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Old 12-12-2006, 04:28 AM   #1
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Constraints on Reality

Now our individual perceptions are different, they can be changed. We can see and hear things that aren't actually there and some can even have full blown psychosis, our minds piece together gaps in perception for conciousness.

Is human experience objective, and so why, if not then is the subjectivity cause for spirituality or a material limitation of the human organism?
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Old 12-12-2006, 06:02 AM   #2
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Hmm, I wonder what my thoughts (as a self-described postmodernist - if it's even possible to correctly label yourself as something which denies having a definition) are?
Do I believe in subjective reality?

I actually do believe in a reality that is not bound to my having to experience it - although, as it happens, I do come into contact with it quiet often. For instance, right now I am physically touching little buttons.
However, I do also believe that a great deal of what people consider to be "reality" is discursive. Meaning, the environment, society, a person's place within that society, shape a person's perception of reality to an unfathomable degree.
Does this mean that all of us are disconnected entities that cannot possible share any experiences? No. Today, for instance, my roommate and I both shared an experience of fatigue as we ran. Presumably we were both running at the same time and at about the same pace, so in a unsophisticated way, we shared an experience. As I am in greater shape than he is, I obviously felt a little different than he did, so my experience was a little different than his.
The problem is knowing when these differences are significant (being a member of an oppressed group) and when they are insignificant (being a person in better shape than his roommate).

Excellent topic, by the way. Kudos.
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Old 12-12-2006, 06:31 AM   #3
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Are we distinguishing between perception and interpretation; we take in information and the mind sorts it out, I think that there are some remarkable anomolies there such as synesthesia that reveal how this is a biological function. Now when I say interpretation I mean the way that the mind may place the processed information. Even writing this is hard because linguistically I don't know the terms used in the literature, so reaching for words I may be using them subjectively.

Can we also seperate social order and heirachy from material reality. One is the product of behaviour and the other is the quantifiable and observable elements of existence.

An individual from a minority may be treated and react differently to society but it would be innate biological differences that shape their perception of reality. Now a point of crossover may be the genetic basis of behaviour; highly controversial, open to abuse but worthy of exploration, the recent study on the MAO-A (so called 'warrior gene' that effects risk taking behaviour) and it's prevalence in Maori populations could be an example of this. If genes and developmental pathways control the way that our brains work then they may also control perceptions and behaviours.
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Old 12-12-2006, 06:48 AM   #4
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Societies function within certain paradigms. A minority's view is not just shaped by their biology, but by the socially constructed roles we've thrust upon them and by our socially constructed view of biology.
Why is it that women in western society tend to act in similar ways? It's not because they have some innate essence about them that differentiates them from men, but because a certain "sex" and subsequent "gender" has been prescribed to them. Therefore, they simply perform the role of woman. The same can be said for men, blacks, whites, Latinos, Latinas, and even Australians
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Old 12-12-2006, 07:32 AM   #5
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There are innate biological differences between men and women; morphology and to some degree cognition. The infinite diversity of human sexuality is also not at odds with biology, gender is not simply a deterministic XX or XY. In more extreme examples sexual dimorphisms within the same species such as the Praying Mantis show that differences can be pronounced. In things like cognitiion the differences must be quantifiable - the proper way to treat claims is scrutiny of methodology, other studies rather than reject them offhand. The same goes for variations between race and IQ.

Socially constructed biology echoes the concepts of phrenology and racial eugenics of the 20th century, the ham fisted imposition of political will with pseudoscientific terminology and justification. Claims had no objective testing, they were taken at face value, it was bad science and was rightly found out.

I accept the role of environment, including social, in the way that we develop, but there is an important role for biology in there. Society influences a lot of behabiour, the way that we talk, act, dress, interact, have sex etc. but it's still effecting what is effectively a biological computer with it's own innate potentials. For instance if by chance I didn't move when I was 5 I probably would have ended up a complete bogan, but I would still in principle have the same genetic potential. Such societal determinism will have an effect, just like biological determinism has an effect.

Biological determinism in action on me could well be shyness, as a blue eyed male who also happens to be very introverted bordering on the antisocial studies like this give pause for thought
Quote:
In recent years, researchers have uncovered a link between iris pigmentation and inhibition/social wariness among young children (e.g., Rosenberg & Kagan, 1987, 1989; Rubin & Both, 1989). In the present study, 152 Caucasian preschool-aged (Mage = 54.09 months, SD = 5.84) children (77 males) with either blue (n = 84) or brown (n = 68) eyes, were compared in terms of parental and teacher ratings of social wariness, social play, and aggression. A significant Eye Color x Gender Interaction was found in terms of indices of social wariness; blue-eyed males were rated as more socially wary than brown-eyed males, while blue- and brown-eyed females did not differ in this regard. These results supported the notion that eye color is a marker variable for social wariness in young children.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=9452906

There has even been a proposed mechanism for this statistically significant observation involving norepinephrine, keeping warm in cold climates and having a reactive nervous system and concequently a different temperament. Now that is a speculative hypothesis to be sure, but unraveling the cause of the observation can be done and could show a behavioural response due to a biological package, still the manifestation of biology can be different and may be fought. There is not going to be a gene for criminal behaviour or stupidity, an individual is the product of nature and nurture.

When the time comes I can have my genome sequenced for under a months pay I would definitely jump at the opportunity, I have a family history of heart disease and mental illness as well as longevity, lack of male baldness and intelligence - it would be an interesting excercise to see what could be genetic and what environmental.
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Old 12-12-2006, 07:38 AM   #6
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I'm saying that our understanding of science, our notions of science and biology is socially constructed. Not all theories can be verified. Likewise, not all sentences can be. Try verifying this sentence: All sentences should be verifiable.

There are so many exceptions of naturally occuring, binary sex.

I'll write more in about twelve hours...after sleep, a final, and work.
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Old 12-12-2006, 07:39 AM   #7
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Back to socially constructed view of biology that is inferring that the state of knowledge in the science cannot overcome social bias of the scientists, I think that line of argument can be applicable in plenty of instances, but the facts generally have the ability to beat the social norms of the day. To those that take a hardline view rejecting the notion of race entirely is that not often also borne out by social biases rather than objective evidence.
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Old 12-12-2006, 08:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by blueyedpoet
I'm saying that our understanding of science, our notions of science and biology is socially constructed. Not all theories can be verified. Likewise, not all sentences can be. Try verifying this sentence: All sentences should be verifiable.

There are so many exceptions of naturally occuring, binary sex.

I'll write more in about twelve hours...after sleep, a final, and work.
Not all hypothesis can be verified, but all theories must explain the evidence well, be consistent and falsifiable. String 'Theory" is not falsifiable at the moment for instance. Evolution which can explain the observations very well is.

Science as the progressive system for the organisation of knowlege with an ongoing system of collection, the scientific method is a product of human societies but it strives to uncover objective facts. To that end it has succeeded immensely, bias can be picked up and bad science rejected; as it stands. We don't change the world, we are governed by it's rules.
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There are so many exceptions of naturally occuring, binary sex.
If we want to tackly sex then look at intersex individuals with androgen resistance, with complete resistance a full lot of chromosomes with male sex chromosomes can yield an effectively female form, with some key differences, That isn't a function of how society treats them or how they grow up, it is due to a faulty receptor. It happened before science found, or gave, a reason and it happened due to a materialistic cause.
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