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Posted by Aurino Souza on September 20, 2002 18:15:32 UTC

Hi Harv,

That is exactly what I'm trying to say. There's only a very limited set of ideas that can be successfully communicated, and there are two requirements for the successful communication of those ideas: they must be based on sensory experience, and they must be expressed in a logical way.

I agree there are problems with that view, but I'm not convinced those problems are worth discussing, for the simple reason that it's impossible to say anything sensible about them. For instance, if I see an angel floating near the ceiling and you don't, no amount of discussion can possibly settle the differences in our sensory perceptions. But we are fortunate enough that those discrepancies seldom happen, so we can take advantage of their unlikeliness by making a deliberate choice to ignore them. It doesn't make sense to hold philosophical progress back because we can't explain why one out of a million people see angels once in their lives, so to speak.

The same goes for logic. While it's true that there's no rational basis for accepting it as a universal source of truth, the point is that an illogical world is not worth talking about. Again, we can assume that logic is universal for the simple fact that we are trying to understand the universe. If in the end the universe turns out to be a big joke, a lot more than just our philosophies will go down the drain.

In a sense, the process I described turns out to be exactly the one used by science. But there's much more to be said about the objective world than our sciences offer, and I'm disappointed people don't want to explore those.

Remember, quite a while ago, when I said science should explore the phenomenom known as a near-death experience? Well, I realize now that I was wrong in asking science to deal with it, but what I really wanted to say at the time was that those experiences are perfectly open to rational scrutiny, and there is no reason to dismiss them when they seem to provide hints to major philosophical issues (and I'm not talking about afterlife at all). For one thing, the near-death experience is, well, an experience, and it is to a good extent consistent enough not to be labeled a hallucination.

In any case that is just an example. What I see is people dismissing important data on one side, on the basis that if it's not science it can't be rational, and people spouting garbage on the other side, on the basis that if it's not rational then it can be anything we want. I find that a huge misunderstanding on both sides.



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