The Second Apocalypse

Other Titles => Neuropath => Topic started by: What Came Before on April 19, 2013, 11:46:18 am

Title: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on April 19, 2013, 11:46:18 am
Quote from: Madness
Again, I can't say that I advocate all Thorsten's commentary, even that of the TSA.

But Thorsten sure made a good case for even his disagreeable points. And it just might inspire some dialogue.

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Countering the Argument

The Argument in short


Quite a lot of the contents of 'Neuropath' revolve around the Argument, story internally made in discussions between Neil and Thomas. Simply put, the Argument states that the human brain is a deterministic biological machine processing input from its environment and generating output from this input based on deterministic processes. As a result, notions such as 'selfhood', 'free will', 'decision making' or 'meaning' and ultimately 'consciousness' are illusions. While the mind thinks it executes a plan to realize some future goal, according to the Argument, the underlying reality is that the past state is just computed forward, the seeming future goal towards the mind proceeds is simply an illusion, in reality it is the past that determines what will happen, not the future vision.

In the novel, the Argument is illustrated by fictional neuroscientist Neil demonstrating that artificially stimulating and inhibiting several functions of the brain generates the experiences of desire, will, love, personality, spiritual experience and self which can be switched on and off externally, apparently demonstrating the claim that the mind is a mere machine.

Assume for the following that neuroscience can actually do all this what is described in 'Neuropath' (contemporary neuroscience actually can't, and based on the way genetics has not delivered on initial promises but discovered that things are actually much more complicated, my guess is neuroscience will likewise discover that things are far more complicated) - is the implication really that the Argument is true?

At least in the way it is made in 'Neuropath' and the way I have seen it presented by neuroscientists, I don't think it is. In the book, it actually appears very compelling, but it's just a trick. It's really full of substantial gaps which are (quite cleverly) glossed over in the text, and in the end it's down to belief, nothing more. The gaps roughly fall into three groups. With increasing severity one finds: Hidden assumptions in the logic of the Argument, a reliance in reductionism and an application of logic and rational thought in situations where it is known to fail. But before we go into the details, let's investigate some of the notions like of free will or decisionmaking without any input from neuroscience.

The notion of free will

Let us assume for the following a situation where two alternatives A and B are given and a person has a free choice between A and B, but cannot choose both A and B, and likewise must choose either A or B. This excludes situations where the person does not care about any of the alternatives - if A is 'you get 10 dollars' and B is 'you get 10 dollars' then this is not a choice, you might as well throw a dice. Likewise, if either A or B has very negative consequences, like A 'you get 10 dollars' and B 'you get life imprisonment', the choice is hardly free (I refrain from a detailed analysis of how to define negative consequences here, I don't think it's central to the discussion).

The notion of free will states that before the choice you think you could choose A or B. After the choice, you think you could have chosen the other alternative. Thus, how would one prove or disprove the notion?

Let us begin with the classical analysis. The simple answer is - you can't. There is no experiment that could establish before if both choices exist - because both of them are in the future, and consequently neither of them exists yet. But you can't do it after the choice either as long as you require a consistent past, because if you have chosen A you have in fact not chosen B and are left with the impression that you could have, but no prove. But if you have chosen B, you are in the very same situation left to ponder if you could have gone for A. The need to have a consistent past always creates the impression that the outcome, whatever it was, was inevitable and determined, because there is only one past.

(By the way, the same is true with many references to property X of the mind being the result of an evolutional adaption to the environment. You can point at everything and claim 'It is here, this proves that it must be the result of natural selection and evolution, otherwise it would not be here.' However, evolution doesn't quite work like this.)

Why do I talk about the need for a consistent past? Because there is the quantum analysis of the problem. And this states that you do in fact choose both alternatives, with the state vectors A' (having chosen A) and B' (having chosen B) are both part of your state after the decision, with a weight somehow determined by your personality. We don't experience any of this, and I have no clue why this is so, but since the point for me here is to counter the Argument, not to prove what is real, I don't have to explain it. Anyway, in the quantum analysis, there is no consistent past in terms of events as we usually know it, the requirement seems to be one of perception only.

Back to the classical problem: We could think about simply getting the subject back to the alternative and offer a new choice to see if the person now goes for the other alternative. But that doesn't work, because the situation is not the same - the subject has now a memory of the previous choice, so we still don't know if the other alternative could have chosen.

So, let's do a gedankenexperiment. I present you the store and reset chamber in which we can store a snapshot of the world in time and recover it with a button. We test someone in this chamber, he makes a choice, we note the choice and restore the moment before the choice and let him choose again, and thanks to the amasing chamber, it is really the same situation.

What outcome would we interpret as the action of free will? If a person, being in the same situation multiple times, chooses the same alternative every time, we'd conclude that he is determined by circumstances. If however he chooses different alternatives in the same situation, we'd conclude that the choice is random. There is no outcome that could convince us that free will is acting.

What this gedankenexperiment does is to illustrate that the notion of free will has nothing to do with proving the factual existence of alternatives or with determinism vs. randomness. It has to to with factoring imagined futures resulting from A and B into the decisionmaking process. Unlike my cat, I don't always respond directly to seeing food with running towards it and eating. Instead, even when I'm hungry I can project a future in which I will have a lavish dinner and should not spoil my appetite before, which influences my decision-making process (the Argument would still state that this is an illusion, I'll counter that later). So this is why I claim to have free will, but not the cat, because I can imagine virtual alternative futures and let them influence my decisions.

But of course I am determined by my will. That is exactly how we use the word - a strong willed person is one who is determined to do something, who is very predictable in his decision-making and sticks to his ideals instead of changing plans randomly. Freedom is not having 20 alternatives open to me (out of which I still can select only one), freedom is the lack of constraints which would prevent me from doing the one thing I want to do. I can't will in any other way than I am.

Who makes the decisions?


There is the argument that neuroscience can detect a decision by brain scanning before it becomes conscious, so consciousness doesn't make the decisions.

I am not surprised - how could it? Consciousness is a state, an experience, a self-observation, a self-reflection - not an active agency. So the decisions are made outside consciousness and become conscious afterwards - if you watch yourself carefully, you can observe this. I had situations in which I knew a decision was made, it just had to wait a week until it drifted into consciousness. It's the problem of finding what my will actually is (which is at times difficult). The mistake is to think any of this implies that it's not I who makes the decisions - of course it is! The oracle in Delphi already had γνῶθι σεαυτόν 'know thyself' inscribed on the entrance. This would be quite pointless if 'self' would be identical identical to 'conscious self'.

The point of all this is that neuroscience doesn't offer anything which people haven't worked out long ago. Before one claims that it contradicts our notions of something, it's a good idea to investigate what the notion actually is. After this excurse, back to the Argument.

Hidden assumptions in the Argument

In order to expose some weaknesses in the argument, let us consider the scene in which Neil induces a spiritual experience, the perception of the presence of god, in his victim. A reborn Christian later in the book is deeply disturbed by the fact that such experience can be induced artificially, and it seems to show that there is no god and no soul.

But let's replace the experience with something harmless - assume Neill had induced the perception of an apple. I am prepared to guess that no one would conclude from the fact that you can artificially induce the perception of an apple in a person that there are no apples.

So, if you have the prior notion that apples are real, you interpret the experiment to reveal something about the nature of the perception of reality, not about reality. But if you have the prior notion that god is not real, you are tempted to interpret the experiment to reveal something about the nature of reality.

But where would the prior notion that apples are real come from, if not from prior perception of apples? But if you accept that prior perception of apples argues for their independent reality, you have to find something other than the experiment to argue against an independent reality of god or a soul if you are arguing with a person who has experienced prior perception of god. The experiment does not tell.

To give a similar example - I may observe that a person cannot walk in spite of telling me he wants to. If this person's legs are broken, no one would say that his mind is damaged, but that the means by which the mind causes motion are damaged. If the person has a spinal injury, again I haven't ever heard the claim that the mind is damaged, but that the means by which the mind causes motion are damaged. But if the brain is damaged, neurologists suddenly insist that now it must be the mind itself, and not the means by which the mind expresses itself, that is damaged. But that is of course stating a belief, not a fact.

An analogy with the hardware/software of a computer shows the potential flaw here: If my computer has a buggy memory chip, it will do funny things. There is no point in trying to attribute the problem to the software, I can reinstall the OS, I can change from Windows to Linux (which I'd recommend anyway) - nothing on the software side is broken. So when I manipulate the hardware, I will manipulate the output of the computer, but I cannot conclude that this does anything to the software. Or who really believes that trashing his laptop will kill Windows? Software is information, a structure, changing a particular realization of the software doesn't change the software. So, what if brain manipulation is just changing the hardware - of course the mind cannot run properly on damaged hardware, that's just what you see - doesn't mean the mind would be gone. I don't know if the analogy is true, but the argument simply assumes that it is not, and that's again down to belief.

Reductionism

Science is often confused with reductionism, which in essence states 'find the parts and explain the properties of the whole as properties of its parts'. Thus, explain why humans eat: Easy reductionist problem, because the human body consists of cells, cell biochemistry needs nutrients, therefore we have to eat so that the cell biochemistry runs.

Reductionism works in cases where a few causes on the smaller scale can be identified as a reason for a phenomenon at larger scale. We can deal with logic in situations where three facts imply something. It's rather different for situations in which a million facts imply something, but not individually, only taken together.

Consider a painting, the Mona Lisa for example. Find its parts - small grains of pigment on canvas. In what sense would they 'explain' the painting? The Mona Lisa arises as a larger scale structure within these pigment grains, it can't be seen from the perspective of the parts. The Argument explains everything that cannot be explained by reductionism as illusion - consciousness is not real, because it is not in the underlying function of the neurons, therefore it is an illusion. I guess it would say that the Mona Lisa is an illusion, and in a sense it is.

Well, but why stop at the neuron level (except that neuroscientists are familiar with it)? Let's go further down the scale, into the elementary particle structure. Down at this scale are only fluctuating quantum fields, quarks, gluons, electrons, photons and other fields. They 'exist' for minimal periods of time, one cannot even point to the fields which make up a proton or an atom, because they have no identity, one cannot point to a field and say 'this is vacuum background and this is proton'. There is no way to explain how these fields imply the existence of a neuron from their basic properties. So by the above argument, the neuron itself is an illusion. In reality, there is no neural machinery doing anything - there are just quantum fields extremizing the action described by their Lagrangean function.

But presumably, the elementary particles when seen from a yet smaller scale are also an illusion.

So, consciousness is no more or less real as a neuron. It is simply a phenomenon at a different scale, which is poorly understood when viewed from the wrong scale. It's reductionism which does a bad job here.

The same trap opens up in claiming that 'in reality' there are no future goals towards things develop, only past condition from which everything follows. That's simply wrong. The underlying quantum states stretch through 4-dim spacetime. They have a structure which is given by the equations of motion, which states that if you know them on any 3-hypersurface, you can compute them in the whole of 4-dim spacetime.

The way this is usually done is to specify them in the 3-dim space of 'now' and to compute them into the future. But one can specify the evolution endpoint and compute backwards, it makes no difference. One can even compute sidewards - specify the world on a 2-dim sheet throughout the whole universe at all times, and compute how the rest of 3-dim space looks like. It. Does. Not. Matter. There is a 4-dim state with a certain structure. Viewing it as causally following from the past is no more correct as viewing it as developing towards a future endpoint, it is just another way of organizing our lack of intuition for 4-dim structures.

The precious time along which things are supposed to develop is also not an independent coordinate but a dynamical entity - it can wiggle, bend, fold upon itself, terminate or interchange role with space. There is nothing 'in which' time wiggles - only the 4-dim structure. Time itself is no more real than consciousness.

Applicability of logic

Perhaps the most serious point that can be brought forward against the Argument is that it is self-defeating. I was always under the impression when people are confronted with a logical chain of reasoning which ended in proving that 'I think, therefore I am' is wrong, they would realize that something is not right in the way logic has been applied. Turns out I was wrong.

So, the Argument is based on science, scientific method in turn is based on rational thought and application of logic. As 'Neuropath' mentions, one way to counter the Argument is to argue that science is not applicable, and Bakker goes into some length arguing that this doesn't work.

Well, it does, because arguing the success of science over religion by thermonuclear explosion vs. burning bush and science being the only system which produces unpleasant truths is misleading. Logic is an excellent tool if you apply it to some outside phenomenon, but it fails miserably when folded back onto itself.

Logic is not absolute, it relies on a choice of axioms which state what a valid deduction is and what not. Mathematics doesn't define the axioms, you can have many logical systems with self-consistent axiom systems. What is usually used in science is a particular choice of axioms. For example, we usually use transitivity: If A implies B, and B implies C, then A implies C. If Socrates is Athenian, and Athenians are Greeks, then Socrates is Greek. Sounds perfectly reasonable, but we can do logic without it, we just use it because we believe in its applicability. Same with connecting true statements - if A is true, and B is true, then this implies tha (A and B) is also true. If 'Socrates is an Athenian' is true and 'Socrates is a philosopher' is also true, then 'Socrates is an Athenian philosopher' must also be true. Sounds also very reasonable.

However, let's see what happens as soon as we introduce self-referencing statements: 'This sentence has five words' is true, 'This sentence begins with 'T'' is also true, but 'This sentence has five words and begins with 'T'' is obviously not true. The axioms don't survive self-referencing statements. There is a general theorem by Goedel which states that for any formal system (such as logic) there are statements which truth or falsehood cannot be decided within the system, although some of them can be obviously decided outside the system. The core of the proof uses self-referencing.

Now, the Argument is a prime example of self-referencing, although this is never stated. If one could prove that reason, self, intuition or consciousness are just meaningless concepts created by neural machinery, then the same could be shown for logic, which is, after all only yet another function of the conscious brain. But if you could prove that logic does not work, well, there would be no Argument. Thus, if the Argument is true, it cannot be made. If it cannot be made, it's down to belief and intuition.

Funnily enough, intuition can cope with self-references far better than logic. We are able to simply see through the paradox pattern, maybe because consciousness is in its very nature a self-referencing process. So, the Argument applies logic in a situation where we know logic fails and where we know intuition to be the better tool.

What does that mean?

I don't know of course, but my interpretation is that neuroscience or Neuropath or Neil don't in any way bring us closer to how 'reality is'. Granted, they show us an alternative picture of reality, based on a different set of assumptions and beliefs than usually done, but there is no compelling reason for this to be 'true'.

Thomas would of course argue that I try to argue away an unpleasant truth. But I'd argue that the fact that a claim is unpleasant doesn't make it true, the fact that a claim is pleasant doesn't make it false, and that science is just one way to organize reality (being a scientist, I have to be careful with these statements, I know how I mean it, but it is easily misunderstood and misused...), known to be problematic in the very situation he wants it to be applicable. So if people are prone to delude themselves, what makes neuroscientists think they are the exception?

'I think, therefore I am' seems a far more useful starting point for investigating consciousness - it has the advantage that it is at least not self-defeating.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on April 19, 2013, 11:46:26 am
Quote from: Madness
Even in rereading Thorsten's ignorance of psychological research is jarring. Writes a decent essay though.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 14, 2013, 06:24:55 am
You may perhaps, upon closer inspection, find me not quite as ignorant of psychological research as you think. But certainly I am not a psychologist, just someone who is very interested in the nature of mind and consciousness and tries to read up from different corners and to think things through - so if you find a genuine lack of understanding, I would ask you to educate me here.

I do feel you might have missed my main point though - I think the mind is not one of the problems where science can be safely applied to (cf. the section on applicability of logic), and hence I'm not sure how even perfect knowledge of the state of art of psychological research would change my position. I do not dispute that psychologists who make certain experiments get certain results, but I doubt the common interpretations attached to these.

To give a simple example (which I borrow from an exchange I had  with Axel Honneth, a German philosopher):

Assume you are in severe pain. Assume you are taken to a hospital, and your brain is scanned with the most sophisticated brain scanner. The neuroscientists then look at the results and conclude that the pain center in your brain isn't active, so you must be mistaken about feeling pain and ask you to go home. Do you

a) insist that you really feel pain and that something is wrong with the scanner, and no amount of additional scanning or scientific testimony would convince you that you're mistaken about being in pain
b) go home, concluding that your pain isn't really there because science must be right

If you select a), you might be willing to acknowledge the point that there is at least something unscientific to the mind.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 14, 2013, 06:07:00 pm
I do feel you might have missed my main point though - I think the mind is not one of the problems where science can be safely applied to (cf. the section on applicability of logic), and hence I'm not sure how even perfect knowledge of the state of art of psychological research would change my position. I do not dispute that psychologists who make certain experiments get certain results, but I doubt the common interpretations attached to these.

I'm not privy to which academic discipline(s) you practice but your post seems philosophical, especially in that your assertions don't encounter real-life examples (I actually think Reductionism had a better chance of countering the argument, in this post).

Must note, I do not have a perfect knowledge, nor anywhere close - I simply spend an inordinate amount of time listening to and reading the works of brilliant thinkers in the field. Also, psychological statistics are descriptive action, akin to your comparison of paradox, various in/different representations of 4-dim structural data (hope I understood that enough to use it in an analogy), or Neil simply presenting an in/different manifestation of substructural consistencies. There are always outliers (always omitted, elsewise, the math wouldn't work) so all statistical statements account for the most average consistency... there are usually specific examples in any case study, which showcase either extreme of validation or falsification.

To give a simple example (which I borrow from an exchange I had  with Axel Honneth, a German philosopher):

Assume you are in severe pain. Assume you are taken to a hospital, and your brain is scanned with the most sophisticated brain scanner. The neuroscientists then look at the results and conclude that the pain center in your brain isn't active, so you must be mistaken about feeling pain and ask you to go home. Do you

a) insist that you really feel pain and that something is wrong with the scanner, and no amount of additional scanning or scientific testimony would convince you that you're mistaken about being in pain
b) go home, concluding that your pain isn't really there because science must be right

If you select a), you might be willing to acknowledge the point that there is at least something unscientific to the mind.

This is actually a stellar place to begin and it will immediately highlight our connotational dispositions for the in/different manifestation of various cognitive schema.

You've treated this like a logic problem - my first thoughts are a couple of strange examples from neurological studies.

There's an example from, I believe, V.S. Ramachandran's work (though these studies might also be paraphrased in David Eagleman's Incognito): in accomplishing clinical testing during his studies, Ramachandran was required to poke a patient in the neck with a sharp needle. Years before the advent of certain imaging techniques, hypotheses were made that somehow this woman's brain had degenerated in a most astonishing way - whenever this woman should (according to the average commonly valued conceptions) feel pain, she laughed uncontrollably, instead. She also reported a direct correlation between the intensity of the intended pain and her perception/experience of ticklishness or humour.

Another would be the work done with the masochist Bob Flanagan (most commonly known for piercing his erect penis with nails, which induced pleasure). There are many arguments interpreting that, again, his experience of pain had fundamentally shifted to a physical induction of pleasure by the plastic changes in cortical matter based on his experiences.

Thirdly, I might return to any of the various body dysmorphic disorders, where some kind of failure (mind or brain) results in a severe, explicit disconnect from commonly perceptible reality. These range from anorexia to phantom limbs, with alien-hand syndromes and false claims in perception (agnosias) thrown inbetween.

While these might support your Reductionism metaphor, I don't think it helps the Applicability of Logic.

I'm sure I require more interaction to enable us any further, as these were the confounds that came to mind and I'm sure they'll move you to further clarify a position for or against.

Also, aside - I'm ecstatic that you've found your way here. Welcome (back) to the Second Apocalypse. I thoroughly enjoyed your posts on Three-Seas - I'm sorry I've been so busy as I ported those posts to the last rendition of this forum and they enjoyed some fledgling discussion in your absence (much more so than this thread, to my disappointment) - I will endeavour to port those, in particular, here, as soon as possible.

Cheers, Thorsten.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 15, 2013, 07:02:13 am
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I'm not privy to which academic discipline(s) you practice but your post seems philosophical, especially in that your assertions don't encounter real-life examples (I actually think Reductionism had a better chance of countering the argument, in this post).

I am a theoretical physicist by profession, working mostly in applied quantum field theory (Quantum Chromodynamics mostly).

The applicability of logic is a very deep one. How do you decide on something being true? Where do the logical deduction rules come from? Why do we think a principle like Occam's razor ('If there are several competing explanations, take the one requiring the least amount of assumptions.') is good for establishing truth?

You can't say 'Well, I just know it's true' - history tells that in the past people used very different criteria based on the same 'I just know - it's obvious'.

You can't argue 'Science must be true, because so many brilliant people are doing it and society spends so much money for it.' - in the past, brilliant people studied theology and society invested money to build churches.

If you start up-front from the position that science must be true, then you're no better than someone starting from the position that scripture must be true. Scientific principles aren't really self-justifying or self-evident - they are justified from somewhere, and I think this somewhere is experience.

Occam's razor is in my view a good principle because in my experience it turns out to be true most of the time. The whole set of scientific principles applied to physics is justified, because it actually works out for me - I can calculate a phenomenon, and my experience tells me that I successfully predicted what I will experience.

(As a side note, modern physics is all about what you experience and not at all about what things really *are* - all Quantum Field Theory is concerned with are 'observables', and it is very clear that we don't have a clue what nature is, only how it behaves when we look at it).

If you follow the chain that sometimes we discard experiences because of science, but science is ultimately justified by experience only, things start getting very very murky. I do not think one can automatically assume that the same deduction principles continue to hold - they have to be justified anew if applied to the mind. Especially because the mind is self-referencing, but several principles are known to break when applied to self-referencing systems. If psychologists would test the foundations of their own field with the same level of rigor they apply to, say, religious experiences, they'd be in for a bad surprise.

