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Aesmael Candidate | joined 29 October 2004 | 20 posts


Political Affiliation? posted 04 November 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionPolitical Affiliation? by Aesmael, Candidate

Seems an appropriate time to ask: Anyone care to explain what Republican/Democrat means/stand for in an American context? view post


Your top 5 fantasy series... posted 04 November 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionYour top 5 fantasy series... by Aesmael, Candidate

Favourites? Well, lessee. . .
Trying to put them in alphabetical order:

Erikson's Malazan series
Hobb's Farseer (Consider it tentative. I have not read the Liveship/Tawny Man, though I am sure I would like them too. But since they are indeed a continuation of this it is difficult to be definite)
Martin's Song of Ice and Fire
Miura's Berserk
Pratchett's Discworld

As someone who likes to think they have a future writing stories, there are three series which stood out to me as examples of "This is what I want to do." From Martin's work, the characterisation. From Erikson's, the worldbuilding. And from the Prince of Nothing (Did not feel right to put it on the list itself, since I have only read The Darkness That Comes Before), Kellhus. view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 05 November 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by Aesmael, Candidate

First a couple of questions for Takloufer

1) Can you explain what you mean when you say qualia? Will check dictionaries anyway, but still would like to see your words. Who knows, perhaps they will be more edifying than those of the professionals

2) Are you Ratofluke?

3) I would appreciate if you could explain or direct me to an explanation ('proof') of the inability of scientific thought to solve the problems you are concerned with

Ah, it seems I can only think of something to say in response to your posts when I am not actually looking at them.

If I understand correctly you are saying the unit of reality is the experience?
It seems to me that there is then still no need to postulate things such as electrons as being experiencers, since the model of an electron is no longer required to explain what is observed

I must stop here. Confident that that last, unfinished sentence would have been a foot in mouth kind of situation. It is left there on the off chance some use may come of it. Perhaps another attempt later. view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 05 November 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by Aesmael, Candidate

Quote: "TakLoufer":c4vor8wo

Meanwhile, we are in the course of witnessing the greatest extinction event since the comet that hit the Yucatan some 65 million years ago.


?

I'm not a big fan of Bush myself, and I think the war on terrorism is a bunch of smoke and mirrors - but I don't see how we're on the verge of global devastation. Or at least not devastation at an extinction level. Societal collapse is a possibility (maybe), but anything close to an extinction level disaster is vanishingly unlikely. Even a full nuclear exchange wouldn't reduce us to that.[/quote:c4vor8wo]

Ah, one thing I do feel fairly confident about commenting. I do not believe Scott was referring to Bush (at least not directly) in that remark, but rather to the environmental impact of homo sapiens sapiens. It is thought that there is an unusually high rate of extinction in recent years (definately including before the guy became president, though he has certainly never to my knowledge been praised for doing anything about it, and perhaps condemned for not). It is often described as the largest extinction event since said K/T event.

I also suspect that you are underestimating the capacity of nuclear weapons for causing global devastation (not necessarily to the surface of Earth itself, but rather through secondary effects). But I could be wrong. view post


Now listening to... posted 06 November 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionNow listening to... by Aesmael, Candidate

Not at this exact moment, but currently a mix of Herman's Hermits, Enya, the Beatles and Enigma. And some Gregorian Chant.

I wonder if this thread is still on topic, or will this reply seem out of place? view post


What other sites are you active on? posted 06 November 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionWhat other sites are you active on? by Aesmael, Candidate

This one and enworld.org (saw you in a malazan thread Clarkesworld). Used to post at wotmania and I intend to again in the future. I lurk at the soiaf and star fleet battles boards. view post


Top 5 Sci-fi Series/ books posted 06 November 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionTop 5 Sci-fi Series/ books by Aesmael, Candidate

Anything Reynolds has written so far
Simmons' Hyperion Cantos
Asimov's Robot/Foundation Stories (Also partial to The Gods Themselves for some reason)
Hamilton's Night's Dawn books
Baxter's

Read Dune, but I was about 13 at the time. So no memory of it to speak of. And there are a LOT of supposedly excellent sci-fi books I have not gotten hold of yet, perhaps even more so than in fantasy. view post


International Spec Fic posted 08 November 2004 in Literature DiscussionInternational Spec Fic by Aesmael, Candidate

I would have to say Berserk by Kentarou Miura. Not a novel, it is very long (still unfinished - around 28 volumes so far and I have only read not quite half) manga series which has also had one arc adapted as an anime. Perhaps not truly what you are after, as it owes more to Western traditions (Conan being one example) than to Japanese.

