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Tags consciousness , materialism , subjectivity

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Old 12th February 2008, 04:50 PM   #761
hammegk
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
No, in order for Idealism to be true there would have to be the possibility of a complex/non-complex entity.
Perhaps that means something to you, and even others. I find it meaningless.

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I certainly 100% deny that something could be x and not x
I'm glad you found something to be certain about. Don't think too hard about wavicles.

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You are just getting boring
Am not!

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One thing that increases my certainty is that anybody who does not agree cannot find coherent arguments but is forced to rely on desparate, dishonest twitter like the above.
You found the courage to be "certain" about something above. If you could just muster the courage to choose a monism think how fulfilling that should be.

At any rate, that's enough discussion of our side topic, in this thread, for me.
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Old 12th February 2008, 05:04 PM   #762
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Originally Posted by Ichneumonwasp View Post
I don't believe I've provided an argument on consciousness. I only tried to explain BDZ's position on it.
Okay.

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That perspective isn't really a confusion of parameter with function except within a given definition of what consciousness is. Change the definition and you change the parameter/function relationship. He is simply using a different definition. I think there is some utility in that approach.
Perhaps so. But you have to provide the definition. As we've seen with Martillo, who is now arguing about the existence of cheese, if you don't define your terms, you can't make any coherent statements.

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In fact, behaviorists view things in much the same way. The separation between 'person' and 'environment' is not concrete when we discuss such interactions. We create strict boundaries so that we can discuss them, but we shouldn't reify those boundaries if this impairs understanding of behavior within a system.
The boundaries are real. The brain is an information processing system. The world is not.

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We -- you and I -- are not really saying different things. I think the only difference between us is that you have more confidence in our ability to explain the world than I have. I have full confidence that we can explain consciousness, and it also pisses me off when folks come in and try to say that such explanations are theoretically impossible. That's why I tried to stay out of this conversation.
Agreed. That is indeed the thing that annoys me most in this sort of discussion - people who argue that because we do not yet have a comprehensive, functional theory of consciousness, that there cannot be one. The people who argue this point are usually ignorant of the vast advances that have been made in neuroscience over the last few decades.

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Then you, more than most, should be able to appreciate that there may be vistas that we cannot reach, working in an area that is hard to conceptualize.
Well, no, I disagree entirely here. I routinely solve problems where I am entirely unable to visualise the problem space. As I was saying to Soapy Sam, I break down the problem into simpler components, into things I can visualise or conceptualise, and then reassemble the components into a solution. I have worked for twenty years on systems too complicated for anyone to hold the whole in their mind, and yet, those systems do get built, and for the most part, work.

Godel's Theorem is a real limit, but its application is quite specific.

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Again, there is nothing woo here. We would simply be ignorant of these aspects of reality (if they exist -- and we could only speculate and not argue that they do). There is no way to offer proof of such things, only speculate on them. Is this consequential? Well, obviously not. Really, such speculation is a waste of time, but it might also be true.
But there is no evidence of such. They aren't in the same category as, say, leprechauns, in that they don't of necessity contradict what we already know. But they are the "Unknown of the Gaps".

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Well, of course it is -- that is why it isn't really a problem. But it is the case that Mary's internal sensation of seeing 'red' is new information.
No, that's not quite right.

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The lie is in the original proposition that she can know everything about seeing red without actually having that experience.
Sort of, but sort of not.

You can - in principle - understand the experience of seeing red without a photon of the appropriate wavelength ever impinging upon your retina. If Mary knew everything about vision, the knowledge of that experience would be included.

It does depend on what you mean by "see". If you are talking about visual perception from the retina onwards, then the problem is that the information is incomplete. If you are, instead, talking about the internal experience of seeing, then if Mary knows everything, she has already seen the colour red.

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Bait and switch seems to be a favorite in philosophy of mind.
For immaterialist or dualist philosophy, yes. Sadly.

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There are experiences that we are simply not capable of. We can think about them, we can conjecture, but we can't get to them. There are simply things that we cannot know.
Like what? Doesn't need to be specific, but a category of things.

I can't think of anything that isn't inherently contradictory. Who wrote "What is it Like to be a Bat?" Ah, Thomas Nagel, thanks Google. I can't know what it's like to be, say, a grain of sand, because grains of sand have no awareness. They're not, as Nagel put it, be-able things. BATs, as it were.

But other than that?

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Yes, then we agree on that.


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We are talking about different things here. There is nothing woo about the Mary problem.
Well, some people do ascribe woo to it, but as you said, it's really just a bait and switch.

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We can understand what is happening in a subjective experince, but we cannot share that experience -- even if we create conditions to mimic the same internal 'hormonal' environment that constitutes part of what we call 'feelings' (in part, because we are not the same substrate as the person having the experience, so interaction issues would dictate a difference). We can understand those process to the level of Mary understanding 'seeing red' while still in her white and black room (leaving aside the obvious neurological reality that she could never see color in the first place given that weird scenario). We can describe an amazing number of things. But we cannot know everything. I think you probably agree with this.
We cannot know everything, and for a very simple reason: Even if the "everything" we are talking about is just everything about the physical Universe, the representation of that information would necessarily be larger than the Universe itself. Which is problematic.

But I disagree to a large extent about the ability to share experiences. Experiences are just information, and information is substrate neutral. You don't run into fundamental problems until you start nitpicking with questions like "Can my mind remember experiencing your experience the same way that your mind remembers experiencing it?" Now, this requires extensive messing about with brain structure; it's easy with computers, a lot harder with people. But not impossible.

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Yes, and there may be strangenesses that we cannot conceptualize in our limitations. Agin, they would be inconsequential because we couldn't know them, but they might be there. They would simply have no impact on us whatsoever. And, yes, I know this is pure speculation.
Sorry, that still makes no sense. Do these strangenesses affect the behaviour of these things? If so, then we can observe the behaviour, and conceptualise those observations. If not, then I argue that the strangeness cannot be meaningfully said to exist.