Or, to be slightly mean: Imagine one of the experimental papers supposedly disproving the notion of free will is sent to a journal. The referee recommends not to publish the paper. I am prepared to bet a lot of money that the researchers do not think 'Well, the referee has no free will, he is determined by circumstances to come to this decision to decline publication, so there's nothing we can do.' I am very sure what they will no is to make an appeal to the free decision-making ability of the referee to change this decision based on new arguments. Because science requires the ability to decide between a true proposition and a false one. If we could not make that decision because we'd be compelled by circumstance to believe something, science wouldn't work conceptually. So that's why researchers disproving free will don't act in any way as if their research would actually be true.

I've written a longer text about 'belief in evidence' in a discussion of Dawkins' The God Delusion (http://www.phy.duke.edu/~trenk/various/science_and_god.html) in case you're interested - it's the second part.

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You've treated this like a logic problem - my first thoughts are a couple of strange examples from neurological studies.(...)While these might support your Reductionism metaphor, I don't think it helps the Applicability of Logic.

I know these cases do exist, but what can we really deduce from them?

I have no doubt that there is a deep connection between mind and body at some level. A very simple example is the experience that when I drink alcohol, my mental experience changes.

Yet, on the next day, my mind reverts back to how it was.

But then there seems to be something as mind-internal experience -  I might have a crucial insight, or come to a major decision in my life. And on the next day, my mind does not revert back but remains changed from that point on.

So could this not suggest a hardware/software model in which in the first case I temporarily change the hardware, and as a result the software runs differently, but reverts back to its normal operation once the hardware operates normally, whereas the second case represents a change in the software which isn't easily revertable?

I would assume that if someone over night severs the neural connections to my leg and attaches the same nerve bundles to my arms, then my intention to move my leg will lead to some motion of my arms. In a similar way, I would assume that wrong wiring of senses can lead to all sorts of weird perceptions - like pleasure where pain would be expected. Such rewirings would be, unlike in the case of alcohol, more permanent hardware damage, with little change of the software to resume normal operation.

Yet, in many cases the mind seems to be able to work around damage. I vaguely remember an experiment in which people were asked to wear mirror glasses which showed the world upside-down, and while this was initially very confusing, their mind learned to undo the effect, and after a few days they saw the world normally again - and then inverted once they took the glasses off, until again after a few days the perception adjusted to normal.

The point seems to be that being able to prove that changes to the body/brain change the mental experience isn't the same thing as proving that there is no software equivalent and that the hardware is all there is to the problem.

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Also, aside - I'm ecstatic that you've found your way here

Thanks - I appreciate that. I am reading the White-Luck Warrior at the moment, so I wanted to read up on the details of my Metaphysics (and partially languages) - so then I started looking again for where the discussions are.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 16, 2013, 05:40:18 pm
The applicability of logic is a very deep one. How do you decide on something being true? Where do the logical deduction rules come from? Why do we think a principle like Occam's razor ('If there are several competing explanations, take the one requiring the least amount of assumptions.') is good for establishing truth?

Well, we humans seem to use a combination of statistic descriptions (math) and logic (linguistic justifications) with varying degrees of validity to convey holistic packets of information - Truth seems to satisfy making the most sense out of a(ll) given occurrence of phenomena. Data and concise, valid communication are ideal as is the heuristic strategy (Occam's razor) of positing and falsifying fewer, rather than more assumptions to support your actual hypothesis. We're talking averages across averages, right?

Occam's razor is in my view a good principle because in my experience it turns out to be true most of the time. The whole set of scientific principles applied to physics is justified, because it actually works out for me - I can calculate a phenomenon, and my experience tells me that I successfully predicted what I will experience.

(As a side note, modern physics is all about what you experience and not at all about what things really *are* - all Quantum Field Theory is concerned with are 'observables', and it is very clear that we don't have a clue what nature is, only how it behaves when we look at it).

+1. Perhaps, you've some underlying disdain for psychological research? I know it's a prevalent feeling among the sciences.

Or, to be slightly mean: Imagine one of the experimental papers supposedly disproving the notion of free will is sent to a journal. The referee recommends not to publish the paper. I am prepared to bet a lot of money that the researchers do not think 'Well, the referee has no free will, he is determined by circumstances to come to this decision to decline publication, so there's nothing we can do.' I am very sure what they will no is to make an appeal to the free decision-making ability of the referee to change this decision based on new arguments. Because science requires the ability to decide between a true proposition and a false one. If we could not make that decision because we'd be compelled by circumstance to believe something, science wouldn't work conceptually. So that's why researchers disproving free will don't act in any way as if their research would actually be true.

Again, I think you and I have a the opportunity to really hash some of BBH's finer points. I think you've done yourself an initial disservice due to the fact of stopping at Bakker's positions. Perhaps, we can discover better justifications than simply casting "science!"

The above examples (this and the one from your last post) seem to presuppose that scientists (or people) are changed in some profound manner by neurally representing linguistic statements in the first place.

As a segue, I'd like to add that learning to practice a certain set of scientific or academic ritual's doesn't seem to change our brains in the drastic forms we were freestyling (2-dim representation of 4-dim structure, Neil's experience of the cognitive and behaviorial expression of Neil-It).

Now these strike me to think of learning (but my mind is usually there, regardless).

There are certain instances of theorized pervasive and immediate learning. Things happen and people can absorb new behaviors or cognitive expressions in truly impressive time periods. We, also, fall into something of a quagmire regarding social interpretation and how as academics, we work to adopt and embody a complex and particular mode(s) to express information. Yet the public (or the world of Neuropath) is irrevocably changed by the influence of Neil's (NSA Neuroscientists) research.

This also makes me think of the Graduates (Neuropaths) and how they exist among a sea of different neural expressions of the same matter (Neil-It, Psychopaths, Autistics, and us... Normies?) but I really am beginning to find I'm not sure where you stand on some specific matters (at bottom).

I've written a longer text about 'belief in evidence' in a discussion of Dawkins' The God Delusion (http://www.phy.duke.edu/~trenk/various/science_and_god.html) in case you're interested - it's the second part.

Will absolutely read it at some point.

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You've treated this like a logic problem - my first thoughts are a couple of strange examples from neurological studies.(...)While these might support your Reductionism metaphor, I don't think it helps the Applicability of Logic.

1. I know these cases do exist, but what can we really deduce from them?

I have no doubt that there is a deep connection between mind and body at some level. A very simple example is the experience that when I drink alcohol, my mental experience changes.

2. Yet, on the next day, my mind reverts back to how it was.

3. But then there seems to be something as mind-internal experience -  I might have a crucial insight, or come to a major decision in my life. And on the next day, my mind does not revert back but remains changed from that point on.

So could this not suggest a hardware/software model in which in the first case I temporarily change the hardware, and as a result the software runs differently, but reverts back to its normal operation once the hardware operates normally, whereas the second case represents a change in the software which isn't easily revertable?

I would assume that if someone over night severs the neural connections to my leg and attaches the same nerve bundles to my arms, then my intention to move my leg will lead to some motion of my arms. In a similar way, I would assume that wrong wiring of senses can lead to all sorts of weird perceptions - like pleasure where pain would be expected. Such rewirings would be, unlike in the case of alcohol, more permanent hardware damage, with little change of the software to resume normal operation.

4. Yet, in many cases the mind seems to be able to work around damage. I vaguely remember an experiment in which people were asked to wear mirror glasses which showed the world upside-down, and while this was initially very confusing, their mind learned to undo the effect, and after a few days they saw the world normally again - and then inverted once they took the glasses off, until again after a few days the perception adjusted to normal.

The point seems to be that being able to prove that changes to the body/brain change the mental experience isn't the same thing as proving that there is no software equivalent and that the hardware is all there is to the problem.

I might have picked out specific parts but I shall bold the striking moments instead.

1. It's a good question and one I had to return to. They certainly ply my imagination with endless scenarios. Specifically, what does it mean towards Blind Brain Hypothesis? Well, Neil-It's argument seemed to be that there was a most advantageous cortical representations. There is a fantastic quote from LTG, which captures it succinctly. But more importantly, that what we experience doesn't have to even remotely correspond to modes of thought now... Who knows how someone meaningfully partaking in changes in cognitive experience would rationalize there new experiences or if they would at all (which is why Buddhism and Nihilism seem to make so many appearences at TPB.

2. For whatever reasons, it seems the brain prefers neural homeostasis to instances of inbalance. Even in the arbitrarily destructive studies where the neural junctions for eyesight were destroyed and the auditory neural tracts rewired to the visual cortex, the visual cortex developed the same, physical cortical representation or architecture as it would normally in the auditory cortex. Neuroscientists have pursued discoveries like this towards two primary hypotheses: that the brain can universally represent information for which it has a sensory appendage and that it does so by being plastic (capable of dynamically changing, recycling existing cortical structures, or even growing in number and connections (through density and pruning). Regardless, neuronal homeostatis...?

3. There are plenty of studies/on-going research towards the cognitive phenomenon of insight and subsequent rapid changes in cortical representation. There are also, as a I mentioned, studies towards specific neurotransmitters, developmental periods, etc, in which rapid change in brain structure happens and is retain (often in cases, showcasing top-down development - though, I read Jorge in my mind as I'm sure he'd argue that this evidence still favors something in the brain doing something in the brain).

4. Three or so weeks of disorientation and puking and then, apparently like a snap of fingers, the world is (not-righted) right. And perception happens as ordinarily experienced, then take them off and three weeks again - it's funny as I'm not sure if anyone has pursued this further that suggests that recursive neural structures are bypassing the normal retinal flip. Classic studies. I've wanted to do it a number of times myself but have never had the time :(. You can likewise do smaller experiential plays of threshold like wearing a blackout blindfold past ninety minutes towards increase auditory sensation (during imaging there is a corresponding sudden activate in the visual cortex).

Thanks - I appreciate that. I am reading the White-Luck Warrior at the moment, so I wanted to read up on the details of my Metaphysics (and partially languages) - so then I started looking again for where the discussions are.

Cheers. I have to run, though I'll quick read this over.

However, continued from the middle - you don't think there is evidence to suggest that our experiences as "I," as cognitive agents, isn't illusory insomuch as colours, perceptions, would not exist as they do without corresponding evidence of physiological changes (we're attracted to the redness of an apple because it has been beneficial towards our survival)?

If examples like this hold weight, then our interpretations (leading to behaviors) surrounding these objects and manifestations of percepts, where the environment matters to us, for sustenance, we experience it?

If we cognitively use the same heuristics and biases to interpret our brains as our environment, then not only are we always playing catchup neurally, needing more to represent before, we're also only seeing (experiencing, cogitating, conscious of) only those extremes in threshold that "I" or "We" are capable of. On that note, there are documented averages in sensory and perceptive thresholds where a distinct average emerges between what we hear, see, feel, taste, or smell, and what activation the brain shows in response to things that "I" don't notice.

Lol. Well, I am and well and truly late.

Hope that's food for thought, Thorsten. Again, I'm not even sure I disagree with your initial argumentation - I simply thought of many of these things by extension that weren't satisfactorily referenced for my liking.

Apologies for the spelling errors and general moments of failure throughout my writing. Can't stay for a reread.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on May 17, 2013, 12:46:45 am
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While the mind thinks it executes a plan to realize some future goal, according to the Argument, the underlying reality is that the past state is just computed forward, the seeming future goal towards the mind proceeds is simply an illusion, in reality it is the past that determines what will happen, not the future vision.
I'm not sure I understand this understanding of 'the argument'?

If I think the ball is under the third cup and my goal is to lift it up, that the ball is under another cup (or no cup at all) is just how reality plays out - the 'future vision' isn't all that relevant. It's merely a guess.

Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 17, 2013, 05:12:26 am
Some glaring face-palms.

But specifically, 2. That study of questionable surgery was performed on ferrets (the auditory cortex responds incrementally across the cortical matter to pitch and volume, which occurred spontaneously in the visual cortex post-op).
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 17, 2013, 06:53:28 am
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Well, we humans seem to use a combination of statistic descriptions (math) and logic (linguistic justifications) with varying degrees of validity to convey holistic packets of information - Truth seems to satisfy making the most sense out of a(ll) given occurrence of phenomena. Data and concise, valid communication are ideal as is the heuristic strategy (Occam's razor) of positing and falsifying fewer, rather than more assumptions to support your actual hypothesis. We're talking averages across averages, right?

Well, the catch is making most sense - how do you define that? 

Within a formal system (science), making sense is defined in terms of deviation from the data, given a hypothesis - so within the formal system I can decide what makes sense and what doesn't.  However, that doesn't tell if the system makes sense.

Adopt a different formal system - comparison to scripture. Then the definition of 'making sense' becomes 'is sufficiently close to something that's described in the scripture'.

If you're thinking within science, looking into scripture for answers makes no sense. If you are thinking within scripture, doing a statistical analysis makes no sense.

What you need to argue is that science is the best among all possible formal systems to be applied to some particular problem (the mind in this case). Because clearly there are problems to which science doesn't apply. Is the Mona Lisa great art? is not a question you could address with a measurement or statistical analysis.

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Perhaps, you've some underlying disdain for psychological research?

Perhaps... I want to be careful, there is lots of research, and I don't want to make blanket statements. But I guess most of the time when some result is popular and often cited by writers and I look into it, I just think it misses the point. Some examples:

1) Pattern recognition

The usual story goes that the human mind has a strong tendency to see patterns in randomness (this can be connected to the evolutionary cost of running from what is not a tiger, as compared with not running from what is a tiger). An often-cited setup involves a researcher generating strings of random numbers on the computer and asking the probands to see if they could find a pattern - the vast majority could. The interpretation given is that humans are obviously quite good in spotting a pattern where there is none.

Except the probands were factually correct.

First, computers don't generate random numbers, they generate pseudorandom numbers, and given enough of these, a vast intellect could unravel the algorithm and predict the next number in the sequence. So people were quite correct in assuming the existence of a pattern as it was really there.

Second, mathematically for any finite sequence it is impossible to determine if it is truly random or not. Most people would complete 2,4,6,8,10,... with 12 assuming the rule is 'add 2', but the rule may be 'next number has to be larger' in which case 11 would be valid, the rule may be 'must be even' in which case 2 would be valid, the rule may be 'count by adding 2 to 10, then go negative' in which case -2 would be the next answer,... there's nothing logical in preferring one rule over the other, it's just down to habit, we like counting.

So mathematically the probands were doing something very reasonable - they were trying to find the rule for a sequence which could well have a rule. What the experiment actually shows is that the mind tries to spot a pattern where there could be a pattern if prompted to do so by the question (if the question would have been 'are these good random numbers' the answer would possibly have been different...).

2) Happiness research

One often quoted study is that children do not increase the happiness in a family. What was done is that the researchers selected  samples of women with and without children in similar social positions, phoned them several times and interviewed them for their current happiness, estimated on a scale from 0 to 10. The claimed result was that children do not lead to any happier life.

I think this one gets hit by the applicability of logic, here the inference rule that if you have a proposition A and not-A, and you can show not-A to be true, A must be false.

I myself am capable of experiencing a mental state with contradicting emotions. I can, for instance, feel desperate, angry at myself and at the same time feel deep satisfaction with the way my life is going. Or I can be madly angry and my children about breaking something and love them at the same time. Describing my emotional state at any given time would require about 2 pages of written text using a symbolic language (I couldn't do it in English for lack of words, but I could for instance do it using astrological symbols - I think Jung was the first to realize how useful symbolic expressions are in the context).

If asked to report my surface emotion, this would be a hopelessly inadequate picture, and any inference drawn from that about my happiness would be completely wrong. Even on a day where the kids annoy me to the point of screaming, I am still aware that seeing them grow up is the source of deep satisfaction for me. So in this case, proving not-A doesn't imply the falseness of A. If that is so for me, why would it be different for others? I think the study simply doesn't ask in the right framework, and so it obtains a meaningless answer.

3) Evolutionary psychology

One celebrated result here is jealousy sexual vs. emotional infidelity - the results of questions posed to probands are that women feel more disturbed by the thought of their partner forming an emotional attachment to another woman instead of just having sex, whereas men feel the other way round. Supposedly this proves that evolution strikes and we see a stone-age hunter-gatherer setup at work - men are worried they'd have to care for offspring not carrying their genes, whereas women are concerned with losing a nutrition-providing partner.

Except... the raw data shows that variations between cultures in the jealousy response are much greater than the effects claimed which remain after averaging across all cultures. Except, we don't know at all how stone age humans felt about jealousy and raised children - they might have raised kids in a large group, not caring about whose offspring a particular child is. The stone-age setup proposed is not based on evidence, but imagined such that it accounts for the facts. Without solid data on how stone-age humans actually thought and behaved, I can justify anything.

4) Enlightnenment

If you do brain imaging of Buddhist monks during meditation, you can observe certain areas of their brain go active. The supposed implication of this is that they don't really experience enlightenment, it's just a function of this particular brain center.

Of course, if you would do brain imaging of  scientists reading and understanding a research paper, you would observe certain areas of their brains go active. If the above implication were correct, then they wouldn't really understand the paper, it could all be explained in terms of a particular brain center being active.

Correlation isn't causation - this is a fairly elementary reasoning error.

I could go on with this, but I think you may spot where my problems with research in psychology and brain science reside...
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 17, 2013, 08:30:10 am
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However, continued from the middle - you don't think there is evidence to suggest that our experiences as "I," as cognitive agents, isn't illusory insomuch as colours, perceptions, would not exist as they do without corresponding evidence of physiological changes (we're attracted to the redness of an apple because it has been beneficial towards our survival)?

It all depends on what you prefer to call 'real' or 'illusionary'.

I think normally the word 'illusion' is used to describe something which has a certain appearance, but you can verify that the appearance is not correct by remaining in a given framework by just changing perspective. For instance, mirror illusions don't require you to change to a description of the situation in terms of quantum theory - you can walk around the setup, and it becomes apparent that there is a mirror.

In contrast you (and Bakker) seem to be using the word 'illusion' here for something that is in a high-level effective theory (the mind as we ourselves would describe it, or psychology as used by Freud, Jung, Adler,...) but not in a low-level more fundamental theory (interactions among interconnected neurons).

This is, I think, a very important difference. Let me illustrate this with an example where it is well understood what happens.

A rock has mass. In a very high level effective theory (Newtonian mechanics) we can view it as a rigid body with a given mass and  use that to compute the trajectories of the rock when we throw it.

At a lower level, the rock is composed of molecules which have mass. Even more fundamentally, it is composed of protons and neutrons which have mass with electrons thrown in which have very little mass to comtribute. At the most fundamental level, the rock is described by the Standard Model of Particle Physics in terms of quarks, gluons, and photons. And in the bare Lagrangean of this theory, there is no mass.

So mass is a property of high level effective theories only, it is not a fundamental property of the world. The illusion of mass of a rock arises largely because there is a lot of field energy in the binding of quarks and gluons which makes an empty vacuum energetically disfavoured, and thus stuff plowing through the field energy contained in the vacuum effectively acquires mass.

Yet, this 'illusionary' mass is quite capable of killing you when the rock hits your head. Which goes a long way to illustrate that just because something is not a property of the fundamental theory, it can't be seen as meaningless or 'not real'.

The fact that a theory of the mind in terms of connected neurons doesn't have certain traits can not be used to argue that these traits would not be meaningful, or not real when seen on a different scale. There are dozends (if not more) counterexamples in physics where effective high level theories gain new properties or lose properties which the fundamental theory has.

The world behaves as if there would be mass when seen at a certain scale, this is what gives meaning to the concept. The world behaves as if there would be an 'I' when seen at a certain scale. and this is what gives meaning to the concept.

If you want to limit 'real' to 'what is contained in our most fundamental theory only', you declare pretty much everything as illusion, and you're left with a description of the world in terms of operators acting on Fock spaces having certain commutation and anticommutations - which manifestly isn't what is real, but just describes how the real world behaves. So in essence nothing is real then. Doesn't lead anywhere in particular to accept only the fundamental as real.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Cüréthañ on May 17, 2013, 08:49:51 am
Just love reading your posts Thorsten.

Would like to hear your post-WLW thoughts on Earwan metaphysics if you have the time/inclination.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 17, 2013, 11:50:59 am
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Would like to hear your post-WLW thoughts on Earwan metaphysics if you have the time/inclination.

I'm currently halfway through - I plan to write up anything interesting. Btw. - I wonder if anyone has a copy of my analysis note on languages in the first trilogy - I can't seem to find it on my new computer.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 17, 2013, 05:02:02 pm
Well, the catch is making most sense - how do you define that?

Lol, I'm not sure the linguistic statement of encapsulation is going to make the most sense of making most sense enough for either of us.

We're primarily invoking language games, which I'd like to avoid as much as possible but you tend to hit on those meriting distinction.

What happens in cases of understanding or, even, imagination? Neural accounts seem to deal with embodied cognition, embodied simulation, or some account of neurons.

For my personal coin, I've subscribed to the thought that unless we're a completely necessary component for the existence of the Multiverse, then Objective-Truth, the state of affairs as they truly are (Reductionism to it's holistic conclusions...) exists outside of a human account in sound. I mean, we more or less exist happily based on how much we maintain our habitable environment, our niche. I'm not necessarily advocating naturalist truth but living, and accounts of it, in more accord with the actual state of the Multiverse seems to have its dividends.

I'm sure this hasn't satisfactorily (another homage to making most sense) done us any good. Perhaps, you'd hazard a try?

For whatever reason, understanding seems to satisfy our curiousity? I might also suggest the idea of cognitive dissonance (I realize you've already mentioned this in allusion further along, forgive me) and its resolution is almost an epitome of making sense.

Within a formal system (science), making sense is defined in terms of deviation from the data, given a hypothesis - so within the formal system I can decide what makes sense and what doesn't.  However, that doesn't tell if the system makes sense.

Adopt a different formal system - comparison to scripture.

