, who[m] he’s described as “the-greatest and rarest genius that ever arose for the ornament and instruction of the species.” And Hume concluded that Newton’sgreatestachievement was that, “while he seemed to draw the veil from some of the mysteries ofNature, he showed, at the same time, the imperfections of the mechanicalPhilo and thereby restored the Nature’s ultimate secrets to that obscurity in which they ever did and ever will remain.” MechanicalPhilo is of course the guidingdoctrine of theScientificRevolution. It held that the world is a machine. The grander version of the kind of autonomy of what stimulated the imagination of the thinkers of the time. Much in the way programcomputers do today, they were thinking of remarkable clocks, the artifacts constructed by skilled artisants. Themostfamous was JacquesVaucanson, devices that imitated digestion, animalbehaviour or the machines you can find inRoyalGarden as you walk through that pronounced words as they were triggered, and many other such devices. The mechanicalPhilo wanted to dispense with occult notions, neoecclasticnotions of forms fleeting through the air, sympathies and antipathies, other such occult ideas, and they wanted to be hardheaded and keep to what’s grounded in commonsense and understanding. And in fact, it provided a criterion for intelligibility fromGalilei throughNewton and deep well beyond. It’s wellknown also that Descartes claimed to have explained the phenomena of the material world in such mechanical terms, while alsodemonstrating that they are not-allencompassing. Don’t reach into the domain of mind, his view. He, therefore, postulated a new principle to account for what was beyond the reach of mechanicalPhilo. Although this, too, is sometimesridiculed, it’s in full accord with normal nonscientificmethod. He was working within the framework of substancePhilo. So the new principle was second substance, res-cogitans. And there was a scientificproblem that he and others faced [in] determining its character and determining how it interacts with the mechanical world, that’s mindbodyproblem cast within theScientificRevolution, and it’s a scientificproblem. Well, it was for a time. MechanicalPhilo was shattered byNewton, as Hume observed, and with it, went the notion of understanding of the world that theScientificRevolution sought to attain, and the mindbodyproblem alsodisappeared. And I don’t believe it has been resurrected although there’s still a lot of talk about it. Those conclusions were actually prettywellunderstood in the centuries that follow though they’ve often been forgotten today. []Locke had alreadyreached a conlcusion rather similar toHume’s. He was exploring the nature of our ideas, and he recognised, I’ll quote him, that, “body as far as we can conceive is able only to strike and affect body and motion according to the utmost reach of our ideas is able to produce nothing but motion.” These are the basic tenets, of course, of mechanicalPhilo that yield to the conclusion that there can be no interaction without contact, which is our commonsense and intuition. And modern research inCognitiveScience has given a lot of prettysold grounds forLocke’sreflection on the nature of our ideas. It’s revealed that our commonsense and understanding (of the nature of bodies and their interactions), as nowadays we would say, in large part geneticallydetermined, it’s verymuch as what Locke described. Veryyoung infants can recognise a principle of causality through contact. Not in another way. If they recognise causality, they seek a hidden context somewhere. Those, in fact, appear to be the limits of our ideas or our commonsense. The occultideas ofScholastics or ofNewton, NewtonianAttraction, it goes beyond our understanding, and it’s unintelligble at least by the criteria of theScientificRevoluvtion. Verymuch likeHume, Locke concluded therefore that, “We remain an incurable ignorance of what we desire to know about (matter and its effects). NoScience of bodies is within our reach,” and he went to say we can only appeal to the “arbitrary determination of all that lies agent, who made them to be and operate as they do, in a manner whollyabove our weak understanding to conceive.” Actually, Galilei had reached much thesameconclusion at his life. He was frustrated by the failure of the mechanicalPhilo as ideal, its failure to account for cohesion, attraction, other phonemona. [Research required.] And he was forced to reject, I’m quoting him, “Vain presumption of understanding everything, or to conclude, even worse, that there’s not a single effect inNature such that themostingenious theorist can arrive at complete understanding of it.” Actually, Descartes, though moreoptimistic, had alsorecognised the limits of our cognitivereach. Occasionally, he’s notentirelyconsistent about this. RuleEight ofRegulae reads, “If in a series of subjects to be examined, we come to a subject of which our intellect cannot gain good enough intuition, we must stop there, and we must not examine the other matter that follow, but must refrain from futile toil.” Specifically, Descartes speculated that the workings of res-cognitans, secondsubstance, may be beyond humanunderstanding, so he thought, quoting him again, “We may not have intelligence enough to understand the workings of mind, in particular normal use ofLang”, one of his main concepts. He recognised that the normal use ofLang has what has come to be called a creative aspect. It’s every humanbeing, but no beast or machine, has this capacity to useLang in ways that are appropriate to situation, but notcaused by them, it’s a crucial difference, and to formulate and express thoughts that may be entirely new, and to do so without bound, may be incited or inclined to speak in certain ways by internal and external circumstances, but notcompelled to do so. It’s the way his followers put the matter, which was a mystery toDescartes and remains a mystery to us, though quiteclearly it’s a fact. Descartes nevertheless continued. “Even if the explanations of normal use of explanation ofLang and other forms of free and coherent choice of action,” even if that lies beyond our cognitivegrasp as it apparently does, “that’s no reason,” he said, “to question the authenticity of our experiene. Quite generally, he said, “Freewil,” which is at the core of this, “is thenoblest thing we have, and there’s nothing more we comprehend-moreevidently and -moreperfectly, therefore it would be absurd to doubt something that we comprehendintimiately and experience within ourselves.” Namely freeactions of men are undetermined, “merelybecause it conflicts with something else, which we know must be, by its nature, incomprehensible to us.” Much likeLocke, he had in mind, divinepreordination. One of the leadingGalileischolar, PeterMachamer observes that, “by adopting mechanicalPhilo,” and thus initiating the modernScientificRevolution, “Galilei had forged a new model of humanintelligibility for humanunderstanding with new criteria for coherent explanation for natural phenomena.” So forGalilei, real understanding requires mechanical model, that is, the device artisant can construct, at least in principle, hence intelligible to us. So Galilei rejected traditional theories of tides, because as he said, “We cannot duplicate them by means of artifical devices,” and his great successors adhered to this high standards of intelligibility and explanation. So therefore, it is quiteunderstanble why Newton’sdiscoveries were so stridently resisted by the greatest scientists of the day. []Huygens describedNewton’sconceptofattraction as an absurdity. Leibniz charged he was reintroducing occultideas similar to the sympathies and antipathies of much ridiculedScholasticScience, and he was offering no physical explanation for the phenomena of the material of the world. It’s important to notice that Newton agreed, verylargelyagreed. He wrote that the notion of actionat-a-distant is inconceivable, “It’s so great an absurdity that I believe no man in his philosophical matters and competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into it.” Philsophilcal means what we call scientific. By invoking that principle, he said we can see that, we