Still, I urge anyone who gets the chance to pick it up, as I found it to be a very powerful story. I could (and have) wept for the main characters. No one deserves that. And yet, I find it difficult to blame him for what he did.

There are two caveats, though. First, the content of the story is more explicit, wert both violence and sex than, for example, Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. This is further emphasised by the graphic nature of the media it is presented in. The english translations, at least, are not for sale to those under 18. Second, like Erikson's Malazan books, it has been said that it takes a while to get off the ground (1st book/1st arc). I did not find it so in either case, but anyone interested yet unwilling to take my word may want to rent the anime before committing themselves.

3rd <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? --> To the two other examples of fiction mentioned in this post, I would compare it extremely favourably. Genre-wise it has been referred to as both fantasy and horror

To finish, I will say that if something is recommended to me as international literature I am less inclined (but not disinclined, if that is thecorrect use of the words) to pursue it than if it is recommended as an excellent story. Although I am interested in other cultures, the first case feels like I am being asked to read something on the premise that I will not understand it, or purely on the merits of its unfamiliarity. While the latter is not a bad thing, it does not motivate me in itself - at least at the moment.

Hmm, perhaps not quite done after all. To finish (for real this time), a question for Larry: How familiar are you with Japanese manga/anime? Although I am not myself a fan of them, I do keep an ear out for any that might catch my interest as works of fiction/sf in their own right and could recommend some you might be interested in. view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 09 November 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by Aesmael, Candidate

Quote: &quot;Grantaire&quot;:2tjbp4tq
Given that you (if I recall correctly) seem to espouse or at least lean towards a nihilistic view, do you think this would be any more or less 'something that matters' than said nihilistic universe?


Now that's a difficult question to answer. I suppose it is something in each persons perception of the relative importance of differing levels of illusion and "reality"...what is more important- the reality of what you actually experience here and now, with your thoughts and emotions and senses? Or some transcendental level of reality, to which our "reality" could be only some sort of illusion? Perhaps that is in some way one of the things that differentiates the thinkers of mankind from the rest. Those who want to comprehend the fundamental reality of "reality", and those who care only for the passing moments of their brief existence.

Yes, I do lean towards a nihilistic view, but it is...in the larger worldview, if that makes sense. Like, on the smaller scale, things are important to me- I want my friends to be happy, I want to do well on exams, I care about politics and what's going on in the world. I have to care, because regardless of my philosophical beliefs, I must live my life, and it's better to be happy. Whereas, I understand that in the much larger picture, my existance means nothing, the existance of the earth and of mankind means nothing, that our solar system isn't even a "blip on the radar" to the universe, and the entire existance of mankind isn't so much as a blink of the eye to the universe. Do you get what I mean? I make decisions in the here-and-now, about very trivial things, while understanding that they have absolutely no real significance on a larger scale.

That being said, in relation to your question, I think it matters both ways. If we were something like just a passing dream of a butterfly, I think it would be important (at least to me) to know that, because even if it has little practical consequence, curiousity drives us to want to know the real reality of things. But on the other hand, even if all of our lives, and our conscious existances are merely an illusion, and we knew this, it wouldn't reduce the importance of "living" them. If I knew that I didn't *really* exist, would that stop me from trying to be a nice person, from trying to succeed, from trying to be happy? Probably not, because regardless of the fundamental reality of metaphysics and existance, we have to live with the illusion or reality that we have, regardless of its true nature.

Another question: What is your opinion on that?


On people not knowing about philosophy and the problems it presents, and not caring?

It somewhat frustrates me. On the other hand, people have their own interests and problems, and I have to respect that. But still, I wish people would try to make some effort to acquire knowledge about philosophy. Granted, it is a very challenging field (not only to understand, but considering it can shake your very view of reality), but I don't think that should give people an excuse to not even make an effort towards expanding their knowledge and education.

Let me put this in some sort of perspective, maybe the people I associate with are not the sort you all would associate with. I'm surrounded by 15 year-olds who are totally myopic about anything involving thought (yes, I know, a generalization, but it holds true for the mass majority). They care only about dating and popularity.

So, granted, that isn't the sort of group that exactly breeds philosophers, but I still think people should put some energy towards the philosophical questions..[/quote:2tjbp4tq]
Heh. Forums such as this are almost the only place I can have a conversation such as this. (Ooh, stacked words! Edit - That makes sense only during the writing of the post, otherwise it just looks silly). For the most part people, including my fellow students, are more interested in conversations about things equally far outside my experience. Things like how the car is doing. Or the job. Or currently popular (not pop) music and other cultural mores that have somehow managed to slip by me. To this day I am puzzled at how every student in primary school managed to learn the nutbush dance when I had not so much as heard of it. On the other hand, when around people interested in such matters (such as this site), I am clearly outclasssed.