What about language? In the Sapir-Wharf hypothesis (which was primarily asserted by a student of Wharf's), it's suggested that we can't account for the existence of phenomenon for which we do not experience or interact with linguistically (describing) in some way. There is another European aristocrat that posited much the same a hundred years earlier (can't for remember the name and I'd rather respond to your post, rather than walk ten feet to my bookshelf ;)).

Nonetheless, controversial and seems directly related to formal systems. How about the ways in which language warp our very perception of our environments (seeing more colours or feeling more or less emotions in relation to words in your language, cognition of time and space, or an example Wilshire brought up in chat the other day - which I will find as I'm starting to remember - about language and orientation, to which I'm still trying to figure out the neural riddle)?

Is the Mona Lisa great art? is not a question you could address with a measurement or statistical analysis.

I think you could get some interesting data in some pursuits here.

I could go on with this, but I think you may spot where my problems with research in psychology and brain science reside...

I'm not entirely sure. Again, it seems beyond the ken of the psychological or neuroscientific disciplines to practice their results; even someone like myself, fighting all the uphill battle's of being engaged with servicing the bureaucratic civilization of the Western Empire, is limited in their time (which it takes to effectively change neural architecture through practice).

People are fallible? Regardless, your disdain for many of these results seems to come down to inapplicable discussion on the part of the authors (which I find is a huge factor in how published scientists are perceived as quality researchers or not - bias at work, neh?).

It all depends on what you prefer to call 'real' or 'illusionary'.

...

In contrast you (and Bakker) seem to be using the word 'illusion' here for something that is in a high-level effective theory (the mind as we ourselves would describe it, or psychology as used by Freud, Jung, Adler,...) but not in a low-level more fundamental theory (interactions among interconnected neurons).

This is, I think, a very important difference.

I know this is a problem of presentation. For my part, and I'm near-perfect positive on Bakker's assertion, we're both doing readers a disservice by not explaining connotations. Illusory correlation is almost the quintessential human problem, if we are to be understood in terms of pattern-recognizing machines - we see correlation where there is in fact none.

This might actually serve as a crux for our conversation as it is precisely this, illusory of conscious sufficiency, that seem centered in Bakker's position concerning Blind Brain (I'm not sure where I've fallen in terms of the Argument here). There is no reasonable position that how we've decided the mind/brain relationship works, philosophically, in the humanities, will hold weight in the future, at all.

On the academic front, it's almost an inevitability. But as individuals - what I'm seeing certainly is a modicum of existential activity around me, what I feel may or may not relate to the sensation of air moving across my skin, or the table beneath my arms. Also, literally, the brain offers a taste of Neil's horror at all times, when what we experience seems to be a heuristic representation of our first experiences or a collection of average experiences, rather than actual experience as it's happening now: energetically, as a system, it seems to suggest that our brains conserve energy by imprinting and recycling experiences, such that, people surprise us when they do something outside our ken, we think they are acting differently, when it's simply outside our collection of experiences.

I've always found the German word Umwelt helpful. Basically, we perceive only what we can perceived. Which leaves for the unperceived...

The world behaves as if there would be mass when seen at a certain scale, this is what gives meaning to the concept. The world behaves as if there would be an 'I' when seen at a certain scale. and this is what gives meaning to the concept.

If you want to limit 'real' to 'what is contained in our most fundamental theory only', you declare pretty much everything as illusion, and you're left with a description of the world in terms of operators acting on Fock spaces having certain commutation and anticommutations - which manifestly isn't what is real, but just describes how the real world behaves. So in essence nothing is real then. Doesn't lead anywhere in particular to accept only the fundamental as real.

I certainly gather what you mean but I feel we've missed each other here. If the above doesn't offer some coherence, I'm not sure how to respond.

The onus is certainly not on either of us to imply that there exist conscious entities. I mean, I certainly feel, at this moment, that I am responsible for some of my actions but I am also aware "I am" simply a hole in the world... I am that portal between the trillions of connections within and the billions of connections without. I'm just here to ride along, figuring out what that means with as many humans as I can for as long as I can...
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 17, 2013, 05:13:56 pm
Had the time to reread today. Cheers, Thorsten.

Also, Zombie Three-Seas (http://forum.three-seas.com) is well and undead. aengelas pulled a Necromancer and raised our canon.

I think the post you are talking about is Incariol, what does it mean? (http://forum.three-seas.com/topics/39449) but you can also see all your posts: Thorsten (http://forum.three-seas.com/users/22998).
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 17, 2013, 08:53:39 pm
Third paragraph should read "or some account of [mirror] neurons"... I'm sure I missed others.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 18, 2013, 02:55:05 pm
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We're primarily invoking language games, which I'd like to avoid as much as possible but you tend to hit on those meriting distinction.

No, I don't want to do that at all.

I think the issue is simpler and more fundamental. You have (presumably) been socialized with science, and learned to apply and accept scientific reasoning.

Imagine for a moment you meet someone from a hunter-gatherer culture and talk to him about your mode of truth-finding. When you start talking about statistical analysis, he will tell you something like 'Why should it matter for me if something happens for these other people I don't even know?' If you talk about brain scans, he will tell you 'Why do you trust this machine more than your own senses?' He will look at you strangely and ask 'Can't you feel the spirits of nature?' In short, he comes from a completely different system of thought.

You, being born into science and reasoning from within science, will find it obvious that he goes astray. But he, being born into a spirit-world, will find you equally mentally deficient and regard your inability to feel the spirits as some kind of insanity. For him, science makes no sense whatsoever, he will regard it as some dysfunction of the mind.

Science as seen from within science is self-justifying - but that's just circular reasoning, albeit a bit hard to spot. So is animism from within animism. What you really need to do in order to justify science is to step out of it, try seeing the world from different perspectives, understand how it is conceptualized from different perspectives, and then see where science wins out.

(As a side note, Moenghus the elder is a fictional example of that trap of never leaving one's own perspective. He is in essence a scientist (rational reasoner), finds his own set of rational beliefs quite justified from within his perspective of science, but then completely misses out on the fact that the Gods of Earwa appear to be completely real rather than a figment of people's imagination and that he will  be damned as a result. Kellhus, in contrast, does leave his own perspective (or probably rather is pushed beyond it by the circumfixion).)

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What happens in cases of understanding or, even, imagination? Neural accounts seem to deal with embodied cognition, embodied simulation, or some account of neurons.

Well, I was sort of using 'making sense' in reference to 'truth'  - I readily agree that there is the additional complication that the feeling of 'making sense' as experienced by a mind may or may not correlate with any truth.


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What about language? In the Sapir-Wharf hypothesis (which was primarily asserted by a student of Wharf's), it's suggested that we can't account for the existence of phenomenon for which we do not experience or interact with linguistically (describing) in some way.

I don't buy Sapir-Whorf. I can talk with colleagues all over the world (who come from completely different cultural context) just fine about Quantum Field Theory (which can't really be put in words) and all of this should not work. Poking holes into Sapir-Whorf is not really difficult.

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How about the ways in which language warp our very perception of our environments (seeing more colours or feeling more or less emotions in relation to words in your language, cognition of time and space, or an example Wilshire brought up in chat the other day - which I will find as I'm starting to remember - about language and orientation,

There are lots of urban legends floating around, for instance you may have heard of the alleged timelessness of the Hopi language or the way the Piraha language contradicts universal grammar. I have bothered to read up in detail several of these cases, and it always boiled down to bad research. I am not aware of good evidence that languages would really warp the perception of the physical environment in a significant way. The social environment is a different beast.

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Regardless, your disdain for many of these results seems to come down to inapplicable discussion on the part of the authors

Yes, I think that's what I said previously - I don't doubt that if one does these things, one gets the results quoted, I just doubt that the interpretation attached to them is correct.

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Illusory correlation is almost the quintessential human problem, if we are to be understood in terms of pattern-recognizing machines - we see correlation where there is in fact none.

That's easy to say - how do you know where there is in fact none?  How many correlations do you miss which are in fact there? All you have is a discrepancy between two systems of reasoning where one claims a correlation and the other doesn't. For you, it seem obvious that one of these systems (science) must be correct for the problem at hand, but I don't see this as obvious at all.

Science isn't a fact-producing machinery. There are very, very few scientific results which have survived even 100 years without revision. It used to be 'fact' that the influence of the environment can't possibly inherited by the offspring. Well, now there's epigenetics - turns out that it can after all. It used to be 'fact' that there's an ether in which light propagates. Now we have Quantum Electrodynamics for the job.

Science is a description and predictive-model producing machinery - it does deal with better descriptions and more predictive models, but it doesn't ever deal with facts - assuming something fact may be a pretty dangerous error for a scientist because it means you will never be ready to revise it.

Let me ask a very simple question - can you name anything which you would consider 'real' and compare it with a different thing which you would call 'illusion'? So maybe we can get the definitions from there.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 18, 2013, 05:46:33 pm
I have a feeling we're coming to limits of mutually beneficial communication.

You, being born into science and reasoning from within science, will find it obvious that he goes astray. But he, being born into a spirit-world, will find you equally mentally deficient and regard your inability to feel the spirits as some kind of insanity. For him, science makes no sense whatsoever, he will regard it as some dysfunction of the mind.

Science is a tool, right? I don't ultimately ascribe to any tool, for any reason, really. But sooner or later, s/he and I are going to be ignorant of something - perhaps, we'll have the luxury of understanding whether that something coherently satisfies our worldview or it is something we cannot digest/interpret. It seems that worldviews (synonymously languages, perhaps) expressed in smaller, ecological niches, maybe where they've enjoyed a longer pedigree of living, understand those specific environments with a greater degree of accuracy than I do with "science!" but other worldview's (functional explanation for environmental phenomenon?) might not tolerate such digression as "I with science" am able to.

Either way, it misses the point. In both cases, the brain intakes sensory information, that is beyond the sufficient experiences of those sensation - "s/he and I" get enough information to do... A Bestiary of Consciousnesses? (http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/speculative-musings/a-bestiary-of-consciousnesses/)... what exactly? Who knows.

Science as seen from within science is self-justifying - but that's just circular reasoning, albeit a bit hard to spot. So is animism from within animism. What you really need to do in order to justify science is to step out of it, try seeing the world from different perspectives, understand how it is conceptualized from different perspectives, and then see where science wins out.

I never invoked "science!"? I offered examples (albeit, without retrieving specific studies and defending those results, in specific) yet you summarily dismissed by suggesting that because you can point out fallacious results in the studies you've been exposed to, and, perhaps, therefore in any other you may encounter.

I attempted a half-assed expression of "science!'s" justification, as concerned by psychology - mathematics (usually, through statistical description) and language (valid linguistic statements) - or neuroscience - imaging studies.

(As a side note, Moenghus the elder is a fictional example of that trap of never leaving one's own perspective. He is in essence a scientist (rational reasoner), finds his own set of rational beliefs quite justified from within his perspective of science, but then completely misses out on the fact that the Gods of Earwa appear to be completely real rather than a figment of people's imagination and that he will  be damned as a result. Kellhus, in contrast, does leave his own perspective (or probably rather is pushed beyond it by the circumfixion).)

Segue noted: In one of the rare instances that Moenghus speaks to affirm knowing more because he is Cishaurim, he readily admits to experiencing their visual revelations, yet that "what lies Outside, Kellhus, is no more than a fractured and distroed reflection of what lies within" (TTT, p460).

I don't think this helps our understanding of BBH.

Well, I was sort of using 'making sense' in reference to 'truth'  - I readily agree that there is the additional complication that the feeling of 'making sense' as experienced by a mind may or may not correlate with any truth.

The philosophic pressure remains your own, Thorsten. I've done what little I could to define "Truth," for our discussion. I asked you before to hazard a distinction when mine felt incomplete and I express that request again.

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I don't buy Sapir-Whorf. I can talk with colleagues all over the world (who come from completely different cultural context) just fine about Quantum Field Theory (which can't really be put in words) and all of this should not work. Poking holes into Sapir-Whorf is not really difficult.

Math could be it's own language (Count Alfred Korzybski, Dr. Richard Bandler, etc)?

There are lots of urban legends floating around, for instance you may have heard of the alleged timelessness of the Hopi language or the way the Piraha language contradicts universal grammar. I have bothered to read up in detail several of these cases, and it always boiled down to bad research. I am not aware of good evidence that languages would really warp the perception of the physical environment in a significant way. The social environment is a different beast.

I could set your sights on decently readable books and research but I've been decried for dropping titles.

I'm here to tease from your rebuttal of the Argument (and your participation in our discussion), a finer, more comprehensible BBH. Nothing more, nothing less.

That's easy to say - how do you know where there is in fact none?  How many correlations do you miss which are in fact there? All you have is a discrepancy between two systems of reasoning where one claims a correlation and the other doesn't. For you, it seem obvious that one of these systems (science) must be correct for the problem at hand, but I don't see this as obvious at all.

Again, not quite sure where you have the idea that I'm thumping "science!". I've offered averages (studies) concerning human behavior in an average of cases and data concerning only a few humans, in regards to neurological dysfunction or degeneration - we've both conceded the fallibility and generalities of statistical description: I wouldn't be immediately talented trying my hand at computation neuroscience, for instance, so I can't offer any better evidence for you.

Let me ask a very simple question - can you name anything which you would consider 'real' and compare it with a different thing which you would call 'illusion'? So maybe we can get the definitions from there.

This an interesting crux because I have basically no interest in nor is it even a necessity that I justify these terms for the sake of our discussion. And it would be a disservice to it, that you tease statements out of my offering an explanation of those distinctions. If you have readily available definitions, by all means, share them.

However, attempting a BBH worldview (which I am certainly not meditatively inclined or interested in attempting to embody):

Let's start from illusion because I'm never sure that real applies.

We experience illusory correlation, indiscriminately, insofar as we are either/both ignorant of their occurrence or where the hard wall of experience doesn't immediately contradict our, otherwise simple, cognitive dissonance.

However, in terms of how our languages, our philosophies, even math to an extent, describe "reality as it exists, necessarily consequent of us, or without us antecedent as it is," we might say those descriptions (which we experience more or less immediately visceral than other articulate abstractions) are an illusion, a misconception, because we don't know what kind of information BB interacts with before our conscious, sufficient, experience. Even in cases of expertise, of conscious learning and practice, individuals render behaviors and their cognitive tools, unconscious, implicit, and part of a system that functions beyond our ability to experience it.

That information could well be redundant - but it might well as shatter the box as we push its thresholds as it may well push the boundaries of scientific falsification.

I apologize again for the instances of perceptible "science!" thumping. It is simply one of likely many possible methodologies, science isn't it's own thing, it's applicable to all these different disciplines, all these different, converging arenas of description, neh?

Again, not sure what's happened in the communicative breakdown here... I appreciate the time you've spent dialoging and look forward to other moments of understanding and clarity?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on May 19, 2013, 12:06:49 am
It's weird how when science does something like drop a watermelon and a marble in order to show they both fall at the same speed, were all 'okay, we'll just accept that'. But somewhat like they say, the more complicated science gets, the more it seems just another form of magic. And then the questions become 'Why does your magic trump my magic?'
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 20, 2013, 07:25:21 am
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I have a feeling we're coming to limits of mutually beneficial communication.

Well, we do seem to get lost somewhere. Admittedly I have a hard time understanding what your position actually is, even re-reading your words I still get contradictory information. In return, I feel quite misunderstood.

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I never invoked "science!"?

But Neil (and hence Bakker) does - that's what all this is about, right?

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I offered examples (albeit, without retrieving specific studies and defending those results, in specific) yet you summarily dismissed by suggesting that because you can point out fallacious results in the studies you've been exposed to, and, perhaps, therefore in any other you may encounter.

I can't recall you posting any specific studies as example here. I gave four examples of studies I dismissed, citing my reason for doing so. You offered interpreted results without telling me how the underlying studies were done, thus denying me any possibility to make up my mind about the study. I apologize, but I don't take such interpretations on faith - I want to be able to judge the full methodology. I will certainly dismiss any other study with similar reasoning errors which I may encounter. I would be happy to discuss with you about any concrete example rather than be forced to make blanket statements.

It occurred to me in the course of the weekend that Akka in the 'White Luck Warrior' actually spells out what is done in Neuropath.

Neil in essence pulls off a conjuring trick. What he can demonstrate in the end is that you can artificially induce alternate states of consciousness. People licking toads, eating mushrooms and inhaling holy smoke have known this for millenia though. If Neil would be a shaman, claiming that alternate states of consciousness are proof of the gods, then everyone would dismiss his results out of hand. But he's a scientist.

By framing all this in science and writing to readers which are socialized within science, Bakker manages something remarkable. By appealing to prior knowledge of the readers, he creates a frame of established fact and illuminates everything in knowledge - and this in turn hides the boundaries of said knowledge and leads to the absence of questions.

In particular, the whole setup distracts from the fact that science has boundaries. For instance, questions like 'Free will' or 'The supernatural' are quite outside of science for the simple reason that it's not possible to formulate a testable hypothesis to prove or disprove the notions. There are no concepts to formulate these properly (I invite you to try if you think differently). It also hides the fact that science is justified from somewhere.

And since the reader has the notion that he knows so much, he fails to realize his ignorance and fails to ask further. Like 'What is actually going on here?'

Suppose for a moment Neil would investigate something we do know properly. Say real-time 3d rendering (because it's a hobby of mine). What we see is the output - we see for instance rainbow reflections on light passing through dew drops rendered on-screen, which prompts the question 'How does this work?'

Now here's Neil investigating 3d rendering. He shows you an IR image of the mainboard where the graphics card is lit up brightly when the rendering runs 'Look, we can identify the centers where it is done!' He asks you to look at the screen, then says: 'Look what I can do!' and waves a magnet in front of the screen - and because it is an old cathode ray screen, the rendered image swirls with the magnet. 'Look what I can do!' - and pulls the red color channel cable from the monitor - and as a result, the image gets a strange yellow-green hue. 'Look what I can do' - and he puts some current to the graphics chip, short-circuiting parts of the fragment-rendering pipeline, and as a result rainbow-colored static fluctuates across the screen. 'I can make you see all these things. It's all the hardware, see!'

But as anyone doing 3d rendering knows, he would completely miss the point. The question is after the algorithm - we're asking the few hundred lines which describe how light interacts with a dew drop in terms of vertices, light vectors, textures, specular highlights and so on. The algorithm is high-level information, it works independent of the realization on GLSL or direct-X, or on an Intel, NVIDIA or ATI chipset. The algorithm is not dependent on a particular low-level realization on a particular graphics card, and you have about zero chance of reverse-engineering from Neil's techniques. The best chance to re-engineer it is to look at the output and try to understand it on the high conceptual level.

Which is to say, I think Neil obtains information, but the information he obtains is completely disconnected from the question he proposes to address. And this would be completely obvious if he wouldn't be a scientist but a shaman so that the applicability boundaries of what he was doing wouldn't be hidden so well.

Which is also to say, I don't think neuroscience claims to 'illusionary I' or 'no free will' will change society in any way. If anything, they will discredit neuroscience, or even worse science in general. People ascribe a high degree of credibilty to science, but not to the point that they'd accept something which contradicts their good and direct experience. 


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It's weird how when science does something like drop a watermelon and a marble in order to show they both fall at the same speed, were all 'okay, we'll just accept that'. But somewhat like they say, the more complicated science gets, the more it seems just another form of magic. And then the questions become 'Why does your magic trump my magic?'

No, that's not so weird if you accept science as a tool.

An ax is a very good tool if you want to cut branches from a trunk. So you might think to apply it further. It still works decently to cut down a small tree. So you might apply it further. It barely works to cut down a large tree. It certainly doesn't work well enough to cut down a whole forest - so at some place, you take a chainsaw or even a harvester vehicle.

But of course, taking the harvester to cut branches from a single tree is extremely cumbersome.

So science is a very good tool (the best, I think) to get your mind around falling watermelons - but as you expand its region of application, it doesn't necessarily stay a good tool (although this is usually assumed).

Consider for instance statistical analysis. If you look into what it actually is, it is a tool to manage your lack of knowledge (if in a medical study the result is that a drug helped 55% of the probands this is equivalent of saying that the researchers have no idea of the causal relationship between the drug and the body, because otherwise they would know in each case - when I drop water melons, I don't answer in 55% of melons will do that, I give you a number when it will reach the ground). So statistics is only useful if you have a controlled lack of knowledge (i.e. an idea of what you do not know) - if you don't, you can still go through all the same motions and get answers, but your results cease to mean anything (apart from 'I don't know'). For instance, it is statistically completely true that a bit less than 50% of all parents who plan on having children will get pregnant. Of course, if you happen to be a man, the implication is not that you should have a fair chance of getting pregnant... so the 50% are mathematically true, but completely miss the point. In this case you can spot it easily, but there are way more subtle cases. And the formalism simply doesn't tell you when it becomes meaningless - so there's no warning from inside statistics.

So if you frame it like 'Why do you think your tool is better for the purpose than my tool?', it is no longer such a mystery, it becomes a valid question.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on May 20, 2013, 08:17:21 am
I think your treating non rigorous/half assed applications of the tool as a fair representation of the tool.

If you don't think analysis could be conducted any more rigorously than what you know of, okay.

But if you do think it could be conducted more rigorously...why attribute the half assed effort as being science?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 20, 2013, 08:32:12 am
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But if you do think it could be conducted more rigorously...why attribute the half assed effort as being science?

Because Neil (and Bakker) do. I think science isn't applicable to some problems. An ax can be blunt, then it doesn't work well, and you can sharpen it, but it still remains an inadequate tool to cut down a forest.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 21, 2013, 06:55:20 am
Have been trying for yet another hour to digest this. This is in essence your response when I asked about real and illusionary.

