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TakLoufer Candidate | joined 22 June 2004 | 24 posts


On The Warrior Prophet posted 22 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionOn The Warrior Prophet by TakLoufer, Candidate

Hello,

I'm a semi-regular/lurker at the ASOIAF forum and just recently bought a copy of TDTCB. I'm currently a third of the way through and so far I really like it. It's on par with Martin, IMO, though the style is much different.

Anyway, I just came across this thread and it touches on a topic that I am greatly interested in (the mind-body problem and ontology in general) and I feel the need to put in my $0.02.

I used to be a hard-core materialist atheist (no doubt as a result of years spent in an oppressive Christian environment) though I never really considered the full implications of this metaphysic. My interest in the mind-body problem began when I began some personal research into the nature of consciousness. I've read Dennett, Searle, Chalmers, Penrose, and others . . . and I felt even more confused than before I started my research.

While neuroscience has explored many of the correlates of conscious experience (such as: when a this part of the brain does this, we feel pain), but this doesn't even remotely explain how or why this occurs. The correlation is arbitrary because the brain states don't contain "pain" or "the taste of peanut butter" . . . they are subjective, while brain states are objective.

John Searle argues that the brain generates consciousness the same way the stomach digests food. Consciousness is what brains do. Or that consciousness emerges from insentient matter the same way water emerges from H2O. This satisfied me for a while, but as I read more, I realized that this analogy was erroneous. Digestions occurring in a stomach or water emerging from molecules are constitutive (to borrow a term used by David Ray Griffin)emergent phenomena and can (exhaustingly) be reduced down to mechanical interactions. Consciousness, OTOH, can only be a correlative emergent phenomena because brain states do not intrinsically contain the sensation of seeing red or the sensation of having a nail driven through ones foot; but are merely correlated with each other.

This problem became an obsession. My worldview was at stake and I was annoyed that an answer eludes me. Hell, an answer still eludes me, though I know more than I did before.

Also, in the course of my research, I came across studies in psi-phenomena. It started when I read Dean Radin's Conscious Universe and I was surprised that the evidence is, well, to me, scary. I always thought concepts such as telepathy, precognition, and psychokinesis was nonsense that only crackpots believed, but the evidence has been repeated over and over again in experiements by "believers" and "skeptics" alike. Type "ganzfeld" or "autoganzfeld" into google for some papers on telepathy experiments. I'm not saying these phenomena exist (though the evidence suggest as much), but the evidence is much stronger that I previously believed. Though beware of the new age crap.

If psi does exist . . . well, I don't know. It would seem consciousness extends beyond the brain (as psi is the mind transcending space and time) and not the epiphenomenal side-effect of deterministic neural activity.

As for an answer to the mind-body problem, I think a few theories hold water better than others:

1) The Penrose-Hameroff Orch-OR theory. This theory argues that the microtubules in neurons interact with the fabric of space-time itself (the Plank scale) to produce experience. Consciousness is the foundation of reality. For more information, read The Emperor's New Mind and Shadows of the Mind by Roger Penrose; or just go to Stuart Hameroff's site at <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.consciousness.arizona.edu/hameroff/">http://www.consciousness.arizona.edu/hameroff/</a><!-- m -->

2) Whiteheadian Panexperientalism: This is similar to Penrose and Hameroff's theory, except it's more general. The universe is composed of experience. All matter contains basic awareness (though not consciousness). For more information, read David Ray Griffin's Unsnarling the World Knot and Alfred North Whitehead's Process and Reality. I've been told that Whitehead's philosophy is similar to Heidigger's (they were contemporaries), though I have yet to read him.

3) Mental Monism: In some ways this is similar to panexperientalism, except that mental monism says that the entire objective world is nothing but a fiction attached to sensory experience. Basically, reality is a very coherent dream with rules (ex. gravity) and is maintained by some larger mind (a metamind). The universe has all the "substance" of a really vivid dream: none at all. I realize this seems insane, but computer programmer Peter B. Lloyd makes a good argument for it. His website is <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~ursa/">http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~ursa/</a><!-- m -->. He has also written a book called Consciousness and Berkeley's Metaphysics If I were a betting man, I'd bet up to $100 that this theory is the closest to the truth. It sounds insane at first, but his arguments are the strongest I've come across.

Some would say this opens the back door for God and an afterlife, though personally I feel that any "God" (metamind?) is not even remotely anthropomorphic in nature and that personalities are, by their very nature, limited and temporary(*). My guess is that at death our personalities "defocus" into the universal consciousness or whatever, like a drop in a ocean losing it's individuality. That's not really that bad. It sure beats being an epiphenomenal side effect.

(*) - Though there is some good evidence suggesting personalities can sometimes survive death (Immortal Remains by Stephen Braude is a evenhanded apprasal of the evidence), I'm undecided on the issue. view post


On The Warrior Prophet posted 23 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionOn The Warrior Prophet by TakLoufer, Candidate

Welcome to the board, Takloufer. Just a note (as much a question as anything else), I thought Michael Shermer and the Skeptical Inquirer people did a real number on Radin and the psi stuff.


I'm not aware of any article by Michael Shermer that attacks specifically Radin's book, but I take most of what Shermer says with a pinch of salt. The problem with skeptical publications and organizations such as Skeptic and CSICOP and others is that, like many of their pro-psi opponents, they have a strong ideological position to defend. Still, their articles are useful in seeing alternate explanations.

Some of the arguments against Radin's position that I've seen are the file-drawer effect and bungled statistics. The file-drawer effect is unlikely simply because the number of unreported experiments required to create a null effect is staggering. In the case of the ESP card tests (which are by no means the best evidence), for every reported experiment, 3,300 unreported experiments would have to have been done to bring the positive results down to null. In the case of the ganzfeld and autoganzfeld experiments (where cheating would be almost impossible), if I remember correctly (someone borrowed my copy and hasn't returned it), the required file drawer would have to be 400 or so unreported experiments for every reported experiment. Given the funding and equipment necessary to run a ganzfeld experiment, it's absurdly unlikely that so many experiments were carried out.

Radin has also been accused of making mistakes in his statistics. This started with a book review by I.J. Good for the journal, Nature. The review can be found here: [url:1rn75qyu]http&#58;//members&#46;cruzio&#46;com/~quanta/review&#46;html[/url:1rn75qyu]. The problem is that Good misunderstood Radin's use of "more than a billion trillion to one" when calculating the probability that the card test results from 1882-1939 could be attributed to chance. By "more than a billion trillion", Radin meant something on the order of 10&gt;2000 to one against. Most of the blame for this misunderstanding can largely be laid at Radin's feet. Since the intended audience of Conscious Universe was the layperson, Radin felt it necessary to make the 10&gt;2000 a more easily understandable number. Radin's explanation can be found here [url:1rn75qyu]http&#58;//www&#46;tcm&#46;phy&#46;cam&#46;ac&#46;uk/~bdj10/psi/doubtsregood&#46;html#correct[/url:1rn75qyu].

Regrettably, even after this misunderstanding, CSICOP still opted to use this review against Radin in Viktor J. Stenger's article "Reality Check: Meta-Analysis and the File drawer Effect". [url:1rn75qyu]http&#58;//www&#46;csicop&#46;org/sb/2002-12/reality-check&#46;html[/url:1rn75qyu].

In any case, the usefulness of Radin's book is that it's a good starting point for better research and it brings to attention some very suggestive experiments. However, while his professional integrity is not as questionable as, say, Targ's or Putoff's (who are both very probably quacks IMO - they fell for Uri Geller's tricks, for Christ's sake!), he does tend to indulge in some minor tweaking of quotes. The skeptical book review at [url:1rn75qyu]http&#58;//www&#46;skepticreport&#46;com/psychics/radinbook&#46;htm[/url:1rn75qyu] is most useful in this showing this, though I feel many skeptical publications are guilty of the same misrepresentations. If one looks though this buttressing, though, one can see that the ganzfeld experiments are the gem in the rough.

The ganzfeld and autoganzfeld experiments are, IMO, the best evidence of psi. Even though skeptics like Ray Hyman maintain that the ganzfeld does not prove the existence of psi, he hasn't given a suitable alternative explanation. Fraud and error have been ruled out, so now Hyman is focusing on statistical slips or sensory leakage (given that both the "sender" and "receiver" are both in separate, soundproof, electromagnetically sealed rooms, this seems unlikely). For more information, do a google on ganzfeld, Hyman, Utts, Bem, Honorton, Wiseman, and Milton. The controversy and debates over the last decade are really interesting, not to mention amusing as well.

The point is that it's hard to say what's a real effect and what's not, though I feel somewhat justified in thinking that at least the ganzfeld is a legitament phenomena.

I wouldn't argue the correlation between neurophysiologies and experiences is so much arbitrary, as you say, as it's simply inexplicable.


Well, it's arbitrary to us, as we have no explanation as for why "the smell of the ocean" should be felt when a certain neural configuration occurs. That in and of itself discredits elimnativism and shows that, if materialism is true, it is by necessity dualistic, split into an objective world of blind, dead matter and a subjective world that attaches qualia to certain configurations of this matter (brain states).

I'm troubled by the ontological extravagance of approaches like Chalmers, flummoxed by Dennett-like eliminativism, skeptical of Searle's 'levels of description,' and very amused by the quantum approachs taken by Penrose. The bottom-line is that nobody knows what the hell is going on, which is why, like you, I'm inclined to think there could be room for the 'extra-material' (or, more pragmatically, 'something beyond the ability of science to explain'). The question is one of making meaningful inferences beyond this point, which leaves me stalled in my agnosticism.


Well, my agnosticism is now leaning towards mental monism, since the "subjective world" obviously exist and everything we know about the objective world are, basically, useful fictions gleamed from our sensory perception. The world could very well be a coherent dream, and this would allow for consciousness to exist. Mental monism makes the "hard problem" easy.

The one thing I can say with certainty is that there is "something" missing from the current materialist paradigm.

What do you think of Nagel's 'double-vision' approach to the problem?


If you are referring to the subjective-objective duality of all objects (I haven't read Nagel yet, though he seems to be a sort of panpsychist), then I agree. As I'm not all that familiar with Nagel (though others refer to him often), I'll wait until I've read his work before I venture an opinion.

-Tak view post


On The Warrior Prophet posted 28 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionOn The Warrior Prophet by TakLoufer, Candidate

I can't remember the specifics of the SI critiques, but on the basis of your description of the debate, I'll definitely keep the door open on psi. Given the success of the etiological picture of the world that science has sketched for us, and the tendentiousness that seems to invariably dog research into the paranormal, I have to say I'm pessemistic.


Despite over a century of investigations and gathered evidence (much of it strong) parapsychology is still largely seen as a collection of incompetents, kooks, crackpots, and outright frauds. Regrettably this (mis)conception is, to at least some extent, somewhat deserved. However, I suppose this is to be expected, given the nature of the field. The very fact that it is not commonly accepted into mainstream science makes it more vulnerable to snake oil salesmen, new age gurus, and scientists who are less than stalwart in their science. <!-- s:( --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_sad.gif" alt=":(" title="Sad" /><!-- s:( -->

OTOH, this doesn't discredit the field in and of itself . . . it just makes it that much harder to sift through the nonsense to find the quality research.

At the very least, the burden of proof lies with the psi realists. Backwards causality at the level of dried goods? Claims that big require exhaustive experimentation and review.


If you are referring to retrokinesis when you mention backwards causality, then I agree; unlike the ganzfeld, RK has not been replicated any number of times, as far as I know. RK may be a real phenomena; but that remains to be seen.

A couple quick questions regarding your idealism: 1) What do you make of the intentionality or aboutness of experience?


1) Well, I feel we almost certainly have intentionality and volition. The "aboutness" of conscious experience is, IMO, one of the most important characteristics of consciousness, next to the qualia itself. Searle puts forward good argument for the non-computability of semantics (and, by extension, intentionality) in his book Rediscovery of the Mind. Ironically, Searle's arguments against computable semantics and even syntax also work against his own theory of "biological naturalism" (David Ray Griffin explains this when he speaks of constitutive vs. correlative emergent phenomena). The "aboutness" (and syntax and semantics) of conscious thought has to come from something other than insentient matter.

The reason why I think we have volition is, for the most part, a personal one. Epiphenomenalism flys in the face of hard core common sense; not just the common sense of "the earth is flat" variety that can be easily conceived otherwise, but, as Whitehead put it, volition (along with consciousness itself) is:

"the metaphysical rule of evidence: that we must bow to those presumptions, which, in despite of criticism, we still employ for the regulation of our lives.”


No one can live their day to day life denying they have volition any more than they can live their lives denying they exist. Also, there is the (not logically water tight, admittingly) argument that if we had no volition, then all qualia and experience would be nothing but a vestigial organ, a useless appendage, a cruel side effect. This, I feel, is absurd. When I feel hungry, I get up, walk to the kitchen, and make myself a sandwich. If I had no volition, then me feeling hungry would serve absolutely no purpose. "I" (whatever that is) could experience the sensation of anything - the feeling of being full, of being on fire, whatever - and my deterministic physical body would still amble towards the kitchen to mechanically make a sandwich as sure as rocks roll downhill. Why should my experience correlate with what my body does (or at least what I experience my body doing) unless my experience and appearent volition has an effect?

Idealism makes sense of this by allowing consciousness, as the foundation of reality, the intentionality and volition that we experience in everyday life. Our brains (which, according to Lloyd's mental monism, are objects maintained in the meta-mind) contain neural correlates of at least some (and conceivably all), of our mental states. Brains are sort of like the mind/meta-mind interface in which we use when we interact in the "metaverse" where minds interact. I use the word "we" loosely, as I suspect that the concept of individuals goes away when the structure of the brain ceases. I may be wrong, of course.

2) Given that we all have perspectives, just what would you say our perspective is on?


2) Do you mean what our perspective is based on? Well, in a mental monistic metaphysic; the metamind. As to the nature of the metamind, who knows? I tend to think the metamind as a sort of Brahman-like godhead without/with attributes (and so does Peter B. Lloyd). Not so much an anthropomorphic being as just "The infinite". Personally, I tend to think that our perspectives originate from this. That's who's really looking back at us when we look in the mirror.

In other words, I'm not sure.

-Sorry for the length, I have a tendency to ramble.

-Tak view post


On The Warrior Prophet posted 29 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionOn The Warrior Prophet by TakLoufer, Candidate

I'm enjoying this as well!

Just a few more questions: You say its the recalcitrance of intentionality thats the chicken bone in the throat of materialism - you'll get no argument from me there (though I more interested in talking naturalism than materialism)! But I have to admit, I no longer have any clue just what you mean by intentionality. You acknowledge that aboutness is a decisive characteristic of experience, and yet you seem to alternately suggest that our experiences are 1) about nothing at all,


Nothing physical. A mental monist denies the ontologically separate existence of physical material, energy, space, and time. The physical concepts exist only as coherent qualia (or "ideas", as Berkeley would put it). The notion of a separate world of blind, dead, deterministic "billiard balls" is a useful fiction - they exist in the sense that we think of them as existing in an everyday sense, but they don't exist outside the presence of the metamind any more than dreamworlds exist outside a dream.

and 2) about 'mental constructs.'

If (1) is the case, then you're arguing that intentionality (understood as aboutness) is in fact illusory. In other words, you seem to kill intentionality in the name of saving it.

(2) just strikes me as incoherent. 'Mental constructs' are presumeably things constructed by my mind, and as such exist only within my mind. So precisely WHERE is my mind?


A mental monist would say the mind is nonphysical. Your mind is not "in" your head, though there are physical correlates to it in the form of brain states. But these brain states do not, in and of themselves, contain the qualia necessary for consciousness.

Minds are simply not objects in the three dimensional space of our universe, though the brain is the object in which mental states are correlated.

Some examples of other nonphysical objects are numbers and algorithms. Numbers and algorithms can be manifested in physical objects, in the way I can say "I have three pencils in my hand" or an algorithm can be written in a computer programs code, but it would be inaccurate to say that the number "three" is actually contained within my hand or that the physical location of an algorithm is located in a computer's circuitry.

Minds, like mathematical constructs, are outside the physical world. Likewise, the metamind is also "outside" the physical world (which is its "dream").

I know this is hard to fathom, but this is because we are used to thinking in terms of spatial coordinance (such as: "the ball is under the table" or "my sister is at school"), and the idea of something being "outside" this 3-d grid is hard to imagine.

Your mind is located in the same place the quadratic equation and the color pink are: nowhere (or the "Platonic Realm" - which sounds more romantic).

It can't be in my head, because 'head' is just a mental construct existing in my mind. It can't be in your head for the same reason -


No, your head isn't "generated" by your own mind, I doubt our minds are "powerful" (whatever that means) enough to maintain a coherent world for any length of time. A mental monist will say that your head, your body, etc, are "within" (a meaningless term, as minds are outside space) the metamind. Your mind can perceive it when you look in a mirror or touch yourself. If you are knocked unconscious and no one else is around you, you don't cease to exist. Your body is maintained by the metamind just like all other objects. The only time when objects are created by our own mind is when we are either dreaming, imagining, or hallucinating.

When I say that our waking life is composed entirely "within" (again, the limits the language <!-- s:( --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_sad.gif" alt=":(" title="Sad" /><!-- s:( --> ) our minds, I mean that they are "about" the contents of the metamind. We are "within" the metamind, as if we were in someone else’s dream. Our mental construct of the world is determined by a number of factors, including sensory organs, cognitive ability, etc.

I can see what you are getting at though when we ask what intention is "about". We are forever trapped "within" our own minds, and we only have access to our own mental constructs (save for telepathy, if it exists). We can never see the "thing in itself" (the metamental object), only how our minds can precieve it. The only time we do see the thing in itself is within our own dreams, because we created the dream-objects.

The only mind that sees the "things in themselves" that exist in waking life is the metamind, and that is because all the objects are its mental constructs. I also assume, I suppose, that the metamind can see "within" our own minds, since, I assume, we ourselves must be the metamind's mental constructs (maybe in the same way we create characters in fiction, though that's a stretch).

in fact, if I take what you're saying right, you're nothing more than a mental construct in my nowhere-dwelling mind.


Well, a mental monist would say I exist outside of your mind. We are both "within" the metamind. And saying our minds are "nowhere" means that they are not within the 3-d space of the physical universe. The space itself is a product of mind (metamind in regards to the universe, our minds when it comes to our dreams)

If we were to meet, you would see my body and I your body. When you look at me, your mind would be sending a "volitional signal" (to use a phrase coined by Peter B. Lloyd) to the metamind and the metamind would send back a "signal" (this is probably a poor word to use, as there is not a "signal" in the sense of something traveling through space) to your mind with an image of my body, taking into account factors such as distance, objects between us, vision clarity, etc. Of course, that's a crude example; the "signals" would be a lot more complex than that; they would control all sensory input.

I suppose a good analogy would be to say it would be like us meeting in a virtual reality game. The space and objects in the VR world would not "literally" exist, but would be constructs built from a combination of the computer and our imagination. When we look at our respective VR bodies, what we see are not ontologically distinct, independently existing objects, but rather a creation of the VR machine. In the game, our intentionality are about objects that don't exist outside of the machine, even though we may perceive vast extensions in space and any sort of object while playing. The metamind is sort of like this VR machine, except the mind is not supervened on a physical machine. If the metamind is composed of anything, it would be eternal objects and archetypes.

You make an appeal to common sense in rejecting materialism - once again I'm sympathetic - but I'm not sure where the rubber of your appeal hits the road.


I'm aware of the apparent absurdity of the mental monistic stance, but I maintain that it's more coherent than materialism. Perhaps I should justify not only mental monism, but why I'm bothering with it in the first place.

In materialism, we have:

{Objective World} ---&gt;---creates---&gt;--- {Subjectivity} (epiphenomenal?)

The problem (that is so obvious that many philosophers miss it) is that the objective world, by being denied experience, lacks the tools necessary to "create" subjectivity. No matter how many insentient bits of matter bang into each other and no matter what structures they form, no sentience can come from insentience. Thomas Nagel said as much (I read this quote in Griffin's Unsnarling the World Knot) in "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" when he wrote:

. . . This gap is logically unbridgeable. If a bodiless god wanted to create a conscious being, he could not expect to do it by combining together in organic form a bunch of particles with none but physical properties.


For materialism to be coherent, it would require that either that 1) the material world intrinsically contains experience (panexperientalism) or some outside agency "bridges the gap" between brain states and subjectivity (dualism).

In this way of thinking, we start with the assumption of an objective, ontologically independent world, and then we are stuck trying to explain how (or even if!) we are conscious.

