Freedomain comments history

Philosophy of mind

The problem of evolutionarily irrelevant strong emergence (07 April 2017)

1. We can't measure sensation (mental properties themselves). We can only measure a) the neural correlates of what we presume to be sensation or b) self-report of sensation. Our inference of sensation/sentience is based on the logical extension of our personal belief/experience of sensation to like organisms, machines, etc. but there is nothing in the known laws of the universe which define their nature/qualia (eg the redness of red) or when they emerge. I think we need to clarify this concept of "empiricism" to the audience (which is really the combination of the epistemological primacy of sense data and non-reductive physicalism). There is nothing faulty/incoherent with non-reductive physicalism, however it is critical to distinguish such from the concept of empirical observation (measurement).

2. This distinction prevents us falling prey to the kind of positivism which purports that everything accessible to us is accessible also to the empirical method. Physical is by definition (in physics) what is empirically measurable, and there is therefore a significant proportion of known (inferred) reality which is formally non-physical. Under the philosophy of "physicalism" however (which is somewhat of a misnomer according to the definition of physical), we assert that all of our experiential reality (mental properties) are mapped to physical reality (observables). There cannot be any phenomenological experience which is not grounded in nature.

3. Furthermore, this distinction prevents us from automatically assuming that materialism (non-reductive physicalism) is a satisfactory ateleological philosophy of mind. Under naturalism, a physical system evolves perfectly according to the laws of nature. Therefore, ostensibly emergent mental properties are redundant (see Jaegwon Kim on non-reductive physicalism; in particular his thesis on overdetermination). The organism (including its central nervous system) functions perfectly according to the laws of physics (be they deterministic or indeterministic) without any unnecessary strong emergent phenomenon. Strong emergent properties are qualitatively distinct from physical emergent properties (like crystals) in that they cannot be empirically observed.

Joseph Tagger: Can you prove you're self-aware?
Will Caster: That's a difficult question, Dr. Tagger. Can you prove that you are?
(Transcendence, 2014).

The apparently arbitrary assignment and nature of mental properties (evolutionarily irrelevant existence; our brain functions and evolves perfectly fine without them) leads most contemporary/secular philosophers of mind to argue either a) eliminativism, b) 'informationism', c) panpsychism, or d) simulation.

a) Eliminativism: that mental properties (or their perception of physical non-reducibility) are an illusion. Yet assuming that we take both our internal sentience (existence/experience) and our extrapolation of this sentience to like organisms as true (although such cannot be empirically verified), what is its basis: why does it exist? Informationism, panpsychism and simulation attempt to explain why some systems (peculiar subsets of the universe in space-time; eg human CNS, Pentium III, etc) have this apparently emergent phenomenon.

b) 'Informationism': That mental properties are the natural product of complex arrangements of matter/energy above a given threshold of complexity (sentience is just as if not more fundamental than observables; in that the universal system "knows they are coming"). Informationism assumes that mind is the inevitable outcome of the arrangement of matter/energy in sufficiently complex states. Such however requires nature to be geared towards the creation of sentience, and is as such not indistinguishable from pantheism.

c) Panpsychism: That all physical entities have (the capacity for) associated mental properties. There is no distinction between physical and mental substances, though unlike physicalism the material does not take precedence over the mental. Panpsychism asserts that consciousness is an inherent property of all particles (energy/matter) in the universe. Panpsychist models are however not without their own limitations. Apart from their animistic inelegance (hypothesising sentient rocks for instance), nothing in the laws of nature define which systems (collections of particles in space-time) should combine to form complex indivisible centres of consciousness like you or me (the Combination Problem).

d) Simulation: That the material world as experienced by us is not the underlying construct of mental existence but merely the designated method for generating its experience. Simulation (like substance/Cartesian dualism) pushes back the problem of the underlying construct/laws of mind to another universe. This philosophy of mind has elements of theism (alien gods).

3. There is also another critical although somewhat unrelated limitation in the positivist analysis. Although one can observe a consistency between nature (regulated behaviour or causality) and logic, one cannot use nature to formally derive logic. This is a circular reasoning fallacy. One must assume reason as an axiom in order to make/process our empirical observations (follow the empirical method). For this reason logic (like mathematics) is declared to comprise non-physical abstract objects.

... It is important to note that mental properties are not the same as physical (empirical) consciousness. Imagine a computer with a model of self (physical consciousness). It acts like an intelligent conscious being and its CPU (brain) and speaker (mouth) inform us that it is self-aware. We can measure this model of self and how it has been encoded in the computer ("I", "HAL", etc). Yet we have a choice (or must come to some philosophical conclusion as to) whether to believe that this model of self corresponds (maps) to an internal reality, or, conversely, whether it is merely a software program telling us what it has been programmed to tell us.

In the case of mammalian/human evolution, I think it is very likely that physical consciousness evolved for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival (ie it is adaptive, as opposed to being a byproduct, as referenced by [X]); but this says nothing of the reality of internal existence. Mental properties are functionally and therefore evolutionarily irrelevant from a physicalist perspective. The central nervous system of homo sapiens is declared to operate according to the laws of physics, and such laws only reference physical (eg neuronal) properties. A substance dualist could argue that mental substances (and their properties) serve some biological function, but Cartesian dualism has many problems not worth examining here (eg interactionism).

... Mental properties are a sentient being's internal experience of objective/physical reality (this 'stream of consciousness' will include things like the smell of a particular flower or the colour of a particular region of one's field of view). Our own mental properties by definition can be observed (sensed/felt) by us, but; 1. We have no direct access to another being/machine's mental properties (and we only have indirect access if we make some philosophical assumption about their correspondence to observables; eg physicalism). 2. Mental properties cannot be measured (empirical observation). One cannot measure or confirm the existence of one's own or another's internal experience using the empirical method. In regard to [X]'s analogy, (under physicalism) our brain will encode some representation (through its neural networks) for this colour or smell, and this can be measured.

... all human sensual experience (under naturalism) corresponds to a heavily processed reconstruction of reality (including object recognition, motion detection, categorisation etc). When the creature is in a "conscious" (aroused) state this experience is generally derivative from some external reality, but it all nonetheless corresponds to physical reality (the neuronal processing of objects, concepts, etc). Note even in our dreams/hallucinations/thoughts (internal verbalisations) one is still experiencing physical reality. It just so happens that the part of physical reality being experienced doesn't correspond to any reality outside of the organism itself.

The empirical method (measurement) doesn't need to be conducted by a sentient being (one could imagine an intelligent non-sentient machine deriving many truths about the world using the method and then stating its conclusions in a text box). This is the advantage of the method; it is entirely objective (based on its assumptions). One could argue that the Copenhagen Interpretation of QM suggests that measurement might require a sentient being however (many have). Taking its proposition of denying local realism, and then making the additional assumption that the wave function collapse occurring during measurement is caused by sentient observation. (Note this has got nothing to do with 'the observer effect'; the physical consequences of measurement on a system). Many however suggest that the wavefunction collapse during measurement is not a product of sentient observation, and suggest various alternate conditions for its collapse (for example decoherence and a spontaneous "minicollapse"). Likewise, even if sentient observation were required for measurement (and the outcome of reality itself/the collapse of the probabilistic wavefunction into a definite solution), it would be difficult to argue physicalism (given the primacy of mental reality; something akin to simulation theory). It does however solve the redundancy problem.

... The scientific method requires empirical measurement and such measurement has no access to mental properties (it therefore cannot use them per say). Measurement only has access to physical properties (eg the state of a particle, neuron, etc). Under physicalism such physical properties are assumed to correspond to mental properties - however one would struggle to find a neuroscientist (speculating about philosophy) who adopts reductive physicalism (a 1 to 1 correspondence between mental and physical properties) based on how information is distributed across neural networks. Most physicalists uphold non-reductive physicalism; specifically the thesis of supervenience (that there cannot be a change in a substance's mental properties without a corresponding change in its physical properties), or attempt some form of eliminativism. Under the peculiar form of the Copenhagen Interpretation discussed, measurement requires mental properties but it does not use them per say (it still has no access to them).

... Not only is the empirical method inherently probabilistic (one can only conduct an experiment so many times to rule out anomalies; hence its determination of p values against a null hypothesis), but it is based on philosophical assumptions which are inherently unprovable (ie axioms). More generally, these include the validity of logic, the existence of self, the validity of mental properties to capture/experience a "real" (objective/physical) world etc.

The empirical method is based on an assumption of causality in the measured system; it was not designed to vindicate philosophers of the existence of a causal relationship between their personal experience of reality and reality itself. In fact, this relationship will vary heavily due to subjective biases (psychophysics). One does therefore not conduct experiments using subjective measurements (unless the underlying construct is difficult to measure otherwise; eg in psychology, in which case any differences between experimenter ratings must be considered systematics to be partialled out).

To quote the Lady Jessica from the Children of Dune; "All proofs inevitably lead to propositions which have no proof! All things are known because we want to believe in them!"

... If an internal mental reality exists and has a relationship to the actions of the organism, then we would expect this internal reality to accurately represent external reality in a successful species.

... Note in the case of psychophysics (eg rate how hot your foot feels on a scale of 1 to 10, is the horizontal rod longer than the vertical rod, rate how green the apple is, etc) one is not empirically measuring mental properties, one is measuring self-report (beliefs/conceptions) of mental properties. Under physicalism, the creature has evolved to believe in and value mental properties (the existence of "itself" as an observer/sentient being), but the reality of this encoded belief is irrelevant to its evolution - it only need be adaptive or otherwise a byproduct of related physical processes. a) One could say that the individual participants of the experiment are "measuring" (or classifying) their mental properties under the assumption of a correspondence between mental and physical reality. b) Likewise, one could say that the experiment is "measuring" mental properties under the assumption of a correspondence between the mental and physical reality of the participants. c) Furthermore, one could say that the experiment is "measuring" the participants' internal experience of this (non-empirical) "measurement" process (a) under the assumption of a correspondence between the mental and physical reality of the participants. But in none of these cases has empirical measurement of mental properties occurred. The only thing which has been empirically measured is self-reported beliefs of an organism.

