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February 05, 2024


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"Religion is the earliest form of science fiction." -- Philip Jose' Farmer

If it's true that nothing in religion is objectively real, the same must be said for the conclusions of hard determinism theory. If everything is just "the mind" and we have absolutely no free will, then nothing is really real. Including your neighbor's -- and your -- human rights.

At this point, I confidently expect "Oh but you don't understand because Sapolsky says..." I don't buy his qualifications. One either believes in a religion or philosophy or he doesn't. And if he lives contrary to the religion or philosophy that he declares is absolutely true, then I question whether he truly believes what he's preaching.

Sant Mat I guess is one of the more absurd religions. It teaches things like initiation by a Godman and hours of daily meditation for the sake of overcoming karma. We can call followers of Sant Mat credulous believers in fairy tales. But, we have to admit they are living their lives as if Sant Mat is true, and in that respect their convictions are sound. Moreover, their philosophy has strong moral components; any philosophy that doesn't is suspect.

In contrast, I don't see any hard determinists living their lives as if that philosophy is true. You know what I mean -- living life as if they actually had no free will, living life as if it had zero meaning, living as if all moral impulses were just a trick of biology.

The hard determinist can't live his philosophy, and that's hard evidence there's something fundamentally wrong with it.

I’m okay with Brian’s statements that “. . . the mind is the brain in action” and that “. . . it is absurd to discount placebos by saying, "They're just in the mind." Actually, everything is in the mind.” – all quite true I believe. It’s refreshing to hear about mind-body unity as Ellen Langer states as there is such a lot of thinking and assumptions as to what the mind is.

Science and psychology usually say the mind is ‘that which manifests itself in mental phenomena like sensation, perception, thinking, reasoning, memory, belief, desire, emotion and motivation’ or that it has three basic functions, ‘thinking, feeling and wanting.’ True, but to the layman, such statements could give the impression that the mind is a ‘thing’ – which is all too quickly utilized by some religious and mystical interpretations.

It is usual, somewhat natural and convenient to talk of ‘something on my mind’: ‘I’ve changed my mind’ or, ‘I’m seeking peace of mind – all innocently said yet continually compounding the idea of a ‘me’ having a mind. It is said to be an important aspect of meditation to be aware of such habitual thinking.

Personally, I believe that the mind is a myth, a myth in the sense that the self and free will is a myth – inasmuch that both are the product of naïve assumptions. The brain almost certainly produces the above cognitive phenomenon and it is convenient to refer to such as the mind. But as with the self or an entity that has free will, a mind cannot be found. In watching the mind what appears are – the emotions, thoughts, reasoning, memory etc. – a continuous flow of information, information derived from past experiences – and all pertaining to a very natural mind/body unity.

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