Skip to main content
Log In | Register

TR Memescape


Topic: Weaving the rainbow  (Read 535 times) previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
  • 8,708

  • 1379

Weaving the rainbow
I dunno if anyone here has ever read unweaving the rainbow by dick Dawkins but this past week's meteor shower has drastically affected my view on the topic. Basically, Dawkins says that understanding the physics and physical nature of phenomena like rainbows makes them just as awe inspiring if not more. Well, I am here to say that is not true. I got good and high before settling down on the boat ramp at cougar reservoir to watch the shooting stars and dumped the physics after about 5 seconds for far more entertaining and informative imagination fueled experience allowing myself to be purely fictional in interpretation.

Moral, science is not a balanced view of life by itself and a purely physical view of experience is fantastically poorer than one not so constrained.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • MikeS
  • Needs a Life
  • 1,701

  • 317

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #1
before settling down on the boat ramp at cougar reservoir
Where is this magical place of never-ending elder desire?

  • 25

  • 4

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #2
I dunno if anyone here has ever read unweaving the rainbow by dick Dawkins but this past week's meteor shower has drastically affected my view on the topic. Basically, Dawkins says that understanding the physics and physical nature of phenomena like rainbows makes them just as awe inspiring if not more. Well, I am here to say that is not true. I got good and high before settling down on the boat ramp at cougar reservoir to watch the shooting stars and dumped the physics after about 5 seconds for far more entertaining and informative imagination fueled experience allowing myself to be purely fictional in interpretation.

Moral, science is not a balanced view of life by itself and a purely physical view of experience is fantastically poorer than one not so constrained.

Bloody Hippies!

  • Brother Daniel
  • Global Moderator
  • predisposed to antagonism
  • 657

  • 194

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #3
Basically, Dawkins says that understanding the physics and physical nature of phenomena like rainbows makes them just as awe inspiring if not more. Well, I am here to say that is not true.
OK, you got my attention with that, but then the rest of your post goes off and says something quite different.

(Hint:  Adding to your understanding of physics does not make you more "constrained".)

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #4
Yes it does. It narrows the types of avenues the imagination can travel. There is an implicit value judgment that the point of gazing at a rainbow or into the night sky is to understand and predict it. Dawkins explicitly denies this in his book but the gazing is not a pure experience of emotion, it is also a narrative construction opportunity. Having one that works so well drastically reduces the landscape of narrative opportunity.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • Brother Daniel
  • Global Moderator
  • predisposed to antagonism
  • 657

  • 194

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #5
Yes it does. It narrows the types of avenues the imagination can travel.
Nah.

  • SkepticTank
  • Global Moderator
  • Calmer than you are
  • 2,929

  • 487

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #6
Somehow I knew MJ would be envolved.

  • 3,779

  • 1038

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #7
Yes it does. It narrows the types of avenues the imagination can travel. There is an implicit value judgment that the point of gazing at a rainbow or into the night sky is to understand and predict it. Dawkins explicitly denies this in his book but the gazing is not a pure experience of emotion, it is also a narrative construction opportunity. Having one that works so well drastically reduces the landscape of narrative opportunity.
1. You should have chosen mushrooms.

2. I disagree. I can understand the biology, the evolution, the limitations, the behaviours, the life cycles, of animals and still embue an encounter with one with any number of imaginary or spiritual interpretations that would require the animal to be far more and far from the sum of its parts.

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #8
What I am saying is that the ignorant savage who had a night off to watch the Perseids got more out of it than Dawkins or really most modern people.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • 3,779

  • 1038

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #9
Maybe. I'm not so sure. Once even the uncertain suppositions of religion took hold, they'd have been in the same position you are, since an explanation of the night sky (and the sun and moon and the seasonal cyclings of life, birth and death) was almost certainly the first belief set handed to them.

But I don't think I am less able to be awed, to be amazed, to feel my senses overwhelmed by the Perseids revealed as an almost infinite display of unimaginably powerful forces interacting with real matter in an annual ritual of fiery sacrifice against a backdrop so unfathomably deep it may as well be endless.

Ahem.

  • 3,779

  • 1038

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #10
Note: I have not read one single Dawkins book, ever, just the occasional article or review. I haven't purposely avoided him, there's just always been something else I preferred to read and his books haven't shown up in secondhand stores I've poked around in.

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #11
That actually may be more relevant than incidental. I specifically thought of his argument. I don't have the book anymore though because I sold it to a secondhand book store. True story.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • 3,779

  • 1038

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #12
That actually may be more relevant than incidental. I specifically thought of his argument. I don't have the book anymore though because I sold it to a secondhand book store. True story.
lol. Maybe that means the next time I'm in a secondhand bookstore...

Perhaps you'd benefit from reading more about indigenous peoples' beliefs and folklore, as an antidote. When I see a crow, for example, dozens of almost simultaneous thoughts accompany the instance: what crows are, how they live, how smart they are, how perfect their flight, how ruthless, how a northern crow brought the moon from the south so there would be light in winter, how Raven found the first people in a clamshell, and so on. These all contribute in the moment to my perception of the black bird landing on the branch that sways under its weight in my back yard.

Don't let Dawkins limit your experiences.

