Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Ghosts

Rate this topic


Dagny
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just saw the movie Darkness ...which is about ghosts. Afterwards the subject was discussed. I, of course, declared my disbelief in the subject altogether. However, my parents, my younger brother and husband talked about stories they'd heard or experienced....all expressing their belief. I tried to argue the subject with the usual "trick of the light or imagination running wild" but it failed badly. If it had been anybody else I might have suggested a weak mental state... however this was my family I was talking to and didnt want to offend them. Just wondering if anyone else has had this problem? Are there any Objectivists who actually believe in ghosts? What do you say to those who do? :dough:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just saw the movie Darkness ...which is about ghosts. Afterwards the subject was discussed. I, of course, declared my disbelief in the subject altogether. However, my parents, my younger brother and husband talked about stories they'd heard or experienced....all expressing their belief. I tried to argue the subject with the usual "trick of the light or imagination running wild" but it failed badly. If it had been anybody else I might have suggested a weak mental state... however this was my family I was talking to and didnt want to offend them. Just wondering if anyone else has had this problem? Are there any Objectivists who actually believe in ghosts? What do you say to those who do? :dough:

I have met an aquaintance who goes to the same bar I sometimes hang out at with my friends. He is a member of a group which "hunts" ghosts. Most notable around here is an old, abandoned TB hospital which is supposed to have hundreds of ghosts in it.

The same guy has a reputation for getting drunk every weekend and having promiscuous sex. It's obvious why I'm not too fond of him.

The same mentality which accepts the arbitrary exsistence of God accepts the arbitrary exsistence of ghosts. I don't believe for a second that ghosts exsist and no serious student of Objectivism would.

As for how to deal with people who do believe in them, it sounds like you did a good job of it yourself. If they persist in their belief, tell them you want solid proof. If they can't produce the proof, they have no case.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just wondering if anyone else has had this problem? Are there any Objectivists who actually believe in ghosts? What do you say to those who do? :dough:

Objectivism rejects all forms of mysticism, religion, and the supernatural -- which includes ghosts. So someone can't be an Objectivist and believe in ghosts.

If someone wants to believe in ghosts, that's their choice. It's no different than believing in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, gremlins, psychics, ESP, God, palm reading, alien abductions, and so on. The supernatural is literally a rejection of reality. ("Supernatural" means something beyond nature -- that is, outside of reality.) One possible question: how do they determine which they believe in and which not to? If it's ok to accept one of these on faith, why not all of them? And if they do that, what do they do when two of the ideas contradict each other? (It's usually just a matter of emotion: they believe what they want because they want to. Well, what does their belief give them?)

What's your goal in discussing the issue? If you're trying to convince them to change their minds on the issue, realize that the burden of proof is on them. What do they mean by "ghosts?" Where's the proof? Why ascribe a supernatural explanation for some event? It could have a perfectly rational explanation or be the product of a lying eyewitness (or one who just doesn't know the cause).

I suspect nobody will give a very clear idea of what exactly a ghost is. For some reason most believers (in ghosts or in God) are perfectly willing leaving the concept as a floating abstraction, without understanding in terms of specific details. In one sense they have to leave it as a fuzzy, ill-defined concept -- because it doesn't exist, there's literally nothing there to analyze. But the rational thing to do is reject the claim, not accept it.

If you have a copy of OPAR, check out the entries for "supernaturalism" in the index, and see the section entitled "The Arbitrary as Neither True nor False" in chapter 5.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it had been anybody else I might have suggested a weak mental state... however this was my family I was talking to and didnt want to offend them.

I do not believe in ghosts. There is no valid evidence of it, as far as I know. As to arguing with one’s beliefs, there are people that you can argue with.... and there are those that you cannot. It is not your moral responsibility to correct the beliefs of your family neither someone else's. Never jeopardize the truth in fear of hurting someone else’s feelings especially your family.

I typically ask them… ‘Is there evidence in the existence of ghosts? Prove it. If none, therefore they do not exist.’

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are there any Objectivists who actually believe in ghosts?

No.

What do you say to those who do? ;)

"I don't believe in ghosts," and THAT'S ALL.

You can't reason someone out of an idea they didn't reason themselves into in the first place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL :D ....thanks for the advice everyone. i guess i just get frustrated sometimes. especially because I'd like to teach my younger brother to use reason and be rational in life. but then its hard with the majority telling him otherwise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL  :D ....thanks for the advice everyone. i guess i just get frustrated sometimes. especially because I'd like to teach my younger brother to use reason and be rational in life. but then its hard with the majority telling him otherwise.