do not understand the phenomena of the material world, and Newtonscholarship recognises that. IBCohen, [?]House, pick someone else, points out that, by the word understand, Newton stillmeant what his critics meant, understand in mechanicalterms, contactaction. Newton did have a famous phrase, which you all know, [HypothesesNonFing-o], it is this context that it appears. He had been unable to discover the physical cause of gravity, so he left the question open. [I have not as yet been able to discover the reason for these properties of gravity from phenomena, and I do not feign hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimentalPhilosophy. In this Philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction. Translator, IBCohen and AnneWhitman] He said, “To us, it is enough that gravity does reallyexist, and act according to theLaws which we explained and abundantly serves to account for all the motions of celestialbodies,” seas and tides. Though while agreeing, as he did, his proposals were so absurd that no serious scientist can take [consider] them seriously, he defended himself from the charge he was reverting to theMysticism ofAristotelians. What he argued was, His principles were not occult, only their causes were occult. In his words, “to derive general principles inductively from phenomena, and afterwards to tell us how the properties of actions of all corporeal things follow from these manifest principle would be a great step inPhilo,” That meansScience. “though the causes of the principles are not yet discovered.” And by the phrase, not yet discovered, Newton, the word yet is crucial, Newton was expressing his hope that the causes would someday be discovered in physicalterms, meaning mechanicalterms. That was the hope that lasted right through thenineteenthcentury. It was finallydashed by thetwentiethcentury inScience, so that hope is gone. The model of intelligibility that reigned fromGalilei throughNewton and deep well beyond has a corollary. When Mechanism fails, understanding fails. So Newton’sabsurdities were finally over time incorporated into commonsense naturalScience, but that’s quite different from commonsense and understanding. So to put it differently, one longterm consequence ofNewtonianrevolution was to lower the standards of intelligibility forNaturalScience, that is, to hope to understand the world, which did animate the modernScientificRevolution. That was finallyabandonded. It was replaced by verydifferent and farlessdemanding goal, namely to develop intelligible theories of the world. So as such further absurdities, say CurvedSpaceTime or QuantumIndeterminancy, were absorbed into theNaturalScience, thevery idea of intelligibility is dismissed as itself as absurd. So for example, by[]Russell, who knew theSciences verywell, By the late nineteentwenties, he repeatedly places the word intelligible in quotes to highlight the absurdity of the quest, and he dismisses the qualms of the great founder ofScientificRevolution, Newton and others, dismisses them, their qualms about action-at-a-distance, he dismisses these as [“nothing more than vulgar prejudice,”]. Although moresympathetic and accurate description would be, I think, they had higher standards of intelligibility. And if you look at the work of leading physicsts, they more or less say thesamething. So, a couple of years after Russell wrote [this], []Dirac wrote a wellknown introduction to quantumMechanics, in which he says that, “PhysicalScience no longer seeks to provide pictures of how the world works, that is, a model functioning in essentiallyclassical line, but only seeks to provide a way of looking at fundmentalLaws which make its selfconsistency obvious.” So we understand the theories, we’ve given up trying to understand the world. He was referring, of course, to inconceivableconclusions-of-quantumPhysics, but if modernthinkers hadn’t forgotten the past, he could just as well have been referring toNewtonianmodels, which were undermined byNewton, undermining the hope of rendering natural phenomena intelligible. That was the[most]primary goal, earlyScientificRevolution. There’s a classic nineteenthcenturyHistory ofMaterialism by[]Friedrich[Albert]Lange, translted in english with an introduction byRussell, Lange observes, “We have so accusomted ourselve to the abstract notion of forces, or rather to a notion hovering in mystic obscurity between abstraction and concrete comprehension that we no longer find any difficulty in making oneparticle of matter act upon another without an immediate contact through void space.” without a material link. From such ideas, the great mathematicians and physicists of the seventeenthcentury were far removed. They were genuine materialists. They insisted that contact, immediatecontact is the condition of influence. “This transition,” he says, “was one of themostimportant turning point in the wholeHistory ofMaterialism,” deprived the notion of any significance, if any all. And withMaterialism goes the notion of physical of body, other counterparts, they have no longer any significance. He adds that, “What Newton held to be such a great absurdity that no philosophical thinker could light upon it is prized by posterity as Newton’sgreatdiscovery of the harmony of the universe.” Those conclusions were quite commonplace inHistoryOfScience. So fiftyyearsago, AlexandreKoyré, and other great historians ofScience and scientists observed that, “Despite his unwilligness to accept his conclusion, Newton had demonstrated that a purelymaterialistic pattern ofNature is utterlyimpossible, and purely-materialistic- or -mechanical-Physics as well. His mathPhysics required the admission into the body ofScience, an incomprehensible and inexplicable facts imposed on us byEmpiricism,” that is, by what we conclude from observations. Despite this recognition, debates did not end. So about onecenturyago, Boltzman’smoleculartheoryofgases or Kukule’sstructuralChemistry, and in fact, even the words atom, the ones you all learn in school, these are only given an instrumental interpretation. ModenHistory ofChem, standardHistory points out they were regarded as calculating devices, but with no physicalReality. And Newton’sbelief that causes of his principles were not yet discovered, implying that they would be, it was echoed by, for example by[]Russell in1927, he wrote that, “ChemicalLaws cannot at present be reduced to physicalLaws.” Much likeNewton, he hoped that it would happen, and expected it would, but that expectation alsoproved to be in vain, as vain asNewton’s. Shortlyafter Russell wrote this, it was shown that chemicalLaws will never be reduced to physicalLaws, because the conceptions of physicalLaws were erroneous. Finallydone in[]Pauling’s quantumtheoretical account of chemicalbond. Verymuch as inNewton’sday, perceived explanatory gap, as it’s now called by philosophers, were neverfilled. Today interestingly, just a few years ago, we read of the the thesis of the newBiology that “things mental, indeed minds, are emergent properties of brains, though these emergents are produced by principles that we do not yet understand.” That’s a neuroscientist, VernonMountcastle. He’s formulating the guiding theme of a collection of essays, reviewing the results of what was called the decade of the brain, thelastdecade of thetwentiethcentury. His phrase, “we do not yet understand,” might verywell suffer thesamefate as Russell’s simlilar comment aboutChem seventyyearsearlier, or for that matter, Newton’s muchearlier one. In fact in many ways, today’sTheoryOfMind, I think is recapitulating errors that were exposed in1930s with regard toChem, and centuries before that with regard to core ofPhysics. Though in that case, leaving us with a mystery, maybe a permanent one for humans, as Hume specualted, acutally asserted. Throughout all this, today as well, we can optimisticallylook forward to unification of some kind, but not necessarily to reduction, which is something different. Talk aboutReductionism is highlymisleading, it’s been abandoned over and over again in theHistory ofScience. Seeking unification, muchweaker goal. Sometimes in the case, classic case ofNewton and what he left veiled in mystery