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For my personal coin, I've subscribed to the thought that unless we're a completely necessary component for the existence of the Multiverse, then Objective-Truth, the state of affairs as they truly are (Reductionism to it's holistic conclusions...) exists outside of a human account in sound. I mean, we more or less exist happily based on how much we maintain our habitable environment, our niche. I'm not necessarily advocating naturalist truth but living, and accounts of it, in more accord with the actual state of the Multiverse seems to have its dividends.


I've always found the German word Umwelt helpful. Basically, we perceive only what we can perceived. Which leaves for the unperceived...
(...)
Let's start from illusion because I'm never sure that real applies.

We experience illusory correlation, indiscriminately, insofar as we are either/both ignorant of their occurrence or where the hard wall of experience doesn't immediately contradict our, otherwise simple, cognitive dissonance.

However, in terms of how our languages, our philosophies, even math to an extent, describe "reality as it exists, necessarily consequent of us, or without us antecedent as it is," we might say those descriptions (which we experience more or less immediately visceral than other articulate abstractions) are an illusion, a misconception, because we don't know what kind of information BB interacts with before our conscious, sufficient, experience. Even in cases of expertise, of conscious learning and practice, individuals render behaviors and their cognitive tools, unconscious, implicit, and part of a system that functions beyond our ability to experience it.

That information could well be redundant - but it might well as shatter the box as we push its thresholds as it may well push the boundaries of scientific falsification.

1) I don't know what your Multiverse is. It is not a well agreed-on concept. I know it from Fantasy literature, Moorcock uses it to characterize all the worlds his eternal hero acts in. Speculative cosmology has a multiverse, creating all possible universes so that one can use the anthropic principle to justify why some things in this universe are as they are. Speculative String Theory generates the landscape with 10^600 different basic gauge theories, all corresponding to possible universes. One interpretation of Quantum Mechanics has the many worlds hypothesis that makes all state amplitudes real, not only the ones projected by a measurement. Multiverse in essence is a buzzword that may mean anything and has been used by almost everyone speculating about physics to mean something completely different.

There's no bit of actual evidence that any of these is true.

2) You seem to distinguish 'reality as is' from 'reality as perceived' here and declare everything which is not 'reality as is' as an illusion.

It seems to me that consciousness is a part of 'reality as it is, being itself' and hence the only part of 'reality as is' we have access to - whatever else we perceive is always reality as perceived. So I would argue that given your definition 'I' is real but incomplete, the rest of the conscious perceptions are 'real' as far as the perception (the qualia) goes but not as far as the object perceived goes, and the 'I' reflected upon by the conscious mind is hence less real than the 'I' being itself.

I don't find the definition particularly useful, because it declares pretty much everything illusionary.

What I find more interesting is the degree of reality we can assign. 'mass' and other physical concepts do not require belief - a rock will kill you when it drops onto your head, regardless if you believe it will or if you are even aware. 'money' or 'police' work only if you are aware of them, understand them and share a common belief, i.e. they are real in quite a different sense. A Beethoven symphony has yet a more complicated degree of reality, because it is a pattern and can jump across many different carriers, from sheets of papers to a DVD to sound waves to the memory of the orchestra members how to perform it - it doesn't require belief, but it requires a key to decode.

Illusions are then things which claim a different category of reality than they are - a  hologram or a mirror may create the illusion of a rock, but the illusion has quite different properties, it cannot kill. Someone dressed up as a police officer may create the illusion of a police force, but will not be able to be backed up. It's not clear to me that something can give the illusion of being a Beethoven symphony.

This is primarily a distinction of usefulness - I recognize that there's very little I can do in absolute terms with reality, so I classify the rest according to degree.

Using such references to 'reality as is', it is quite easy to declare things as 'illusion'. The point is that most people do not realize that the same argument declares everything else an illusion. A clearer statement would be that 'I as self-aware reflected upon' as the same degree of reality as 'grain of sand' or 'SiO2' - i.e. a reflected perception - and a higher degree of reality as 'money' - i.e. a social construction.

3) I have no idea what  Reductionism to it's holistic conclusions... is supposed to mean - reductionism and holism are logically incompatible principles, the sentence is a paradox.

If you mean to imply that reality as it is is paradox, I'm probably with you.

4) I'm not sure what to make of

I've always found the German word Umwelt helpful. Basically, we perceive only what we can perceived. Which leaves for the unperceived...

It seems for a truism and as such trivial. I don't think anyone here means to say that what we see is all there is. I don't even know of anyone who ever wrote that the conscious mind is all there is to the mind. I think it is algorithmically impossible to create any pattern which is aware of all its internal state at once (so even Kellhus must have an unconscious mind). So what does this really argue?

5) You seem to go for some variant of Solipsism - but thats not a scientific proposition.

Even in cases of expertise, of conscious learning and practice, individuals render behaviors and their cognitive tools, unconscious, implicit, and part of a system that functions beyond our ability to experience it.

That information could well be redundant - but it might well as shatter the box as we push its thresholds as it may well push the boundaries of scientific falsification.


Yes. So it could all be wrong - and there is Solipsism that argues precisely that, and it can't be refuted.

The point is, if it's too wrong, science doesn't work.

a) Perception must be a meaningful representation of properties of reality as it is, otherwise science breaks.
b) Decisions between true and false propositions must be free (and refer to reality as is) and not determined by circumstance, otherwise science breaks.

What you can't do is scientifically prove something which implies science doesn't work. You can't falsify something that your falsification method requires to work.

So you can strike all possibilities from Bakker's Bestiary which violate a) or b) as untestable within science. They could still be true, but they're never accessible scientifically.

Conversely, if science works (as Bakker and Neil seem to believe), then some properties of the mind follow necessarily.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on May 21, 2013, 08:21:08 am
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But if you do think it could be conducted more rigorously...why attribute the half assed effort as being science?

Because Neil (and Bakker) do. I think science isn't applicable to some problems. An ax can be blunt, then it doesn't work well, and you can sharpen it, but it still remains an inadequate tool to cut down a forest.
I don't think that's getting into speculative fiction and trying out the idea - your folding the idea into your axe notion and not entertaining the idea of something that can carpet bomb the forest to hell and back.

When someone says 'What if it's this way?' - it's not really a counter to say 'No, it it's not'. It's just unimaginative.

One might not be utterly convinced - but the only way to utterly convince of a speculation about technology is if Bakker went and invented the brain augmentation technology. Surely to require that is to show no interest in speculation at all?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 21, 2013, 09:12:26 am
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When someone says 'What if it's this way?' - it's not really a counter to say 'No, it it's not'. It's just unimaginative.

Okay, the game here is:

Bakker in the guise of Neil makes a statement about the mind and science in the context of a future version resembling our world. I interpret this as a statement made about the mind in our world, because

a) Bakker doesn't indicate that science works significantly different in the world of Neuropath
b) Bakker refers to experiments done in our world and claims made in our world and
c) the limitations of science as we know it are universal

So I answer to the argument as if someone would have made it for our world.

Since Neuropath is a work of fiction, the author is entirely free to say 'Hey, but in my world it is all different and I am right.'  I concede that point that an author is free to invent a world in which he answers 'What if it's this way?' by 'This comes out'.

If that is Bakker's answer, then logic doesn't really work too well in the world of Neuropath, because self-defeating arguments are somehow okay, but that's not interesting for me.

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One might not be utterly convinced - but the only way to utterly convince of a speculation about technology is if Bakker went and invented the brain augmentation technology. Surely to require that is to show no interest in speculation at all?

You missed the point. Even if a real Neil could demonstrate all which he sets out to do, it would still not prove what he claims it does. He faces a conceptual problem, not a technological one.

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I don't think that's getting into speculative fiction and trying out the idea - your folding the idea into your axe notion and not entertaining the idea of something that can carpet bomb the forest to hell and back.

Which would make it an eminently useless tool to cut branches, illustrating my point yet again.

What I am doing is illustrating the implications of the idea (which Neil doesn't for obvious reasons) - and they're not compatible with the assumptions on which the idea is based. Which is to say, there's a consistency problem. Now, you can chuck out consistency (and modern fiction even does that at times), but then the results get really strange.

In other words, my answer to 'What if it's this way?' is 'Then you're forced to believe at least two mutually exclusive statements to be true.'
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on May 22, 2013, 12:01:26 am
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When someone says 'What if it's this way?' - it's not really a counter to say 'No, it it's not'. It's just unimaginative.

Okay, the game here is:

Bakker in the guise of Neil makes a statement about the mind and science in the context of a future version resembling our world. I interpret this as a statement made about the mind in our world, because

a) Bakker doesn't indicate that science works significantly different in the world of Neuropath
b) Bakker refers to experiments done in our world and claims made in our world and
c) the limitations of science as we know it are universal

So I answer to the argument as if someone would have made it for our world.
All you're doing is trying to argue it isn't speculative fiction, but without saying that.

If you want to argue it's a work of fiction which, perhaps like historical fiction, relies on currently known facts, okay, pitch that.

But if you can't bring yourself to argue it, then it's speculative fiction - but instead you're addressing it exactly as you say - as if someone made an argument for the world as it is.

I would agree his blind brain stuff on TPB is arguing for the world as it is.

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Since Neuropath is a work of fiction, the author is entirely free to say 'Hey, but in my world it is all different and I am right.'  I concede that point that an author is free to invent a world in which he answers 'What if it's this way?' by 'This comes out'.
No, the question of 'What if it's this way?' is aimed at you! It's not the author sitting in a corner asking himself questions and also answering them.

You're disinclined to consider it - so much so you describe the author as just talking with himself. Even though you'd probably take on a fiction that had dragons secreted away around the real world.

Feel free to say 'well, X would have to be the case for it to pan out that way, and even though I don't think X is true, I'll humour it as being the case for awhile...'

I mean, that's what fiction is. Humouring things for awhile.

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One might not be utterly convinced - but the only way to utterly convince of a speculation about technology is if Bakker went and invented the brain augmentation technology. Surely to require that is to show no interest in speculation at all?
You missed the point. Even if a real Neil could demonstrate all which he sets out to do, it would still not prove what he claims it does. He faces a conceptual problem, not a technological one.
From your computer analogy, you seem to think the mind isn't gone on damaged hardware.

I think if someone downloaded the program from damaged hardware and then compared it to the original disks program, you'd find quite a difference.

But you seem to treat the conceptual as one step outside it all - so Neil could demonstrate all which he sets out to do - yet somehow it doesn't demonstrate what he sets out to do. Because conceptual.

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I don't think that's getting into speculative fiction and trying out the idea - your folding the idea into your axe notion and not entertaining the idea of something that can carpet bomb the forest to hell and back.

Which would make it an eminently useless tool to cut branches, illustrating my point yet again.

All you're doing is walking me into a verbal trap - you talk about the axe not being able to cut a forest - I walk into the trap of describing something that can cut a forest. You then say it can't cut a branch - then I walk into an example that does that, which then wont be able to cut a forest?

Your argument seems to be an incapacity to scale - that's it. As if you couldn't have a laser that can be dialed down to remove a branch, or dialed up to obliterate a forest. Or simply precision programmed to remove whatever, ala some of the CAD systems which can, with a plastic bath and a precision laser, create physical prototypes.

It seems your best argument is 'It can't scale'.

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In other words, my answer to 'What if it's this way?' is 'Then you're forced to believe at least two mutually exclusive statements to be true.'
All fiction involves believing both the real world AND the fiction.

As I said before, if you want to say 'well, I don't think X that is described in the book is the case - but I'll humour it is for awhile and consider the ramifications...', fair enough.

Possibly the problem is one of conceit and conclusion being too close/the same. With the dragons in the real world conciet, one might consider, say, a fight between dragons and apache helicopters - that's one conclusion one could draw.

Here with neuropath, the problem is that the conceit - that in regard to the brain and conciousness, certain facts apply, is almost practically the conclusion as well. It's so close to home that it's hard to get conceit and conclusion far away from each other and so allow the reader some 'play room'. It's like saying 'Dragons exist in the real world!!1!' and nothing more - it invites simple rejection from a reader. Whilst bringing up a dragon/apache fight gives a conclusion to humour. But here it's hard to describe - even the chiropractor just seems another psychopath amongst the many weve had in history. It all seems normal.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 22, 2013, 06:40:10 am
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No, the question of 'What if it's this way?' is aimed at you!

Yes, and my answer to that is still 'Then it is not consistent.'

Speculative fiction can still be consistent or inconsistent. I can conceive of a fictional world in which magic exists and society adjusts to it in a plausible way. That'd be consistent. I can conceive of a fictional world in which characters are still in the room after they left the room. That'd be inconsistent. I tend to value consistent fiction higher than inconsistent fiction, because I know how difficult it is to get it consistent.

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But if you can't bring yourself to argue it, then it's speculative fiction - but instead you're addressing it exactly as you say - as if someone made an argument for the world as it is.

Yes, strangely enough, I am doing exactly as I say I am doing :-)

Look, we can treat this as a bit of fiction, then all I can say is 'Hey, it's made up, so it could be anything anyway. Book finished, next please. ' That's not interesting. The interesting thing is to treat it as 'What if all the premises were really true - what would it imply?' In the present case, it's even more interesting because I consider it reasonably plausible that at least some of Neil's experiments could really be done and that they would have the described outcome, so I don't see the premises as quite as fictional as, say, hidden dragons (plausibility comes in degrees, remember?)

It's funny that you'd attest to my lack of imagination, while the position 'Well, it's just fiction.' requires a lot less imagination than to map out the consequences of a world in which all the assumed premises of a story were real.

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You're disinclined to consider it - so much so you describe the author as just talking with himself

Not sure how you imagine books are written, but my writing is essentially me answering a question I posed to myself. I am fairly certain it worked the same way for Bakker - he asked the question 'What if it were this way?' and then worked out the answer for himself and wrote it up.

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From your computer analogy, you seem to think the mind isn't gone on damaged hardware.

I think if someone downloaded the program from damaged hardware and then compared it to the original disks program, you'd find quite a difference.

No, that's not what I said. If I trash a computer, the algorithms which were represented on it are gone. If I blow someone's brain apart, the mind isn't likely to continue. I said that if you want to understand and possibly answer the question posed, i.e. how 3d rendering works or how free will works, looking at the hardware is pointless (because you confuse the specific representation of information with the information itself).

(The difference would be quite relevant if it were possible to copy and store the patterns which make up a mind - then you could destroy a brain, but still have the mind continuing. Whether this is ultimately possible or not depends on the question if the mind has a 'simple' representation in terms of information only, or if there is a missing ingredient like a soul or the quantum nature of the world).

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It seems your best argument is 'It can't scale'.

The ax is a metaphor to illustrate a point, please don't confuse it with a genuine argument. The genuine argument is that science, both in the real world as well as in the world of Neuromancer, is a tool based on certain premises which is justified by certain means. From these premises and means follows a region of applicability outside of which science isn't valid, and in the novel, science is applied outside this region (and so is it in the real world).

On general grounds you can show (math is quite amazing) that every self-consistent and sufficiently complex formal system has just the same problems as science, so the question whether there is a scalable tool is conclusively settled with a 'No- there isn't!'. So formal reasoning can never be complete and self-consistent at the same time, and knowledge of the world obtained by formal reasonings will thus always be a patchwork switching from one system to the next. Please read up on Gödel's incompleteness theorem for the proof - it's really worth understanding, there is an immensely profound insight into the fundamental nature of logical reasoning in there, and it delivers some very substantial insights into the nature of self-referencing problems as well.

The only way to get around this is to invent a fictional world in which logic as we know it doesn't work, and I don't quite think Neuropath does that.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on May 23, 2013, 11:29:33 am
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Speculative fiction can still be consistent or inconsistent. I can conceive of a fictional world in which magic exists and society adjusts to it in a plausible way. That'd be consistent. I can conceive of a fictional world in which characters are still in the room after they left the room. That'd be inconsistent. I tend to value consistent fiction higher than inconsistent fiction, because I know how difficult it is to get it consistent.
Sounds perfectly fascinating, the idea of someone still in the room after the left the room? I am intrigued and wish to subscribe to your fiction!

Granted sometimes authors just screw up - Dorothy finds some gold braclets in the wizard of oz, but by the end of the book she gets back and...no mention is made. The author just forgot. I've read books where the author gets his time line screwed up with all the scenes from past and present and has a character who is dead just turn up in a scene, all casual like.

But you seem to be treating any apparent inconsistancy as if it HAS to be a mistake. As if any percieved inconsistancy is always an author error.

You're certain this is just author error?

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It's funny that you'd attest to my lack of imagination, while the position 'Well, it's just fiction.' requires a lot less imagination than to map out the consequences of a world in which all the assumed premises of a story were real.
Not when the mapping out is used as a reason to reject the conceit. Eg, 2+2 obviously equals four, therefore this story about someone accepting 2+2=5 just falls down on a number of levels and aught to be rejected...etc.

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Not sure how you imagine books are written, but my writing is essentially me answering a question I posed to myself. I am fairly certain it worked the same way for Bakker - he asked the question 'What if it were this way?' and then worked out the answer for himself and wrote it up.
I'm not sure why one would publicly publish a letter to oneself.

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No, that's not what I said. If I trash a computer, the algorithms which were represented on it are gone. If I blow someone's brain apart, the mind isn't likely to continue. I said that if you want to understand and possibly answer the question posed, i.e. how 3d rendering works or how free will works, looking at the hardware is pointless (because you confuse the specific representation of information with the information itself).

(The difference would be quite relevant if it were possible to copy and store the patterns which make up a mind - then you could destroy a brain, but still have the mind continuing. Whether this is ultimately possible or not depends on the question if the mind has a 'simple' representation in terms of information only, or if there is a missing ingredient like a soul or the quantum nature of the world).
Okay, why is the mind continuing, when you copied and stored the patterns, and ran them - but that's happening over there, on the other side of the room, that you're looking at from over here, behind human eyes? Why is that you continuing, when actually it's over there on the other side of the room?

Perhaps when you don't think you're the robot across the room and instead you are the person who is looking through some human eyes at the robot, you are just confusing the specific representation of information with the information itself?

Or do you think you are the robot across the room? And so have no need of self preservation protocols for your human body? Okay, bring me my torture tools, then...

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On general grounds you can show (math is quite amazing) that every self-consistent and sufficiently complex formal system has just the same problems as science, so the question whether there is a scalable tool is conclusively settled with a 'No- there isn't!'. So formal reasoning can never be complete and self-consistent at the same time, and knowledge of the world obtained by formal reasonings will thus always be a patchwork switching from one system to the next. Please read up on Gödel's incompleteness theorem for the proof - it's really worth understanding, there is an immensely profound insight into the fundamental nature of logical reasoning in there, and it delivers some very substantial insights into the nature of self-referencing problems as well.

I think you've been misslead to think science involves reasoning. Atleast reasoning in the sense of coming to a conclusion, rather than a conclusion coming to it. Do you think scientists reason a conclusion, then run thousands of experiments just for fun, even though they've already come to a conclusion?

Also 'proof' and 'incompleteness theorem' in the one sentence seems a little jarring.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on May 23, 2013, 11:10:24 pm
a) Perception must be a meaningful representation of properties of reality as it is, otherwise science breaks.
b) Decisions between true and false propositions must be free (and refer to reality as is) and not determined by circumstance, otherwise science breaks.

Admittedly, I've been distracted by life in the past week, however, I'm not one to waste time coddling perspectives. I do feel I owe some words - I largely think they will be ineffectual in affecting recognition between us, Thorsten.

I apologize, again, for my lack of adequate references (though, I'm not entirely sure what style of referencing you use, as aside guesses I can do little to pursue the four studies, in particular, that you may have been associating your commentary with). Again, my participation was an opportunity to strengthen or weaken BBH and your rebuttal (as I felt your rebuttal lacked a certain amount of evidence) - I do feel I've gotten a better understanding of the philosophic nature of your rebuttal.

a) How does this statement account for much scientific research using advancing technological prosthetics to test hypothesis, which we cannot with our (possibly)fiveish biological sensory perceptions?
b) Could you offer some exposition? Like instances, which you found in my words (apologies for lack of clarity), I find this contextual and lacking coherency based on possible connotations...

Honestly, I think Bakker's arguments, while seeming ultimately pessimistic, take acceptance as a matter of degree. Even if his methodology weren't assumed, Neil-it would still be the Jester, the ultimate Shaman of your example, because of the efficacy with which he might induce any experience, the sum of all, not the some of many.

Are you assuming everything in relation to consciousness-as-experienced as fact?

Truncated [or interrupted, divided, bottlenecked] conscious experience of sensory perception appears as a given to me...?

Where have we diverged?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 30, 2013, 07:00:01 am
@Madness:

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a) Perception must be a meaningful representation of properties of reality as it is, otherwise science breaks.
b) Decisions between true and false propositions must be free (and refer to reality as is) and not determined by circumstance, otherwise science breaks.
How does this statement account for much scientific research using advancing technological prosthetics to test hypothesis, which we cannot with our (possibly)fiveish biological sensory perceptions?

Ultimately it is down to our biological senses. The ATLAS detector takes particle tracks in proton-proton collisions and writes huge amounts of data on tape, over which an analysis is run. But in the end, scientists have to read the result plot from a computer screen with their bare eyes. They have to believe that what appears in their mind correlates with the state of the detector. The whole calibration process of such machines proceeds from the known to the unknown - one first demonstrates that the detector responds to something which one knows as expected, then goes into the unknown. If you follow the chain, you end up by comparing detector readouts with visible particle tracks in a mist chamber.

We can extend and augment the biological senses, but all that requires that we can trust them somewhere. If the perception of the eye could not be assumed to refer to properties of anything real, no detector could ever be calibrated, nor could its data be read and understood.

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b) Decisions between true and false propositions must be free (and refer to reality as is) and not determined by circumstance, otherwise science breaks.
b) Could you offer some exposition? Like instances, which you found in my words (apologies for lack of clarity), I find this contextual and lacking coherency based on possible connotations...

