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Old 17th October 2019, 03:23 PM   #241
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Worried that I may have made a mistake, I researched materialism again. What I said holds. The creators of this sim that they flipped on just a second ago want very much for me to remember research into a set of physical rules that includes materialism. The appear very much to also want me to remember that no testable evidence exists to support anything other than materialism. Thus, I find it parsimonious to just go with what they've programmed.
What set of physical rules includes materialism? What testable evidence exists to support materialism? The answer is none, you're doing the equivalent of a Christian pointing out that no testable evidence exists for Allah or Yahweh as a reason to believe God exists.
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Old 17th October 2019, 06:21 PM   #242
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The last few pages of this thread were interesting. For the first time in these forums, at least in my experience, it seems the arguments of the anything-goes side, or at least, the know-nothing side, are winning over the robust-commonsense-materialist side.

Let's have the heavy hitters on the materialism side bring out the big guns, do their stuff!

caveman1917, as a non-expert and a not-particularly-well-informed-layman as far as QM as well as this philosophy thing, let me just make sure I understand what you're proposing: You're suggesting we do a Shut-up-and-calculate interpretation not just of QM but of all reality, is that right?

I've usually seen this kind of argument punctured in these forums with a few deft stabs of Occam's Razor, but somehow you seem to be fending it off well enough here, by redefining materialism (from how I've generally seen it defined -- it could be you're right, although your position is counter-intuitive and sounds like a sleight of hand to me I'm not equipped, myself, to argue against it at the level of the discussion here at this time, so I'm just concentrating on the caramel popcorn as I follow the show).

Let's see how this discussion pans out. I'm putting this thread on my Subscribed list.
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Old 17th October 2019, 06:57 PM   #243
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
What set of physical rules includes materialism? What testable evidence exists to support materialism?

Well, all of them. My mother is currently in a nursing home and spends her days sitting silently in a wheelchair staring out into nothing. She cannot recognize loved ones or even respond in any way when spoken to. She eats when food is put in her mouth, but otherwise is disconnected from the world. But every once in a while, she'll say words. She'll look at the phone when I'm saying hello. She might even answer, "yes," or say "thank you." It's rare, but it happens.

Now, materialism says that my mother's brain is dying. What once was a half inch of neurons firing at each other from every fold and crevice now looks this a spider web - gaping holes in some areas, a bit of neurons tightly together in others. And that spider-web is getting thinner and thinner every day.

Dualism says that all that is happening but that my mother's full consciousness (including everything she would say if she could) is still completely intact.

So, I can go with A (which has been proven scientifically with lots and lots of brain slices examined by doctors and neurologists and other scientists); or I can go with A+B, where B has no testable, repeatable, falsifiable evidence.

Parsimony demands I select A, the simpler of the choices that fully explains my mother's symptoms.

Now, assuming I'm in a simulation turned on 1 second ago and all the memories of my mother and of neuroscience have been fed to me artificially, then it still appears that the programmers really, really want me to pick A. And, once again, I think it's best to go with that.

If this doesn't answer your objections, then you and I can have nothing more to say to each other on the topic. I have exhausted my knowledge of materialism and you have exhausted me.
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Old 17th October 2019, 10:23 PM   #244
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Like a tune you can't get out of your head, or an itch that won't go away, caveman1917's arguments insist on taking up bandwidth in my thoughts. Have to get this post off, even at risk of having my lack of knowledge of deep philosophical ideas show:

This "ontology" business seems like a red herring to me. That is the "sleight of hand" I wasn't able to put my hand on in my earlier post, above. (I don't mean to imply deliberate misdirection, obviously.)

When LL tries to decide what to do about his mother's condition, one paradigm gets him to look for material causes, and material relief. Another gets him to look for divine intercession, or else paranormal pseudo-cures, or other-worldly relief in an afterlife, or something like that.

We tend to go for the former paradigm, and call it materialism.

What you're doing with your "ontology", caveman1917, is taking this back another -- unnecessary -- level.

Might this deeper reality be different than how we see it at this operational level? Obviously no one knows. We don't voice that argument every time, nor even explicitly think it every day, but we know it: this deeper reality, Plato's cave and so forth, we know nothing about, including whether such a deeper reality exists at all. The operational level, that's where we're at.

I think, caveman1917, that this "ontology" of yours, no matter that it sounds all deep and learned, is, in as much as it addresses anything deeper than a purely operational level of knowledge and understanding, no more that a red herring, no more than meaningless navel gazing. Ontology, as you frame it, this questioning about a deeper reality, is meaningless because it adds nothing to our knowledge, and also because these very same ontological questions can be asked about the deeper reality (that you say you don't know about, and I agree with you we don't know about), and so on, ad infinitum. The question itself is meaningless.

I agree with what you keep arguing so convincingly, that we don't know, but I think where you err is in imagining that others here do claim to know what cannot be known. (Of course, I can't speak for others here, and if they do in fact claim this, which is unlikely, then they're mistaken.)

Speaking from readily admitted ignorance of what this philosopher or that has said about ontology, it seems to me that ontology itself, beyond a purely operational level, is a meaningless idea, good only for endless philosophical navel gazing, a knot that can be fun to endlessly tangle and unravel but should, in reality, in order to actually function in the world, simply be cut off outright.
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Old 17th October 2019, 11:20 PM   #245
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It really depends on whether or not you want to use two different approaches to thinking about “reality”. The basic scientific approach is to assume, to quote Alan Sokal, “that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in “eternal'' physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the “objective'” procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.”