An example of empirical measurement is a system that detects and counts the number of specific objects moving across a specific region in space-time. One could employ either machines or humans to do this task (both will be imperfect at the task, and must be calibrated/taught accordingly). But at no time is one empirically measuring mental properties. Likewise, one could obtain/measure self-reported experiences and propose a direct correspondence between what is seen (eg specific colour of a specific region in their field of view) and what can be independently verified (eg specific neurons being fired), but this is not an empirical hypothesis. It cannot be denied by observation and the prerequisite of empirical science is that one can at least in theory devise an experiment which would demonstrate the hypothesis to be false. Even if one conducted the analysis on themselves (took as true their own self-reported experience) no one else could independently verify it. Yet just because a proposition cannot be empirically verified, it doesn't make it a bad assumption. Such assumptions are necessary for things as simple as respectful communication (and others like logic are necessary for any form of communication).

... Regarding "physical consciousness" ("a computer with a model of self"), as applied to a human being. A model of self may well have a survival advantage. One could imagine a skynet with a model of self versus a skynet without a model of self. The skynet with a model of self is going to have a higher probability of wanting to protect its circuits because it believes in more than just its circuits; it believes in the existence of "itself" as a non-physical being. Whether or not that self actually exists is irrelevant; it is another question entirely.

... the question is irrelevant with respect to the evolution (survival) of the system. As you point out, if there is such a correspondence between mental and physical properties (as most contemporaries would agree on), it is extremely philosophically relevant.

This is why philosophers debate the preconditions for strong emergence; when does it occur. Do mental properties just magically get assigned to complex carbon organisms in some primordial garden (as David Chalmers asks pointedly in his paper "panpsychism and protopanpsychism"), or is there a fundamental but presently unknown relationship between their apparent emergence and the underlying physical system (b, c, d). Perhaps we should start to question the existence of mental properties given their empirical irrelevance (a), etc.

... From a scientific perspective, the only thing that is relevant to the evolution of living systems are entities which can be measured using the empirical method. If the physical (natural) laws are deduced(/inferred by induction) based on these empirically observable properties, then there is no reason to assume the existence of any other phenomenon (non-observable properties; ie mental properties) as necessary for these processes to occur. Thus the amazing physical process (neural network processing/program) known as "physical consciousness" which enables the organism to survive in increasingly complex and threatening environments bears no weight on the existence of empirically non-observable properties (mental properties), and therefore their relevance to its evolution.

Under the assumption of physicalism (a common type of substance monism) some substances pertaining to living systems (which for the purposes of the argument I will add are arbitrarily delineated subsets of space-time) have both physical and mental properties, and so one could declare the mental properties relevant to the degree that they are associated with particular parts of these natural systems that are known to evolve (which for the purposes of the argument I will add are also arbitrarily delineated subsets of space-time; neural architectures). This apparent arbitrary delineation of these apparent (under the assumption of physicalism) emergent properties makes philosophers ask what defines such delineation and the preconditions for mental existence. Is it perhaps information (b) - the fact that certain parts of the physical universe are highly complex and process a lot of information? Etc. To put it another way, there is no functional difference between AI that are programmed to have a self but don't and AI that are programmed to have a self but do (where their programs are identical).

The "conscious ego" may be described in a specific scientific literature, corresponding to a precisely defined empirical construct (such as a tendency for the humanoid organism to exhibit the behavioural symptoms of self-awareness, volition etc). It may even refer to an internal philosophical consciousness, under the assumption of a correspondence between physical and mental properties as is commonly the case in post-behaviourist eg cognitive psychology (assumes that internal consciousness/experience is an emergent property of information processing in the brain). The existence of philosophical consciousness (mental properties) is however outside the scope of science to defend. We might use the empirical method to discover very similar living systems to ourselves (singular) which exhibit very similar patterns of information processing, and philosophically deduce that these probably also exhibit mental properties, but the question is ultimately irresolvable (at this stage of our understanding of the universe; within the current paradigm).

... Decoherence depends on the environmental exposure of the quantum system (reduction of the probability of encountering inadvertently measured phenomenon or particles interacting with such inadvertently measured phenomenon). The level of decoherence experienced by a particle upon measurement will depend on the degree of information gained with respect to its momentum/position and the degree to which they constrain its possible pathways. For example, relative to the position and width of two slits through which the wavefunction must pass; if the measured position/momentum of the "particle" enables the experiment (or experimental measuring device <- undefined) to eliminate the possibility of the particle travelling through one of those slits, then it will be considered to have decohered. But if there still exists uncertainty in this question, the level of decoherence experienced by the "particle" during the measurement will be a function of this uncertainty. With no decoherence due to measurement (ie a complete failure of measurement) or external/environmental interference, the "particle" will behave according to its wave properties and proceed to pass through both slits simultaneously before interfering constructively/destructively with itself and collapsing to a definite state (at some other experimental measuring device such as a photodetector). The position at which it will be measured can be estimated statistically based on the probability wave function. For classical (large) phenomena like neurons, although they do interfere with each other, the level of decoherence observable by existent measuring devices is negligible. But this does not avert the problem of what causes the minicollapse (to a definite rather than a probabilistic state; even if that state were almost so certain to be definite).

... If one looks at the founders of quantum theory; they were all discussing this possibility (the role of the conscious observer in measurement) back to the days of Schrodinger's cat. The problem is that nothing within the Copenhagen interpretation defines what collapses the wavefunction in its totality (irrespective of decoherence; such final collapse being coined "minicollapse" in the context of decoherence). It is also the reason why many physicists (speculating about philosophy) take seriously apparently less intuitive QM interpretations (like Everett's many worlds). Furthermore, it is a reason why some were keen to bring back a deterministic interpretation (De Broglie-Bohm). It is an example of a philosophical anomaly.

... The problem of not knowing 'how it works' is equivalent to raising explanations for why it appears to work the way it does under the assumption of naturalistic mind (at least a-c).

The issue however with equating strong emergent phenomena (mental properties) with weak emergent phenomena (like wings, crystals, neurons) is that weak emergent phenomena are reducible to the physical construct. Only with a platonic outlook does one even believe that wings exist, as something more than ("over and above") the underlying physical system. With enough computational resources one could simulate the emergence of wings from the laws of physics and some initial conditions.

Yet regardless of their platonic/nominalistic outlook, there is a qualitative difference between a network of neurons firing and one's sensation of lavender. Even with enough computational resources, one will not necessarily be able to simulate the emergence of the sensation of lavender from the laws of physics and some initial conditions (it depends on the preconditions of such emergence). This is why philosophers don't take for granted that the 'how it works' explanation will belong to the same category of explanations (weak emergence) that derive atoms from subatomic particles, molecules from atoms, life from molecules, complex life from living cells, computers from complex life, and self-referential computers from their less intelligent or adaptive predecessors. Weak emergent systems may be supervenient on their substrate but this does not imply that every supervenient system (like naturalistic mind) is weakly emergent.

The question of whether the emergent property of wings exist, or the emergent property of a self-referential computer exists is relevant to evolution, but the question of whether the machine (organism) is self-aware is not.

I agree that if we could find out what were possible within the constraints of nature we could know what were inevitable - but the problem is that we do not know what is possible. We don't know the preconditions; as you point out we can only guess at them at this stage. Furthermore, discovering (guessing) that a phenomenon is inevitable given its environment is not an explanation (pertaining to internal consciousness, this is an example of the misapplication of the anthropic principle). One must still explain (eg provide some naturalistic explanation for) for why the neuronal-mental correspondence/mappings exist (hence a-d). What are the prerequisites for sentient beings - perhaps there are 5 identical sentient beings for every CNS, perhaps there are zero sentient beings for every CNS, perhaps there is one? What in nature specifies the rules, because the current laws of nature (physics) make no reference to such phenomena.

... [Why can't mental properties be reduced to physics?] Because mental properties have no functional impact on the system. If one considers natural law (physics) to be a complete description of the behaviour of the universe (a prerequisite of naturalism), then only physical properties can affect the evolution of the system (eg neuronal/ionic information processing, genetic code, etc): non-physical properties by definition cannot.

[How should we know that mental properties will not necessarily emerge from a computer simulation?] The point is that we don't know. The fact we don't know something means that we must consider all the possibilities. And if it so happens that a i) complex organism or ii) computer simulation of a complex organism can produce emergent mental properties (although we will arguably never be able to demonstrate this under the current scientific paradigm; see transcendence quote), then we must ask why. Does it just happen magically because it was designed that way (teleology), or is there some fundamental reason for the emergence (eg b, c).

There is nothing wrong with making arbitrary philosophical assumptions in science - people do it all the time (eg methodological naturalism, non-reductive physicalism, etc). It would be very difficult for science to progress without these. But it is not the job of philosophy to make arbitrary assumptions and then make no effort to ask why these are being made. The reason there is so much variation in historical/intercontinental philosophical thought is because people are not ideological in their beliefs and are willing to question the reason for their assumptions.

Perhaps there are reasons for making such assumptions however? The problem is that a blind adherence to inherited western materialism is not a very good one - because it emerged from teleological thought. I gather that we are trying to produce systems of thought that are not dependent on teleology.