Mental monism is the exact opposite:

{Subjective world}(Volition?)---&gt;---creates---&gt;---{Physical World}

This allows for consciousness to exist without having to force an independent material world into the picture. The problem is that it seems so counter-intuitive (though I don't think it violates our "hard core" common sense notions), just like it would be counter-intuitive for someone in the Matrix to be told that their world is not "literally" there.

I have to admit my cynicism here, and I should explain so that you can see the much different tack I take to this debate. Any position can be rationalized given enough time and ingenuity: there really are no regress enders for philosophical discourse (and I take the fact that we can argue this point infinitely without arriving at a compelling conclusion to be a demonstration of this).


True, but one can rule out different metaphysics and philosophically probe a model to see if it has weaknesses.

Add the intrinsic need humans seem to have for things like meaning, morality, and purpose, and all these arguments start sounding more like apologia than anything else.


Well, I'm under no illusion that I'm going to find out the truth, or at least "know" it whether it is the truth or not. Many philosophical and scientific explorations are fueled by an outside agenda such as a search for meaning, or to defend a metaphysic, etc. Griffin calls this paradigmatic or wishful and fearful thinking. I hope I'm not falling into that trap, though I expect everyone suffers from this to one degree or another.

The only theoretical truth-claims that really impress me anymore are 1) scientific,


Well, science has its limitations. Science has been wondrously successful in regard to predicting and measuring the laws of nature and utilizing these laws for our benefit, but science is utterly impotent when it comes to explaining why or how these laws exist. Some scientists will state that "why are there natural laws?" and "why is there something instead of nothing?" are meaningless questions, but this shows the extent of their blindness in the matter. Science has done a wonderful job of describing and predicting the movements of shadows on Plato's cave wall, but they are as ignorant now of their origins as they were four hundred years ago.

2) those that cut against the grain of our conceits, 3) those that are intuitively forceful prior to philosophical training (like determinism, for instance).


Determinism is intuitively forceful only in regard to insentient objects. In the matter of people, it's not intuitive at all, and rightly so. Even if someone believes in determinism, they cannot live their lives as if they did.

None of this means that philosophy doesn't have interesting and worthwhile things to say - what it means is that philosophy lacks the institutional, conceptual, and methodological resources to offer anything resembling a compelling, regress-ending, answer.


Well, that's science's job. The success of science is, oddly enough, due to its own limitations. Science does not even try to answer "why" and this allows for it to move on and utilize the unexplained natural laws. In science, the regress ends with description, prediction, and utilization. Lloyd made this clear when he wrote:

People had for a long time been puzzled by what makes the world tick. For instance, why does an apple fall out of a tree? To say that it is due to "gravity", is to only label it, without explaining it. On its own, that is no better than Aristotle's supposition that it was the spirit of the apple that wanted to move towards the earth. Newton's master stroke was to realise that we do not really need to answer that question (Consciousness and Berkeley's Metaphysics)


This just seem obvious to me. And this, by the way, is why I see modernity as a time of profound crisis: in our society only scientific institutions have the ability to make truth-claims stick - so successfully that they've utterly transformed the world - and yet they seem fundamentally antagonistic to meaning and value, to the way we humans understand ourselves in the first instance. When the most powerful instrument of discovery in the history of the human race insinuates the meaningless of existence - well, that strikes me as cause for concern.


Though I am certainly no enemy to science, I feel that this crisis is a case of science "getting too big for its britches". Science doesn't have the tools to allow it to make value judgments or determine meaning. It's like the folks in Plato's cave dogmatically asserting that the shadows are all there is because they can't observe anything else.

The fact that consciousness has eluded science for the past four centuries illustrates the inherent limitations of science.

I'm concerned as well, though. Hopefully, parapsychology will come forward to bridge the gap, or at least make the gap smaller. Yes, I'm aware parapsychology is not respected in science, but it's been receiving more and more attention in the last decade (or at least scientific attention), and with the better controls in the experiments (and the fact that the effect remains) makes me think that its credibility will only increase.

Parapsychology has come a long way since poorly controlled séances and card tests.

So when I approach arguments at the metaphysical level of monisms, dualisms, and whatnot, there's a sense in which I'm muckraking more than anything else. I can see the interest of such debates, but I can't understand the commitment. Such commitment, it seems to me, stems from an unwarranted optimism in the capacity of philosophical argument.


Well, if one believes that there is truth, then one knows that there must be a right answer. The right answer may forever elude us, but we can still narrow down the suspects. I feel I've eliminated materialism as a coherent metaphysic; dualism is logically possible, though the interaction in the brain between objective and subjective worlds remains problematic. (Though Penrose's quantum solution may help solve this)

I feel I've narrowed it down to two likely candidates: panexperientalism and mental monism. In any case, I feel certain that experience is a "rock bottom" characteristic of reality.

If you can find it, you should read David Ray Griffin's Unsnarling the World Knot, it's pretty expensive ($50.00 on amazon) but it should available at the a university library (or an interlibrary exchange). IMO it's one of the most useful books on the subject, whether or not you agree with his metaphysic. Yesterday I checked out Nagel's View from Nowhere, and hopefully I'll start reading that soon.

-Tak view post


On The Warrior Prophet posted 30 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionOn The Warrior Prophet by TakLoufer, Candidate

Very interesting response! Though I'm not sure you addressed my worries, Tak. You never actually addressed my intentionality question (which is simply a version of the perspective question). What are out experiences of?


Perhaps I'm not understanding by what you mean by "intentionality", so let me explain what I think you are referring to.

Here is what I think you mean:

In the materialist metaphysic, when one looks at an object, their experience is "about" an ontologically distinct substance composed of matter. So, to a materialist, intentionality is the mental representation of something in the objective world composed of matter. Right?

To a mental monist, when one looks at an object, their experience is of a metamental object within a metamind. So to a mental monist, intentionality is the mental construction of a metamental object within a metamind (and the metamental object is in turn "intended" or "about" a combination of eternal objects/archetypes)

If I strip off all of the odd jargon and concepts, and really compare materialism and mental monism, I think the main difference between the two ontologies is this:

1) The basic units or "building blocks" in materialism: Atoms, electrons, mass, "spin", forces, etc. These objects intrinsically contain no experience and have no "internal" existence. They exist, to use a term used by Griffin, as en soi, or in themselves, but not for themselves. They only have an "outside" This is what Whitehead called a "vacuous entity"

2) The basic units or "building blocks" of mental monism are eternal objects and archetypes. This includes the experience of seeing red, blue, the smell of fish, the concept of extensions in space, time, pain, etc . . . . even, I would assume, the laws of mathematics and abstractions such as love, hate, freedom (I may be getting ahead of myself now). Unlike the "vacuous entities," that make up reality in the materialist metaphysic, these objects are what experiences are composed of.

Given these two different types of building blocks, only the second is intrinsically capable of subjectivity. The first kind can only allow for subjectivity provided some outside agency "bridges the gap" and attaches experience to the insentient units. With the second type, there is no gap to bridge.

You seem to agree with that the 'nothing response' is unpalatable (because it simply does away with the very intentionality you're trying to save).


Well, by nothing, I mean nothing physically. Nonphysical does not necessarily entail nonexistence. Numbers, algorithms, eternal objects, minds, etc. are all nonphysical. They are "outside" space. They have no "where". If you mean that the objects of the intention do not exist (physically or otherwise), then I would agree that that premise is unpalatable. Irrealism is in the same boat as solipsism.

You admit the mental construct response is unpalatable to common sense (which you seem to need), but you never actually say what our experiences are about.


Mental monism conflicts with "soft core" common sense, much in the way that a person from ancient times could conceive that the world is, in fact, not resting on the back of a tortoise, or that leeches are bad for you, or lightning does not come from the gods . . . even though these beliefs are part of the worldview he has raised with. OTOH, this same person could not conceive that he does not exist, or that his is not conscious, or that he does not have volition.

Mental monism conflicts with the current world view, but it does not violate the hard-core notions that all people employ by necessity.

The metamind? You have to admit that prima facie, this smacks far more of 'fiction' and 'unexplained explainer' than good old fashioned matter.


Well, it depends on how one was raised. In a different culture (Hindu, perhaps), the idea of independent and ontologically distinct and insentient matter may strike some as absurd..

Moreover, there's a sense in which saying our experiences are on 'meta-experiences' seems a horribly ad hoc way of saving intentionality, particularly when you want to say that intentionality is not only the fundamental feature of experience, but your primary basis for abandoning materialism!


Well, it wasn't my primary reason. Intentionality aside, the very existence of experience is enough to cripple mainstream materialism. In order for materialism to account for consciousness, it would have to either 1) allow matter to intrinsically have experience or 2) allow an outside agent to bridge the gap.

Just think of all the questions: So if experiences are about meta-experiences, then what are those 'meta-experiences' about? After-all, they are EXPERIENCES, aren't they? Or are we talking about 'intentionless experiences' at this level? If this is the case, and intentionality is an essential characteristic of experience, then it no longer seems like we're talking about experiences, but rather about something more inert... more, matter like?


But matter just makes the problem even more complicated; or at least the matter of mainstream materialism. This matter is devoid of experience, and yet we have experience. Given the limited and insentient nature of this materialistic matter, the best one could hope for is an en soi automation. Experience from insentience requires "something extra" to bridge the gap.

I really think that idealism renders intentionality unintelligible. You have to show me where I'm wrong.


Okay, I see what you are getting at. Allow me to explain. Let me start from the beginning - or at the rock bottom of reality - and work my way up, justifying each "level":

Level 1: The Platonic Realm - This is where is all starts. It is at this "level" (a poor choose of words - this is not an actual "place") that eternal objects and archetypes "reside" (another meaningless word). The existence of these objects, unlike the existence of matter, is irrefutable. The experience of colors, sounds, smells, sensations, tastes, extensions in space, time, mathematics, abstractions - these exist, and are irreducible. They have no spatial location, but are objects "outside" the universe; though they can be manifested in various forms. These eternal objects are what consciousness is made of. Bear in mind that when I refer to the color red, I refer to the experience of the color red; a non-experienced red has no color. Even in a materialist metaphysic, these objects must be accounted for; and in order to make materialism coherent, one must find a way for these qualia to exist in world where they don't intrinsically exist. The existence of this "Realm" (once again, not a place, but a catch all term for all of the eternal objects) is, IMO, as indisputable as consciousness itself.

Level 2: The Metamind - The metamind is, in effect, the buffer that rest between our minds and the eternal objects. The necessity of the metamind is that something is required to explain how the paint of eternal objects could produce the portrait of our universe. The metamind is a sort of organizer of all of the eternal objects. It is from the metamind in which the natural laws are maintained, objects remain stable, and experiences remain where they should. As to what the metamind's experiences are about, well, they are about the eternal objects (and the eternal objects don't have intentionality, as they are "the experience of _____"). This has more explanatory value than materialism because it doesn't have the "unbridgeable gap" that comes with insentient matter.

As to the metamind's nature . . . ? I doubt it has an anthropomorphic personality, or characteristics as we know it. The metamind may be our "higher selves" or whatever. I don't know. Peter B. Lloyd has a number of theories.

Level 3: Our minds - Our minds are "within" the metamind and all of our intentionality and perceptions are "about" meta-mental objects in the metamind, which in turn are "about" combinations of eternal objects.

A way to simplify this (as I realize the "metamind" sounds a bit silly) is to say that our intentionality is of structures of eternal objects (which is all the metamind really is: a collection and structure of archetypes and eternal objects)

So there you have it.

Material intentionality = "about" material objects.

Immaterial intentionality = "about" constructs of eternal objects. ("Actual Entities" according to Whitehead)

For example: An apple has color, taste, mass, volume. It has duration and it will change with time. If one were to take a piece of it and put it under a microscope, they will see more of its structure: cells, molecules, etc. All of these will be experiences (or Berkeley's "Ideas") and will be composed of manifested eternal objects. The metamind maintains the apple's archetypes, much the same way we maintain an object in a dream.

The same applies with materialism, except that materialism has to concede the existence of an ontologically different, insentient world for the experiences of the apple to supervene on and then has to explain how this experience can be come from the dead matter. By necessity they have to use an (sometimes unspoken) outside agency or allow matter to posses experience.

Basically, materialism just adds an unnecessary step.

Another point: the 'limits of science' (which I take as a given) comes up all the time in debates like this, and I can't help but think it simply misses the point. No one I know of argues the completeness or infallibility of science. They only argue that when it comes to the generation of reliable theoretical truth-claims, it really seems to be the only game in town. I'm open to considering competitors, but the field looks pretty bleak.


Well, science can produce reliable truth-claims within its limitations, but outside of this it is useless. The shadows have been described, predicted, and utilized - what's casting them eludes us.

There are ways, BTW, of materially explaining why science can't crack intentionality - they just seem to lead to unpalatable conclusions. Colin McGinn has an interesting take on this. I have my own 'blind brain hypothesis.'


IIRC, McGinn's position is that we simply cannot know (though he maintains that the solution must be within a materialistic metaphysic). I'll get back to his argument later. I've read of your "blind brain hypothesis" and I agree with it to a large extent (we are simply cognitively limited in self-reflection), but I feel that this metaphysical blind spot can be, while not exposed entirely, be partially circumvented and we can at least have a good idea of what the unknown metaphysic should involve. Your hypothesis (along with many other theories) seems to work with the unspoken assumption of an "observer" somehow reading data from within the brain (unless you are maintaining the foundational reality of experience). I say this based on how you say the brain is adept at tracking changes in the outside world. Who's reading the data? If the brain is "just another object in the world" (and I'm sure it is) then, according to the limitations of the materialist metaphysic, the brain should be nothing more than an automation - bouncing deterministic billiard balls. For the brain to even be able to think that it is separate, it requires some aspect beyond what materialism can offer.

This "unspoken observer" found in so many theories may be the "nothing" Replay mentioned in that thread.

We may intrinsically see ourselves as separate from the rest of the world (and I don't think we are, we are part of it as much as anything else), and I no doubt believe that we are limited in our cognitive abilities to really understand what's going on (our main limitation is the reliance on spatial coordiences to understand something - "nonphysical" just confuses us), but that doesn't mean we can make a good educated guess.

We know we have consciousness.

We know eternal objects exist.

We know we have intentionality and volition.

While we may be blind to the whole picture, we know that an adequate metaphysic should account for these phenomena. Mainstream materialism relies on either emergentism (which is only correlative and has no explanatory value) or an unspoken homunculus observing neural activity in the brain. So, despite McGinn's despair on the issue, we know what the metaphysic should account for, which allows for educated guesses. And taking into account the fallacies of mainstream materialism, I feel it's a safe bet that experience (not necessarily consciousness) is a fundamental part of reality. In fact, the whole materialist paradigm really got started when Descartes split the world into "mind" and "matter". Over the centuries, scientist have slowly excised themselves from “mind” until they left themselves with an ontology with lacked the tools to account for their own experience.

And lastly, I'm not sure how giving up on metaphysical commitments (and after over two thousands years, no less!) bears in any way on truth... Such resignation comes, I would argue, when you recognize the truth of metaphysical commitments!


Well, when I find out the truth, I'll let you know. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> view post


On The Warrior Prophet posted 30 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionOn The Warrior Prophet by TakLoufer, Candidate

Did grad school stuff actually stick?


Actually, I've haven't taken any classes in philosophy - yet. I'm currently studying to become an English high-school teacher, though my long-term goal is to become a professor of philosophy and/or parapsychology.

Writing out my argument above has made me think that perhaps the concept of the metamind will be more sensible (not to mention more palatable) if it were an evolving process, rather than the "unexplained explainer" god that it currently comes across as.

Basically, the universe is an evolving process where the primary units of existence are experienced archetypes/eternal objects instead of the unobservable, insentient matter of materialism.

We, as conscious beings, are aggregated societies of archetypes that have evolved from less complex aggregations. In a way, this means that our thoughts are really not our thoughts at all, but rather combinations of different eternal concepts. I find this, oddly enough, rather awe inspiring. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? --> view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 30 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

Finally some time for a more proper reply, though nothing, I'm afraid, that would justice to all the points you raise.

I'm not sure how you could get around the 'unexplained explainer' problem - certainly not with philosophy anyway.


Well, modern cosmology suffers from the same sort of problem:

Where did the universe come from? - The big bang.

Where did the big bang come from? - Quantum fluxations or quantum foam or something.

Where did that come from?

At least mental monism/panexperientalism can avoid the infinite regress: the rock bottom of reality is the irreducible archetypes.

Also, an evolving process hypothesis is analogous to cosmological and biological evolution and shouldn't generate any more nagging questions then they do.

As it stands, you and I both agree 'there must be more,' but for me that 'more' must remain a blank posit. I don't share your optimism regarding philosophy's ability to make anything stick.


Well, if the philosophical model can coherently account for the phenomena, then it (pragmatically, at least) "works".

Regarding the Blind Brain hypothesis, I think I understand why you might raise the old 'Cartesian Theatre' objection, but it really doesn't apply. I pursued the argument, in fact, to TROUBLE my 'there must be more' stance, which means that you're quite right to point out the automaton model of consciousness it seems to entail. What it does is provide a naturalistic explanation of the why and how of intentional phenomena - explaining them away in effect.


I don't think it really explains away intention so much as it shows the inadequacy of materialism. We can't really "see" ourselves as part of the world; but if we are part of the world, and the world is insentient, then we should be insentient as well. But because we are sentient, and if we are part of the world, then the world must be, in at least some "proto-conscious" form, sentient as well - it's either that or we declare dualism (which would make us separate from the world).

I feel this should be fairly obvious; but let me give an analogy. Over on the "On the Warrior Prophet" thread, someone earlier mentioned that our "blind spot" could be compared to a duck who cannot fathom why it can fly. I'm going to resurrect this concept.

Suppose a society of ducks exist that have a simple language and a penchant for philosophical musings. However, their tiny duck brains don't allow them to conceive certain concepts. For example, the concept of "air", or "atmosphere", will permanently elude them. It's not that they think the space around them is a vacuum, they don't think about the space around them at all. Anyway, the ducks have a problem. The current metaphysic of the ducks does not seem to account for the existence of flight. The nagging questions haunts them: "How can the mere flapping of wings produce flight?" The eliminativists among the ducks maintain that flight doesn't really exist, or is simply "folk aviation", where as the less extreme mainstream philosophers declare that flight is somehow an emergent phenomena of wing flapping, even though they have no idea how this occurs. The old dualists conjure up spirits that supposedly carry ducks when they fly.

The debates continue.

One day, a duck puts forward that perhaps they are incapable of understanding how flight occurs and that they should all just give up. This starts a commotion until one duck steps (er, waddles) forward and says that while the details of the ontology may elude them, they can say one thing for certain: The world (ontology) about them must have some undiscovered characteristic which accounts for the phenomena that they employ by necessity. They may not know what it is, but it should be obvious that there is something missing from their current world view that will allow flight. It's not that they can't see how wing-flapping causes flight, it's some factor beyond the wings themselves (air) that allows flight to exist.

This can be transplanted to your Blind Brain hypothesis. It's not so much that we are incapable of seeing how insentient, en soi particles of matter can create a POV - the nature of materialism necessarily does not allow for consciousness, save for an outside agency - we created the rules of the materialist metaphysic, and it denies us the tools necessary to explain consciousness. It should be obvious that, while we may not know (and may be incapable of knowing) the details, there must be some ontological factor unknown to us that is beyond the materialist deterministic model of the brain (panexperientalism? idealism?) that accounts for the phenomena (consciousness and volition) that we employ by necessity in our lives.

I feel this shows that the materialist paradigm, at least in its current form, is inadequate. Like the ducks' metaphysic, it lacks the tools to allow for an obstinate phenomena to exist.

But that's another story. If you want to explore it, we should probably start a different thread - one with a big warning sign!


And here we are --- no warning sign, though the title may scare people away <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) --> view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 03 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

Seeing as you have spent so much time on your post, i thought it only fair that someone respond to it in someway.


Thanks! I wasn't expecting many people to respond (after all, this isn't a high traffic forum, and this is a weird subject), but the more replies the merrier! <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

What i wanted to discuss with you is what you said about sentience. Personally, i have no problem with the apparent contradiction of there being sentience and non-sentience without moving into dualism,


The contradiction is a subtle one, but real nonetheless. In any materialist model of mind, except eliminativism (which is self refuting as it requires consciousness to deny the existence of consciousness]), something else is added (usually without the theorist even realizing it) to the materialist metaphysic. This added something can be said to be a basic "point of view" - or the explanation is merely correlative ("when these neurons light up, the color red is seen") which are just "bolted on" to materialism and lack any explanatory value. We know there is neural correlates to consciousness - the question is how this neural activity can lead to consciousness. Materialism, by itself, just lacks the tools needed to answer this question. If materialism is true, it, by necessity, would have to have panexperiental or dualistic characteristics.

but before i say more on that, it would good if you could say just exactly what you feel sentience is.