that may involve significant lowering of expectations and standards. Well, let me go back to the beginning, the exuberant thesis that earlyScientificRevolution provided humans with limitlessexplanatorypower. If you look over theHistory, quite different conclusion is in order. The founders of theScientificRevolution were compelled by their discoveries to recognise that humanexplanatorypower is not only notlimitless, but does not even reach to themostelementary phemonema of the natural world. That’s masked by lowering the criteria of intelligibility of understanding. If you accept that much, as I think we should, less ambitious question arises, goals ofScience having been lowered to finding intelligible theories, can we sensiblymaintain that humanlyaccesible theories are limitless in their explanatory scope. It’s a muchweaker goal. And furthermore, does theTheoryOfEvolution establish the limitless reach of humancognitivepowers in this narrower, morelimitless sense. Actually if you think about it, the opposite conclusion seems muchmorereasonable. TheTheoryOfEvolution, of course, placesfirmly humans in the natural world. It regards humans as biologicalorganisms, verymuchlike others. And for every such organism, its capacities have scope and limits, the two go together, that includes the cognitivedomain. So rats, for example, can’t solve, say a primenumbermaze. It’s because they lack appropriate concepts. It’s not lackofmemory or anything like that. They just don’t have the concepts. For rats, we can make an useful distinction between problems and mysteries. Problems are tasks that lie within their cognitivereach and principle. Mysteries are ones that don’t for rats, they may not be mysteries for us. Human are notangels if we are part of the organic world, and humancapacity also is going to have scope and limits. So accordingly, a distinction between problems and mysteries holds for humans, and it’s task ofScience to delimit it. Maybe we can, maybe we can’t, but at least, it’s a formulable task. And not in consistence. Not inconsistent to think that we might be able to discover the limits of our cognitivecapacities. Therefore those who accept modernBiology should all be mysterians, instead of ridiculing it, because Mysterianism follows directlyfrom theTheoryOfEvolution, everything we believescientifically about human. So the common ridicule of this concept right throughPhilosophyOfMind, what it amounts to is the claim that somehow humans are angles exempt from biological constraints. In fact, far from bewailing the existence of mysteries for humans, we should be extremelygrateful for it, because if there are no limits to what we might call Scienceforming capacity, it would also have no scope, just as if the geneticendowments impose no constraints on growth, we would mean that we can be at most some shapeless ameobacreature refleting accidents to nonanalysed environment. Conditions that prevent humanembryo from becoming insects or chicken, those same conditions play a critical role in determining that the embryo can become a human. Can’t have one without the other. And thesame holds in the cognitivedomain. Actually, classicalAesthetictheory recognises that there’s a relation between scope and limits. Without any rules, there can’t be no genuine creative activity. And that’s even the case when creative work challenges, improvises prevailing rules. So far from establishing the limitless scope of humancognitivecapacities, modern evolutionary theory, and in fact the whole standardScience, undermines that hope. Now that was appreciated right away when the power of theTheoryOfEvolution came to be recognised. One enlightening case is CharlesSandersPeirce. His inquiry into what he called abduction, which is ratherdifferent from the way the term is used today. Peirse was struck particularly by a striking fact that, in theHistory ofScience, major discoveries are oftenmade-independently and -almostsimultaneously, which suggests that some principle is directing inquiring minds towards that goal under existing circumstances of understanding. Something similar is true for earlychildhoodlearning. So if you put aside the Pathology or extreme deprivation, children are essentiallyuniform in this capacity. And they uniformlymake quite an astounding discoveries about the world, going well beyond what any kind of dataanalysis could yield. In the case ofLang, it’s now known it starts even before birth. So the child is born with some conception of what counts asLang, can even recognise its mother’sLang is distinct from another Lang, spoken by bilingual woman who[m] he’s neverheard before. There’s some interesting distinctions determining how it works, but can be done at birth. In fact, even thefirststep inLanguageacquisition, which is generallytaken for granted, is quite a remarkable achievement. An infant has to select from the environment, what WilliamJames called “blooming, buzzing confusion,” the infant somehow has to select the data that are Langrelated. That’s a task [which is] a total mystery for any other oganisms, they have no way of doing it, but it’s reflexivelysolved for humaninfants. So the story continues, all the way to the outer reach of scientificdiscovery. It may not be continuous, I’m not suggesting that. There are probably different capacities involved. Rather likeHume, Peirce concluded that humans must have what he called an abductive instinct, which provides a limit on admissible hypotheses. So only certain explanatory schemes can be entertained, but notinfinitely many others, all compatible with available data. Purse argued that this instinct develops throughNaturalSelection, that is, the variants that yield truths about the world provide us selection of advantage, and retain through, descent-with-modifications, Darwin’snotions, while others fall away. That belief is completelyunsustainable. It takes only a moment to show that that can’t be true. And if you drop it, as we must, we’re left with a serious and challenging scientificproblem, namely, determine the innate component of our cognitivenature, those that are employed, reflexive identification of Langugagerelevant data and other cognitivedomains. Take one famous case. The capacity of humans, which is quite remarkable, if you present it with a sequence of tachistoscopic presentation, just dots on the screen, threedots on a screen, what you perceive is rigid object in motion. Some of the cognitiveprinciples are known, but not the neural basis for it. Or for example, discovering and comprehending Newton’sLaws or developingStringTheory or solving problems ofQuantumEntanglement, or as complex as you like. And there’s a further task that’s to determine in scope and limits of humanunderstanding. Incidentally, some differentlystructured organism, some martian, say, might regard humanmysteries as simpleproblems, and might wonder that we can’t find the answers or even ask the right questions. Just as we wonder about the inability of rats to run primenumbermazes. It’s notbecause of limitsofmemory or other superficial constraints, but because of the verydesign of our cognitivenature, or their cognitivenature. So if you think it through, I think it’s quite clear that Newton’sremarkableachivements led to a significant lowering of the expectations ofScience, severe restriction on the role of intelligibility. They furthermore demonstrated that it’s an error to ridicule what’s called theGhostAndTheMachine, that’s what I and others were taught at your age at bestgraduateschools, Harvard in my case, but that’s just a mistake. Newton did not exorcise the ghost, rather he exorcised the machine. He left the ghost completelyintact. And by so doing, he inadvertentlyset the study of mind on quite a new course. In fact, made it possible to integrate it intoSciences. And Newton may verywell have realised this. Throughout his life, he struggled, later life struggled, vainly of course, with the paradoxes and conundrums that followed from his theory, and he speculated what he called spirit, which he couldn’t identify, but whatever it is, might be “the cause of all movement inNature, including the power of moving our bodies by our thoughts and thesamepower within other