This is effectively what everyone does in their day-to-day life. They assume that the universe exists, and that it behaves in a way they can predict based on previous observations. Why adopt a different approach when thinking about the nature of reality?
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Old 18th October 2019, 05:33 AM   #246
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
It really depends on whether or not you want to use two different approaches to thinking about “reality”. The basic scientific approach is to assume, to quote Alan Sokal, “that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in “eternal'' physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the “objective'” procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.”

This is effectively what everyone does in their day-to-day life. They assume that the universe exists, and that it behaves in a way they can predict based on previous observations. Why adopt a different approach when thinking about the nature of reality?
Sokal is wrong or misusing a term. Science doesn't require an "external" world. It works just as well from an idealist position. Drop the word "external" and keep the rest (including the presumption that the events experienced are encoded in physical laws) and nothing would change.

Science aims to establish the laws that govern the things we see, hear, touch, etc. The data is the same for a materialist or an idealist, namely the stuff we see and touch. There is no difference in the laws the two would derive that cover the exact same data.

The difference is merely metaphysical (and, at least to me, quite confusing). The materialist thinks of things in terms of a physical world, distinct from our experiences of the same (which must be emergent physical phenomena themselves, if the materialist is not to slip into dualism). The idealist thinks in terms of the experiences themselves as the only demonstrably real thing (I know I have a sensory image of the cup in front of me, but I cannot determine what causes that image). The distinction between these two positions is of no concern to the working scientist.

In exactly the same way, competing foundations of mathematics are of interest only to philosophers or mathematicians working precisely on such matters, not to a working mathematician (much less the working engineer or accountant).
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Old 18th October 2019, 06:21 AM   #247
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Like a tune you can't get out of your head, or an itch that won't go away, caveman1917's arguments insist on taking up bandwidth in my thoughts. Have to get this post off, even at risk of having my lack of knowledge of deep philosophical ideas show:

This "ontology" business seems like a red herring to me. That is the "sleight of hand" I wasn't able to put my hand on in my earlier post, above. (I don't mean to imply deliberate misdirection, obviously.)

When LL tries to decide what to do about his mother's condition, one paradigm gets him to look for material causes, and material relief. Another gets him to look for divine intercession, or else paranormal pseudo-cures, or other-worldly relief in an afterlife, or something like that.

We tend to go for the former paradigm, and call it materialism.
Then you're calling it wrong. Materialism is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is matter. It is in direct contradiction to other ontologies such as solipsism, which is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is my mind, or simulationism, which is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is a computer simulation, or idealism, which is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is ideas.

The paradigms LL compares are a scientific one vs a non-scientific one, not a materialist one vs a non-materialist one. Most scientific knowledge is in the form of initial-value problems, an initial state I leads to a resulting state R. Repeating some experiment we can denote our data as:

"IRIRIRIR..." (where the ... denotes an arbitrarily large, yet still finite, number of repetitions)

This is a an abstract sequence of symbols from some finite alphabet (as phiwum says this can be extended to a countably infinite alphabet, but for simplicity we'll just keep it finite since that's all we'll ever be able to actually observe anyway).

We can see that this sequence expresses a certain regularity, it obeys a pattern. This means that the sequence can be compressed, leading us to:

"I->IR;IIII..."

The part before the ; is called the model ("I->IR") and we can see that using this model on the compressed sequence we can get back the original sequence. We've compressed the sequence to about 50% of its original length. The model is our scientific knowledge, but this is entirely distinct from any ontological explanation of what the fundamental nature of reality is, it's abstract.

To apply this to LL. Let D be "a demented person is given a certain drug" and L be "the person becomes lucid." We have:

"DLDLDLDL..." which we compress as
"D->DL;DDDD..."

Or in other words: "the drug works" - that's what the statement "science works" means, that the scientific model compresses the data.

Now let P be "you pray for a demented person" and N be "the person does not become lucid." We have:

"PNPNPNPN..." which we compress as
"P->PN;PPPP..."

Or in other words: "prayer doesn't work."

Clearly LL is going to go with the former here, he's going to go with science and not with religion. However all of this, the data sequence, the model, the compression, etc is entirely abstract. At no point do any ontological claims come into it, neither materialist ones like "dementia has a material cause and the drug is material" nor a solipsistic one like "this entire thing is figment of my imagination."
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Old 18th October 2019, 06:38 AM   #248
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Most of us should come to trust that if we see a cup on the table, there really are a table and a cup present.
This isn't a hologram or a false image we cannot walk up to and touch. Dream state or mental illness aside it is unconsciously proven by all daily. I did pick up my phone and type this in after all. My phone is real, the technology works because my message appears to be posted now.

I suspect that is proof of reality.
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Old 18th October 2019, 07:03 AM   #249
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Originally Posted by 8enotto View Post
Most of us should come to trust that if we see a cup on the table, there really are a table and a cup present.
This isn't a hologram or a false image we cannot walk up to and touch. Dream state or mental illness aside it is unconsciously proven by all daily. I did pick up my phone and type this in after all. My phone is real, the technology works because my message appears to be posted now.

