Re: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.

Chris Lees (
Wed, 07 Apr 1999 00:58:19 +0100

Date: Wed, 07 Apr 1999 00:58:19 +0100
From: Chris Lees <>
Subject: Re: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.

Thankyou for the reply, Lloyd. I will attempt to adress your comments.

> I don't see any indication, Chris, that Jake is uncertain as to what the
> idea of self-as-illusion means.

Well, we differ on that then. I can go no further, because the matter hinges
upon the definition of 'self', which is a concept as hard to pin down as
are 'soul', 'spirit','ego', 'consciousness',and, dare I say it, 'meme'.
In a recent post, Jake used the word 'determinism' in a way which seemed
to me to be rather close to the opposite of what I had assumed it to mean.
If someone wishes to pursue this, perhaps they'd like to offer a working
definition of 'self'.

> Is it because you disagree with him that
> you believe he is ignorant?


> If so, is this not an example of being a little
> narrow-minded? Speaking of "narrow minded", I notice that you use the term
> "scientism". Are you implying that science is a religion? Do you accept
> your beliefs about "self" on faith?

I see scientism as a quasi-religion, an ideology. I do not see science as
a religion. I have not mentioned my beliefs re 'self', but I don't think that
anything that I believe, is based upon faith. Depends a bit upon how you
wish to define 'belief' and 'faith'.

> Many more people have explored their own experience and have concluded that
> there is a "self"; however, I am not sure how having great numbers of
> people believing in anything demonstrates the validity of the belief. Your
> logic escapes me.

Well, that's a cunning argument,and I agree that truth is not proven merely
by the numbers who believe. However, I stand by my original remark.

> I think I understand. For example, if religionists re-define the word
> "theory" to simply mean "idea" then all scientific theories are thereby
> trivialized. This allows for easier propogation of religious memes that are
> challenged by the theories in question. In the same way, if we choose to
> define the concept of self in a way that implies complete
> self-determination, and then if we declare that the strawman so created is
> just an illusion, then we have, in advance, inoculated a given population
> against those who might use the concept of self to study some form of
> intentionality. Now, I may be off-base on this but this is the meaning I
> have created from the tokens Jake sent out to all of us.

I don't dispute that. But I'm coming at the thing from a very different
angle. If you read Liane Gabora and Susan Blackmore's versions of the
characteristics of memes, it seems to me that they have each provided
theoretical frameworks which can fit the actual experience of having a
self, and of not having a self. That seems to me to be first rate science.
How that can be interpreted as a " mystical assault upon our very language "
still escapes me entirely.


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