Are beauty, truth and goodness transcendentals?

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An interesting new article by Ann Gauger. Are beauty, truth and goodness immaterial transcendentals or merely traits evolved for maximum individual and group fitness? Naturally, materialists and cynical skeptics of all types scoff at even posing this issue. One thing at the least is at stake in this question - these qualities of life are what make life worth living, at least to a large minority of humans. A belief that they are entirely subjective and ultimately meaningless leads to alienation and other problems. 

Quote:"Truth, beauty, and goodness are abstract concepts that nonetheless correspond to our deepest desires. They are not likely to have evolved by a neo-Darwinian process. Rather, from neo-Darwinism I would expect an absence of beauty or a denial of it — an inability to appreciate it. The same for truth. What about goodness? If selflessness and generosity are taken as signs of goodness, should we expect goodness from the natural world?"

I don't think so.

The evolutionary issue: if we evolved our appreciation for goodness, truth, and beauty, and these qualities are purely subjective and neurologically based, then evolutionary psychology research should surely have discovered the particular mechanisms involved. It turns out no such thing has happened.  For instance once popular hypotheses have been abandoned, like the one to explain altruism (at least when directed to close kin), where by sacrificing oneself for one’s close kin, a person could ensure the survival of the genes he shared with his kinsfolk (so it's the "selfish gene" again trying to ensure its survival and spread itself). Evo-psych hypotheses are supported mainly by the usual Darwinian religious faith.

Quote:"What’s the problem with these arguments? First of all, they assume (1) that the usefulness of the transcendentals is tied to a gene or genes; (2) that there is some sort of survival value or reproductive value to recognizing transcendentals or acting on perceptions of them; and (3) that there is at least enough survival or reproductive benefit to get this ability preferentially passed on to succeeding generations. More fundamentally, they assume that truth, beauty and goodness are not things in themselves, but are merely signals that allow us to make good evolutionary choices. Taking these assumptions into account, I would like to see someone set a rigorous number for the additional survival value of a group due to its members’ ability to recognize truth, beauty, or goodness, and then get it past the population genetics lottery. 
 
Scientific materialism is no match for beauty, truth, or goodness. These immaterial transcendentals give meaning to our lives."

Of course, this issue ultimately is closely linked to the issue of the evidence for personal survival of physical death. If that is the case, what is it that survives and what are its essential qualities? Do they include the transcendentals Gauger discusses? She doesn't go into that.
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I recall Penrose making mention of the idea that Orch-OR lets us access not only the Mathematical aspect of reality, but that this Platonic realm/layer might also hold aesthetic and moral value as well.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2019-01-06, 12:40 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I recall Penrose making mention of the idea that Orch-OR lets us access not only the Mathematical aspect of reality, but that this Platonic realm/layer might also hold aesthetic and moral value as well.

I can't say that I understand this idea. 

Aesthetics and morals are just what you say: values. Is the idea that values exist independently of the mind of those who hold such values? If so, are they fixed and measurable or are they perhaps attractors (tendencies, maybe)?
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
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(2019-01-06, 10:48 AM)Kamarling Wrote: I can't say that I understand this idea. 

Aesthetics and morals are just what you say: values. Is the idea that values exist independently of the mind of those who hold such values? If so, are they fixed and measurable or are they perhaps attractors (tendencies, maybe)?

The aesthetics one for me would be a challenge, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.

The moral one I have less a problem of, though not really as a set of rules. I remember discussing this with a friend and he & I mused that perhaps a true love of others is the "objective" morality. So not any top-down Scripture but the expression of genuine love of others as beings with goals/rights/freedoms.

The writer Attanasio had an idea like this, that Justice is Truth but truths changes with times and peoples but Mercy is Love and thus true for all people in all times.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2019-01-06, 11:31 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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Strange. "Truth and Beauty" are the words I use to describe my outlook. And my perspective is dramatically different than this author's. Oh wait, I just looked at the source. Now I see why.

Beauty seems to be less subjective than we think.

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/a...retty-face
https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.uore...z0nj7i.pdf

Linda
(2019-01-06, 02:25 PM)fls Wrote: Strange. "Truth and Beauty" are the words I use to describe my outlook. And my perspective is dramatically different than this author's. Oh wait, I just looked at the source. Now I see why.

Beauty seems to be less subjective than we think.

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/a...retty-face
https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.uore...z0nj7i.pdf

Linda
Care to explain what is wrong with the source? Also, those links don't really prove beauty is subjective. Denzel Washington has one of the most symmetrical faces according to science, but I know people who don't find him attractive and some who fawn over him. I’m not saying symmetry isn’t important, but ultimately, personal preference is largely at role, especially when you consider a cultures standard of beauty.
“And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.”

 

(2019-01-06, 05:23 PM)TheRaven Wrote: Denzel Washington has one of the most symmetrical faces according to science, but I know people who don't find him attractive and some who fawn over him. I’m not saying symmetry isn’t important, but ultimately, personal preference is largely at role, especially when you consider a cultures standard of beauty.
I don't know if people have this experience too: I can recognize a person as "beautiful", but her beauty won't move me, whereas another one's will. It's complex.
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(2019-01-06, 05:43 PM)Ninshub Wrote: I don't know if people have this experience too: I can recognize a person as "beautiful", but her beauty won't move me, whereas another one's will. It's complex.

This is called physical attraction. As an asexual, I find many people physically attracted, but I am not sexually attracted to them.
“And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.”

 

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(2019-01-06, 08:37 PM)TheRaven Wrote: This is called physical attraction. As an asexual, I find many people physically attracted, but I am not sexually attracted to them.
Perhaps. But in my own experience, I think was referring maybe to something that may be called romantic attraction, but even that is perhaps too specific (because I could perhaps extrapolate to aesthetic feelings towards landscapes for example - I may find two "beautiful", but one evoking emotion, the other not). Because I was thinking of something that is different from sexual attraction. I may experience finding one person beautiful but not movingly so, another movingly so but without sexual feelings being evoked, and a third evoking sexual feelings but not necessarily finding them beautiful, in either a moving or non-moving way. So another layer of complexity!
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(2019-01-06, 05:23 PM)TheRaven Wrote: Care to explain what is wrong with the source?

I don't believe I said there was something wrong with the source.

Quote:Also, those links don't really prove beauty is subjective. Denzel Washington has one of the most symmetrical faces according to science, but I know people who don't find him attractive and some who fawn over him. I’m not saying symmetry isn’t important, but ultimately, personal preference is largely at role, especially when you consider a cultures standard of beauty.

The article states that it's not just symmetry, but faces which are an average of those in the population, which are found to be more beautiful. While Denzel Washington may have a symmetrical face, it does not seem to be average.

Linda
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