I suspect that is proof of reality.
You can't just say 'dream state aside'. The whole problem is: is THIS dream state ?
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Old 18th October 2019, 07:07 AM   #250
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Originally Posted by 8enotto View Post
Most of us should come to trust that if we see a cup on the table, there really are a table and a cup present.
This isn't a hologram or a false image we cannot walk up to and touch. Dream state or mental illness aside it is unconsciously proven by all daily. I did pick up my phone and type this in after all. My phone is real, the technology works because my message appears to be posted now.

I suspect that is proof of reality.
I'm not here to defend idealism, but you seem to have a mistaken opinion.

An idealist agrees that the cup is real, because you experience the cup. There is nothing to the cup aside from the experience. We have knowledge of the experience, but no knowledge of a thing distinct from the experience.

There are, of course, certain regularities to our experiences. They obey certain laws, such as persistence over time, regularity of (apparent) motion, etc. These regularities can be investigated and laws can be hypothesized, whether or not there is something distinct from the experience, something material, which causes the experience.

Nothing that you mention here is evidence against idealism. You experience the pressing of the send button and see the results on the screen. No idealist would deny this. Nor would an idealist claim that because everything that exists is fundamentally mental, you therefore can choose to experience whatever you wish to. The evidence is clearly opposed to that sort of fantasy, but not to the claim that nothing exists but our mental stuff.

There are no practical consequences to the competing theories of materialism, idealism or solipsism and I don't see any inconsistency in any of these theories. If one isn't interested in abstruse questions of metaphysics with a healthy dollop of epistemology, there's no particular reason to concern oneself with these questions.

(If one is a positivist, he could conclude that these three theories are literally meaningless. I suppose the same holds for a pragmatist, though I'm less certain about that. Arguably, a pragmatist would at least have a reason to reject solipsism. I use the term pragmatist in the philosophical sense, not the usual meaning.)
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Old 18th October 2019, 07:35 AM   #251
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Still, if we are dreaming, waking up might be the most important thing we can do. So you can't just say it's irrelevant. It's irrelevant for the reality we experience now, but not for us.
Easiest way to learn what's after life is to simply die. Luckily we have developed will to live, again, it's quite clear how species with such will would dominate over species without it.
But it's just that ! Maybe we evolved, clinging to this reality, ignoring the important stuff (which happens after we die).
I usually solve this easily: 1) well, the important stuff is after we die ? It's what you WANT, not what anything in this reality lead you to believe. 2) I will die eventually, but based on experience in this reality, dead people don't come back to life (once they are properly dead). So there's no hurry.
Of course there might be some time limited advantage I could miss, like some afterlife sale, which will end next week. But then it's not my fault, it's been poorly advertised :-)

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Old 18th October 2019, 07:46 AM   #252
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If dream state and a tangible physical reality are the same, one isn't required.

I am not quite sure which ism I follow or which ist is closer to my ideas, but I live in a mostly practical and always tangible world. Pondering these points seems rather odd.

The evidence is clear, why not trust it?
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Old 18th October 2019, 07:50 AM   #253
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
Still, if we are dreaming, waking up might be the most important thing we can do. So you can't just say it's irrelevant. It's irrelevant for the reality we experience now, but not for us.
Idealism in the philosophical sense doesn't suppose that there is any "waking up" to be done. For an idealist (Berkeley, say), the world we experience is reality, not an illusion.

Any belief in an afterlife is orthogonal to idealism. An idealist may believe in an afterlife or not.

I suppose this is a difference with materialism. It is hard to imagine how a materialist could believe in an afterlife. An idealist may say that death is simply one of the possible experiences and is perhaps followed by experiences of a different kind, but a materialist seems to have no means of supposing that a mental life could survive a physical death. (Dualists, obviously, are more like idealists in this regard.)
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Old 18th October 2019, 08:00 AM   #254
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
If one is a positivist, he could conclude that these three theories are literally meaningless.
As a nihilist, so do I. I do find it funny how it's always the materialists who confuse their pet ontology with science, you don't see a solipsist claim things like "science says that only my mind exists" or "there is no scientific evidence against solipsism therefor I'm going to go with that" yet he would have as much a claim to it as the materialists. Which leads me to believe that most materialists - or at least the ones who make such appeals to science - have shifted the burden of proof from their own ontology on no other basis than an ad populum, they've adopted it not on the strength of the evidence on its own terms but adopted it as the default belief for no other reason than that it is the majority belief in their social-intellectual environment. Pah!
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Old 18th October 2019, 09:28 AM   #255
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Take good old Pascal's wager. Is it better to believe in God and have nice afterlife, or not believe and have poor afterlife ? Simple, right ?
But those were easy times. One God.
That's not going to work in today's world, when we know all the gods. It's not about whether believe or not .. but also what god you will choose. And in many cases, worshiping wrong god is even worse then not believing at all.
My wager is I want to avoid believing in false gods. So I don't believe in any, as no god so far managed to prove himself being less false then the rest.
But that's where science is useful. In debunking supernatural claims. And miracles are basis of every religion. So while science is not directly pro-materialistic, it's shows to be strongly anti-religious. It's not fault of science .. it's fault of baseless religious claims.
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Old 18th October 2019, 09:42 AM   #256
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
You can't just say 'dream state aside'. The whole problem is: is THIS dream state ?
When I first read this I was very intrigued! And still am to a lesser degree.