By sentience, I mean the "something it is to be like" - or, the "inside" of a living thing. Like, for example, you have an "outside" (your body, your brain, etc.) and an "inside" (your mind, feelings, memories, etc).

If an object only has an "outside" (a "vacuous entity"), then it is considered insentient. Objects with and an "inside" as well as an "outside" are considered sentient.

Panexperientalism states that the basic units of reality aren't composed of insentient "things" but rather "occasions of experience" - or "actual entities". All objects in the world have this primal sentience. The primary building blocks that all "entities" (from electrons to stars) are composed of are "eternal objects," which includes experiences of colors, sounds, sensations, mathematics, mass, space, time(duration?), etc. Think about it, all "things" "have" these attributes - and these attributes is what reality is "made" of. Think about it like the eternal objects are "paint" and reality is a painting. One can "paint" any object (chairs, people, atoms, etc) into the "painting" - but the object will be made up of different combinations of "paint" (colors, sounds, space, time, whatever).

And no, panexperientalism does not say rocks and telephones can think, but their base units do have a sort of primordial sentience (an "inside"). Rocks and chairs are Aggregational Societies. People, animals, etc, are what Hartshorne calls Compound Individuals, which is (presumably through the brain, perhaps via quantum coherence in the microtubuals?) a "society" of experience "emerging" (not in the materialist meaning of the term) into a dominant individual.

Mental Monism is like panexperientalism, except I feel (now that I'm re-reading Griffin and Whitehead's Process and Reality) that panexperientalism may make more sense - or at least go into more detail.

For more information on the topic, I recommend Christian De Quincey's Radical Nature. It's a good starting point (though I disagree with him on some minor points), and it's written for the lay person.

[url:38z0swoj]http&#58;//www&#46;amazon&#46;com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1931229155/qid=1088827186/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8758842-9813524?v=glance&amp;s=books[/url:38z0swoj]

And here is a short introduction to "Process Philosophy" - [url:38z0swoj]http&#58;//members&#46;aol&#46;com/NeoNoetics/Process_Philosophy&#46;html[/url:38z0swoj]

Hi Tak... Back from Canada Day shennanigans.


Is that like our 4th of July?

Regarding the unexplained explainer: The regress of justification ensures that we'll always bump into these, certainly - I took that as a given. What I was questioning was what warrants your 'mentalist' unexplained explainer. I need you to spell out to me, decisively (given the foibles of philosophical thought), how you get from 'Materialism is inadequate' to 'Mental monism is true.'


I'm not saying that. I'm saying, for a variety of reasons, materialism is, at least in its current form, inadequate in allowing experience to exist.

Mental monism, or panexperientalism, or even dualism (which has its share of problems) can allow for experience. Any materialist theory either gives correlative explanations (which don't answer the question - and imply some form of dualism or pan-ex-ism) or otherwise let an unspoken observer "in through the back door" so to speak. So basically, materialism inevitably ends up using some characteristic of a "mental" theory in its explanation. Something "outside" of the rules of materialism is put forward.

While the details elude us (and may indefinitely elude us, just as air eludes the ducks, or the concept of a cube eludes Flatlanders) I feel it is safe to say that in order for consciousness (and intention) to exist, some form of "experience" must be a foundation of reality.

Until then, your position strikes me as ad hoc at best: of the 'if it's not material, then it must be mental' variety. Why not something unknown?


And this unknown theory should allow consciousness and volition to exist, which should imply either the "unknown factor" should be an outside influence (dualism) or an intrinsic property (Pan-ex-ism). We may not understand the details (another dimension, quantum coherence, a "sentient vacuum", metamind, ?), but experience should be a part of it. Some form of mental monism, dualism, or pan-ex-ism are three broadly painted paths that are available to us. The most conservative would be pan-ex-ism, the most ontologically reckless mental monism (though, if pursued, it seems to turn into Whiteheadian Pan-ex-ism).

Why can't we know? Why should it be unknown? We are, no doubt, unable to know the nitty details of the foundation of reality, but I see no reason why the general idea should forever elude us. We should put forward different metaphysics, and see if the world works within them.

I think Whitehead summed up the purpose of metaphysics nicely when he stated:

Speculative Philosophy is the endeavor to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted


If a metaphysic can do this, and have better explanatory value than its competitors, then it should be considered a viable stance and, if not the Truth, then at least a step in the right direction.

Spinoza and Heidegger's 'frame complaint' comes to mind here as well. Whatever meaning we accord the term 'mental' (for Spinoza the term was 'God' and for Heidegger it was 'Being') arises from WITHIN the frame of experience. So the question is, how can we know that meaning is even remotely adequate for the frame itself.


We can't know . . . though we can come up with theories that fit the experienced phenomena.

But you are right in that we are stuck within our own experienced mental worlds, so we are at an almost impossible disadvantage to discover what is "really" going on. And the meaning of "mental" should be considered "things that can be experienced"- this should cover about everything. It's the things that we cannot experience (or at least experience indirectly) that will permanently elude us. But, whatever it is that is outside our experience, whatever is "behind the curtain" should account for our experience.

The three obvious choices are:

That which we cannot directly experience is . . .

1) in another universe (dualism)

2) Intrinsically part of our universe (panexperientalism)

3) Is what is really REAL, and the world around us is its construction/illusion (Idealism).

Now in cosmology we have comparatively robust empiricall observations and mathematical models upon which to base our inferences (as well as a track record of breathtaking success).


Science has had great success at describing, predicting, and utilizing the physical world - but hasn't a clue as to what the world is. The folks in Plato’s cave may congratulate each other on their knowledge of the movement of shadows, but that's all they will ever know.

As Griffin stated in his article "Panexperientalist Physicalism and the Mind-Body Problem":

. . . that science, like any other activity, abstracts from the things it discusses, focusing only on those aspects germane to the questions being asked. As Chalmers (1995, p. 217) says, 'physics characterizes its basic entities only extrinsically, in terms of their relations to other entities. . . . The intrinsic nature of physical entities is left aside'-which is reminiscent of Whitehead's (1967b, p. 153) that 'physics ignores what anything is in itself. Its entities are merely considered in respect to their extrinsic reality'. This insight is ignored when Searle, for example, says that 'science tells us' what the ultimate units of nature are like in themselves. It does no such thing. It tells us about those aspects of those entities that its methods have been suited to reveal, and those aspects, for all 'science' knows, may well be abstractions from the full reality of those entities. Simply to equate those abstractions with the concrete entities themselves is to commit what Whitehead (1967b, p. 51) called the 'fallacy of misplaced concreteness'.


Here's a link to the article.

[url:38z0swoj]http&#58;//members&#46;aol&#46;com/Mszlazak/PanExpMind&#46;html[/url:38z0swoj]

Even if science discovers every single correlate of consciousness, they will still be ignorant of how this correlation can cause qualia.

Here, on the other hand, all we have are metaphysical interpretations - which are doomed to be flimsey in the extreme.


Which still doesn't mean science can answer these questions.

Though mysterianism may be the most conservative of choices, this is by no means a given, and there is no reason why we can't, at least, understand the general idea of how reality is structured.

Here's another link to a paper I came across that is of relevance; though, to be honest, some parts just left me confused. I'll read it more attentively when I’m more awake (it's 2 A.M.)

[url:38z0swoj]http&#58;//mcs&#46;open&#46;ac&#46;uk/sma78/belgium&#46;pdf[/url:38z0swoj] view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 04 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

I've already acknowledged there's value in exploring 'frame questions' (my dissertation would be pointless otherwise!) It's your cognitive commitment to ONE answer - mental monism - that I'm dogging you on.


Well, I'm not committed to it, but I see it as a fairly good possibility. Though, now that I'm taking it to its logical base:

{Minds}---&lt;---{Metamind(God)(Process?)}---&lt;---{Eternal Objects}

I see that Berkeley's (&amp; Lloyd's) Idealism seems like an unrefined form of Whiteheadian panexperientalism - just take account of Platonic forms and replace "Metamind" with "process". Though, of course, Whitehead would have denied he was an Idealist.

Regarding which, you seem ready to bite the bullet... Once you take the metaphilosophical picture into account, agnosticism really seems to be the only rationally defensible position. The fact is, we just don't know.


I guess I do bite the bullet, though not that hard.

I'm sure there is a limit to what we can know about our own ontology, but we can learn to an extent about our world, just like ducks can learn to an extent about theirs.

You're right in that in we can't know (or know for certain, at least), but I feel safe in stating that the true metaphysic will be, in some form, one of these three "frames":

Physical World (w/ intrinsic "experience" (*) )-&gt;-(creates)-&gt;- Mental World = Panexperientalism

Physical World --(interaction)-- Mental World = Dualism

Physical World --(created by)-- Mental World = Idealism

*-This is opposed to materialism's physical world, which is described as being composed of insentient "stuff," intrinsically void of any experience.

-----

Ok that makes sense. And whilst I have a different idea of what sentience is and think it is a mistake to really think there is such a thing as an inside and an outside,


Well, I don't mean to say that they are literally outside or inside; but this is the impression we get. The "world" (whatever that is) is "out there" where as we are "in here". I have a feeling this confusion results from us not recognizing that we are not ontologically distinct from "out there" - our difference is one of token, not type. Think of a conscious whirlpool in a sentient ocean. The whirlpool, because it is more "focused," and therefore has a higher complexity of experience, mistakenly believes that the ocean (which is what it is made of) lacks experience and is insentient. The whirlpool may ask itself "How can insentient water, twirling about, cause me to be conscious?" Well, the correct answer is: it can't. The assumption in the question denies it a suitable answer.

I have no problem with such a classification. From a certain point of view, it can certainly be helpful in describing it in such a way. The problem comes though when we get caught up in these classifications and begin to think they are real things by themselves.


Exactly. This is what Whitehead called a "fallacy of misplaced concreteness".

Due to all the classifications we have in the world today, such as night and day, hot and cold, static and dynamic, inside and outside, sentience and insentience, it can often seem like we live in dualism. When you look closely at them though, you can see that this just isn't so. They are just labels we put on things to make it easier for us to discuss them. And as I said, the problem only comes when we take the label for something concrete, instead of looking closely at the thing it describes.


I agree.

For instance, hot and cold are not really two different things, they are just different phases of heat. And heat is not something that stands by itself either.


Well, to us, hot and cold are experienced as sensations, which are eternal objects (the experience of burning/the experience of freezing) manifest within our minds.

The same goes for night and day, static and dynamic, inside and outside or sentience and insentience. They are all just phases.


Yes. Just as "cold" is just a lower level of "heat" - so is sentience. There is no "insentience" (at least not within Pan-ex-ism or idealism). Experience in a matter of degrees, not a fine line.

Basically what i am trying to say is that nothing stands by itself and that even though it is hard to see, everything can be tracked back to see how it interrelates.


This is part of Whitehead's cosmology, this interrelation.

This is why i said in my previous post that I really have no problem with there being insentience and sentience without moving into dualism, as to me, they are just labels.


But they can be confusing labels indeed! While "insentience" and "sentience" are useful everyday labels, when it comes to the mind-body problem, this "misplaced concreteness" really makes the issue into a world knot.

Reading the rest of what you said, i think you pretty much grasp this though. Especially the bit about saying rocks have some primordial sentience; something that makes them really no different to us, just at a lower stage of development. So the question once again becomes the one I first asked you: Just what is this sentience?


I think this is Whitehead's god, the "one who experiences." The "nothing" that is under all the layers. If I understand it right, there really only is one "one who experiences," though individual personalities are this OWE wrapped in different archetypes and eternal objects.

Whitehead's god is the one who experiences everything and who is constantly changing along with the "process" of reality.

Don't worry about answering that though as i don't really expect an answer. Its one of those questions that runs far deeper than it first appears and can perhaps take years to answer (and even if you do, there is always room to deepen that understanding). I am just hoping to point out that perhaps it is a question worth spending more time on.


Well, this thread and the one before it have encouraged me to re-read Whitehead and re-access it in comparison to mental monism. I don't really understand Whitehead's metaphysic entirely, but it seems to encompass all of the problems.

The only other thing i would say is that while from a certain point of view i would agree that things are composed of "occasions of experience", i don't really agree that they are only made up of what you call external objects such as colours, sounds, mass etc. Whilst they are certainly a part of what makes a thing what it is, i think you would find your time much better spent looking for the source of these attributes.


Whitehead's eternal objects are the "universals" of reality. Mountains may rise and fall; suns may form and die, but the color green remains. The problem is, these eternal objects don't have any "real" existence (except in the Platonic Realm) but only as potentials - unless they combine into "Actual Entities". Take an apple. It has the eternal forms of color, taste, mass, volume, duration, etc. Individually, these EO's cannot be Actual Entities, but only in combination can they exist.

The forms attach by way of process, which seems like evolution. I'm going to have to read up on it to better understand what this means.

As to the origins of EOs, well they are timeless (since, IMO, time is an EO as well) and irreducible. They are the end of the line, or at least the end of the line we are ever going to see. And they aren't unexplained explainers either, as any ontology starts with a reality that is presumed to be fundamental. And, at least with EO, we know they exist. They are what comprise our experience. They can't be reducible, since any reduction would be only a correlative.

-----

Okay, reading this and almost being able to follow some of the subcurrents that are implied has made me acutely aware that I need to read up more on this. So if you guys would please help me here, what are some of the texts that would explain "mental monism," among other things?


Well, mental monism is the position that "mind" is the foundation of reality and what we call the physical world supervenes upon mind. Mental monism is also called "Subjective Idealism," or, more often, idealism (though there are many different kinds of idealism).

I have a feeling that I should know this under another guise, but it's eluding me now...


Don't feel bad; two years ago, I wouldn't understand myself either <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

So any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated - thanks!


Here are a few

Radical Nature by Christian De Quincey: A good introduction to Whiteheadian panexperientalism, though I feel Quincey suffers from a bit of "misplaced concreteness" himself. Still, a good book.

[url:1m4yrhmh]http&#58;//www&#46;amazon&#46;com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1931229155/qid=1088922013/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8758842-9813524?v=glance&amp;s=books[/url:1m4yrhmh]

The Self Aware Universe by Amit Goswami: I strongly disagree with Goswami's "Objective Idealism" (which is basically ill-conceived dualism) (*), but his book does cover all of the different positions in a clear (and humorous manner.

[url:1m4yrhmh]http&#58;//www&#46;amazon&#46;com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0874777984/qid=1088922185/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8758842-9813524?v=glance&amp;s=books[/url:1m4yrhmh]

The Mysterious Flame by Colin McGinn: This book presents a good coverage of all of the different positions from a materialist minded mind-set (though he doesn't think we can ever know the answer). He also gives a rather disappointing dismissal of panexperientalism, IIRC. Good intro book, though.

[url:1m4yrhmh]http&#58;//www&#46;amazon&#46;com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0465014232/qid=1088922548/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8758842-9813524?v=glance&amp;s=books[/url:1m4yrhmh]

Here's an link to an online "Philosophy of Mind" encyclopedia: [url:1m4yrhmh]http&#58;//www&#46;artsci&#46;wustl&#46;edu/~philos/MindDict/[/url:1m4yrhmh]

Here's another made by a Buddhist. It contains some good arguments against emergentism and the materialist model of mind. [url:1m4yrhmh]http&#58;//home&#46;btclick&#46;com/scimah/[/url:1m4yrhmh]

*-See [url:1m4yrhmh]http&#58;//easyweb&#46;easynet&#46;co&#46;uk/~ursa/philos/goswami&#46;htm[/url:1m4yrhmh] view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 05 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

Nice reply, and this Whitehead you mention seems to have some interesting ideas. I still think your focusing too much on external objects though.


Eternal objects, not external.

I don't really agree that they are timeless nor irreducible, and that instead, they all interelate and come about due to the manifestation of something else. What this something is though is a tough question, and it is one that can really only be answered by each person by themselves.


Well, they are timeless in that they do not "age," nor do they change with "time" (which is an EO itself). They are, basically, "outside" our time and space coordinences (which are manifestations of EO themselves). Mountains rise and fall; the experience of "red" is eternal.

And they are irreducible in that we can't intelligibly reduce them. While it is possible there is something beyond EO, whatever that is is incomprehensible to us. If I understand Whitehead right, the EOs are a part of Whitehead's "god" (which is not like the anthropomorphic Christian god). Whitehead's view of reality can be broken up into three parts: The Realm of Eternal Objects (the "material"), The Creative Force (process, evolution), and "god" (That's who's really looking back at you in the mirror; the "nothing" behind all entities).

If you want to label the manifestation of eternal objects, "God" is as good a term as any. I prefer "The Infinite" as it's a less loaded term.

Just to pick up on something you said to Scott

[quote:9x656ag2]Quote:
You're right in that in we can't know (or know for certain, at least), but I feel safe in stating that the true metaphysic will be, in some form, one of these three "frames":

Physical World (w/ intrinsic "experience" (*) )-&gt;-(creates)-&gt;- Mental World = Panexperientalism

Physical World --(interaction)-- Mental World = Dualism

Physical World --(created by)-- Mental World = Idealism



Im not keen on any of those, so i'll give you another one to think about&#058;

Physical World-&lt;-("It" creates)-&gt;-Mental World

Not really sure what you would call that though.[/quote:9x656ag2]

It sounds like dualism to me. Presuming the "It" isn't the material world itself, then the "It" would have to be an outside agency that interacts with the physical to "create" the mental world.

[quote:9x656ag2]Aldarion wrote:
Okay, reading this and almost being able to follow some of the subcurrents that are implied has made me acutely aware that I need to read up more on this. So if you guys would please help me here, what are some of the texts that would explain "mental monism," among other things?



Don't worry you are not alone on that. Having really no background in philosophy, I often have no idea what they are talking about either when they use terms such as these either. Infact a lot of the time I have to read through what they are saying about five times before I get an idea of what they are trying to say. Sometimes its enough to make me suspect that philosphy student are actually given lessons in making things more complicated that they ever need to be <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->[/quote:9x656ag2]

You should read Whitehead; he is the epitome of philosophical jargonized frustration. He had the annoying tendency to make up his own terminology (as there were no pre-existing words for the concepts he described - ex. "Actual Entity," "Aggregated Society", etc) and then not explain what he meant by them. Or, if he did explain what they meant, he did so in an earlier work and assumed anyone who was reading his current work had read those previous ones. That's why it's best to read Whitehead only after you've read some descriptions of his terminology. view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 05 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

[quote:2xcbz5wt]Quote:
Well, they are timeless in that they do not "age," nor do they change with "time" (which is an EO itself). They are, basically, "outside" our time and space coordinences (which are manifestations of EO themselves). Mountains rise and fall; the experience of "red" is eternal.


Interesting. I can see what your saying, but have to wonder if this is necessarily true. For instance, from a certain point of view red did not exist back when there were only primative lifeforms on the earth. It was only until animals with eyes developed that red actuallly appeared (and perhaps not even then as quite a lot do no see colours the way we do).

Red is just a part of our developed ability to see light in different phases. You have to wonder though if we had developed differently wether we would see something else (quite possible as there a people who are colourblind who already do this).[/quote:2xcbz5wt]

True, red did not, at one point, "really" exist, in that it was not an "actual entity". But in that it is a potentiality, it is eternal. If all conscious entities were to suddenly perish, the experience of seeing red would exist only as a potential. Something that "can" exist, though for its existence to be actual, it must be manifested along with other EOs.

Look at math, for example. If no one knew any mathematics, the quadratic equation would still exist, even though no one knew what it was and it wasn't written down anywhere. It would exist as a potential in a Platonic Realm with colors, sounds, etc, "waiting" to be manifested in some form. In this way, these EO are "outside" reality.

Whether the experience of red is eternal or not though does not matter all that much in the end. As I said it is just a function of light and our ability to see it, and as such is interconnected. I think it would be a mistake to focus on things such as this whilst not looking for the very thing that gives us the ability to perceive red in the first place.

The same thing can also be said of time. It is just a function of the what you could call the movement of the universe. It is not really something that stands "outside". Again, it would be much to look at what it is that moves the universe and not the byproducts of it.