Reason (17 April 2017)

What I find fundamental about reason is that in order to speak about it one must assume that they are reasonable, but an assumption of their reasonableness (under physicalism) requires the physical construct to have evolved reason - the processing of information according to the rules of logic. Therefore, any communication is reliant on the assumption that our particular universe evolved in such a way that reason (conformity to logical rules) would be adaptive for the organism.

The problem of the sole (30 April 2017)

Why am I me and not you? Why is my experience of existence mapped to physical entity x and not mapped to physical entity y?

... Physical properties are uniquely assigned because they are part of a bigger indivisible system. Are we suggesting that mental properties are also? The problem is that to suggest some substances don't have mental properties but others do is to introduce differentiation - and there must be a reason for this differentiation.

To interpret "you" or "me" as a physical entity in this context is to assert an unnecessary reduction which avoids the question. Perhaps I could be you (rather than me) if indivisible centres of awareness are randomly assigned to physical entities. But we must then ask what determines the mapping?

Does the universe itself (nature) generate a set of discrete instantiations of sentience? Then why would a new one be created? Why not use the same one? (This is Arnold Zuboff's argument). Is the fact we don't have any memory of alternate references of experience (like we don't have memories of our infancy) a sufficient argument?

... In order to analyse a phenomenon one has to not make any implicit assumptions regarding it. For example a) reductive physicalism (which few adhere to as although mental properties may be mapped to physical properties they are not reducible to physical properties given how information is distributed across neural networks), or b) "emergence by necessity" (the assumption that mental properties just appear given a sufficient level of physical complexity - like when a machine declares itself to be conscious - without explanation).

"Ghost in the machine" could be interpreted to mean anything from substance dualism to property dualism to simulation theory so I can't recommend the phrase here. Max Tegmark (an "informationism" architect) does however recommend the book/film when discussing simulation theory in the context of numerical simulation of physical systems and VR. In terms of property dualism, I figure it is more probable than a ghost without a machine, a machine without a ghost, or a machine with 73 ghosts.

... but what if I were you and you were me? What part of reality would differ to accomodate for this fact?

... What if you died and they reconstructed you? Would it still be you or would it be someone else?

... Try to imagine variations on this scenario (from Zuboff's "one self: the logic of experience"); - what if I added an additional 795739528073 atoms to its neocortex? - what if I created two identical copies of the reconstruction?

... What we want to know is that final change to the reconstructed physical system (e.g. x neural connections) where you no longer experience reality and someone else does. Because if there is such a change it implies something determines when a new instantiation of sentience is assigned, and if there isn't - that we live in a pantheistic world.

With respect to finding out how the brain works, I agree that this is an extremely worthwhile enterprise for a number of reasons (in fact so important that a significant proportion of all research should be directed towards the human connectome). But assuming we found out how it works, and it behaved according to the known laws of physics (or any others discovered within the existing paradigm), mental properties could confer no advantage on the physical system. Nor could we ever know for certain which systems exhibited them. So it begs the question, what are they there for; and why would they be restricted to such complex information processing systems? Perhaps they are an inherent property of all matter/energy and consciousness exists in gradations, etc.

Furthermore (although this is getting increasingly off topic), I hope you appreciate that we have just defined a method to resurrect a body, which moreover according to the materialist framework will be the same person. It is fortunate the laws of nature are so fine tuned as to necessitate an infinite multiverse. Because with an infinite multiverse there are going to be an infinite number of exact copies of our bodies anyway. So let's put all the sola materialist assumptions in the box and see what we get; resurrection of the body, reincarnation, and life after death.

Wait, what? Is there an error somewhere? Was it perhaps the assumption that design optimisation can't involve evolution based on a simple algorithm and unlimited computational resources? (Cf planet earth from the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy). Maybe it was realism itself and we are living in a simulation? (Cf discreetness/quantisation of nature + indeterminism). Such would concord with the assumption that we are reasonable creatures; but it doesn't explain the source. I do think it therefore worth promoting open mindfulness. For the sake of science it is profitable to assume that all reality will ultimately be accessible to it - but should we be projecting this ideal as a philosophy?

The dependence of mental reality on a substrate (23 July 2017)

An argument for ontological materialism as pertaining to philosophy of mind (i.e. naturalistic physicalism);

1. Assume that there must be some substrate which defines a) when mind emerges (mental instantiation) and b) how mind operates (mental laws).
i) This needn't be the same substrate in both cases, and ii) we needn't have access to it (the substrate would operate perfectly according to its laws of nature regardless). What philosophical evidence do we have that i) it is the same one, and ii) we have access to it? Note the only substrate we have access to is the physical substrate.

ii) Why should a sentient being have access to the stuff (substrate) from which their mind arises (a) and which defines how mind operates (b)?
2. Mind (by definition?) requires access to an objective reality (operates on some sense data).
3. We infer that the substrate controlling how mind operates (b) is the physical substrate (brain), which we by definition have access to.
- Therefore we may well have access to the substrate which defines when mind emerges (a) also.
- And it may well be the same one (i).

i) Why should the substrate from which mind arises (a) and which defines how mind operates (b) be the same one? (evidence #2)
4. We infer that the substrate for the operation of mind (b) evolved according to the laws of nature.
- Therefore the substrate from which mind arises (a) may also have evolved according to laws of nature.
- And it may well be the same one (i).

[assumptions are enumerated]

Determinism (27 February 2018)

Let us assume that high level physical (empirically measurable) emergent properties exist (such as life, brains etc). These are reducible to patterns of cellular->chemical->atomic->quantum interactions given that a sufficiently advanced machine could compute the behaviour of the system given some initial conditions (along with a set of probabilistic outcomes to the wave function if the universe is intrinsically indeterministic at the quantum level). Their definition as emergent properties is therefore arbitrary from a nominalogical (as opposed to platonic) perspective; it is semantics. They (these high level terms; wave, life, brain etc) may be useful in terms of what the model can predict at a certain resolution of analysis, but they otherwise confer no new properties on the system. Thus;

1. A fundamental claim of naturalism/science is that any high level model cannot contradict what is observed at a higher resolution of analysis (ie in a lower level eg atomic model). Therefore, if a metaphysical libertarian (non-compatibilist) free will is true, then it must operate on either a) the intrinsically indeterministic quantum substrate (this is highly suspect of teleology in that why would the volition content of consciousness have any effect on the outcome of probabilistic quantum events) or b) classical Cartesian mind-body dualism (for all intensive purposes magic).

2. There is no reason for "awareness" (mental properties) to be assumed to be a necessary emergent property of the biological system (without additional argument) given that it unlike its chemical/biological/neurological/computational counterparts (physical emergent properties) cannot be reduced to a low level model (regardless of whether it follows the same eg deterministic rules). Mental properties are (by definition) not empirically measurable - an experiment cannot be conducted to detect their existence (hence the philosophical zombie or advanced robot that acts sentient but might not be). This is an example of an absolute ontological/categorical difference (unlike that of "life"). Likewise, there is a difference between an inference of a dependence of a on b (eg mind/brain) and the assumption that b necessitates a. So even if mind was assumed to be dependent on brain (the "effect" or "product" of brain where effect/product is a non-empirical, philosophical term in this context), there is no reason to assume that brains necessitate mind or that mind requires a brain (as opposed to some other simpler or more complex physical system like a rock or an advanced AI).

... Note I don't think that "there is no reason to assume that brains necessitate mind or that mind requires a brain" - only that the reasoning provided in the context of the argument here is not sufficient to demonstrate this ("without additional argument"). There likewise are reasons to believe this which have not been discussed here either.

"Awareness" (the existence of mental properties) is a fundamental problem irrespective of physical determinism. The only way it can serve an evolutionary purpose is to assume substance (interactionist/Cartesian) dualism, in which there exists a symbiotic coevolution of matter and mind. Yet this doesn't provide a substrate for mind (unlike the materialist monism physicalism), and pushes the mind-body problem back a layer into some higher dimensional space, or into some spiritual realm. There may be other, philosophical, purposes for subjective awareness, but the question of libertarian free will is purely a functional one (whether, why or how it conveys any difference/advantage on the physical system).

... this relates to our initial discussion. The philosophical definition of "awareness" (mental properties) here cannot be collapsed into its empirical (physical) definition. We typically infer an association between observed indicators of awareness (eg self-report) and awareness itself. This might be appropriate in other fields (eg cognitive science), but not when analysing philosophy of mind.

Science measures physical properties, and constructs models which explain their behaviour. In the context of cognition, it hypothesises psychological constructs described by observables. One such empirical construct is observed (aka physical) consciousness/awareness, and is identified by one or more traits; arousal, specific brain activity, self-report etc. The information processing construct of awareness (central processing of stimuli) is certainly advantageous to the organism and would have evolved accordingly. More advanced central processing constructs like self-concept and theory of mind confer additional advantage to the organism and likewise would have evolved. An example of one such advantage of higher order cognition (including the belief in mental properties) is the value the organism places on its survival and others of its own species that share this trait.

Here is a thought experiment to demonstrate the distinction between mental and physical (neurological) properties. An advanced carbon or silicon based organism could independently evolve a construct of "self" that exhibits awareness (including a belief in mental properties), but there is no obvious reason to assume that it has actual philosophical "awareness" (mental properties). It would function identically. More precisely, the "self" (software program representing the central processing of the creature's nervous system) would function as if it is aware, but if some low level science (typically taken to be physics) provides a complete description of the functioning of the universe then the existence of a subjective observer is irrelevant to its function.

In my previous comment I was purely discussing the prospect of an evolutionary advantage to mental properties (constituting the subjective observer's awareness). The only philosophy of mind in which such advantage can be afforded is substance dualism. Again, there may be philosophical purposes for such awareness independent of its function/lack of on observed reality (cf the anthropic principle). Likewise, as above, there are certainly evolutionary advantages to having evolved the information processing resembling such awareness. But under the current scientific paradigm (with the materialist monism physicalism) there is no physical process existent that cannot be explained by the laws of physics acting on non-sentient particles. The technical term for this anomaly is "overdetermination" - any mental laws or processes we conceive of are overdetermined by physical law. Mental reality is thus redundant.