Sometimes while dreaming, I become aware that it is a dream. I have never experienced a similar epiphany in real (awake) life.

Has that happened to you before?
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Old 18th October 2019, 09:45 AM   #257
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
When I first read this I was very intrigued! And still am to a lesser degree.

Sometimes while dreaming, I become aware that it is a dream. I have never experienced a similar epiphany in real (awake) life.

Has that happened to you before?
I believe that's called lucid dreaming and occurs when not sleeping deeply.

I've experienced it regularly and sometimes seem to change the dream at will. I say I seem to, since it's conceivable that act of will is just a part of the dream or something.
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Old 18th October 2019, 09:56 AM   #258
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
Take good old Pascal's wager. Is it better to believe in God and have nice afterlife, or not believe and have poor afterlife ? Simple, right ?
But those were easy times. One God.
That's not going to work in today's world, when we know all the gods. It's not about whether believe or not .. but also what god you will choose. And in many cases, worshiping wrong god is even worse then not believing at all.
My wager is I want to avoid believing in false gods. So I don't believe in any, as no god so far managed to prove himself being less false then the rest.
But that's where science is useful. In debunking supernatural claims. And miracles are basis of every religion. So while science is not directly pro-materialistic, it's shows to be strongly anti-religious. It's not fault of science .. it's fault of baseless religious claims.
It's because religious claims don't compress the data ("IRIRIRIR...") as much:

"I->IR,God exists;IIII..."

is less compressed than

"I->IR;IIII..."

But then, of course, so is

"I->IR,an external material world exists;IIII..."

If science is useful for debunking baseless religious claims, then surely it is equally useful for debunking baseless materialist claims?
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Old 18th October 2019, 10:03 AM   #259
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
When I first read this I was very intrigued! And still am to a lesser degree.

Sometimes while dreaming, I become aware that it is a dream. I have never experienced a similar epiphany in real (awake) life.

Has that happened to you before?
Few times I realized I'm dreaming in my dream. Or maybe I just had a dream that I realized. It's really hard to tell.
Most of the time though, I'm sure I am not dreaming in my dreams. The lack of doubt, or even lack of questioning anything, is what defines my dreams.
That's certainly different when I'm not asleep. So it's not entirely same.
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Old 18th October 2019, 10:42 AM   #260
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Then you're calling it wrong. Materialism is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is matter. It is in direct contradiction to other ontologies such as solipsism, which is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is my mind, or simulationism, which is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is a computer simulation, or idealism, which is the assertion that the fundamental nature of reality is ideas.
...

I expect you're right about that definition, so that, unless someone contradicts you here on that definition, then I agree, materialism, or physicalism, as you, or was it phiwum, described it upthread, seems an unwarranted belief. (I'm looking forward to see if other posters can argue you out of that stance.)

But isn't this just semantics? Forget deeper realities: purely at an operational level, there is a real difference between these three.

The operational-level dreamer (I mean the person who believes life's a dream, at an operational level, not some ultimate deeper level), say, may decide -- not unreasonably -- to devote a substantial portion of his efforts to either controlling the dream directly, like in lucid or controlled dreaming, or to waking up. The operational-level simulation-ist may elect -- again not unreasonably -- to focus substantial effort in, for instance, contacting or influencing those who devised the simulation, and/or those who control it, in hopes of directly, and spectacularly, affecting his reality per his desires (as opposed to mundane incremental effects using science). Only the materialist/physicalist -- whose ontology goes no deeper than an operational level -- would have no reason to do anything other than focus on science (as opposed to, essentially, magic or supernaturalism).

As such, surely this -ism, that sticks to a material/physical worldview at a purely operational level, is a thing, and a thing separate from, say, solipsism at this operational level?

I haven't read different philosophers' takes on materialism, as you may well have, but if your definition is correct, then, while I agree with you that nihilism would appear to be the reasonable position, nevertheless that position, indeed any position about this deeper reality, is, surely, entirely irrelevant to how we conduct our life?

Our operational-level beliefs and positions, on the other hand, do have real consequences, real differences in how it might be right to conduct ourselves. If these operational-level beliefs and positions don't have a name, then surely they should? And irrespective of whether we label them with a word or describe them with a paragraph, surely that operational-level belief/position is what should concern us, and surely these operational level categories what philosophy ought to actually be discussing, instead of these deeper-level esoteric definitions and concepts that are ultimately irrelevant?
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Old 18th October 2019, 10:56 AM   #261
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
The operational-level dreamer (I mean the person who believes life's a dream, at an operational level, not some ultimate deeper level), say, may decide -- not unreasonably -- to devote a substantial portion of his efforts to either controlling the dream directly, like in lucid or controlled dreaming, or to waking up. The operational-level simulation-ist may elect -- again not unreasonably -- to focus substantial effort in, for instance, contacting or influencing those who devised the simulation, and/or those who control it, in hopes of directly, and spectacularly, affecting his reality per his desires (as opposed to mundane incremental effects using science). Only the materialist/physicalist -- whose ontology goes no deeper than an operational level -- would have no reason to do anything other than focus on science (as opposed to, essentially, magic or supernaturalism).
Let C be "I try to control the simulation" and let N be "it doesn't work" then our data is:

"CNCNCNCN...."

which gets compressed as

"C->CN;CCCC..."

and hence it would indeed be unreasonable to devote substantial effort to C, contrary to your claim.
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Old 18th October 2019, 11:13 AM   #262
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But you'd know it hasn't worked only after you've already invested a great deal of effort on it. That's the only way you'll know it hasn't worked.

