Reflections on Ken Wilber's The Religion of Tomorrow (2017) - Parts I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII - PDF
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber



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Don Salmon and Jan MaslowDon Salmon, a clinical psychologist and composer, received a grant from the Infinity Foundation to write a comprehensive study of yoga psychology based on the synthesis of the yoga tradition presented by 20th century Indian philosopher-sage Aurobindo Ghose. Jan Maslow, an educator and organizational consultant, has, with Dr. Salmon, given presentations, classes and workshops in the United States and India on this topic. Both have been studying yoga psychology for more than 25 years.

Shaving Science With Ockham's Razor:
The Sequel

(or, "No, it was not written
in support of any form of idealism")

Don Salmon

The overriding characteristic of a significant number of contributors to Integral World is a strong need to protect a view.

In mid-2013, I had an interesting conversation with the dean of a local philosophy department, a woman with a strong background in Indian philosophy. I talked with her about my paper (published here, on Integral World), ‘Shaving Science With Ockham's Razor’ and noted that I was amazed at how difficult it was for readers to take it at face value—as advocating an open-minded, agnostic stance toward ‘the way things are’, and criticizing science not as ‘wrong’ but simply as veering too far in the direction of proclaiming a certain ‘view’ which in itself, had no scientific basis.

She said that most of her students had a good deal of difficulty maintaining an agnostic stance regarding ‘reality’, and that most of Indian philosophy was not really about supporting one view or another, but training people to take varying and often opposing views in order to better enable them to release all views. (Interestingly, the direct responses on Integral World to the ‘Shaving Science’ paper all misunderstood it as involving support of one view or another [or criticism of one particular view or another])

I've noticed since the ‘Shaving Science’ paper was published here, that the overriding characteristic of a significant number of contributors to Integral World is a strong need to protect a view. Often, the writers have at some point in their lives committed to a particular view—usually ‘spiritual’ or ‘occult’ (Yoga, Theosophy, Vedanta, Sikhism, etc) and when that view was found wanting, simply switched to another view (physicalism).

The primary difference is that in the original case, they appeared to be aware, even while attached to it, that they were holding a view, but after the switch, they appear to take great pride in the fact that ‘now’ they only accept ‘science’ and reject attachment to any views. 

********

(The following could be considered as a sequel to ‘Shaving Science With Ockham's Razor.’)

On October 12, 2010, Vahan Setyan published a negative Amazon review of Peter Wilberg's book, The Science Delusion: Why God is Real and Science is Religious Myth.

The author, Peter Wilberg, responded first to the reviewer, Vahan Setyan, suggesting (I think correctly) that Setyan probably hadn't even read the book.

Setyan in turn responded to Wilberg with the following comment:

The Science Delusion: Why God is Real and Science is Religious Myth

Dear Author:

Your conceptualization of concepts such as consciousness, reality, experience, and other qualitative aspects are, within themselves, subjective in nature. When we consider the mind as the recipient of such experiences, we have no choice but to resort to the general discipline of psychology. Experience of dreams, for example, are only plausible when a mind is involved. Therefore, without a mind, there will not be any experiences of a dream. The mind is where the concept of God is created and it is projected to the material world. When it comes to the conceptualization of God, psychology is irrelevant: It does not matter how we experience a 'divine' attribute for we have no [idea] whether it is something connected to a deity. Hence, the argument for the subjective awareness of God that science cannot itself explain does not in any way bring you closer to understanding God. Have you considered how a mortal being such as yourself understand something supposedly immortal and infinite? How can an infinite consciousness be understood by mortal beings who do not know and cannot know the differences between something that is 'very big' to something that is infinite? (Food for thought...) Thus your explanations for something unknowable is subjective and relates how your mind translates this unknowable element.

You have to realize that the arguments for God has evolved from something mythically concrete (e.g., burning bush) to something nebulous (i.e., consciousness), and it shows how defenders of the concept of God will alter their conceptualizations to meet the demands of logic and rationality. Logic, not science, is the most concrete tool one can use to determine the plausibility, feasibility, and possibility of a God (or whatever it means for human beings). Hence, once logic is used on your arguments your whole thesis breaks down, with all due respect.

As long as you come up with another argument to support your preceding arguments, your approach falls within my proposed spectrum of intellectual incapacity, ignorance, and intellectual dishonesty, which is the spectrum where all theistic arguments fall in.

*******
There is a certain class of ‘skeptics’ (who should properly be called ‘debunkers’) who simply will not listen no matter what you say.

I have long since learned (particularly since writing the ‘Shaving Science’ essay, and a previous Integral World essay on parapsychology) that there is a certain class of ‘skeptics’ (who should properly be called ‘debunkers’ so as not to insult true skeptics) who simply will not listen no matter what you say. But there are often others who read the debunkers, who may be ‘sitting on the fence’, who are true skeptics and thus willing to consider other ways of understanding things. For them, I wrote the following (note that it does not involve any ‘commitment’ to the view of idealism—or nondualism, or panexperientialism, or any other view—;in case you also thought that's what ‘Shaving Science’ was about)

Long ago, Greek philosophers understood that any science which merely analyzes the phenomenal universe has nothing to say about the Absolute. Unfortunately, all too many contemporary scientists don't understand this.

To make this clear, I've made some slight changes in the above writer's critique of Mr. Wilberg:

Dear Author:

Your conceptualization of concepts such as mass, energy, laws of nature, and other quantitative aspects are, within themselves, subjective in nature. When we consider the mind as the recipient of such experiences, we have no choice but to resort to the general discipline of psychology. Experience of [the phenomenon of] trees, for example, are only plausible when a mind is involved. Therefore, without a mind, there will not be any experiences of [the appearance of] trees or of matter or energy. The mind is where the concept of matter is created and it is projected to experiential world. When it comes to the conceptualization of matter, physics is irrelevant: It does not matter how we experience a `material' attribute for we have no [idea] whether it is something connected to a "real" material universe. Hence, the argument for the subjective awareness of matter that science purports to explain does not in any way bring you closer to understanding matter. Have you considered how a mortal being such as yourself understand something supposedly unobservable and ultimately intangible? How can an intangible, unperceivable ultimately non-living and non-sentient reality be understood by mortal beings who do not know and cannot know the differences between something that is `very big' to something that is infinite? (Food for thought...) Thus your explanations for something like matter that is unknowable is subjective and relates how your mind translates this unknowable element.

You have to realize that the arguments for matter have evolved from something mythically concrete (e.g., a tree that we can touch) to something nebulous (i.e., an abstraction like mass and energy or the quantum vacuum conceived as purely nonconscious), and it shows how defenders of the concept of matter will alter their conceptualizations to meet the demands of logic and rationality. Logic, not science, is the most concrete tool one can use to determine the plausibility, feasibility, and possibility of matter (or whatever it means for human beings). Hence, once logic is used on your arguments your whole thesis breaks down, with all due respect.

As long as you come up with another argument to support your preceding arguments, your approach falls within my proposed spectrum of intellectual incapacity, ignorance, and intellectual dishonesty, which is the spectrum where all materialistic arguments fall in.




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