As this is a conceptual point, it's only possible to come up with gedankenexperiments, so it's difficult. But what about this one:

Consider a people D with a very simple deterministic mind which is based on a set of rules. If a member of D classifies the scene as being outside, and if he detects a small, white moving object with fluttering motion in the scene, and if he has ever been told before about how to observe butterflies, he will be convinced that he is observing a butterfly. Now, given this set of rules, he will be convinced to observe a butterfly even if the object he's observing is really a small sheet of paper drifting in the wind, and he will hold to this conviction even if he can clearly see that the object has a rectangular shape rather than a body and wings --- because his mind is determined by circumstances. He has no choice to reconsider his classification, nor would he see any reason to. Many others of his people would readily agree with him, there'd be some who would not, but he would be convinced that they've never been told before how to observe butterflies, and once they would be educated, then they would agree with him.

It is terribly obvious what is going on when observing the problem from outside, having a human mind which is not tied to such simple deterministic rules. But even talking to any members of D, we could not convince them that their conviction to have truly seen a butterfly has really not so much to do with here being a butterfly --- they'd probably argue that we miss the obvious.


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Honestly, I think Bakker's arguments, while seeming ultimately pessimistic, take acceptance as a matter of degree. Even if his methodology weren't assumed, Neil-it would still be the Jester, the ultimate Shaman of your example, because of the efficacy with which he might induce any experience, the sum of all, not the some of many.

I honestly can't even buy into Neil's bare reasoning. Suppose you can show with a suitable machine that you can artificially induce any perception or experience. What this proves is that perceptions and experiences can be deceiving insofar as their cause is determined - under certain circumstances you see an apple where there is no external reality corresponding to the perception, under certain circumstances you can feel causation where there is none, under certain circumstances you feel pleasure where there is damage to your body.

This doesn't prove that there are no real apples, no real causation or no real damage to your body. The ability of a conjurer to pull a rabbit out of a hat doesn't tell me anything about where real rabbits come from.

What Neil reasons is that because a system may deceive, it does deceive, so he goes de-actiavting it. But putting out my eyes because they may be deceiving isn't really such a good idea, because I end up not seeing anything. Neill sort of assumes he can get the illusion machinery of the brain out of the way and then sees things closer to how they really are - but I don't think that works, illusionary perceptions use the same brain structures as real perceptions, getting rid of illusions isn't so easy.

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Are you assuming everything in relation to consciousness-as-experienced as fact?

I tend to be very careful with the word 'fact'. For me, it's a bootstrap process. Things have to be either evident, or justified by something evident, which leads to chains of things depending on other things to be true.

The existence of a conscious observer seeing a scene is evident. The existence of an internal stream of thought, a higher consciousness, is evident. Perceptions of an external world are evident.

These things lead to experiences. I have to assume that the perceptions and experiences are meaningful in relation to the external world, then I can start to built observation and reasoning techniques to infer properties of the external world from my experiences (if I were in the Matrix, I could not do that, I would be much mistaken).

These start out simple - correlating visual and tactile information with my mental picture of the scene - usually works (there it starts going wrong, there are perception illusions where it doesn't - so already at that level I have to be aware that my knowledge of the external world as reflected in the senses is incomplete and flawed). Making predictions based on recurring events (sun will rise tomorrow) - usually works.

Then it gets more complex (with the possibility of more flaws) - math and an axiom system (where again the axioms are taken to be true because they are obvious, not because they can be justified by other means). Consistency conditions that several perspectives must lead to the same result (I'm still not sure if they're real - the higher consciousness has consistency as a necessary condition to exist, but physics does not - so consistency may not be that important in reality as is but in reality as perceived). Science.

All relies on what has come before, and I always trust the lower building blocks more than the higher, because the higher have so much more room for error. Statistical analysis - do you know what probability actually is? Can you explain it? I know perhaps a handful of scientists who really know what it is, although many more can apply the techniques (and even more can't). Detectors - they do go wrong, and in fact experimentalists trust their eyes over the machine and look at actual event displays to see if the detector does what it's supposed to do rather than trust the machine-internal checks. I trust my ability to experience pain much, much more than a brain scan to tell whether I am in pain or not.

You can sometimes get a dissonance - higher-level reasoning contradicting lower level. So then I might dismiss an experience as wrong because of science telling me so - but then the only remaining guiding principle is consistency, I would only want to do that to make my picture of the world more consistent, not less so.

I don't go so much for facts as I go for likelihood - I try to investigate a problem from as many angles as I can, and then see if there is a coherent picture suggesting itself or not.

@Callan S.

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I think you've been misslead to think science involves reasoning. Atleast reasoning in the sense of coming to a conclusion, rather than a conclusion coming to it. Do you think scientists reason a conclusion, then run thousands of experiments just for fun, even though they've already come to a conclusion?

May I gently remind you that I am an academy researcher at a university, and that it's therefore unlikely that I have been misled to think anything wrong referring to how science works?

How do you think experiments are planned? Do you really think people spend a few billions to build an accelerator and detectors just to see what happens? Experiments are done to test hypotheses, which in turn are based on conclusions drawn from past experiments. Of course reasoning features at every stage.

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Also 'proof' and 'incompleteness theorem' in the one sentence seems a little jarring.

Evidently you have not read this up. Your loss - math can actually prove that it is incomplete and that there are true statements not provable by math.

In general: Admittedly I find the line of discussion if Neuropath is fiction bizarre. I may be dumb enough to miss out some experimental facts of neuroscience or psychology, and I am willing to learn, should this prove necessary, but I am not dumb enough to miss the fact that I am discussing a book, There's a whole chain of ideas related to 'willing suspension of disbelief' in discussing fiction - but I feel this gets tedious for me and I won't elaborate.

I am frankly not sure that I want to continue the whole discussion. I've tried to explain my points, I haven't seen anything which I would really recognize as a counter-argument (which may be my bias, or may not) and so I feel I am not really learning anything I haven't known before (which again may be my fault or not). I am not a Bakker fan and have moved to the next book a while ago, and I increasingly start to wonder if I shouldn't be doing something else with my time.

Personally I think Neil (aka Bakker) pulls a conjuring trick, and part of the trick is that the outcome is unpleasant, so if you reject the conclusion, there's always the 'But you only reject it because it is unpleasant.' - which distracts from the fact that the proposition should be evaluated for true/false, not for pleasant/unpleasant, and that there's no correlation. But I think I am done trying to illustrate that trick - if you don't see it by now, then you're either right, or you won't or can't see it.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on May 31, 2013, 12:38:11 am
From the mindset I'm working from, credibility doesn't mean much at all. It's about, as you say, true/false. Where you work isn't the most relevant factor in determining that. You can dismiss the mindset if you want, as an acceptable part of conversation with me - it is just one mindset out of thousands/millions possible, of course. Just being straight in saying where I'm coming from.

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How do you think experiments are planned? Do you really think people spend a few billions to build an accelerator and detectors just to see what happens?
Yes. If they are attempting to force a certain result, then it's an exercise in confirmation bias. If not forcing a result, then they are just seeing what happens. As far as I can tell it's a binary, either the former or the latter. They might be focusing in a very particular area, with much planning toward focusing on that one are, as to just see what happens, but it's still just to see what happens. As I said, reasoning that forms a conclusion is not involved.

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I've tried to explain my points, I haven't seen anything which I would really recognize as a counter-argument
I think I have. Could you give an example of something that would qualify as a counter point? For myself, I often find in discussions I can say 'Well, if X were the case, I would agree with you'.

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I am not a Bakker fan and have moved to the next book a while ago, and I increasingly start to wonder if I shouldn't be doing something else with my time.
I'm sorry, this comes off as social leverage, blending social with investigation. In social terms it'd be genuinely sad to not see posts from you on the boards, I'm sure we all want to hear from you. But from a clinical investigation level, what you're saying has no relevance, unless it is to leverage concession simply because of potential social disconnection.

I credit you as working from the same principle, and personally grant you some diplomatic immunity (so to speak) so as not to compromise the presentation of your theory (ie, you can be blunt in telling it).

On the merely social side, sometimes things get less interesting to pursue - weve talked and if you've got something else interesting to move on, cool - I would think you'd afford me the capacity to move on as well if I found things to slow down a bit.

Perhaps you just meant it in the social sense - but in such a sense, no need to phrase it in such a way as doing something else with your time. Surely everyones been amicable to some degree and that's worth acknowledging.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Thorsten on May 31, 2013, 08:02:20 am
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From the mindset I'm working from, credibility doesn't mean much at all. It's about, as you say, true/false.

Please don't misquote me, this is not what I say. What I wrote is: the proposition should be evaluated for true/false, not for pleasant/unpleasant but also I don't go so much for facts as I go for likelihood and May I gently remind you that I am an academy researcher at a university, and that it's therefore unlikely that I have been misled to think anything wrong referring to how science works?.

Credibility does not establish fact, but it does increase likelihoods, and that is an important difference.

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I'm sorry, this comes off as social leverage, blending social with investigation.

Let me clear this up for you. I feel in no way compelled to convince you, or to win this argument, or to prove my knowledge or experience to you. My primary motivation in having a discussion is that I might learn something, my secondary is that I might share knowledge and ideas.

As a result, I don't mind spending an hour to type a long explanation of some convoluted thought if I have the feeling it helps my opposite to understand something new. But I do mind wasting my time talking to someone who isn't willing to listen.

We have established:

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I don't think that's getting into speculative fiction and trying out the idea - your folding the idea into your axe notion and not entertaining the idea of something that can carpet bomb the forest to hell and back.

When someone says 'What if it's this way?' - it's not really a counter to say 'No, it it's not'. It's just unimaginative.

You're of the opinion that I am unimaginative, at least insofar as this discussion is concerned.

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I think you've been misslead to think science involves reasoning. Atleast reasoning in the sense of coming to a conclusion, rather than a conclusion coming to it. Do you think scientists reason a conclusion, then run thousands of experiments just for fun, even though they've already come to a conclusion?

You're of the opinion that I don't know how science is done .

(Note that your reply to my question is factually wrong - detectors are really built to test hypotheses, not to just see what happens, there is really a confirmation bias and scientists are aware of it and try to deal with it - so you do not know how science is in fact done, you're arguing based on how you think it should be done - alas, we don't have infinite funds).

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Also 'proof' and 'incompleteness theorem' in the one sentence seems a little jarring.

You are ready to judge one of the most profound mathematical results of the 20th century based on how it sounds.

Also, see above, you are unable or unwilling to represent my positions correctly.

Quick reality check - why should you listen to some guy of whom you're convinced he doesn't know how science is done, who is completely unimaginative and just is around playing games with words. Answer - you shouldn't.

Second reality check - what would it take to make you listen? I would have to convince you that I in fact do know how science works, that the incompleteness theorem is to be taken very seriously and real, I would have to re-iterate my positions again and again till you acknowledge them as they are rather than as you want them to be.

I frankly think you have no real idea how math actually works, what science is fundamentally based on, that there are several ways to analyze fiction, what epistemic relativism is and how it connects to the present discussion, and I am also of the opinion that you have no intention to catch up with these things.

So why on earth should I spend time and effort arguing to you things you don't want to understand? I am happy to concede the argument to you, you may happily continue in your belief that I am misled in how science works and that I am biased, I don't care.

I'm not using any social leverage to win this argument - I simply don't want to spend my time convincing you that there's plenty of things you're apparently not aware of where you demonstrate again and again that you have no interest in learning something new.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: What Came Before on June 01, 2013, 06:26:40 pm
Once again, Thorsten, I appreciate the time you've spent here. I'm not exactly sure what we can offer each other (as I don't think either of us are arguing each other per say, more oriented by two mutually inconclusive perspectives). Every question I ask seems to be dismissed, rather than hazarded, based on your assertions of improper phrasing.

But I enjoy conversing with you immensely - I don't have the luxury of a peer-group outside of SA and the individuals Bakker's community attracts.

Might you agree that it is a matter of degree, a spectrum, perhaps a gradient?

For instance, there are advocacy groups that highlight the emerging distinctions between the neuroanomalous and neurocommon - that, perhaps, autism shouldn't be treated as something being treated. This could easily jump towards solidarity among sociopaths (unlikely but imaginable).

In certain instances, both aforementioned neuroanomalous groups are better suited towards aspects (as you've previously described) of efficacy in modern society.

With these examples in mind, we might return our lens towards ideas that certain neural organizations, the dynamic architecture of cortical structures, are more or less, better or worse, suited towards experiencing the world as it is outside of our perception, our umwelt.

You mentioned the augmentation of biological perceptions in the previous response towards myself. Doesn't this inherently provide a modicum of evidence towards our specific perceptions, and interpretations of them, being deceptive, in that, we are ignorant of the bootstraps of the matter (seeing fluttering paper instead of butterflies)?

Let me offer my own thought experiment, in lieu of us starting our own research practice:

You meet a woman (or man) that causes a physiological response in you - your heart rate fluctuates, pupils dilate, certain parts of your anatomy (chest, wrist, neck, face, genitalia) flush with altered blood flow.

Now there are a number of documented and theoretical physiological causes for you to reach the conclusion of attraction, biological markers, which translate into the judgment of "attractiveness." Yet very few of these are under conscious purview. You aren't thinking about the compatibilities of immune function based on perception of pheromones, the symmetry of a face, or ovulation cycles, etc.

Likewise, should you experience the breadth of visual sensation of a bee, you might remark that your previous experience is lacking, that being conscious of more allows for a much different exercise in autonomy and in understanding that experience.

The more we subscribe towards "it's just attraction" or "it's just vision," the more we are deceived. As you've described, despite the corroboration of perception and technological prothestics, augmentation or otherwise, the more bootstrapping we conduct, the more we understand our zones of ignorance, the occluded data, of which we previously had no knowledge nor knowledge of that lack.

So how can we assert that math, as our understanding of it stands, is the whole and complete version? Or scientific methodology. Or myth. Or narrative. Or culture. Or society.

Again, I think our mutual confusion boils down to my tentative offerings of perspective based on current evidence as speculative fodder and your assertions of accurate, valid statements - of which I have none to offer.

I don't necessarily subscribe to the nihilistic portions of BBH but I do see the potentials for abuse, if the plebletariat continues to live in ignorance and the commercial and political interests continue trends established in advertising psychology but with a mechanistic, neuroscientific orientation towards the body/mind of their constituents.

Lol, just thoughts - apologies again for any confusion my words cause (connotations, remember). Apparently, I suffer from lack of exposition.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on June 09, 2013, 05:34:45 pm
I've never read so much text and learned so little in my life.

Hundreds of words and nothing said.

As far as I could tell the TLDR is:

Madness: "Stuff, speculating, thoughts"
Thor: "Nope" (and then 1000 words reiterating the statement "No")
Callen: "Various other things, some questions to thor, more thoughts"
Thor: "All wrong"
Madness: "Uh.. Why?"
Thor: "You have 2 periods in your statement, therefore it is invalid"

repeat for 3 pages of comments.

Annnd now we're here.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Callan S. on June 10, 2013, 08:34:43 am
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Credibility does not establish fact, but it does increase likelihoods
I didn't put words in your mouth, Thorston. It's precisely the quote above that I was refering to. And from the background I'm coming from no, credibility does not increase the likelihood at all.

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Also, see above, you are unable or unwilling to represent my positions correctly.
By your measure I'm not presenting them correctly.

When you say it's a lady in the window and I say you're actually talking about a lamp, it's your measure that I'm presenting your position incorrectly.

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Second reality check - what would it take to make you listen?
Well, you said 'I think science isn't applicable to some problems.'

I don't know how you prove that? Can that be proven scientifically?

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where you demonstrate again and again that you have no interest in learning something new.

What amount of skepticism will you allow in regards to these things? Or to show any amount of skepticism is simply taken as no interest in learning something new?

I can only charitably read you as granting some room for skepticism, even if I have overshot the allowed amount of it for now.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Aural on September 19, 2014, 10:49:30 am
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Even in rereading Thorsten's ignorance of psychological research is jarring. Writes a decent essay though.

Ad-hominems for the win, eh?

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I've never read so much text and learned so little in my life.

Hundreds of words and nothing said.

As far as I could tell the TLDR is:

Madness: "Stuff, speculating, thoughts"
Thor: "Nope" (and then 1000 words reiterating the statement "No")
Callen: "Various other things, some questions to thor, more thoughts"
Thor: "All wrong"
Madness: "Uh.. Why?"
Thor: "You have 2 periods in your statement, therefore it is invalid"

repeat for 3 pages of comments.

Annnd now we're here.

Sorry, but what thread have you been reading? It's more like,

Thorsten: A very well reasoned and thoughtful debunking of Bakker's Argument.
[Bakker fanboy]: HOW DARE YOU??!?!?! You don't even know what you're talking about!
Thorsten: Please explain.
[Bakker fanboy]: Oh yeah?! Well, we've reached the limits of beneficial communication. Go away.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on September 19, 2014, 12:16:42 pm
lol not sure if you're serious or not, but I respectfully disagree.

I hope you see the hilarity of the dichotomy you/I created. I think it serves the same point though, if he who agrees with either side can believe the other's stance is completely baseless, then more or less, nothing was discussed here at all. Just 2 or 3 monologues. A good debate or dialogue encourages something far more in the listeners/readers.

Missed this before:
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Second reality check - what would it take to make you listen?
Well, you said 'I think science isn't applicable to some problems.'

I don't know how you prove that? Can that be proven scientifically?

Also hilarious. This topic is a laugh a minute.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Madness on September 25, 2014, 03:35:04 pm
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Even in rereading Thorsten's ignorance of psychological research is jarring. Writes a decent essay though.

Ad-hominems for the win, eh?

I never claimed to be unbiased.

Thorsten: A very well reasoned and thoughtful debunking of Bakker's Argument.
[Bakker fanboy]: HOW DARE YOU??!?!?! You don't even know what you're talking about!
Thorsten: Please explain.
[Bakker fanboy]: Oh yeah?! Well, we've reached the limits of beneficial communication. Go away.

Is this me?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on December 31, 2017, 04:29:56 am
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website. In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 01, 2018, 03:01:14 pm
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website. In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.

1. "98%"? Why the bogus precision? Are you trying to "science up" your claim?

2. Brilliance and eloquence don't "guarantee" anything, but those are good qualities to bet on.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 02, 2018, 08:42:00 am
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website. In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.

1. "98%"? Why the bogus precision? Are you trying to "science up" your claim?

2. Brilliance and eloquence don't "guarantee" anything, but those are good qualities to bet on.
@1: No, it's just the way he e.g. said he had a background in quantum mechanics that looked like a tactic I feel I've seen before.
@2: Right. Being a physicist obviously requires a big brain, but having a big brain does not necessarily mean you will realize e.g. the illusion of volition.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 02, 2018, 07:06:35 pm
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website. In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.

1. "98%"? Why the bogus precision? Are you trying to "science up" your claim?

2. Brilliance and eloquence don't "guarantee" anything, but those are good qualities to bet on.
@1: No, it's just the way he e.g. said he had a background in quantum mechanics that looked like a tactic I feel I've seen before.
@2: Right. Being a physicist obviously requires a big brain, but having a big brain does not necessarily mean you will realize e.g. the illusion of volition.

Claiming expertise falsely is egregious behavior. I never considered the possibility in Thorsten's case, probably because I don't address issues like volition, self-consciousness, intentionality and the first-person perspective from a physicalist stance.

What I find telling in your brief remark was the "98% sure" qualification. Instead of using vague descriptive adjectives such as "very", "almost completely", "pretty damn", etc., you couldn't resist the false precision of "98%". There's an interesting tactic, if you think about it.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 02, 2018, 07:45:43 pm
Whose idioms are allowed, and whose arent? Are you the decider of that, BFK?
Seems to me like you're claiming some kind of expertise, falsely, which I think someone pointed out is "egregious behavior" - would you like to suggest appropriate punishment?
Must we all communicate on the grounds that you define, else risk ridicule? I certainly don't want to risk being called out as 'egregious' and 'bogus', can you help me avoid that?

But wait, "98% sure" is no more precise than 'pretty damn sure' in this context, is it? Well, unless you're prepared to describe concretely what a % of the esoteric concept of 'sure' looks like. I'd appreciate your expertise on the matter.

Also, please clarify:
"Telling of" what?
"tactic" of what?
I'm having difficultly discussing those parts because I feel I have to guess what you mean, and I wouldn't want to run afoul some kind of obvious conversational ques that might raise your ire.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 02, 2018, 07:54:47 pm
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website.
Why assume he was lying? Habit?
Especially on the first page of this thread, there's some really interesting commentary - though it seems Thorston and Madness were never really engaged fully with each other. I don't really see why his purported expertise, false or otherwise, changes the conversation.

I'm particularly fond of the god/toaster analogy. I felt that the inducting of 'the feeling of god' was a good proof against its existence, but changing it to 'toaster' makes it far more clear that it doesn't really disprove anything.

In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.
I'm not really sure I follow you here. Seems's that you've started with the assumption that you are correct, and use someone arguing the opposite of your thoughts as proof of their wrongness, which doesn't really make any logical sense. Can you clarify what you meant?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 02, 2018, 09:22:58 pm
Whose idioms are allowed, and whose arent? Are you the decider of that, BFK?
Seems to me like you're claiming some kind of expertise, falsely, which I think someone pointed out is "egregious behavior" - would you like to suggest appropriate punishment?
Must we all communicate on the grounds that you define, else risk ridicule? I certainly don't want to risk being called out as 'egregious' and 'bogus', can you help me avoid that?

But wait, "98% sure" is no more precise than 'pretty damn sure' in this context, is it? Well, unless you're prepared to describe concretely what a % of the esoteric concept of 'sure' looks like. I'd appreciate your expertise on the matter.

