Translate

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Claire Khaw asked to leave philosophy group for questioning the basis of Western academic philosophy

The Mind-Body Problem


"If consciousness itself could be identified with some kind of physical state, the way would be open for a unified physical theory of mind and body, and therefore perhaps for a unified physical theory of the universe. But the reasons against a purely physical theory of consciousness are strong enough to make it seem likely that a physical theory of the whole of reality is impossible. Physical science has progressed by leaving the mind out of what it tries to explain, but there may be more to the world than can be understood by physical science."  
– Thomas Nagel, What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction To Philosophy, pp. 36–7 
  • Claire Khaw
    Claire Khaw
    If we want to know what consciousness is, look it up in a dictionary.
    Like · Reply · October 7 · Mute
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      Surely the dictionary isn't the only place to find out about anything? Wouldn't that be a bit one dimensional?
      Like · October 7
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      I think asking ourselves what consciousness is is a distraction then there are far more interesting and important things to discuss.
      Like · October 7
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      According to the guy in the video, consciousness is the only thing that each of us can really be wholly certain of about ourselves. As he points out, I don't really know if anyone else even exists. The only thing that truly exists is my own consciousness. (I don't necessarily hold this as my own thought, but I think that is what the guy is saying). I think consciousness is only one aspect of three anyway - what about the Semi and the Unconscious parts? Those are equally important but less discussed.
      What sorts of things do you think are more interesting and important, Claire?
      Like · October 7
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      The following come to mind:
      What is wisdom?
      How is wisdom measured?
      How can we distinguish good from evil, truth from falsehood, right from wrong?
      Nobody really doubts that they are conscious, do they?
      It was just a rhetorical device devised by Descartes to "prove" that God existed.
      Like · October 7
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      I don't think it is necessarily that people doubt they are conscious, but more what does it mean? What is consciousness for? Why have it at all? What does it allow? What is this 'one consciousness' thing that the New Age movement seems to think is so special? What happens when you fall asleep and are no longer conscious?
      Your questions are valid too, what is wisdom indeed? Although you could, again, look that one up in the dictionary.
      How is wisdom measured? Is it even measurable? is measurement really important anyway?
      Good/evil, right/wrong - I would say it isn't what you do, but why you do it that determines if anything is right or wrong - and against what?
      All questions are valid. All should always lead to more questions. Once you hit up against a full answer, that line of reasoning dies and becomes stagnant. Nothing should end up in that situation...
      1 · Like · October 8
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Consciousness is necessary for us to go about the business of being alive.
      Like · October 8
    • Scott
      Scott
      Claire and Andrea – thanks for getting the discussion started. Listen to what Chalmers says around 02:55. Can we imagine creatures that look and behave just like us despite the fact that they have no inner conscious life? If so, it’s by no means obvious that consciousness is practically necessary. And listen to what Chalmers goes on to say about the supposed evolutionary function of consciousness. The question here is why, in addition to our complex physiologies, we also need to have an inner conscious life.
      Like · October 8
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      Can something be alive if it doesn't have some sort of consciousness? even a most basic rudimentary one? Where does consciousness reside in a being?
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Plants are living organisms. Why do people have such a problem with this? Why does philosophy make people ask such stupid questions?
      Like · October 9
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      Sorry, are you having a dig at me? I am not clear on your messages.
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Why do philosophers keep asking each other "What is consciousness?" What is the point of this?
      Like · October 9
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      Wow.
      Like · October 9
    • Scott
      Scott
      The point of asking 'What is consciousness?' is to clarify the idea of an inner conscious life. Claire, have thought about what Chalmers says around 02:55? Can you put the question he's asking in your own words and explain why it's stupid? That would take this discussion forward.
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Do I have to watch that long-haired hippy wittering on about consciousness again? I don't think I will. Does anyone know which philosopher started asking that question, after which people got the wrong end of the stick and kept asking themselves that question?
      This particular philosopher was actually trying to make another point and it was really only a rhetorical question. If someone gives me the correct answer, then this silly subject can be put to bed forever.
      Like · October 9
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      Surely the fact that there is no final answer to such a question points to the need to continue to question it? The fact that consciousness evolves means that questions about it would also evolve?
      Like · October 9
    • Scott
      Scott
      Claire, there’s no need to be so insulting. Perhaps you can tell us which philosopher you’re thinking of (not Descartes, presumably) and explain why the question ‘What is consciousness?’ was for him or her merely rhetorical.
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Yes, it was indeed Descartes I was thinking of. He was only leading up to proving that one can know *just by thinking about it* that God exists, just as he "proved" that nothing produces that sense of certainty that we exist as the answer to the question "Do I exist?"