Show him by example. One bright light outshines an army of dimwits ... er, dim ones. :D

(And giving the books of Ayn Rand to read wouldn't hurt either. :D )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do you say to those who do? :D

Damn, you beat me to it.

This falls into the same category as God: "I'm not going to believe anything I don't have rational proof of".

Fortunately, my father's a chemist, so my family doesn't believe in that hooey. Although my ex-mother-in-law is a psychic. Thankfully, I never had to have that discussion (I guess because she's a psychic she knew I didn't believe in it... :D ).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My outlook is generally to respect the beliefs of other people. That is to say, if they believe in the supernatural, I'm going to say.. that's fine, you believe that if you want. Most folks I've tried just got defensive when I tried to fix them. It is like grabbing sand in your fist.. the harder you grab, the faster it leaves your hand.

As for ghosts, well, that's a bit of silliness really. But strange things happen, and if you don't have a scientific background, you're going to have no idea why. At that point, you might decide to research and then spit out a thesis on it, or you might just go look for an existing answer from somebody/thing you believe is credible, or some other option. Majority of person including myself will likely take the second option before even thinking of the other. Luckily for me I'm nerd, so I've trusted physics textbooks on these matters. Multiple ones, to make sure they're in agreement. But anyway.. misinformation is a huge problem in society, and it begins very early in life.

I did go through a stage of believing in ghosts, back when I was 9 year old.. for a while. I was pretty distressed by the matter, so I spoke to a grandparent. He told me this.. "Have you ever seen a ghost?" I said, no. "Has anyone you know ever seen a ghost?" ..I told him people who said that. And he just pointed out all the other stupid things they'd claimed, and the fact of the matter being, until you've seen one, you don't have any reason to believe that. Not bad coming from a Catholic!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My mother is a professional psychic who thinks Ayn Rand is wonderful. But obviously she doesn't understand the philsophy. About ten years ago I just stopped responding when she brought up mystical subjects, because I decided that she simply suffers from a form of mental illness. I'm pretty sure she does have voices in her head and such, so there's not much point in me telling her there's no evidence, etc. It's quite sad, but she also knows enough about Ayn Rand's philosophy to know that I don't agree with the Spiritualist religion, and so doesn't bring it up too much.

It's so strange, my mother is telling people what she thinks their dead relatives and pets want to tell them, and then also suggests that they read Atlas Shrugged.

I grew up (15 years) in a "Spiritualist Camp" where most people earned a living believing that ghosts existed. I never saw a single thing out of the ordinary, except an unusually large number of deluded people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Objectivism rejects all forms of mysticism, religion, and the supernatural -- which includes ghosts.  So someone can't be an Objectivist and believe in ghosts.

If someone wants to believe in ghosts, that's their choice.  It's no different than believing in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, gremlins, psychics, ESP, God, palm reading, alien abductions, and so on.  The supernatural is literally a rejection of reality. ("Supernatural" means something beyond nature -- that is, outside of reality

I have a question in regards to ghosts...

What if someone researchs supernatural phenomenon and scientifically determines that from what they have gathered, a certain phenonemon, which Objectivism declares is false happens to be true. That is, what if they are left without a reasonable doubt that a certain phenonemon is in fact true?

I often wonder if perhaps certain abilities exist in people, which we can't currently explain so we label these abilities as supernatural. If supernatural means "beyond nature," why is it so hard to believe that sometimes people are born with abilities that make them anomolies in nature. For instance, synaethesia is a mixing of the senses, and a phenomenon that is by no means natural for the large portion of society, but for some people it is an ability that their particular neurological conditions allow to exist. In a sense, it is natural in certain people, but not to most.

Suppose then, you had no knowledge of this condition. Would you then have to say that it is a false condition simply because it is not natural to you?