[Presumption] Perhaps philosophers are more like mushrooms than wheat, or horses.

As to getting what you mean, I shall say this more like holding forth with myself than someone else.

It sounds like the people you are surrounded by are concerned on a similar scale and with similar things to what you are concerned about (happiness at least, if not politics). Perhaps the problem is not so much the 'what they concern themselves with as the 'how' and 'why'?

If you could be said to be one of the 'disenchanted', apparently an advocate of disenchantment, does this mean you see disenchantment as a 'good' thing? Is it a worthy goal to strive for?

[Paragraph deleted due to leading statements]

It seems I am responding to your points in reverse, so, to the top: Let us say this reality we experience is, as science suggests, without meaning. Then supposing that what we are experiencing is an illusion generated by/embedded in some other (transcendental, you said) reality, and that that other reality does have meaning. What then? I am afraid I don't have the time to run my own speculation on that idea (or even vet the question itself thoroughly), as:

To throw in a Pratchett reference, perhaps of passing relevance to the perspective you offered at the beginning of your post, the most amazing thing humans have invented is the idea of things meaning something. And to show that the world/internet can sometimes seem like a small place, right now my sister should be getting a book signed by him for me at the store where boardmember Ashael works, while I am stuck here studying for my astrobiology exam. The pesky thing starts in a couple of hours and the parts of the lecture notes I can parse easily frequently contain inaccuracies and/or flawed reasoning. At best the explanations are incomplete. view post


Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn posted 27 November 2004 in Literature DiscussionMemory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Aesmael, Candidate

I will also vouch for him. Although, sometimes I think he wrote the whole thing just to do the ending. It is not what it appears to be when you open the first book.

Or you could try one of his other stories, such as War of the Flowers or Otherland, none of which are arguably in the same genre as each other.

And there's always the wotmania interview. They did Bakker, they wouldn't interview an author if wasn't up to snuff, would they? Or, if you respect George R. R. Martin's opinion, this (I assume this is Memory, Sorrow &amp; Thorn we are talking about) was one of the things that convinced him good stories could still be told in fantasy, that they did not all have to be Tolkien clones. view post


Revenge posted 04 December 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionRevenge by Aesmael, Candidate

If killing him is too strong a response, you could always try the old getting on and living a happy life is the best revenge.
Its a shame that there aren't any other options.

Ooh, Ooh! You could destroy something he loves, like a family member or a book. view post


Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn posted 04 December 2004 in Literature DiscussionMemory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Aesmael, Candidate

Tokin'?

Oh.

Wait, him? You and Scott, sure, but really. I begin to doubt your taste.

If you want to verify the GRRM opinion I believe it is in the 'So Spake Martin' archive at Westeros.org. I will not check myself. Have not visited that archive in two years and will not until the Feast is done. view post


The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant posted 05 December 2004 in Literature DiscussionThe Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Aesmael, Candidate

Quote: &quot;Edge&quot;:11gxl0k3
Finished reading The Runes of the Earth and have to say it has put a lot of my fears about a third series to rest. Very enjoyable, great to sink back into the whole atmosphere of The Land again.[/quote:11gxl0k3]

That is relieving news. After reading the Second Chronicles I thought it was settled for good. But apparently Donaldson has been wanting to do this for a long time? view post


Political Affiliation? posted 08 December 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionPolitical Affiliation? by Aesmael, Candidate

Quote: &quot;Wil&quot;:1ex25tlz
if anyone else has anything to add, please feel free.[/quote:1ex25tlz]
Something about what social security would be nice. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->
Apologies for the inquisitiveness, but opportunity knocked. view post


Gay marriage: for or against its legalization in the US? posted 09 December 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionGay marriage: for or against its legalization in the US? by Aesmael, Candidate

In a religious sense, provided there is some quality or role set aside specifically for the union between man and woman, probably not. I could not say if this is in fact the case, however I presume it is on the basis of the strenuous objections I hear about from religious figures.

In the legal sense, absolutely yes, with all the rights and obligations that 'make sense' (the previous phrase being used on the basis of my not knowing what, exactly, that entails).

I strongly suspect (or perhaps would like to believe) that in most cases where religious concerns would make gay marriage inappropriate, it is the religion that needs changing.