Also, please clarify:
"Telling of" what?
"tactic" of what?
I'm having difficultly discussing those parts because I feel I have to guess what you mean, and I wouldn't want to run afoul some kind of obvious conversational ques that might raise your ire.

When someone chooses a certain idiom as opposed to another, I think it is interesting to analyze that choice. In this case, to use a mathematical percentage to describe a level of certitude might display a desire to ground one's view in the firm terrain of science. Of course, I'm certainly (well, almost certainly...  ;) ) over-interpreting the remark, but if you actually consider the matter, why write "98% sure" when "pretty sure" fits the bill? Well, especially given the nature of the topic under discussion, perhaps there was a subconscious desire to be extra precise.

I don't find anything in my post that demonstrates any ire or that proposes that I desire to arbitrate any usage. I'm merely pointing out an interesting rhetorical device (the faux measurement of certainty) that actually is no more informative than the use of qualifiers like "somewhat and "very". God knows I've used it myself unthinkingly. "I'm about 75% sure that M--- will be late." So, yeah, just a verbal tic. But there's always deeper ways to look at things.

I appreciate TLEILAXU's reference to the necromancy of dead threads. He's a sharp and attentive reader.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 03, 2018, 08:32:28 am
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website.
Why assume he was lying? Habit?
Especially on the first page of this thread, there's some really interesting commentary - though it seems Thorston and Madness were never really engaged fully with each other. I don't really see why his purported expertise, false or otherwise, changes the conversation.
Quote
I am a theoretical physicist by profession, working mostly in applied quantum field theory (Quantum Chromodynamics mostly).
This raises alarm bells because claiming to have a background in quantum physics gives the appearance of being an authority on physical matters, i.e. we'd be more likely to think our physicalist (I dislike that word) interpretations were false if he as an authority on physics told us we were wrong, and this could've been known/assumed by a clever intellect with the intent to manipulate.
Quote
(As a side note, modern physics is all about what you experience and not at all about what things really *are* - all Quantum Field Theory is concerned with are 'observables', and it is very clear that we don't have a clue what nature is, only how it behaves when we look at it).
This quote also raises alarm bells. I don't know anything about quantum physics, BUT I know that all those new-age interpretations of the double slit experiment (dude, like our minds determine like reality dude) are wrong, and this sounds conspicuously similar ("modern physics is all about what you experience").

In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.
I'm not really sure I follow you here. Seems's that you've started with the assumption that you are correct, and use someone arguing the opposite of your thoughts as proof of their wrongness, which doesn't really make any logical sense. Can you clarify what you meant?
Yes I can. Free will being an illusion is just as absolutely true as evolution, gravity etc. in my world. I cannot see any way it can be false. Thorsten's arguments seem to skirt around the issue or mention "emergent properties", but (and I skimmed through the posts) I have still not seen a convincing argument against the notion that what comes before determines what comes after.

Whose idioms are allowed, and whose arent? Are you the decider of that, BFK?
Seems to me like you're claiming some kind of expertise, falsely, which I think someone pointed out is "egregious behavior" - would you like to suggest appropriate punishment?
Must we all communicate on the grounds that you define, else risk ridicule? I certainly don't want to risk being called out as 'egregious' and 'bogus', can you help me avoid that?

But wait, "98% sure" is no more precise than 'pretty damn sure' in this context, is it? Well, unless you're prepared to describe concretely what a % of the esoteric concept of 'sure' looks like. I'd appreciate your expertise on the matter.

Also, please clarify:
"Telling of" what?
"tactic" of what?
I'm having difficultly discussing those parts because I feel I have to guess what you mean, and I wouldn't want to run afoul some kind of obvious conversational ques that might raise your ire.

When someone chooses a certain idiom as opposed to another, I think it is interesting to analyze that choice. In this case, to use a mathematical percentage to describe a level of certitude might display a desire to ground one's view in the firm terrain of science. Of course, I'm certainly (well, almost certainly...  ;) ) over-interpreting the remark, but if you actually consider the matter, why write "98% sure" when "pretty sure" fits the bill? Well, especially given the nature of the topic under discussion, perhaps there was a subconscious desire to be extra precise.

I don't find anything in my post that demonstrates any ire or that proposes that I desire to arbitrate any usage. I'm merely pointing out an interesting rhetorical device (the faux measurement of certainty) that actually is no more informative than the use of qualifiers like "somewhat and "very". God knows I've used it myself unthinkingly. "I'm about 75% sure that M--- will be late." So, yeah, just a verbal tic. But there's always deeper ways to look at things.

I appreciate TLEILAXU's reference to the necromancy of dead threads. He's a sharp and attentive reader.
It's just another way of saying "nearly absolutely certain" I guess. Now, the real thing I don't understand is why you would think I were trying to "science" up my claim when feeling somebody is lying is kind of like, inherently subjective  8)
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 03, 2018, 01:20:59 pm
Tleilaxu, I am surprised by your questioning me as to why I think anything, since your deterministic stance should inform you that no one knows why one does anything. Correct?

As to the "98% sure" qualification, does it or does it not imply some form of measurement? If it does, then wouldn't you agree that it is a singularly inapt way to discuss your "feeling" of suspicion that Thorsten is lying?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 03, 2018, 01:28:39 pm
Tleilaxu, I am surprised by your questioning me as to why I think anything, since your deterministic stance should inform you that no one knows why one does anything. Correct?
Wat
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 03, 2018, 03:17:17 pm
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website.
Why assume he was lying? Habit?
Especially on the first page of this thread, there's some really interesting commentary - though it seems Thorston and Madness were never really engaged fully with each other. I don't really see why his purported expertise, false or otherwise, changes the conversation.
Quote
I am a theoretical physicist by profession, working mostly in applied quantum field theory (Quantum Chromodynamics mostly).

This raises alarm bells because claiming to have a background in quantum physics gives the appearance of being an authority on physical matters, i.e. we'd be more likely to think our physicalist (I dislike that word) interpretations were false if he as an authority on physics told us we were wrong, and this could've been known/assumed by a clever intellect with the intent to manipulate.
That's certainly one interpretation. But, I typically try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Rather than assume manipulative intent, I take it as polite conversation. Also, again to me I don't think the claim of expertise holds a lot of weight on the conversation. Maybe I'm just naive, but I think the arguments are no less valid with or without whatever purported expertise.

Even without the claim, we're either going to assume the person we're talking to has equal grounds as us to be involved in the conversation, or we will dismiss them outright regardless of what is said. Since the former leads to more interesting conversations, I don't bother with the latter.

Quote
(As a side note, modern physics is all about what you experience and not at all about what things really *are* - all Quantum Field Theory is concerned with are 'observables', and it is very clear that we don't have a clue what nature is, only how it behaves when we look at it).
This quote also raises alarm bells. I don't know anything about quantum physics, BUT I know that all those new-age interpretations of the double slit experiment (dude, like our minds determine like reality dude) are wrong, and this sounds conspicuously similar ("modern physics is all about what you experience").
I'm not really sure how you can claim to not know anything about the subject, but then claim with absolute certainty that someone's claim is wrong. It also pretty much ends the conversation. Where do we go from here?

From my understanding, he's absolutely right.
Besides, the double slit experiment only has new-age interpretations, its basically the foundation of a brand new science that didn't exist previous. Using "new-age" as a qualifier doesn't add anything but confusion, unless you've got some Aristotle interpretations of the Double Slit Experiment that I'm not aware of. (For clarity, imo 1927 is pretty new-age in terms of science and human history).


In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.
I'm not really sure I follow you here. Seems's that you've started with the assumption that you are correct, and use someone arguing the opposite of your thoughts as proof of their wrongness, which doesn't really make any logical sense. Can you clarify what you meant?
Yes I can. Free will being an illusion is just as absolutely true as evolution, gravity etc. in my world. I cannot see any way it can be false. Thorsten's arguments seem to skirt around the issue or mention "emergent properties", but (and I skimmed through the posts) I have still not seen a convincing argument against the notion that what comes before determines what comes after.
In that case, there's no point going further with this one either, much to my chagrin :(.
When you start your claim by defining yourself as correct and all other evidence as incorrect, there's no room for constructive conversation. Same as if I said "God tells us that my way of thinking is right, therefore I'm right". I'm not saying you're wrong, just that there's nothing left to discuss when that's your basis.


Tleilaxu, I am surprised by your questioning me as to why I think anything, since your deterministic stance should inform you that no one knows why one does anything. Correct?
That makes no sense ... unless you feel that fatalism is the only thing outside of your preferred philosophical bases of thoughts/actions. If that's the case, I can see why you're confused.

As to the "98% sure" qualification, does it or does it not imply some form of measurement? If it does, then wouldn't you agree that it is a singularly inapt way to discuss your "feeling" of suspicion that Thorsten is lying?
It does not.
I think its clear to all involved when a turn of phrase is being used, though thankfully Tleilaxu has clarified and confirmed as well, so at least this specific case has been cleared up.

In generally, a % is a unit-less number, but that doesn't mean that it can be applied to all ideas with any amount of accuracy, implied or explicit. A % is a calculated value of some portion of some whole amount. When used outside of the framework it was intended - ie mathematically - its little more than an adjective.

Are some adjectives more precise than others? Of course.
But I'd say its a pretty big leap from 'I like to use this phrasing rather than that' to calling someone out as bogus, claiming some kind of egregious behavior, and calling them singularly inapt. All of which are personal insults that inflame the situation, all for a mild disagreement on preferred grammar.
As you've so masterfully demonstrated, words are important. After all, how many have we used now to examine the three symbols "98%"? So for someone who has, in the past, so easily taken offense at particular words and ideas, I'd suggest curtailing your word choice to allow/promote civil conversation that will likely be more palatable to all involved.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 03, 2018, 04:00:29 pm
Necromancy initiated:
I was 98% sure Thorsten was lying his ass off until I clicked the link leading to his website.
Why assume he was lying? Habit?
Especially on the first page of this thread, there's some really interesting commentary - though it seems Thorston and Madness were never really engaged fully with each other. I don't really see why his purported expertise, false or otherwise, changes the conversation.
Quote
I am a theoretical physicist by profession, working mostly in applied quantum field theory (Quantum Chromodynamics mostly).

This raises alarm bells because claiming to have a background in quantum physics gives the appearance of being an authority on physical matters, i.e. we'd be more likely to think our physicalist (I dislike that word) interpretations were false if he as an authority on physics told us we were wrong, and this could've been known/assumed by a clever intellect with the intent to manipulate.
That's certainly one interpretation. But, I typically try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Rather than assume manipulative intent, I take it as polite conversation. Also, again to me I don't think the claim of expertise holds a lot of weight on the conversation. Maybe I'm just naive, but I think the arguments are no less valid with or without whatever purported expertise.

Even without the claim, we're either going to assume the person we're talking to has equal grounds as us to be involved in the conversation, or we will dismiss them outright regardless of what is said. Since the former leads to more interesting conversations, I don't bother with the latter.
Well, the manipulative intent doesn't necessarily have to be a conscious decision. I do think claim of expertise holds a lot of weight. I'm generally going to take a physicists word on things relating to physics (which the Argument does) over an average Joe's words, so if I see a purported physicist writing something I do not usually associate with physicists my alarm bells start ringing.

Quote
(As a side note, modern physics is all about what you experience and not at all about what things really *are* - all Quantum Field Theory is concerned with are 'observables', and it is very clear that we don't have a clue what nature is, only how it behaves when we look at it).
This quote also raises alarm bells. I don't know anything about quantum physics, BUT I know that all those new-age interpretations of the double slit experiment (dude, like our minds determine like reality dude) are wrong, and this sounds conspicuously similar ("modern physics is all about what you experience").
I'm not really sure how you can claim to not know anything about the subject, but then claim with absolute certainty that someone's claim is wrong. It also pretty much ends the conversation. Where do we go from here?

From my understanding, he's absolutely right.
Besides, the double slit experiment only has new-age interpretations, its basically the foundation of a brand new science that didn't exist previous. Using "new-age" as a qualifier doesn't add anything but confusion, unless you've got some Aristotle interpretations of the Double Slit Experiment that I'm not aware of. (For clarity, imo 1927 is pretty new-age in terms of science and human history).
I'm not claiming with absolute certainty that his claim is wrong, I just find it to be... mysterious. Would you say he's right though? Would you say that physics is more about what we experience rather than what things really are? He himself said something that goes against this when he said something about everything just being fluctuating quantum fields or something.
With new-age I mean new-age spirituality https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age
There's a ton of videos and webpages where these people claim that the double slit experiment proves that the mind is somehow active in determining reality or something, but as far as I understand it it's basically about how you measure things.

In any case, it's a good lesson that despite how brilliant and eloquent some brains are, that doesn't guarantee that they will be able to see themselves as what they are.
I'm not really sure I follow you here. Seems's that you've started with the assumption that you are correct, and use someone arguing the opposite of your thoughts as proof of their wrongness, which doesn't really make any logical sense. Can you clarify what you meant?
Yes I can. Free will being an illusion is just as absolutely true as evolution, gravity etc. in my world. I cannot see any way it can be false. Thorsten's arguments seem to skirt around the issue or mention "emergent properties", but (and I skimmed through the posts) I have still not seen a convincing argument against the notion that what comes before determines what comes after.
In that case, there's no point going further with this one either, much to my chagrin :(.
When you start your claim by defining yourself as correct and all other evidence as incorrect, there's no room for constructive conversation. Same as if I said "God tells us that my way of thinking is right, therefore I'm right". I'm not saying you're wrong, just that there's nothing left to discuss when that's your basis.
What other evidence? That's kind of a point in itself. There's probably tons of interesting stuff about discoveries in neuroscience that I'm not familiar with or qualified to accurately talk about, but even without that knowledge, if you take a biological point of view, we are all born with a set of genes into a certain environment. The space for free will shrinks. Going beyond that, looking at individual molecule. Would you say that a single protein flexing and vibrating, probing different conformations according to the thermodynamic potential is free? If not, then how could an ensemble of such molecules become free? They are chemicals interacting with each other as parts of a complex system, still not free, they are acting according to the laws of physics and thermodynamics.
The fact that there's nothing more to discuss is kind of a point in itself. Using evolution again (low hanging fruit, I know) as an example, discussing whether or not it's true might be interesting from some points of view, but it doesn't change the fact that it absolutely is true according to all existing evidence. The fact that some people, some very smart people at that, still do not believe in this fact says something about our predicament, the way that e.g. intragroup relations, demands for certainty and a fundamental feeling of being ontologically different from the rest of the world characterizes our psyche.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 03, 2018, 05:15:31 pm
Well, the manipulative intent doesn't necessarily have to be a conscious decision. I do think claim of expertise holds a lot of weight. I'm generally going to take a physicists word on things relating to physics (which the Argument does) over an average Joe's words, so if I see a purported physicist writing something I do not usually associate with physicists my alarm bells start ringing.
I see what you're saying. To be fair, Thorston did spend much time relating his experience to the topic at hand though.

I'm not claiming with absolute certainty that his claim is wrong, I just find it to be... mysterious. Would you say he's right though? Would you say that physics is more about what we experience rather than what things really are? He himself said something that goes against this when he said something about everything just being fluctuating quantum fields or something.
The arguments are there, and he made them better than I could.

I don't have a deep understanding of physics, just a cursory one. I would say yes, I agree with him.
Since you said you just skimmed, let me badly summarize:
The argument made is basically that things that don't exist on some minute scale, like mass (yes, mass doesn't exist), have an affect on things that do exist: ie an object will kill you even though its mass is an illusion. The point, essentially, being that the existence of a phenomenon on one scale, and its non-existence on another scale, does not make for a bulletproof argument. What are we really saying when we say its 'not real', when you can take literally any idea or concept and make it 'not real' in a specific enough circumstance?
(another quick example. No such thing as a circle, or a line. Just points drawing infinitely close together. Their shape arises by taking in the whole, and we can use the whole for meaningful purposes even though 'they don't exist'. We could go all day. Language a series of incomprehensible finite sounds. Music, a series of individual notes. The whole is not always equal to the sum of its parts.)

Really whacky phenomenon do arise in quantum physics.
A human physically observing the double slit experiment, either directly or remotely without any interference whatsoever, physically changes the outcome. Not by interference, not by vibrations, or absorption, or throwing off the experiment in any measurable or discernible way. It simply is changed by the act of observation.

Billions of dollars are being spent on quantum computer research, and a huge part of that money is spent by keeping the weird super-imposed state of existence shielded from observance. IMO, its basically magic, and I've not heard an explanation that I can offer to you as to why.

But what makes the DSE so interesting is its simplicity and replicability. Why does looking at something stop it from existing? We don't know, AFAIK.

Is physics more about what we experience than what is? Yes. From my reading, there is not conflict in his statements throughout, its very consistent.

Does that mean he's right? Not at all, but it does make for a compelling argument.

With new-age I mean new-age spirituality https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age
There's a ton of videos and webpages where these people claim that the double slit experiment proves that the mind is somehow active in determining reality or something, but as far as I understand it it's basically about how you measure things.
While I wouldn't say that I'd start a religion around physics, I'd agree that observing the universe changes it. You can't disagree with that any more than you can disagree with gravity.

In that case, there's no point going further with this one either, much to my chagrin :(.
What other evidence?
Lots in this thread, for one, that you haven't addressed but outright dismiss. You can't claim there isn't evidence, however you can rebuke. Objectively, there is plenty of evidence.

Would you say that a single protein flexing and vibrating, probing different conformations according to the thermodynamic potential is free?
Would I? No. But by that logic, medicines don't have potentiating affects (they do).
The absence of knowledge does not make for a good argument.
That you can't understand something doesn't make it any less valid or invalid.

But you've tasked me with arguing for someone that isn't here. The arguments were made here already, upthread, should you choose to read them.

If not, then how could an ensemble of such molecules become free?
In the same way that a multicellular organism exists as an accumulation of interconnected single cells. Complex phenomenons emerge from systems that you can't see if you look too closely.

Just because you can't see it or measure it at one level, doesn't mean its not there at another.

The fact that there's nothing more to discuss is kind of a point in itself. Using evolution again (low hanging fruit, I know) as an example, discussing whether or not it's true might be interesting from some points of view, but it doesn't change the fact that it absolutely is true according to all existing evidence. The fact that some people, some very smart people at that, still do not believe in this fact says something about our predicament, the way that e.g. intragroup relations, demands for certainty and a fundamental feeling of being ontologically different from the rest of the world characterizes our psyche.

Ignorance doesn't a good argument make.
Right now, the jury is out. You could still find yourself on the flat earth side of the debate. Your certainty that you are correct doesn't make it so.

No hard feelings either way, Tleilaxu. I don't have much of a personal investment in this, in that my identity isn't tied closely to the results. I'm probably more on your side as it were, but I probably see more shades of grey.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 03, 2018, 07:29:17 pm


Tleilaxu, I am surprised by your questioning me as to why I think anything, since your deterministic stance should inform you that no one knows why one does anything. Correct?
That makes no sense ... unless you feel that fatalism is the only thing outside of your preferred philosophical bases of thoughts/actions. If that's the case, I can see why you're confused.

As to the "98% sure" qualification, does it or does it not imply some form of measurement? If it does, then wouldn't you agree that it is a singularly inapt way to discuss your "feeling" of suspicion that Thorsten is lying?
It does not.
I think its clear to all involved when a turn of phrase is being used, though thankfully Tleilaxu has clarified and confirmed as well, so at least this specific case has been cleared up.

In generally, a % is a unit-less number, but that doesn't mean that it can be applied to all ideas with any amount of accuracy, implied or explicit. A % is a calculated value of some portion of some whole amount. When used outside of the framework it was intended - ie mathematically - its little more than an adjective.

Are some adjectives more precise than others? Of course.
But I'd say its a pretty big leap from 'I like to use this phrasing rather than that' to calling someone out as bogus, claiming some kind of egregious behavior, and calling them singularly inapt. All of which are personal insults that inflame the situation, all for a mild disagreement on preferred grammar.
As you've so masterfully demonstrated, words are important. After all, how many have we used now to examine the three symbols "98%"? So for someone who has, in the past, so easily taken offense at particular words and ideas, I'd suggest curtailing your word choice to allow/promote civil conversation that will likely be more palatable to all involved.

In no particular order:

1. My reference to egregious behavior was not towards Tleilaxu, but towards the presumed nefarious behavior of Thorsten. To expand my original sentence: "Claiming expertise falsely is egregious behavior, and if Thorsten did so, shame on him." Honestly, Wilshire, how could you read  that sentence within the context of the discussion of Thorsten's putative expertise as a reference to Tleilaxu?

2. I did not personally insult Tleilaxu. The word "bogus" was referring to his false precision of certainty within a thread that is explicitly dealing in concepts such as measurement, the status of free will, et al. Similarly, I referred to his metaphor as "singularly inapt", in other words, way off target. Neither of these references are personally directed.

3. The "98% sure" qualification does, in fact, imply measurement. The whole point of choosing between metaphors is to choose between implications. That was the reason why I began this entire interrogation. What struck me originally was "Why 98%?  Why not 90%?"; hence the unnecessary/false/bogus precision.

4. Fatalism is not determinism.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 03, 2018, 07:41:24 pm


Tleilaxu, I am surprised by your questioning me as to why I think anything, since your deterministic stance should inform you that no one knows why one does anything. Correct?
That makes no sense ... unless you feel that fatalism is the only thing outside of your preferred philosophical bases of thoughts/actions. If that's the case, I can see why you're confused.

As to the "98% sure" qualification, does it or does it not imply some form of measurement? If it does, then wouldn't you agree that it is a singularly inapt way to discuss your "feeling" of suspicion that Thorsten is lying?
It does not.
I think its clear to all involved when a turn of phrase is being used, though thankfully Tleilaxu has clarified and confirmed as well, so at least this specific case has been cleared up.

