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Re: Cladistics (was Sci. Am. - present)

Dinogeorge@aol.com wrote:
> You may in fact be deluding yourself into believing you are converging toward
> the goal of Truth but really are not. How will you know that you are "coming
> closer"? What measurement are you making of "closeness" to Truth, if you
> cannot grasp Truth itself to take its measure? Why would you think that it is
> worthwhile to pursue such a goal, anyway?
> I DON'T know, that's my point.  However, I make certain assumptions and act 
> on what, on 
the basis of those assumptions and my own experience, seems most likely.  What 
makes it 
worthwhile to pursue ANY goal, whether achievable or not?  Obviously, it's 
worthwhile to 
me; that should be enough.

> <<  I believe it's probably impossible to absolutely prove anything;>>
> Then you lack an understanding of mathematics. What is "probably impossible"?

Actually, my statement is BASED on mathematics.  In math, you can only prove 
BASED ON A SET OF ASSUMPTIONS.  You ultimately cannot prove all the 
assumptions.  In 
science, the primary assumption is that our scenses are, in fact, feeding us 
about the world around us.  This is an untestable assumption, since any test we 
can try 
relies on those same senses.  That doesn't mean we should all curl up in balls 
decide that nothing matters.  I believe our senses are probably giving 
information based 
on the world around us, and I choose to assume that they are.  This does not 
mean I rule 
out the possibility that they are not.
> << I also believe that pursuit of real knowledge is the most
>  worthwhile activity.  I see no contradiction in this.>>
> What is "real knowledge," anyway? Why is it worthwhile to pursue it, if such a
> thing exists? Who has it, if anybody?

By "real knowledge" I simply meant objective knowledge of the universe.  We are 
subjective creatures; we cannot look at anything entirely objectively.  We 
always see 
things from our own points of view.  However, there are diferent degrees of 
subjectivity, and it is certainly worthwhile to try to see things "as they 
whatever that may mean.  Don't you want to know things?

> <<  To a certain extent, it's the
>  search that's important, and ultimately what one is looking for is the most
> likely
>  "truth" about something, rather than some absolute "truth".  If you can't
> understand
>  this point of view, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with either it
> or your own
>  point of view.  It just means diferent people see things diferently. >>
> This sounds like something parroted out of a philosophy textbook.

I've never read a philosophy textbook in my life.  All of my view were 
developed by ME, 
from my own experiences and thoughts.  Your comment sounds a bit insulting.  I 
great respect for your posts on this list, but if you assume that anyone who 
sees things 
diferently from you must be mindlessly parroting someone else then you lose a 
good deal 
of that respect.
> Yes, different people seem to see things differently. For example, some people
> seem to think they are aliens from space who have come to earth to enlighten
> us. At least, this is what they say. If they really believe this and aren't
> simply con artists, then they are wrong. Even if they >are< con artists,
> they're wrong.

There's a diference between open-minded, rational people coming to diferent 
based on a reasonable consideration of the evidence, on the one hand, and 
people who 
simply go around believing things because it's what they want to believe, on 
the other. 
 The world's a complicated place; two reasonable people can come to completely 
conclusions about the same things without either person being irrational.

        I appologize for my part in taking this discussion away from dinosaurs.