Where to draw the line: how Platonism haunts our discourse and the search for exorcism
Hi TD what I meant to say is I think maybe I should distinguish two levels to my discussion of social construction. On one level it should be emphasized that race as a category is highly problematic from an empirical standpoint for the reasons you mention. Even the slight differences among populations that actually exist at a genetic level do not correspond to any historical taxonomy of race. That's why Cofty was in the absurd position of claiming his picture of black runners proved race really exists, but he couldn't name the race. He finally offered "west African" which is not a category of race I've ever seen used. It's a geographical location, which made me suspect he really didn't understand what he was attempting to defend. Which he basically admitted in the end when he said he's not actually interested in defending the word race. It's as if when hearing the words "social construction", different black and white faces flash before some people's eyes and a common sense malfunction alarm bell goes off in their brain that tells them it's all rank stupidity. Of course differences exist, of course it's genetic. But anthropologists wouldn't argue that differences don't occur at a genetic level, only that such differences among populations don't correspond to any racial system either proposed or usefully imagined.
As you say the social construction of race is hardly controversial in the social sciences. In fact it's boringly orthodox. So I wanted to distinguish between categories in the world which seem to have a strong base in physical reality, like different kinds of fruit, and racial categories which depend more on politics, history and religion rather than physical features or genetics.
But at the same time I tend toward a strong social constructionist view of world which would in a sense take issue with the proposition that even apples and bananas are absolute categories. At a basic level every category humans apply to reality is socially constructed, even the most apparently self-evident "facts" about the world. Take an extremely basic example: what does reality consist of? Until a few hundred years ago the almost universal view was that reality consists of material and spirit. Now the secular assumption is that reality can be explained purely in material terms. Spirit has been marginalised but not entirely eradicated because the statement "the universe is material" only makes sense if there is "spirit" to contrast with material. So materialism oddly relies upon spirit for its meaning. What actually exists has not changed, but how people view it has changed fundamentally, just by the way we talk about it, construct it.
Hello again you bunch of atheist polemicists,
Human beings are unique in their extensive use of symbolism (This thing represents that thing). Humans are not unique in this regard, however the extent to which it is used by humans is unprecedented in earth's history. Human beings are also self aware and are mostly concerned with their own experience (solipsism). The following section describes a number of symbolic definitions using some half baked symbolic language:
Mathematics and logic are languages that use symbolism in an absolutely consistent manner (well mostly).
Science as an overarching symbolic concept looks at things and observed processes and then tries to ascribe the mathematical and logical symbolism that most closely resembles the observed processes and things. This gives it predictive power.
Technology uses this predictive power and uses it on the physical things and processes humans observe to make new things so that it can make human lives more pleasant. So enters personal experience. Technology aims to improve human solipsism.
Religion on the other hand uses symbolism to construct a logic which is not absolutely consistent and tries to fit observed processes and things to its logic. This is/has been done to solve seemingly intractable solipsistic problems which makes life less pleasant. These include the end of the solipsistic experience and also the observed degrading of the personal experience over the course of time. Although not consistent, religion seems to have improved human solipsism to some extent by not having humans worry too much about these intractable problems.
So what I'd personally like to see: That science and religion fuck to sire technology that will solve seemingly intractable problems to make my own solipsistic experience more pleasant.
To quote a lyric by Johnny Cash: "They say they want the Kingdom, but they don't want God in it."
Just a quick correction: Humans are not [absolutely] unique in this regard, however the extent to which [symbolism] is used by humans is unprecedented in earth's history
Hi slim - I so agree with your op
but why is this a problem - I would think that such a view is liberating although perhaps radically so
The problem with Platonism and anything based on it is that we and everything we do are merely a shadow of reality whereas what Dawkins is suggesting and the implication of this re evolution is we are real
what Dawkins is suggesting and the implication of this re evolution is we are real
Of course we are real but that isn't Dawkins' point.
He was observing how a sort of Platonic essentialism leads ill-informed evolution deniers to raise daft objections like "missing links".
That's why I cautiously said about the implication of evolution and I tend to think that Dawkins in his faith in progress doesn',t go far enough in his ideas re evolution - at least not in his published materials as here he is a litlle too absorbed in the machine like aspects of evolutionary process, a little too reductive for my taste
he comes across as a man of faith more than anything else
he comes across as a man of faith more than anything else
In other news the Pope admits to being a secret atheist
i need a laugh right now as a close relative is in hospital and I am here sitting by his bed. I hope u r going to be kind
I read through this whole thread and frankly, I enjoyed it despite not being a fan of philosophy as a whole. I thoroughly enjoyed SBF's use of language and I do absolutely understand his point. However as a pragmatist, I see philosophy as a useful toy that can be used as a tool at times in the way a child's toy may be a toy but also a tool for teaching the child. When an adult has already learned all it can from that toy it ceases to be a tool and is only a toy. Of course you could try to hammer a nail in with the toy but it would not be an ideal tool for the job particularly when you know there is a hammer available to you - science being that hammer.
Just thought I'd add a little more gibberish to the thread 😉