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      The concept of God most certainly exists, even if His actual existence is in doubt. However, the question to ask is whether it would be useful for most people to believe in Him.
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      No atheist would deny that God is an instrument of government, and I see no harm in using God as an instrument of government. A general belief in God would enable us to have fewer laws and lower taxes too.
      Like · October 9
    • Andrea Kennard
      Andrea Kennard
      I don't follow this at all. Why would a general belief in God enable us to have fewer laws and lower taxes? And a belief in God would be useful for what?
      Like · October 9
    • Scott
      Scott
      OK, but we’re not talking about government at the moment. Are you happy with Descartes’ account of the mind? He takes the mind to be a non-physical substance that consists of representations of an external world. He needs to prove the existence of God, not reduce the number of laws or lower taxes, but to establish the trustworthiness of mental representations. The verdict of philosophy since Descartes is that his proofs fail. (If his philosophy is an instrument of government, it’s a very bad instrument.) He sets himself a problem he can’t solve: How do mind and body interact?
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Yes, I am aware of the empiricist and rationalist debate about the existence of God, and also of the conclusion that the only intellectual respectable position to take is to be agnostic, since it is impossible to prove to that God exists to one who doesn't wish to believe or that God does not exist to one who wishes to believe. It was Voltaire who pointed out that if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent Him to assist us in our morality, spirituality, government and politcs.
      My position is to simply posit that the *concept* of God exists, and we can pretend that He does simply by following His laws. We will be the happier and better for it, just like Pygmalion, in fact.
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      As for how we can be certain about anything, we can only use a range of tests which already exist. The trouble about truth, evidence and arguments is that they tend to be rejected by those who dislike their conclusions, especially by those who hare more power than us. The problem is really more one of morality and education rather than methodology, in my opinion.
      Like · October 9
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      As for how the mind and body interacts, let us just say that the mind exists in the brain, just like a computer programme runs on a computer, and software runs on hardware. The SIM card and its memory is the soul of our phone but cannot work without the phone we hold in our hands, and so on.
      Like · October 9
    • Scott
      Scott
      Thanks, Claire. You've made your views clear.
      1 · Unlike · October 10
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      I try!
      Like · October 10
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      But you will still carry on asking this question and inviting people to consider it, when there are more important and useful questions they could be considering, it seems!
      Like · 3 days ago
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      Ha, I've enjoyed reading this. I like being exposed to arguments I completely disagree with. Namely, I think considering the question about consciousness is essential to gain any true understanding of anything, even of what understanding even means (the concept, not the dictionary definition). The questions posed by Claire are special cases of the general inquiry, and I question defining them as "more important".
      1 · Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      After all, we live in a country where people are able to look up in the dictionary or discuss, as they choose. Defining either approach as stupid is not insulting - people see the world not as it is, but as they are.
      1 · Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      Kroum, your closing remark reminds me of Kant, who said something similar but at a higher level of abstraction. Have you ever looked into Kant's philosophy? Perhaps we could do a session on it.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Kant's only useful contribution to human wisdom was his principle of universalisability.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      Scott - I haven't yet in detail, so I like your idea. What did he say? That's a Buddhist saying; sometimes the simpler the saying is, the deeper meaning it conveys, and it can reach more people. That's one of my gripes with how philosophy is sometimes presented, and made sound elitist, especially in the West.
      1 · Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      Claire, you sound like you have a lot to contribute, I like you. I just wish you would do it in a less confrontational way - nothing to prove here, we're in this to enrich ourselves in one way or another. Posting here means that you want the same thing, so let it happen, you might surprise yourself...
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      I would like to see philosophers making more of a contribution to morality and religion, instead of indulging in their perpetual navel-gazing asking each other what consciousness is. Nothing that has gone on here suggests that anyone here is interested in what I am interested in. Seeming confrontational is the inevitable side effect of making my position clear while challenging the academic establishment that will always have the final word on what constitutes philosophy in the West. (It seems to me to be the exercise of asking each other silly questions and then not even bothering to answer them properly.)
      Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      So you are a philosophy activist - great stuff! I think we are small fish, I certainly don't consider myself a philosopher, let alone academic establishment on the subject. However, exploring such a fundamental question cannot be done from the position of one field of knowledge alone, in my opinion, it's all connected. Have you checked out the Mind and Life series, where the Dalai Lama and other monks gather with Western scientists (and philosophers occasionally) to discuss just what you wish to see, amongst other things? I don't see why you would think that by being willing to approach the subject of consciousness the people in this group are not interested in the questions you pose...
      Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      Religions ultimately carry the same message, but trying to steer all fields of knowledge to contribute to religion/morality as it is understood at a given period in time proved misguided on occasion, and the ones who strayed from that proved to be the real carriers of progress - Galileo, Copernicus, Brache, etc. So what we attempt to do in this group, at least according to my understanding, is to have an open mind about things, and while exploring what Kant etc. had to say on one subject or another, try to gain a better understanding of how things really are, from our separate perspectives. Is there a need for morality if people saw things how they are? I believe that underneath people are good, and religion/morality can be perceived as tools to battle their egos into submission, so that they can live together in a more harmonious way. You can contribute to that, if you wish, I'd be glad. If not - good luck with destroying the academic establishment.
      1 · Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      I am afraid I think the Dalai Lama is a platitudinous Western stooge and that all who are taken in by him are imbeciles who should be deprived of the vote.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      What is the message that you claim all religions carry, Kroum?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Morality is instilled by religion, and religionis just another word for state ideology. The religion of the West is not Christianity as so many people mistakenly think, but PC Liberalism already enshrined in law in PC Liberal legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 and no-fault divorce, which I propose is repealed and abolished.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      All that Kant basically said is that sometimes, we can tell ab initio that an idea is wrong or a proposed course of action will not achieved the desired result ie rationalism, and at other times we need to give something a chance before pronouncing on it ie empiricism. Kant helpfully gave us a way of working out the morality of any behaviour by asking ourselves what would happen if everybody else did it ie the principle of universalisability.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      The questions that most interest me are (1) Who are the bad guys - ISIS or NATO? (2) Do we instinctively choose NATO because we live in the UK and the UK is a NATO member? (3) If we decide the UK are the good guys, what should we do? (4) If we decide that ISIS are the good guys, what should we do?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      Let me add this. Although I teach philosophy at an elite university and must therefore be to some extent complicit in the elitism of academic philosophy, I am opposed to that elitism and regard these sessions as a constructive way to tackle it. Philosophy Off Brick Lane is an experiment. The idea is precisely to see how much sense it makes to study philosophy outside academia. My special contribution to our conversations is that of someone who knows the subject well. (I've been reading philosophy for over 25 years now.) The difficulty for me will be to get the balance right between being the teacher and being just another conversationalist, with no special contribution to make. There is a paradox here worth thinking about.
      1 · Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      Kant defined enlightenment as "the human being's emergence from his [or her] self-incurred immaturity." What on earth could that mean? The immaturity of a teacher, at least, is to believe that he or she has nothing to learn despite having something to teach. Teaching is allowing others to help you see what you know. What is learning?
      1 · Unlike · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      continued (5) If we are UK citizens would we be more inclined to ignore evidence that would point to the UK being one of the bad guys and dismiss evidence that jihadists might have a valid reasons for objecting to UK foreign policy? (6) Should people who don't know and don't care about foreign policy be deprived of the vote? (7) If our politicians get so much about domestic policy that they know we care about wrong, how likely are they to be even more careless about foreign policy which they must know most of don't know and don't care about until and unless it bites us in the bum?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      (8) How many people do you think vote for a political party on the basis of its foreign policy? (9) Would it be fair to say that most voters don't care who our government bombs and kills in our name as long as it does not affect us? (10) Is democracy government by people who don't know and don't care about foreign policy? (11) If democracy is government by people who don't know and don't care about foreign policy until it bites them in the bum, how likely is the UK and other NATO members to be the good guys?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      If you don't like my political questions, you could always ask yourselves more navel-gazing questions such as (a) Is Western philosophy wise? (b) What is the wisest thing you learned while studying Western philosophy? (c) Should philosophy graduates be shunned by employers to discourage university departments from sponsoring what amounts to no more than an exercise in futility by the vacuous, pretentious and pompous who have no useful knowledge to impart and only like the sound of their own voices?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      Very useful this last bit - what do you think would happen if everybody else on here had your attitude? Now I see why China took over Tibet - those imbeciles were taken in by the Western stooge, and needed to be deprived of their right to vote. What use is that right when you can only vote for the latest reincarnation of the Chairman is beyond me, though... Also, your desire for philosophers to contribute to morality, which is instilled by religion (another means of state control) to me means that you want to destroy the academic establishment that encourages asking silly questions, so that it can contribute to the state/religious establishment's means of control over the imbeciles. Empirically, this discussion does not work for me, and you're correct that a no-fault divorce is not applicable here...
      Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      Ha, missed a few posts, prolific discussion, like it. I, for one, did not join this group to talk about ISIS, Putin, NATO, Assad, Hezbollah etc - I do that in other venues, I'm sure you'll find one yourself too. Or just because one pompous, self-righteous group of people have decided to have a beef with another pompous, self-righteous group at some sliver of the history of an insignificant form of life on an insignificant planet, all of a sudden everything else has to stop and all meetup groups have to be concerned with this? Or is it all about employment, productivity, and business encouraging the universities what to teach and what not to teach? Feels like you want to get yourself out of the system, but cannot get the system out of you. Just my two cents...
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Some of you may have heard of the concept of practical wisdom or even phronesis. Perhaps as academic philosophers you have some sort of moral objection to exercising this and prefer to return to such questions as asking each other what is consciousness?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      I apologise for having omitted to answer Andrea's questions which were "Why would a general belief in God enable us to have fewer laws and lower taxes? And a belief in God would be useful for what?" The Koran prescribes a 20% flat rate tax. http://en.wikipedia.o...­ A belief in God is like having a policeman in your head and is obviously cheaper than CCTV.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      Claire, it would be odd of me to join some other Meetup group just to tell its members to do something else. (A cookery Meetup group, for example – in the meetings of which no mention of the mind-body problem is likely to be made.) Presumably, you haven't joined this one just to criticise the rest of us for wanting to gain a better understanding of philosophy. You seem yourself to have devoted time to the subject and are quick to demonstrate your erudition. Why are you telling others not to bother learning what you've learnt?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      As I've already suggested to you, there are different ways of doing philosophy, one of which is to question the point of doing it. (That's modernity for you.) Hume, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein were all very critical of at least some forms of philosophical activity, as you may know. But they were critical with a view to gaining a better understanding of what troubled them philosophically. Does anything trouble YOU philosophically? If not, this may be the wrong Meetup group for you. But you seem to be interested in philosophy. What's going on here? If you think philosophy is pointless, what for you was the point of joining this Meetup group?
      Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      And thank you again for your interesting contributions.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      "Why are you telling others not to bother learning what you've learnt?" I am just saying there are more interesting questions than asking ourselves what is consciousness.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      While I think philosophy as it is currently taught and learned is pointless, I think it could be more useful, if philosophers asked themselves more interesting questions and made a point of answering them properly.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      It really makes me shudder anyone giving up three years of their life to study philosophy just to talk in a pretentious pointless way guaranteed to make everyone hate you while imparting absolutely no wisdom at all ....
      1 · Like · Yesterday
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      http://en.wikipedia.o...­ is what philosophers should be concentrating on, not asking each other what consciousness is.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      Your image of philosophy makes me shudder, too.
      Like · Yesterday
    • Kroum
      Kroum
      Sorry to butt in again, but I found this lightly amusing, on many levels: "It really makes me shudder anyone giving up three years of their life to study philosophy just to talk in a pretentious pointless way guaranteed to make everyone hate you while imparting absolutely no wisdom at all ...."
      Like · Yesterday
    • Scott
      Scott
      Claire, is this you? Are these your views?http://en.metapedia.o...­
      Like · 9h ago
    • Scott
      Scott
      Like · 9h ago
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Yes, those are my views, more or less, and I am that person referred to in the second link you provided. Do you have a problem with that? ;-)
      Like · 1h ago
    • Scott
      Scott
      Members, click on the second link above and you will see a photograph of Claire Khaw and a neo-Nazi (who runs as an independent candidate somewhere) standing with rifles in front of a swastika. You will find it on a holocaust denial website. An acronym Khaw devised for single mothers will give you some idea of her politics. She refers to them SSMs, which stands for single slut mothers. Apparently, Khaw was expelled from the BNP for having views too extreme even for them. In a personal communication to me this morning, she has explained why she has been so insulting in this exchange. She has ‘an online persona that [she] ha[s] developed over the years and which [she] automatically adopt[s] when engaging in any political and philosophical discussion online’.
      Like · 37m ago
    • Scott
      Scott
      Claire, I would like you to leave this Meetup group.
      Like · 37m ago
    • Claire Khaw
      Claire Khaw
      Why don't you just remove me then?
      Like · 26m ago



2 comments:

snork maiden said...

That was pretty hilarious, but a bit pointless no? Why join a group only to start telling them what they should and shouldn't be talking about?

At least you resisted calling them all morally compromised slut fuckers.

Btw, they didn't kick you out for questioning the basis of Western academic philosophy, they kicked you out because one of them researched you and they could smell trouble.

Claire Khaw said...

I did not get a chance to call them Morally-Compromised Slut-Fuckers before I was removed from the group, but if they had cared to discuss my ideas in more depth I would have got round to that eventually.

I find it deeply troubling that philosophers cannot deal with my ideas without having fits of the vapours and calling the cops, so to speak.

If anything I have said is immoral or illogical in any regard I would really like to hear it.

This chap actually teaches philosophy at Imperial College.

I think it is important that I show Western philosophy for the empty exercise it is and the men who teach and study it weaklings, fools or knaves.