Huh. Is that the first actual stance I have taken on anything here? view post


who should determine what is &quot;right&quot;? posted 11 December 2004 in Philosophy Discussionwho should determine what is &quot;right&quot;? by Aesmael, Candidate

I would want to know first if there is such a thing as 'right' and how can it be identified - or even if it is a conditional thing or exists only after being 'created'/defined.

But to be trite, 'right' should be those best able able to do so, whoever that turns out to be. Provided it does not conflict with the greater good and happiness of Aesmael. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

Hmm. Thought I had something more useful/interesting to respond with. If it comes back, so will I. view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 25 December 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by Aesmael, Candidate

Quote: &quot;saintjon&quot;:1ap8b5h6
I remember hearing once upon a time that during the cold war there were comparisons between the us and ussr as to how many times either country could nuke the planet with the amount of weapons they had. I think part of this was at one point they were figuring several hundred times over. Bio-weapons still have more potential as world killers in the long run if you ask me though.[/quote:1ap8b5h6]
Perhaps. Although aren't biological weapons generally more specialised in their killing than good ole God's Fire? view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 25 December 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by Aesmael, Candidate

As you can see from the date stamp on this, it would be rather hypocritical of me to call you to task for tardiness. (I used big words! <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> )

Quote: &quot;TakLoufer&quot;:3it6jic0
I apologize for the lateness of this reply, but class work and other concerns consume much of my time.

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:3it6jic0
First a couple of questions for Takloufer

1) Can you explain what you mean when you say qualia? Will check dictionaries anyway, but still would like to see your words. Who knows, perhaps they will be more edifying than those of the professionals[/quote:3it6jic0]

Qualia are the "experience of seeing red", the "smell of a rose", the "sensation of pain," etc. It is the "something it is like" about experience.[/quote:3it6jic0]
It would be misleading of me to say "I understand", however I believe I get the gist of it - at least so far as I can for the time being. My brow is still furrowing over it.
To allow for correction if I err: Tending to interpret qualia as referring to something near the 'irreducible' end of the scale, that it could not be adequately described in terms of something else.

Quote: &quot;TakLoufer&quot;:3it6jic0
I would also argue that intention is a form of qualia. When you think of your grandmother, there is a "something it is like" about this (and I am not referring to the visual image in your mind) that cannot be reduced to brain states.

2) Are you Ratofluke?


Yes, I am. How did you find out?[/quote:3it6jic0]
Currently I am sifting through the entirety of the westeros board archives (The on-topic non-spoiler parts, that is) and happened to catch a few newer posts by Ratofluke. My hypothesis was that very few who frequent fantasy series message boards are familiar enough with Whitehead to use any quote in their signature, let alone that one. (i.e. you gave yourself away)
That, and your use of the phrase 'just so' is evocative of Syrio Forel.

Quote: &quot;TakLoufer&quot;:3it6jic0
Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:3it6jic0
3) I would appreciate if you could explain or direct me to an explanation ('proof') of the inability of scientific thought to solve the problems you are concerned with[/quote:3it6jic0]

It's like I said in my thought experiment in a previous post. A group of scientist examining a brain can observe its processes to the minutest detail, down to the transfer of individual neurotransmitters, and they still wouldn't have the slightest clue as to what the brain is experiencing. If the brain is dreaming of a castle, the scientists will never be able to discern this through observations of the brain.

While there are certainly correlations between brain states and mental states, one does not logically entail the other, much the same way 10 + 13 doesn't logically entail the color "blue," but it does logically entail the number 23.

As far as materialism is concerned, the mental state's correlations to the brain is "just so."

The reason observations (which are the foundation of science) cannot explain experience is because experience is not something that can be observed, but rather experience is the observing.

This is why I say materialism (as defined by [1]) will always fail when trying to accommodate experience. If the metaphysic behind the observations are devoid of intrinsic experience, then it doesn't matter what combination or structures the material forms: experience does not logically entail. You can't generate a POV from the interactions of vacuous (insentient, or non-experiencing) substance, and if a POV does exist within such interactions, the POV must come from outside the system.

I hope this clears things up. If not, please re-read my previous posts.[/quote:3it6jic0]
I find your statements to be perfectly simple, if we were to presuppose that materialism possess insufficient explanatory power for this situation (brain states/mental states relations). The thought experiment, insofar as I understand it, takes as given that close examination of brain states cannot yield mental states. That a map of brain activity, no matter how detailed, will never yield the dream of the castle. They are coincidentally related rather than causally related. Just so, indeed.

On the other hand, if we were to presuppose that materialism is adequate for the task, it would be equally simple to see that a similar thought experiment will conclude that a sufficiently detailed map of brain activity will indeed produce the dream of the castle, as it must. The relationship in this scenario is not so much one of 'just so' as it is of 'hence'.