And when do you know you've tried enough? Even a spectacular amount of effort may be reasonable, given the potentually spectacular results (that you expect, given your paradigm).


ETA:
To further illustrate my meaning, take science, especially in times when it wasn't mainstream. Takes a great deal of effort, results are often not easily forthcoming, yet the scientist perseveres on in the teeth of initial failures, bolstered by his ... his faith, his paradigm, his materialism?

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Old 18th October 2019, 11:21 AM   #263
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
But you'd know it hasn't worked only after you've already invested a great deal of effort on it. That's the only way you'll know it hasn't worked.
Can you describe this great deal of effort that a simulationist must have expended in trying to control the simulation before realizing he doesn't have such supernatural[*] powers?

Quote:
And when do you know you've tried enough? Even a spectacular amount of effort may be reasonable, given the potentually spectacular results (that you expect, given your paradigm).
By that logic someone going by the materialist paradigm might invest a great deal of effort in trying to control reality because if the belief that he has some supernatural[*] power to control the material world is true then there are potentially spectacular results.

[*] supernatural power being the ability to change the observed sequence at will, or at least to a greater extent than that implied by the model used to compress it.
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Old 18th October 2019, 11:29 AM   #264
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Sure. If you believe you're a simulation in God's 'mind', you may spend a substantial part of your life in appeasing that God, either to spectacularly control your everyday state, or in hopes of some spectacular state of being that is beyond conception while still 'trapped' within the confines of the simulation. Even a lifelong effort might seem reasonable, then.

See also my edit, in my last post.

My point is, these categories, materialist, simulation-ist, et cetera, are relevant only in as much as they pertain to our operational beliefs/positions. Otherwise they're just words with no real meaning, or at least, no real import.
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Old 18th October 2019, 11:47 AM   #265
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Sure. If you believe you're a simulation in God's 'mind', you may spend a substantial part of your life in appeasing that God
What would you do to appease that God? Why would you think that this God could even be appeased in the first place?

Quote:
either to spectacularly control your everyday state, or in hopes of some spectacular state of being that is beyond conception while still 'trapped' within the confines of the simulation.
Why would you think you can spectacularly control your everyday state or some other state?

Quote:
Even a lifelong effort might seem reasonable, then.
I don't see how any of that is reasonable. You don't see materialists putting in lifelong efforts to control their everyday state in the hope that they have supernatural powers which enable them to do so, do you?

Quote:
See also my edit, in my last post.
Then why is this faithful scientist of yours not putting in a lifelong effort to try to control his everyday state through his supernatural powers?

Quote:
My point is, these categories, materialist, simulation-ist, et cetera, are relevant only in as much as they pertain to our operational beliefs/positions. Otherwise they're just words with no real meaning, or at least, no real import.
Yes exactly, they are all just words with no real meaning, none of them pertains to our operational beliefs/positions. The faithful materialist scientist in your edit of your previous post is no more saying anything of real meaning or import when expressing his belief in an external material world (as per Sokal, for example) than a simulationist does in expressing his belief in a computer simulation.
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Old 18th October 2019, 12:07 PM   #266
MRC_Hans
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
Not really what I said. Not sure it will make a difference, so let's see.



Sure, that claim is of the form "A x P(x)" where P is quantifier free, so is falsifiable.



Uniformity has a form similar to (more complicated, actually) the unfalsifiable claim above. Uniformity is roughly:

There exists a set S of physical laws such that for all events E, S predicts E.

In other words, it has the form "(There exists S)(For all E) S predicts E."

I believe that S predicts E is quantifier free.

Unless this formula is provably equivalent to a formula of the form "For all exists X P(X)", it is not falsifiable. This is an elementary fact of learning theory.

You seem again to be thinking about things that falsify a given set of rules. Any given set of falsifiable rules is falsifiable (that is, for each S, the statement "for each E, S predicts E" is falsifiable), but "There exists S such that for each E, S predicts E" is not falsifiable.



Your problem is that you're confusing the principle of uniformity with a given scientific theory.

ETA: Note that my analysis pretends that we're speaking of a deterministic set of physical laws. That is not realistic any more, but the problem is only worse when you add probabilistic laws.

Now, I realized that I might not know exactly what "principle of uniformity" is. I assumed it, as you part of the time seem to say, means that physical laws in principle apply to everything. However, googling the term sheds little light. Seems there exist many kinds of uniformity.

So let's, based on the marble bag scenario, try to elaborate;

The claim "all marbles in a bag are white" is, as we agree, falsifiable.

The claim "all marbles in the universe are white" is not. I agree to this. It requires us to prove a negative, which is impossible. The number of marbles in the universe is unknown and possibly infinite.

However, if the "principle of uniformity" makes any sense, it would never make such a claim. It would turn into the probabilistic and claim something like "we have examined X marbles, and all where white. Thus, the probability of finding a non-white marble is < 1/x" *).

A principle of uniformity that made absolute claims about uncountable or unknown quantities would be ridiculous.

I don't know if we can get any farther than this.

