Re: Debunking pseudoscience: Why horoscopes really work

From: Philip A.E. Jonkers (
Date: Fri Nov 16 2001 - 01:17:01 GMT

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    From: "Philip A.E. Jonkers" <>
    Organization: UC Berkeley
    Subject: Re: Debunking pseudoscience: Why horoscopes really work
    Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 17:17:01 -0800
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    > > > What do you think "within" means? If there's no self, where does
    > > > self-reflection come from? Without a self to define what's inside, how
    > > >can there be anything outside? Try a little self-deconstruction
    > > >next time.
    > > Okidokie, let's dig into that one for a moment. Let's for a moment do
    > > assume that the self is being built only as soon as one's able
    > > to communicate with people from the outside world. Let's do assume
    > > the self starts from scratch without any intrinsic self present. The ego,
    > > as you call it, is fed as soon as people communicate with you.
    > > You are acknowledged as a human being as other human beings
    > > talk to you.

    > And what is it, precisely, that's being acknowledged and talked to? Your
    > discussion is predicated on the actuality of some kind of entity that
    > pre-exists the development of the self-plex (ego).

    Hi Ted,

    That's not what I intended. With this pre-self I also mean a self-plex,
    albeit the self-plex in a very immature stage. A self-plex nonetheless
    that is able to interpret and process verbal input
    from outside. With the example of the wolf-children I tried to stress the view
    that without cultural influence the individual is only restricted to the
    instinctual level. In this case, the self-plex is still mostly a clean sheet,
    not defined by cultural influences and programs. If this is what you would
    like to call the ego, our interpretations seem to be compatible to some
    extent. If not, then it seems that we differ on a fundamental level.

    > Like real wolves, wolf-children exist in the same way that any organism
    > does. To be alive is to have one's own existence, as delineated from
    > existence in general. If the universe is public existence, then the
    > organism is private. In a sense, humans have brought this process full
    > circle, as our intellect has reintroduced universality but in the context
    > of mind instead of space. The paradox is that self-contained mentality,
    > which exists strictly within individuals, doesn't seem to emerge except in
    > the context of collective, social influences.

    Exactly, that's because the very self is defined by society. No society, no
    self. Just an animal with a superfluous big brain, awkwardly standing
    upwards and suffering from a lack of isolating fur.

    > > Because the whole set of ideas/notions about the self define the very
    > >self,

    > Begging the question. You're trying to use your conclusion as a premise.
    > You still haven't proven that the self is defined entirely by ideas and
    > memes.

    I know... but I can return the favor too. Neither one can prove the existence
    of the intrinsic self (ego) or the self as the product of
    ideas/notions/observations, i.e. the self-plex. However, I can resort to the
    wolf-children anecdotes as evidence in favor for the self-plex position.

    > > I see, but don't you think freedom is a fallacy? Which person interacting
    > > with other social beings is truly free? I mean I am not free to kill my
    > > next-door neighbor eachtime he plays loud music.
    > Outside of a human-imagined "law," you are free to kill him. That society
    > limits the freedom of the individual is proof that such freedom does indeed
    > exist. And you're still free to talk to him or just move away.

    Granted. But still your spectrum of choices is limited. An animal that has to
    live with other animals in groups has to hand in on freedom in order to thrive
    within that group. But I guess you can interpret free-will with a weaker
    definition that fits the bill.

    > If science means knowledge, then it's essentially the modern form of
    > philosophy. Just as science can be considered the philosophy of the
    > particular, philosophy is the science of the general. But historically,
    > science is the little sibling of capitalism. The market economy is the
    > great rationalizer of consciousness. The word "rational" was originally an
    > economic term, meaning to weigh the value of one thing against another.
    > Succeeding in the market requires getting accurate information in order to
    > make accurate predictions. It's all about calculating and analyzing in
    > order to harness and exploit. Sound familiar? Given its symbiotic embrace
    > with capitalism, science is essentially utilitarian, not philosophical.
    > It's devoted to gain, not truth.

    I don't see why science and politics have to be mixed necessarily. At least
    pure science should be able to detach itself from political influences,
    anyway. Technology, a product of science, may be more politically driven
    and biased since it receives funds from industry and governments.
    I don't think it's fair to consider science and politics to be
    coupled inherently.

    > Math is mechanical reasoning. Math to philosophy is like assembly lines to
    > automobiles. Where philosophy is a fine, hand-built car, science is a
    > fleet of trucks racing across every facet of existence.

    It seems you're not too keen on science and math in general but
    prefer philosophy instead. I cannot blame you, but you have to keep
    in mind that the bulk of contemporary rational philosophy is based
    on results from science. Einstein's cosmological model redefining our
    notions of space-time, the implications of quantum mechanics
    debunking determinism, Darwin's enlightened theory heralding the era
    of evolutionary thought and substituting religiously based philosophy
    with natural philosophy. What will be the philosophical implications if
    AI really gets going? What if string theory is experimentally confirmed?
    What if quantum computers are born? And so on...
    Science and philosophy are deeply intertwined but the latter usually
    derives from the former.


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