Quote: &quot;TakLoufer&quot;:3it6jic0
Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:3it6jic0
Ah, it seems I can only think of something to say in response to your posts when I am not actually looking at them.[/quote:3it6jic0]

I wonder if quantum physics has something to do with this . . . <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->[/quote:3it6jic0]
Yep. It is definately because of quantum.

Ah, running out of time here. Will have to get back to the rest of the post. Hope this board will let me edit things in.
Quote: &quot;TakLoufer&quot;:3it6jic0
Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:3it6jic0
If I understand correctly you are saying the unit of reality is the experience?
It seems to me that there is then still no need to postulate things such as electrons as being experiencers, since the model of an electron is no longer required to explain what is observed[/quote:3it6jic0]

Well, now we're getting into subjective idealism. Because if we allow that the objects in our experience are merely "ideas" in some sort of "metamind", and they really don't do anything in and of themselves, then reality is just a very coherent dream that, for whatever reason, seems to have correlative causal powers with mental phenomena. The fact that a lobotomy hinders the mind would be nothing but a consistent rule and any causal power the brain has over the mind would be completely contingent on the program of a metamind; the brain itself would be only another idea.

In other words: the link between the brain and mind would be arbitrary, a factor determined by psychophysical laws (which are in turn merely ideas in a meta-mind).

This may very well be the case, but, as Scott rightly pointed out in a previous thread, this suffers from an "unexplained explainer." The "metamind" that is required to keep everything organized is the logical equivalent of God, and is left unexplained. True, all metaphysics have a presupposed foundation assumed, but subjective idealism is downright unparsimonious in that it pushes the essential questions into a metamind, and leaves us wondering why reality should be so consistent when it certainly doesn't have to be.

Whitehead and Griffin's panexperientalism overcomes this by cutting the unexplained explainer "down to size". There doesn't have to be a pre-existing mind to "dream up" the world, but rather just primal awareness ("prehension" in Whiteheadian terms) that, through a "compounding" process (which is a natural law), can be magnified into, eventually, a conscious mind.

Don't get me wrong, I think subjective idealism is coherent; but if it comes down between (Subjective) Idealism and Panpsychism, I'd say Panpsychism wins through better explanatory value and the use of Occam's Razor - subjective idealism requires a pre-existing (and unexplained) "metamind" to keep things organized, where as panpsychism has no such requirement. Also, panpsychism naturalizes experience, and allows for our observations to serve a purpose other than window dressing, which is what they would be in idealism (they would be the "dreams" of a pre-existing mind.)

Ah, one thing I do feel fairly confident about commenting. I do not believe Scott was referring to Bush (at least not directly) in that remark, but rather to the environmental impact of homo sapiens sapiens. It is thought that there is an unusually high rate of extinction in recent years (definately including before the guy became president, though he has certainly never to my knowledge been praised for doing anything about it, and perhaps condemned for not). It is often described as the largest extinction event since said K/T event.

I also suspect that you are underestimating the capacity of nuclear weapons for causing global devastation (not necessarily to the surface of Earth itself, but rather through secondary effects). But I could be wrong.


I concede that this may be the case.

-Tak

[1] Materialism, defined as "the two-fold doctrine that the ultimate units of the world are entities or events that are devoid of both experience and spontaneity, and that nothing exists but such units, interactions among them, and aggregates of them." (Griffin)[/quote:3it6jic0] view post


Best Kick-in-the-Nuts' EVER!!! posted 04 February 2005 in Literature DiscussionBest Kick-in-the-Nuts' EVER!!! by Aesmael, Candidate

I find science fiction stories to be good for that sort of thing. Most recent example that springs to mind is the end of Reynolds' Diamond Dogs. Also time travel, anytime an author decides to write about time travel that seems to be taken as their chance to make the reader to feel as though they have been kicked in the gut.

The soiaf, yes, a number of good examples there. Malazan not so much. Plenty of times I felt sad (that arrow, for example), but no events events where I felt gutwrenching shock.

Best example for me is Miura's Berserk, which I seem to be spending an excessive amount of energy to promote here. As someone on another forum said just recently, the ending of the television series comes close to doing emotional damage to those who watch. In my opinion, it is easily a more horrific event (for the viewer, let alone the characters) than the Red Wedding. Perhaps I have said too much.

As far as the dark Tower goes, I enjoyed the ending, agree with King that it was the 'right' one. Only disappointment comes from the fact that the story I had hoped to read is the one that follows on from it. But I can live with that. view post


Free Will posted 07 December 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Aesmael, Candidate

How is a choice made? view post


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