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Of course it's not an argument. It isn't meant as one. It is a caution about our limitations.
Yes, that's true. A better response would be that we aren't required to imagine it, because we can observe it.

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Yes, but a full explanation of the universe would amount to a formal system -- the axioms being the underlying physical constants that determine what is out there.
Given Quantum Mechanics, it's not clear that this is true either.

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I'm afraid I do not share you confidence in our abilities to arrive at final explanations.
It depends on what you mean by "final". There are some questions that are not meaningful, such as questions about the interior structure of a black hole. (Black holes don't have interior structures.)

But I don't see any limits, apart from the purely physical.

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There is much that we can explain. Consciousness is going to be one of those things -- I am almost certain of that -- since it arises from the workings of matter/energy, which is theoretically explainable at the level we see in our daily lives.
Agreed.
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Old 12th February 2008, 05:07 PM   #763
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Originally Posted by Ichneumonwasp View Post
On that I think we fully agree. Or, as Mercutio once said, "Metaphysics is largely a pantload."
That is an elegant summation, isn't it?
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Old 12th February 2008, 05:10 PM   #764
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Originally Posted by Ichneumonwasp View Post
Consciousness should be a verb. Can you point to "running", put it under the microscope? You can see a relation of parts that we call 'running', but where is the 'running' itself? It's just a verb that we treat like a noun.
Yes! Thank you!

I keep talking about process and function, but that's a much more concise way of putting it.
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Old 12th February 2008, 05:14 PM   #765
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Originally Posted by Ichneumonwasp View Post
Sort of along those lines, one of the weird things I have noticed when I try to look at decision making is that I don't think we make conscious decisions. We use what we call consciousness to direct attention to ideas and mull them over, but when it comes time for the decision........well, that seems to come from an unconscious well and reach consciousness after the fact where we seem to try it out and see if it fits.

At least, it seems so to me.
Yes, and that view is supported experimentally by Benjamin Libet's work.
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Old 12th February 2008, 05:20 PM   #766
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Originally Posted by martillo View Post
I'd agree. It would also imply that the classic definitions of materialism have morphed to become idealism.
As I said earlier (and possibly in another thread; I can't remember), there are some forms of Idealism that are entirely congruent with Materialism, that support science exactly as we know it now, and allow for the existence of cheese.

This does not include - as I also said - Plato's views, or Berkeley's.

Materialism hasn't changed, though; our understanding of the Universe has changed. Our terms have become better defined.

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How you are able to square your "100% denial" corollary #1 with your statement I addressed above in this post is what puzzles me, and which I continue to find illogical.
Are you still denying the existence of cheese, Martillo?
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Old 12th February 2008, 05:25 PM   #767
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Originally Posted by martillo View Post
Cheeses of Nazarath!

You aren't the first with that concept.

Irrelevant twaddle is irrelevant twaddle.
That was my point, yes.

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Or, since there is no coherent definition of consciousness, you may choose an axiom system that declares it non-existent.
I just gave you a coherent definition of consciousness. If you don't like it, you can go back to your cheese, but you can't claim the definition doesn't exist.

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And you've already leapt the 1st person / 3rd person problem. Congratulations.
Normal humans learn to do this by the time they are two.

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Is there supposed to be meaning hidden somewhere in that word-salad?
It means what it says.

I have some additional information about my thought processes that is very difficult to obtain objectively at present. But all other information corresponds.

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Certainly unknown, and likely unknowable, but dream on.
Do you deny the existence of neurological and behavioural correlates of consciousness?
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Old 12th February 2008, 06:10 PM   #768
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Originally Posted by martillo View Post
Perhaps that means something to you, and even others. I find it meaningless.
It is only your central claim. If you find your claim meaningless then join the queue.
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I'm glad you found something to be certain about. Don't think too hard about wavicles.
On the contrary you should think a little harder about wavicles.
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You found the courage to be "certain" about something above. If you could just muster the courage to choose a monism think how fulfilling that should be.
What is it about Idealists that they have this funny idea that you can somehow "choose a monism"?

Whatever the nature of existence it was so long before you or I ever came along.
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The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"

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Old 12th February 2008, 06:51 PM   #769
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Losing your consistancy of information in a black hole?
Kurt Godel threatening your complete theory of everything?
Quantum Physics leaving you feelings of uncertainty and questioning your confidence as an independant observer?

You need:

Dr. Kelvin's Classical Causality Tablets

Recommeded by four out of five Newtonian physicists to prevent Syncronicity.

(Contraindications may include anal retention and painful reductionism. Use only as directed.)
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Old 12th February 2008, 07:09 PM   #770
Robin
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
Losing your consistancy of information in a black hole?
Kurt Godel threatening your complete theory of everything?
Quantum Physics leaving you feelings of uncertainty and questioning your confidence as an independant observer?

You need:

Dr. Kelvin's Classical Causality Tablets

Recommeded by four out of five Newtonian physicists to prevent Syncronicity.

(Contraindications may include anal retention and painful reductionism. Use only as directed.)
Not quite sure of what the relevance of this is to the thread.
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The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
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Old 12th February 2008, 07:21 PM   #771
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Me either, but I'll take a dozen gross.
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Old 12th February 2008, 07:28 PM   #772
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Originally Posted by articulett View Post
No one better say "synchronicity",or I'll vomit.
Oops! May cause sudden regurgitation.
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Old 12th February 2008, 07:32 PM   #773
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Does your pet theory lack evidence, rationality or common sense?
Is your metaphysic just metamagic?
Are your arguments tired and lifeless?

Then try new

QMLite(tm)

Homeopathic QM Therapy *

An advanced formulation of QM diluted to homeopathic concentrations which is guaranteed to bring that glitter back to your twitter.

Guaranteed free from side effects (or any effects whatsoever)

* May not contain any actual QM
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The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"

Last edited by Robin; 12th February 2008 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 12th February 2008, 07:39 PM   #774
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
Consciousness is all we can experience and I argue not even that.