In generally, a % is a unit-less number, but that doesn't mean that it can be applied to all ideas with any amount of accuracy, implied or explicit. A % is a calculated value of some portion of some whole amount. When used outside of the framework it was intended - ie mathematically - its little more than an adjective.

Are some adjectives more precise than others? Of course.
But I'd say its a pretty big leap from 'I like to use this phrasing rather than that' to calling someone out as bogus, claiming some kind of egregious behavior, and calling them singularly inapt. All of which are personal insults that inflame the situation, all for a mild disagreement on preferred grammar.
As you've so masterfully demonstrated, words are important. After all, how many have we used now to examine the three symbols "98%"? So for someone who has, in the past, so easily taken offense at particular words and ideas, I'd suggest curtailing your word choice to allow/promote civil conversation that will likely be more palatable to all involved.

In no particular order:

1. My reference to egregious behavior was not towards Tleilaxu, but towards the presumed nefarious behavior of Thorsten. To expand my original sentence: "Claiming expertise falsely is egregious behavior, and if Thorsten did so, shame on him." Honestly, Wilshire, how could you read  that sentence within the context of the discussion of Thorsten's putative expertise as a reference to Tleilaxu?

2. I did not personally insult Tleilaxu. The word "bogus" was referring to his false precision of certainty within a thread that is explicitly dealing in concepts such as measurement, the status of free will, et al. Similarly, I referred to his metaphor as "singularly inapt", in other words, way off target. Neither of these references are personally directed.

3. The "98% sure" qualification does, in fact, imply measurement. The whole point of choosing between metaphors is to choose between implications. That was the reason why I began this entire interrogation. What struck me originally was "Why 98%?  Why not 90%?"; hence the unnecessary/false/bogus precision.

4. Fatalism is not determinism.
1-3: Learn to interact better/more-precisely, please. Thanks though, for the clarity.

4. Exactly.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 03, 2018, 09:12:23 pm
"Exactly"? I don't understand this response:

1. Tleilaxu is making a deterministic stance, correct?

2. I'm asking him how his deterministic stance justifies asking me a "why" question, correct?

3. You're claiming that I'm equating fatalism with determinism, correct?

4. I respond that, no, fatalism is not determinism, correct?

5. You respond, "Exactly"

Not following you.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TaoHorror on January 04, 2018, 01:54:13 am
I think Free Will is mis-understood in this discussion. Much of what we "decide" does indeed come from "something" before, but not all of it. Sounds like from this discussion it's all or nothing - either "I'm" making all of my decisions or it's an illusion and all coming from coding/environment, et al. That's not really the rub. We are, we will be, discovering how decisions are made from the biology/environment of the brain/mind ... but where Free Will comes into play is, well, for a lack of a better way of putting it, when it "matters". For the big stuff beyond choosing between ketchup and mustard, for the things that define our character - I believe we are choosing that. We decide, and yes, impacted from what has come before, but not completely, what our action will be when confronted with the right thing vs our perceived self interest. In short, we are accountable for when we murder and we are heroes when we rise to save another at risk to ourselves.

TL, you express the seeds of your view's destruction - the fact you care that some don't "see the fact of the matter" proves you could be wrong - otherwise, it doesn't matter who accepts and who doesn't if we're simply complex machines with no soul. There is more to human reality than the complex assembly of quantum physics, for which if there wasn't, than the point of any of it would simply be to reduce human suffering - achievement, greatness, discovery, empowerment would all be for naught including the intellectuals' dismay at the more pedestrian minded. Other than the avoidance of pain ( quite the powerful evolutionary program ), nothing else matters given your view. Doesn't even matter if humanity suffers extinction since we're all just complex programming. So why does it matter so much to you if you know it's simply a "trick" of evolution making you think it should? You're "awareness" should dull your dismay.

The argument against free will is a steep hill to climb, one that commands 100% perfection ... for if I could prove that .000001% of a decision does not come from something before, than that is the exercise of free will and I may not make the same decision every time given same circumstances.

That all said, keep talking, my friend - I am learning a lot from your posts ( not saying this to soften my critique of your statements, I honestly haven't been subjected to this topic as much as you and some of what you're posting is fascinating ).
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 04, 2018, 05:16:57 am
I think Free Will is mis-understood in this discussion. Much of what we "decide" does indeed come from "something" before, but not all of it. Sounds like from this discussion it's all or nothing - either "I'm" making all of my decisions or it's an illusion and all coming from coding/environment, et al. That's not really the rub. We are, we will be, discovering how decisions are made from the biology/environment of the brain/mind ... but where Free Will comes into play is, well, for a lack of a better way of putting it, when it "matters". For the big stuff beyond choosing between ketchup and mustard, for the things that define our character - I believe we are choosing that. We decide, and yes, impacted from what has come before, but not completely, what our action will be when confronted with the right thing vs our perceived self interest. In short, we are accountable for when we murder and we are heroes when we rise to save another at risk to ourselves.

Thanks, Tao, for adding another voice to this discussion.

I'm inclined to the view that the free will/determinism debate is a collision of two ways of looking at the world. There's the reductionism of science, where there are only causes and effects. Then, there's the Lebenswelt, the world of appearances, the human world. The scientific perspective may always view mental states such as self-consciousness and the will as illusory. In the Lebenswelt, free will is an aspect of viewing other humans as fellow subjects and not as mere objects, which, I believe, is an aspect of Kant's categorical imperative; that we "act so as to treat rational beings always as ends in themselves and never as means [to an end] only".

This view is my amateurish paraphrase of Roger Scruton, who refers to this two-viewed outlook as "cognitive dualism". His latest book, On Human Nature, deals with these issues. I would also recommend The Soul Of The World, the work that inspired me to take philosophy seriously.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 04, 2018, 05:21:49 am
Tleilaxu, I am surprised by your questioning me as to why I think anything, since your deterministic stance should inform you that no one knows why one does anything. Correct?
Wat

Now that's terse!
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 04, 2018, 06:16:03 am
I'm not claiming with absolute certainty that his claim is wrong, I just find it to be... mysterious. Would you say he's right though? Would you say that physics is more about what we experience rather than what things really are? He himself said something that goes against this when he said something about everything just being fluctuating quantum fields or something.
The arguments are there, and he made them better than I could.

I don't have a deep understanding of physics, just a cursory one. I would say yes, I agree with him.
Since you said you just skimmed, let me badly summarize:
The argument made is basically that things that don't exist on some minute scale, like mass (yes, mass doesn't exist), have an affect on things that do exist: ie an object will kill you even though its mass is an illusion. The point, essentially, being that the existence of a phenomenon on one scale, and its non-existence on another scale, does not make for a bulletproof argument. What are we really saying when we say its 'not real', when you can take literally any idea or concept and make it 'not real' in a specific enough circumstance?
(another quick example. No such thing as a circle, or a line. Just points drawing infinitely close together. Their shape arises by taking in the whole, and we can use the whole for meaningful purposes even though 'they don't exist'. We could go all day. Language a series of incomprehensible finite sounds. Music, a series of individual notes. The whole is not always equal to the sum of its parts.)
This is really kind of a God of the gaps argument, in the sense that because macroscale phenomena haven't been completely mapped out or aren't reducible to quantum mechanics for various reasons, that this allows things such as free will, which necessitate an ontological feature peculiar to humans (and perhaps other higher animals; you would never call a bacteria free, since everything it does can be pretty much explained by the machinations of molecular machinery) to exist. I don't understand your point about circles lines etc. These are mathematical concepts. There are no circles in R1.

Really whacky phenomenon do arise in quantum physics.
A human physically observing the double slit experiment, either directly or remotely without any interference whatsoever, physically changes the outcome. Not by interference, not by vibrations, or absorption, or throwing off the experiment in any measurable or discernible way. It simply is changed by the act of observation.

Billions of dollars are being spent on quantum computer research, and a huge part of that money is spent by keeping the weird super-imposed state of existence shielded from observance. IMO, its basically magic, and I've not heard an explanation that I can offer to you as to why.

But what makes the DSE so interesting is its simplicity and replicability. Why does looking at something stop it from existing? We don't know, AFAIK.

Is physics more about what we experience than what is? Yes. From my reading, there is not conflict in his statements throughout, its very consistent.

Does that mean he's right? Not at all, but it does make for a compelling argument.
From wikipedia:
Quote
In the basic version of this experiment, a coherent light source, such as a laser beam, illuminates a plate pierced by two parallel slits, and the light passing through the slits is observed on a screen behind the plate.[2][3] The wave nature of light causes the light waves passing through the two slits to interfere, producing bright and dark bands on the screen — a result that would not be expected if light consisted of classical particles.[2][4] However, the light is always found to be absorbed at the screen at discrete points, as individual particles (not waves), the interference pattern appearing via the varying density of these particle hits on the screen.[5] Furthermore, versions of the experiment that include detectors at the slits find that each detected photon passes through one slit (as would a classical particle), and not through both slits (as would a wave).[6][7][8][9][10] However, such experiments demonstrate that particles do not form the interference pattern if one detects which slit they pass through. These results demonstrate the principle of wave–particle duality.[11][12]
The experiment shows particle/wave duality, the probabilistic nature of nature, and that how we measure things can affect things. It's not about specific human consciousness observing the experiment changing the outcome.

In that case, there's no point going further with this one either, much to my chagrin :(.
What other evidence?
Lots in this thread, for one, that you haven't addressed but outright dismiss. You can't claim there isn't evidence, however you can rebuke. Objectively, there is plenty of evidence.
Feel free to point out a specific one. Let's take one example.

Quote
If you follow the chain that sometimes we discard experiences because of science, but science is ultimately justified by experience only, things start getting very very murky. I do not think one can automatically assume that the same deduction principles continue to hold - they have to be justified anew if applied to the mind. Especially because the mind is self-referencing, but several principles are known to break when applied to self-referencing systems. If psychologists would test the foundations of their own field with the same level of rigor they apply to, say, religious experiences, they'd be in for a bad surprise.
The argument is basically that (human) minds specifically are ontologically different because they are "self-referencing". It's another God of the gaps. To take examples from evolution again, this is the same thing that happens when some religious people accept that everything else in nature evolved "naturally", but that a scriptural God had a hand in designing humans. How else could our specialness be explained? Would you, or any other, have difficulty accepting that a worm doesn't have free will?

Would you say that a single protein flexing and vibrating, probing different conformations according to the thermodynamic potential is free?
Would I? No. But by that logic, medicines don't have potentiating affects (they do).
Wut.

If not, then how could an ensemble of such molecules become free?
In the same way that a multicellular organism exists as an accumulation of interconnected single cells. Complex phenomenons emerge from systems that you can't see if you look too closely.

Just because you can't see it or measure it at one level, doesn't mean its not there at another.
But this is just another God of the gaps. We are talking about a fundamental difference between humans and ALL other forms of matter here. Free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul, for how else could you explain that your molecules have agency while the molecules of everything else does not?

Ignorance doesn't a good argument make.
Right now, the jury is out. You could still find yourself on the flat earth side of the debate. Your certainty that you are correct doesn't make it so.

No hard feelings either way, Tleilaxu. I don't have much of a personal investment in this, in that my identity isn't tied closely to the results. I'm probably more on your side as it were, but I probably see more shades of grey.
The jury is still out because people have trouble accepting ideas that go against all their preconceptions. Again, the idea of evolution was and is still is a very sensitive topic, even though every biologist in the world assumes it to be 100% fact. The jury is still out, but will I find myself on the flat earth side? No.

That being said, if you could find strong evidence of the existence of a soul, I'd be open to change my stance.

TL, you express the seeds of your view's destruction - the fact you care that some don't "see the fact of the matter" proves you could be wrong - otherwise, it doesn't matter who accepts and who doesn't if we're simply complex machines with no soul. There is more to human reality than the complex assembly of quantum physics, for which if there wasn't, than the point of any of it would simply be to reduce human suffering - achievement, greatness, discovery, empowerment would all be for naught including the intellectuals' dismay at the more pedestrian minded. Other than the avoidance of pain ( quite the powerful evolutionary program ), nothing else matters given your view. Doesn't even matter if humanity suffers extinction since we're all just complex programming. So why does it matter so much to you if you know it's simply a "trick" of evolution making you think it should? You're "awareness" should dull your dismay.
That's actually a problem I have with this book. Every time the Argument is being talked about, the characters become furiously aggressive and respond with stuff like "b-but if nothing's real why does anything fucking matter, fuck you dude!". Think, why should your programming cease to be because you realize you are programmed thus?

Tleilaxu, I am surprised by your questioning me as to why I think anything, since your deterministic stance should inform you that no one knows why one does anything. Correct?
Wat

Now that's terse!
You crashed my program.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 04, 2018, 02:21:40 pm
Keep in mind that "because people have trouble accepting ideas that go against all their preconceptions" applies equally to you and your preconceptions. I think you're reading on the DSE is a primary example.
ETA: Also the opposite is true as well. People testing hypotheses that go against all preconceived notion. That's how science works. Shutting down either half short-circuits it - which is why the highest form of knowing is a 'theory', not an assertion.

You're not addressing the fact that things can verifiable both exist and not exist. Mass being the example provided in the thread.

The crux is what do you do?
As you said, just because there isn't free-will doesn't mean there is suddenly nothing left in the world (ie people misconstruing everything else as fatalism).

Since you've established that there's no difference between the free-will and not free-will universes, what now? If people use your words to describe the universe, rather than theirs, does that change anything?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 04, 2018, 03:18:48 pm
Keep in mind that "because people have trouble accepting ideas that go against all their preconceptions" applies equally to you and your preconceptions. I think you're reading on the DSE is a primary example.
ETA: Also the opposite is true as well. People testing hypotheses that go against all preconceived notion. That's how science works. Shutting down either half short-circuits it - which is why the highest form of knowing is a 'theory', not an assertion.

You're not addressing the fact that things can verifiable both exist and not exist. Mass being the example provided in the thread.
But that's not correct if you ask me. Mass does exist. I think Thorsten used it as an argument against the claim that consciousness was an illusion
Quote
So mass is a property of high level effective theories only, it is not a fundamental property of the world. The illusion of mass of a rock arises largely because there is a lot of field energy in the binding of quarks and gluons which makes an empty vacuum energetically disfavoured, and thus stuff plowing through the field energy contained in the vacuum effectively acquires mass.
this is not the same thing as mass literally not existing, and I have no problem with this or the way he explained it.

Since you've established that there's no difference between the free-will and not free-will universes, what now? If people use your words to describe the universe, rather than theirs, does that change anything?
No, there's a tremendous difference. What I'm trying to say is that just realizing we don't have free will isn't going to shut down everything, we'll still be driven to do things because that's what we are, but this is not the same thing as there being no difference.
It changes our self-understanding.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 04, 2018, 04:18:05 pm
But that's not correct if you ask me.
So this is my point entirely. Its not real, yet you choose to use your preconceptions to justify why all the information pointing otherwise justifies your reaction, because you don't fully understand the phenomenon.
Just like everyone else.
All I'm saying is you're not special, which seems to be exactly what you're saying about everyone else, so I'm not sure why the cognitive dissonance.

No, there's a tremendous difference. What I'm trying to say is that just realizing we don't have free will isn't going to shut down everything, we'll still be driven to do things because that's what we are, but this is not the same thing as there being no difference.
It changes our self-understanding.
So then what is the difference and how does a change in self-understanding affect reality?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 04, 2018, 04:34:22 pm
But that's not correct if you ask me.
So this is my point entirely. Its not real, yet you choose to use your preconceptions to justify why all the information pointing otherwise justifies your reaction, because you don't fully understand the phenomenon.
Just like everyone else.
All I'm saying is you're not special, which seems to be exactly what you're saying about everyone else, so I'm not sure why the cognitive dissonance.

No, there's a tremendous difference. What I'm trying to say is that just realizing we don't have free will isn't going to shut down everything, we'll still be driven to do things because that's what we are, but this is not the same thing as there being no difference.
It changes our self-understanding.
So then what is the difference and how does a change in self-understanding affect reality?
Thus we arrive at the dangerous precipice of "can't know nuffin" where all discussions eventually go once they have lingered long enough.
Maybe not having free will doesn't change anything for you, but it does for me. It delegitimizes certain world views and legitimizes others, because like everybody else I must believe in something, right?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 04, 2018, 04:56:59 pm
Thus we arrive at the dangerous precipice of "can't know nuffin" where all discussions eventually go once they have lingered long enough.
Its not about 'not knowing anything' so much as it is that there is always more to know, which makes absolute certainty nearly always a hindrance. And yes, that's where we ended up.

because like everybody else I must believe in something, right?
I would imagine so, yes.

Maybe not having free will doesn't change anything for you, but it does for me. It delegitimizes certain world views and legitimizes others,
I'm not sure how it can change anything if its already there.

We can still do science/math/engineering/medicine with an incomplete, or in many cases purposefully simplified, understanding without ill affects. 'Close enough' is typically fine in many circumstances. How does being exactly correct in this particular philosophical debate effectively change reality. ie what do we do with those delegitimatized world views, and how does that help?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TaoHorror on January 04, 2018, 05:15:08 pm
Quote
No, there's a tremendous difference. What I'm trying to say is that just realizing we don't have free will isn't going to shut down everything, we'll still be driven to do things because that's what we are, but this is not the same thing as there being no difference. It changes our self-understanding.

Not to beat up on you, TL, since others are challenging your position, but seems like a contradiction to me ... if there's no self, why care about misunderstanding ... who cares if machines bloody themselves up. No more relevant than my toaster getting into a fight with my micro-wave.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: Wilshire on January 04, 2018, 05:27:32 pm
Not to beat up on you, TL, since others are challenging your position, but seems like a contradiction to me ... if there's no self, why care about misunderstanding ... who cares if machines bloody themselves up. No more relevant than my toaster getting into a fight with my micro-wave.

Why does not having free will drain all the meaning from the world?
Who cares is the individual. I'd, for one, care if my toaster got into a fight with my microwave, presumably because I'd be the one suffering the consequences. I'd have to clean up the mess, probably replace one or the other, maybe both. How very irritating.

In the same way, I treat animals kindly because I'd feel bad should I choose otherwise. The existence or non-existence of free-will doesn't at all affect how I feel about it.

The effects still exist, even if the impetus for action does not.

If I told you that broccoli and brusslesprouts are the same plant (they are), but you hate one and like the other, that knowledge doesn't affect how you perceive the flavor. For this same reason, knowing that free-will is here or isn't really doesn't impact how it affects you.

 Even if its an illusion, the illusion still has consequences. Drinking a poison that you thought was healthy will still kill you. Whether you knew about it or not isn't particularly important.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TaoHorror on January 04, 2018, 11:33:38 pm
My above post wasn't a complete thought, just a rebuttal to TL's apparent "concern" on the matter. Referencing my earlier posts in this thread, I did say avoidance of pain/misery would still be valid ( didn't put it that way, of course, but re-organizing to address your point ). So if we have no free-will, then it appears to me that the only real concern is minimizing misery as any "achievements" would be the result of your programmed responses to stimuli and situations. My toaster fight was a metaphor addressing why be in a tiff over that which ( now, if we have no free will ) does not matter. Misunderstanding no longer matters, all intellectual expression is coming from somewhere other than me.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 06, 2018, 05:09:33 am
But that's not correct if you ask me.
So this is my point entirely. Its not real, yet you choose to use your preconceptions to justify why all the information pointing otherwise justifies your reaction, because you don't fully understand the phenomenon.
Just like everyone else.
All I'm saying is you're not special, which seems to be exactly what you're saying about everyone else, so I'm not sure why the cognitive dissonance.

No, there's a tremendous difference. What I'm trying to say is that just realizing we don't have free will isn't going to shut down everything, we'll still be driven to do things because that's what we are, but this is not the same thing as there being no difference.
It changes our self-understanding.
So then what is the difference and how does a change in self-understanding affect reality?
Thus we arrive at the dangerous precipice of "can't know nuffin" where all discussions eventually go once they have lingered long enough.
Maybe not having free will doesn't change anything for you, but it does for me. It delegitimizes certain world views and legitimizes others, because like everybody else I must believe in something, right?

It took me awhile to wrap my mind around this exchange, and I still don't understand it fully, but let me weigh in.

1. For Tleilaxu, a rejection of free will is important because that rejection "delegitimizes certain worldviews and legitimizes others". Since elsewhere in the thread he asserts that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul", I think it's clear that Tleilaxu is referring to the Christian worldview that formulated arguments defending free will despite an omniscient God that go back to Aquinas.

2. But, in fact, free will does not need to rest on a theological foundation. Kant, Hume, Spinoza and others marshaled various arguments in favor of human freedom of action. In short, it is not necessary to believe in God to defend free will.

3. Specifically, the cognitive dualism of Roger Scruton (which, I believe, is a refinement of the Kantian position) gives us two ways of looking at reality: the way of science, which reduces and explains; and the way of "intentional understanding" (or Verstehen, a term from Kantian philosopher Dilthey), which describes and interprets.