Well, I'm getting ahead of myself now. I'm still learning about Whitehead's philosophy myself, and, while I can "mostly" understand his view, or at least the general idea, I don't understand it well enough to explain it to someone else - not yet, anyway. But here are some links to some pages that, perhaps, explain it in a more clear fashion. Check these out and tell me what you think.

[url:2xcbz5wt]http&#58;//web&#46;ionsys&#46;com/~remedy/Whitehead's%20Process%20Philosophy&#46;htm[/url:2xcbz5wt]

[url:2xcbz5wt]http&#58;//grad&#46;cgu&#46;edu/~combsc/glossary&#46;html[/url:2xcbz5wt]

[url:2xcbz5wt]http&#58;//www3&#46;sympatico&#46;ca/rlubbock/ANW&#46;html[/url:2xcbz5wt]

[url:2xcbz5wt]http&#58;//www&#46;alfred&#46;north&#46;whitehead&#46;com/AAPT/discussion_papers/birch_01&#46;htm[/url:2xcbz5wt]

As to colors existing only in our minds (and not necessarily being the same in different minds - ex. colorblind people), I agree, but it is these very "occasions of experience" that is what reality is composed of. When it comes down to it, all actual entities, from atoms to aircraft carriers, posses, or, to use a Whiteheadian term, prehend certain eternal objects. In a primitive sense, the basic objects "experience" their "mass," "volume," etc. Colors and sounds can only be experience by Compound Individuals, which includes animals and people. All of the "occasions of experience" (neurons) are unified as one, either through Penrose &amp; Hameroff's Orchestrated Objective reduction process or "something" (probably quantum in nature). Colors are eternal objects that can be experienced by these Compound Individuals. The cause of these colors is, I suppose, an emergence of experiences from the unified occasions. The colors are manifested; though I guess they can be said to be reducible, but not in the way materialist use the term (in which experience is excluded/explained away). I suppose one way of saying it is that the colors and sounds are "built" from more primitive experiences, which would mean that "red" is an EO, though it could be broken down into "smaller" EOs, mush the same way a piece of music can be broken down into pure tones. Hmm, I'm not sure about this. I'll have to read up on this.

[quote:2xcbz5wt]Quote:
It sounds like dualism to me. Presuming the "It" isn't the material world itself, then the "It" would have to be an outside agency that interacts with the physical to "create" the mental world.



No it's not dualism. I know it can seem that way though as on one hand you have this "force" and then it seems on another you also have this energy that it interacts with. It is something i used to struggle alot with, but it can be resolved.

You might want to check out 'Zen and the art of motocycle maintenace' by Robert M, Prisig (can find it online in a lot of places). He had some interesting ideas on this, and whilst I don't think he truely grasped it, from an intellectual point of view he certainly came up with one of the better theorys.[/quote:2xcbz5wt]

I'll check it out, though it sort of sounds like "Triasm," or a three sided ontology. You have the physical world, the mental world, and a "go between" force that works to generate the mental world from the physical.

In any case, Mr. Bakker is right when he says that we just don't know. However, I feel safe in saying that experience is, in some form, fundamental to reality. It certainly isn't some curious after-effect that pops up ex nihilo - and if it is, then reality is dualistic in that a outside agency is required to attach the experience. Consciousness and volition are not something that can be explained away - something is missing from the materialist metaphysic.

Though I feel we can be reasonably certain about the "frame" of reality, I doubt we are capable to understanding all of the details. Whitehead’s view of reality, which is very complex, may be the closest we can get.

-Tak

Postscript&#058; This is why I am interested in parapsychology, because reason and logic are all well and good, but to actually have hard evidence of mental causation (and perhaps backwards causation) is something else. The ganzfeld just creeps the hell out of me and I get the impression skeptics like Ray Hyman are the same way - they don't want to accept the data, because it would undermine their world view. I spent weeks looking for a "sensible" explanation to the ganzfeld, and all came up lacking. Every one of the explanations given by skeptics has been shown to be inadequate. Fraud and error have been ruled out, poor randomization has been shown to be not an issue, sensory leakage has been ruled out, and Wiseman and Milton's 30 experiement study (which showed only chance effects) was shown to include studies that were nonstandard and were done primarly to show the characteristics and limitations of the psi effect rather than merely show it exists (for example: one of the test used music instead of images or movies - it had a effect only consistent with chance), these pulled down the average and Milton and Wiseman neglected to mention this. The ganzfeld, as far as I can see, is a real effect.

This opens the door to other phenomena, such as PK or "survival science" - I don't know if they are real, but the evidence is hard to explain away due to the "usual suspects" (fraud, incompetence). Griffin's Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality: A Postmodern Exploration and Stephen Braude's Immortal Remains and The Limits of Influence are good eye openers on the subject.

Here is some links on the Milton &amp; Wiseman controversy.

[url:2xcbz5wt]http&#58;//www&#46;skepticalinvestigations&#46;org/whoswho/ganzfeld&#46;htm[/url:2xcbz5wt]

[url:2xcbz5wt]http&#58;//comp9&#46;psych&#46;cornell&#46;edu/dbem/Updating_Ganzfeld&#46;pdf[/url:2xcbz5wt] view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 07 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

[quote:24z4mpg5]As to colors existing only in our minds (and not necessarily being the same in different minds - ex. colorblind people), I agree, but it is these very "occasions of experience" that is what reality is composed of.


Don't get me wrong, i agree that these things are part of what makes up the reality we experience. I just don't really see the point in focusing on them, as to me they are all just manifestations/effects of the movement of the universe. I'm personally much more interesting in knowing what creates this movement and allows us to experience in the first place is.[/quote:24z4mpg5]

I don't know. This is connected to the question: "why is there something instead of nothing?" - Whatever lies behind this question is not likely to be known to us - not in this world, anyway.

As to what creates the movement? What is the First Cause? Who knows?

If you can find it, try and find David Ray Griffin's Unsnarling the World Knot - Whiteheadian Panexperientalism is a complicated metaphysic, but Griffin, while unmistakingly academic, is a very lucid writer. He can explain it much better than I. You can probably find the book in a university, or through an inter-library loan system.

Id agree that experience is fundemental to reality. Infact id say the only way to really "know" reality is to experience it. You could also say that experience is the very thing that creates everything else. The question is of course, just what is experience?


That Which Observes? I think that's Whitehead's god. All Actual Entities have "god" as the experiencer. It is the nothing behind the EOs.

[quote:24z4mpg5]Quote:
Postscript&#058; This is why I am interested in parapsychology, because reason and logic are all well and good, but to actually have hard evidence of mental causation (and perhaps backwards causation) is something else.



I think your certainly heading on the right path after reading this. At some point I think a lot of people who hunger for the truth realise that philosophy can never really satisfy them. It like being a starving man and all anyone will give you is menus instead of the food itself. Not that philosophy doesnt have its uses--and it certainly can be fun to discuss--it is just that at some point, when you realise explainations are no longer enough for you, you really do have to move beyond it.[/quote:24z4mpg5]

Which is why I want to "get to the horse's mouth," so to speak.

I plan on conducting my own investigations this summer. The easiest experiment I can conduct is to test for Electronic Voice Phenomena (or EVP). EVP is a phenomena where someone starts a tape recorder and starts asking questions into the mic. If all goes well, when one rewinds the tape and starts playing, they'll hear strange voices, either answering the questions or making some sort of comment. It supposedly works best in "haunted" places, such as old houses or graveyards.

A questionable experiment, to be sure, but there are a number of websites dedicated to this sort of phenomena and it has been well known for the last forty years (and there has been controlled experiements involving EVP in the 70's, though I'm not certain about the tightness of the controls) Are the voices dead people? Are they just hoaxes? I find it hard to believe that so many people are partaking in such a childish hoax, and no one is spilling the beans (AFAIK). But, OTOH, dead people talking through a tape recorder just seems weird.

But, while the personality surviving bodily death is not necessarily supported by Panexperientalism or Idealism (they are neutral on the subject), there is enough anecdotal evidence, investigations, and experiments conducted to warrant the matter to be at least looked into.

Here are some links to websites on EVP; regrettably, their presentation is not as professional or scientific as one would hope. However, their examples are . . . interesting.

[url:24z4mpg5]http&#58;//www&#46;mcmsys&#46;com/~brammer/ourbest&#46;htm[/url:24z4mpg5]

[url:24z4mpg5]http&#58;//www&#46;ghostpix&#46;com/gis/E&#46;V&#46;P&#46;html[/url:24z4mpg5]

[url:24z4mpg5]http&#58;//www&#46;ghostwave&#46;com/Ughs2&#46;html[/url:24z4mpg5]

I don’t know if I expect to encounter this phenomena, but, if I do, and it’s repeatable (and outside parties hear and comprehend the voices), then I’ll let you know. Though I must admit, I’m going to feel more than a little foolish, sitting in a graveyard with a tape recorder, asking the air questions. <!-- s:oops: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_redface.gif" alt=":oops:" title="Embarassed" /><!-- s:oops: -->

-Tak view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 07 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

I've never really expected answers to any of the above by the way. I've only been asking them in the hopes of pointing out another track of thought that anyone may wish to follow (though if they don't, thats no problem either). Besides, these are questions that can only really be answered by yourself and not by anyone else. For instance, even if I could put into words my own understanding of them, what would be the point? It would still be just my understanding and not someone elses. Theyd just be words that, whilst perhaps pleasing to the intellect for a while, are still just words and have little effect on anyone elses understanding at a deeper level. That kind of understanding can only come from realising/actualizing the truth for yourself.


I suppose we can do what Newton did with gravity. We may not be able to really define it (at least not from an ontological perspective) but we can label it. I suppose "The Infinite" is as good a name as any. Or "God," or "Braham" or whatever.

[quote:1pnjdmhd]Quote:
I plan on conducting my own investigations this summer. The easiest experiment I can conduct is to test for Electronic Voice Phenomena (or EVP). EVP is a phenomena where someone starts a tape recorder and starts asking questions into the mic. If all goes well, when one rewinds the tape and starts playing, they'll hear strange voices, either answering the questions or making some sort of comment. It supposedly works best in "haunted" places, such as old houses or graveyards.


Whilst I find such things interesting, I have to wonder at what you hope to get out of it. Even if such things as spirits exist (which I doubt, though never like to dismiss anything out of hand),[/quote:1pnjdmhd]

Well, I have doubts about their existence as well, but this is not so much due to a lack of evidence (there's plenty of that, though mostly anecdotal) as it is that I find the concept of the personality surviving bodily death as metaphysically extravagant. The personality is a finite structure that develops through life. It seems that reality would be more "cleaner" if the personality "defocuses" at death and dissolves back into the "it" from which is came. Sort of like a whirlpool breaking up and going back into the ocean. Not really the "extinction" of materialism, but more of a great merging.

"Survival," OTOH, just seems confusing. Why would a personality survive as a "ghost" or something? But, there is no reason why reality should correspond to what I think it should be, and I'm becoming aware that I have been purposely ignoring the evidence because of my prejudice. If I take the evidence at face value, it does collectively seem to support either the survival hypothesis or "super-psi" hypothesis (psi phenomena sub-consciously generated by the living that self-deceives them into believing they are in contact with deceased personalities).

what makes you think that they will have the answers?


Well, their very existence would answer a lot of questions. Of course, to really prove their validity, I'd have to rule out radio interference (if the EVPs are snippets of commercials or talk shows, I should be suspicious) effecting the tape and the Rorschach phenomena (I'll only accept the EVP as legitament if it is obstinate in nature and other people agree on the meaning).

Also, I'd have to rule out the super psi hypothesis, which means in order for the EVP to "really" be a ghost, the content should include information I was previously unaware of, or different people receive the same voice while I'm not present. Even if it turns out to be super-psi, that would be interesting in and of itself.

If the EVP passes all of these tests, I have the chance to (hopefully) find out things that I couldn't find out otherwise. I could ask the voices questions and such, and use their responses to create a hypothesis of post-mortem existence. The "ghosts" surely don't know everything, but they may know more than we do.

And even if they did, what use will they be to you? It goes back to what I was just saying above, that words from another will never really bring true understanding. I suppose it's a hard fact, but there are never really any easy answers (though we often love to think that somewhere there must be). It is really only through our own efforts can we ever really begin to actualise anything.


Well, if I can really conclude that I'm actually communicating with "dead" people, this would surely be a eye-opener for me. I wouldn't answer all of the questions, of course, but it will answer some.

It's funny you mention this subject now though, as I have just yesterday finished a book that gives a good example of this. It is about a English woman who even as a young girl had lots of questions about the nature of existence. She would always ask others her questions but none seemed to know the answers to them and thought she was bit weird for thinking such things. Her mother didn't mind though despite not having the answers, as she was a spiritual person. Infact she used to hold a seance once a week with friends. Anyway, one day where the kid got tired of the stupid questions they kept asking the spirits, such as how their relatives were doing, she decided to ask them some of her own. The first thing she asked was "Is there a God?". The spirits replied that they did not think there was some being out there, but more a force that was of good, love and perfection. She was a bit doubtful of this answer so asked another question: "How do we become perfect? How do we return to being like this force?" and their answer was that you just had to be good and kind. As she listened to this answer she thought "They don't know either!", so gave up ever trying to talk with them again.


Well, you'd think talking to dead people would answer at least some questions (namely, "do our personalities survive death?").

It wasn't until years later that the woman found a path worth walking that suited her, and at around the age of 20 found herself living 13000 feet up a mountain in a cave (not as bad as youd think as it had walls built around it and became more like a very small house). She spent most of her adult life in that cave (nearly 20 years) by herself in the search for the truth, and whilst she never really talks about her realisations (though does give talks all over the world on some parts that would help others in their own quest), she does admit that the time spent there was worthwhile.


I might do this, but only if I had access to the internet, and could receive all the books I want. <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

Now I'm not trying to say you that anyone who wants to realise the truth needs to go live in a cave (or even spend that much time), as that was just one path that happened to be right for her. But the story does show what kind of effort is required if we ever hope to truely understand anything for ourselves.


I believe that to actually understand things, one must go out and find the truth. This finding may be sitting in a cave, meditating, whatever. IMO, parapsychology is a good place to look. Philosophy can only point one in the right direction.

-Tak

P.S. - What was the title of the book? view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 11 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

Yeh i agree with what you say about it being cleaner, and I especially like your whirlpool analogy. To me it doesn't make much sense that a personality would survive after the physical death, but the thing I always try to keep in mind is that there is nearly always some piece of information you do not have, so to totally dismiss it would be unfair I feel.


I've been reviewing the evidence again and I'm beginning to see that the evidence strongly implies survival; either that or a very developed super-psi ability. My whirlpool analogy, combined with the evidence, compels me to arrive at a hypothesis . . .

They certainly would at that, but you would have to be careful of making too many conclusions from such an existence. For instance, if a personality does survive after death, perhaps it is because the person was far too attached to life to fully let go. So their existence would not really mean that the process is the same for everyone when they die. And also, if the personality was that attached to life, it may well be because they had very little understanding of it. So again, if any answers were forth coming, you would have to be careful with them.


My whirlpool analogy may be more appropriate than I originally thought. A whirlpool isn't either "there" or "not there," its existence is measured in degrees. Basically, whirlpools don't just immediately vanish in a body of water, they fade away over time.

It is quite possible that surviving personalities are disincarnate individuals in the process of "personal defocusing". This "slow fade" is possibly attributed to a fixation or obsession about something in their lives, which would explain why many "lingering spirits" are found in old houses or graveyards.

Also, there is the notion, which is supported by certain EVPs and certain "séances" (evidence indicates that not all séances can be attributed to hoaxes), that at least some ghosts are not aware that they are dead. If this is true, then I hypothesize that many surviving personalities are in a self-created "dreamworld," possibly "living" in a semi-conscious and delirious state, much the way we experience non-lucid dreams. Occasionally, the ghost may be able to "wake up" and interact with the living, but I doubt this is the norm.

Given time, presumably, the old personality will completely fade away (or maybe not: read Ian Stevenson's Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, Children Who Remember Past Lives, and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect for evidence of reincarnation)

Perhaps the more "enlightened" (whatever that means) personalities defocus at a much high rate; the more defocused they are, the more "at one" with the universe they are.

Yeah it would be an eye opener, and certainly would be interesting to find out. The only thing I question is how much value the information would be, especially for the amount of time spent gathering it (though if you enjoy the search, it is perhaps not time wasted).


Oh, if I end up communicating with the "dead," it will definitely be worth it. Of course, the value of the information communicated to me is another matter. If the only personalities I can contact are confused and addled entities who can't find their way out of their own cemetery, then I'm not expecting any great truths - but their existence would be enough for me. My purpose is to learn of the world, and their existence would be knowledge learned.

Perhaps something to consider is that even if you do fiind out that some personalitys survive death, just how is such information going to affect the way you live your life?


I imagine I'd be very excited at my discovery. Other than that, I'm not sure. view post


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 14 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

NorthernPlato wrote: I've always believed that the concept of 'soul' as a property that distringuishes individuals to be out of synch with the rest of nature. After reading Plato's Republic many years ago, I was intrigued by his imagery of an afterlife, though it seemed to be counter to what he argued via his idea of forms. Anywho, that night while watching stars cross the sky instead of sleeping, I envisioned a vortex to which we returned when we die. More of an image or concept instead of a concrete place; similar I believe to what nitrogen might perceive itself to be if it could ponder the idea of nitrogen fixation. My belief in the concept of souls is based on the idea that in a closed system energy cannot be created or destroyed (like a law of thermal-dynamics for souls). Basically, at creation, all of the 'energy' that can be used to create a 'soul' already exists and that every person (animal/plant/etc.) does not bring a 'new soul' in existance. Instead, each living organism posseses or accesses a portion of that 'energy'.


Well, this is, in effect, the main gist of Panexperientalism - except, the energy is "alive" with [primordial] experience.

However, because the system is closed and because new organisms are created/destroyed they 'recycle' that energy, leaving an imprint of what came before. This would be why some people might experience what they perceive to be moments of a previous life/existence.

Having read some of Steohen Hawkins' writings on physics and given the idea of time as a constant (if that's the word i'm looking for) that has neither a beginning nor end, (excecpt for how we perceive it) than every possible moment in time already exists for every possible decision we can possibly make.

This isn't to say that free will is percluded, but that it's analogous to a computer program - a user can only make choices that are available to be made according to the program.


Well, pan-ex-ism follows a "process" view of time. Time = process. At every "occasion" of experience, a "prehension" is made; which is a sort of decision. With every decision, a moment of "time" passes. The present is build upon the past. Of course, this doesn't preclude the existence of alternate universe or "might have been" worlds.

The user isn't forced to any particular action, but the ability to chose to perform the action is accounted for. Similarlly, one isn't limited to make choices of which they are aware, it is possible to perform actions one didn't originally understand to be possible. But I seem to have gone off on a tangent here.

Right now, the only misgiving I have had is that existence would therefore not exist as anything more than an instant - that there was never a 'begining' to the system, simply that the existance of the system perpetuates itself, that there is no 'after' for an individual, at least not as we could perceive it. Because we would all be part of the system, we are therefore one and the same at the most basic level. Hence our need for community, language, culture, development, laws,religion,etc. which can be seen in almost all forms of life on earth and arguably in larger scale via planetary systems, galaxies and their specific anatomy.
I could go on typing for hours really, and sometimes I believe that perhaps I should, but frustration at wanting it just to be done (re: laziness, not a very positive attribute in an asipiring author..ha!) always seems to get in the way and I lose the will to continue. If one continues the argument long enough, it becomes a justification for rules of conduct with others, as any wrong done to others it a wrong done to the self.

Thank you for bearing with me and I'm interested in hearing the thoughts of everyone here. Not many people I know have a penchant for such discourse.


Interesting. Here are a couple links to pages that involve a rather intriging argument from an materialist atheistic perspective. It involves the enduring nature of subjectivity. While I disagree with the materialist assumptions, the underlying idea is that the "I" is, in effect, immortal. Memories may come and go, personalities . . . lives, being a man, women, dog, bacterium . . . but the "I" remains.

[url:1tovzz1z]http&#58;//www&#46;naturalism&#46;org/death&#46;htm[/url:1tovzz1z]

[url:1tovzz1z]http&#58;//www&#46;oswestryschool&#46;org&#46;uk/decimus/identity&#46;htm[/url:1tovzz1z]

-----

Replay wrote: Well it really comes to just what you mean when the subject of a soul if brought up. If you mean that each of us has some individual thing that doesnt change and moves from life to life, I would argue against that. But if you are talking about something that is inate to all of us, then I would perhaps agree.