living creature, though how it is done, or by whatLaws, we do not know. We cannot say that,” he concluded “that all-Nature is notalive.” Going step beyondNewton, Locke suggested, Locke added, “We cannot say that matter does not think.” It’s a speculation calledLockesuggestion inHistory ofPhilo. So as Locke put it, “Just as god had added to motion inconceivable effects, it is notmuchmore remote from our comprehension to conceive that god can, if he pleases, superadd to matter, the faculty of thinking.” Locke found this view “repugnant to the idea of senseless matter,” but he said, “we cannot reject it, because our incurable ignorance and the limits of our ideas,” that is our cognitivecapacities. Having no intelligible concept of matter or body or physical, as we stilldon’t incidentally, but having no such concept, he said, “we cannot dismiss the possibility of living thinking matter,” particularlyafter Newton undermined commonsense and understanding permanently. Lockesuggestion was understood, and was taken up right through the eightteenthcentury. Hume, for example, concluded that, “motion may be, and actually is, the cause of our thought and perception. Others argue that since thought, which is produced in the brain, cannot exist if this organism is wanting, and since there’s no reason any longer to question the existence of thinking matter, it’s necessary to conclude that the brain is a special organ designed to produce thoughts, much as stomach and intestines are designed to operate digestion, liver to filter bile, and so on through the bodilyorgans. Just as foods enter the stomach and leave it with new qualities, so impressions arrive at the brain through the nerves, [] they arrive isolated without any coherence, but the organ, the brain, enters into action, it acts on them, it sends them back, changed into ideas, which theLanguage of physiognomy and gestures, theScience of speechandwriting manifest outwardly.” I’m stillquoting. “We conclude then with thesamecertainty that the brain digests that, as it were, impressions, that is, organically mixed the secretion of thought,” Just as the liver secrets bile. Darwin agreed with this, put the matter succintly. He askedrhetorically, “Why is thought being the secretion of the brain, morewonderful than gravity, the property of matter,” a property that we don’t understand, but we just came to accept. It’s therefore ratherodd to read today what I quoted before, leading thesis of the decade of the brain at the end of thelastcentury, namely that, “things mental, indeed minds, are the emergent property of the brains,” Mountcastle’ssummary. Strange to read that, because it was commonplace in eighteenthcentury, so it’s notclear why it’s an emerging thesis. And many other prominent scientists or philosophers have presented essentially thesamethesis, I’ll quote some contemporary examples, “an astonishing hypothesis of the newBiology,” “radical new idea in thePhilosophyOfMind,” “the bold assertion that mental phenomena are entirelynatural, and are caused by the neurophysiological activity of the brain, opening the door to novel promising inquiries rejection ofCartesianmindbodydualism,” and so on. All of these virtuallyreiterate having become unformulable with the disappearance the physical, the material, and so on. []Priestly concluded in “Properties term mental organical structure of the brain the idea which stated lessdetailed byHume, Darwin, and many others after the collapse of the mechanicalPhilo. Belated revival of ideas, which we reasonably understood centuries ago direct conclusions ofNewton’sdiscoveries, we’re left with the scientificproblem of maybe with an eye to if any. That enterprise renews the task that Hume understood quite well, he called it “the investigation of humannature, the search for secret springs and principles by which the humanmind is actuated in its operations including the parts of our Knowledge that are derived from the original hand ofNature,” so we would call geneticendowment. Hume was, of course, an archempiricist, but also a dedicated nativist, supposed to the opposite ofEmpiricism. And he had to be, because he was reasonable. This inquiry, which Hume compared in principle toNewton’s, had in fact been undertaken in quite an interesting ways by english neoPlatonists inEngland [whose] works directlyinfluencedKant. In contemporary literature, there are names for this. They’re sometimescalled naturalisation ofPhilo or Epistomology naturalised or sometimes just CognitiveScience. But in fact, it’s direct consequence ofNewton’sdemolition of the idea of grasping the nature of the world and inescapable. Let me just summarisebriefly. I think it’s fair to conclude that the hopes and expectations of theearlyScientificRevolution were dashed byNewton’sdiscoveries, which leaves us with a few conclusions. Oneconclusion reinforced byDarwin is that, while our cognitivecapacities may be vast in scope, they are nonetheless intrinsicallylimited. Some questions we might like to explore may lie beyond our cognitivereach. We may not even be able to formulate the right questions. The standards of success may have to be lowered once again as happened before, verydramatically with the collapse of mechanicalPhilo. And another conclusion is the mindbodyproblem can safely be put to rest, since there is no coherent alternative toLockesuggestion. And if we adopt theLockesuggestion, that opens the way to the study the mind, as the branch ofBiology, much like the study of the rest of the body, the body below the neck, putting it metaphorically. Great deal has been learned in the past halfcentury of revival of traditional concerns of theearlyScientificRevolution and theEnlightenment, but many of the early leading questions have not been answered, and may never be. Thanks. Sound of applaud.
4.       Thank you very much. We’re going to open for questions and comments right away. Omitted.
5.       I have a question about mindbody. You just ended here, maybe we should just forget that dilemma. And my question to you is, If you have a thought about, instead of.
6.       About?
7.       Instead of just forget it and put it in the bracket, then we can just add another factor, mindbodyandthesenses, and see what happens. My question to you is, Have you anything to say about that combination?
8.       Mindbodyandthesenses? Mindbody is meaningless. If there is no body, there’s no mindbodyproblem. There’s hasn’t been any concept of body sinceNewton. I mean, Newton stillthought there was one, but as he put it, We haven’t yet discovered it, meaning, accounted for in the mechanical terms. But that’s been given up certainly by thetwentiethcenturies. So there is no concept of physical. The term, physical, is kind of like an honorific word. Kind of like the word Real when we say realtruth. It doesn’t add anything. It just says serious truth. So to say something physical today just means, You’ve got to take it seriously. There’s no further concept of physical or material or body, so there can’t be a mindbodyproblem. It’s unformulable. There’s a lot of work on mindbodyproblem.
9.       Yeah, I follow that. I follow that well. That’s what I don’t understand.
10.   What about the senses? Well, senses are part of the body.
11.   If you. Okay. Thank you. Sound of laughter.
12.   We all agree. There’s some way in which externalworld hinges on the organism, and the way that happens is what we call senses, and we have differences from other organisms. You know, there are other organisms muchsmarter than us, they can see ultravioletlight, hear things we can’t hear, and so on. We all have our scope and limits in senses, too.
13.   You said that there’s kind of reduction of expectation of what the explanation could be when it was no more mechanical and not necessarily understandable. And I wonder the relation between mechanical and material, and also I’ve just been to the conference onGregoryBateson, and he’s veryinto this idea of information being difference, makes a difference. He says that difference is intrisicallynonmaterial, so cybernetic causalities, they are nonmaterial but mechanical. And I wonder what relations in mechanical and material. Could that be some of the problem?