The mind-body problem (interactionism and the undefined mental substrate for substance dualism, the strong emergence problem for physicalism, the combination problem for panpsychism, etc) and our perception of the causal relevance of our volition (free will) are often taken together. Many suggest that the solution to these may have a common ground (contemporary examples include invocations of quantum indeterminism - eg "free volition", interpretations of quantum mechanics - eg the Copenhagen interpretation/measurement problem, etc). Yet they may be entirely independent.

What reason does anyone have to do anything if not on logical grounds? And logic itself is deterministic. A failure to maintain consistency in a decision making process speaks more to a division of mind or the conflict of desires (eg short/long term evolutionary goals, the integration of one's first or second order theory of mind, etc). More often than not it is a failure to anticipate stimuli knowing its influence on our reptilian brain and prepare accordingly. It may even be a failure to take action when necessary, triggering an irreconcilable contradiction or a subconscious detection of genuine cowardice. Granted compatibilism cannot damn the sinner/despot, but who was responsible for feeding their evil? How consistent was their complacency or tolerance? How good should they feel today, and what will they do tomorrow?

... Just to clarify, I think there are a number of philosophical reasons to believe that an appearance of awareness (ie the observation of empirical awareness) is likely indicative of actual "awareness" (mental properties). This does not follow as being necessarily true (true of necessity) in the context of the argument here however.

The thought experiment is articulating the distinction between physical and mental physical properties, and how physical systems can be modelled to function/evolve perfectly based on the assumption of physical properties alone. This is precisely what is being implied here; "an aware observer is irrelevant to the function of the universe" (where awareness is taken to mean mental properties as opposed to the behavioural/neuronal exhibition of empirical awareness). The only philosophy I am aware of in which subjective awareness (mental properties) influences the function/behaviour of physical particles, besides that of substance dualism, and in a way that cannot otherwise be predicted by indeterministic law (eg "free volition"), is a particular variant of the Copenhagen interpretation in which subjective observation constitutes measurement.

It is true however that until we develop comprehensive theories of cognition (I won't reuse the psychological construct "theory of mind" here) based on research into "the neural correlates of consciousness" (coupled with the philosophical assumption of physicalism), we won't properly be able to predict which physical systems have emergent mental properties. Moreover, as we may never be able to be certain of the specificity of the association (eg. what if we replaced x neurons with a cybiotic implant; the cyborg might continue to say they are conscious but the truth of this assertion is unknown), there may forever remain gaps in our pseudo-empirical theory. Finally, we must recognise that there may be alternate philosophies of mind (eg panpsychism) which predict the existence of minds entirely unlike our own or that of the animal kingdom/mammalia class (eg what is it like to be a flat worm, bacterium, or virus). It is worth recognising that neural dependencies of consciousness are found in evolutionarily old systems (brainstem, thalamus, etc), not just the cerebral cortex.

Physical systems can exhibit properties which have a common source/explanation, however these are reducible to this source/explanation. Empirical "hot" (temperature) is equivalent to a particular spectrum (visible colour if hot enough) of emitted black body radiation (light) from a set of energetic atoms, and empirical "sharpness" (angle/gradient of curvature) of a given material is equivalent to a particular pressure upon contact. Temperature, colour, curvature, and pressure can be measured by self-report of participants (psychophysics; relying on an organism's cognitive map/neuronal representation of external stimuli), or more accurately by using some dedicated measuring device. But the feeling (including its quality or "qualia") of temperature, colour, curvature, or pressure is irrelevant to the experiment, and nor can such feelings be reduced to the physical properties being measured. What one person perceives as red might be blue to another (or absent entirely in the case of a philosophical zombie), yet their terminology ("red", "green", "blue", etc) can consistently and accurately map to the external (physical) stimuli (L/long, M/medium, S/short wavelengths). More precisely, assuming a common language, their terminology will map to their neuronal (physical) representation of this external stimuli; which is some function of the LGN (thalamus) cardinal colour space; L+M (luminance), L-M (reddish-greenish), S-L-M (bluish-yellowish).

It is worth noting that there exists a philosophy of mind which equates mental states with their cognitive function (functionalism). In the case of the blade analogy, a precisely distributed network of cells might have a physical property of colour sensitivity, they just won't necessarily have an additional redundant property of sentience. Likewise, a self-referential computer is a great tool for traversing complex predatorial and social environments, like meiosis is a great tool for managing mutations (, but there is no reason to assume it of necessity will have some additional unobservable properties emerge from its information processing architecture (cf "ghost in the machine"). Based on our personal experience (belief in our own mental properties; "I think therefore I am"), we infer that there is likely a mapping between physical and mental properties (that physical systems probably produce mental properties), but we can't use this inference as an explanation for its existence.

... The property acquired during biological evolution is the information processing representing/emulating consciousness (self-referential central processing of stimuli). This property can be measured (its behaviour modelled) by a) examining the functioning of the neural substrate (cognitive neuroscience) or by b) interacting/communicating with the creature (cognitive psychology). Evolution is a physical process (not a philosophical process) and as such says nothing about the emergence of non-observable properties (whether they are mapped to physical properties, as per physicalism, or not).

Under the current scientific paradigm mental properties (internal first person consciousness/awareness) are unobservable by the empirical method (i.e. unmeasurable). They are empirically non-observable by definition: a thought experiment cannot be constructed to deny their existence. For example, how does one prove (ie calculate a statistical probability) that a rock does not have mental properties mapped to its physical substrate using the empirical method? A paradigm shift will be required to bring mental properties into the realm of scientific discovery (as opposed to just inference of their correlation with certain states of matter based on an assumption of their mapping to physical properties). It is true that if this condition is met and we can derive a comprehensive theory of cognition (that defines not just the neural correlates of consciousness; but the neural determinates of consciousness), then awareness may be reducible to a common source/explanation. In one formulation of panpsychism (philosophical speculation), the underlying natural substrate contains "quiddities"; which exhibit both physical and mental properties. Something similar might be possible with non-reductive physicalism (which posits the emergence of both physical and mental properties from the underlying "physical" [philosophical terminology] substrate), but at the moment this seems contrived due to the overdetermination problem: why do some subsets of a physical universe get special unobservable properties mapped to them and others do not?

The point here is that two people's nerves might be identically wired yet have unique experience of some qualia (red/green/blue/etc - what one person calls red might be blue to another ad infinitum). There is nothing in the presently known laws of nature which would specify otherwise. Science only models observable nature (measurable, i.e. physical, properties).

I have used this analogy before; Imagine you travel to planet x (in a universe y) - you meet an alien of substrate z (e.g. carbon/silicon/etc) that tells you it is conscious. Is it? Does the fact it naturally evolved necessitate the truth of its assertion? Notice how this is an anthropocentric (and suspiciously teleological) assumption. We believe a universe is made for sentience, and we are disinterested by the prospect of a universe that creates wonderfully complex systems (machines) that do whatever they do and interact with each other with extraordinarily levels of communication shaped through natural selection, but have no internal awareness (mental properties) whatsoever. As discussed previously, I think there are good reasons to believe that a universe would exhibit mental properties (in that they require a substrate to define both their emergence and behaviour); but this line of argument is not relevant here.

Why is human life worth more than animal life? (29 April 2017)

Is human life worth more than animal life? If so, why would human life be worth equal to a more intelligent, more sentient machine?

Another way to look at the problem is in terms of utilitarianism/deontology. Should we kill (or let be killed) a human being to save a more intelligent more sentient machine, or 500 puppy dogs? If not, why not?


Moral Relativism question (12 June 2017)

Morality is action or will in accordance with truth. Immorality is logically contradictory behaviour, such as treating another how one would not wish to be treated oneself. If both persons have a shared humanity (and all things being equal), then it makes no sense to treat another different than one would have themselves be treated by others. If one is going to respect the authenticity of their own dignity or desires, why not another's.

Such a definition doesn't define moral behaviour in all circumstances (because it depends on assumptions regarding expectations of treatment by others, and these are dependent on concepts of natural law, universal order etc - take for example the trolley problem), but I think it is the principle upon which all morality is based. Pretty much all religious morality derives from the principle (although it often introduces another agent into the equation).

... Morality is by definition absolute in any given circumstance (there is a right and wrong), but "moral absolutes" generally apply across time/culture so their existence is questioned. There appear to be some moral absolutes (such as not murdering or exploiting people), but I would argue that these are artefacts of a more general principle.

"I'm sure this goes against everything you've been taught, but right and wrong do exist. Just because you don't know what the right answer is - maybe there's even no way you could know what the right answer is - doesn't make your answer right or even okay. It's much simpler than that. It's just plain wrong."

... This framework also allows for two kinds of immoral action; actions which contradict reality but are not known to contradict reality, and actions which contradict reality and are known to contradict reality (logical fallacies/compromise). I would classify the second as evil, and the first more generally as mistakes. Note this is probably where the concepts of mortal and venial sin arise (or say conscious evil versus unconscious evil). Of course if one does not like to use religiously loaded words they can replace them with arbitrary symbols; but the concepts won't go away.

Regarding (moral) "absolutes";
Obi-Wan Kenobi: You have allowed this dark lord to twist your mind, until now, until now you've become the very thing you swore to destroy.
Anakin Skywalker: Don't lecture me, Obi-Wan! I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new Empire.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Your new Empire?
Anakin Skywalker: Don't make me kill you.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic, to democracy.
Anakin Skywalker: If you're not with me, then you're my enemy.
Obi-Wan: Only a Sith deals in absolutes. [draws his lightsaber]

Regarding absolute morality/relativism;
Obi-Wan: I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you.
Anakin Skywalker: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over!
Obi-Wan: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!
Anakin Skywalker: From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!
Obi-Wan: Well, then you are lost!
Anakin Skywalker: [raises his lightsaber] This is the end for you, my master.