Keeping with the whirlpool analogy, you could say that the universe (or more specifically, that which moves it) is like a river (though i prefer to think of it more as an ocean) and that when certain conditions arise, a whirpool is formed in it just like a normal river. This whirlpool travels along the river for a while, moving around and changing shape as other bits of the river come into contact with it. Soon though it begins to run out of energy and starts to disipate. And where there was once a whirlpool, now there is just the river again.

What I am saying is that the soul or spirit is the river itself, and that deep down, all we are are just manifestations of it. It also shows an interesting point that in a way there really is no such thing as death, because if we are the river itself, we know that we will born again in infinite different forms.

Now how this relates to the afterlife, i've no idea. If there is such a thing, it could perhaps be that when the main body of the whirlpool disipates, some residual energy is left over, and thus we have what are called spirits. But I would perhaps argue that in the end, even these will finally disipate and one again become part of the great river of life.


I've been thinking about this. On one hand, the evidence, taken as a whole, does suggest that personalities can survive death. OTOH, people with brain damage, on drugs, Alzheimer’s, etc, suffer memory loss and changes in their personality. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->

If one sticks with a "defocusing of consciousness" hypothesis, then one must explain the existence of EVP (and "ghost" phenomena in general), the mediumship of Leonora Piper and D.D. Home (among others), Ian Stevenson's reincarnation case studies - not to mention veridical (and, admitingly, anecdotal) reports of out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences (both of which can be explained in terms of telepathy). Read Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality by Griffin and Immortal Remains by Braude for more evidence - the evidence, to my dismay (sort of, I'm more annoyed/excited) seems to hold up pretty well under scrutiny.

But, if one takes the position that the personality survives, then they must explain why we appear to need a brain to maintain our identity.

I think I have a theory that may serve as a solution, sort of.

The ganzfeld experiments, which, IMO, have, for all intents and purposes, proved the existence of telepathy, show that "thoughts" (and, by extension, memories) are "nonlocal" - they can be "picked up" in any location, and can, apparently, even be "sent" beyond time (maybe).

Ever wake up, and know you just had a really weird dream, but you just can't remember any of the details? I have a feeling that our brains "focus" our consciousness and make our minds more "defined," but, as a result, more limited. Take, for example, being knocked unconscious. For the sake of argument, assume that when you are knocked unconscious, you "revert" to your "higher self," "astral body," whatever. You, in this less limited form, do whatever it is you do (fly around, talk to dead people, whatever). Then, your body retains "consciousness." As your mind seats itself back into its brain, it has no memory of its out-of-body-experience while the body was unconscious. Why? Because the brain is not able to access these memories. They're there, but, while you are in your body, are inaccessible to you. Therefore, from your perspective, while you are in your body, you were in "oblivion" while you were "unconscious." Much the same way an amnesiac will view their entire life as "oblivion," or a "blank slate" . . . memory makes all of the difference.

Also, while in the brain, a mind is affected by whatever the brain "accesses." If a drug is administered, the neuronal individuals of the brain will create certain occasions which will cause the mind (the compound individual) to experience certain effects. If the brain is damage, the mind will suffer certain limitations as its ability to access certain memories and mental skills is diminished - however, "out" of the brain, these memories and abilities may be more accessible, just as they can be accessed through telepathy and (possibly) mediumship.

Of course, a skeptic will say this theory is begging the question as it assumes the mind can survive, in some personable coherency, apart from the brain. If one takes this assumption, then one can come up with any number of theories. But my theory is merely trying to make sense of the evidence. I admit that "defocusing" or "melting" back into the universal consciousness is more sensible.

Of course, no doubt you are right that this does happen, inevitably. Though, if one regards the evidence, it appears this process of depersonalization may occur gradually. view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 09 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by TakLoufer, Candidate

[quote:2kqjv13s]Quote:
It explains a lot about how romantic love happens at a biochemical level, excatly what is going on inside you when you get dumped, why people have less sex after a couple years in a relationship and more. It doesn't make love any less real than believing it's the effect of excesses of sanguine humor on the heart or caused by getting shot by flower-arrows from Kama's sugarcane bow.


Actually, there's a huge difference, one which has everything to do with 'disenchantment.' Love in these latter cases is something that possesses meaning in an objective order - it has a point. If love is simply neurophysiology, then it's simply functional, and taking pills that induce these states is no more or less 'genuine' than doing it the old fashioned way.

And it has no objective point whatsoever. It just happens to be the experiential apsect of behaviour-generating neural processes that happened to facilitate reproduction and the rearing of offspring to the age of reproduction, and so was selected for.

In neurophysiological accounts of different aspects of experience, you find this 'But it's still the same!' tactic all the time, but it really amounts to nothing more than hand-waving. Think of Copernicus. Sure, from our standpoint, the sun still sails across the sky while we stand still - the experience itself remains unchanged. But now we understand that experience is an illusion generated by the limitations of our perspective. We're the ones who are moving, not the sun.

The same seems to go for love, free-will, and so on. [/quote:2kqjv13s]

I agree, if all behavior were to be shown to be completely and indisputably determined by previous factors, much the same way rocks roll down hill or billiard balls ricochet off each other, this would prove that subjective experience is nothing but a casually impotent epiphenomena. In fact, this would, in my view, suggest a sort of one way dualism - blind atoms in the void on one side [the "movers"], colors, smells, sensations, etc, on the other [the "moved"]. It could not be any other way, as the atoms in void would not intrinsically have the qualia, the syntax, or semantics of subjective experience (syntax is observer relative, unless one allows a homunculus into the picture - [1]). This would just push the question back a level:

Where does this experience come from?

The matter of materialism does not logically entail experience, no matter (excuse the pun) what configuration the material is in. For example, imagine that a group of scientists are examining a brain in a vat. These scientists have super-advanced scanners that allow them to map out every ion that moves between every synapse, every internal movement of every neuron - they can follow the ballet of the brain to the minutest detail.

Now, let’s suppose that the person in the vat is having a very detailed lucid dream in which they are sailing in a boat on a purple ocean with three moons in the sky.

Can the scientists determine what the brain (or person) is experiencing? No, to them, the brain is perfectly explainable as a spatio-temporal system of interacting bits of matter. In fact, the more extreme eliminativists among the scientists may scoff at the very idea that their is a person experiencing something. Any experience would be "tacked on" and thus irrelevent.

This variation of the old brain-in-a-vat thought experiment is nothing new, but it does illustrate a valuable point, if the supposedly deterministic mass of atoms that is the brain has a "something-it-is-like" about it, it must originate outside the brain itself; either there is a little homunculus interpreting or determining which neural events produce which experience (and, in practice, it couldn't possibly matter, as the qualia is casually impotent anyway), or there is something wrong about our conception of reality.

Which is why we have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that science - which just happens to be the only instititution in history capable of generating anything remotely resembling theoretical knowledge - has got something really, really wrong somewhere along the line.


Your argument that science is "the only institution in history capable of generating . . . theoretical knowledge" is misleading, as the finding of science are metaphysically neutral. Science measures and predicts observed phenomena. Science can tell us what the movements of shadows are on the cave wall, but it is blind in telling us who or what is casting the shadows are. True, they can formulate theoretical knowledge, such as formulating the theory of gravity by measuring its effects, but it can not tell us what gravity is. The data, after all, has to be interpreted.

I remember your "Blind Brain" hypothesis, which is very similar to McGinn's mysterianism. Your argument seemed to be that our brains do not allow us to know how consciousness can arise from dead matter, that this knowledge was conceptually closed to us.

Basically, this view can be summed up as: "Materialism is correct, but I can't explain how."

This is a position that, like eliminativism and sophism, is hard to argue against because there is no way to disprove it, and the supporter of this view doesn't have to explain anything. What is most telling is McGinn's statement that we should accept the validity of materialism, even though we cannot explain how it can possibly work, based off an "article of metaphysical faith" [2] <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->

I agree that we may be cognitively closed on the matter of consciousness, but this works against materialism, because this "blind spot" in our mental view implies that there is something missing from the picture, and any ontological additives to materialism that would account for consciousness would inevitably mean that the metaphysic could no longer be called materialism.

I maintain that one of these three models must (?) be true.

1) Idealism {{{Mind}}}

2) Panexperientalism {Experience [intrinsic to] Matter}

3) Dualism {Mind [interaction] Matter}

After doing some more thinking on the matter, I now lean a bit towards Whitehead's process ontology (which is a sort of compromise between "Mind Dust" Panpsychism and Idealism), though there is definitely something to be said for absolute idealism (I'm currently reading Sprigge's The Vindication of Absolute Idealism)

The most terrifying thing about the disenchantment of the world, which has primarily consisted in the wholesale replacement of our folk intentional explanations of the world with functional explanations, is that we humans are simply one more thing in that world.


Of course we are part of the world. But your unspoken implication is that we are just one more dead thing in the world. As in, we are composed of a bunch of little dead balls of stuff that bounce off each other and inexplicably (and, ultimately irrelevently) cause subjectivity.

I'm beginning to think that just as we are "alive" with experience, so too is the rest of the universe "alive" with experience. As for freewill, I see epiphenomenalism as an absurdity equal to parallelism or over-determinism. Any knowledge we contain about the outside world is, in effect, impotent. We "know" about the world, but this knowing couldn't make any difference, and even the self-realization of epiphenomenalism is contingent upon certain neural events that intrinsically have nothing to due with the knowledge of epiphenomenalism. Basically, epiphenomenalism is just too absurd to accept, as it makes the very act of arguing for it irrelevant. Because whether or not you would make the effort to do so, which would, in reality, be nothing more than pre-determined noises coming from the mouth (which in turn are caused by jiggling atoms in the skull), would have nothing to do with a desire for truth or curiosity or whatever.

One could argue that the "jiggling atoms" are these mental states, but Searle's (who, ironically, is a reluctant epiphenomenalist and a materialist) arguments show that any computational model of mind is incoherent and, since his "biological naturalism" has no explanatory value (it suffers all of the problems of identity theory/dualism), - Searle inadvertably supports the notion that dead jiggling atoms can't intrinsically produce syntax, semantics, or experience.

And I haven't even brought parapsychology into the picture (it's just too controversial, though I feel the evidence is much stronger than most would think.)

Good to be back. I've spent the last few months reading and pondering the mind-body problem, mainly focusing on Whitehead. Later, I'll post my thoughts on your books (which I think are on par with Martin)

-Tak

[1] - [url:2kqjv13s]http&#58;//www&#46;ecs&#46;soton&#46;ac&#46;uk/~harnad/Papers/Py104/searle&#46;comp&#46;html[/url:2kqjv13s]

[2] The Problem of Consciousness pg 87 view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 17 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by TakLoufer, Candidate

Forgive the lateness of this reply, but the post “grew in the telling” and, between papers for my classes and work, I have less free time than I had during the summer.

I entirely agree that the 'what-is-it-likeness' of experience is the crack of light in what otherwise seems to be a closing door.


I'd say it's more like the door is wide open. Chalmer's "Hard" problem isn't just hard, it's impossible! At least within a materialist framework. Materialist scientists and philosophers may claim that they've solved the mind-body problem (or that they will if they study the brain long enough), but the "What-is-it-like" problem isn't going to disappear.

The question, and this is something I think you and I discussed extensively some time ago, is one of what kind of inferences you can draw from that. I'm not so sure your optimism is warranted.


I suppose my perceived optimism (I actually consider myself a pessimist) is because the way I see it, in the absence of materialism (which has numerous problems), one is forced into accepting an ontology that has experience has a foundation. In fact, materialism itself is a form of "crypto-dualism" in that it inevitably lets a homunculus in through the back door.

Any theory of consciousness inevitably has "mind" as a fundamental, whether the advocates of the theory are aware of it or not.

I don't see how optimism has anything to do with it.

As far as science and theoretical knowledge goes, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. It seems to pretty plain that no matter what set of 'theoretical virtues' you pick, there's nary an institution that can hold a candle to science. If you think, as I do, that whatever knowledge is it (somehow) involves an important public dimension, this is even more the case. I guess I need examples of something that is nonscientific and theoretical that can plausibly count as 'knowledge' (defined as something that can be reasonably distinguished from opinion).


Science is mute on matters of ontology. We can observe "objects," we can observe objects interacting with other objects. We can observe an object's behavior. We can observe that an object can be broken into smaller objects. We can measure an object's size in relation to other objects. Etc, Etc.

But, can science tell us what the object is?

Is the object intrinsically mental? Or is the objective world composed of "stuff" - What is this "stuff?"

We can measure the effects of gravity, but what is gravity?

Physics makes no attempt to explain the intrinsic nature of basic entities, but only characterizes them in terms of other entities. "What they are" is not explored. Though, science does not tell us what the units of nature are in themselves, this is usually forgotten as most scientists have accepted their own abstractions as metaphysical fact (Whitehead's "misplaced concreteness" fallacy).

Here’s a brief essay exploring the matter. [url:1nxdipg8]http&#58;//home&#46;comcast&#46;net/~johnrgregg/physical&#46;htm[/url:1nxdipg8]

As far as materialism goes, I'm actually disinclined to even take that wee metaphysical step (though I get sloppy in my expression sometimes). What I'm saying is that science implies that experiences like free will, morality, and so on, are - like the experience of the moving sun - artifacts of our limited perspective. A lot of things start making a helluva lot of sense if you adopt this position.


There is a difference between "soft core" common sense and "hard core" common sense. Though it may appear that the sun goes around the earth, most primitives would have no problem accepting, or at least conceiving, that this is an optical illusion and that it is actually the other way around.

But, try to convince them that their experience is an epiphenomena and that they would have done all of their past actions the same even if they had no qualia. This would strike them as absurd (and calls into question the existence of the objective world, as the mental world would indisputably exist, but the objective world is forever unknowable).

Notice that I said conceiving. The primitive people could conceive the earth going around the sun, but they can not intelligibly conceive of their minds being irrelevant to their actions. Perhaps we, as humans, are simply not capable of understanding that we are an epiphenomena?

Which leads me to my own theory.

I feel that there is justification in the view that every unit of "matter" that can be called an individual has a parcel of experience (these units are what Hartshorne called "compound individuals"). For example, an atom is a compound individual and has its own primitive sort of experience. The sub-atomic particles that make up the atom are experienced CIs themselves, and are made up even less particles that have their even more primitive experience.

Objects such as chairs and fire hydrants do not have the unified experience that CIs enjoy, but rather are composed of separate CIs, each with has its own experience. For something like a rock to move on its own volition, each atom would have to simultaneously "decide" to move in a single direction. Because this is very unlikely to occur, we usually think of rocks as "dead."

What makes CIs different from a rock is that they are more than the sum of their parts. A rock is just an aggregated society of CIs, but a molecule is something more than that, as it has a more unified experience that is greater than the atoms that comprise it, and it exhibits properties that cannot be explained purely by the parts themselves (much the way a church can be “explained” purely by the bricks that comprise it). The CI of the brain "prehends" its neurons, which in turn prehend their molecules, then they their atoms, etc.

The hierarchy goes something like:

Sub-atomic particles -&gt; atoms -&gt; molecules -&gt; macromolecules -&gt; cells -&gt; multi-celled animals (Humans) -&gt; The Universe?

Each CI has increasingly more experience and (more on this later) "freedom" than the previous CI. The nature of each CI's experience is composed of a series of "occasions," which are constantly dying and becoming anew each moment of time. When you remember the past, you are "prehending" past occasions that have "perished." Experience is always a process of "becoming."

What I have just described is Whitehead 101, but my theory adds on to this a bit.

As I have mentioned earlier, I hold the position that parapsychology has gotten a raw deal. This is probably largely deserved, as, regardless of the legitimacy of psi phenomena, its very nature would inevitably attract all sorts of crack-pots, frauds, and snake oil salesmen. This factor has done much to hurt the field's credibility and so very few intellectuals are familiar with the evidence (or, worse yet, they are familiar only with the straw men versions perpetuated by organizations such as CSICOP) [1]. In any event, experiments such as the ganzfeld suggest that psi phenomena may "unconsciously"[2] occur all the time, though our conscious mind filters all of this out in everyday waking life. This is further supported by (the admitingly controversial) research with trance-mediumship that was so popular in the late 19th and early 20th century [3]. Before being able to allegedly create psi phenomena (or, as some thought, communicate with deceased personalities), the mediums usually went into a deep trance. Presumably, this was to put their minds in a less "filtered" state.

It can be argued that these ESP and mediumship experiments involve the subject "tuning in" to something within their mind.

This "tuning in" also seems to not be hindered (or at least not hindered as much) by obstacles such as space or time.

My theory is that at a certain level of consciousness there is a "white noise" zone where the mind is being affected by, at least some degree, all other occasions of experience in the universe, past and present.

Different occasions have varying degrees of "immediacy." For example, the computer monitor in front of me and the thoughts concerning this paper are of a greater immediacy than my memory of what I had for dinner. My memory of dinner is of a greater immediacy than some long forgotten childhood event.

To put psi into the picture, past occasions from my childhood are of a greater immediacy than, say, the past occasions of some Chinese peasant from the 15th century. None-the-less, these past occasions (from outside my life) do have a direct influence on my psyche; however, this effect is so muted as to be, under most circumstances, undetectable and "mixed in" with the mental static from all other occasions in the universe.

The "past life" memories from Ian Stevenson's research and regression therapy may be the prehension of past occasions belonging to people long dead.

If my theory is correct, each of our own compound individuals is the universe "writ small," with certain occasions having more immediacy than others. In theory (but almost certainly not in practice) we should be able to, in some fashion, "call-up" past occasions and "remember" them with greater immediacy.

In an odd sort of way this theory allows for a sort of survival of death. While I feel that the personality ends at death, as this appears to be reliant on the brain (which is, in the absence of a CI, an aggregated society of experienced neurons), the "I" is eternal, and we are "reincarnated" into everything. A CI living hundreds of years from now will “carry with him/her/it” all past occasions of me, you, and everyone else who ever lived, though this will not consciously remembered, except on rare occasions.

This notion of "survival" is not a new idea, and is not even contingent on my theory or the existence psi phenomena. Here's an article by a materialist that elaborates:

[url:1nxdipg8]http&#58;//www&#46;naturalism&#46;org/death&#46;htm[/url:1nxdipg8]

Now, as for free will, I think there two directions my theory can go:

1) At every occasion, a CI's act will be completely determined by past memories, current sensations, cognitive ability, and the "mental static" of the universe. Basically, the passing thought of a Chinese peasant in the 15th century will have some bearing on what I decide to do in the next moment. In a way, this is sort of like epiphenomenalism, except rather than attaching semantics and intention to intrinsically meaningless matter interactions (which is one-sided dualism), the causation originates from the actual concepts and sensations themselves.

For example: I walk into the kitchen and make a sandwich.

Why did I do this?

In an epiphenomenal materialist theory, this can be completely explained by references to spatial-temporal interactions between certain objects moving along a casually closed path, like so many billiard balls. The concept of "hunger" doesn't logically entail from the system. There may be some impotent ghost piggy-backing on the system that might have some sort of sensation that involves a desire for food, but this is functionally irrelevant because (according to the materialists) the brain (and, by extension, the rest of the universe) is fully pre-determined, lacking intrinsic meaning or purpose. And, as Searle has shown, these vacuous entities can't have syntax of semantics unless some outside observer attributes them to the objects[4]; and this is something materialist can't allow. Any experience simply is not part of the system, and is thus left unexplained.

In my theory, the cause of the sandwich making is hunger. Or, more precisely: A lack of nutrients in my body causes a signal to be sent to certain neuronal fibers in my brain. This causes my neurons, being compound individuals, to prehend a primitive occasion of experience that, I suppose, can be roughly translated as "Bad Feeling". These "Bad Feelings" among the number of neurons are collectively prehended by the unifying agent that is the compound individual of the brain (or, myself). The CI that is I feels the many "Bads" as the more advanced experience of hunger. I, using my cognitive ability and my memory of prior experiences, correctly conclude that in order to alleviate this unpleasant sensation, I should use my ability of locomotion to travel to the kitchen and put my skills at food preparation to use by constructing an edible substance to consume. Of course, the occasions of lesser immediacy have their influence, but forgotten childhood traumas and 15th century peasants are mostly irrelevant to my hunger, so the hunger "wins".

This is not really freedom as commonly understood, as all actions and thoughts have "reasons" behind them. If I were to decide to not eat, there would certainly be a reason for this, whether I was aware of it or not.

Basically, the “Darkness that comes Before” is all occasions of experience, past, present, and (?) future.

