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May 15, 2016


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Planets don't sit on foundations; they hold themselves together in a self-reinforcing pattern. The same is true for beliefs: they aren't (try as we may) founded on unimpeachable principles that can't be questioned.

But where does this self-reinforcing pattern that holds planets together come from? Well, the laws of physics, which don't seem to change at all over billions of years. Why shouldn't metaphysical beliefs be similar - that what holds them together, or makes them fall apart, are metaphysical laws that can be observed and experienced. And yes, doubted and refined through questioning and experiment and interaction with the world around us. Not quite in the same manner as physical laws of course, in that they are addressing a metaphysical reality. But nonetheless, within their own framework, also operating upon the assumption of a universal underlying pattern of order that can be uncovered through hard work and discipline.

Dear Brian,

could you just stop reading crappy books for a little while?

Brian: " Why would I?"

Me: "Because it confuses you."

Brian: "How...can...knowledge confuse me?"

Me: "Because it's not knowledge. Books do NOT contain knowledge. They contain theorys, facts or storys. It depends on what kind of books you read."

Brian: "I prefer scientific books. Are you saying that scientific books do not contain knowledge?"

Me: "No. But what I am saying is that if you don't know WHO you are in the first place, no book you read contains anything of any value regarding self-knowlege anyway, Brian."

Brian: "Okay, Besserwisser, what do you recommend me to do instead of reading books?"

Me: "Digg a whole to do a nice little pool for fish in your garden, play with your grand-children, plant a new garden, knit a pullover for your dog, massage your wifes feed, play your guitar, sing and STFU for a little while!"

Brian: "Nah...too much hustle."

Upsetter, why would I want to stop doing something that I enjoy? I read books for about 40 minutes in the morning before I meditate. Then I do other things for the rest of my day.

I walk the dog in nature. I do Tai Chi. I ride my outdoor elliptical bike. I talk with friends. I engage in civic activism. I take care of our 10 rural acres.

Actually, books DO contain knowledge. And I DO know who I am.

I also know enough about myself, and reality, to understand that telling other people how they should live their lives is useless -- like you just spent time doing.

Suggestion: live your own life happily, then maybe you won't feel the need to try to control the lives of other people.

Hi Brian,

I'm curious- was there a particular thinker or argument (or group of thinkers/ arguments) that were pivotal in the process of you becoming a philosophical materialist? Your position surprises me in that many a physicist/ mystic have come to reject materialism on both empirical (broadly construed) and philosophical grounds.

Cassiodorus, it's hard to say what led me to embrace the world view I have now. Lots of things, pretty clearly. I'd call myself more of a "naturalist" than a "physicalist." (A book by physicist Sean Carroll that I'd reading now extols "poetic naturalism," a nice term.

What I reject is supernaturalism that has no evidence behind it. If a newly discovered force has some effect in the natural world, then it should become part of our scientific understanding. But if all we have are ideas, concepts, beliefs, such as a belief in God/soul/spirit, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

Carroll, along with many other scientists, accepts that we don't know everything about the natural world. There may be well be "mysterious" forces we know nothing about at present. And the natural world becomes exceedingly "non-physical" as we enter the quantum realm (and whatever may lie beyond).

So "natural" doesn't really equate to "physical." Hope this clarifies my current viewpoint, which is subject to change, naturally.

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