However it appears that photons react with phototropins to create sensations.


True. And also a large tree limb impacting the side of your head. And you go, "AAARGH" and another observer sez, "Wow, that must hurt, lad." And you sez, "Sure as bat guano, it did. Lucky me, if it war'nt fer you, I would never had this particular private event made public. So now, please piss off."
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Old 12th February 2008, 08:00 PM   #775
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Does your pet theory lack evidence, rationality or common sense?
Is your metaphysic just metamagic?
Are your arguments tired and lifeless?

Then try new

QMLite(tm)

Homeopathic QM Therapy *

An advanced formulation of QM diluted to homeopathic concentrations which is guaranteed to bring that glitter back to your twitter.

Guaranteed free from side effects (or any effects whatsoever)

* May not contain any actual QM
Let's swallow a whole bottle at once!
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Old 13th February 2008, 04:32 AM   #776
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
The boundaries are real. The brain is an information processing system. The world is not.
That strikes me as an odd belief. I hinted before that you seem to fail to understand holism (you seemed to make a lot of fuss about the spelling).

The brain is part of the world. Positionally, the world encloses the brain. In terms of physical makeup, the brain and surrounding body are exchanging molecules through the blood supply (and presumably at the atomic level various other stuff is exchanged), and the external world is impacting on both the body and the brain constantly. There are particles (or is it wavicles ) passing through the body system and the Earth, some not hitting anything, others impacting on cells, destroying DNA, you name it...

In temporal terms, the brain is a process intimately connected with human evolution and the whole evolution of life on Earth. Furthermore, there are ways of considering the whole of the world as doing nothing but processing information, and many biologists view life in purely informational terms. I am surprised that you don't see it that way too, the brain as a system for particular types of information processing relevant to the life of its body.

It makes much more sense to me to consider the boundary between mind and brain as real, because, although there may be correlates between brain states and conscious states, what I mean by the terms are persuasively different. A brain can be cut up and put it a fridge. A mind cannot (at least, I hope not).
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Old 13th February 2008, 04:45 AM   #777
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Originally Posted by John Freestone
It makes much more sense to me to consider the boundary between mind and brain as real, because, although there may be correlates between brain states and conscious states, what I mean by the terms are persuasively different. A brain can be cut up and put it a fridge. A mind cannot (at least, I hope not).
But you have not explained why the mind should be seen as something other than a linguistic abstraction. Take Icheumonwasp’s advice a look at the mind from the perspective of a verb or a gerund. Sure, we can look at the mind as an image produced by the brain, and thus find a distinction, but why should that mean it’s also a fundamental property of the universe?
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:00 AM   #778
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Hi Nick 227!

I am not finding existential anxiety in the DSM IV-R could you provide that reference please?

I also looked up the PTSD and MDMA site MAPS, sort of interesting, sort of not, at least from the POV of a former mental health worker. It may prove to have benefit on a limited basis but I would be curious what benefit it would have over co-adjunct therapy with anti-depressants.

I am not saying anything about the war on drugs, but I am not sure there will be a medical benefit to psycodelia. I think it is an interesting political syance to take. But I favor the decriminalization of most substances of abuse anyway. (Maybe not methamphetamine and cocaine).

David
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:09 AM   #779
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
For reference, I said:
and Dancing David said
Hi David

I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean. I looked up isotropy at wikipedia and it has dozens of different meanings, but I would be happy to discuss this further. I'm more familiar with 'reductionism', so I could say that I don't know how to apply reductionism to my pet beliefs. Actually, I don't know what my pet beliefs are that you're referring to. Generally, I consider reductionism as one of the limitations of science, if that's any help, although when it began to develop systems theory and gained some understanding of holistic viewpoints, it still (naturally) used its external, 3rd-person conceptual modelling. Now, you will note that several people on the woo side here have been saying that consciousness is not a 3rd person phenomenon (my original proposition, since I called it 'subjectivity', and Nick sensibly said he preferred to talk about awareness), and also that it is not a singular, reducible phenomenon (either, as some state, because it requires things like language or, as others state, because at its most fundamental it is simply non-dual, or holistic in nature). If it is this pet theory you're referring to, then my meaning above was that, since subjective discoveries are subjective, the usual scientific tests to establish objectivity are not applicable. I was admitting a failing, in a sense, of my position, putting myself in your position, and seeing that everything I might claim is just in my head.

I don't know if any of that makes sense to you, but if you understand what I'm saying, you might reconsider: "If it is difficult or impossible to test then you haven't really thought about it." I have a particular feeling when I look at a blue sky that I call 'blue'. I wonder if it has any relation to what others feel when they look at a blue sky or use the name of the colour. I have no way of testing the theory that we have different (or similar) subjective experiences, have you? It seems to me that it is impossible to test, and that I have thought about it. It would seem to be the very basis of strength claimed by science that it avoids such subjective, untestable concerns. It sticks, as we keep being told, to dealing with the real world.

The thing is that the more I think about these questions, the more 'the real world' becomes exactly those interior, subjective realities - indeed, just the singular momentary one Here Now - and that all philosophy (including science) is modelling, abstraction, reduction of wholes into fundamentally unreal (holistically abused) parts. It's not useless, because it can make fridges and democracy, but one of the fundamental mistakes I see in science, again and again, is that assumption that reduction - or the approximated isolation of some feature from its embeddedness in nature - will not cause distortion of results.