What is moral? (14 January 2018)

To be moral is to be logically consistent, and to be immoral is to be logically inconsistent. The reason A1 acts in their own interest is because they value themselves, but if all like sentient entities (A2, A3, A4, etc) are equally valuable, then there is no reason for A1 to treat others different than how A1 would him/herself expect to be treated by them (the golden rule). Hence a) morality is objective not relative. There is no such thing as moral evolution; only changes in knowledge, circumstance and technology. Yet b) there are no "moral absolutes". Even taking/killing/using can be justified if the perpetrator would expect to be treated that way if the situation were reversed (e.g. provocation). Traditionally we assign these actions as theft/murder/rape etc when the condition of logical inconsistency holds. Who is to be the final arbitrator in the matter however? Only someone with absolute knowledge of all parties can ever know what is universally moral (preferable), but just because we don't know or can never know what is wrong doesn't make it right. It is just plain wrong.

Likewise, moral imperatives (oughts) only exist to the extent that logical consistency exists. We only have reason to be moral to the extent that we have reason to be rational. If someone chooses to act irrationally however there is no reason for anybody to trust them (which is the traditional prelude to ostracism). Furthermore, for someone to disrespect reason is to signify disrespect for nature: the force that conferred on us the Reason we take for granted as true in the declaration of any logical proposition (including the inference that there is a probability our universe evolved to produce reasonable creatures). And for a contemplative teleosian this is to disrespect creation (or another agent in the equation). This provides a metaphysical dimension to morality, often mistaken for its philosophical basis. In reality however, we can easily conceive of an immoral god.

Finally, there is reason to differentiate conscious from unconscious inconsistency in human relations; for which the terms evil and wrong (missing the mark aka sin) are generally associated. This has influence on meta judgement or conscience. Even without libertarian free will, we can still accept the justice of social consequences (punishment) for rejection of truth, because all such rejection coincides with some fleeting affective pleasure which would not exist otherwise. We instinctively reject the coherency of moral error in the face/light of truth and feel guilt as a consequence (cognitive dissonance), needing to make amends or get one's honour back.

... The logical imposition referenced only follows precisely for like entities. This is a qualifier. Any system of ethics suffers from the same constraint; how does its implementation account for different grades of sentience - see thread "Why is human life worth more than animal life?". Although there may be an ontological difference between non-sentience and unique/sole instances of sentience, we don't treat all such entities alike (there are 2 empirical factors which determine this treatment besides genetic proximity and reciprocal altruism; the sensitivity of the subject and the morality of the subject). Yet this is the only principle available to derive right treatment of differences (putting ourselves in another's shoes) - despite all such inferences being imperfect due to a lack of absolute knowledge of the complete/entire system.

If two entities are identical then they are equally valuable by any standard of value (because they are interchangeable).

The golden rule is not claiming an objective standard, it is a logical (moral) principle/maxim which is practically constrained by imperfect knowledge (who are the active/affected parties, no 2 entities will ever be identical so how should these differences/gradations be weighted). Assuming perfect self/universal knowledge of all actors, the principle could however be theoretically applied to derive the objective good; thus it is a demonstration of why morality is logical consistency. ---The golden rule is not a specifically Christian ethic, it predates Christianity and is shared by a number of religions; the New Testament reference comes from the Torah.

... Someone with sufficient knowledge of a person would be inclined not to dehumanise them (unless they were out of their mind). Important here is the distinction between conscious and unconscious error. Although a master mind contemplating mass extermination of a people is arguably being knowingly inconsistent (compromise with respect to the logic inherent in the golden rule), his persuaded/propagandised minions are not necessarily - they might think they are being consistent but only being in error with respect to the true nature of the facts.

... This is an epistemological not an ontological limitation.


Criticism of 5 minor arguments in 'The Truth About Untruth | Postmodernism Exposed' (09 December 2017)

Although I appreciate the video and the general thesis (the importance of respecting natural law), I have 5 criticisms of points made within 'The Truth About Untruth | Postmodernism Exposed';

1. Nature being the dream of a deity is consistent with deism and is independent of mysticism/interventionism.
2. An awe of nature is independent of mysticism/interventionism.
3. Faith is not the rejection of evidence, it is simply a commitment to a response following a probability assessment based on data with no certain answer. For example, a lady walking on the beach of a deserted island picks up a beautiful gem stone. Perhaps they conducted a probability assessment in which there was a 70% chance it could have been artificially produced, and they therefore believed this to be the case. Perhaps they conducted a probability assessment in which there was only a 10% chance it could have been artificially produced. Here they might still respect the possibility of there being an artificial creator of the gem stone. They might even act with faith by not claiming it as their own. Likewise, we have faith in the existence of other minds (it is a deduction based on a number of assumptions; a) I think therefore I am, b) the association of mind with matter, c) human beings being materially alike).
4. Animism is not insanity, it is the default philosophy of a human being (child). Take a walk in an unknown forest at night for example, or stay in the wilderness over a windy night. We have a natural tendency to anthropomorphise (perceive agency). Likewise, there is no obvious reason why some objects (arbitrary subsets of energy in the universe) should have internal awareness associated with them and others should not. According to materialism, the universe would function perfectly fine without it. Hence the philosophical reconsideration of panpsychism.
5. Reason cannot be derived from consistencies in nature, because reason must be assumed true in order to analyse these consistencies.


Pornography and the First Amendment (17 April 2017)

The First Amendment reads:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

1. On what basis does the first amendment (freedom of speech) apply to pornography? Is their message that ineffable? The first amendment makes no reference to general expression (for example art); it only references religion, speech, the press, peaceful assembly, and petitions to government.

2. What would the writers of the amendment have to say? (At best their intentions had been exploited by lawyers; at worst hijacked by the unprincipled).

3. If a message cannot be put into words does it really exist (or is it really worth protecting under a constitution)?

4. Not all of what has been purported as capitalism is the free market at all, it is dehumanisation. To intentionally misrepresent a human being in the name of capitalism is no better than doing so in the name of nationalism, or communism.

5. If people stood up for this truth then they wouldn't risk being seen as hypocrites. Socialists would have no moral ground to stand on.

6. Civilisation is built on clothing: where prostitution (virtual or otherwise) becomes normalised, there is no future for liberty.

These are my arguments - feel free to counter.

... I am suggesting that there is no reason the US constitution should be subverted to protect pornography. Here is some clarification of the arguments;

1. I completely reject the possibility of historical interpretation of a constitution (apart from the time in which it was created), and I think it is more than slightly concerning that so many qualifications have occurred since 1900 ( Why should precedent have any place in constitutional interpretation? The point of precedent is to allow evolution of law and constitutions are precisely designed to prevent evolution of their law. If any changes are to be made, amendments should be proposed.

The constitution should be interpreted literally, and if this means having to accept the reality that a population which will crush each other to death in the race to escape an imaginary fire is not worth saving (or must otherwise put some effort into finding someone guilty for murder for knowingly risking the lives of a group of people for no explicable reason - without any reference to free speech), then we should deal with it. Is the right to salute or burn the American flag worth changing (reinterpreting) the constitution over?

Taking a constitution as up for interpretation might have all the good intention in the world behind it, but it is exceedingly dangerous.

2. What would the writers of the first amendment think now that it is being used to protect dehumanisation under the guise of artistic value; and that under the guise of speech?

The writers were not infallible, but it is equally worth noting that any changes we make (reinterpretations we assert) are equally infallible. Thus I am rejecting one such reinterpretation (and all others in the name of risk management and proper procedure) while specifying my reasons for the rejection. The only grounds for not paying attention to our modifications appears to be a blind progressivism. A more cautious approach may have stopped any such fallacies from arising to begin with.

3. The pinnacle case is Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938); extending "the press" to "every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion". The fundamental limitation is that not all publications which afford a vehicle of information and opinion exclusively afford information and opinion.

Roth vs United States (1957) and Miller vs California (1973) were introduced to prevent this new freedom from implicitly extending to "obscene" publications, but it was unsurprisingly impossible to objectively define "obscenity". Instead of upholding the constitution (by only deeming it relevant to the publication of information/opinions), they extended it to all forms of media with some arbitrary (completely relative) qualifier regarding artistic or social value.

Again, there is a difference between creating amendments (eg the abolition of slavery - 13), or extending the specific voting base and changing (reinterpreting) the constitution.

Going from freedom of speech to freedom of artistic expression might sound great until one recalls that individuals have quite enjoyed the artistry of experimenting on human subjects. And their subjects might have even enjoyed some of those experiments. Playing with such generalisations is a Pandora's box.

Moreover, it invites the state to make endless qualifications in a growing pantheon of restrictions; which will eventually contradict each other as is occurring now.

4. Most people who support the practice of paying monkeys to dress up for sexual gratification do so in the name of the free market/capitalism (assuming they haven't been arrested by an animal rights group). But dehumanisation is the same no matter which system of economics one adheres to.

There is nothing good or moral achieved by upholding a right to the publication of such non-information, and confounding constitutional rights with a right to precipitate dehumanisation (rather than the right to discuss dehumanisation) damages the reputation and subverts the intentions of the constitution.

5. Socialists with any moral fortitude detest modern day "capitalism" on grounds of sexual commodification, and l suggest that removing such commodification eliminates any moral basis to socialism.

6. I am specifically referring to the normalisation of prostitution (virtual or otherwise). Prostitution may have existed in a large number of societies but in any of these where it became normalised (the norm) they had not liberty or a future; certainly not a future for liberty.