2) The other direction my theory can go is to postulate that, because the universe is not fully determined and is, in fact, indeterminate (as quantum theory seems to suggest) than perhaps free will as commonly understood is, at some level, possible. Griffin, Whitehead, and Hartshorne seem to have the idea that, at the sub-atomic level, "volition" exists among the particles. A very primitive volition, to be sure, but the randomness can be viewed as the exercise of basic freedom. As one moves up the hierarchy of compound individuals, the freedom of the lesser CI are harnessed by the superiors and are thus allow greater freedom for the higher CIs. For example: A molecule has more "free will" than an atom, a multi-celled organism has more freedom than one of its cells, etc.

This may be the case, but I personally lean more towards the first choice which, while it makes our actions "determined," the decisions and experience are not epiphenomenal. On the contrary, it is the experience of the individuals themselves (whether at the level of electrons or humans) that are the causes. Most people would have no problem with realizing that they eat because they are hungry (and if they choose not to eat, there is a reason for this), but they would certainly have a problem with the notion that that they would go and make a sandwich is irrelevant to whether they are hungry or not.

Which is probably why I can't see my way out of it - despite my training as a 'continental philosopher'! Not even accounts as pragmatically ingenious as Dennett's seem to even touch it.

BTW. Have you had a chance to check out The Illusion of the Conscious Will, yet? I hear it's quite terrifying.


Nope, but I am aware of some of the arguments in favor of this (namely, Libet's experiments [5] and determinism in general). I have no doubt that there are "unconscious" factors that occur before we make a decision. But the unconscious mental factors (or, factors that have less immediacy) are just a part of the "I" as our more immediate experiences (that may "drown out" the "unconscious" experiences).

I find epiphenomenalism (and reductionism and materialism in general) terrifying, not because I believe it's true and that my subjectivity is nothing but an impotent "magic spray" on blind processes, but rather because I fear the toll this dogmatic scientism is going to have on our society. As of now, most people are largely unaware of the more frightening theories that are being passed around. But if Russell’s "accidental collocation of atoms" and Crick's "nothing but a pack of neurons," concepts become commonly believed by most people . . . this would prove disastrous. The effects are already occurring: people with mental disorders or traumas are simply fed medication as "cures" for malfunctioning brains (which in some cases, strikes me as “chemical lobotomies”). More and more "teenage atheists" [6] are popping up (hell, I was one of them) who take for granted that they're "nothing but" blind processes. I'm not saying materialists are intrinsically amoral, and I'm not saying people (should) follow morals out of fear of some anthropomorphic god, but rather that people are moral because they feel concepts such as good and evil are somehow "real," in a Platonic sense, where as in materialism, such concepts are merely conditioning from sensory stimuli, and we are deluded into thinking they are something more.

I predict two outcomes from this:

1) "The masses" will get wind of how far down the rabbit hole goes, and widespread nihilism will result due to the masses feeling that science has "stolen their souls".

2) "The masses" will be terrified by the implications and will "revolt" from science, and religious fundamentalism will become more widespread.

Neither result is something I look forward to.

-Tak

Notes:

[1] I suggest that anyone curious about parapsychology read:

The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin

Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence by Etzel Cardena, Steven Jay Lynn, Stanley C. Krippner and Steven J. Lynn

ESP and Psychokinesis: A Philosophical Examination and The Limits of Influence by Stephen E. Braude

Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality: A Postmodern Examination by David Ray Griffin

[url:1nxdipg8]http&#58;//blavatskyarchives&#46;com/zeteticism&#46;htm[/url:1nxdipg8], [url:1nxdipg8]http&#58;//www&#46;parapsych&#46;org/full_papers&#46;html[/url:1nxdipg8] - Here are some good sites that cover pro and con articles on various topics.

[2] I dislike the term "unconscious" because it implies that the workings of the mind that we are not actively aware of are somehow "blind" or "dead," much the way we think of rocks or automations. Despite the fact that we generally are unaware of these factors of our mind, our "unconscious" behavior implies intent. For example: someone who is unconsciously self-loathing will "unconsciously" undermine their own efforts, sometimes in subtle ways. This implies intention and goal oriented behavior that would be difficult to attribute to "blind" or intrinsically null forces, despite that the self-loather is, at best, dimly aware of any negative feeling towards themselves. On the other hand, some behavior does seem blind, such as "blindly" or automatically driving to a wrong location out of habit (such as driving to work when you meant to drive to a friends house), or a martial artist who reacts to an attack without thinking. However, these seem more like "programmed" behavior that has no real intent behind it and may be attributed to a series of advanced reflexes or conditioning. Also, evidence from parapsychology seems to indicate intention from the unconscious mind.

[3] Contrary to popular stereotypes, early "psychical research" was not comprised totally of incompetents and frauds (though these certainly did exist). Eminent thinkers such as William James, Frederic W. H. Myers, Oliver Lodge, and Richard Hodgson were some of the more prominent pioneers in the field.

[4] Basically, in the absence of an observer, the matter interactions “are what they are,” which is, bits of “stuff” hitting each other.

[5] Oddly enough, Radin and Bierman both conducted similar experiments that suggest precognition. [url:1nxdipg8]http&#58;//www&#46;quantumconsciousness&#46;org/pdfs/presentiment&#46;pdf[/url:1nxdipg8] and [url:1nxdipg8]http&#58;//www&#46;boundaryinstitute&#46;org/articles/presentiment99&#46;pdf[/url:1nxdipg8].

[6] Not that I'm a friend to the religious perspective, either. view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 21 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by TakLoufer, Candidate

Ok, this message is long, but then again, I am replying to four different posts.

---Grantaire's message---

First, in relation to your own theory, I would like to mention Ockham's Razor. What is simpler, materialism or your theory of compound individuals with their own histories creating "life".


Which is simpler: Newtonian physics or quantum physics?

The point of Occam's Razor is that, given two theories with equal explanatory power, one should choose the theory with the least amount of entities. Basically, one should get rid of all unnecessary entities.

Quantum physics is more complex than Newtonian physics, but quantum physics also has greater explanatory power.

Materialism, given its ontological limitations (it's basically a decapitated dualism), is incapable of explaining consciousness without appealing to an invisible homunculus, which is simply not allowed under materialism.

Whiteheadian Panexperientalism (true or not) has more explanatory power than any materialist theory of consciousness; primarily because Whiteheadianism actually allows a place for the subjective. In materialism, the theories may bring to light correlations of consciousness and brain states, but these brain states, as defined by the tenets of materialism (blind, objective processes) - the consciousness is just something that "happens." The qualia, the "binding" problem, and "aboutness" of intention are reduced to a functionally unnecessary and unexplained epiphenomena. In all materialistic theories of consciousness, the explanations do not logically entail a "what is it likeness" to the system. Any attribution of intention to the system remains observer-relative, something "tacked on" from the outside.

Because of this, I consider materialism to be dualism in denial.

My theory may be complex, and at prima facie appear improbable; but, surely one can't mean "This theory is improbable, as opposed to materialism."

About what you say about science against ontology though, it is perhaps irrelevant-


Well, irrelevant within the field of science.

the atom is the smallest object with the properties that we recognize as belonging to any certain type of object. Even that is slightly past the simple infinitesimally small sphere it was originally conceived as. Over time, our perception of "atoms" grew to recognizing it being composed of neutrons, protons, and electrons. In time, we discovered properties of these, and we discovered that they are composed of quarks, and that there are many other subatomic particles out there. But what they are is inherently irrelevant. With even today's best technology, the best image we have been able to get of atoms is a fuzzy sphere. By our current understanding of physics, there is no way to obtain a better image. Sure, we can create our models, hypothesize about what composes an atom, and all of that. But never can we see past a rough image of an atom.

So what does this mean? It means that what the most fundamental particles actually are is, and will always be impossible to know. We think of everything in terms of what we understand and experience. Such an abstract concept is already difficult enough for humans to accept, because it is counterintuitive enough. But given that quarks and other particles are at an even more fundamental level than atoms (the smallest object with still recognizable properties to us), how can we define what they "are"?

Although, to be more precise, it's not that particles are even strictly what we would term "matter". Modern physics has given us many things to consider on the subatomic level, but wave/particle duality, string theory, and some parts of quantum physics are particularly telling. These totally counterintuitive theories (and hypotheses, at least in the case of string theory) give us new insight into our understanding of the subatomic world, and we cannot take these fundamental particles to be simply infinitely small spheres that are composed of something. Sometimes they behave like waves, sometimes they affect the behavior of a particle far away, and perhaps they are even impossibly small strings or branes. The simple fact is, we can't look at the simplest units of matter and say "what are these made of?" because while at the purest level they are simply energy, they are simply too abstract to think of in our macromolecular terms.


This brings up an interesting point. At the smallest levels, what we know of as "matter" becomes less traditionally "matter-like" and more abstract. I mean, if it's a wave, what is it a wave of?

If matter is energy . . . well, what the hell does that even mean? Energy is defined as movement, but how can matter be reduced to movement? Movement of what? Something is missing from the current picture, and I have doubts that we are capable of fully understanding it.

Do you get what I'm saying? I don't know how much of a physics person you are, and I don't totally understand all of this, but I think that it's not only irrelevant, but impossible to discuss metaphysics at such a fundamental level of reality.


I've studied quantum physics, and it has given me almost as big a headache as consciousness has. I mean, the Aspect experiments suggest a holistic interpretation of the universe, which is difficult to imagine (though it makes sense, in a way). And Wheeler's delayed choice experiment has left me just plain confused.

I realize I commonly use the term "billiard balls" when referring to materialism, and I hope I haven't led anyone to believe that my current vision of matter is stuck in the 19th century; I use this term to refer to all the vacuous entities of materialism , which includes the "non-billiard ball-like" substances found in the sub-atomic world. In any event, by "billiard ball," I mean that the substance has no "what-is-it-like" about it; it only has an "outside." In materialism, the sub-atomic entities supposedly lack experience as much as their more traditionally "solid" counter-parts.

In any case, even though they are outside the domain of science, the metaphysics are important. We may have the collected observations and accurate theories of observed and repeatable phenomena, but the "what-is-it?" of the observed phenomena is certainly not irrelevant when discussing the ontology of the world. Is the observed phenomena intrinsically mental? Or does the phenomena originate from vacuous entities out in a spatial-temporal void? Science can't answer these questions, no matter how many experiments and observations are made. However, the questions, though ultimately speculation, are vital when confronting the world-knot of consciousness. Despite Scott's assertion that "the picture is slowly coming into functional focus," science is no closer to explaining consciousness than it was in Descartes' time. We have mental-physical correlations, but this is hardly an explanation.

Scott is right when he says science is the "only game in town" when it comes to accurate predictions of the world (recording and predicting observed phenomena), but the metaphysical concerns (the "who's casting the shadows?" questions) are simply beyond science. [More on this later]


[quote:2rq1fn4u]I find epiphenomenalism (and reductionism and materialism in general) terrifying, not because I believe it's true and that my subjectivity is nothing but an impotent "magic spray" on blind processes, but rather because I fear the toll this dogmatic scientism is going to have on our society. As of now, most people are largely unaware of the more frightening theories that are being passed around. But if Russell’s "accidental collocation of atoms" and Crick's "nothing but a pack of neurons," concepts become commonly believed by most people . . . this would prove disastrous. The effects are already occurring: people with mental disorders or traumas are simply fed medication as "cures" for malfunctioning brains (which in some cases, strikes me as “chemical lobotomies”). More and more "teenage atheists" [6] are popping up (hell, I was one of them) who take for granted that they're "nothing but" blind processes. I'm not saying materialists are intrinsically amoral, and I'm not saying people (should) follow morals out of fear of some anthropomorphic god, but rather that people are moral because they feel concepts such as good and evil are somehow "real," in a Platonic sense, where as in materialism, such concepts are merely conditioning from sensory stimuli, and we are deluded into thinking they are something more.

I predict two outcomes from this:

1) "The masses" will get wind of how far down the rabbit hole goes, and widespread nihilism will result due to the masses feeling that science has "stolen their souls".

2) "The masses" will be terrified by the implications and will "revolt" from science, and religious fundamentalism will become more widespread.

Neither result is something I look forward to.


Yes, this is the interesting thing. Indeed, I am somewhat one of those "teenage athiests" you speak of, though I would say that I'm more of an agnostic. However, I think there are several limiting factors that you are overlooking.

First: most people simply don't care. Many people don't give a damn about philosophy, science, literature and many of the other things we talk about here. Since philosophy, by its nature relying on language to convey what it means, can never sound totally definitive, I don't think the masses will ever really appreciate or care what conclusions philosophers ever come up with.

Second: not only beyond the simple fact of apathy, many people simply aren't intelligent enough to understand. Not an intended insult towards them, but many people really would not be capable of understanding the philosophy behind the dogmatism you describe. Those who are, are either capable of taking the implications, or else are intelligent enough to fall into a sort of nihilism that isn't really true despair.

Really, the masses just aren't intelligent enough, and are too apathetic to realize "how far down the rabbit hole goes," and although I wish people did care more about things like philosophy and science, I think too that perhaps it is better that people who cannot take the implications not be exposed to the ideas that are not only extremely abstract, but very disturbing.Back to top[/quote:2rq1fn4u]

Now that I have thought about it, I agree with you on this; I have met few people who are even aware that there is a mind-body problem. However, I still think that this will definitely have a negative effect on the field of psychiatry and the treatment of mental disorders. As doctors treat mental patients less like autonomous individuals and more like machines, this may have a trickle down effect on the masses. We're already at the point where the diagnosis are usually: "Your fixation on your mother is due to a malfunctioning brain, you need more drugs." or "You son's disobedient behavior is due to a defective brain, he will require two of these pills each day for behavioral correction."


---Scott's message---


I'm going to start calling you the 'mad panpsychist,' Tak!


When I have enough posts under my belt, I'll be sure to make that my title. <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

Just a few points: given the successes of functional explanation elsewhere, I find it hard to view the intransigence of 'what-it-is-likeness' with your optimism.


I'm "optimistic" because there is no way for a functional (or any materialistic theory) model of consciousness to bridge the "unbridgeable gap" of experience. As I said in an earlier post, even if scientists could completely map out the processes of the brain to the minutest detail, they would still be clueless as to how experience enters the picture. It'd still be something that "just happens." This is because experience is fundamentally distinct from normal "objective" problems in that, at best, we can find correlates of consciousness, but these correlates would have no explanatory value. Something is missing from the current world picture.

As far as metaphysical questions like 'What is X fundamentally?' goes, you do realize your answer, 'mental experience,' not only explains very little (since we don't have a blasted clue as to what experience is),


Well, we know that we can't get from "there" (ontologically "objective" processes) to "here" (subjective experience) without something to bridge the gap. And I argue that this bridge will, even if it is ultimately incomprehensible to us, have "experience" as a fundamental. [More on this later]

Also, while we may not be able to define what "experience" or determine how it can be doesn't discredit it as a possible foundation; as all metaphysics start with some reality or set of realities that are assumed to be fundamental - materialism included.

it also seems to overlook the myriad of ways in which experience is deceptive. We don't experience holes near the centre of our field of vision, though we have them. We're susceptible to a countless number of perceptual distortions and illusions.


So what? Patients of a "split-brain" operation experience (to a degree) split consciousness, most animals can't recognize themselves in a mirror, and victims of Alzheimer’s experience disinigrating cognitive ability. All this shows is that consciousness is indisputably tied to the brain, but I'm not disputing that. Just because consciousness is correlated with brain processes does not explain how the interactions of vacuous entities can bring about the "sensation of seeing red" without either allowing a homunculus or placing experience at a fundamental level. Deceptive or no, experience still indisputably exists.

Experience has a veridical component.


This doesn't support materialism anymore than it refutes idealism. If life is a dream, it is obviously a very consistent one.

Not only that, there's the question of intentionality: experiences are about things that, experience tells us, transcend those experiences. I have experiences of trees, not experiences of 'tree-experiences.' Whatever 'experience' is, it seems clear that it's inherently relational.


I'm not disputing this either. There is a "world" beyond my mind, but the ontological status of the world is unknown. I argue that it must, at some level, have experience as a fundamental because, if the world does not have experience as a fundamental, than a homunculus is assumed (even if a theory of consciousness denies this, it still unintentionally implies one).

I could go on and on, and I'm sure you could cook up a thousand answers, to which I could cook up a thousand more, and so on, and so on, and so on.


I was thinking about this. It seems, ultimately, that philosophical debates, while they are useful as a "trial by fire" for new ideas and for bouncing concepts around, the participates rarely seem to change their views to agree with their opponent. Also, the debates seem to gradually degenerate into the opposing sides simply repeating their arguments ad nauseam. Others (on Usenet, especially) become outright flame wars. I don't know why this is (and this phenomena is certainly not limited to discussions of the mind-body problem); but this leads me to attempt to clarify on what exact points we disagree on. I will try to do this by going through your position, or at least going through what I think is your position.

In earlier posts, you indicate that you recognize that there are serious problems with modern theories of consciousness. Your solution is that there must be "something more," you also mentioned a "blind brain" hypothesis in which we are cognitively incapable of understanding how consciousness or intention can arise in the brain. But you also seem to think that, if we did understand everything, consciousness and intention would be "explained away." Also, you seem to argue that, whatever this unknowable factor is, it doesn't necessarily have to have experience (or "proto-experience") as a fundamental. Unless I have misunderstood you, your argument is that "materialism" (see footnote [2]), in a form extended beyond our capacity for understanding, can account for experience.

While this process may be something we cannot comprehend, we can still determine what would be required for it to explain experience. First, we must decide that the "Unknowable Factor" must account for the "what-is-it-like" that we currently can't explain. If the UF cannot do this, it is simply not an explanation. Second, if the UF that lies "behind the scenes" of our observed world still follows the tenets of materialism as defined by [2], then, regardless of how esoteric or mind-bogglingly complex the UF is, it still suffers from the same deficiency of everyday materialism - consciousness is still a "just so" event that can't be explained and explains nothing.

One can argue that the UF is different from materialism, yet still does not have experience as a fundamental. Presumably, this difference from everyday materialism is supposed to account for our experience, but even with this difference, the UF would still be materialism (or physicalism), except with added dimensions or strange, unobservable substances, or whatever. If the units of existence lack experience, it doesn't matter if we can conceive of them or not. To state that the interactions of the vacuous units creates consciousness is to merely state a brute metaphysical fact that does not logically entail from the system. It is "just so." To add a materialistic UF to the mix just pushes the question back a level. As ontologies go, the units of existence can have a "something-it-is-like" intrinsic to them, or the units do not (vacuous). This is an either/or factor, there is no in between. One can argue that the units may be vacuous, except on special occasions (like, for example, when the units form brains), but this still becomes a metaphysical "just so" and requires an invisible homunculus to wait on the sidelines.

I suppose one can just assert that we're simply too dumb to see how consciousness can arise from materialistic properties (UF or not), but the more one examines the mind body problem, the more transparently obvious is becomes that experience is merely correlative to physical processes (thus lacking explanatory power), and the more we realize that we are missing a piece of the puzzle. Merely adding UFs (that are still limited by [2]) onto the ontology doesn't help.

To assert that [2] can explain experience (without ontological add-ons), but we just can't know how, carries as much justification as the assertment that 6 x 9 really equals 42, but our limited minds are incapable of understanding why.

Materialism, as defined by [2], lacks the metaphysical tools needed to produce experience. Blind brains aren't going to change this, unless the UF somehow strays from materialism's definition.

So, it appears the only point we seem to disagree with is whether experience needs to be (in whatever fashion) a fundamental characteristic of nature. Other than that, I generally agree with most of what you say.

But then, this is just my point. Metaphysics is interesting, worthy of exploration, but given that no metaphysician has ever produced a claim capable of commanding consensus, I'm not sure what warrants specific commitments to this or that metaphysical thesis.

And this just brings us back to the only institution that has had any kind of luck with theoretical truth-claims: science. You still haven't given me an example of an alternate institution that has anything remotely approaching the track record of science when it comes to producing theoretical truth-claims.


Metaphysics is not in the business of producing claims that command consensus. That's science's job. Metaphysics goes beyond scientific observations such as "the sky is blue" or "Gravity has effect X on object Y." Metaphysics is in the business of what the claims of science actually mean. Is the observed phenomena have intrinsically mental properties? What is space? What is matter? Etc.

Science only deals with the recording and prediction of observed phenomena. Metaphysics is outside this (though some metaphysics, such as Cartesian dualism, seem less likely in light of observed phenomena.)

I do see what you’re getting at, and observed phenomena can discredit some metaphysics.

For example: irrealism –

1) I propose that nothing exists (not even ideas).

2) I make the “scientific observation” of opening my eyes and observing phenomena.