Hi John, thanks for the response. I will get back to you on this, twere best answered not on the fly.
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:16 AM   #780
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
No, I think I understand what you're saying, and these are fair points. There is no particular way that subatomic reality should behave, and by 'nonsense' I just meant to point to the weirdness that many others have noted at this level. However, extending this general point, I was just noticing how this philosophy we're calling materialism suggests solid stuff - atoms, then subatomic particles, still being smashed together in particle accelerators, I thought - but you say that there's no matter, just energy. I thought there were states of being that physicists argue about how to depict or describe, and certainly can't just call waves of energy. I am sincerely wanting to learn more. Have things changed since I learned that light, for instance, in certain experiments behaves as particles and in others as waves? Is it that there is only energy, but it comes in quanta, packets? And how does all that affect the 'subject'/'consciousness' question? Will this view of just energy make it easier for me to grasp the formation of subjective experience from the action of unconscious synapses? I would love to actually get my head round this process that Pixy describes as 'reflection' - actually, you know, visualise it so that I can go "Oh, I seeeeeee!". I would be disappointed to be a zombie, but at least I could relax and bask in that wonderful state of absolute knowledge.
I don't know what BAC is (USA?) - in Britain it used to be the British Association for Counselling. I guess it doesn't matter, since it is only there to provide structure for an insult.
Well, if you're really going to stretch everything I say to ridiculous extremes for the sake of putting me down, I'll mind my place, Guv. You're the expert. Dont suppose I could ave a quick look down yer microscope, could I? What am I saying....sorry Sir.

Much, thanks. I didn't realise science had cleared up so much confusion in the last few years while I wasn't looking. Why's it called materialism?

When I said "The really funny thing is that, just as geocentrism isn't actually wrong, but depends merely on a rather complicated attribution of the position of the witness (on Earth), and heliocentrism is not 'correct' in an absolute manner either (because all bodies are moving as a system, or, if you prefer, are orbiting around their collective centre of gravity, while the whole universe is in motion as well) ... materialism isn't wrong in an absolute sense, but also depends on maintaining a particular standpoint." ... you said:


What is meaningless, surely not that the orbits of bodies are round their collective centre of gravity, and thus 'heliocentric' is simply an approximate term? It's true you know, the sun isn't at the centre of the solar system (I know you know that). You must be referring to my metaphysical musing. It's ok to use your imagination, you know. Buses hurt, yes. Saying things that turn out to be silly doesn't kill you. Maybe someone else will see what I was grappling with and clarify it for me. You just never know. It's quite exiting not having sorted everything out, now I come to think of it.

Again this will take a long response, I admit that you touched the QM nerve and I got pedantic I will try to give you a nice referenced response.

The sort answer is that 'classic' or common conceptions do not apply ar small scales, what we call the 'hard' nature of matter is the repulsive force of EM. Energy comes in discrete packets, yet it is always energy.
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:19 AM   #781
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
This and your last post are really helpful. It's wonderful when someone can translate woo into terms normal sceptics can understand! I'm obviously more evolved than an undercover elephant, because I wouldn't doubt evolution for a moment - given the rather paradoxical possibility you explored about a base (non-dual) state. This is very close to Ken Wilber's model, which involves evolution and external matter, but also considers that every holon (person, wasp!, cell, molecule, etc.) has an interior reality as well, which also evolves. Hence, he does not push consciousness down the phylogenetic tree, but sees consciousness as the evolutionary level of 'interior' arising with human beings (and interiors, he says, go all the way down). Also, he gets over the problem of this seeming like a duality, by suggesting that it is just a natural duality - a surface has to have an inside. His scheme relates various internal sensations or functions to their exterior physical forms - including relating different emotional/cognitive capacities to different evolutionary systems of the brain. (Integrative Psychology, 2000)

My first musings about the evolution of consciousness came from a fidelity to the same principle that seems so important in energy - neither being created nor destroyed - and indeed in our intuitive liking for monism rather than dualism - i.e. it seems odd if consciousness suddenly comes into being in the universe at some point of complexity, when its subjective quality - its qualitative quality (the 'qualia', like pain, anger, compassion, image, thought) are so utterly unlike the stuff you can pick up and stick under a microscope. If that difference and those principles are impressive, it adds weight to contemplations of consciousness being somehow immanent, a deep potential or 'the Ground of Being'. It doesn't have to lead to naive philosophies of God stirring the stars, but it does re-enchant the world that materialism has 'disqualified'.
So many points, this will also be a lot of writing.
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:23 AM   #782
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
Oh, I thought there was some point to DD telling me that there wasn't matter, it was all energy. Maybe you two disagree there, and anyway, you've volunteered to answer for him. ...and also acknowledge that the difference doesn't affect the question of consciousness at all.



Well, I'm pretty busy meditating and such, and I have a huge book list I can't get round to reading...maybe if you did go into it a bit further, that might give me some hope that it might actually be worth reading. I'll level with you, Pixy. I think you're good at making up your own language and thinking it means something.

How about anyone else - anyone else able to explain how to build a conscious machine from a few transistors? Anyone else able to describe how to bridge the gap between stuff I can stick in the fridge and stuff I see in my head - from unconscious synapses to feeling like I'm here, alive, real? Any number of synapses/transistors you like, actually.

I wish I had a million dollars to wager.

You see, the thought experiment alone should demonstrate the logical impossibility of proving you could do such a thing. Say you made a robot that said it was conscious. How would you, as its inventor, prove to me, the good sceptic, that it was? That's the fundamental philosophical problem. Its concsiousness would be internal, not transferable by any means we know to any other being or committee for verification. Now from your point of view, you would no doubt equate behavioural clues with proof, but if you test your own consciousness, do you rely on behavioural data? I suppose in a Descartesian view you might - I'm thinking, so I am. Maybe this is where the experience of pure awareness blows all the reasoning out the water, and without it I have to admit there's nothing I can say to convince you you're not a zombie!

However, if you think science has won, you're wrong. I could construct an equally coherent argument that would resist all disproof you could throw at it - that you were a Divine Spark....especially if I'm allowed to refer you to a book.

Oh well, go in peace. Namaste and all that.
More to respond to carefully.

It looks like a duck, it acts like a duck. It is a duck.

there is a resolution to the paradox, we are all p-zombies!

