[OPE] spirit and self was :The "Islamic threat" in Holland: mosques save the Dutchtaxpayer 150 million euro

From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 07:34:36 EDT

Paula wrote:
> Paul asked:
>> But what has this to do with the spirit hypothesis as opposed to the
>> alternative hypothesis that this arises from the nervous system?
> It is legitimate to speak of 'spirit' in a non-supernatural and yet not
> merely biological (nervous system) sense. Ordinary language does this all
> the time - we talk about the 'human spirit', as Jurriaan says, and also
> about being in 'high spirits', about a 'spirited defense' of your arguments,
> about a Zeitgeist and about the esprit de corps; etc.
Ordinary language conveys many outdated and inaccurate ideas. Think of
'sunrise'. Marx was scathing
in his Notes on Wagner about the attempt for example to understand
economic relations by looking
into the ordinary meanings of words. Ordinary language contains phrases
and figures of speech
which are fossils of past social relations of production and past modes
of understanding of
the world. We may speak of somebody being sanguine or melancholy, but we
no longer believe
in the Galenic humours, nor do we think that the state previously called
melancholy has
anything to do with bile. We would now call it depression and associate
it with low levels
of the neurotransmitter seratonin.

> Our spirit is our emotions. Emotions, however, do not arise from the nervous
> system; they arise from our relations with the physical and social world.
Emotions are certainly induced in part by our interactions with the
world, but they have an internal
physical basis which, on current understanding, is partly neurological
and partly hormonal.
> They have a history. Think for example of courtly love in the late Middle
> Ages.
Was that an emotion or was it an ideological interpretation of emotions?
> One problem with much of today's science is that it reduces this spirit to
> the physiological level. This will never convince anyone who quite rightly
> believes we are more than organic automatons - and it might have the
> counterproductive effect of driving them towards religion.
Science follows a methodological materialism, it seeks to understand
phenomena as a result
of natural material causes. If somebody has an ideology that holds as a
pre-given belief that
humans are not organic automatons, then that ideology is indeed
conducive to the rejection
of science and the acceptance of religion. But science can not progress
if it accepts
such pre-given beliefs.
The following review
published last week in new scientist gives an indication just how far
contemporary scientific
and philosophical research in the area is from ideas of the self and of

The thrust of the review is that in critiquing the self Metzinger is
tilting at a straw man since nobody
doing research in the area has taken the idea of the self seriously
since Ryles book came
out in the late 40s.

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Received on Thu Mar 26 07:39:49 2009

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