14.   There can’t be any relation, because there’s no such thing as material. That’s like saying, What’s the relation between information and ectoplasm? You can’t ask that question until you tell us what ectoplasm is. And nobody can tell us what material is. Actually when you look at modernPhysics, you have some prettyinteresting proposal. There’s a book, I don’t pretend to understand it, but published by theAmericanPhysicsSociety, so I guess it’s taken [considered]seriously, but verywellknownphysicsts, I think he diedrecently. InstituteOfAdvancedStudy, JohnWheeler, who argues that theonlything that exists in the world is bits of information, namely answers to question we pose to theNature. That’s all there is. Everything else is some kind of construct from those. From that point of view, all there is is information. It’s apparently notridiculed by physicsts, so I’m notable to ridicule. Laughter ofChomsky. I understand what he means. He’s talking within theframeworkofquantumtheories, which says that what’s there is our observations and questions we pose toNature and answers it gives back to us, and those are bits of information. Everything else is constructed from that. It’s a little bit like-Addington and -Russel, earlytwentieth, saying that all it exists is meterreadings, and everything else is our construction from meterreadings. So if physicists had thesameillusions as psychologists and sociologists and others, they might callPhysics meterreadingScience. The way modern study of society and action, it’s sometimescalled behaviouralScience, that’s confusing the topic with data for it, some of the data.
15.   You were talking about the limits of understanding a little bit. I was watching a clip onYouTube, I believe it was 1971, and you were debating with the frenchphilosopher, Foucault, I believe, I don’t remember. And you were debating about, his arguments were moresocial limits that we impose [on] ourselves, something that needs to be taught and needs to be reinforced, while you were trying to say it’s something inherent to humanmind to have kindness and intelligence in order to be social. My question is, Why do you think our limits are to be able to go in peace like in a social context and start struggling. I believe in evolution, so I think it’s evolutionthing, but I think you philosophers are trying veryveryhard to develop or to understand in order to be moresocial and peaceful creatures.
16.   Not just philosophers, all of us are in our ordinary lives, raising children, whatever it may be. The debate was notabout the importance of social factors, although of course, they exist. The debate was about what is taken to be contentious, but shouldn’t be, the existence of innate factors. That’s verycommonlydenied. And Foucault was, in fact, denying it, but it’s just incoherent to deny it. If you deny it, then our cognitive and social behaviour would be like some imagined organism, if you can imagine one, that doesn’t have any geneticprogram that determines what kind of organism it will be. Nothing that determines that it will be an insect or mouse or human or whatever, and therefore we’ll be nothing. It will be some amoebastyle reflexion of the data. A lot of scientist have argue that, philosophers, too. Quine, for example, famously, I would say infamously, argued that Lang, but it would hold for all behaviour, in fact all theories, is just the result of, it’s a kind of accidental collection of behaviours constructed, developed through conditioning. That’s essentially like saying, We’re all amoebas. Not even amoebas, because amoebas has internal structure. It doesn’t make any sense. You can’t have any structure in organism unless there’s some form of predetermination. That form of predetermination will provide scope, it will alsoimpose limits, there’s just no way out of that. That’s just practicallyLogic. But yes, try to become morehumane creatures, it’s just not the philosopher’squests, but it should be a quest for all of us.
17.   What are the determination and what are the historical or scientific factors determining the scope of our understanding, and can we assume that this scope of our understanding have progressed since, say, the ancient times?
18.   As far as we know, humancognitivecapacities have notchanged for at least fiftythousandyears when some small group of huntergatherers leftAfrica, spread all over the world, we’re all their descendants. Maybe a little morecomplex than that, but not a lot more. Now we know that prettywell. It’s not that anyone understands the biological nature of it, but there’s verystrong evidence. So for example, if you take some tribe inPapuaNewGuinea that hasn’t had other humancontact for fortythousandsyears, and that’s a possibility, you take that infant and you bring it toOslo and raise it from infancy inOslo, it will be indistinguishable from the people studyingPhysics inOsloUniversity. It has thesamecognitivecapacity, and conversely. You take an infant from here, put it in that tribe inPapuaNewGuinea, it will be able to do all the complex cognitivetasks they can’t solve, but that you and I couldn’t possiblysolve. We couldn’t survive there for oneweek. From evidence like that, which is maybenotconclusive, but certainlypowerful. It seems that cognitivecapacities just haven’t changed. In fact, humans are geneticallyverymuchalike as compared with any other species. And it’s notsurprising, because there’s apparently a common origin not verylong ago. Fiftythousandsyears is nothing in evolutionary time. It’s an eyeblink. So the chances are whatever the cognitivecapacities were fiftythousandyears ago, they still are. Of course, they have be brought out, like other innate capacities, they have to be illicited by experiences, but they’re there. And I think that’s, Hume wasn’t thinking about evolution, of course, but when he talked about the common faculties that are given by the original hand ofNature, I think that must be what he meant. I mean, these were real problems in the seventeenthandeighteenthcenturies. Remember that at the time of theearlyScientificRevolution, that was also the time of the first real exploration, and  explorers were finding all sorts of creatures that didn’t look like europeans. Like negros and oranguatans, and so on. And they weren’t sure how to distinguish them. So which ones, some of them are human or not? If you’re a Cartesianrationalist, there’s a sharp distinction between human and nonhuman. CartesianRationalism is incompatible withRacism. It’s a point that a historian ofPhilo, Harry[M]Bracken, discussed it at length. You can’t be a rationalist and a racist. Either (you have a mind) or (you don’t have a mind). Sound of laughter. And if you have a mind, it’s thesame, there’s onlyone, sothat’s it. Empericist, on the other hand, could be racist, because you have different properties. These were hotlydebated issues in the seventeenthandeighteenthcentury. They couldn’t figure out what those other creatures were. Were they humans or weren’t they? If they were humans, did they have rights? If so, what rights? and so on, but of course, that’s long past. Now, it appears that humans are essentially all alike. There could be a study of what our common cognitivecapacities are, and in fact, it’s studied quite a lot. So when you study [when] infants determine continuity of objects on the basis of veryscarce data, they’re essentiallyasking the kinds of questions Descartes asked. Unfortunately, philosophers these days tend only to read[MéditationMétaphysique], but that’s notDescartes. In fact, that was kind of propaganda. He even pointed that out in a famous letter he wrote to his friend, Mersenne where he said that the point of[MéditationMétaphysique] is to try to convince jesuits to take [consider] hisPhysics seriously. That’s what he reallycared about. When he wrote[PrincipiaPhilosophiae], which means PrinciplesOfScience, that’s the real stuff. In that work and in the[Optica] and other things, he posed veryinteresting questions. He didn’t carry out experiments, but he carried out thoughtexperiment, verymuch the way Galilei did. If you carried it out, it would probablycome out his way. One was to ask a question, he said, Imagine an infant who has no experience with geometrical figures, okay, which in fact is everyinfant, because geometrical figures don’t exist inNature. It’s just some other things. So take an infant with no experience with geometrical figures, present that infant with a triangle drawn on paper. He said, What the infant will perceive is distorted triangle, not the perfect instance of whatever crazy figure it is with the twolines not quite coming together, one of them somewhat curved, and so on. He regarded it as paradoxical, why should that be true? And if you are a thoroughgoing empricist, you shouldn’t permit that conclusion. Since the conclusion is almostcertainlycorrect, it’s an easy refutation of standardEmpiricism. And his conclusion, Descarte’sconclusion was, While we must have some innate system of he would assume EuclieanGeometry, which we impose on data to yield our understanding, in fact, our perception. And there’s quite a lot of work on the speculation through the seventeenthandeighteenthcenturies on how this could be, and basic ideas are probablycorrect. There’s now a lot of experimentwork with infants and comparative work, and investigating it. And that is at the beginnings of work trying to find out what our cognitivecapacities are. There’s also work on something like rudimentaryScience for me. How the children develop a concept of the world in some rational fashion. A lot of this was developed out ofPiaget’swork even though it doesn’t stand up as he presented it, that kind of work has been pursued. And that is, I think, the study of what you’re asking. How far it can go? It can go up to what kind of scientifictheory we can understand. That’s far off.