Blessed Be!
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:26 AM   #783
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Originally Posted by 69dodge View Post
The thinking-behavior that you observe yourself doing isn't the sort of behavior that you can observe others doing. So why give the same name, "consciousness", both to your own thinking-behavior (as observed by you) and to others' different behavior (as observed by you)?
Weee all live in a p-submarine, a p-submarine , a p-submarine
...
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:29 AM   #784
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Hasn't explained how the experience of "I" arises.
Operant conditioning?
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How about why the big bang occurred also?

Nick
Some questions have no answers.
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:34 AM   #785
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Originally Posted by Ichneumonwasp View Post
Well, of course it is -- that is why it isn't really a problem. But it is the case that Mary's internal sensation of seeing 'red' is new information. The lie is in the original proposition that she can know everything about seeing red without actually having that experience. Bait and switch seems to be a favorite in philosophy of mind.
.
Poor Mary, did we put her in the black and white room again?

Most likely she will see the 'color' as grey because she was never exposed to other colors and is past the age of development she can not percieve new colors, most likely. The cool question is , if we expose her to a limited number of colors, what will her response be to a new visual stimulus. I think she might perceive it as a shade of one of the colors she has been exposed to depending on the frequency response of the photo receptors. (Thank you Furi)
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:39 AM   #786
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
I don't follow how this explains the experience of identification? Can you explain me more?

Nick

This too will take some time.

I started in a post using TIAOT, we can see how that develops.
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Old 13th February 2008, 05:42 AM   #787
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
For sure, they seem exciting things, mirror neurons. It certainly could be that in self-reflecting the behaviour of others we experience an emotional reaction and thus subconsciously develop empathy as well as behavioural changes.

I'm not really bothered with reading a book just to get into an argument with you, or a load of papers. I just go with what works, at the end of the day. If you want to believe that you are right because of this it doesn't bother me so much. Probably I would have cared about it a few years back.



I seem to recall it was Freud's 150th anniversary last year, or the year before or something. There were quite a few articles around about just how accurate a lot of his theories turned out to be. Of course, people argue about this too. But, not being a neurologist, it still seems to me reasonable to equate our dopamine circuits with libido. Wasn't Freud a neurologist to start with, anyway? I thought he drew models of brain activity based on his researches? Didn't he develop psychiatry just because neurology, at the time, couldn't account for what he was learning from investigating the unconscious of his patients? Maybe I'm mistaken.



Care to give an example? I'd be happy to explain to you what I meant.



I'm sure there are charlatans in the trade. There are in most. We work a lot with group process which, incidentally, is not so expensive as a rule. What am I hiding?

Nick

Again, this will take a careful response.

It seems you are not saying, what makes it evident about there not being individual bodies that experience? (That is what i called hiding.)
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Old 13th February 2008, 06:03 AM   #788
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Originally Posted by lupus_in_fabula View Post
There’s a grave difference between your examples. Jesus being the incarnation of God is the unquestioned point of departure for the system, whereas everything being matter/energy seems to be a conclusion derived from observations, so far (although being temporary in a sense that should evidence against this notion come about, it would change). It’s also possible that it’s neither matter nor energy, but we don’t know that, we don’t know what the “uber-stuff” really is or could be, matter/energy seems to be the best bet so far? Science is susceptible to change its basic assumptions, could Christianity do the same and still be called Christianity?

Look for neutral monism if you want to find a middle ground between the physical and mind, in terms of metaphysics.
Hi Lupus. Thanks for that. I have no preference for monism. It seems like another prejudice. If the universe were composed ultimately of mind and matter, or mind, matter, spirit and cheese, are human's going to change things by jumping up and down saying it's not neat enough?

I disagree about the point-of-departure-or-conclusion distinction you make. In all belief systems, beliefs are held, whether axiom or conclusion, until they're untenable any longer (or, as we've seen, beyond). Vast swathes of the Christian world, I imagine, would say that Christianity doesn't depend on Christ's singular incarnation of God, and that they believe that we are all 'God's Children', and Jesus was just a rather special case, or the first historical event of the incarnation of divinity, or whatever...so, yes, Christianity does reinvent itself and can even overturn its one-time axioms. Besides, if we had a time machine, we could analyse the life and times of Jesus and see how discussions led to the conclusion that he was The Son of God, demonstrating the fluidity between these concepts.

Similarly, while you might say that materialism is a conclusion of science and would change if non-material reality was discovered, there are some here who have defined science as having the starting principle that all there is is matter, and it has been used as a reason not to do subjective investigation.

Some authors describe spiritual work, for instance that of the ancient Rishis of India, as 'science', yet their science focused as much on the subjective as the objective. Subjective experiments could only be repeated one person at a time, but their 'subjective' reports of their findings added up to a respected* body of knowledge about how the mind and body works, and even about how the universe works.
*Ooh, look, an opportunity for people who haven't done any subjective science to indulge in a little woo-bashing!

That is different from what we moderns think of as science, but it's maybe not such a significant difference. It's like if everyone went into a private lab to do their experiments, came out with their conclusions, but no-one else in the scientific community could see the working out. Each scientist could describe how to set the experiment up, exactly how to conduct it, but any new experiment repeating the first would again have secret workings out that no-one else could see...the subjective bits. Even so, the conclusions could be compared and thus a kind of 'objectivity' constructed, in just the same way that modern science does. There was a lot that was observable, such as when people demonstrated that certain trance states allowed them to go into something like hibernation, hypnotic states where no pain is felt and bleeding is reduced, and the whole system of Hatha Yoga and its relationship to various states of health and disease.

Actually, is the level of subjectivity so different? Even if a team of scientists all understand the ins and outs of an experiment, they're just a team, and the community as a whole often argues about the methodology and conlusions. The working out isn't hidden at all, but its meanings and even its validity are often disputed. In just the same way, however, heaps of subjective minds add their consent to a conclusion until it slips quietly from interpretation to hypothesis to theory to discovery.