'The #MeToo Backlash' (06 February 2018)

There is no reason to assume that males should be treated the same as females. Ignorance regarding difference of nature is probably the cause of the "me too" movement. Even the predatory/dehumanising conclusions are a failure to appreciate the motivations of the affective complement (and thus respect their intellect). A sex is primarily responsible for the opposite sex - this is the contention of a rational organic being. And this responsibility is the only reason sex identity (gender) exists. Gender divorced from responsibility is disordered.

There is nothing wrong with males being gynocentric as defined (the protection of women and children). In fact, it is the duty of males to be gynocentric. Females by their nature are correspondingly androcentric - why the time spent discussing persons? It is not just a desire to compete; it is a desire to care for others including the integrity of themselves and their prospective partner. Likewise, why is self-objectification so prominent? It is not just 1st order mimesis (the imitation of another's apparent desire as inferred through the collective experience of the advertisement); it is a desire to please (2nd order mimesis; the desire to fulfil another's desire). The fact this imitation may occur with respect to a plastic ideal generated by immoral characters is irrelevant.

As for the ostensible exploitation; it is difficult for a person to remain convinced that they are the centre piece of attention when they are just one in an endless wave of objects. And an attraction to resources gained through competition does nothing to validate a person's motivation in offering the resources.

It is ironic that true equality can only be maintained by respecting differences, and that fake equality (tyrannical equity) is the inevitable consequence of underestimating our evolutionary nature. For this reason I would consider "men's rights" just as deluded as an unnatural (technologically uninformed) feminism. It is a far cry to assert moral progress with next generation pornography addiction rates approaching 80%. That is a hell of a lot of prostitution required for a gender fantasy.

Regarding due process, the general conclusion of caution is sound. The motivation for a female to shift blame in the context of a prior relationship is a lot higher than for a male because a reputation of fidelity more greatly affects their prospective reproductive fitness. In the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, a male's decision to share resources was strongly affected by the trustworthiness of the partner because they could never be certain of their relation to the offspring, but a female's decision to share (reproductive) resources was less strongly affected by the trustworthiness of the partner because they could always be certain of their relation to the offspring and the male was prototypically polygamous.

But we must be considerate of the fact antisocial behaviour is (both physically and evolutionarily) dangerous for females, and so can only be enacted in a group. So this provides us with a unique opportunity to be informed of a general problem which would otherwise be more difficult to express. I can't but help think there might have been better, faster, and therefore less damaging ways for this lesson to be learnt, but now that it is finally been spoken it should not be suppressed.


The Nature of Human Intelligence - Sternberg, 2018 (13 January 2018)

Here is a good counter argument to the effect of 50k years of divergent evolution on observed racial differences;
Flynn, J. (2018). Intelligence, Society, and Human Autonomy. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), The Nature of Human Intelligence (pp. 101-115). Cambridge University Press.

The central argument provided here for a substantial independence of measured general intelligence (IQ) from genetics is the Flynn effect. There are also anecdotes/examples provided of children being raised with european parents, and how this reduces intelligence differences typically observed across race.

Another important evidence is that intelligence/IQ genetic contribution measurements are different in low socioeconomic environments; (with these differences being observed across racial groups also;

Copying here my analysis provided;

Note (7:30) it is important to distinguish superiority from intelligence. The claim that high intelligence implies superiority is philosophical not scientific. Intelligence is just one trait that nature selects for depending on the environment.

General intelligence as measured by IQ has high heritability (it is typically measured to be approximately 70% genetic, increasing with age). Measurements of trait heritability differ however depending on the environment in which they are measured, for example in low socioeconomic environments the relative genetic contribution to intelligence differences is much lower; being almost entirely dependent on the opportunity to access education/resources. A significant component of general intelligence as measured by IQ is environmental/cultural (the Flynn effect suggests that average intelligence has been increasing over the last century). The question of whether average differences in IQ (reflective of actual general intelligence) across racial groups are genetic is presently unestablished. The reason being that it is difficult to partial out environment differences (for example differential treatment by parents/peers based on the race of the subject and/or the culture of the group). Once the genetics of intelligence differences has been mapped at a molecular level (DNA) it will be possible to answer.

... Twin studies are used to estimate genetic/environmental contribution to traits, and I am familiar with their strengths and limitations. Do you have a question regarding them?

Like all statistical tests, they are only valid under the assumptions of the model being tested. Copying here a summary of the prototypical method for reference;

Genetic determination/contribution of a trait in twin studies is measured relative to that of the environment (e.g. society/home/etc). Twin studies consist of both identical (monozygotic) and non-identical (dizygotic) twins.

In a simple ("ACE") model, the correlation (r) of a measured trait between two persons (their phenotype) is subject to the similarity of their genotype (how much genetic material they share), along with;

A) the heritability of the trait,
C) their common/shared environment, and;
E) their unique environment

A high correlation (r) of a trait means that both persons either exhibit it or do not exhibit it, and a low correlation means that it is completely random as to whether they both exhibit it. The unique environment (E) has the potential to significantly affect the correlation of the trait between the persons. The shared environment (C) does not have the ability to significantly affect the correlation between the persons. The heritability of any trait will vary on its own accord (some traits are completely determined by the environment while others are almost completely hard coded, e.g. eye colour), but the capacity of the heritability (A) of the trait to affect the correlation will depend on how much genetic material is shared between the persons (e.g are they identical twins, fraternal twins, siblings, cousins, etc). The total contribution of all components to the correlation will (by definition) never vary, and so in this model A, C, and E can be set to equal 1 (ie, A + C + E = 1).

It might now be worth imagining some specific trait, say extraversion.

1. The correlation (r_MZ) of the trait between monozygotic (MZ) twins in a family is adversely affected by E) only, their unique environment. This is the case because their genetic material is identical, and they are assumed to share a common environment (home). Note this is mathematically equivalent to saying that the correlation is wholly determined by A) the heritability of the trait and C) their common environment, as E = 1 - (A + C). Therefore, we set r_MZ = A + C.
2. The correlation of the trait between dizygotic (DZ) twins is similarly determined by A) the heritability of the trait and C) their common environment, but they only share 50% of their twin's genetic material, and as such we set r_DZ = 1/2xA + C.

We can now solve for A, E and C. Assume a study has been conducted on a large sample of twins and both r_MZ and r_DZ have been measured.

i) r_MZ = A + C. (1.)
C = r_MZ - A

r_DZ = 1/2xA + C (2.)
C = r_DZ - 1/2xA

Substitute 1. rearranged into 2. rearranged;
r_MZ - A = r_DZ - 1/2xA
r_MZ - r_DZ - A = - 1/2xA
r_MZ - r_DZ = 1/2xA
2x(r_MZ - r_DZ) = A
A = 2x(r_MZ - r_DZ)

ii). r_MZ = A + C (1.)
r_MZ = 1 - E
E = 1 - r_MZ

iii) A + C + E = 1
C = 1 - A - E
Substitute in ii);
C = 1 - A - (1 - r_MZ)
C = - A + r_MZ

The total genetic component (heritability) of the trait is A. In the case of extraversion, this is commonly measured to be approximately 0.5 (50%).

When interpreting heritability estimates from twin studies an important factor one needs to consider is the gene-environment (GxE) interaction effect. The realisation of a genetic predisposition in one's phenotype is subject to their environment. For example, heritability (genetic component) estimates of IQ are usually quite high (e.g. 0.8), but in low socioeconomic environments they can become negligible.

In the case of non-separated (at birth) twin studies there is serious confound potential, because visually and/or behaviourally (note appearances are strongly genetically determined, and personality is ~50% genetic) similar identical twins may be treated more similarly by their parents (shared environment) than visually/behaviourally discrepant non-identical twins. This is particularly pertinent for traits which have a low base (incidence) rate, because it is really difficult to obtain high enough sample sizes of separated twins who demonstrate such traits. This is not the case for intelligence however.

Twin studies also can't rule out a prenatal hormonal (not necessarily genetic) effect. 75% of monozygotic (identical) twins share the same placenta, but ~0% (sometimes fused) of dizygotic (non-identical/fraternal) twins share the same placenta. This means that their shared in utero chemical exposure will differ depending on whether they are monozygotic or dizygotic.

Again, it is important to note that even in the case where a genetic component of a trait has been identified (established), it doesn't necessarily mean that the trait (its propensity or existence) will be determined by the individual's genetics in every environment. This is because of gene-environment interaction (not to be confused with exclusive environmental effects which affect every individual of a species the same regardless of their genome). Some traits, despite being demonstrably genetically determined, will in many environments be largely (or even exclusively) determined by that environment - for example due to the presence of an environmental catalyst. To use a biological analogy; a DNA readout promoter/blocker. In reality this might be something more like education. Therefore, the absolute genetic component determination calculations (ie x%) are only meaningful for the environment of the population being studied. It might be that there exist (existed) cultures which are so different than ours (that in which the genetics of the trait is being studied) that the trait would never arise, always arise, or be entirely dependent on an environmental factor which is taken for granted as "normal" in our culture - i.e. be measured as 0% genetically determined in their own culture.


Russia narrative propaganda as a threat to national security (~01 July 2017)

I think there is a strong case to be made that any entity which plays games with the relations between two hydrogen powers should be held responsible.

A nation only has claim to land taken on moral grounds to the extent that it remains moral (27 January 2018)

A nation only has claim to land taken on moral grounds to the extent that it remains moral -

This principle appears to limit the evolution of a society (and explains modern policy).


