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On The Warrior Prophet posted 29 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionOn The Warrior Prophet by Anonymous, Subdidact

I should have said 'anomolous' causality. (Backward causality has to do with the precognitive stuff, doesn't it?) Either way, the sheer chutzpah of these claims makes Ockam's razor an enemy of parapsycologists (bigger even than the Amazing Randi!).


Heh, Randi is as much a threat to parapsychologists as Uri Geller is a threat to CSICOP. <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

All things being equal, the simplest most mundane explanation wins (pending further data, of course) - which in this case, is some version of experimental error.


In the case of the ganzfeld, though, even Ray Hyman admits that the results are unlikely to be the result of chance or error. He claims it's due to some design flaw, such as an inadequate randomization of the targets. This claim has been argued against adequately, IMO. [url:1x1o0or2]http&#58;//comp9&#46;psych&#46;cornell&#46;edu/dbem/response_to_hyman&#46;html[/url:1x1o0or2]

Scroll to the bottom of this page for more articles (pro and con) on the ganzfeld. [url:1x1o0or2]http&#58;//www&#46;parapsych&#46;org/full_papers&#46;html[/url:1x1o0or2]

I too believe there simply HAS to be intentionality, I'm just not sure there's any convincing way to silence the meaning skeptic.


The argument for intentionality is similar to the argument against solipsism. While we cannot completely justify these positions, people will live their lives as if they have intention and as if other minds exist; regardless whether or not philosophers and scientists choose to recognize these characteristics. These notions are hard core common sense - a theory that does not take these into account lacks explanatory value and is inadequate, IMO.

But this actually wasn't the thrust of my question. I actually have a hard time understanding how idealism can make sense of intentionality. What are our experiences ABOUT? Other 'meta-experiences'? Or nothing at all?


As to what our experiences are on, well, physically . . . nothing. Imagine you are in an extremely vivid dream where you are in a room with a table with an apple on it. When you look at the table, what is the experience of the table "about"? What is it on? The space of the room, the feel of wood floor boards on bare feet, the taste of the apple . . . all of these are mental constructs. These experiences, in the dream, supervene entirely upon your mind (*). The objects in your dream can be said to be mental objects.

While people don't usually think about it, even in waking life all qualia, sense of space, even the sense of the passage of time, are mental constructs as well. The only discernable differences between dreams and reality can be measured in degrees of intensity, coherence, and consistency.

People assume that a physical world underlies their everyday experience and that all experiences supervene upon this world. People believe this, even though they can never directly observe this physical world, primary because of an argument from orderliness. If I were to leave the room I am in now, take a walk around the block, and come back, my computer would (hopefully) still be sitting on my desk. If I were in a dream, this would not necessarily be so. People maintain the existence of a physical world to explain the consistency of their everyday experiences.

However, to use this consistency to conclude that there must be an ontologically distinct, ultimately unknowable physical world in which all of our experiences subsist on is a non-sequitor. As a working model, it unnecessarily splits the world in two and begs the question: How can this unknowable, ontologically different, and insentient world produce qualia?. We know qualia exists, but this physical world can only forever be an unobservable abstraction. And anyone who is familiar with the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment would realize that what we experience doesn't necessarily entail anything about the nature of what the experiences subsist on.

While it is unreasonable to assume we are brains hooked up to electrodes, there is no real reason to assume our experiences are based upon an ontologically distinct physical world either. Idealism has an advantage on realism in that idealism allows for consciousness to exist as we know it without any of the mind/body problems that materialism faces.

As to what our experiences are "about", well, just as an object in a dream is an mental object (with, admittingly, "unreal" and inconsistent characteristics) that has no physical substance behind it, an object in waking life can be described as a "metamental object", or an object generated and maintained within the metamind. To use Berkeley's terminology, we are in "God's mind". A modern analogy would be to say we are in a Matrix-like virtual reality world (that is not supervening on a computer).

For instance, I believe I have a perspective IN the world ON the world. I'm not sure where to fit your metamind. Are you saying our perspectives are perspectives ON some kind of perspective? I'm not sure it’s possible to salvage an intelligible concept of perspective from this. A perspective, to be a perspective on something, must be one of many possible perspectives on something that transcends it - doesn't it?


Well, back to the dream analogy: When we dream, the objects in our dreams are not necessarily on any real objects - the dreamworld is "internal", so to speak. Conceivably, with much dedication and patience, a lucid dreamer could create a dreamworld with at least a somewhat coherent consistency. This self-created, consistent world would contain objects, an extension in space, and (possibly) a flow of time that would be "about" nothing other than the dreamers own mind.

The universe (metaverse?) is the "dreamworld" of the metamind. Objects, extension in space, passage of time . . . it's a consistent dream. Our perceptions are within the metamind.

One possible argument against mental monism is that when we dream, all of the objects that we dream about originate from our perceptions in waking life. Even unreal objects, such as monsters or unicorns or other impossibilities, are constructed from objects perceived in the real world. If this is true, then where does the metamind get all of its ideas?

One answer would be to postulate the existence of platonic "archetypes" or Whiteheadian "eternal objects" (the color red, the sound of a dull hum, the taste of sweetness, etc.). All metamental objects are combinations of these eternal objects or archetypes. I suppose the "rock bottom" foundation of reality could be said to be the eternal objects themselves.

But if you acknowledge that our perspectives are on something that transcends them, my question would be: Then why not simply say 'world' like the rest of us? Are you willing to trust philosophical discourse (with its lack of regress enders) so far as to give such an extraordinary ontological content to what we experience?


I would, if the physical world (or at least the variant put forward by mainstream materialists) could allow for the "hard core" common sense notions of consciousness and volition. Science has made remarkable progress in many fields over the last four hundred years, but consciousness is as mysterious now as it was in the time of Descartes. Sure, we've discovered many of the correlates of mind in the form of brain states, but these contain no explanatory value as to how or why qualia should be connected to neural structures. I like how Lloyd put it when he wrote:

They [mental states] are inherently incapable of being predicted within physics, as the terms that denote mental experiences simply do not occur in physics and are not derivable from physical terms - Consciousness and Berkely's metaphysics


Consciousness (and, possibly, psi) is a huge right in the center of modern science's worldview. And I don't think we're going to find the answer by discovering more neural correlates. Or by trying to eliminate it away either.

Whether or not mental monism is true or not (panexperientalism is appealing as well), I have no idea. But I feel confident in stating that consciousness (or at least experience, or awareness) must be a foundation of reality, much the way gravity is - a law of nature, irreducible and undeniable.

I must say I am enjoying this discussion immensely. It's been a while since I've talked with someone interested in this subject.

*-Some would say they supervene on neural correlates, but there is nothing about the structure of the brain that would explain the qualia. Not to mention that the objective existence of neural activity is inferred entirely from our conscious experiences. A mental monist would say that the perceptions of brain activity (and the experiences of mental correlatives between the two) are metamental objects maintained in the metamind view post


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