I know I'm moving away from the point a lot now, but then there's this problem of moving the goalposts on what is woo. Mind over body was pretty much woo at one time. Then the respectable face of science triumphantly announced it had discovered 'a possible mechanism' - hence the mind-body connection is now mainstream science (though still usually by subsuming mind into the unquestionable physical monism). The backward, superstitious mentalists who were ridiculed for a century don't get invited to the party or sent an apology. Science, wrong for all that time, is now the hero for being right and having proof, and history is forgotten.

And actually, the epicycles used to explain the anomalies of the current paradigm are astounding. There is only matter. That's it. Just matter everywhere. And energy, by the way. That kind of moves matter about a bit. Force and ****.

Gravity? Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it, but we can fly to the moon so we must have it pretty sussed, yeah? It's probably just a particle, cause it has to be. Everything's matter.

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Oh look, the sun hasn't run out of fuel yet - ah, that's because it's creating energy - I mean, sorry, not creating energy, obviously - matter is being transmuted into energy - matter is energy and energy is matter. They're different, but the same, see? Here comes Einstein with an equation that will explain it.

Mind? Oh well, mind is just matter moving in mysterious ways. Possibly because it's kind of mysterious anyway and rather like energy, which is matter. It's like matter acting in a relationship - yeah, it's information! Hey, how postmodern is that?! There's information, which is just organised matter, and matter (or energy, remember?) is organising itself - because there can't be anything else, we decided that ages ago - which is why I don't actually have a mind, I just have a delusion of a mind - (and if I discovered anything non-physical I'd recognise it) - oh look who cares, it works. It gets us through the day and A&E is very happy and philosophy is a pantload. (Socrates said he was ignorant, end of.) Soon we'll be able to download ourselves and have a holiday actually inside the Internet.

Most of that was a general rant, Lupus, not a rant at you specifically.
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Old 13th February 2008, 06:23 AM   #789
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
That strikes me as an odd belief. I hinted before that you seem to fail to understand holism (you seemed to make a lot of fuss about the spelling).

The brain is part of the world. Positionally, the world encloses the brain. In terms of physical makeup, the brain and surrounding body are exchanging molecules through the blood supply (and presumably at the atomic level various other stuff is exchanged), and the external world is impacting on both the body and the brain constantly. There are particles (or is it wavicles ) passing through the body system and the Earth, some not hitting anything, others impacting on cells, destroying DNA, you name it...
All of this is true; none of it particularly relevant.

Quote:
In temporal terms, the brain is a process intimately connected with human evolution and the whole evolution of life on Earth.
No.

Quote:
Furthermore, there are ways of considering the whole of the world as doing nothing but processing information, and many biologists view life in purely informational terms. I am surprised that you don't see it that way too, the brain as a system for particular types of information processing relevant to the life of its body.
You can certainly view things this way. However, the divide is still real, consciousness is still brain function.

Quote:
It makes much more sense to me to consider the boundary between mind and brain as real, because, although there may be correlates between brain states and conscious states, what I mean by the terms are persuasively different. A brain can be cut up and put it a fridge. A mind cannot (at least, I hope not).
A mind can indeed be fractured in just that way. There are a number of neurological syndromes presenting aspects of this, perhaps the most striking being the result of a corpus callosotomy (occasionally used to mitigate severe epilepsy). The mind is divided into two with a stroke of a scalpel.

There's a huge spectrum of examples of that sort, which leave no doubt at all that - as I believe I have mentioned - mind is brain function.

The difference you are describing is a language problem. So too is HPC ("Hard Problem Consciousness").
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Old 13th February 2008, 06:25 AM   #790
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
Similarly, while you might say that materialism is a conclusion of science and would change if non-material reality was discovered, there are some here who have defined science as having the starting principle that all there is is matter, and it has been used as a reason not to do subjective investigation.
You make two pretty large mistakes here, that corrupt all of your thinking. First off, the idea of "non-material reality" is nonsense. If something can be discovered to interact with the material world in ANY way, we can call it part of that world, so it wouldn't bother any materialist worth his salt. If someone can actually display telekinesis in a controlled setting, for instance, then telekinesis becomes part of science. There's no problem with it.

Secondly, your claim that people reject "subjective investigation" because it would somehow invalidate materialism is flat-out wrong, and seems pretty dishonest as well. Subjectivity is rejected because it is unreliable and untestable. It can't do anything useful, and certainly could never compete with science or materialism on any meaningful level. Since there is no way to differentiate a "subjective experience" from a psychotic break, it serves no purpose to pretend that it is a valid investigative tool.

Sorry, chum... you can't just make stuff up and expect it to be taken seriously.
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Old 13th February 2008, 06:33 AM   #791
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
A mind can indeed be fractured in just that way. There are a number of neurological syndromes presenting aspects of this, perhaps the most striking being the result of a corpus callosotomy (occasionally used to mitigate severe epilepsy). The mind is divided into two with a stroke of a scalpel.

There's a huge spectrum of examples of that sort, which leave no doubt at all that - as I believe I have mentioned - mind is brain function.

The difference you are describing is a language problem. So too is HPC ("Hard Problem Consciousness").
One of the more interesting syndromes, and this relates directly to the issue of free will is akinetic mutism, resulting from bilateral anterior cingulate lesions. People so affected appear to have no will at all. They sit immobile though they may track people with their eyes. The few who have recovered from this state report having no real memory of anything that transpired during the time that they were affected. They are capable of motor function -- there is no damage to the pyramidal system, but they simply don't move as though they lack a will for action.
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Old 13th February 2008, 06:47 AM   #792
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
And actually, the epicycles used to explain the anomalies of the current paradigm are astounding. There is only matter. That's it. Just matter everywhere. And energy, by the way. That kind of moves matter about a bit. Force and ****.
All the same stuff. Standard model.

Quote:
Gravity? Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it, but we can fly to the moon so we must have it pretty sussed, yeah? It's probably just a particle, cause it has to be. Everything's matter.
Yes. Gravity is also the curvature of space-time.