Islam and the number of viable interpretations of the world (30 March 2018)

Surah 1 Surah 2 Surah 3 Surah 4 Surah 5 Surah 6 Surah 7 Surah 8 Surah 9 Surah 10
Surah 11 Surah 12 Surah 13 Surah 14 Surah 15 Surah 16 Surah 17 Surah 18 Surah 19 Surah 20
Surah 21 Surah 22 Surah 23 Surah 24 Surah 25 Surah 26 Surah 27 Surah 28 Surah 29 Surah 30
Surah 31 Surah 32 Surah 33 Surah 34 Surah 35 Surah 36 Surah 37 Surah 38 Surah 39 Surah 40
Surah 41 Surah 42 Surah 43 Surah 44 Surah 45 Surah 46 Surah 47 Surah 48 Surah 49 Surah 50
Surah 51 Surah 52 Surah 53 Surah 54 Surah 55 Surah 56 Surah 57 Surah 58 Surah 59 Surah 60
Surah 61 Surah 62 Surah 63 Surah 64 Surah 65 Surah 66 Surah 67 Surah 68 Surah 69 Surah 70
Surah 71 Surah 72 Surah 73 Surah 74 Surah 75 Surah 76 Surah 77 Surah 78 Surah 79 Surah 80
Surah 81 Surah 82 Surah 83 Surah 84 Surah 85 Surah 86 Surah 87 Surah 88 Surah 89 Surah 90
Surah 91 Surah 92 Surah 93 Surah 94 Surah 95 Surah 96 Surah 97 Surah 98 Surah 99 Surah 100
Surah 101 Surah 102 Surah 103 Surah 104 Surah 105 Surah 106 Surah 107 Surah 108 Surah 109 Surah 110
Surah 111 Surah 112 Surah 113 Surah 114

WarSource: "Meditation II: Qur'an Notes Relevant to 3/3/06 Attack May 2, 2006" (page 3 of 3) by Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar
Section 1a
2:193And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.
8:39And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.
8:73The Unbelievers are protectors, one of another: Unless ye do this, (protect each other), there would be tumult and oppression on earth, and great mischief.
85:10Those who persecute (or draw into temptation) the Believers, men and women, and do not turn in repentance, will have the Penalty of Hell: They will have the Penalty of the Burning Fire.
Section 1b
9:14-15Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you (to victory) over them, heal the breasts of Believers. And still the indignation of their hearts. For Allah will turn (in mercy) to whom He will; and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
Section 1c
8:17It is not ye who slew them; it was Allah: when thou threwest (a handful of dust), it was not thy act, but Allah's: in order that He might test the Believers by a gracious trial from Himself: for Allah is He Who heareth and knoweth (all things).
Section 1d
9:13Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? Do ye fear them? Nay, it is Allah Whom ye should more justly fear, if ye believe!
Section 1e
2:251By Allah's will they routed them; and David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever (else) He willed. And did not Allah Check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief: But Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds.
Section 1f
2:154And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "They are dead." Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not.
9:19Do ye make the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque, equal to (the pious service of) those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive with might and main in the cause of Allah? They are not comparable in the sight of Allah: and Allah guides not those who do wrong.
9:111Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur'an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.
9:120It was not fitting for the people of Medina and the Bedouin Arabs of the neighbourhood, to refuse to follow Allah's Messenger, nor to prefer their own lives to his: because nothing could they suffer or do, but was reckoned to their credit as a deed of righteousness,- whether they suffered thirst, or fatigue, or hunger, in the cause of Allah, or trod paths to raise the ire of the Unbelievers, or received any injury whatever from an enemy: for Allah suffereth not the reward to be lost of those who do good;-
section 2
2:44And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with you, and be not the first to reject Faith therein, nor sell My Signs for a small price; and fear Me, and Me alone. And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is). And be steadfast in prayer; practise regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). Do ye enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (To practise it) yourselves, and yet ye study the Scripture? Will ye not understand? Nay, seek (Allah's) help with patient perseverance and prayer: It is indeed hard, except to those who bring a lowly spirit,-
8:72Those who believed, and adopted exile, and fought for the Faith, with their property and their persons, in the cause of Allah, as well as those who gave (them) asylum and aid,- these are (all) friends and protectors, one of another. As to those who believed but came not into exile, ye owe no duty of protection to them until they come into exile; but if they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to help them, except against a people with whom ye have a treaty of mutual alliance. And (remember) Allah seeth all that ye do.
9:38O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter.
33:36It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.
section 3
4:89They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks;-
9:12But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained.
section 4.1
2:178O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty.
5:45We ordained therein for them: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal." But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrong-doers.
42:39And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) help and defend themselves.
section 4.2
5:33The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
section 4.3
8:12Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."
47:4Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.
section 4.4
9:5But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
section 5
2:190-194Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.
2:216-218Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not. They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein. Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the path of Allah,- they have the hope of the Mercy of Allah: And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
2:243-245Didst thou not Turn by vision to those who abandoned their homes, though they were thousands (In number), for fear of death? Allah said to them: "Die": Then He restored them to life. For Allah is full of bounty to mankind, but Most of them are ungrateful. Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things. Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan, which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply many times? It is Allah that giveth (you) Want or plenty, and to Him shall be your return.
3:141-142Allah's object also is to purge those that are true in Faith and to deprive of blessing Those that resist Faith. Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?
3:156-158O ye who believe! Be not like the Unbelievers, who say of their brethren, when they are travelling through the Earth or engaged in fighting: "If they had stayed with us, they would not have died, or been slain." This that Allah may make it a cause of sighs and regrets in their hearts. It is Allah that gives Life and Death, and Allah sees well all that ye do. And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass. And if ye die, or are slain, Lo! it is unto Allah that ye are brought together.
3:167-175And the Hypocrites also. These were told: "Come, fight in the way of Allah, or (at least) drive (The foe from your city)." They said: "Had we known how to fight, we should certainly have followed you." They were that day nearer to Unbelief than to Faith, saying with their lips what was not in their hearts but Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal. (They are) the ones that say, (of their brethren slain), while they themselves sit (at ease): "If only they had listened to us they would not have been slain." Say: "Avert death from your own selves, if ye speak the truth." Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;
4:66If We had ordered them to sacrifice their lives or to leave their homes, very few of them would have done it: But if they had done what they were (actually) told, it would have been best for them, and would have gone farthest to strengthen their (faith);
4:74-78Then fight in Allah's cause - Thou art held responsible only for thyself - and rouse the believers. It may be that Allah will restrain the fury of the Unbelievers; for Allah is the strongest in might and in punishment.
4:95-96Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,-
4:104And slacken not in following up the enemy: If ye are suffering hardships, they are suffering similar hardships; but ye have Hope from Allah, while they have none. And Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.
5:54O ye who believe! if any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him,- lowly with the believers, mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault. That is the grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth. And Allah encompasseth all, and He knoweth all things.
6:162Say: "Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds:
8:12-16Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them." This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger: If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment. Thus (will it be said): "Taste ye then of the (punishment): for those who resist Allah, is the penalty of the Fire." If any do turn his back to them on such a day - unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!
8:38-40Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from Unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them). And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do. If they refuse, be sure that Allah is your Protector - the best to protect and the best to help.
8:57-62If ye gain the mastery over them in war, disperse, with them, those who follow them, that they may remember. If thou fearest treachery from any group, throw back (their covenant) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms: for Allah loveth not the treacherous. Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better (of the godly): they will never frustrate (them). Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things). Should they intend to deceive thee,- verily Allah sufficeth thee: He it is That hath strengthened thee with His aid and with (the company of) the Believers;
8:65-66O Prophet! rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding. For the present, Allah hath lightened your (task), for He knoweth that there is a weak spot in you: But (even so), if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred, and if a thousand, they will vanquish two thousand, with the leave of Allah: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.
8:72-75Those who believed, and adopted exile, and fought for the Faith, with their property and their persons, in the cause of Allah, as well as those who gave (them) asylum and aid,- these are (all) friends and protectors, one of another. As to those who believed but came not into exile, ye owe no duty of protection to them until they come into exile; but if they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to help them, except against a people with whom ye have a treaty of mutual alliance. And (remember) Allah seeth all that ye do. The Unbelievers are protectors, one of another: Unless ye do this, (protect each other), there would be tumult and oppression on earth, and great mischief. Those who believe, and adopt exile, and fight for the Faith, in the cause of Allah as well as those who give (them) asylum and aid,- these are (all) in very truth the Believers: for them is the forgiveness of sins and a provision most generous. And those who accept Faith subsequently, and adopt exile, and fight for the Faith in your company,- they are of you. But kindred by blood have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well-acquainted with all things.
9:12-14But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained. Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? Do ye fear them? Nay, it is Allah Whom ye should more justly fear, if ye believe! Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you (to victory) over them, heal the breasts of Believers,
9:19-21Do ye make the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque, equal to (the pious service of) those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive with might and main in the cause of Allah? They are not comparable in the sight of Allah: and Allah guides not those who do wrong. Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in Allah's cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: they are the people who will achieve (salvation). Their Lord doth give them glad tidings of a Mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure, and of gardens for them, wherein are delights that endure:
9:29Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
9:36The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)- so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein, and fight the Pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.
9:39Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things.
9:44-46Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask thee for no exemption from fighting with their goods and persons. And Allah knoweth well those who do their duty. Only those ask thee for exemption who believe not in Allah and the Last Day, and whose hearts are in doubt, so that they are tossed in their doubts to and fro. If they had intended to come out, they would certainly have made some preparation therefor; but Allah was averse to their being sent forth; so He made them lag behind, and they were told, "Sit ye among those who sit (inactive)."
9:52Say: "Can you expect for us (any fate) other than one of two glorious things- (Martyrdom or victory)? But we can expect for you either that Allah will send his punishment from Himself, or by our hands. So wait (expectant); we too will wait with you."
9:81Those who were left behind (in the Tabuk expedition) rejoiced in their inaction behind the back of the Messenger of Allah: they hated to strive and fight, with their goods and their persons, in the cause of Allah: they said, "Go not forth in the heat." Say, "The fire of Hell is fiercer in heat." If only they could understand!
9:36-38The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)- so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein, and fight the Pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves. Verily the transposing (of a prohibited month) is an addition to Unbelief: the Unbelievers are led to wrong thereby: for they make it lawful one year, and forbidden another year, in order to adjust the number of months forbidden by Allah and make such forbidden ones lawful. The evil of their course seems pleasing to them. But Allah guideth not those who reject Faith. O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter.
9:93-94The ground (of complaint) is against such as claim exemption while they are rich. They prefer to stay with the (women) who remain behind: Allah hath sealed their hearts; so they know not (What they miss). They will present their excuses to you when ye return to them. Say thou: "Present no excuses: we shall not believe you: Allah hath already informed us of the true state of matters concerning you: It is your actions that Allah and His Messenger will observe: in the end will ye be brought back to Him Who knoweth what is hidden and what is open: then will He show you the truth of all that ye did."
9:100The vanguard (of Islam)- the first of those who forsook (their homes) and of those who gave them aid, and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds,- well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him: for them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that is the supreme felicity.
9:123O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.
16:110But verily thy Lord,- to those who leave their homes after trials and persecutions,- and who thereafter strive and fight for the faith and patiently persevere,- Thy Lord, after all this is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
22:39-40To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid;- They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our Lord is Allah". Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).
22:58Those who leave their homes in the cause of Allah, and are then slain or die,- On them will Allah bestow verily a goodly Provision: Truly Allah is He Who bestows the best provision.
25:68Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; - and any that does this (not only) meets punishment.
26:227Except those who believe, work righteousness, engage much in the remembrance of Allah, and defend themselves only after they are unjustly attacked. And soon will the unjust assailants know what vicissitudes their affairs will take!
33:25And Allah turned back the Unbelievers for (all) their fury: no advantage did they gain; and enough is Allah for the believers in their fight. And Allah is full of Strength, able to enforce His Will.
33:60-62Truly, if the Hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who stir up sedition in the City, desist not, We shall certainly stir thee up against them: Then will they not be able to stay in it as thy neighbours for any length of time: They shall have a curse on them: whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain (without mercy).
47:20-21Those who believe say, "Why is not a sura sent down (for us)?" But when a sura of basic or categorical meaning is revealed, and fighting is mentioned therein, thou wilt see those in whose hearts is a disease looking at thee with a look of one in swoon at the approach of death. But more fitting for them- Were it to obey and say what is just, and when a matter is resolved on, it were best for them if they were true to Allah.
47:35Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds.
48:16-22Say to the desert Arabs who lagged behind: "Ye shall be summoned (to fight) against a people given to vehement war: then shall ye fight, or they shall submit. Then if ye show obedience, Allah will grant you a goodly reward, but if ye turn back as ye did before, He will punish you with a grievous Penalty." No blame is there on the blind, nor is there blame on the lame, nor on one ill (if he joins not the war): But he that obeys Allah and his Messenger,- (Allah) will admit him to Gardens beneath which rivers flow; and he who turns back, (Allah) will punish him with a grievous Penalty. Allah's Good Pleasure was on the Believers when they swore Fealty to thee under the Tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down Tranquillity to them; and He rewarded them with a speedy Victory; And many gains will they acquire (besides): and Allah is Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom. Allah has promised you many gains that ye shall acquire, and He has given you these beforehand; and He has restrained the hands of men from you; that it may be a Sign for the Believers, and that He may guide you to a Straight Path; And other gains (there are), which are not within your power, but which Allah has compassed: and Allah has power over all things. If the Unbelievers should fight you, they would certainly turn their backs; then would they find neither protector nor helper.
48:29Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat; and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward.
49:9-10If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just). The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy.
49:15Only those are Believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the Cause of Allah: Such are the sincere ones.
57:10-11And what cause have ye why ye should not spend in the cause of Allah?- For to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. Not equal among you are those who spent (freely) and fought, before the Victory, (with those who did so later). Those are higher in rank than those who spent (freely) and fought afterwards. But to all has Allah promised a goodly (reward). And Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do. Who is he that will Loan to Allah a beautiful loan? for (Allah) will increase it manifold to his credit, and he will have (besides) a liberal Reward.
59:13-14Of a truth ye are stronger (than they) because of the terror in their hearts, (sent) by Allah. This is because they are men devoid of understanding. They will not fight you (even) together, except in fortified townships, or from behind walls. Strong is their fighting (spirit) amongst themselves: thou wouldst think they were united, but their hearts are divided: that is because they are a people devoid of wisdom.
61:4Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.
61:11-12That ye believe in Allah and His Messenger, and that ye strive (your utmost) in the Cause of Allah, with your property and your persons: That will be best for you, if ye but knew! He will forgive you your sins, and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, and to beautiful mansions in Gardens of Eternity: that is indeed the Supreme Achievement.
73:20Thy Lord doth know that thou standest forth (to prayer) nigh two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and so doth a party of those with thee. But Allah doth appoint night and day in due measure He knoweth that ye are unable to keep count thereof. So He hath turned to you (in mercy): read ye, therefore, of the Qur'an as much as may be easy for you. He knoweth that there may be (some) among you in ill-health; others travelling through the land, seeking of Allah's bounty; yet others fighting in Allah's Cause, read ye, therefore, as much of the Qur'an as may be easy (for you); and establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan. And whatever good ye send forth for your souls ye shall find it in Allah's Presence,- yea, better and greater, in Reward and seek ye the Grace of Allah: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Muhammad's rights
33.28-33.34O Prophet! Say to thy Consorts: "If it be that ye desire the life of this World, and its glitter,- then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if ye seek Allah and His Messenger, and the Home of the Hereafter, verily Allah has prepared for the well-doers amongst you a great reward. O Consorts of the Prophet! If any of you were guilty of evident unseemly conduct, the Punishment would be doubled to her, and that is easy for Allah. But any of you that is devout in the service of Allah and His Messenger, and works righteousness,- to her shall We grant her reward twice: and We have prepared for her a generous Sustenance. O Consorts of the Prophet! Ye are not like any of the (other) women: if ye do fear (Allah), be not too complacent of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech (that is) just. And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless. And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes, of the Signs of Allah and His Wisdom: for Allah understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted (with them).
33:50O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
49:2O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not.
50:45We know best what they say; and thou art not one to overawe them by force. So admonish with the Qur'an such as fear My Warning!
58:1Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah: and Allah (always) hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things).
66.3-5When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it (to another), and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said, "Who told thee this? "He said, "He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted (with all things)." If ye two turn in repentance to Him, your hearts are indeed so inclined; But if ye back up each other against him, truly Allah is his Protector, and Gabriel, and (every) righteous one among those who believe,- and furthermore, the angels - will back (him) up. It may be, if he divorced you (all), that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you,- who submit (their wills), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for Faith) and fast,- previously married or virgins.
37:43-49In Gardens of Felicity, Facing each other on Thrones (of Dignity): Round will be passed to them a Cup from a clear-flowing fountain, Crystal-white, of a taste delicious to those who drink (thereof), Free from headiness; nor will they suffer intoxication therefrom. And besides them will be chaste women, restraining their glances, with big eyes (of wonder and beauty). As if they were (delicate) eggs closely guarded.
38:52 And beside them will be chaste women restraining their glances, (companions) of equal age.
44:54 So; and We shall join them to fair women with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes.
52:20(They shall be) reclining on couches ranged in rows and We shall wed them to houris (virgins of Paradise) with large wide eyes.
55:56-58In them will be (Maidens), chaste, restraining their glances, whom no man or Jinn before them has touched;-
55:72-74Companions restrained (as to their glances), in (goodly) pavilions;-
78:33And voluptuous women of equal age;
Intended interpretation of the Quran
2:106None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God hath power over all things?
16:101When we substitute one revelation for another, - and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages), - they say, Thou art but a forger. But most of them know not.