Hans

*) Actually, the statistical expression of that is a bit more complex, but this will do ... for marbles.
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Old 18th October 2019, 12:12 PM   #267
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@caveman1917:

No, you misunderstand me. I must not have expressed myself clearly enough, let me see if I can't restate that more coherently:

Your definitions of materialist, idealist, solipsist, while (probably) correct, seem irrelevant to me, in as much as each follows a scientific worldview while subscribibg to this paradigm about ontology, in ways that make no difference at all.

What is important is what you believe at an operational level.

A simulationist -- at an operational level -- may try to appease his simulator, the one who'se created the simulation, either by intuitively praying, or by following other ways taught him by other simulation-ists. (As you can guess, this actually is what God-believers, of the mystic variety, do, or at least, did in times past.) And he'll persevere on for great long periods, maybe even lifelong.

Then the materialist-at-an-operational-level, the scientist in the 16th century, say. His operational position about materialism may make him persevere with his experiments, despite initial failures, bolstered only by his faith in materialism.

My point is, it is these operational-level postions and beliefs that matter, not some theoretical position or belief in the background while accepting a scientific worldview.

These operational positions and beliefs, they are what need names and labels. Or at least, they are what makes sense to discuss.

*

At the level you're discussing this, they're words with no real meaning.

But at an operational level, they do carry real meanings, real differences.

And yet, apparently, no words, at an operational level? Either we fit those words to this operational level instead, then, or we invent new words, or else we make do with sentence-long descriptions: but, any which way, these categories are indeed relevant at the operational level, as they are not at a deeper ontological level.

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Old 18th October 2019, 12:30 PM   #268
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
@caveman1917:

No, you misunderstand me. I must not have expressed myself clearly enough, let me see if I can't restate that more coherently:

Your definitions of materialist, idealist, solipsist, while (probably) correct, seem irrelevant to me, in as much as each follows a scientific worldview while subscribibg to this paradigm about ontology, in ways that make no difference at all.

What is important is what you believe at an operational level.

A simulationist -- at an operational level -- may try to appease his simulator, the one who'se created the simulation, either by intuitively praying, or by following other ways taught him by other simulation-ists. (As you can guess, this actually is what God-believers, of the mystic variety, do, or at least, did in times past.) And he'll persevere on for great long periods, maybe even lifelong.

Then the materialist-at-an-operational-level, the scientist in the 16th century, say. His operational position about materialism may make him persevere with his experiments, despite initial failures, bolstered only by his faith in materialism.
But why would the failing experiments of the materialist-at-an-operational-level to control material reality through supernatural powers be considered any more rational than those of the simulationist-at-an-operational-level? The materialist-at-an-operational-level has no more basis in fact for a belief that him performing some act, say singing a certain song, will supernaturally affect the sequence in his favour than the simulationist-at-an-operational-level has when performing, say, a praying act.

Quote:
My point is, it is these operational-level postions and beliefs that matter, not some theoretical position or belief in the background while accepting a scientific worldview.

These operational positions and beliefs, they are what need names and labels. Or at least, they are what makes sense to discuss.
I suppose we could call them "rational" and "irrational." The following would be rational:

A simulationist learning about reality (ie compressing the sequence) through scientific experimentation.

A materialist learning about reality through scientific experimentation.

The following would be irrational:

A simulationist persistently performing act A in the hope of getting result R even though there is no such pattern ("A->AR") in the data.

A materialist persistently performing act A in the hope of getting result R even though there is no such pattern in the data.
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Old 18th October 2019, 12:34 PM   #269
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Now, I realized that I might not know exactly what "principle of uniformity" is. I assumed it, as you part of the time seem to say, means that physical laws in principle apply to everything. However, googling the term sheds little light. Seems there exist many kinds of uniformity.
I've already explicitly given my definition several times. That is the relevant definition for this discussion -- at least, that is the meaning I have explicitly been using for days. There is no need to google other meanings.

Quote:
So let's, based on the marble bag scenario, try to elaborate;

The claim "all marbles in a bag are white" is, as we agree, falsifiable.

The claim "all marbles in the universe are white" is not. I agree to this. It requires us to prove a negative, which is impossible. The number of marbles in the universe is unknown and possibly infinite.
I don't know what you're talking about now. I explicitly said that the number of marbles in the bag was countably infinite.

To disprove "all marbles are white", one needs to find a single non-white marble. This is not usually described as "proving a negative" (a term which is usually misused, since it usually involves proving a universally quantified statement).

Quote:
However, if the "principle of uniformity" makes any sense, it would never make such a claim. It would turn into the probabilistic and claim something like "we have examined X marbles, and all where white. Thus, the probability of finding a non-white marble is < 1/x" *).
You're going far off-base. I didn't say that the claim about marbles in the bag has anything to directly do with uniformity. The relation between claims of finite sets of marbles and the bag is analogous to the relation of particular (deterministic and complete) theories and the principle of uniformity.

Quote:
A principle of uniformity that made absolute claims about uncountable or unknown quantities would be ridiculous.

I don't know if we can get any farther than this.

Hans

*) Actually, the statistical expression of that is a bit more complex, but this will do ... for marbles.
I agree that we may not be able to continue. You really haven't understood much of what I've said. You still don't understand what I mean by uniformity. I will state the definition I have in mind once more:

There exists a theory (set of laws) which predicts every event which occurs.