Quote:
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Oh look, the sun hasn't run out of fuel yet - ah, that's because it's creating energy - I mean, sorry, not creating energy, obviously - matter is being transmuted into energy - matter is energy and energy is matter. They're different, but the same, see? Here comes Einstein with an equation that will explain it.
Einstein didn't explain the fusion process itself, but he did establish the relationship between matter and energy.

Quote:
Mind? Oh well, mind is just matter moving in mysterious ways. Possibly because it's kind of mysterious anyway and rather like energy, which is matter. It's like matter acting in a relationship - yeah, it's information!
It's information processing. As Ichneumon Wasp said, consciousness is a verb.

Quote:
Hey, how postmodern is that?!
Not even slightly. It's physics. Postmodernism is pseudo-intellectualism for people who want to look clever but never mastered algebra.

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There's information, which is just organised matter
No. Organised matter can be a representation of information, but it isn't information (unless you've switched to idealism). Here's how information is defined. Note that there's more than one definition. Enjoy!

Quote:
and matter (or energy, remember?) is organising itself - because there can't be anything else, we decided that ages ago - which is why I don't actually have a mind, I just have a delusion of a mind
I'd say illusion, rather than delusion. Mind is real. It's just not what you think it is.

Quote:
(and if I discovered anything non-physical I'd recognise it) - oh look who cares, it works. It gets us through the day and A&E is very happy and philosophy is a pantload. (Socrates said he was ignorant, end of.) Soon we'll be able to download ourselves and have a holiday actually inside the Internet.
You mean "upload".

Quote:
Most of that was a general rant, Lupus, not a rant at you specifically.
The thing is, your rant, while silly, is far more accurate than most of your serious posts.
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Old 13th February 2008, 06:59 AM   #793
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
there is a resolution to the paradox, we are all p-zombies!
And zombies are moral beings.

Who just happen to feed on brainssss....
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Old 13th February 2008, 07:01 AM   #794
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Originally Posted by Ichneumonwasp View Post
My answer to that would be that I think the issue arises because of our language. I don't think we have a problem viewing processes as having a beginning and ending. Consciousness, in English is a noun. If it were a verb I don't think we would even be having this conversation.

Consciousness should be a verb. Can you point to "running", put it under the microscope? You can see a relation of parts that we call 'running', but where is the 'running' itself? It's just a verb that we treat like a noun.
Yes, that's a fair point, Ichneumonwasp, and I see Pixy agrees, which is nice. The only bit I puzzle over is "I don't think we have a problem viewing processes as having a beginning and ending." I do. Maybe you don't, or maybe you meant "We don't have a problem thinking of processes as if they had a beginning and an ending, which is a problem, because generally they don't". This is one of the odd things about cosmology, from a philosophical point of view. The universe is a process. Ok. It began. What? Sorry. Does not compute. Every other process I could think of appears to have something that set it in motion or caused it. I suppose this fits with certain cosmologies (religions) intuiting that there was no beginning and/or will be no end.

Anyway, seeing consciousness as the 'running' does help me to make sense of the materialist vision. It often seems like there are two views that are incredibly close, yet almost opposite. Like the materialists keep their awe in check, keep explaining all the 'meaning' as 'information' or 'result', even though they can be deeply impressed by the beauty and power of the world; then, people like me, who find it very hard to do that, who see so much intimation of depth, of 'meaning' inherent in that beauty and power, and find so much of that depth inside my own mind, that I can't go "Ah, but it could just all be stuff-and-illusion". I can see it both ways, and I have to say that both ways, it makes sense.
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Old 13th February 2008, 07:36 AM   #795
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
You make two pretty large mistakes here, that corrupt all of your thinking. First off, the idea of "non-material reality" is nonsense. If something can be discovered to interact with the material world in ANY way, we can call it part of that world, so it wouldn't bother any materialist worth his salt. If someone can actually display telekinesis in a controlled setting, for instance, then telekinesis becomes part of science. There's no problem with it.

Secondly, your claim that people reject "subjective investigation" because it would somehow invalidate materialism is flat-out wrong, and seems pretty dishonest as well. Subjectivity is rejected because it is unreliable and untestable. It can't do anything useful, and certainly could never compete with science or materialism on any meaningful level. Since there is no way to differentiate a "subjective experience" from a psychotic break, it serves no purpose to pretend that it is a valid investigative tool.

Sorry, chum... you can't just make stuff up and expect it to be taken seriously.
Oh get off your high horse, Joe. You think you understand reality better than me. I think I understand reality better than you. Or we're confusing our meanings. Please don't accuse me of being dishonest.

There is no such thing as an objective viewpoint, so science is a psychotic break. Investigating subjectivity is perfectly easy. People have been doing it for thousands of years and coming to very similar conclusions. We have been suggesting that it reveals the error of materialism, another dimension of reality, and there is a way to test it: you contemplate your own internal consciousness. Billions of people meditate and can attest to what we're saying. Please don't keep telling the half of the world who bother to go there that it doesn't exist or there's no way of finding out. You're like someone ranting that there's no point in going off to investigate the end of the world, because you'd fall off and not be able to report your findings. I'm not going to open the box because it must be full of woo!

Either that, or instead of saying that maybe scientists misinterpret the nature of the subatomic world - I'll just say that they lie and quarks are just made up. It's the same thing in reverse. I haven't seen any. I have absolutely no idea about whether they're real or not. Squirly lines on a photograph? They could do that in the darkroom when no-one's looking. Furthermore, I've heard rumours that even scientists say they're kind of relatively real. Particles, right? Wavicles. Woovicles maybe?

Objective schmobjective.
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Old 13th February 2008, 07:52 AM   #796
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
The only bit I puzzle over is "I don't think we have a problem viewing processes as having a beginning and ending." I do. Maybe you don't, or maybe you meant "We don't have a problem thinking of processes as if they had a beginning and an ending, which is a problem, because generally they don't". This is one of the odd things about cosmology, from a philosophical point of view. The universe is a process. Ok. It began. What? Sorry. Does not compute. Every other process I could think of appears to have something that set it in motion or caused it. I suppose this fits with certain cosmologies (religions) intuiting that there was no beginning and/or will be no end.
Fair enough. That perspective is entirely valid. One way of looking at is lumpers vs. spiltters, I think. Really when you get down to it, if we accept monism then it's all just one long process and we 'create' artificial boundaries between different bits of the grand process.