3) The phenomena are, at least, ideas in my (?) mind.

Conclusion: things exist, irrealism is false.

But when it comes to idealism versus realism, science is not very useful because the “stuff,” while it indisputably exists, can be composed of “mental” properties (like the “stuff” in dreams), vacuous actualities, or a combination. Science can’t make this distinction. And, in any case, I don’t feel the current view of matter is justified anyway. [more on this later]

Stephen, I think, mentioned that these matters simply boiled down to whatever perspectives our interests lead us to take. This is the kind of levelling statement that many philosophers and laypeople are wont to make - hell, I used to make similar claims myself. But again, this is a philosophical claim, and as such, no matter how much it serves our self-interest to relativize scientific claims, it suffers the same credibility crisis all philosophical statements suffer.

This mistake is rife in academic philosophy. People commit to philosophical claims such as 'science is one language-game among many,' or 'science is an ontic enterprise incapable of examining its ontological foundations,' and then use this commitment to condition their commitment to every scientific claim they then encounter. They use a philosophical commitment to determine their scientific commitments! This is a nifty trick, until you consider the cognitive track record of the two institutions in question. If commitment is supposed to be a function of warrant, then this akin to making a deaf person presiding judge over American Idol.


I don't use philosophy to determine scientific commitments. Or, more clearly, I don't ignore scientific observations in order to protect a favored metaphysic (my dad does this, however, as he is a Creationist). Also, I try not to mix up science with metaphysics. Science is not intrinsically materialistic, nor is it intrinsically dedicated to any metaphysic. True, the vast majority of scientists may be materialists, but this is more due to social and academic politics (after all, idealists and dualists aren't terribly respected) than for empirical reasons. The materialistic concept of matter seems to be the result of scientists confusing the abstractions (vacuous balls of "stuff") of their theories and formulas with the "real thing" (mistaking the "map for the territory," so to speak). The "real thing" is something that can only be perceived indirectly, but scientists have largely assumed that their abstractions account for the complete nature of matter. Additionally, Griffin has argued that:

A third reason [we should be suspicious of vacuous actualities] is the recognition, recently emphasized by historians of science, that the 'mechanical philosophy of nature', according to which the units of nature are wholly devoid of experience, spontaneity, and the capacity for influence at a distance, was adopted in the seventeenth century less for empirical than for theological-sociological reasons, such as defending the existence of a supernatural deity, the reality of supernatural miracles, and the immortality of the soul (Easlea, 1980, pp. 100-15, 125-38, 233-35; Klaaren, pp. 93-9, 173-7). For example, this idea of nature's elementary units, according to which they were wholly inert and (in Newton's words) 'massy, hard, and impenetrable', proved (to the satisfaction of Boyle, Newton, and their followers) that motion and the mathematical laws of motion had to have been impressed upon these particles at the beginning of the world by an external creator. The fact that this strategy eventually backfired, as this idea of matter eventually led to an atheistic, materialistic worldview, has long obscured the original theological motives. (Griffin [3])


Personally, I have no idea 'what science is really.' All I know, is that it seems to be the only game in town when it comes to generating reliable theoretical truth claims.


Well, science is the process of recording and predicting observed phenomena. Scientists may attach metaphysical theories to the observations, but the observed phenomena doesn't interpret itself.


---Scott's 2nd message---


The best way to understand the 'disenchantment of the world,' I've suggested, is as a gradual process whereby intentional explanations provided by tradition and philosophy are gradually replaced by the functional explanations provided by science - something which results in the 'scientific worldview.' Until recently, this substitution had resulted in what might be called the 'disenchantment of the world minus us.' Because the complexity of the brain defeated the scientific tools and techniques that make functional explanations possible, we were like a 'wildlife preserve.' We are only now witnessing the breakdown of that intentional preserve - the practical possibility of a thoroughgoing functional self-understanding - and as of yet, we don't know how things will ultimately play out.


Well, I can tell you right now that even after we are able to map out the brain's process in their entirety, and even if the brains processes can be completely explained in terms of “mechanical” causation, we still aren't going to have a clue why experience should occur. Within materialism, it will always just be "just so" - a matter of brute metaphysical fact.

Your question, Larry, brings us to this point. What we know to be the case is that what we call 'experience,' depends on the function of the brain. What we don't as of yet know is how all the particularities of that experience - especially things like intentionality and normativity (which are found nowhere outside of experience) - arise from the particularities of our neural machinery. But the picture is slowly coming into functional focus.


No it's not. We're not going to be able to explain consciousness, nor intention, nor the illusion (if it is such) of free will, through neurology or by any other observation of objective processes.

Consider your 'experience of willing' (EoW), for instance. It turns out that we are very easily fooled into thinking that we will actions that we don't. It turns out that our EoW is inferential - something that we learn - rather than intrinsic to the things we in fact do. It turns out, in other words, that our EoW follows from our actions, rather than, as we like to assume, initiating them. It turns out, in other words, that our EoW is a cognitive illusion.

So how are these claims applicable to your life? In innumerable ways, and few of them pretty: everything you've done, every act you've been blamed or have taken credit for, you have experienced after the fact as something 'you control.'


I agree that the everyday "conscious" mind is not in control like most people think. However, I don't think the logic of:

"Each molecule blindly runs. The human body is a collection of molecules. Therefore, the human body blindly runs, and therefore there can be no individual responsibility for the action of the body"(Whitehead [4])


is quite accurate either.

As I said in my last post, I think the causes of our actions are mental in nature, and, for the most part, "hidden" from us, or at least drowned out by our waking mind. We are autonomous, in that we do make decisions, but these decisions have reasons/causes behind them.

Also, I will like to add, I feel that we, as human beings, have a better realization of our "causes" than, say, a cat or dog does. I'm not sure how this has any effect on our "freedom," but it does show that our waking mind is more "awake" than lower animals.

This simply underscores the nihilistic dilemma I've been harping about all along. If you, like me, suspend commitment to all but the most robust truth-claims - namely those belonging to the same family that makes miracles like this computer possible - then the most basic, straighforward inferences lead you to unintelligible madness.


Even if epiphenomenalism (as understood by materialism) turns out to be true (and I think there are good reasons to think that this is not so), experience will still be a big bugbear on science. The "then a miracle occurs" will still plague the theory.

The most powerful instrument of discovery in the history of humanity - bar none! - suggests that everything you do and everything that matters to you is an illusion - and here's the kicker, including the very norms that make this argument stick.


All the more reason to think that something must seriously be wrong with the theory. I mean, if what you think is true, you typing this message is not contingent on you having thoughts about consciousness! Isn't that odd? Sure, one could argue that the brain states just "are" the thoughts and intention, but that doesn't mesh well with materialism and is another "just so-ism."

Allowing experience to be intrinsic to reality will solve some of these absurdities.


---Stephen's message---


Let me suggest this: What if the EoW and the actions to which it is related cannot be separated? What if we decide to treat them philosophically as one self-initiating entity? To say that the EoW 'initiates an action' is thus to make a distinction as meaningless as which blade of a pair of scissors is 'really' doing the cutting: the EoW and the action are one experience, one entity, as entangled as two quantum-identical atoms.


Depending on the specifics, this could be anything from identity theory to property dualism to functionalism to panpsychism. To say that a brain state just "is" an EoW suffers from many obvious problems (does the EoW logically entail from the brain state? Why?), at least within materialism.

If quantum entanglement asserts as possible (and has proven in recent experiments) that information can be instantaneously teleported without degradation, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle remains in effect, then the entirey of existence is a form of cognitive illusion -- in which case the EoW is no less 'real' than anything else we experience.


Well, quantum entanglement seems to suggest a holistic universe, or at least a universe where the parts are somehow interconnected, which makes sense if you think about it.

Even an illusion is real if it exists as an experience,


Bingo. If consciousness is an illusion, who is the victim of this deception, and how? This is like eliminativists saying "You don't really see the color red, you just seem to." The seeming is what it is.

and if an experience influences an outcome, our will is as real as anything else we experience.


Well, the problem is that epiphenomenalist say that experience influences nothing. Not even our discussions on epiphenomenalism are contingent on "us" (whoever "we" are) actually having thoughts or experiences. We are like impotent, immaterial parasites piggy-backing on an automata.

I think this is absurd too.

-Tak

[1] Which, honestly, I should "physicalism," I use the term "Materialism" mostly out of habit, and because it is more commonly used.

[2] 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)

[3] [url:2rq1fn4u]http&#58;//members&#46;aol&#46;com/%20Mszlazak/PanExpMind&#46;html[/url:2rq1fn4u]

[4] A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, p78 view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 23 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by TakLoufer, Candidate

1) I agree that conscious experience is now scientifically indigestible, and though I suspect it will remain so in principle, this is just a conjecture.


I agree, but think this is beyond conjecture. Science can't make sense of experience unless experience is taken as a fundamental. Otherwise, it will simply be "just so."

2) I have no clue as to what inferences this fact secures, other than suggesting that 'there's more.' This is why I think this is a 'crack in the door': while it's certainly grist for the imagination, it does not warrant much in the way of theoretical content.


Well, (1) can be "solved" if experience is a fundamental (whether this takes the form of dualism, idealism, or panpsychism is beside the point). If all of our modern theories are going to keep sneaking homunculi through the back door, we might as well be open about it (or declare elimitivism).

3) I do think many formal characteristics of conscious experience, such as intentionality, will, normativity, and so on, are scientifically digestible to a point - so much the worse for us! I think you're mistaken to lump these in with the 'character' or 'what-is-it-likeness' problem.


But the "point" that marks the limit of science doesn't really answer any questions. Intentionality, for example: Science will be forced to just declare a certain neural state to just "be" the "aboutness of a tree" without anything resembling an explanation.

4) I am not a materialist, though I do think the relational character of experience is what makes it the 'default metaphysick' for so many. This, I think, is THE problem for opponents of materialism. More below.


More's the pity for us. Many of the problems (or, outright impossibility) in explaining experience stems from the materialistic view of matter.

5) Given that all metaphysics is bunk, that innumerable varieties of innumerable positions can be argued (and argued, and argued), specific, exclusive metaphysical commitments are ultimately unwarranted. If one insists on entertaining such commitments, then metaphysical commitments which cut across the grain of 'common sense' (whatever the hell that might be), are in even more trouble than otherwise.


Well, if the observed data contradicts one's metaphysic, than the metaphysic is wrong. Also, I don't think common sense (of the "soft core" variety) should be held against a metaphysics. Just because something is unorthodox has no bearing on its truthfulness.

"Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are first produced." - Alfred North Whitehead


6) The bottomline is that one need not 'go metaphysical.' The fact that science is unable to examine it's own assumptions in no way discredits it's findings, nor does it prevent us from drawing inferences from those findings.


Of course not. But its limitations must be accepted. I suppose it's materialism that's causing all of the problems explaining experience. McGinn's phrasing of this question is especially telling:

How could the aggregation of millions of individually insentient neurons generate subjective awareness? (Italics added) McGinn, Problem of Consciousness, pg1


McGinn simply takes it as self-evident that neurons are insentient (are protozoa insentient?). If one were to allow that neurons may possess experience (and their component parts possess experience themselves) maybe the problem wouldn't be so puzzling.

7) To be honest, I find all this talk about ‘illusions being real’ to be more than a little confusing. Is there no such distinction? And if so, how do you distinguish ‘real illusions’ from ‘illusion illusions’? Psychologists having been wracking up lists of perceptual and cognitive illusions for years. The fact of the matter is that experience fools us in innumerable ways - just look at all the things we’re discovering about ‘eye-witness testimony.’ To pick and choose which we’ll call ‘illusions’ and which we’ll call ‘real’ depending on how much we need or cherish them is tendentious. You need to give me decisive arguments, Tak.


Well, illusions can be "real" in that we "really" experience them. The main difference between an illusion and something that's real (in the everyday sense) is that things that are real are public, where as illusions are not.

But to posit that our sense of experience is an illusion is to not make any sense:

I see red.

I don't "seem" to see red.

As for intention, if I'm thinking of a tree, I'm "really" thinking of a tree. Even if a scientist were to show that my intention is really a mechanically determined brain state that entails no "treeness," this doesn't mean I only "seem" to be thinking of a tree (though elimitivism may attest that this is so).

Now, as for the efficacy of experience, I don't know. If brains are eventually shown to be mechanically determined like so many billiard balls (I doubt this is the case), then volition will be an illusion - and a rather inexplicable one at that; epiphenomenalism opens up a whole can of absurdity.

But if brains are eventually shown to not be mechanically determined (through either quantum tunneling or whatever), then volition can be allowed (if experience is a fundamental given), or at least causation can be mental (The "feeling of hunger" causes one to seek food)

Since I think our differences regarding the first issues are little more than a matter of emphasis, and since I’m not at all interested in pursuing fruitless metaphysical debates, it’s (7) that I’m really interested in understanding, especially given the frequent way it seems to be used as a panacea for the problems I’ve raised. Answers such as ‘Ah, sure, but it’s real for us,’ strike me as wishful thinking, so much so that I can’t help but feel as though I’m missing something.


Well, it is real for us, but I see what your saying. While I see qualia and intention [1] as ultimately irreducible to vacuous entities, volition is the only issue that I feel needs attention. But, for many reasons [2], I find epiphenomenalism too absurd to accept. If we're faced with it, we might as well go with some form of panpsychism.

So, to reset the point of contention:

a) We attribute actual causal efficacy to our experience of will, when it seems to be a scientific fact that such experiences possess no such causal efficacy.


Even taking into account Libet's experiments, this is by no means conclusive. I will concede, however, that our "unconscious" mind undoubtably does most (it not all) of the thinking for us; but then, our "unconscious" is just as much a part of our mind as our everyday superficial conscious, which is simply less aware.

b) Willing is a cognitive illusion.


I agree that the everyday mind is, at least for the most part, governed by the "darkness that comes before" - but, I don't think this "darkness" is merely blind and vacuous forces.

c) Responsibility depends upon the reality of willing.

d) Morality depends upon the reality of responsibility.

/e) Morality is a cognitive illusion.


I agree, or at least admit that this may be the case. At some level, I doubt people can really be said to be responsible for their actions. After all, we are products of all occasions, past and present. Everything has a cause behind it.

Griffin would disagree with this, though.

Which is to say, the nihilist wins.


I suppose. But I don't see how this is particularly gloomy.

The more I think about it, the more it seems people generally are confused by what they mean by freedom. They surely don't mean our behavior is random, because that's not free will. And surely our thoughts and actions don't spawn from a vacuum. It seems obvious that they are determined by the rest of the universe, by everything else. Even if someone does something that appears uncharacteristic, there is undoubtably some reason for this, even if the individual is not consciously aware of it.

-Tak

[1] Though this is usually not considered, but I consider intention to be a type of qualia. There is a "something it is like" to be thinking of a tree (and not just the image that appears in the mind's eye), just as there is "something it is like" to see red, to be in love, to think of your grandmother . . . these can't be reduced to vacuous actualities (though they can reduce to correlations). Intention is not a sensory based qualia (its more primal) but it still has a "something it is like" to it.

[2] This essay mostly mirrors my thoughts on epiphenomenalism [url:dl3merx0]http&#58;//home&#46;comcast&#46;net/~johnrgregg/epiph&#46;htm[/url:dl3merx0]

Postscript&#058; Here's a website I recently stumbled across. It has a bunch of short essays over the mind-body problem. - [url:dl3merx0]http&#58;//home&#46;comcast&#46;net/~johnrgregg/index&#46;htm[/url:dl3merx0] view post


I think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . posted 23 October 2004 in Writing TipsI think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . by TakLoufer, Candidate

I know this will sound rather strange, but The Prince of Nothing has inspired me to write my own series. The primary reason for this isn't so much the books themselves (though they are good), but rather because the they are Bakker's first.

Before I go on, allow me to explain my history with fiction and writing.

To be honest, I rarely read fiction - at least not any more. In junior-high and high school I constantly devoured science fiction, reading a book every two or three days. Mostly by Philip Jose Farmer, some Heinlein, some Asimov, some Arthur C. Clark, Dune, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, several post-apocalyptic books, some crap by Harry Turledove and S.M. Stirling, hell, even some (yuck) Alan Dean Foster. Out of all of these, though, the book that has had the biggest impact on me was Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. I read this at age 12, and I was never the same since. I would be a much different person if I never read this book (Dhalgren is where I got the name "Tak Loufer" from).

I always wanted to write, but I never managed to get beyond the first few pages of whatever I had put my mind to. Oh, I had ideas, I would play around with all sorts of concepts and characters and stories that might have been; but it was so much more fun to read the works of others. I'm a lazy procrastinator. The farthest I ever got in a writing project was thirty pages of a fanfic for the anime series, "Neon Genesis Evangelion." But my progress slowed as my interest in the show cooled.

After high school, I became obsessed with the mind-body problem, and my reading content became almost entirely composed of books concerning consciousness, quantum physics, philosophy, with the odd book on history now and then. For three years I read no fiction.

Then, hearing how Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series was "a lot like Dune," I decided to give it shot. I read all three books within the month. And then read them again.

ASOIAF inspired me to write, but I was always under the impression writers should start small with short stories or maybe a novella or two. The problem was that I wanted, in the back of my mind, to write something with a much bigger scope, but I didn't think I could handle it (and this may very well prove the case).

Looking for something to tide me over until A Feast for Crows comes out (which, if I were to guess, will be the winter of 2006), I read on the ASOIAF forum about a new book called The Darkness that Comes Before. How could I turn down a book with a title like that? TDTCB and TWP stirred up my modivative and creative juices for two reasons.

1) If Bakker can jump right in and write a trilogy (?) on his first try, and write it this good, why can't I?

2) The work has philosophical undertones that bring to light the "big questions" such as volition and morality. This compelled me to think what I issues I could explore.

I've had the idea for my story developing in my mind since at least 7th grade, though the setting and characters have changed over the years. But, after ten years of conceptualizing, I've finally decided to start putting the ideas to paper. But the devil is in the details . . .

The problem is that in order to be able to justice to my story, I'll have to do a lot of research. And create a world map. And come up with names for all of these characters. And there are a lot of characters.

I think I've bitten off more than I can chew. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->

Anyway, I'm currently coming up with names for my characters, but the map problem has got me stumped. I've tried drawing a map myself (I have the general idea in mind), but this has proved frustrating, as I'm no artist (or, at least not a good one). And there is the problem of drawing a map that is supposed to be a globe; the northern and southern regions would be necessarily distorted.

Does anyone know of a good computer map creator? I don't really want a random map generator, as I have the general ideas in mind, but the details . . .

Also, while I am fairly well versed in history, I'm going to need to do some in-depth research on everything from the Russian Revolution to the Great Depression to WWI, WWII, Vietnam, the counter culture movement . . . among other things (currently I'm reading up on Howard Hughes).

Does anyone have any recommendations for books over the Vietnam conflict (and WWI &amp; WWII)? And a good computer map program?

-Thanks view post


First Word that Comes to Mind posted 24 October 2004 in Off-Topic DiscussionFirst Word that Comes to Mind by TakLoufer, Candidate

love view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 28 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by TakLoufer, Candidate

---Grantaire's message


Quote: &quot;Grantaire&quot;:zes1pxzv
Just a quick comment about your comparison between Newtonian physics and quantum physics. Really, they have equal explanatory power, because they are only two parts of the complete physical description of the universe. Quantum gravity will be the unifying factor, once it is discovered (though some think string theory can reconcile them as well).[/quote:zes1pxzv]

Well, I should have been more clear. Newtonian physics, by being incomplete, has less explanatory value than Newtonian + Einsteinian + Quantum physics.

Newtonian physics isn't so much wrong as it is incomplete. Modern physics, though it is more complex, has more explanatory value.

See, I've thought quite a bit about this problem over the last few days. I think that part of the reason we can't conceptualize a real solution to this is simply the limitations of human understanding. Many even simpler concepts are extremely challenging to get a grasp on- after all, we can visualize three-dimensions by putting it on a two-dimensional medium, but does that mean we can create a model of four-dimensions? It's simply something we can't really create a concrete solution to.

Granted, we can't reduce our view of the universe past energy as the most basic level of what things "are", but does that mean that we absolutely must resort to a metaphysical answer? I think that perhaps there can be a physical answer, but perhaps it simply is incomprehensible to the human mind, and so we turn to metaphysics, because although complex, it is easier to understand than the most fundamental level of physics. Physics can be anywhere from totally concrete to somewhat abstract, but at this level, it is utterly abstract, and in a way I think we'll never truly understand. But I don't think that necessitates a metaphysical explanation.