Since the discussion of psychics would logically follow from my words, I will first say that I personally have had no experiances with psychics that lead me to believe that psychic abilities do exist. I actually know a large group of people who claim to be psychics, but I know they are con artists.

www.earthangelreadings.com

Airmonic is my roomates best friends uncle. He is supposivelly the most experianced psychic on this site, and has been approached by the FBI to do psychic readings. When my roomate went for a reading she wore "slutty" clothes (excuse the language, but that should give you a clear mental picture), and she told Airmonic a false name. Besides the fact that he didn't figure out she gave him a false name, he stated that her current boyfriend was cheating on her, she would be pregnant in a year, and she would soon start having an affair with another man. This, of course, amused her as she normally dresses very conservative, and her boyfriend would never cheat on her (he is my best friend, I know this for a fact). Also, she would never cheat on him. They have been together for about 5 years. It was obvious Airmonic was trying to cold read her and basing his predictions off of her appearance. Afterwards, when she told him she came there dressed like that on purpose, and what her real name was, he said he knew and that he was, "just fucking with her."

What is my point with this story? How can we tell nobody naturally has these abilities when a large portion of these people claiming to have these abilities are merely con artists? I still don't buy the existence of psychics at this point, as I have seen no scientific literature that would allow me to make such a conclusion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What if someone researchs supernatural phenomenon and scientifically determines that from what they have gathered, a certain phenonemon, which Objectivism declares is false happens to be true. That is, what if they are left without a reasonable doubt that a certain phenonemon is in fact true?

Objectivism doesn't declare any natural, scientific phenomena to be false or nonexistent. If many Objectivists think a given scientific phenomenon is nonexistent but which actually is found to exist, keep in mind that it is not a part of the philosophy--science is higher up hierarchically. I haven't heard Objectivists going around denying gravity or anything like that, so I don't really think that will be a serious problem.

On the other hand, if a scientist tells you something philosophically untrue, it is perfectly reasonable just to reject it outright since science is presupposed by and depends on philosophy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Objectivism doesn't declare any natural, scientific phenomena to be false or nonexistent. If many Objectivists think a given scientific phenomenon is nonexistent but which actually is found to exist, keep in mind that it is not a part of the philosophy--science is higher up hierarchically. I haven't heard Objectivists going around denying gravity or anything like that, so I don't really think that will be a serious problem.

On the other hand, if a scientist tells you something philosophically untrue, it is perfectly reasonable just to reject it outright since science is presupposed by and depends on philosophy.

That was a really nice answer. My compliments.

I just want to add, or, more precisely, specify, that philosophy as such does not tell us about the detailed nature of what exists, nor does it tell us the specific means by which things act. What philosophy does tell us is that whatever exists has identity, and that it acts in accord with that identity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.

On the other hand, if a scientist tells you something philosophically untrue, it is perfectly reasonable just to reject it outright since science is presupposed by and depends on philosophy.

So if a scientist says that psychics, and ghosts are philosophically true, then it is perfectly reasonable to accept that they may exist?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So if a scientist says that psychics, and ghosts are philosophically true, then it is perfectly reasonable to accept that they may exist?

Psychics and ghosts are beyond the realm of philosophy and, if they were to exsist, would be in the realm of the specialized sciences to investigate.

However, what philosophy tells us about psychics and ghosts is that, epistemologically, they are arbitrary concepts. That is, there has been no evidence presented either for or against them (you can't present evidence against something which has no evidence for it in the first place). As arbitrary concepts, they are neither true nor false and there is no further need to contemplate them unless you are presented with evidence.

What jedymaster was trying to say is that a scientist is no more qualified to make a statement about philosophy than a philosopher about science. There may be exceptions but, for the most part, a specialist must stick to his own field.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. That is, there has been no evidence presented either for or against them (you can't present evidence against something which has no evidence for it in the first place). As arbitrary concepts, they are neither true nor false and there is no further need to contemplate them unless you are presented with evidence.

This is why I am confused: You claim there is no evidence for, or against ghosts, or psychics, but where is this comming from? I have had experiances that were beyond any rational explanation that I could provide (although I am sure there was a rational explanation for them). Should I then just disregard those experiances and say they were arbitrary, as I cannot prove, or disprove they happened? This seems like a contradiction, in this circumstance, as I experianced these situations. It would be rather irrational for me to say, "Well since I can't explain what happen, and I have no evidence supporting any theory of what happened, it must have never happened."

How does one go about building up a case for, or against the supernatural if you already have decided that the subject matter is not worth contemplating in the first place?

I don't know if I am being clear, but let's say I hear voices in my living room, and there is a transparent human shaped figure floating around to go with those voices. Are you going to tell me that because you don't believe this can exist, my perceptual experiance was therefore false, and I was making it up?