... I have created recordings of the relevant sections here;

The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura 9:1-62 (part A)
The Quran - Sura 9:63-121 (part B)
The Quran - Sura 9:122-129 (part C)
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura
The Quran - Sura

Freedom of Speech

Terrorism as defined by the threat to free speech (25 April 2018)

... Any entity (be it not for national security) that prevents freedom of speech is a terrorist organisation.

Freedom of speech (31 March 2018)

1. Systems that require suppression of free speech are unstable.

2. The suppression of free speech is the hallmark of incompetence.

3. The only people who suppress speech have something to hide.

4. People who are not mature enough to listen to contrary opinions are not mature enough to participate in a democracy.

"Hate speech" is quite possibly the lowest GI concept ever invented. If someone's conclusion from 20th century totalitarianism is that they have to suppress speech, then they have missed the point entirely. If a person has a problem with something said then they should say something about it. This natural correction mechanism only becomes ineffective when one's ability to speak out is suppressed. We have seen this occur too many times in history.


'The Strangest Abortion Related Story That You've Ever Heard' (24 May 2018)

Pregnancy decimates a female's sexual market value, which is why in a sexually immoral but democratic society both killing yet born babies and forced resource transfer has become a legal right for women. The traditional solution is enforced monogamy, otherwise known as marriage, which is less evident now that the institution has become a toy. The concept may be difficult for persons who are sexually addicted or have only ever seen such addiction in the opposite sex. Accordingly, societies that exploit male/female unconditioned response to sexual stimuli are unstable; clothing for instance is a civilisation universal, as are precepts against the normalisation of prostitution/promiscuity.

Copyright © 2017-2018, Richard Baxter