I'm sure there is a "physical" answer, but to us it would be metaphysics.

Physics, as understood in the common sense, can only go so far - at least for us. The intrinsic nature of things can't be deduced through mere observations and, as weird as the quantum world is, this still applies to it as well. The only thing we can seem to deduce from quantum physics is that reality is probably not ultimately comprehensible to us. As for the fundamental nature of things . . . ? I'd argue that it has some form of experience as an absolute, but other than that, who knows?

I think you've hit on exactly why I'm saying it's irrelevent. Simply by the fact that you wish to discuss consciousness in terms of metaphysics (philosophy), makes all conclusions automatically void.


You can't avoid metaphysics. Metaphysics is the foundation that science rest upon. All science has a metaphysic under it, whether scientists are aware of it or not. Even scientists who merely assume that the units they refer to are abstractions (abstractions of what? more abstractions?), if taken literally, espouse a form of irrealism (or possibly idealism).

Most scientists today, or at least those that give name to their metaphysic, rest science upon materialism. The problem with this is that, given the characteristics of materialism, consciousness cannot be explained. The scientists have to "cheat" and let a homunculus in to bridge the gap between objective and subjective.

Now, in virtually all scientific endeavors, metaphysics are irrelevant. Making a steam engine, measuring and predicting the movement of heavenly bodies, constructing space craft, even the complexities of quantum mechanics: these employ only objective matters and predictions there of, and any assumption about the noumenal nature of the units of existence are left out of the science (or, usually assumed to be vacuous or abstract). Materialism works just fine in everyday science, as does assuming the units to be abstractions, or dreams, or whatever. Metaphysics is not all that important to observed, objective phenomena, and it hardly ever crops up.

But consciousness is a fundamentally different kind of "thing" than any other phenomena. You can't observe consciousness like you observe other kinds of physical phenomena, because consciousness is the observing.

It is consciousness that pushes metaphysics into the spotlight, because it is in this regard that assumptions about the units of existence actually make a difference. This, unfortunally, is lost on most scientists who think they can "explain" consciousness by referring to objective observations.

If references to metaphysics make theories of consciousness void, then scientific theories of consciousness are void as well. This is because science always has a metaphysic behind it (whether it be materialism, "abstractions," idealism, etc).

The nature of philosophical discourse, as well as language, make it so that not only will readers not get the exact intent of your communication, but also, human perception "taints" what we perceive, simply through the nature of our minds.


This is unavoidable, to an extent, but this is problematic even within fields outside metaphysics (though, I admit, metaphysics does have a greater capacity for confusion). But, by virtue of the fact that I have the ability to conceive of concepts, I know that such concepts can be conceived. And, assuming most minds are at least somewhat similar to mine, and even considering the crudities of language, I should, in principle, be able to convey concepts through the use of language. Even if the initial attempt results in confusion, I can always use more words to scaffold the subject closer to my intention. Language is not perfect, but I am still able to use it to put ideas into the mind's of others.

You spoke earlier of mistaking the map for the territory in the case of subatomic particles, but I think the exact same error could be made here- a linguistic description of fundamental metaphysics should not be mistaken for what it actually represents.


This is true, but language is not just a collection of noises, they are used to convey concepts. Whether these concepts be a grocery list or the secrets of the universe is aside the point. True, some of the metaphysical concepts can be hard to visualize, and we no doubt have limits to our cognitive ability in this regard, but language can still be used to forward these ideas to other minds, or, at the very least, ideas that are similar to the intended.

Also, what each of us "experiences" in the universe is a totally subjective experience- and how can that translate into a true fundamental solution of metaphysics, applicable to all "conscious experiencers"? (for lack of a better term)


I'm not quite sure by what you mean by "applicable to all 'conscious experiencers'," do you mean that if the theory makes sense to all entities who experience, or that it "applies" as in "explains" how they can possess (or, "be") experience?

If you mean the former, well, I'm not sure how this is an issue. My cat is incapable of understanding metaphysics, and even if she did understand, I doubt she'd care. Also, Martians may or may not have the capability of understanding these theories, but, if they're intelligent enough, they should be able to, even if we may have difficulty in conveying these ideas to them.

If you mean the latter, then I can only say that, despite differences between subjective POVs, all of them have a "something it is like" to "be" them. No matter how alien these other entities may be to us, they still have that quality of "being." This is what needs to be accounted for.

I see your point, though. Any solution we do come up with will be limited by our ability to understand it. I take this to mean that our theory will be "crude," as in, only a rough sketch of what's "really" out there.

Sorry if these thoughts are coming out jumbled, I'm hardly a philosophy major <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: -->


Heh, I've never taken a philosophy course in my life. <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

Another thing I'd like to hit on is the old "what if we're just the dream of a butterfly?" idea. I think this too is an interesting idea, because what if our entire universe, our existances, our experiences and memories, our emotions and thoughts, the births and deaths of galaxies- what if all of it is simply a passing aspect of some...larger entity/thing (there is no word I can think of that is fitting)? We could live in this universe, with its physical laws, and perhaps some fundamental metaphysical law, or basis of matter/consciousness, but what would it matter then, if really they aren't what the "true" reality is?


If reality is the dream of a butterfly, then "we" are, in fact, the butterfly. But what world is the butterfly in? An infinite regress threatens. But, even granting that our universe may be something thought up by some super-being, such possible worlds are not important when talking about experience. If the butterfly is dreaming us up, where does the butterfly's experience come from? If the metaphysic of our world is materialistic (as defined by [1]), then a meta-metaphysic is assumed to account for the "just-so-ness" of experience. The "world within a world" concept only pushes the question back a "world."

And I have met very few people who are even aware of the many problems that philosophy can bring up, and even fewer who would care.


And this phenomena isn't limited to "Joe Six-Packs" either. I was talking to a friend, who is fairly well versed in science, and I happened to mention the mind-body problem. He was puzzled by this and questioned me on what I meant. I tried to explain, but he simply said "But what's the problem? Consciousness is just chemical reactions. What's so complicated with that?" Silly me, I thought there was a problem <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? --> After discussing it further, my friend was of the opinion that anyone who disagreed with him was a "religious nut." He failed to explain how third person objective (and supposedly vacuous) entities, under the descriptive guise of "chemical reactions," can generate first person "something it is liked-ness".


---Scott's message


But what about Dennett's 'heterophenomenological argument'? I think its flawed, but there's a lot who don't. It's conjecture because it's extremely controversial.


Well, conjecture means coming to a conclusion while having insufficient data. Given my (in my opinion, modest) claim that experience can't be explained through the exclusive use of the materialistic metaphysic as defined by [1], I don't see how my conclusion is ill established. My theory on panpsychism, though, is conjecture, I will admit.

On the other hand, as many problems as Dennett's position (and, by extension, functionalism in general) has, many people still support it. In this regard, my idea is conjecture (from a social perspective). But, for reasons explained in previous posts, I feel that all materialistic and functionalistic theories are incapable of explaining experience without (unconsciously) resorting to a homunculus. Without this homunculus, the experience is just brute metaphysical fact.

This latter statement is false, actually. There's any number of alternatives. My bet is that it will eventually provides two accounts: one dealing with what 'is really going on,' and another dealing with 'how we experience what is really going on.' This is in keeping with the pattern. I'm not sure what you mean with your former point.


We already know that there is a "what's really going on" and a "how we experience what is really going on." This is a given, unless one advocates solipsism. The problem is how do we get from "what's really going on" to "our experience" in a way in which one entails the other. As of now, the objective and subjective worlds are separated by a chasm, and materialism doesn't seem to have the resources to construct a bridge to cross it. In a earlier post, I pointed out that one can never divine someone's subjective experience just by examining their brain. Even if scientists had the ability to map out the brain to the level of the sub-atomic world, the experience would not logically entail from the interactions within the brain. This is what I mean by "nothing resembling an explanation."

The functionalists have tried to bridge the chasm by proposing that experience emerges from the casual relations between objects, or is computational. The problem is, given definition [1], all of the casual relations are observer relative. The "parts" don't "know" (whatever this could mean when referring to vacuous entities) what they're doing. The parts don't "know" anything. How do they know what they're casually related to? If the objects only have an "outside," then they casually relate in an experiential vacuum. Experience does not logically entail from this, at least not within materialism.

This is why I say materialistic science is never going to explain experience (qualia and intentionality) in a way in which it logically entails from a vacuous system.

Don't forget the lesson Kant taught us. The problem is that metaphysics, any metaphysics, never relies on 'observed data' plain and simple. Look at all the ridiculous claims people think are 'demonstrated' by the findings of quantum physicists. The 'metaphysical import of the data' is every bit as vexed as the metaphysics themselves, which means, once again, there's nothing to warrant exclusive metaphysical commitments at this level either.


It is true that the specifics can probably never be known, but we can still know what must be explained. As I argued in previous posts, materialism is a dead end, or, to put it another way, if materialism is the metaphysic of our world, there must be a "meta-metaphysic" to account for the "something it is like-ness." Otherwise, experience is a "just so" unexplained phenomena.

I'm not so much committed to a specific metaphysic (though I think panexperientalism is a "good bet") as I am against materialism (or, exclusive materialism), and that any metaphysic that can hope to account for experience must have experience as some form of fundamental (basically, any metaphysic that isn't defined by [1])

[quote:zes1pxzv]McGinn simply takes it as self-evident that neurons are insentient (are protozoa insentient?). If one were to allow that neurons may possess experience (and their component parts possess experience themselves) maybe the problem wouldn't be so puzzling.


Seems to simply multiply the puzzle by about four billion to me.[/quote:zes1pxzv]

Well, the primary obstacle in panpsychic theories is the aggregation problem. For example: Suppose quarks have a primal iota of experience intrinsic to their nature. So what? Even if the quarks are bunched together into subatomic particles, and they into atoms, and so on . . . the only experiencers will still be the quarks. Just as putting a bunch of people into a room doesn't create a new, unified individual. Whitehead's philosophy of organism and Hartshorne's concept of compound individual takes account of this potential problem.

Charles Birch explains this in this article: [url:zes1pxzv]http&#58;//www&#46;alfred&#46;north&#46;whitehead&#46;com/AAPT/discussion_papers/birch_01&#46;htm[/url:zes1pxzv]

But on to the issue I'm most curious about&#058; illusion. You haven't really answered my question. As I mentioned, we're ALL susceptible to many kinds of cognitive and perceptual illusions - publicity doesn't seem to have much to do with it. They're just part of being human. The question is how the case of willing is any different.


I suppose in the case that our feeling of "choosing" can be an cognitive illusion, I agree with you. The choices we make are made for reasons, and if we make a choice that seems to be odd or uncharacteristic, this still has a reason behind it. I don't know if this is the case, but it makes sense to me.

The tree experience you mention is actually a disanalogy. The experience of a tree does not include the experience of self-determination, which is the crux of the illusion at issue here. We think we are consciously causing our acts, when we are not.


I think this deception (if it is deception) can be attributed to an ignorance of "what has come before." In principle, if we were completely aware of all occasions, past and present, then the illusion will be dispelled. However, in practice, I don't think this sort of self-knowledge is possible, so the illusion is not going away.

On the other hand, there may be a fundamental indeterminacy in the world, and compound individuals "magnify" this indeterminacy just as they magnify upon lesser experiences. This may allows for a sort of freedom (Griffin thinks so) but I still think our everyday conscious mind has far less input on our actions then we tend to think. But, I maintain, this does not mean our actions are "mindless," which by this I mean the causes of our actions (and our experiences of them) do not originate from casual interactions between vacuous entities.

Note also, Tak, that it's not epiphenomenalism that's at issue, just the factual status of something we regularly experience. I'm committing to very little, here, aside from a growing scientific consensus regarding the 'will' (and there's far more than Libet's famed (and not so significant)experiments on the line here. Again, I urge you to check out Wegner's book).


I'll see if my university's library carries it. Failing that, I'll use the inter-library exchange. Also, I urge you to read Unsnarling the World Knot by David Ray Griffin.

But here I suspect that, again, that aside from your (unwarranted! <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) --> ), metaphysical commitments we are pretty close.


Yeah, it seems we do more or less agree that free will may be an illusion, though I would argue that I'm not really commited to any one metaphysic, just that some form of experience must be a fundamental, but other than that, this can take the form of dualism, idealism, panpsychism, or whatever. But the vacuous entities of materialism should be scrapped. if we're to make sense of the mind-body problem.

On a last note, I think you're right when you say most people don't know what their freedom consists in, but I do think they have a rough sense of what their freedom is not. I actually find the pragmatic approach (which is to say, Dennett's) to this issue interesting, but tendentious, akin to saying that, although the traditional setting (of souls and gods) has to be utterly overturned we can keep the same conceptual players (of freedom and morality) by just changing a few of their lines. The fact is, we're reading from an entirely different script. The 'redefinitional approach,' where we say something like 'freedom = the ratio of possible behavioural outputs versus environmental inputs, understood from an evolutionary perspective,' glosses over what is in fact very bizarre and profoundly troubling. The fact that one can cook up such redefinitional strategies ad nauseum simply attests to the seriousness of the problem - to the fact that all we can so is spin our wheels. Shrugging your shoulders doesn't make a problem go away, even if you're a pragmatist.


Freedom is presupposed by all humans, even if they logically denounce it. This is worrisome because it seems to put us in the position of denying something essential that we can't help but employ in our daily lives. Nevertheless, after giving the matter some thought, I believe free will is not a "hard core" common sense asset as qualia and intention are. Or, at least free will is not "as hard" as the other two.

Free will may be an illusion. At least, it is not absurd to say so. For example:

It is nonsense to say "I think I see red, but I do not. I only seem to see red."

It is nonsense to say "I think I am thinking of a tree, but I am not. I only seem to be thinking of a tree."

But it is not nessesarly nonsense to say "I think I have free will, but I do not. I only seem to have free will, but my actions are determined by previous factors."

The experience of freedom is real in that we "really" have this experience (illusion or not), just as we "really" see red or "really" think of trees (regardless whether the red object or tree are really "out there"). But, just as we can hallucinate or suffer delusions, it is conceivable that our experience of freedom is just such an illusion - even though the "experience of freedom" is still real, in that we really experience it.

Griffin would disagree with this, and he may be right, but, to me at least, even the concept of free will seems muddled and possibly incoherent.

The inferences at stake are so basic that you can terrify a class full of freshmen in a single hour using shared assumptions. The inferences that purport to 'resolve' or 'dissolve' these problems generally take years of specialized training to really comprehend and appreciate.


But I don't really see this as troublesome, as even if people know what freedom isn't, they still are pretty vague at what it is. The best I can come up with is the possibility of having done things differently. Such as "I could have punched my boss in the face, but I chose not to." But this raises the question: why didn't I punch my boss in the face? The decision wasn't random, there were factors that served as determiners (namely, being fired or going to jail). If I had punched him in the face, there would surely be factors that compelled me to do this, irregardless of whether I am aware of them or not.

While this is conjecture, it seems like free will is more like an ignorance of the collective forces that "move the soul."

And, at least for me, the terror that can be felt at "unraveling the rainbow" of free will would have more to do with the notion that my experience and intention have no casual powers. Or, me going and making a sandwich can be explained purely through casual interactions between bits of matter (as defined by [1]) without the concepts of "hunger" or intentions of "sandwichness" entering the picture. There have been many theories to try to get around this, but they all seem to suffer from a homunculus or "crypto-dualism." I would find this frightening not so much due of the perceived lack of freedom, but that my experiences are irrelevant to my actions. That I'm a "magic spray" on what basically amounts to a mound of blindly shifting billiard balls.

Most people, if they thought about it, wouldn't have a problem with the statement: "You ate because you were hungry;" even if we took this casual chain to the realm of the "unconscious." But the statement "Your hunger had nothing to do with you eating." Would leave them either incredulous or terrorfied.

It would seem our positions largely coincide, and that our only differences are a matter of detail and degree.

-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) view post


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

Quote: &quot;Cu'jara Cinmoi&quot;:2fepd390
The latter issues you raise, Tak, are the only one's that hold my attention anymore. For me, the primary 'abstract' issue confronting humanity is one of reconciling what we experience with what we know.[/quote:2fepd390]

Well, knowledge comes from experience. Our knowledge may lead us to suspect that our naive experiences are not accurate depictions of what is really "out there," but we're never going to get to a point where our experiences themselves are doubted. The red I experience may not "really" be there. But the fact that I see red is indisputable and still has to be accounted for.

Free will, on the other hand, may be an illusion, but I don't take issue with this. Rather, I take issue, for reasons explained in previous posts, with the notion that these illusions of free will (and experience in general) originate from the interactions of vacuous entities.

This is an exciting and terrifying time in history. The dominant institutions in contemporary society are corporations, social units designed to pursue short-term self-interest.


No arguments here.

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.

Meanwhile, revolutions abound in every one of the natural sciences. Meanwhile, we're learning that our native self-understanding is as quaint and implausible as the fantastic world-views demolished by science.


Then we need to change our worldview. Materialism, and possibly "free will" (as commonly understood) are just such concepts that need to be scuttled.

We've moved beyond, 'The world makes no sense!' Sense doesn't even make sense anymore.


Nonsense. <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) --> We can always be certain of one thing: We have experience (or, at least I do). This is the axiom by which we derive all other axioms.

1. I have experience.

2. Certain objects in my experience behave as if they have experience as well.

3. Therefore I assume that these objects that behave as if they have experience do, in fact, have experience that is similar, to some degree, to the experience that I enjoy. "Strong" A.I. and thought experiments such as Searle's Chinese Room are exceptions (or, if they do possess experience, the universe is necessarily dualistic).

We can continue this train of thought until we come to the question of what the objects in our experience are made of, or what sustains their existence. Also, we come to the issue of how our experience arises in the first place. This is where the concept of materialism starts to cause more problems then it solves, which leads me to think the metaphysic is outdated and should be scrapped.

So while much knowledge remains (and may forever remain) outside our observable realm, we still have truths (the existence of experience and the assumption of a world beyond our own mind) that we can use to extrapolate about reality.

Modern theories of consciousness make no sense, but this is due in part to an outdated adherence to materialism.

We are all Achamian. We all walk in the shadow of the apocalypse.


This is true.

Every self-aware experiencer walks in the shadow of its own demise. By believing that one's experience came from "nothing," one is led into believing that they are destined to this same "nothing" when the body ceases. To salve this fear, stories of the preserved dead are passed down, as people consider the "I" that looks out from their eyes to be the same as the personalities the "I" inhabits.

A few months ago, you posted this on the "Descartes" thread:

Quote: &quot;Cu'jara Cinmoi&quot;:2fepd390
Back when I tried Zyban to quit smoking I had what could be charitably described as a 'psychotic episode.' Zyban is simply another name for Welbutrin, an anti-depressant that has improved the lives of millions, but seems to drive a small handful bonkers. Quite the experience. 'IT' was thinking alright - the thoughts just seemed to come from nowhere (the 'darkness'). But what freaked me out more was the subsequent realization that the only difference between those thoughts and the thoughts I normally have was that I simply wasn't accustomed to them, and that if I had held onto them long enough, I likely would've have started identifying them as my own. Which led to the question: 'Just WHO (or what) is doing the thinking anyway?'
[/quote:2fepd390]

Then, Replay responded:

Quote: &quot;Replay&quot;:2fepd390
Yep thats the thing. In a way there really is no such thing as a thinker - only thinking itself. If you just quiet your mind and watch, you can easily see this for yourself.

Of course, then you have the problem of trying to work out just what it is that is watching (which isn't you either). But then asking yourself "just who/what am I" is perhaps the hardest (and greatest) question anyone could ever ask.[/quote:2fepd390]

And later:

Quote: &quot;Replay&quot;:2fepd390
Your right, and if you could argue yourself out of existence (though i don't think argue is the right word here), then perhaps this thing called self is not as real as you would first think.

The important thing to notice though is this nothingness that the layers cover. Just what it is? It's certainly not empty, as even if you were to reach a point where there was nothing left of what was originally considered you, there still would be something that sees; something that responds when your name is called; something that acts. So again, what is it? There is certainly no easy answer to such a question.[/quote:2fepd390]

This pretty much sums up my ontology. If I were to place a name on the "something that sees," I'd call it the universe.

-Tak view post


Science disenchanting the world. posted 14 November 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionScience disenchanting the world. by TakLoufer, Candidate

I apologize for the lateness of this reply, but class work and other concerns consume much of my time.

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:1mcmd58o
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:1mcmd58o]

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.

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?

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


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.

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


I wonder if quantum physics has something to do with this . . . <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

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


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) view post


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