(BTW, that never happened to me. This is a purely theoritical question. I do, however, know people that have made such claims.) :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have had experiances that were beyond any rational explanation that I could provide (although I am sure there was a rational explanation for them). Should I then just disregard those experiances and say they were arbitrary, as I cannot prove, or disprove they happened?

I would never disregard a perception simply because of a certain belief. If it happened, it happened. The first thing to decide is whether it really did happen (i.e. decide it was not an illusion, such as a strange reflection which was misinterpreted as something actual) and then you can take up the issue of what in fact it was, and why it happened.

I see 3 problems with reports of the supernatural: 1) I tend to doubt the nature of the experiences themselves and 2) I doubt that the cause is supernatural, and 3) the notion itself is contradictory.

An example of #1 would be that I suspect that at least some of the reports of supernatural events are misinterpretations of what was percieved (some also may be outright lies). Some of the things I have heard of seem to happen on the "edge" of perception, such as in dim light, in unusual conditions, etc. and may have simply been perception itself. Your perceptual system has a certain amount of "noise" in it (for example, vague patches of light or afterimages that you can see if close your eyes), and this could be misinterpreted.

An example of #2 would be that whereas a psychic might say that a cool wind was a spirit, I would say it's a cool wind.

By #3 I mean that "supernatural" refers to events or things whose cause is beyond nature. Strictly speaking that is not possible. A is A. A thing has a nature and it can only act according to it. If a "supernatural" event really happened, then by definition it is not supernatural, and there is a natural explanation for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Redfarmer wrote: "However, what philosophy tells us about psychics and ghosts is that, epistemologically, they are arbitrary concepts. That is, there has been no evidence presented either for or against them (you can't present evidence against something which has no evidence for it in the first place). As arbitrary concepts, they are neither true nor false and there is no further need to contemplate them unless you are presented with evidence."

I think this is the essence of Antony Flew's "Theology and Falsification", which I read eons ago. What suprised me was that the guy has just changed his mind:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=315976

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is why I am confused: You claim there is no evidence for, or against ghosts, or psychics, but where is this comming from?

Usually, some person's desire to find a loophole in the Law of Identity.

I have had experiances that were beyond any rational explanation that I could provide (although I am sure there was a rational explanation for them). Should I then just disregard those experiances and say they were arbitrary, as I cannot prove, or disprove they happened?
The experience was not arbitrary if it really happened. The explanation offered, however, i.e., the positing of a cause, may be arbitrary.

I don't know if I am being clear, but let's say I hear voices in my living room, and there is a transparent human shaped figure floating around to go with those voices. Are you going to tell me that because you don't believe this can exist, my perceptual experiance was therefore false, and I was making it up?

All you can say is SOMETHING caused the voices and the transparent apparition, but you shouldn't go any further than the evidence you actually have in saying what that something is or might be. With further evidence you might determine it was your neighbor pulling a trick on you with a holographic projector, a hallucination caused by something you ingested, a vivid dream, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... the guy [Anthony Flew] has just changed his mind:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=315976

As an infidel once pointed out, "I won't be responsible for anything I say, once my brain has softened." An alternative explanation, is that Flew is perpetrating a hoax, which fact he will presently reveal, to show how easily religious people are taken in. (It's been done before!). A third explanation is that some of Flew's bad premises have finally caught up with him; he was far from being an Objectivist.

Softening of the brain is a real possibility. His "powerful" argument for the existence of a supernatural spook, is just a rehash of the tired old Argument from Design. As one of Flew's former colleagues comments:

"They assert that a complex system can only arise out of something with high intelligence. Although complexity is difficult to define, we can reasonably expect a highly intelligent entity to be highly complex. Thus, it can only have arisen out of something even more intelligent and complex, in infinite regress ... Fortunately, we can avoid an infinite regress. We can just stop at the world ... As we know from both everyday experience and sophisticated scientific observations, complex systems develop from simpler systems all the time in nature—with not even low intelligence required. A mist of water vapor can freeze into a snowflake. Winds can carve out great cathedrals in rock. Brontosaurs can evolve from bacteria."

http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/stenger_25_2.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What jedymaster was trying to say is that a scientist is no more qualified to make a statement about philosophy than a philosopher about science. There may be exceptions but, for the most part, a specialist must stick to his own field.

That is not what I was trying to say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...