Well yes, that was a barrage of words,
particularly of the high-flown variety, but I suppose I started it
In any case, it does seem that we are
having trouble understanding one another at this juncture. Perhaps
that stems largely from the unworkability of words of any kind to
deal with certain ineffable realms of experience, or it could be that
the nature of what we have been calling psychopathy--("there is
a world of emotional experience that I apparently do not and have
never had access to")--includes a tendency, not just not to have
access, but to discount and deprecate the
feeling/emotional realms of experience, which is where I say the
By the way, it is not just that I
say it, which is why I quoted two of the most preeminent scientists
of the twentieth century who were at pains to point out the
limitations of their life's work. In their view, and in mine, there
are realms of experience which are simply invisible to scientific
inquiry. This is not because the scientific method is faulty or not a
good tool. It is a wonderful tool--the best we have for
understanding the physical realities of our world, and, as you point
out, for debunking poppycock and some kinds of self--delusion. But the
scientific method, as Plank and Eddington both said quite explicitly,
does have its shortcomings. I think you know that logically,
but because you do not feel it, you struggle to accept it, and
then have become—in my opinion--embroiled in a classic logical
error in attempting to refute it.
When I say "logical error," I
mean what is usually called a "category mistake" in which
things which really belong on separate levels of being are treated as
if they belonged on the same level. To take your example: ones enjoyment of chocolate cake takes place on two
separate levels which cannot be compared in any meaningful way. The
first has to do with, for example, how chocolate stimulates certain
receptors in the brain. That is science. But enjoyment is an
emotional experience which cannot be elucidated by reference to brain
chemistry alone. You may argue that all of this takes place within
the brain, but, even if that is true, that does not explain
anything about what enjoyment feels like, or what it means
to the person who is doing the enjoying.
Science can say everything about the
ingredients and the taste buds (and can even create a faux-chocolate
cake which might fool the taste buds), and science can map the
parts of the brain which are stimulated when you eat cake, but the
taste of the cake is an internal experience which is both
indescribable and inexplicable.
Here is the crux, Daniel: You wrote,
"Why should love, or any other aspect of our subjective
experience, be an ontological mystery? It could be. But it could also
be true that an emotion is just that and nothing more." Yes,
logically quite right. However, when you say "nothing more,"
you are belittling just that category of experience that to many
people is what gives all the flavor to
life. You said, "I can enjoy the experience of the cake
while also knowing a bit about its ingredients and how the taste buds
work." Yes, of course. But knowing about taste buds has nothing
to do with tasting a cake or comprehending what cake tastes
like. That is the category error. Knowing, logically or
intellectually, is one thing, and tasting is another entirely.
The two are not related on any logical level whatsoever.
I never tried to say that feeling an
emotion proves anything factual, except,
of course, that one has felt something. What I am saying is
that for the majority of humans love and all of the pain and joy
involved in that realm of experience is real--real on the
level of felt awareness, just as eating a cake provides
a kind of pleasure and awareness that reading the menu or learning
about taste buds does not provide and never could.
I (along with Einstein, Eddington,
Plank, and millions of other intelligent people) say that love is
real and mysterious not because anyone can prove logically that love
exists prior to thought or outside the brain (although it might, and
might be, as some think, the entire energetic basis for everything
that we see as "the world"), but because the experience we
call "loving" exists and perdures throughout the
generations, even if some people--yourself, Rupert Everett in
Separate Lies," and Deigo, who started this thread, for example--cannot feel it, and might even, as Diego explicitly stated, imagine loving to be a kind of delusion or perhaps a
weakness born of guilt which can be used a a lever to get what one wants.
I do understand, Daniel, that you are self-admittedly
"colorblind" in the love department, and so perhaps I am asking too much when I suggest that you try to
see beyond the reductionistic logical approach. I call it "reductionistic", by the way, because via the category error you seem to have reduced the feeling/emotional levels of experience to a domain which you imagine can be accessed by means of logic, and so "understood" and known. In my view, experience on those levels must be felt to be known at all, and never will be, as Eddington said, fully "understood"). If you could see beyond pure logic, you might be able to see that love exists beyond a doubt on the feeling level (which makes
it important and real). If that won't work for you--and I suspect it won't--then remain open and defenseless on the logical level, and ask yourself this:
How is it that countless
bright and accomplished people are willing to act, like James in the
movie, in ways that seem clearly against self-interest?
Using Ockham's Razor: which is more likely:
1. All those countless individuals are simply deluded,
guilt-ridden, masochistic, or involved in some kind of mass
2. Daniel has a kind of color blindness and wishes to
compensate for it by arguing logically that seeing the full spectrum doesn't
mean anything much anyway?
I don't know if any of this matters very much to
you at all, or if it does matter, I don't know in what way this kind of discussion might be important or valuable to you. Perhaps you are one of those who suspect that they are missing something in life and hope that discussing that missing something with someone like me might open doors--at least ethical ones. For all I know, you may even see our conversation as a form of amusement, or a competition: let's see if I can outwit the doc. For my part, I appreciate the opportunity to interact with a different kind of mind, and perhaps to influence that mind in ethical directions based on our shared humanity regardless of our particular different strengths and limitations.