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Ep. 1: Analogizing Ourselves Into Being

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Listen to this episode on Spotify here, or Apple Podcasts here.

The key points in this "speaking":

  • Humans must analogize in order to self-define: are we a little lower than the gods or a little higher than the apes?

  • All disciplines are founded on a key “as if,” a founding tautology that cannot itself be explained (the system cannot explain that which possibilizes explanation). Philosopher Alfred Lord Whitehead wrote that all first principles are “metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap.”

  • In other words, all worldviews are built not on facts, but on metaphors.

  • Today's modern "Western" worldview is biased towards the biologically abstract while excluding the biological senses (e.g. it's not true, it's just hormones, a chemical imbalance, etc.).

  • Bias is seen as impediment, as if the person were an obstacle to truth. Rather than defining truth as a gathering/composite of diverse perspectives, we see truth as the exclusion of particularity— particular persons and particular bodies.

  • I believe that all experiences are "true" and that the truth is always in excess of those experiences. My experience cannot exhaust reality and it cannot be reduced to a single cause either.

  • In Meghan O'Gieblyn's book, God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning, she describes the founding metaphor of cognitive science as the computer. Thus, not a single intelligible statement can be made about the brain (within cognitive science/ neuroscience) outside of this metaphor. This is only dangerous when we begin to believe this is the only metaphor that can be used to speak of the brain, or that the brain can be reduced to a single metaphorical framework.

  • Idolatry (speaking conceptually, in the manner of Jean Luc Marion) occurs when the gaze gets trapped in the object. Our self-defining gaze is highly prone to becoming trapped in the objects we make.

  • Example of conceptual idolatry: philosophers and physicists (like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nick Bostrom, David Chalmers, and others) claim that there is a high likelihood that we are living in a computer simulation. This is a strange reversal of the technology-creator relationship in which the created object is seen to have pre-existed and invented the creator!

  • There is no way to properly understand the origins of the human without invoking (at some point) a mythology. We understand ourselves through conceptual tools, but the hammer did not invent the carpenter, and evolution is not our creator-god.

  • Reality—humans included— cannot be reduced to any explanation, religious, scientific, or otherwise.


Jean Luc Marion: God Without Being

Notes added later:

One of these arguments can be summarized more succinctly like this:

  1. A conceptual tool is necessarily subordinated to the one who crafts/ wields it.

  2. A cause is also a conceptual tool.

  3. Therefore, no cause (or even sets of causes), can fully explain the human/ human experience.

To believe that concepts or causes can explain reality fully is to engage in a form of conceptual idolatry. No experienced reality can be reduced to an explanation.

Another example of this is the materialist paradigm:

In this video (at 1h 40 min), philosopher Bernardo Kastrup describes our reigning worldview that claims the quantitative precedes and actually CREATES qualitative experience (i.e. matter, which is quantitative, produces consciousness). In other words, an abstract conceptual description of reality is seen as the origin of all experienced reality. Kastrup says this is like claiming that the landscape emerges from the map, when clearly the map only exists insofar as there is a physical reality it maps onto. This aligns with my critique that the hammer doesn’t create the carpenter, and no human conceptual model can fully describe the origins of the human.

Another example is from Yuval Noah Harari in his seeming endorsement of what he calls the religion of Dataists:

Homo sapiens is an obsolete algorithm,” Harari writes. New and better algorithms will replace us because we ourselves are only algorithms, but weak ones. This is an excellent article critiquing Harari's populist science, recommended to me by a friend:

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