Again, this is a simplistic version, since probabilistic laws make everything more complicated but do not make my claims any less true. The principle of uniformity is unfalsifiable (caveat: if the definition of a scientific law is narrow enough, it is possible the result is falsifiable, but I do not see any clear reason to think that such a narrow definition would approximate what scientists mean by "law").
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Old 18th October 2019, 12:44 PM   #270
MRC_Hans
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
I agree that we may not be able to continue. You really haven't understood much of what I've said. You still don't understand what I mean by uniformity.
It might occur to you that I simply don't want to discuss this exclusively on your terms. But fine, let's call it off.

Hans
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Old 18th October 2019, 01:01 PM   #271
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
...
I suppose we could call them "rational" and "irrational." The following would be rational:
...

That would be one set of descriptors. Another would be tall/short. Yet another would be male/female. They could, as individuals, be anything, that's kind of beside the point.

You brought out three categories, materialist/physicalist, solipsist, and idealist. You define them basis not their operational beliefs, but their deeper, ontological beliefs. A belief, and therefore a category, that is irrelevant.

It would make more sense to define these categories at the operational level, is what I'm saying.

Not all these categories have real-world counterparts, but still, an operational-materialist is a very different animal than an operational-solipsist or an operational-idealist. That categorization would actually explain (some of) their actions, their motivations, their lives. That categorization would actually be meaningful.

*

So, since an ontological-materialist is a more or less pointless category, while an operational-materialist is a meaningful and useful category, might it then not make sense to simply use the word 'materialist' for the operational-materialist? (And the idealist, and the solipsist?)

That's what I've been trying to say here.
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Old 18th October 2019, 01:06 PM   #272
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
That would be one set of descriptors. Another would be tall/short. Yet another would be male/female. They could, as individuals, be anything, that's kind of beside the point.

You brought out three categories, materialist/physicalist, solipsist, and idealist. You define them basis not their operational beliefs, but their deeper, ontological beliefs. A belief, and therefore a category, that is irrelevant.
So you agree that Sokal's claim that an external material world exists is meaningless and irrelevant?

Quote:
It would make more sense to define these categories at the operational level, is what I'm saying.

Not all these categories have real-world counterparts, but still, an operational-materialist is a very different animal than an operational-solipsist or an operational-idealist. That categorization would actually explain (some of) their actions, their motivations, their lives. That categorization would actually be meaningful.
How is an operational-materialist a different animal than an operational-solipsist?
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Old 18th October 2019, 01:58 PM   #273
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
So you agree that Sokal's claim that an external material world exists is meaningless and irrelevant?

Ontologically irrelevant. Operationally wholly relevant.


Quote:
How is an operational-materialist a different animal than an operational-solipsist?

The operational-materialist would likely embrace a scientific worldview.

The operationa-solipsist, like mystics in ages past, may well try to control the world top-down, by controlling the source of it, his mind.

He might, following like-minded loons, join a monastery to learn mental culture towards this end.

The operational-materialist would be unlikely to follow him to that monastery!

*

Of course, if he's rational, the operational-solipsist will soon (in a week, or a month, or a year, or a decade) realize it isn't working, and stop being an operational-solipsist.

But that doesn't take away from the usefulness of the category. While he is an operational-solipsist, his operational-solipsism gives us real and useful insights into his motivations and actions.
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Old 18th October 2019, 02:10 PM   #274
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Ontologically irrelevant. Operationally wholly relevant.
How?

Quote:
The operational-materialist would likely embrace a scientific worldview.
And the operational-solipsist wouldn't?

Quote:
The operationa-solipsist, like mystics in ages past, may well try to control the world top-down, by controlling the source of it, his mind.

He might, following like-minded loons, join a monastery to learn mental culture towards this end.

The operational-materialist would be unlikely to follow him to that monastery!

*

Of course, if he's rational, the operational-solipsist will soon (in a week, or a month, or a year, or a decade) realize it isn't working, and stop being an operational-solipsist.

But that doesn't take away from the usefulness of the category. While he is an operational-solipsist, his operational-solipsism gives us real and useful insights into his motivations and actions.
True, of course, that the operational-materialist would be unlikely to follow him to that monastery, as he has a different monastery to go to. That which teaches him similar ritualistic acts claimed to give him supernatural powers (as defined above) over reality (ie change the data sequence at will). And if he's rational he will soon (in a week, or a month, or a year, or a decade) realize it isn't working, and stop being an operational-materialist.

The error that both would be making is, obviously, their belief in having supernatural powers and that they can be taught such in some monastery. But as you say, if they are rational they'll soon come out of their monasteries, although the argument can be made that it's irrational to believe in having supernatural powers in the first place.
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Old 18th October 2019, 02:39 PM   #275
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
How?
Operationally it's a sound basis for 'doing science'.

Ontologically it's irrelevant, because, like I said, the ontology itself is irrelevant, one's operational beliefs guide one's actions.

You yourself, e.g., are an ontological-nihilist, but that doesn't stop you following this at an operational level, and 'doing science' on that basis.


Quote:
And the operational-solipsist wouldn't?

Barring external irrelevancies, surely an operational-materialist will be far likelier to embrace a scientific worldview than an operational-solipsist? Take that monastery example.


Quote:
True, of course, that the operational-materialist would be unlikely to follow him to that monastery, as he has a different monastery to go to. That which teaches him similar ritualistic acts claimed to give him supernatural powers (as defined above) over reality (ie change the data sequence at will). And if he's rational he will soon (in a week, or a month, or a year, or a decade) realize it isn't working, and stop being an operational-materialist.