19.   If we no longer considerMaterialism as relevant, but we move on to dualPhilo, there should be a point. And what should be the endeavour ofPhilo be then, if pure consciousness? Is that what we are exploring? And if so how do we go about exploring, and if so, how do we go about exploring those limits ofKnowledge, and how do you practicallydo that, because many people propose, for instance, they can use psychedelic substances, and so are there some taboos that are stopping us from making that research that would be leavingMaterialism behind and moving on forward considering different aspects of our experience or whatever, I’m not sure.
20.   I don’t think we can leaveMaterialism behind until somebody tells us what Materialism is. That’s kind of elementary. There was a concept ofMaterialism right through theearlyScientificRevolution, right throughNewton. Newton stillaccepted it. In fact, the great scientists in thenextcentury accepted it. Lagrange and others kept trying to develop mechanicalconceptoftheuniverse, went right through thenineteenthcentury, ethertheory and so on. It was finallygiven up in the twentiethcentury. Finallyrecognised we’re never going to get it, and totallynew ways of looking at things were developed, which have no relation to traditionalMaterialism. Friedrich[Albert]Lange is correct. And nobody’s suggested another notion. Materialism is like anything we more or less understand. It includes thinking, it includes reasoning, and so on and so forth. Lockesuggestion. So we can’t leave it behind unless someone tells us what it is, but there’s no reason why we can’t study it. I mean, we can study what the humancapacity of understanding is. In fact, we know some things about it. We know some negative things. For example, we can’t understand how the world works, because our concept of understanding is toolimited to incorporate what Newton described as an absurdity. People like-Newton and -Hume and -Locke were not idiots. You have to take [consider] them seriously. They regarded it as absurdity for verygood reasons. And modernCognitiveScience, which somehow tries to recapitulate some of this, find prettymuch that. As I mentioned, infant presented with presentations which indicate that there’s some kind of causality, like you know, roll runs this way, light turns red or something, they will invent mechanicalcause, and they don’t care if it’s notvisible, because infants understand most of what goes on is invisible, but there’s got to be some mechanicalcause, because otherwise there’s no way to influence them. So that does seem to be our minds work. And that tells us something about the limits of our understanding, and in fact, classical crucial case. And it could go on to other cases. And we can study it directly. In principle, we can study it directly. It’s notsimple. I mean, It’s noteasy to understand why a rat can’t deal with the primenumbermaze. Even that’s hard. We have good evidence it’s true, but why it’s true is unclear. Nothing known about the brains of rats that explains why they can’t do that. In fact, we can’t explain why thetiniestorganism that’s seriouslystudied, [Caenorhabditis elegans]. Eighthundredscells, threehundredsneurons, the entire wiringdiagram known. There’s been years of studies trying to explain why this thing, it goes left instead of right, let’s say. It’s just we don’t know how to explain that. There’s an answer, but these are hard scientificquestions. When you talk about how humanintelligence work, it’s incomparablymoredifficult. So you can ask the questions, you can cut away at them, but we shouldn’t exaggerate. It’s kind of striking that, going back to what philosophers ought to do, philosophers oftenappear to tend to want to get answers about humans that we can’t get about insects, and that’s toomuch, you know. Sciences work at the edge of understanding, and faces hard question all the way. So we can sort of talk about it, but if you want to seriouslywork on it, you have to take a look at what is understood and see if you can formulate a question could be investigated and tell us more about what’s understood. There's an interesting work going on on this, having to do with things like humanMoralinstinct. The past twentythirtyyears, that’s become an experimental subject with interesting experimental work on probablyuniversalMoralprinciples. Veryimportant book just came out a couple of weeks ago byJohnMikhail. He’s a philosopher, now teachesLaw atGeorgetownUniversity, who’s veryacute. He more or less initiated this modern study, he didn’t publish much, but other people drawn from his work, combination of reanalysis of traditionalMoralPhilo, mainly Rawls and his antecedents, and analysis of a lot of critique ofRawls, and went on to develop experimental program to investigate some of these questions. And it’s feasible. Maybe we can get some insight of innatehumanMoralconcepts that are crosscultural, like you can find them in every culture and you can find them young children free of any serious cultural impact. Those are the things that can be studied, and there’s beginnings of studies.
21.   I was wondering what you think about the prospects of geneticengineering, and how that might perhaps expand our cognitiveabilities, thereby maybe alsoexpanding the scope of what we are able to understand.
22.   Well, in order to carry out geneticengineering, you have to understand  something about theGenetics of the traits that you’re trying to deal with. So, if Monsanto[Company] wants to geneticallyengineer, say rice that will be immune to some kind of disease, they have to understand something about what in theGenetics of rice [which] yields, you know, [to] susceptibilities of disease. When we talk about humanunderstanding, we haven’t a clue what theGenetics are, so you can’t even being to ask the question. I mean, that raises anEthicalquestion, Should we even try if we did know? But that Ethicalquestion is prettyfaroff in the distance, because theGenetics of it aren’t understood. I mean, my own professional work is mostly onLang. But even in the case ofLang, which is a small part of our cognitivecapacity, kind of a central part, but small part, nobody has any idea, verylittle idea what theGenetics are. It’s obviously there, you can see its consequences, but to try to find it is veryhard. And as I said, questions like that are noteasy to answer about insects or tinyworms.
23.   Would you say that the search for these socalled particlescarriers of influence like[Peter]HiggsBoson in the photon, is that a search for a path back to contactaction, and therefore mechanicalPhilo?