Quote:
Anyway, seeing consciousness as the 'running' does help me to make sense of the materialist vision. It often seems like there are two views that are incredibly close, yet almost opposite. Like the materialists keep their awe in check, keep explaining all the 'meaning' as 'information' or 'result', even though they can be deeply impressed by the beauty and power of the world; then, people like me, who find it very hard to do that, who see so much intimation of depth, of 'meaning' inherent in that beauty and power, and find so much of that depth inside my own mind, that I can't go "Ah, but it could just all be stuff-and-illusion". I can see it both ways, and I have to say that both ways, it makes sense.
I'm glad that view helps. If you really get down to brass tacks with most of the folks here and move away from the petty concerns within individual arguments, I think you'll find a lot of reverence.

Some folks like to come here for very specific purposes so it may seem like they are difficult to deal with. Articulett, for one, is quite clear that she often uses this place as a form of stress release, though she gets other things out of it too. I don't think her personality here matches her personality in the real world. As a teacher she gets fed up quickly with woo-sounding claims, so she jumps on people a little early. But I think I understand why, so I'm willing to cut her a lot of slack. I think the exchange between Pixy and I fits in the same sort of category. I bet over beers we would say the same thing (really we are anyway, just approaching from slightly different perspectives). I see him trying to protect against potential woo claims or woo ways of interpreting what I have been saying. Because, let's face it, there have been some very weird things said within the paradigm of looking at things more globally. Even otherwise sober people like Roger Penrose can arrive at conclusions that just don't hold up to scrutiny very well.
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Old 13th February 2008, 08:17 AM   #797
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
Oh get off your high horse, Joe. You think you understand reality better than me. I think I understand reality better than you. Or we're confusing our meanings. Please don't accuse me of being dishonest.

There is no such thing as an objective viewpoint, so science is a psychotic break. Investigating subjectivity is perfectly easy. People have been doing it for thousands of years and coming to very similar conclusions. We have been suggesting that it reveals the error of materialism, another dimension of reality, and there is a way to test it: you contemplate your own internal consciousness. Billions of people meditate and can attest to what we're saying. Please don't keep telling the half of the world who bother to go there that it doesn't exist or there's no way of finding out. You're like someone ranting that there's no point in going off to investigate the end of the world, because you'd fall off and not be able to report your findings. I'm not going to open the box because it must be full of woo!

Either that, or instead of saying that maybe scientists misinterpret the nature of the subatomic world - I'll just say that they lie and quarks are just made up. It's the same thing in reverse. I haven't seen any. I have absolutely no idea about whether they're real or not. Squirly lines on a photograph? They could do that in the darkroom when no-one's looking. Furthermore, I've heard rumours that even scientists say they're kind of relatively real. Particles, right? Wavicles. Woovicles maybe?

Objective schmobjective.
The fact that you're posting dishonest statements has nothing to do with your view on reality, and everything to do with your false statements about people presenting a materialist viewpoint. That's an integrity issue on your part, aside from your woo-tastic philosophical viewpoint. It IS telling, however, that woosters are very often forced to lie about the viewpoints of others, to make their own position seems less pathetic.

From a logical and honest standpoint, if you claim that there is no such thing as objectivity, you cannot then insert your own claims about reality. The only thing you can do is shut your mouth, because you have absolutely nothing to possibly add to our knowledge. You are saying that you can meditate, and come up with whatever you want, and that should be taken seriously. Fine, my meditation says that you are made of Styrofoam packing peanuts and Saran Wrap. I guess that's a valid point, since it came from my subjective investigation?

Your claims fail on the grounds that they are effing stupid. Claims which BY DEFINITION have no way of confirming them, like yours, are indistinguishable from the delusions of a schizophrenic. You're wasting your time pretending that you can know things without learning anything... maybe a little more effort towards something real, and a little less narcissistic grandiosity would do you some good.
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Old 13th February 2008, 08:19 AM   #798
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
And zombies are moral beings.

Who just happen to feed on brainssss....
I've got dibs on a forearm... I'm an old school ghoul, I'll eat almost anything.
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Old 13th February 2008, 08:30 AM   #799
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Woovicles

Excuse me....woovicles ???

That's just too funny.

John, I quite like the word and given that I wrote a lengthy response to one of your posts last night of science as a belief, but deleted it because even I couldn't understand what I was talking about. But, this morning I found inspiration in the word woovicle.

Is it your assertion that science's refusal, or inability to consider the effect of unseen forces like woovicles causing you to categorize science as a belief ?
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Old 13th February 2008, 09:29 AM   #800
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Originally Posted by John Freestone View Post
Hi David

I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean. I looked up isotropy at wikipedia and it has dozens of different meanings, but I would be happy to discuss this further.
Isotropy in physics is specificaly the notion that the universe is equal in space and time (post inflation in the BBT). So what happens in one part of the universe will be reflected in another part of the universe. In that Force A applied to Actor B will produce change C, and that this will be true for all areas of the universe all other things being equal.

So if a photon interacts with an electron it will be the same sort of interaction across the universe.

Here is the wiki page which gives a wide range of meanings:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotropy

I am using it in the sense that the universe behaves the same in all places and times, which is a huge axiom.

Quote:
I'm more familiar with 'reductionism', so I could say that I don't know how to apply reductionism to my pet beliefs. Actually, I don't know what my pet beliefs are that you're referring to.
That the spiritual real is subject to testing and science. All things are open to the methodology of exploration. I can understand that one may wish to set aside certain areas and say that they are not open to exploration. Or that the methods of science will not apply to certain areas. And to that i say, tell me which area can not be tested and I will explain how I feel that it can.
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