An operational-materialist would be unlikely to subscribe to supernaturalism. Supernaturalism is antithetical to materialism.

But I agree, if the operational-materialist of 500 years ago started doing science on his own, tried to find out how the material world works, then repeated failures may discourage him, and he may give up his operational-materialism. That's possible.

But still, the category remains useful in describing his motivations and actions while he is one.


Quote:
The error that both would be making is, obviously, their belief in having supernatural powers and that they can be taught such in some monastery. But as you say, if they are rational they'll soon come out of their monasteries, although the argument can be made that it's irrational to believe in having supernatural powers in the first place.

For the operational-solipsist it is not an error. My mind creates this world, so what is more rational than trying to control the world by controlling my mind? The one follows from the other.

But sure, when it is found to not work, the rational operational-solipsist will cease being an operational-solipsist. (And that last sentence is, kind of, a non sequitur. His rationality or otherwise is irrelevant, as is his sexuality, or his physical strength, or his wealth, or intelligence.)
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Old 18th October 2019, 02:57 PM   #276
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Operationally it's a sound basis for 'doing science'.

Ontologically it's irrelevant, because, like I said, the ontology itself is irrelevant, one's operational beliefs guide one's actions.

You yourself, e.g., are an ontological-nihilist, but that doesn't stop you following this at an operational level, and 'doing science' on that basis.
True, it doesn't stop me from being an operational-nihilist - whatever that even means.

Quote:
Barring external irrelevancies, surely an operational-materialist will be far likelier to embrace a scientific worldview than an operational-solipsist? .
Why?

Quote:
Take that monastery example. An operational-materialist would be unlikely to subscribe to supernaturalism. Supernaturalism is antithetical to materialism.
It's not antithetical to materialism. It is perfectly possible that the material world obeys the law "If I perform ritualistic act X then I can change reality at will." You just haven't found any evidence of it yet in the data sequence and hence, if you're rational, should not adopt said belief in the first place. The same holds for a rational operational-solipsist or operational-{whatever ontology}.

Quote:
But I agree, if the operational-materialist of 500 years ago started doing science on his own, tried to find out how the material world works, then repeated failures may discourage him, and he may give up his operational-materialism. That's possible.
You have to define "doing science." We're talking here about an operational-solipsist and an operational-materialist going into similar monasteries to learn to apply their supposed supernatural powers.

Quote:
For the operational-solipsist it is not an error. My mind creates this world, so what is more rational than trying to control the world by controlling my mind? The one follows from the other.
Why would that follow? Just because your mind is the ultimate cause of the data sequence doesn't mean you can control it at will.

Quote:
But sure, when it is found to not work, the rational operational-solipsist will cease being an operational-solipsist. (And that last sentence is, kind of, a non sequitur. His rationality or otherwise is irrelevant, as is his sexuality, or his physical strength, or his wealth, or intelligence.)
Why would he cease being an operational-solipsist? Perhaps you should define your terms:

What is an operational-materialist? What is an operational-solipsist?
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"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." - Lucy Parsons
"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin

Last edited by caveman1917; 18th October 2019 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 18th October 2019, 03:10 PM   #277
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Heck, in a way a materialist claim is but one possible simulationist claim, since any physical system (such as the material universe posited by the materialist) is a computer computing some function (assuming that physics is computable). The simulationism claim is an extension, that it may be any different computer computing the same function, in other words a formally equivalent (in the computing theory sense, ie computing the same function) physical system to the particular universe asserted by the materialist.
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"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin
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Old 18th October 2019, 03:17 PM   #278
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I'm sorry, I have to rush. I'm enjoying the discussion, and will return to it when I can, later.

For now, let me just try to define, or at least, describe my terms clearly.

The ontological-whatever-ists you've defined here already, many times, over the last few pages.

The OPERATIONAL-materialist, e.g., would be someone who bases his immediate everyday actions on a materialist paradigm.

So you can be an ontological-nihilist, or even an ontological-solipsist for that matter, while also, at an operational everyday level being a materialist/physicalist and, e.g., doing science on that (operational-materialist) basis. (You know, on a shut-up-and-calculate basis.)

*

Also, to address another question you asked:

If I'm an operational-solipsist, then obviously it does not follow that I can control the world. But in as much as I believe the world is a product of my mind, to that extent it does follow that it makes sense to ATTEMPT to control the world by controlling that which creates the world, namely, my mind.

For the operational-materialist such an attempt will make no sense.
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Old 18th October 2019, 03:53 PM   #279
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
It might occur to you that I simply don't want to discuss this exclusively on your terms. But fine, let's call it off.

Hans
Very well.

For future reference, if you want to dispute what another person is claiming, then you really do have to understand what his words mean. Because, you know, if you use the same words differently, then you can't very well say anything much about his conclusion.

Just a thought.
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Old 18th October 2019, 11:48 PM   #280
Darat
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
I believe that's called lucid dreaming and occurs when not sleeping deeply.

I've experienced it regularly and sometimes seem to change the dream at will. I say I seem to, since it's conceivable that act of will is just a part of the dream or something.
Even without realising you are dreaming we know dreaming is an entirely different experience to your waking state.
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