24.   I’m sorry. I didn’t understand.
25.   OlavGjelsvik: Search for the photon. Contact. Photon.
26.   Search for the[Peter]HiggsBoson.
27.   Oh, hexposon. Sound of laughter. There’s a slight problem inPhysics. They can’t find ninetypercent of what the universe is made up of. Doesn’t means an end toPhysics. You just look harder. And what they’re searching for is [Peter]HiggsBoson, which is supposed to be there, and if it is there, it can account for what particles are masked, hence energy. Otherwise, just can’t account for it. I mean, it’s just assumed that either it’s there or it’s just different from standardmodels, but until it’s found, you can’t say whether it exists or whether the standardmodel [which] presupposes it is wrong. It’s a verylive question. They’re spending billionsUSD trying to answer it inSwitzerland. TheUnitedStates, incidentally, has given up on that question. Congress won’t fund it. Laughter ofChomsky.
28.   Hi, my name is TimothyChan. I’m postdoc here. ProfessorChomsky, you mentioned that your thought as a scientificproject to investigate where limits of humanunderstanding lies, whether the question is beyond our ability to answer. I just wanted to answer. I just wonder what kind of effort is required to [Unclear] So for example inPhilo, ColinMcGinn would hold that the nature of consciousness humanbeings are just therefore be able to answer. And I guess some affinity between his position and what you say. But an objection to him that I’m sympathetic to is that how do you know that if we cannot know. How do you know that humanbeings tenthousandyears, suppose we haven’t gone extinct by then, how do you know that, in tenthousandyears, people aren’t going to come up with new concepts that they don’t now have? So how do you know that they’re not going to be able to, so I just wonder, you think there is a scientificevidence, if so what kind of evidence would that be?
29.   First of all, we’re talking about empirical questions. And in the case of empirical questions, you neverknow with certainty, that’s what makes them empirical questions. Otherwise, it would be a question of-Logic or maybe -Arithmetic. Even there you can ask questions. If it’s empirical, we’re nevergoing to know with certainty, that’s for sure, that’s true by definition. So the question really is, What evidence do we have and How good is the evidence. Well, in some cases, the evidence is prettygood. Like take the classical case of what Newton regarded as an absurdity, and again, I think you have to take [consider] people likeNewton seriously, and Hume, and Huygens and the rest of them. What they regarded it as an absurdity is that there could be influence without contact. While we don’t know with certainty that’s the limits of humanintelligence, there’s prettygood evidence[s]. First of all, we just have our own intuitions, and from, you know, History of centuries of efforts by the leading scientists to try to do something to overcome it, finallyending in failure and abandoning the quest. And we alsoknow it, we’re beginning to understand it just from experimental studies of infants, the kind that I mentioned. They reflexivelyseek some kind of contact in order to account for correlations, then makes sense otherwise. Physicists have finallygiven that up. They said, Look, we’re never going to find it. It doesn’t exist. How strong is that evidence? Well, you decide how strong it is. Looks prettycompelling to me. And if it really is the limits of our intelligibility, nothing’s going to change in tenthousandyears, just as it didn’t change in lastfiftythousand[years]. What about things beyond that? Well you know, it’s not an easy question to ask even about other creatures, like rats, but you can investigate it. Are you ever going to get certainty? No, you’ll neverhave certainty, because it’s an empirical investigation. So that, you don’t bother looking for. As far as consciousness is concerned, it’s a veryhot topic these days. In fact, inPhilo, it’s called the hard problem. Everything else is an easy problem somehow. Sound of laughter. But this is the hard problem. If you go back to the seventeenthandeighteenthcentury, they alsohad something called the hard problem, namely, how is motion possible? That was the hard problem. Newton wrestled with it, finallysaid, It’s impossible. We just have to accept it even though we can’t find what he called physical cause. That was called the hard rock inPhilo. Voltaire, a dedicatedNewtonian, said that the fact that humans can cause motion by thought, like I can think-(I want my hand to go over here) and something will move, he said that’s so inexplicable that it’s got to be divineintervention. He was, of course, prettydedicated atheist by the standards of the time. But it looks as if we’re stuck with it, and there seem to be, if you look further, there seem to be many other things. Take say Lang, which is an easier study. I mean, there are impossibleLang. You can construct things that look, simple sequences, which are given interpretations, and so on, but which have a structure that humans cannot learn. They may deal with it as a puzzle of some kind, but they can’t deal with it as a linguistic task. By now, prettygood experimental data on that. That’s the kind of thing you expect to find when you deal with any organism, including our other cognitivecapacities. As far as consciousness is concerned, I’m not so convinced that it’s the hard problem. First of all, you have to formulate it coherently, What’s the problem? I’ve quotedFrancisCrick, I didn’t mention him saying, He has an astonishing hypothesis that consciousness comes from activity of the brain. That’s Locke, Hume. Yes, they took that for granted. So that’s the astonishing hypothesis. Then you can go and proceed, as he and other have done, to ask, What’s going on in the brain when people are conscients? That’s serious work. Suppose you get all those questions answered, does that tell you what consciousness is? No, it leaves open the questions of consciousness. In fact, we might ultimately be reduced to something like what []Russell wrote. Read his AnalysisOfMatter, for example, which unfortunately isn’t read much, but it’s important, I think. In1928 or so, he says that, Look, theonlything we have any confidence in is our immediateconsciousness. We may be wrong about it, [Accurate.] but at least, we have some degree of confidence in it. Everything else is intellectualconstruction, [Accurate.] including our conception of objects, the theory of the world, and so on. So that’s, if you want, the hard rock not too hard, because it could be wrong. That’s all we have to start with. And the best you can do is.
30.   Okay, your politicalideas have, they have a foundation onEthics, yeah? Ethics [and] Morality. Then I want to ask you how is Morality compatible with limited mind, determined human, as you put it, if I understood you well, because in a limited mind and determined human, I don’t see a place for theFreeWill, which is the base ofMorality in the humanworld. So what you think about it?
31.   About FreeWill?
32.   And Morality, which is, of course the base for-Politics and -(social ideas).
33.   HumanMoralprinciple, we can study, like the kind of work I mentioned, JohnMikhail and others are carrying out the beginnings of experimental work, which sheds light and may ultimatelyshed a lot of light on what are innateMoralprinciples are, what Hume was looking for, for example. AdamSmith and others. That could shed some light on it. It’s not going to tell you much about theFreedomOfTheWill. FreedomOfTheWill, I think we’re prettymuch stuck where Descartes was. We just can’t abandon believing it, it’s our most immediate phenomogicallyobvious impression, but we can’t explain it. And as he said, it’s something we know to be true and we don’t have any explanation for it, well, toobad for our explanatory possibilities. Sound of laughter. But I don’t see any way getting around that. There’s a lot of arguments that we don’t haveFreedomOfTheWill. There’s a ton of literature on that, and literature is kind of interesting. Actually for reasons that WilliamJames discussed. He said, If you don’t believe that there’s noFreedomOfTheWill, why bother presenting an argument? Sound of laughter. You’re just forced to do it, the preson you’re talking to can’t be convinced. Sound of laughter. Because there’s no such thing as reasons. So why not watch a baseballgame? That wasn’t his example. Anybody who denies theFreedomOfTheWill actuallybelieves that it’s there, otherwise they wouldn’t bother presenting reasons. I mean, unless they say, Look, I’m just forced to present [it], I can’t do anything else. Sound of laughter. And it’s veryodd discussions, many of them. Actually, you may have seen some experimental work, which caused the big flurry a couple of years ago. Some neurophysiologists discovered that if a person is going to carry an act of willed action, say you know, pick this up say. You can find activity in the motorcenters of the brain before there’s a decision to pick it up, okay? And that was held to show, Okay, we undermined theFreedomOfTheWill. It doesn’t say anything. All that says is what we ought to know anyway, decisions are mostlymade unconscious. By the time it reaches consciousness, the decision is already probably been made, but that doesn’t tell us anything about how the decisions are made.