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #13
Lol. That's good advice in general.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • 3,779

  • 1038

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #14
I have a half-finished painting, begun maybe twelve years ago. I set it aside because it wasn't going where I thought I wanted it to go, but this thread makes me want to try again. It had crow feathers, I think now it needed more crow and less human.

  • Pingu
  • Needs a Life
  • 8,011

  • 1334

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #15
Yes it does. It narrows the types of avenues the imagination can travel. There is an implicit value judgment that the point of gazing at a rainbow or into the night sky is to understand and predict it. Dawkins explicitly denies this in his book but the gazing is not a pure experience of emotion, it is also a narrative construction opportunity. Having one that works so well drastically reduces the landscape of narrative opportunity.

In what sence does "it" narrow the types of avenues the imagination can travel?  What does "it" refer to?  Why does understanding the physics of a rainbow or a meteor shower narrow the avenues of imagination regarding either?

  • Pingu
  • Needs a Life
  • 8,011

  • 1334

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #16
Yes it does. It narrows the types of avenues the imagination can travel. There is an implicit value judgment that the point of gazing at a rainbow or into the night sky is to understand and predict it. Dawkins explicitly denies this in his book but the gazing is not a pure experience of emotion, it is also a narrative construction opportunity. Having one that works so well drastically reduces the landscape of narrative opportunity.
1. You should have chosen mushrooms.

2. I disagree. I can understand the biology, the evolution, the limitations, the behaviours, the life cycles, of animals and still embue an encounter with one with any number of imaginary or spiritual interpretations that would require the animal to be far more and far from the sum of its parts.

Borealis said it better.

And Dawkins' point was that understanding the physics rainbow doesn't make it any less wonderful, which is surely true.  He doesn't advocate, which would make no sense, ONLY understanding rainbows in terms of physics.  That would be bad science, for a start.

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #17
It does make it less wonderful. Dawkins was exactly wrong in his argument. The right argument is that that is the price we pay for the ability to control our environment such that we can derive other, more than compensatory benefits.

Here's the thing, his argument is not only an indefensible assertion (quantify wonderful), but it is the classic sour grapes. He cannot use another lens to discover whether he is right.

It is the sort of thing that one must be able to view through the alternate lens to be able to assert and I realized as I was watching the meteors what it is that my model was preventing me from experiencing. It is the exact thing that Dawkins argued against.

There is no escape from the Omelas. Or, if you are religiously inspired, original sin.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #18
The reason I granted borealis' point in her follow up post was that it is a different point. There are other avenues which exploit the muddiness of the quantify wonderful problem. But the direct point that Dawkins argued is that knowledge of the physics does not make the experience less wonderful is exactly wrong. It does.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • Pingu
  • Needs a Life
  • 8,011

  • 1334

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #19
The reason I granted borealis' point in her follow up post was that it is a different point. There are other avenues which exploit the muddiness of the quantify wonderful problem. But the direct point that Dawkins argued is that knowledge of the physics does not make the experience less wonderful is exactly wrong. It does.

I profoundly disagree.

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #20
I know. I did too until last week. That's why I started this thread. It's not the kill, it's the thrill of the chase.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • 25

  • 4

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #21
The reason I granted borealis' point in her follow up post was that it is a different point. There are other avenues which exploit the muddiness of the quantify wonderful problem. But the direct point that Dawkins argued is that knowledge of the physics does not make the experience less wonderful is exactly wrong. It does.

To be honest, I think this is one of those subjective things.

Knowledge of physics might make the experience less wonderful for you, but it doesn't for others. It's kind of weird for you to be telling people that they're wrong when they disagree on something so personal and subjective.

  • 8,708

  • 1379

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #22
Yes, I agree. In my contrary point that is sort of the point. The quantification of wonder is a silly errand. But Dawkins argued that in fact the knowledge of physics actually improved the experience by opening up avenues of investigation. That is not a generalizable statement but to the extent that it is, it is wrong.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • 2,124

  • 281

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #23
Its quite easy to be awed and inspired and think that the Northern Lights are wonderful, even if you know how they're formed- even if you, as a physicist, studied the process by which the solar wind interacts with the earth's magnetic field in detail, by simply not thinking about it at that time and just sitting back and enjoying the show.

I also think you're wrong. The "mystery" of a rainbow, or the perseids, or the aurora are interesting, but I find it far more satisfying to know how and why they happen, than not to know at all. For example I find it very hard to grok modern art (you know the ultra abstract or "object trouve" stuff) unless I have a little plaque telling me what the artist was intending to convey, because then I have a jumping off point from which I can construct my own meaning (which might be the opposite of what the artist intended) coming to it cold I'm usually just a bit baffled. I also think Borealis is right, when I look at the constellation Orion I'm not just looking at big flaming balls of gas and plasma undergoing fusion reactions a couple of hundred light years away, I'm also thinking about the stories the ancient Greeks told about this great hunter, and how he was basically a bit of a dick.
Why do I bother?

  • ToThePoint
  • Needs a Life
  • search & destroy
  • 821

  • 258

Re: Weaving the rainbow
Reply #24
We live in modern times; intellectual elitism creeps in.
"This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time."