4. From Scruton's "Modern Philosophy: An Introduction And Survey":

"Here, then, is how we should express the Kantian theory of freedom: people may be conceptualized in two ways, as elements in nature, or as the objects of interpersonal attitudes. The first way employs the concept [of] human being...it divides our actions at the joints of explanation and derives our behavior from a biological science of man. The second way employs the concept [of] person...Through this concept, and the associated notions of freedom, responsibility, reason for action, right, duty and justice, we gain the description under which a human being is seen, by those that respond to him as a person. Our response is locked into the web of interpersonal feeling. Each of us demands justification of the other, and the resulting give and take of reasons is the root of social harmony." (italics added)

Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 06, 2018, 01:14:22 pm
1. For Tleilaxu, a rejection of free will is important because that rejection "delegitimizes certain worldviews and legitimizes others". Since elsewhere in the thread he asserts that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul", I think it's clear that Tleilaxu is referring to the Christian worldview that formulated arguments defending free will despite an omniscient God that go back to Aquinas.
No, that's not it. I'm rejecting intentionalism, the notion of an ontological difference specific to human beings, the dualism. Also, some Christians rejected free will https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Bondage_of_the_Will
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 06, 2018, 02:06:34 pm
1. For Tleilaxu, a rejection of free will is important because that rejection "delegitimizes certain worldviews and legitimizes others". Since elsewhere in the thread he asserts that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul", I think it's clear that Tleilaxu is referring to the Christian worldview that formulated arguments defending free will despite an omniscient God that go back to Aquinas.
No, that's not it. I'm rejecting intentionalism, the notion of an ontological difference specific to human beings, the dualism. Also, some Christians rejected free will https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Bondage_of_the_Will

Of course, some Christians rejected free will. That's why there was a debate. That's why the case for free will had to be made in the first place.

What about your claim that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul"? This is not the case at all, and if you truly believe it to be the case, then the intentionalism that you reject must rest on a theological foundation of some kind, correct?
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 06, 2018, 02:15:53 pm
1. For Tleilaxu, a rejection of free will is important because that rejection "delegitimizes certain worldviews and legitimizes others". Since elsewhere in the thread he asserts that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul", I think it's clear that Tleilaxu is referring to the Christian worldview that formulated arguments defending free will despite an omniscient God that go back to Aquinas.
No, that's not it. I'm rejecting intentionalism, the notion of an ontological difference specific to human beings, the dualism. Also, some Christians rejected free will https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Bondage_of_the_Will

Of course, some Christians rejected free will. That's why there was a debate. That's why the case for free will had to be made in the first place.

What about your claim that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul"? This is not the case at all, and if you truly believe it to be the case, then the intentionalism that you reject must rest on a theological foundation of some kind, correct?
Sure, if you assume theology has a monopoly on souls, divinities etc. and their functional equivalents. In the end it's semantics. Feel free to forget everything I said regarding this and replace it with "ontologically different from the rest of matter".
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 06, 2018, 02:30:04 pm
1. For Tleilaxu, a rejection of free will is important because that rejection "delegitimizes certain worldviews and legitimizes others". Since elsewhere in the thread he asserts that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul", I think it's clear that Tleilaxu is referring to the Christian worldview that formulated arguments defending free will despite an omniscient God that go back to Aquinas.
No, that's not it. I'm rejecting intentionalism, the notion of an ontological difference specific to human beings, the dualism. Also, some Christians rejected free will https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Bondage_of_the_Will

Of course, some Christians rejected free will. That's why there was a debate. That's why the case for free will had to be made in the first place.

What about your claim that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul"? This is not the case at all, and if you truly believe it to be the case, then the intentionalism that you reject must rest on a theological foundation of some kind, correct?
Sure, if you assume theology has a monopoly on souls, divinities etc. and their functional equivalents. In the end it's semantics. Feel free to forget everything I said regarding this and replace it with "ontologically different from the rest of matter".

OK. My reading of Scruton is that the specific point of this dualistic approach is that it does not claim an separate ontological status for human beings. Again, this is not ontological dualism; this is cognitive dualism. You might reread my excerpt from Scruton above (point #4).
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 06, 2018, 02:45:51 pm
1. For Tleilaxu, a rejection of free will is important because that rejection "delegitimizes certain worldviews and legitimizes others". Since elsewhere in the thread he asserts that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul", I think it's clear that Tleilaxu is referring to the Christian worldview that formulated arguments defending free will despite an omniscient God that go back to Aquinas.
No, that's not it. I'm rejecting intentionalism, the notion of an ontological difference specific to human beings, the dualism. Also, some Christians rejected free will https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Bondage_of_the_Will

Of course, some Christians rejected free will. That's why there was a debate. That's why the case for free will had to be made in the first place.

What about your claim that "free will necessitates some kind of divine aspect, a soul"? This is not the case at all, and if you truly believe it to be the case, then the intentionalism that you reject must rest on a theological foundation of some kind, correct?
Sure, if you assume theology has a monopoly on souls, divinities etc. and their functional equivalents. In the end it's semantics. Feel free to forget everything I said regarding this and replace it with "ontologically different from the rest of matter".

OK. My reading of Scruton is that the specific point of this dualistic approach is that it does not claim an separate ontological status for human beings. Again, this is not ontological dualism; this is cognitive dualism. You might reread my excerpt from Scruton above (point #4).
But what he's basically saying is "you can view humans as biological/physical systems, and you can not", but this is precisely what e.g. Bakker talks about when he says stuff like "medial neglect". It might be useful for some philosophical theory of what do I know, but it neglects certain information when assuming certain properties.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 06, 2018, 02:54:27 pm
No, that's not correct. The second way is not a negation of science, but an alternative to science.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 06, 2018, 04:00:53 pm
You wouldn't say, for example, "You can look at the painting as an accumulation of paint, or you can not." You would say, "You can view that painting as an mere accumulation of paint and you can view that painting as a landscape."
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 06, 2018, 04:07:00 pm
You wouldn't say, for example, "You can look at the painting as an accumulation of paint, or you can not." You would say, "You can view that painting as an mere accumulation of paint and you can view that painting as a landscape."
Viewing it as a landscape does not change the fact that it's an accumulation of paint, with all the implications of being an accumulation of paint.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: BeardFisher-King on January 06, 2018, 04:16:43 pm
You wouldn't say, for example, "You can look at the painting as an accumulation of paint, or you can not." You would say, "You can view that painting as an mere accumulation of paint and you can view that painting as a landscape."
Viewing it as a landscape does not change the fact that it's an accumulation of paint, with all the implications of being an accumulation of paint.

Very true. That is exactly correct. As an accumulation of paint, for example, it will require care, restoration, a controlled environment. And, viewing it as an accumulation of paint does not change the fact that it is an aesthetic object, a portrait of a landscape, with its corresponding implications.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: sciborg2 on December 01, 2018, 08:53:36 pm
I think if you want to counter the argument you have start with the underlying questions that precede the mind/body question(s).

I mean I think those [mind/body] questions play a role, but I feel that trying to play the game the way Libertarians & Compatibilists do - accept just about all assumptions of the Reductionist/Determinist then either look for miracles or play semantic games - leaves one destined to lose.

Questions about time, substance, causality - these likely have more promise than initial focus of the human level.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: sciborg2 on January 10, 2019, 11:42:12 pm
Think I posted these Tallis articles long ago, not sure though:

What Neuroscience Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves (https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/what-neuroscience-cannot-tell-us-about-ourselves)

How Can I Possibly Be Free? - Why the neuroscientific case against free will is wrong (https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/how-can-i-possibly-be-free)
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TaoHorror on January 11, 2019, 03:18:19 am
Think I posted these Tallis articles long ago, not sure though:

What Neuroscience Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves (https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/what-neuroscience-cannot-tell-us-about-ourselves)

How Can I Possibly Be Free? - Why the neuroscientific case against free will is wrong (https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/how-can-i-possibly-be-free)

You're an ace, Sci - haven't read it all yet, about to hit the hay, but wanted to say thank you.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: sciborg2 on January 11, 2019, 04:40:28 am
Think I posted these Tallis articles long ago, not sure though:

What Neuroscience Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves (https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/what-neuroscience-cannot-tell-us-about-ourselves)

How Can I Possibly Be Free? - Why the neuroscientific case against free will is wrong (https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/how-can-i-possibly-be-free)

You're an ace, Sci - haven't read it all yet, about to hit the hay, but wanted to say thank you.

Heh, figured I could potentially save you from buying the damn book if you read these and got what you needed...or thought he was a fucking idiot.

:-)
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 13, 2019, 03:48:08 pm
Those are some long ass articles so I didn't read nearly all of it, just going to post some quotes and comment on them.

From the first article.
Quote
Ironically, by locating consciousness in particular parts of the material of the brain, neuroscientism actually underlines this mystery of intentionality, opening up a literal, physical space between conscious experiences and that which they are about. This physical space is, paradoxically, both underlined and annulled: The gap between the glass of which you are aware and the neural impulses that are supposed to be your awareness of it is both a spatial gap and a non-spatial gap. The nerve impulses inside your cranium are six feet away from the glass, and yet, if the nerve impulses reach out or refer to the glass, as it were, they do so by having the glass “inside” them. The task of attempting to express the conceptual space of intentionality in purely physical terms is a dizzying one. The perception of the glass inherently is of the glass, whereas the associated neural activity exists apart from the cause of the light bouncing off the glass. This also means, incidentally, that the neural activity could exist due to a different cause. For example, you could have the same experience of the glass, even if the glass were not present, by tickling the relevant neurons. The resulting perception will be mistaken, because it is of an object that is not in fact physically present before you. But it would be ludicrous to talk of the associated neural activity as itself mistaken; neural activity is not about anything and so can be neither correct nor mistaken.
Isn't this essentially a God of the Gaps argument? Just because we cannot describe this mental representation in neuroscientific terms it does not necessarily follow that there is some ontological difference between that separates human consciousness from the rest of the universe.

From the second article; he keeps going with the intentionality argument. 
Quote
The case for determinism will prevail over the case for freedom so long as we look for freedom in a world devoid of the first-person understanding — and so we will have to reacquaint ourselves with the perspective that comes most naturally to us. Recall that, if we are to be correct in our intuition that we are free, the issue of whether or not we are the origin of our actions is central. Seen as pieces of the material world, we appear to be stitched into a boundless causal net extending from the beginning of time through eternity. How on earth can we then be points of origin? We seem to be a sensory input linked to motor output, with nothing much different in between. So how on earth can the actor truly initiate anything? How can he say that the act in a very important sense begins with him, that he owns it and is accountable for it — that “The buck starts here”?

The key to this ownership lies in intentionality. This is not to be confused with intentions, the purposes of actions. “Intentionality” designates the way that we are conscious of something, and that the contents of our consciousness are thus about something. Intentionality, in its fully developed form, is unique to human beings, who alone are fully-fledged subjects explicitly related to objects. It is the seed of the self and of freedom. It is, as of now, entirely mysterious — which is not to say that it is supernatural or in principle beyond our understanding, but rather that it cannot be explained entirely in terms of the processes and laws that operate in the material world. Its relevance here is that it is the beginning of the process by which human beings transcend the material world, without losing contact with it. Human freedom begins with this about-ness of human consciousness.
Again, I cannot see it any other way than a God of the Gaps. It is clever because it's very hard to argue against a mode of reasoning from a 'scientific' perspective, but if you flip things around and instead of asking why should consciousness be 'reducible' to 'science', why should it not? It is known and uncontroversial that we share the same basic charactistics as every other living thing on earth. Our basic metabolic pathways are more or less identical to the basic metabolic pathways in E. coli, our macromolecules are made out of the same monomers. Are we truly different or are we, ironically due to our 'hardwiring', not so different, but inclined to think so because of some sort of anthropo-centric intentional thought process?

Also, regarding intentionalism, Bakker has like 1000 blogposts about that stuff.
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: sciborg2 on January 13, 2019, 06:28:55 pm
Those are some long ass articles so I didn't read nearly all of it, just going to post some quotes and comment on them.

From the first article.
Quote
Ironically, by locating consciousness in particular parts of the material of the brain, neuroscientism actually underlines this mystery of intentionality, opening up a literal, physical space between conscious experiences and that which they are about. This physical space is, paradoxically, both underlined and annulled: The gap between the glass of which you are aware and the neural impulses that are supposed to be your awareness of it is both a spatial gap and a non-spatial gap. The nerve impulses inside your cranium are six feet away from the glass, and yet, if the nerve impulses reach out or refer to the glass, as it were, they do so by having the glass “inside” them. The task of attempting to express the conceptual space of intentionality in purely physical terms is a dizzying one. The perception of the glass inherently is of the glass, whereas the associated neural activity exists apart from the cause of the light bouncing off the glass. This also means, incidentally, that the neural activity could exist due to a different cause. For example, you could have the same experience of the glass, even if the glass were not present, by tickling the relevant neurons. The resulting perception will be mistaken, because it is of an object that is not in fact physically present before you. But it would be ludicrous to talk of the associated neural activity as itself mistaken; neural activity is not about anything and so can be neither correct nor mistaken.
Isn't this essentially a God of the Gaps argument? Just because we cannot describe this mental representation in neuroscientific terms it does not necessarily follow that there is some ontological difference between that separates human consciousness from the rest of the universe.

From the second article; he keeps going with the intentionality argument. 
Quote
The case for determinism will prevail over the case for freedom so long as we look for freedom in a world devoid of the first-person understanding — and so we will have to reacquaint ourselves with the perspective that comes most naturally to us. Recall that, if we are to be correct in our intuition that we are free, the issue of whether or not we are the origin of our actions is central. Seen as pieces of the material world, we appear to be stitched into a boundless causal net extending from the beginning of time through eternity. How on earth can we then be points of origin? We seem to be a sensory input linked to motor output, with nothing much different in between. So how on earth can the actor truly initiate anything? How can he say that the act in a very important sense begins with him, that he owns it and is accountable for it — that “The buck starts here”?

The key to this ownership lies in intentionality. This is not to be confused with intentions, the purposes of actions. “Intentionality” designates the way that we are conscious of something, and that the contents of our consciousness are thus about something. Intentionality, in its fully developed form, is unique to human beings, who alone are fully-fledged subjects explicitly related to objects. It is the seed of the self and of freedom. It is, as of now, entirely mysterious — which is not to say that it is supernatural or in principle beyond our understanding, but rather that it cannot be explained entirely in terms of the processes and laws that operate in the material world. Its relevance here is that it is the beginning of the process by which human beings transcend the material world, without losing contact with it. Human freedom begins with this about-ness of human consciousness.
Again, I cannot see it any other way than a God of the Gaps. It is clever because it's very hard to argue against a mode of reasoning from a 'scientific' perspective, but if you flip things around and instead of asking why should consciousness be 'reducible' to 'science', why should it not? It is known and uncontroversial that we share the same basic charactistics as every other living thing on earth. Our basic metabolic pathways are more or less identical to the basic metabolic pathways in E. coli, our macromolecules are made out of the same monomers. Are we truly different or are we, ironically due to our 'hardwiring', not so different, but inclined to think so because of some sort of anthropo-centric intentional thought process?

Also, regarding intentionalism, Bakker has like 1000 blogposts about that stuff.

Hmmm...to me a gaps argument takes advantage of a gap as the crux of its argument. I think this is different than a metaphysical demonstration that starting with assumptions like no mental character in matter leads to the conclusion that this kind of materialism has to be false?

I've gone through some of Bakker's stuff, and eliminativism did seem like a live possibility but then I read Alex Rosenberg's stuff about Intentionality in Atheist's Guide to Reality where he says we simply have to be wrong about having thoughts:

Quote
"A more general version of this question is this: How can one clump of stuff anywhere in the universe be about some other clump of stuff anywhere else in the universe—right next to it or 100 million light-years away?

...Let’s suppose that the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way red octagons are about stopping. This is the first step down a slippery slope, a regress into total confusion. If the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way a red octagon is about stopping, then there has to be something in the brain that interprets the Paris neurons as being about Paris. After all, that’s how the stop sign is about stopping. It gets interpreted by us in a certain way. The difference is that in the case of the Paris neurons, the interpreter can only be another part of the brain...

What we need to get off the regress is some set of neurons that is about some stuff outside the brain without being interpreted—by anyone or anything else (including any other part of the brain)—as being about that stuff outside the brain. What we need is a clump of matter, in this case the Paris neurons, that by the very arrangement of its synapses points at, indicates, singles out, picks out, identifies (and here we just start piling up more and more synonyms for “being about”) another clump of matter outside the brain. But there is no such physical stuff.

Physics has ruled out the existence of clumps of matter of the required sort...

…What you absolutely cannot be wrong about is that your conscious thought was about something. Even having a wildly wrong thought about something requires that the thought be about something.

It’s this last notion that introspection conveys that science has to deny. Thinking about things can’t happen at all...When consciousness convinces you that you, or your mind, or your brain has thoughts about things, it is wrong."

The idea we don't have thoughts about things, Intentionality....it seems to me the correct conclusion is materialism is false not that Cogito Ergo Sum is a mistake.

Long ago I did ask Bakker about this, but I don't think I fully understood his answer. I should ask him again but I need to read my copy of Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience so I don't completely embarrass myself.

Regarding our similarity to other organisms...I mean bees apparently understand the concept of Zero so perhaps mentality goes down further than we think, maybe even as deep as the panpsychics suggest.  ;)
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: TLEILAXU on January 14, 2019, 05:06:15 pm
I've gone through some of Bakker's stuff, and eliminativism did seem like a live possibility but then I read Alex Rosenberg's stuff about Intentionality in Atheist's Guide to Reality where he says we simply have to be wrong about having thoughts:

Quote
"A more general version of this question is this: How can one clump of stuff anywhere in the universe be about some other clump of stuff anywhere else in the universe—right next to it or 100 million light-years away?

...Let’s suppose that the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way red octagons are about stopping. This is the first step down a slippery slope, a regress into total confusion. If the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way a red octagon is about stopping, then there has to be something in the brain that interprets the Paris neurons as being about Paris. After all, that’s how the stop sign is about stopping. It gets interpreted by us in a certain way. The difference is that in the case of the Paris neurons, the interpreter can only be another part of the brain...

What we need to get off the regress is some set of neurons that is about some stuff outside the brain without being interpreted—by anyone or anything else (including any other part of the brain)—as being about that stuff outside the brain. What we need is a clump of matter, in this case the Paris neurons, that by the very arrangement of its synapses points at, indicates, singles out, picks out, identifies (and here we just start piling up more and more synonyms for “being about”) another clump of matter outside the brain. But there is no such physical stuff.

Physics has ruled out the existence of clumps of matter of the required sort...

…What you absolutely cannot be wrong about is that your conscious thought was about something. Even having a wildly wrong thought about something requires that the thought be about something.

It’s this last notion that introspection conveys that science has to deny. Thinking about things can’t happen at all...When consciousness convinces you that you, or your mind, or your brain has thoughts about things, it is wrong."

The idea we don't have thoughts about things, Intentionality....it seems to me the correct conclusion is materialism is false not that Cogito Ergo Sum is a mistake.
I don't understand the argument. Couldn't you just as easily make an analogy consisting of say, a robot with a camera? The camera takes as input photons from the surroundings and creates an output consisting of an array of pixels or something upon which further computations are then done in order to make some decision according to some goal function. There's no infinite regress here. Generally I don't like comparing a human brain with a piece of software but I think this is one case where the analogy makes sense, except you have a lot of higher order representations, computations etc. going on because you literally have like a trillion interconnected cells.

Regarding our similarity to other organisms...I mean bees apparently understand the concept of Zero so perhaps mentality goes down further than we think, maybe even as deep as the panpsychics suggest.  ;)
(https://i.imgur.com/xNbsKrc.gif)
Title: Re: Countering the Argument with Thorsten
Post by: sciborg2 on January 14, 2019, 07:30:07 pm
I've gone through some of Bakker's stuff, and eliminativism did seem like a live possibility but then I read Alex Rosenberg's stuff about Intentionality in Atheist's Guide to Reality where he says we simply have to be wrong about having thoughts:

Quote
"A more general version of this question is this: How can one clump of stuff anywhere in the universe be about some other clump of stuff anywhere else in the universe—right next to it or 100 million light-years away?

...Let’s suppose that the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way red octagons are about stopping. This is the first step down a slippery slope, a regress into total confusion. If the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way a red octagon is about stopping, then there has to be something in the brain that interprets the Paris neurons as being about Paris. After all, that’s how the stop sign is about stopping. It gets interpreted by us in a certain way. The difference is that in the case of the Paris neurons, the interpreter can only be another part of the brain...

What we need to get off the regress is some set of neurons that is about some stuff outside the brain without being interpreted—by anyone or anything else (including any other part of the brain)—as being about that stuff outside the brain. What we need is a clump of matter, in this case the Paris neurons, that by the very arrangement of its synapses points at, indicates, singles out, picks out, identifies (and here we just start piling up more and more synonyms for “being about”) another clump of matter outside the brain. But there is no such physical stuff.

Physics has ruled out the existence of clumps of matter of the required sort...

…What you absolutely cannot be wrong about is that your conscious thought was about something. Even having a wildly wrong thought about something requires that the thought be about something.

It’s this last notion that introspection conveys that science has to deny. Thinking about things can’t happen at all...When consciousness convinces you that you, or your mind, or your brain has thoughts about things, it is wrong."

The idea we don't have thoughts about things, Intentionality....it seems to me the correct conclusion is materialism is false not that Cogito Ergo Sum is a mistake.
I don't understand the argument. Couldn't you just as easily make an analogy consisting of say, a robot with a camera? The camera takes as input photons from the surroundings and creates an output consisting of an array of pixels or something upon which further computations are then done in order to make some decision according to some goal function. There's no infinite regress here. Generally I don't like comparing a human brain with a piece of software but I think this is one case where the analogy makes sense, except you have a lot of higher order representations, computations etc. going on because you literally have like a trillion interconnected cells.

Regarding our similarity to other organisms...I mean bees apparently understand the concept of Zero so perhaps mentality goes down further than we think, maybe even as deep as the panpsychics suggest.  ;)


Lol at the dog - but re: software...isn't this just an instantiation of a Turing Machine, in which case the calculations only have the meaning we give?

I mean any bit string can be interpreted differently, which is not to say every string of 0's and 1's can be every program imaginable but at the very least it seems any such string can represent a countably infinite number of programs?

I guess I don't see much difference between a computer and an abacus in terms of holding some aboutness in the material?