34.   But you didn’t answer me. At least, I didn’t []perceive that I got an answer. Is it compatible, your [] about determined, geneticallydetermined humans and Ethics, politicalEthics, Morality, FreeWill, that is what I asked? It’s compatible?
35.   It’s compatible?
36.   You say it’s unexplainable.
37.   I don’t understand why belief inEthicalprinciple should be inconsistent with the belief that we have the ability to make choices. They seem totallyconsistent. Maybe it’s all wrong, but it’s consistent.
38.   If somebody’s determined, they cannot make a choice. That is the, that’s the base of.
39.   I don’t understand what the alleged inconsistency is. It’s more like what I thought you said before, commitment toMoralprinciples basicallypresupposes theFreedomOfTheWill, but I don’t see any inconsistency.
40.   Some believe in geneticDeterminism to you.
41.   There’s geneticDeterminism, of course. That’s why you and I are humans and not insects, because that’s our geneticendowment. That’s geneticDeterminism. Just what follows from it, we have to look and see. We don’t know.
42.   My question relates to the previous question actually, FreeWill. As a philosopher, I’d like to. You as a philosopher, I’d like to ask you this question. You know, studies have shown that decisions made in the brain actuallyappear some moments before an individual. [] How can you then say that there’s such a thing asFreeWill? I mean, WireDeterminism proves that FreedomOfTheWill doesn’t exist.
43.   Those are the experiments I was just referring to. There are some experiments which show that, in a willed action, simple motoraction, you know, picking something up, there is activity in the relevant parts in the motorcortex before the decision to pick it up is conscious, okay? That tells us absolutelynothing aboutFreedomOfTheWill except that the choices are probably unconscious. I think we know that without experiments. What? Complicated? Sound of laughter. Oh yeah, anything in this area is complicated. When we understand nothing, everything’s complicated, it’s another truism.
44.   You do seem to imply that theories of-Physics and -Chem are in some way constructs in our imagination, and I wouldn’t want much to [] to that, but you alsosseem to imply that they can be deconstructed in some way intoBiology, constructed into neuroBiology of our brains. But what gives you confidence that our scientificmethod of our scientificmethod?
45.   Our Sciences what?
46.   Our Scientificmethod.
47.   Scientificmethod.
48.   What give you enoughconfidence in the scientificmethod to believe that evidence that Biology gives us? There seems to be some innateSkepticism in that system of thought. I will end up believing in nothing at all, not even that we do not believe in anything than actually believing in our own limitations. So if we are so fundamentallylimited as we claim we are, how can we have any confidence providing the fact that we are limited?
49.   Pure skeptic, you can give no answers to, which means they’re notasking sensible questions. We’re onlyinterested in sensible questions, the kind to which you can even imagine an answer, maybe a wrong answer. But you can’t even imagine an answer, it may have a form of a question, but it’s not a question. Like for example, if you were to ask, Why do things happen? Okay, that happens to have a structure of interrogativesentence, but it has no answers, no even imaginable answers, therefore it’s not a question. Just has the structure of interrogative. Pure skeptic, if one can be imagined, is posing things that look like question, but aren’t really. As to how you can have confidence, first of all, you neverhave complete confidence if it’s an empirical issue. In fact, even Arithmetic, you can’t have complete confidence, it’s known that you can have nonstandard models ofArithmetic which satisfy axioms but are different, and so on. But in empirical questions, you develop confidence from experience, intuition, experiment and so on. What’s called the scientificmethod, but that’s a funny term, because there’s nothing like scientificmethods. When you takePsychologycourse, you do take a course inMethodology. When you studyPhysics, you don’t take a course inMethodology. Method is being reasonable, you know? Learning from what has been done and see if you can carry it forward, and so on.  In fact, the courses inMethodology you take, say, inPsychology or Sociology are mostly courses on-Statistics and –(techniques you can use). But scientificmethod is just whatever way we have of the way we deal with the world rationally, reasonably. Can we have confidence in it? No, maybe it’s misleading us, just as rats are consistenly being misled about mazes. Sound of laughter. We can understand it for them, but if that’s true, all we can do is to try to see if we can use thesame rational approaches to see what our limits of our intellectualcapacities are, and we have some examples, in which I think we can have fair confidence. Like collapse of intuitivelyobvious fact that interaction requires contact.
50.   I don’t know much aboutPhysics, so I’m going to ask this simple, simply. Maybe you alreadyanswered this. Do you reject the possibility of nonphysicalReality interacting with physicalReality? And do you, like, acknowledge it, the possibility of it the effects it might have with physicalReality? I’m thinking of like the study of thesmallest entities, like atom, and, yeah, and also just power of attraction. What is it?
51.   Two of us share something. I don’t know much aboutPhysics, either. Sound of laughter. So we’re in thesame. In fact, I don’t think physicsts understand it, they’re prettyopen about it. Sound of laughter. See, you can’t ask the question about interaction between physical and nonphysical until you tell us what physical means, okay? At least, you’ve got to be able to tell us what physical means in order for the question to be answered. [One of themostimportant questions in this unverse.] But there hasn’t been any concept of physical for hundredsofyears. I mean, there was one in theearlyScientificRevolution, veryintuitive concept of the physical, that’s what inspired-Galilei, -Descartes, -Liebniz, -Newton, -Lagrange, many others all throughout the modernHistory ofScience. But it was alreadyrecognised, afterNewton, that it’s gone. Locke recognised it, Hume recognised it. ForHume, it’s not only gone, it’s a total mystery beyond our intellectualcapacities. That we can speculate about, but it’s certainlygone, and no one has proposed anything else. Physical these days are things that Newton would have regarded it as total absurdities. LikeCurvedSpaceTime, how can that be physical? QuantumEntaglement, I mean, Einstein regarded as absurdity, because it’s so absurd, but now scientists justaccept it. Physical is just anything we more or less understand, and if that’s theonlynotion of physical we have, there can’t be interaction between physical and nonphysical. Nonphysical is just all the things we don’t understand. If we ever get to understand them, it’ll be physical.

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